Best Filters for Turtle Tanks

Our Pick

Aqueon Quietflow AT40

​The Best ​Filter for Turtle Tanks


​Among all the ​tanks below, this is the best one overall.

​Choosing a filter for your turtle tank can be quite confusing, especially if you are new to non-fish aquarium pets. Fish are the most easy-to-maintain creatures. When fish poop, the excreta quietly settles at the bottom of the tank without mixing with water. Such is not the case with turtles. Turtles are inherently messy. This post is intended to help you find the best filter for your turtle tank.

​8 Best Filters for Turtle Tanks

​1. Aqueon Quietflow AT40

Aqueon offers a broad array of aquarium solutions, including aquarium filter. Headquartered in Franklin, Wisconsin, it is one of the well-known players in the market. Their mission is to help aquatic life enthusiasts maintain healthy and life-sustaining environments for their pets. 

The Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter is fully submersible in aquariums or aquatic terrariums. You can place it horizontally or vertically in the water. This filter is designed to offer a three-stage filtration system: Mechanical, Biological, and Chemical filtration. 

It is capable of removing even the tiniest particles from the water. A turtle tank is way messier than a typical fish tank. Naturally, maintaining a turtle tank would require you to fit in a top-notch filtration system. Aqueon Quietflow removes debris and dense foam present in the water. 

Furthermore, the filter also releases activated carbon in the water to seize toxins released by the plants and turtles. It is not natural to keep living beings enclosed in a restricted space. To keep everything functioning smoothly, the filter must make the water clean at least once every couple of hours. 

This filter is also equipped with a patented BioGrid to get rid of ammonia and nitrates present in the water. The presence of such chemical composites can turn out to be hazardous for your aquatic pets. This device is easy to install. The presence of a directional return pipe makes mounting as easy as it gets. 

Unlike other canister filters, this one is quite small and compact. It does come with an additional filter media, but I suggest getting one of another top brand. The supplemental filter media is of substandard quality. This is the only downside I have discerned in this product.  

Aqueon Quietflow AT40 is Suitable for:

The AT40 is recommended for a 40-gallon tank. The flow rate of this filter is 155 gallons per hour, which is considered good enough for a tank with adequate bioload (both plants and animals). This filter is for someone willing to clean the tank once every two weeks. 

Also, you must invest in a new media every two weeks— or else you will notice a decrease in the flow. And partially filtered water can make the turtles sick or unhealthy.   

Pros

  • ​Can handle a fair amount of bioload
  • ​Three-stage filtration system
  • Decent flow rate (adjustable) for a turtle tank
  • ​It comes with a patented BioGrid system

Cons

  • ​The additional filter media is of mediocre quality

Eheim GmbH & Co is a German company dealing with aquariums and related accessories. This company has been around since 1949 and is famous for its high-quality and well-researched tank filters. The Classic External Canister Filter from EHEIM is intended for turtle tanks with 66-gallon capacity. 

This filter from EHIEM may not be as fancy or decorative as that of other brands. Still, they are affordable and require deficient maintenance. This canister filter is circular in shape. Hence, cleaning it is easy and effort-free. Simply remove the internal filter and clean the vessel with soap water or a disinfectant. 

Further, the filter head is equipped with a permo-elastic silicone sealing ring. The sealing ensures that the dirt from the filter does not seep out in the water. It also comes with filter sponges and filter media. Some users prefer to use a spare sponge and DIY media. The choice is yours. 

Along with the circular container, the package includes spray bar, inlet pipe, hose, and some other accessories for installation. The pre-installed filter media is manufactured by EHEIM Mech & Substrat Pro— which is considered top-notch. 

You will also be glad to know that this turtle tank filter makes very little noise. They make some noise when new, but with use, they become super silent. If the noise becomes a concern for some reason, you can simply pour a few drops of silicone grease on the ceramic shaft. 

EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter With Media is Suitable for: 

This is the best turtle tank filter for the money. It suits best for aquatic pet owners who— due to lack of time— struggle to maintain the turtle tank. Just keep an eye on the build-up of grime and algae. 

Even after changing the sponges and filter media every couple of weeks, the canister can hold dirt. Take a long cleaning brush and clean the canister— at the same instance— when you replace the internals.  

Pros

  • ​It is easy to clean
  • ​Affordable and long-lasting tank filter (it can last up to five years)
  • ​It does not make any noise
  • ​It comes with all essential accessories
  • The pump head is equipped with a permo-elastic silicone sealing ring

Cons

  • ​The internal tubes could be more flexible

Penn Plax is an American pet products manufacturer. The company serves customers in the United States and Canada. Since 1964, Penn Plax has been the leading supplier of products for pet and aquarium needs. The cascade canister filter from Penn Plax is suited for both marine and freshwater aquariums. 

For extra filtration, this filter comes with three media baskets. The baskets can be sanitized with soap or disinfectant. You can also add a DIY filter media or one from another brand. Some companies sell filter media in bull— which is cheaper and more convenient than going for the one offered by the manufacturer. 

This rectangular canister filter is bathtub-shaped. The aqua blue container is partially opaque. Hence you can see discern plaque or grime built-up well before it gets too late. The filter measures 11.5-inch x 17-inch x 10-inch. It offers a flow rate of 265 gallons per minute and is recommended for turtle tanks up to 100 gallons.

This filter is equipped with 360-rotatable flow valves. Higher maneuverability ensures faster and thorough filtration of the tank water. Also, in case you have a small, congested, or biologically overloaded tank, your turtles would need the water to be purified at a higher frequency. 

As I mentioned earlier, the media basket is user-friendly. You can customize it as per your needs. Furthermore, the package also includes essential accessories such as a spray bar, tubing, directional spout for customization, and filter medium. All components/parts have the Penn Plax rubber stamp on them. 

Penn Plax Cascade 1000 Canister Filters is Suitable for: 

Depending on the species of turtle you own, you might want to fill up the tank with seawater or freshwater. Penn Plax Cascade 1000 Canister Filters are capable of processing both saltwater and freshwater. 

Along with all the top-grade qualities, this filter also offers biological filtration, mechanical filtration, and chemical filtration.

Pros

  • ​Equipped with 360-degree rotating valves
  • ​Easy to clean and fully customizable canister
  • ​Enabled with a three-phase filtration system
  • ​It comes with all the essential accessories
  • Media baskets are extra large in size

Cons

  • ​Priming this filter can be a challenging task

Fluval is one of the most well-known companies in the aquarium and related accessory industry. This Canadian firm also has offices in the United Kingdom and the United States. Fluval first came to the limelight in 1975 when they launched the world's first 3-stage filter with synchronous motor technology.

The FX6 400-gallon tank filter is Fluval's flagship product. The primary purpose of this filter is to keep the aquatic animals and plants healthy. The multi-stage filter makes sure to keep the water clean and produces clean seawater or freshwater in the aquarium. 

Maintaining a 400-gallon turtle tank requires a world-class filtration system. This high-performance filter pumps out 925 gallons of tank water per hour. Meaning, it replenishes the water in the tank, once in every half an hour. Your turtles would thrive in the clean and hospitable environment created with this filter. 

​So far in this post we have discussed basic tank filters. This one from Fluval is electronically superior. The filter is enabled by Smart Pump Technology, which continuously monitors the performance of the pump. At no point, the water in the tank will appear dirty or become stagnant. 

Further, the user-friendliness of this product makes it ideal for newbie turtle keepers. You don't have to be an expert in turtles. Simply fit this filter inside the tank, plug-in, and then add water to the tank, the smart pump will do the rest.

Also, the filter is designed such that every 12 hours, the air trapped in the pump is released. Air bubbles can hamper the efficiency of the pump. On top of that, Fluval has also made provisions to ensure minimal manual intervention. The Fluval Smart Pump kit makes pumping water in the tank entirely hands-free—no need to lift buckets. 

Fluval Canister Filter is Suitable for: 

The Fluval FX6 filter makes turtle-keeping easy and effort-free. Once every half an hour, the pump sucks in every bit of tank water and supplies fresh and clean water to aquatic life. With such a powerful tool at your disposal, you can have more than one type of pet (fish, turtle, plants, snails, etc.) in the same tank. 

Pros

  • ​Enabled with a three-phase filtration system: Mechanical, Chemical, and Biological Filtration
  • ​The purge valve makes it easy to flush used water from the tank
  • ​The filter is designed to prevent the clogging of pipes
  • ​Suitable for both seawater and freshwater
  • Fully customizable media baskets

Cons

  • ​Heavy and bulky body
  • Pricey

Originally, Tetra is a German ornamental fish tank filter manufacturer. The company was formed in 1951 by Dr. Ulrich Baensch. In 2020, this Melle-based firm has reached almost every corner of the globe. In the United States, Tetra U.S. manages sales, technical support, and customer service (for all North American customers). 

ReptoFilter, an advanced turtle tank filter from Tetra, is equipped with the patented Whisper® filtration technology. This tank filter is a direct result of in depth-research carried by the engineers at Tetra. Also, Tetra strongly believes in making progressive improvements each year. This product raises the bar for other brands in the industry as well.

As the name suggests, Whisper filtration technology facilitates a tank filter to function without disturbing the home or office ambiance. In fact, the average sound level of this product stays way below 40 decibels. There is a reason why Tetra ReptoFilter is known to be the quietest filter in the market. 

With the Tetra ReptoFilter, you don't have to deal with sponges or DIY filtration media. The product comes with one cartridge, which is made with dense and dual-sided mesh. The cartridge itself acts as the filtration media— simply change it once a month. Also, you can buy Tetra cartridges in bulk online. 

This turtle tank filter's primary goal is to catch the debris and waste present in the water. Moving forward, the installation process is quite easy. From the package, pick the cartridge and rinse it (for about a minute) under cold running tap water. Next, insert it along with the foam grid in front of the filter. 

At this point, the filter is ready for installation. The suction cups present on the rear end of the filter help you attach it to the tank's inner surface. You don't need glue, duct tape, or screws. Next, shut the lid and plug in the device. Before switching on, make sure the filter is submerged in water.

Tetra Reptofilter is Suitable for: 

This filter works best for water aquariums and terrariums with rocks, plants, and decoratives in it. The manufacturer recommends this product for turtle tanks with waterfalls. With the additional water movement, the filtration needs to increase— this is where this product comes into the picture. 

This is also the best canister filter for turtles living in shallow water. Ideally, freshwater turtles prefer to live in large surface area tanks with rocks, plants, and a 2-inch of water. Even at such a low water level, the Tetra Reptofilter's three-stage filtration system works effectively. This system involves chemical filtration, biological filtration, and mechanical filtration.

Pros

  • ​The advanced cartridge removes debris and dirt from the turtle tank
  • The turtle tank remains free of odor due to the presence of ultra-activated carbon
  • ​Biofoam removes harmful ammonia from the water
  • ​Easy to assemble
  • Suction cups make it easy to affix the filter on the smooth tank surface

Cons

  • ​Excellent short-term replacement for your primary filter

Hydor is a Sacramento, California-based aquarium-related products manufacturer. They also have an office in Bassano del Grappa, Italy. Their external canister filter may not be as expensive as one of the other top brands, but there is no compromise on quality. You won't find cheap or knock-off parts/components with this turtle tank filter. All in all, it is affordable, structurally solid, and gets the job done when you need it.

This particular product is available in flow rates ranging from 150-600 gallons per hour. Also, you get to choose a custom-made filter for fish tanks from 20-150 gallons. If you haven't yet bought a turtle tank, I recommend picking the one with 350 gallons per hour and a tank capacity of around 60-100 gallons. 

Setting up an aquarium is no different from assembling any other intricate system like a desktop computer or an air cooling system. You need to know exactly what you want. Then, you can pick the components to go together with the system. However, if you want to go for a configuration other than 350, 60-100 gallons, you have more choices.

The filtration media in this filter from Hydor is far more intricate than any other similar product in the market. Having said that, the internal filter is still 100 percent customizable. You can add a store-bought sponge or a DIY filter media. The choice is yours. The internal filter is layered with a coarse mechanical pad and sintered quartz bio-rings.

If you are not into DIYing, you can buy Hydor Professional White Floss Pad Filter Media. It is a replacement pack for the original filtration media that comes with the product. Similarly, you can also go for Hydor's in house produced coarse black sponge. Stack up these filters in any order you like. 

Unfortunately, this product does not come with activated carbon particles. However, Hydor has made provisions to add chemical media such as freshwater-activated carbon, marine carbon, natural zeolite, and sintered quartz within the tank filter. Individual packets are available for each of the chemical media mentioned above.

Finally, the installation of this particular product is not easy. Including the filtration media, there are about 15 parts/components involved. Before the assembly, it is recommended to disconnect all electrical appliances installed inside or outside of the tank. Rest, you can follow the step-by-step instructions given in the instruction manual. 

Hydor Professional External Canister Filter is Suitable for:

The turtle filter would be an ideal replacement for an expensive and high-maintenance filter. If you think your current filter does not deliver the flow rate promised by its manufacturer, then maybe it's time for a change. This turtle tank filter from Hydor is laboratory tested. All you need to do is replace the filtration media every 3-4 weeks. 

Pros

  • ​Good flow rate. It does not slow down even after 3 weeks of using the same filter media
  • ​Several add-ons are available in the market
  • ​In-depth and articulately written instructional manual
  • ​Customizable filtration media
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • ​Installation takes time and effort

After ReptoFilter, EX70 is another established turtle tank filter from Tetra. As the product version (EX70) suggests, the Tetra Whisper EX70 is meant for small-sized aquarium tanks. It works best for an aquarium with a capacity of 70 gallons. You can expect a steady flow rate of 160 gallons per hour.

The EX70 is also equipped with the patented Whisper® filtration technology. It is powerful and quiet at the same time. Most filters let the tank water pass through one or two layers of filter media. EX70 is a multi-stage filter. It directs the water through multiple densities of floss to remove every single particle of dirt or debris from it. 

Furthermore, the internal filter is also equipped with activated carbon particles. Along with de-sanitation, the water even loses its odor and impurities. The carbon particles absorb minute particles that may be leading to the decoloration of the tank water. A turtle tank with brown or greenish water is extremely unpleasant to look at— it also makes the tank inhospitable for the pet.  

On top of that, the biological filtration unit also consists of a bio-scrubber. Multiple small-sized brushes help trap the ammonia and nitrites present in the water. These compounds are considered to be toxic to aquatic life. Not on that, but to keep your hands clean while handling the filter, Tetra offers a no-nonsense filter cartridge carrier.  

Unlike other filters— where you have an option of using the carbon filter— EX70 relies heavily on the carbon filter layer. This layer does not come with an expiry date. To discern whether the carbon layer is in good condition, you need to check the time strip periodically. Red indicates the filter is used up and needs upgrading, whereas white means the filter is still good enough.

Tetra Whisper EX70 is Suitable for:

The flow rate of this aquarium filter is a lot higher than that of the ReptoFilter. Naturally, users who have flora, fauna, waterfalls, and fish (along with turtles) prefer this filter. 

If you have been buying filters, you would know that there is an abundance of filters for a fish aquarium. Not a lot of manufacturers make filters exclusively for turtles. Such is not the case with Tetra. 

The company has recommended the Whisper EX70 for turtle tanks. Just make sure the water level stays 3-4 inches from the top at all times.

Pros

  • ​Excellent overall design
  • ​Operates very silently
  • ​Ease of use
  • ​Keeps the water fully oxygenated
  • Excellent biological filtration unit

Cons

  • ​The time strip should be enabled with a beeper
  • The product relies heavily on carbon filters

This is another product from Fluval that had to be included in this list. Earlier in this post, we discussed the FX6 Filter from the same manufacturer. The FX6 Filter is ideal for massive (400 gallons) turtle tanks. However, for smaller turtle tanks (40-60 gallons), the Fluval G3 checks every box. 

Like every other canister filter from Fluval, G3 is technically advanced. This product (and the entire G Series) is equipped with HydroTech— an intelligent monitoring system capable of reading the performance and parameters of the filter and sending back the crucial feedback to the microprocessor. This system is run by an expertly programmed microprocessor. 

As the manufacturer stated on the product package, the G3 filter is a perfect blend of beauty, brains, and brawn. Unlike other filters, this one is cubical in shape. It is equipped with a LED screen displaying several crucial parameters such as flow rate, temperature of the water, and expiration date of the filtration media (in terms of biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration). 

Furthermore, the body is durable enough to last long amid constant contact with water, debris, and other chemicals present in the tank. This product is built to withstand the elements involved in a turtle tank. Even the inner filter chamber is made from a durable material such as fiberglass reinforced polymer— which can resist pressure higher than 15 PSI.

In a turtle tank filter, the quality, power, and precision of the drive pump should never be compromised. Unlike most fish, turtles are amphibious (suited for both land and water). They leave a lot more waste material in the water than fish. The G3 drive pump is equipped with an advanced three-component drive system. 

The powerful drive pump ensures the water in the turtle tank remains clean 24x7. It does that by pumping around 340 gallons of water every hour. It is in constant contact with two high-speed microprocessors that monitor and adjust the start speed, impeller direction, power usage, and performance. Minimal manual intervention is needed.  

The Fluval G3 has a lot more to offer. It also comes with an easy-to-use stop valve known as AquaStop. There are numerous instances when you need to stop the flow of water into the tank. Maybe you are planning to clean the tank. You wish to check the health of the pets and hence need a calmer and more stable tank. To stop the flow of water, simply bring the valve lever into an upright position.

Fluval G3 Advanced Filtration System is Suitable for: 

This is the best turtle tank filter for those who desire ease of use. Also, since it is technically advanced, it requires minimal effort on your part. Even priming the filter is easy. 

This filter comes with a self-priming system that gets to work immediately upon installation. Without proper priming, the filter tube will have air bubbles trapped in it. 

You can go for this filter if you have a tank with capacity 40-60 gallons and don't want to spend an enormous amount of time setting up and maintaining the turtle tank.

Pros

  • ​Steady flow
  • ​Easy to assemble
  • ​Excellent self-priming system

Cons

  • ​Although advertised, this filter works fine for tank capacity ranging from 40-60 gallons (and not 80 gallons)
  • The media replacements are available online, but it is difficult to find them in a local store
  • The chemical filtration cartridges are a bit pricey

Conclusion

When choosing the best filter for your turtle tank, you must consider factors like the tank capacity, number of turtles, size of the turtles, presence of animals other than turtles, and finally, your budget. 

Keep in mind that you must change the filter media once every 2-3 weeks (or as directed by the filter manufacturer). 

From the above list, I would pick the Fluval FX6 Filter for larger aquariums. If you have a space to house a massive aquarium, go for this filter without hesitation. On the other hand, for those with smaller tanks (and a low-budget), Tetra ReptoFilter works the best. It is quiet, effective, and very affordable.

Different Types of Turtle Tank Filters

Before purchasing turtle tank filters, you must know the types of turtle tank filters available in the market. Not every filter would suit the aquarium you have, the temperature in your home/office, or the other aquatic beings (plants and fish) present in the tank. Below, I have mentioned the most common types of turtle tank filters.

1. Canister Filter

Initially, a canister filter was used exclusively to filter or purify drinking water. As the name suggests, this device is cylindrical or rectangular in shape. The layers of the filtration system are placed vertically inside the cylinder. Two pipes (inlet and outlet) are inserted into the tank, while the actual device stays outside.

There is no need to hang the canister filter at the back of the aquarium. You can simply place it next to the filter. This filter is perfect for a small-sized turtle tank. You can add a high volume of filter material as you don't have to worry about the filter occupying too much of the tank space. This is what makes it so effective and accessible. 

2. Hang-On-Back Filter

Hang-on-back filters are also known as power filters. Unlike a canister filter, this device hangs on the back of the aquarium or lays on the top of it. This is because the water is pulled into the filter via a long siphoning tube and subsequently pushed out after filtration. The tube is no longer than 10-inches. 

A hang-on filter is perfect for those who do not want the filtration process to bother the inhabitants of the tank. This filter works silently, and no long dangling pipes are running through the water. Moreover, this type of filter is customizable but not as much as a canister filter.

3. Airlift Filter

An airlift filter comes in the category of internal filters. As the name implies, this device stays within the confines of the aquarium. An airlift pump enables the device to float on top of the water. The pump releases compressed air into the surrounding water (via the common inlet/outlet). 

Further, the discharged air mixes with water to form a low-density air-water mixer. Hence, the rest of the high density of water in the aquarium pushes the filter on top. Sponge filters and corner filters come in this category. 

4. Under-Gravel Filter

Not every turtle owner is happy with the filtration level offered by canister, hang-on, and airlift filters. To counter the growth of harmful bacteria, it is necessary to keep the tank water flowing. If you don't mind slow-moving water in the tank, an under-gravel filter might be the right choice for you.

An under-gravel filter is a biological filtration unit that sits at the bottom of the tank. Unlike other filters, this one has a flat surface area. Usually, it stays hidden underneath gravel at the bottom of the tank. The gravels trap the useful nitrifying bacteria. The presence of the nitrifying bacteria is quintessential to counter contaminants such as ammonia.

What Kind of Filter Does a Turtle Need?

Canister filters are the best filters for a turtle tank. Its specifications, features and price make it suitable for a turtle keeper (no matter the size of the tank). Unlike fish or any other aquatic creature, turtles are messy. They are generally not meant to be kept in a confined space. 

Failing to clean and sanitize the tank once every couple of hours can lead to contamination of the water and eventually sickness or death of the turtles. Canister filters are equipped with a three-stage filtration process. Also, they come with a high flow rate. 

What is the Best Filter for a 75 Gallon Turtle Tank?

A 75-gallon turtle tank would need a high-quality filter with a high flow rate. From the products mentioned in this post, I would suggest Hydor Professional External Canister Filter as the best filter for a 75-gallon turtle tank. It is capable of pumping 350 gallons of water per hour. Meaning, it would take less than fifteen minutes to clean the entire tank once.  

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