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Top 8 Best Filters For Turtle Tanks

When it comes to filters for your turtle tank, you really can’t afford to go wrong. It’s incredibly important for your turtle to be swimming around in clean and clear water. This can help prevent any health issues from developing with your pet.

Ensuring clean water through ‘mechanical filtration is vital, especially for red-eared sliders and other common turtle species.

In this article, we’ll be looking into different types of filters to determine which one is the best for your turtle. There might not be an overall best filter for turtle tanks as it depends on your individual setup and the needs of your turtle.

We’ll take a look at the different types of filters available, from the best canister filter for turtle tanks to the best aquarium filter, and advise you on which is best for your pet turtle!

If you’re in a hurry, below is a comparison of different filters for turtle tanks. The best one on the list is the Fluval FX4 for its versatility and high flow rate. Aquatic turtles produce a large amount of waste and require filters rated at higher volumes than would normally work for a tank with just fish.

If you have more time, read on below to understand about why you need filtrations, the different types, as well as to see reviews about each filter and what you need to consider when picking a filtrations system for your turtle tank.

Best Filter for Turtle Tank Comparison Table

1. MarineLand Magniflow Canister FilterBest Overall
2. Fluval FX4Largest Capacity
3. Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power FilterCheapest

Why Do You Need a Turtle Filter?

Along with the tank itself and UVB bulbs, filters are one of the most crucial components of your turtle’s setup.

As fun and fascinating as turtles are, they can also be incredibly messy. Chunks of food and floating waste can quickly mount up and cause problems for your turtle. To remove waste particles and unwanted bacterial invaders, it is essential to invest in a good turtle filter system.

Filter systems will help keep the water in your turtle’s tank clean and siphon out waste. This will help to avoid potential infections and other health issues, as well as allow your turtle better vision throughout its tank. Filters also help to maintain the chemistry and water quality in the tank.

Through regular maintenance, filter media changes, as well as partial water changes, you’ll be able to keep your turtle healthy and happy.

Different Types of Turtle Filters

There are four main types of filter configuration: Canister filters, internal filters, hanging filters, and under-gravel filters. These terms define the setup of the filter, which basically means how the filter is positioned in or on the tank. Choosing the right type is vital for getting a good filter for a turtle tank.

Fluval FX and other high-quality filters are ideal for larger tanks, offering 3-stage filtration to maintain a healthy environment for your turtles.

Canister Filters

Canister filters are the most common type of filtration system for turtles. They provide great levels of filtration thanks to various sections that contain different filtering media, such as ceramic rings or activated charcoal. This forces the water through several different layers of filtering in one handy device.

Canister filters such as the MarineLand Magnum are usually mounted outside of the tank, either in the cabinet that the tank sits on or somewhere nearby. They are connected to the water through hoses or tubes, which pump the water backward and forward through the filtration system.

Canister filters usually boast pretty high capacities, meaning that they don’t need to be changed or cleaned as much as internal filters. You also have a lot of choice when it comes to the filtration mediums you use. However, some canister filters can be pretty expensive.

Internal Filters

These are suitable for ‘smaller tanks’, where ‘much space’ isn’t available, yet ‘efficient filter’ performance is needed.

As their name suggests, internal filters, like the Aqueon QuietFlow, are fixed into the turtle tank itself. Usually, this is through some form of suction cup or a more permanent fixing. Internal filters can also be called submersible filters.

Internal filters will likely have less capacity than canister filters, which means that you need to clean them more regularly. As internal filters are also usually powered by electricity, you must be careful when fixing them underwater.

Make sure that the wiring does not have any perforations and that it can’t be damaged by your turtle.

Hanging Filters

Hanging filters are usually known as hang-on-back filters because they are affixed to the rear of the turtle tank via a bracket or holder. They are mainly designed for full aquarium use and won’t work for turtle tanks unless the tank includes some form of specially designed filter slot.

This is because in full aquariums, the water level reaches the top of the tank where the filter is positioned. However, when keeping turtles in a tank the water level needs to be lower so the turtles can’t swim up to the brim and leap out!

Hanging filters can be tricky to set up for turtle tanks. Turtles need a lot more filtration than fish, so a hang-on-back filter needs to have extra capacity compared to the amount of water you’re using in the tank.

Under-gravel Filters

This type of filter is extremely controversial in the aquarium and turtle hobby. Under-gravel filters, commonly known as UGFs, work either by sucking water down through the gravel substrate of the tank or by pumping filtered water up through the gravel. Unsurprisingly, these filters are usually placed at the bottom of the tank under the substrate.

There are several problems with UGFs, which is why we haven’t included any on our list of the best turtle tank filters. UGFs can get clogged very easily by fine particles of food or waste, and they are a pain to try and clean. They can also be extremely noisy, which could stress your turtle out.

Gravel substrates can also harm your turtle as they can swallow the small rocks. For this reason, it is best to avoid under-gravel filters altogether.

Best Filters for Turtle Tanks

1. MarineLand Magniflow Canister Filter

Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter For aquariums, Easy Maintenance,Black

MarineLand’s Magniflow was designed with the big tanks in mind and it shows, with options for 30, 50, and even whopping 100-gallon tanks. MarineLand has designed an easy-to-use and easy-to-maintain canister filter.

The Magniflow has up to four nozzles that need to be inserted into the tank, but that’s pretty much it as far as setup goes! It is also almost completely silent when running. So if having a noisy external tank is a worry for you, you can forget all about that. Make sure to get the correct size filter for your tank.

2. Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter

Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter, 40 Gallon,

With its understated black finish and the ability to fully submerge and mount either horizontally or vertically, the Aqueon QuietFlow is a versatile workhorse. It comes in a variety of sizes varying from 10-gallons to 40-gallons. The Aqueon QuietFlow is one of the best submersible filters for turtle tanks.

The Aqueon also features a three-stage filtration system. First, it takes care of any foam or particles in the water, then it removes any toxins and odors using activated carbon filters. Lastly, it takes care of the water discoloration and any ammonia or nitrates that might start to develop in your tank. It also has a lifetime warranty that ensures that you will get the most bang for your buck.

3. Tetra ReptoFilter for Turtles

TetraFauna ReptoFilter 50 Gallons, Terrarium Filtration, Keeps Water Clear, 125 GPH, Model:26038

Tetra is a well-known brand that has been making good products for a very long time. Their ReptoFilter is no different. Utilizing whisper filtration technology that has three different filtering stages, it becomes a real contender for the best turtle tank filter system.

The ReptoFilter focuses on getting rid of any bacteria that might cause the water to discolor and helps to eliminate any waste particles that can cause an unpleasant odor. The ReptoFilter is a turtle rock filter designed to look like a natural water feature, with a handy suction cup system for easy installation.

4. Tetra Whisper EX Multi-Stage Filters

Tetra Whisper EX 45 Filter For 30 To 45 Gallon aquariums, Silent Multi-Stage Filtration, Blacks/Grays

The Tetra Whisper EX series is Tetra’s second entry on this list. As the name implies these filters use a whispering system to minimize noise. They are ridiculously easy to fit and use, virtually ready right out of the box.

These filters are especially recommended for aquatic turtles and species that might need more water. The Tetra Whisper EX series comes in a variety of sizes to fit any tank, ranging from a 10 to 20-gallon option up to a 45 to 70-gallon filter.

5. MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter

MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter, For aquariums Up To 97 Gallons, 10.5 IN (ML90770)

Another great canister filter option from MarineLand is the Magnum. This canister filter has a three-stage filtration system as well as micron water polishing technology, which eliminates fine particles in the water.

The Marineland Magnum is a reliable filter for bigger tank setups, ensuring clean tank conditions with minimal effort.

Thanks to its submerged motor, the Magnum can be installed quickly and easily and doesn’t require priming. It’s suitable for turtle tanks up to 45 gallons and can filter almost 300 gallons per hour. The Magnum also boasts a sleek, industrial look thanks to its all-black body and red detailing. This filter is a solid option when talking about the best filter for turtle tanks.

6. Penn-Plax Cascade

Penn-Plax Cascade 600 Fully Submersible Internal Filter – Provides Physical, Biological, and Chemical Filtration for Aquariums and Turtle Tanks

Penn-Plax’s Cascade filters pack quite a punch and are capable of handling up to 350 gallons per hour. The Cascade series comes in varying options to suit tanks ranging from 30-gallons up to 200-gallons and all feature three-stage systems.

These submersible filters are easy to install and can be equipped with different filtration mediums. The valves can be placed in any position in a 360-degree field, which makes this filter suitable for aquariums with space constraints. While not the quietest filters on the market, the versatility of the Penn-Plax Cascade filters takes some beating.

7. Fluval FX4

Fluval FX4 High Performance Canister Aquarium Filter - Multi-Stage Filtration, Built-In Powered Water Change System, and Basket-In-Basket Tray Design

Fluval’s FX4 Canister filter is one of the heavyweights of the aquarium world and is considered a powerful canister filter. It has a mighty flow capacity of up to 700 gallons an hour as well as a high-quality three-stage filtration setup. The FX4 is also high-tech, with a microchip that helps to monitor the flow and adjust for maximum efficiency.

The FX4 is pretty pricey, but it’s the gold standard, especially if you have a large tank with several turtles in. It’s easy to install and boasts a compact size, so it won’t disturb the environment of your turtle’s tank too much. The pump system is also designed to make it extremely easy to change the water. For the advanced turtle enthusiast, the FX4 is one of the best aquarium filters for a turtle tank.

8. EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter

EHEIM Classic 2215 External Canister Filter with Media for up to 92 US Gallons

One of the most established brands in the aquarium hobby, EHEIM’s Classic line of external canister filters is dependable and functional. These filters come ready with everything you need to get started, including filtration media, a hose, an inlet pipe, and a spray bar. It is available in several models for different tank sizes.

The efficiency of EHEIM’s filters belies their unassuming looks, and are durable enough to last through the whole lifespan of your turtle. The Classic has a pretty high capacity and will quite happily meet the needs of most run-of-the-mill turtle tanks. However, it does not include chemical filtration, so bear that in mind.

For aquatic environment setups, consider external filters like the Eheim filters, which work well in different sizes of tanks, including those with shallow water.

Turtle Tank Filters Explained (Video)

Turtle Tank Filter Buying Guide

So how can you tell good turtle filters from bad ones? Our concise buying guide will teach you how to look for the best tank filter for your turtle.

Choose the right size

If you’ve got a small 15-gallon tank, there’s no point in buying an expensive filter designed for a 40-gallon aquarium. On the flip side, if you’ve got two or more turtles swimming around in a big tank, a tiny filter just won’t cut it.

Most models of tank filters come in various sizes that are appropriate for various tank capacities. Make sure to thoroughly research which size tank that a filter is built for to make sure you get the right model for your tank.

Because aquarium filters are mainly designed for fish tanks, their filtering capacity is not always relevant to the needs of a turtle. Because they produce a lot more waste than fish, turtles require much more powerful filtration systems. You need to bear this in mind when selecting a filter.

A good rule of thumb to use is to buy a filter that has a capacity that is two or even three times more than the actual capacity of your turtle tank. So, if your turtle lives in a 20-gallon aquarium, purchase a filter designed for a 40 or even 60-gallon tank.

Specialized turtle tank filters won’t suffer from this problem, meaning you can buy one that matches your tank’s gallon capacity. But for aquarium filters designed for fish, bigger is better.

Flow rate

Another important thing to bear in mind is the frequency at which a filter can process water. This is tracked by gallons per hour or GPH. To ensure the best quality of water for your turtle, you need to get a filter that can process the amount of water capacity of your tank every hour at least.

This means that, for a 20-gallon tank, you need a filter that has a capacity of 20 gallons per hour or more. Bearing this in mind alongside the actual tank capacity will help you choose the right filter for your turtle.

Filtration processes

Whichever filter you choose will use a variety of processes to siphon the water and clean it. There are three main types of filtering processes; biological, mechanical, and chemical.

Mechanical filters are responsible for catching any physical particles that may be present in the water, such as excrement or leftover food. While this helps to clean the water, it won’t make the water any healthier for your turtle.

To do that, you need biological filters. These usually consist of some form of substrate that helps to create healthy benevolent bacteria that can help keep the quality of the water high. Biological filters help to neutralize the ammonia produced by your turtle’s urine into nitrate.

By doing this, biological filters make it easier to remove nitrates from the water or filter them to feed the live plants in the tank. Every type of filter needs to at least provide mechanical and biological filtration for your tank.

The third type of filtration is chemical filtration. This step isn’t always necessary, but it can be a useful extra process to use to deliver the best quality water possible for your turtle. Think of chemical filtration as an extra line of defense that catches anything that the two main processes might have lost sight of.

Chemical filters are extra ingredients such as activated charcoal that help filter the water even further. These additions can reduce ammonia that has been missed by biological filters, or they could help to further break down particles in the water.

A  good filter for a turtle tank will ideally provide all three stages of filtration.

Filter upkeep

Because they need changing and cleaning regularly, you want to choose a filter that is easy to maintain. Make sure that the process for emptying and refilling the filtration media or mechanical filter is quick and easy.

Try and choose a filter that requires very little movement to open and empty. Because filters should be kept running continually, you don’t want to waste time trying to dismantle the whole system just to change a filter pad!

The more time it takes to clean out the filter, the more waste and harmful ingredients will build up in your turtle’s water while the filter is absent. If you can perform maintenance quickly and without fuss, this will minimize this build-up.

Some turtle keepers will use two filters for this purpose. If you wanted, you could have a smaller capacity filter ready to go before you turn the main filter off, but it’s not a necessity.

Build quality

Because your turtle depends on a good filtration system for its health, you don’t want a substandard system! Making sure that the build quality is sound will help minimize any issues. If your filter is going in the tank itself, check that all seals are intact and functioning properly.

Protect any wires or fragile components from being knocked or damaged by your turtle as it swims around. For external filters, check that the pipes do not have any perforations that could affect the flow.

Frequently Asked Questions About Turtle Tank Filters

Do turtle tanks need a filter?

Filters are absolutely necessary for a turtle tank. Turtles are extremely messy animals, much more so than fish. To prevent floating waste or debris from causing your turtle health issues, you need to filter the water in its tank.

This removes harmful bacteria from the water and helps avoid infections or illnesses. Filtering the water also helps with your turtle’s visibility while swimming around, and allows you to see them better as well!

What is a good turtle filter?

Turtle filters come in different types to suit different tanks. Good filters need to have adequate flow capacity to process a tank full of water every hour and also need to be able to adequately filter the full amount of water in your tank.

A good internal filter is the Aqueon QuietFlow because it is easy to affix to the tank but also runs quietly and has plenty of power. A good canister filter would be the MarineLand Magnum because of its powerful three-stage filtration system.

How often do you clean a turtle tank with a filter?

When it comes to cleaning a turtle tank with a filter, there are a couple of time-frames to bear in mind. Once a week you should instigate a partial change of the water in the tank, somewhere between a quarter and a third. This brings fresh water to the system and helps remove waste particles.

The whole tank and filter should be cleaned once a fortnight at least. Every three weeks is acceptable. The filter itself should be cleaned and changed every month if possible. Regular maintenance is crucial to sustain ‘beneficial bacteria and manage ‘organic matter’ in ‘the gallons of water your tank holds.


So there you have it! The eight best turtle filters available right now. We’ve covered different types of filters that will suit every tank setup, from internal or submersible filters like the Aqueon QuietFlow to external filters like the Tetra Whisper EX, as well as our favority, canister filters such as the MarineLand Magniflow.

We’ve also explained some of the different types of filters and their uses, as well as providing a concise buying guide to help you choose the best filter for your turtle. Remember that filters are very important if you want to give your turtle a clean, clear environment and keep them in the best possible health.

Use this list to choose the right filter for your turtle’s tank, and enjoy crystal clear waters as you watch them swim around to their heart’s content!

Whether you have smaller turtles in a small tank or a larger tank, selecting the best turtle filter ensures good health and a vibrant aquatic turtle tank.

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