Best Filter For Turtle Tank: Reviews | Aquascape Addiction

Best Filter For Turtle Tank: Reviews

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Looking for the best filter for turtle tanks? We review 7 in detail that we consider to be some of the top options available.

Best Filter For Turtle Tank: Reviews

A turtle tank makes for a great addition to any home. They are really neat creatures that you can watch all day long, not to mention that you can actually hold them in your hands too. However there is a problem with turtle tanks, and that is that turtles create a whole lot of waste and the water they live in gets very dirty very quick. So, that means needing the best filter for your turtle tank that money can buy, which is exactly what we are here to help you with.

What Kind Of Filter Do You Need For Turtles?

The most important thing to keep in mind when buying a filter for your turtle tanks is that you need a very powerful filter. (This filter is our top pick). Turtles make a whole lot of waste, waste that will poison the water they live in. You should always look for a filter that has the ability to process at least twice as much water per hour as is actually in your turtle tank.

Zoo Med 511 Turtle Canister Filter Our top pick 9.7/10
Tetra Reptile Filter For up to 55 gallon tanks 9.7/10
ExoTerra External Turtle Filter Very efficient 9.5/10

Moreover, you want to look for a multi-stage filtration system that has the ability to filter out different components. Like we said, turtles make a lot of waste, so the first type of filtration you want to have is mechanical filtration in order to remove solid waste. Second, you want to have some kind of biological filtration going on. This will usually come in the form of some kind of sponge that has the ability to soak up dangerous ammonia which is created when your turtle’s waste breaks down.

You also want to have some kind of bacterial filtration in order to get rid of nitrites. Nitrites are created when ammonia is broken down, both of which are harmful to your turtles. Luckily a good bacterial filtering system will get rid of both. Finally, while not necessary, some kind of chemical filtration that breaks down any remaining waste or unwanted compounds is also something worth considering. Together these three types of filtration will ensure a clean and clear turtle tank.

What We Think Is The Best Filter For Turtle Tanks

Here is our number one pick which we feel is one of the best turtle tank filters. This a high quality and efficient type of filter to go with, one that should help to keep your turtles alive and well for a long time to come.

Tetra 25931 TetraFauna Viquarium

This is a great 3 stage filtration system that is ideal for aquarium and terrarium combinations. It has the ability to filter the water in your tank for various animals such as fish, amphibians, and reptiles too. We like the fact that the TetraFauna Viquarium is a 3 stage filter.

What this means is that it used mechanical filtration to remove any floating waste and solid debris from the water. It uses a biological filter to break down ammonia, as well as a sponge with developed bacterial cultures to break down nitrite into nitrate.

Finally, this filter also used chemical filtration to further help break down solid waste, ammonia, and nitrites as well. This is one of the most comprehensive turtle tank filtration systems that you could possibly go with. It is also quite convenient because the cartridges used can be easily replaced.

Something else that makes this filter ideal for turtle tanks is that the pump is fully submersible. Therefore you don’t have to worry about submerging certain components and having them suffer damage. Moreover, this thing is ideal for tanks between 20 and 55 gallons in size, which means that it is a fairly efficient choice to go with, plus it can filter over 80 gallons per hour with ease.

Another thing that we like about this model is that it looks like a neat little rock mountain with a waterfall coming out of it, a waterfall that leads to a river and then another smaller waterfall. Simply put, it is very pleasing to the eye and makes for a beautiful addition to any turtle tank. Moreover, this thing is very quiet and produces virtually no noise, making it great for any room in your home, not to mention that it won’t disturb the turtles either so it's our top pick from all of our turtle filter reviews.


  • High quality 3 stage filtration.
  • Removes solid and microscopic compounds.
  • Very beautiful.
  • Ideal for fish tanks and terrariums.
  • Can filter up to 80 gallons per hour.


  • Fairly slow flow rate.
  • Not the most durable.

Check the price at Amazon

3 Important Things To Consider When Buying A Turtle Filter

There are a few different factors that you need to keep in mind when buying a turtle filter, so let’s just go over those quickly.

1. Tank Size

The most obvious consideration to be made before you make a purchase is the tank size. The large the tank is, the more water the filter needs to be able to handle. The filter needs to be able to handle the amount of water in the tank plus more, as the water should be cycled through the filter a minimum of 2 times per hour.

Simply read the ratings on the filter in question to get to the bottom of this issue. Also, for a small tank, an external turtle filter might be better, whereas a larger tank could probably accommodate an internal filter, but the choice is really yours.

2. Brand

Brand names can be fairly important when it comes to turtle tank filters. Cheaper no name, or lesser known brand name filters, are probably just not going to work as well, come with as many features, or be as efficient and durable as reputable brand name filters. Some good filter brands include Ovation, Aquatop, Penn Plax, Fluval, and a few others too. Just be sure to do some research on the brand name and read some reviews to get a good idea of the brand name in question.

3. Filter Power

The filter you get for your turtle tank needs to have adequate power to clean the water. Simply put, the filter should be able to pump the water through itself a minimum of twice per hour, and ideally this rate would be somewhere around 3 or 4 times per hour in order to ensure clean water. A bigger tank with more turtles needs more filtration media and a higher powered pump.

6 Other Turtle Filters Worth Considering

If you are not a huge fan of our number one choice, here are six other turtle tank filter options that might suit you a little better.

1. ExoTerra External Turtle Filter for Aquarium

Right off the bat, something that we really like about this filtration system is that it is an external aquarium filter for turtles. This means that it does not take up any space inside of the turtle tank, thus saving room for your turtles.

Another thing we really like about the ExoTerra aquatic turtle filter system is that it features a dual chamber design for optimal water flow, efficiency, and to provide a good balance between the different types of filtration that it employs. The flow rate through the various filters is specially designed to be the perfect balance between mechanical, chemical, and adsorptive filtering.

This thing features pads for mechanical filtration in order to move large debris and solid waste such as your turtles excrements. It also features chemical filtration in the form of dual carbon pads which help to filter our harmful substances such as ammonia. Even better are the adsorptive pads that work in combination with the carbon filter to remove and any all impurities from the water. This is a 3 stage filtration system that does everything in its power to keep the water in your turtle tank as clean as can be.

Something else that makes this a great option for all turtle tanks is that it helps to oxygenate the water so your turtles can breathe comfortably. Moreover, this thing also has a great odor absorbing pad that helps to get rid of that nasty turtle smell that can develop sometimes. This is a great filter for fish tanks, turtle tanks, and other terrariums that have a very high biological load.


  • Very efficient at removes solid waste, ammonia, and nitrites.
  • Ideal for small turtle tanks.
  • Can be used for turtle tanks, fish tanks, terrariums, and paludariums.
  • High grade 3 stage filtration.
  • Odor removing capabilities.
  • Provides oxygenation.
  • Does not take up space inside of the tank.


  • Unit may overheat.
  • Materials used in construction are not of the most durable nature.

Check the price at Amazon

2. Zoo Med Turtle Clean External Canister Filter

This is an ideal filter for some fairly large turtle tanks. This thing can handle turtle tanks up to 50 gallons in size and can process up to 200 gallons per hour, making it perfect for both small and large turtle tanks. Another thing that makes this a great turtle tank filter is that it features anti-vibration bushings which help to reduce noise and keep the filter as quiet as can be.

The next thing that makes this a good turtle tank filter is because it is an external canister filter. It does not take up any room on the inside of the tank, thus allowing your turtles to have as much space as can be. Just hang it on the back of the tank, use the primer pump to get it started, and let it work its magic. Yet another thing that makes this filter such a great choice is the spray bar that it comes with which helps to oxygenate the water to provide some of that much needed CO2 for your turtles.

Of course we can’t forget the filtration aspect itself. The Zoo Med Turtle Canister Filter features a 3 stage filtration system. It has mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration to remove as much debris and unwanted compounds from the water as possible. Moreover, the cover over the filter media is clear so you can see exactly when it needs to be changed or cleaned.


  • 3 stage filtration for solid waste and organic filtering.
  • Clear filter cover.
  • Runs very quiet and smooth.
  • Does not take up space inside of the tank.
  • Comes with a primer pump.
  • Spray bar for oxygenation.


  • Requires you to change the water about once every two weeks.
  • Motor has a tendency to burn out.

Check the price at Amazon

3. Fluval Canister Filter, FX6 Filter (400 Gal)

This is a great multi-stage filter that produces a whole lot of clean water. We really like this model because it can be used for both saltwater and freshwater tanks, which is an obvious bonus. Moreover, this particular filter can handle giant aquariums of up to 400 gallons in size. That should be more than enough for any aquarium that you might have in your home. This super capacity filter can technically process upwards of 900 gallons of water per hour, which is definitely quite impressive.

The 400 Gal Fluval Canister Filter comes with a self-starting filter. This is really convenient because all you have to do is add some water, plug it in, and let it do its magic. This filter also comes with smart pump technology, which means that it provides you with optimal filter performance, high efficiency, and ultimate water cleaning abilities.

This is of course a multi-stage filter, which means that it cleans your tank water in more ways than one. Mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration are all done by this filter, not to mention that it has a giant 5.9 liter media basket too.


  • Multi-stage filtration.
  • 5.9 liter stackable media basket holder.
  • 400 gallon capacity with more processing power.
  • High efficiency – smart pump technology.
  • For salt and fresh water.


  • Extremely large.
  • Fairly noisy.

Check the price at Amazon

4. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter

This particular filter is a little smaller and less powerful than the previously mentioned Fluval FX6, but that is because it is meant for slightly smaller purposes. The Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter is designed for aquariums of up to 100 gallons in size and can actually process up to 265 gallons of water per hour. Once again, while the pump rate might not be as high as with the FX6, it can still handle some really big aquariums.

This is a 3 stage filtration system that allows for mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. The floss pad takes care of waste and fine particles, the activated carbon media removes toxins and impurities, and the coarse sponge allows for biological growth to occur. Even better is the fact that the Penn Plax Filter can be used for both salt and freshwater applications. This filter also has quick disconnect tubing connectors, which can also be used to control flow rate. This thing is durable and even has a sturdy tip proof base too.


  • For salt and fresh water.
  • For 100 gallon aquariums.
  • Efficient 3 stage filtration.
  • Adjustable water flow.
  • Tip proof base.


  • Quite loud.
  • Not ideal for very large tanks.

Check the price at Amazon

5. Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter

One of the most impressive parts about it is that it comes with a built in UV sterilizer. Besides the fact that the filter itself helps clean the water, the UV sterilizer increases the cleaning efficiency by a whole lot. Harmful bacteria and algae spores will be killed on contact with the UV rays. This particular filter can handle tanks of up to 175 gallons in size and can process and impressive 525 gallons of water per hour.

This particular model is actually a 3 plus 1 stage filtration system. It comes with 3 fine pads, 1 coarse sponge, and whole lot of room for different kinds of media. You can actually add in virtually any type of mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration as long as it fits in the filter canister. Moreover, the Aquatop CF Series Canister filter will work for both salt and fresh water aquariums, making it quite versatile indeed. This filter is also very quiet, something which most filters of this size and efficiency cannot boast about.


  • Ideal for tanks up to 175 gallons.
  • Can process 525 gallons per hour.
  • Allows for all types of filtration.
  • Lots of media included.
  • Very quiet.
  • Comes with a UV sterilizer.


  • May leak on occasion.
  • Not the toughest housing.

Check the price at Amazon

6. Ovation 1000 Submersible Power Jet Filter

If you have a smaller or medium sized aquarium, this is a decent option. While this filter can only handle aquariums of up to 80 gallons in size, it can still process an impressive 265 gallons of water per hour. Moreover, you will like that the Ovation 1000 is a submersible filter, meaning that it takes up no space on the outside of your tank. Also, the filter itself is quite compact, so it won’t take up too much space inside of the tank either.

This is a 2 stage filtration system with included mechanical and biological filtration to help provide you with crystal clear water. What is also pretty neat is that this model comes with an optional spray bar to help increase aeration and oxygenation in the water. Simply submerge this filter in your tank, plug it in, and it is good to go. This model does also come with several different nozzles for various purposes.


  • Powerful 2 stage filtration.
  • Ideal for tanks up to 80 gallons.
  • Has a spray bar for aeration.
  • Space saving design.
  • Submersible.


  • Does not have chemical filtration.

Check the price at Amazon

Types Of Turtle Filters

There are a few different types of turtle tank filters that you can choose between, so let’s just talk about those quickly.

Submersible Filters

This is a good choice to go with for smaller tanks. Submersible filters tend to be quite small because they need to be able to fit inside of any tank. This can be a good thing because it means that they do not take up too much space on the outside of the tank, but on the other hand, they take up prime real estate on the inside. These tend to be better for smaller tanks as their limited size also usually means having limited power and limited filtration capabilities too.

Canister Filters

Pretty much the opposite of a submersible filter, the canister filter is separate from your tank. It is an external canister that rests on the outside of the tank and uses tubing to take in and export water to and from the tank.

These tend to be the largest of all filters, have the most power, have the most filtration methods and capabilities, and are ideal for the largest of tanks out there. The drawback to these things is that they tend to be very large, take up lots of space outside of the tank, and are usually not that quiet either.

Hang On Back Filters

Hang on back filters can be a good option to go with (we have covered them in detail here). The upside to these filters is that they don’t take up too much space on the inside or outside of the tank. They tend to be quite small and quiet, however, they do have limited potential. Their small size usually means that they don’t have all that much power or filtration capabilities. These tend to be more ideal for smaller tanks with a limited number of inhabitants.

How Much Water Should A Turtle Tank Have?

This question is somewhat subjective as opposed to objective and is not as easily answered as one might assume. The thing is that different turtle species grow to different sizes and therefore require different sized tanks. Also, the amount of water you have in your tank does also depend on how many turtles you have inside of it. For instance, an average freshwater turtle can get to around 12 inches in length, so you will need a fairly large tank. For a turtle like that a minimum of a 30 gallon tank is required. Generally speaking, something around 40 gallons is ideal for 1 turtle, and every other turtle should have another 40 gallons as well.

If you need help with heaters then we have covered our top 5 picks over at this article.

What Kind of Water Is Best For Turtle Tanks?

Well, if you have freshwater turtles, they need freshwater, and if you have saltwater turtles, they need saltwater. Generally speaking, turtles like neutral water that is fairly warm and very clean. The best water for your turtle is clean water! Getting some plants is also a good idea.

How To Keep Your Turtle Tank Clean & What To Use

Cleaning your turtle tank is really not that difficult, so let’s just go over the few steps that you need to follow.

  1. Remove the turtle and put him in a transport container large enough for it to turn around in.

  2. Remove filters, lights, and other electronic equipment.

  3. Take out all other large objects one by one, such as wood and rocks.

  4. Get your tank to the cleaning area.

  5. Remover all water from the tank – you can leave the substrate in there if you choose.

  6. Keep filling the tank up ¼ of the way and empty out the water until you notice it being noticeably clearer.

  7. Mix a solution of 1 gallon of water and ½ cup of chlorine bleach.

  8. Use a sponge to scrub that tank with the chlorine solution.

  9. Clean the devise such as filters by taking them apart and following proper cleaning procedure for each component.

  10. Rinse off substrate and other decorations.

  11. Give the tank a good rinsing to ensure that it has no bleach left in it.

  12. Refill the tank and de-chlorinate the water.

  13. Test the temperature and pH levels.

  14. Once everything is back to the way it should be, you can add the turtles back in.


Finding the best filter for your turtle tank is not all that hard, but you do want to find the right one if you expect your turtles to remain in a healthy condition. We would definitely recommend looking at the above options before you go out looking for anything else. If you need help setting up a tank properly then this post will help.