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Best Filters for Turtle Tanks 2021 – Top 10 Ultimate Reviews

Pets are forever. But, as much as we love our pets, we can all admit that it’s a lot of work to keep them healthy and happy! Turtles are no exception, with the constant care and maintenance their tanks need.

However, you can reduce the time and effort you put into the tank every week without losing the cleanliness your turtle needs. Here’s how…

Set yourself up for success. The best filters for turtle tanks pull their weight and make it easy for you to keep the tank clean and the water clear.

Top 10 Best Filters for Turtle Tanks

Top 10 Best Filters for Turtle Tanks In 2021 Review

1 Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter

This aquatic canister filter has a capacity up to 200 gallons, with smaller options also available. For convenience, all of the tubes, wires, and cases are included in the kit for immediate setup.

All the Penn Plax cascade canister aquarium filters have regular and elite versions. With the elite filter, you’ll get filter media to fit in 4 of the 5 media trays, as well as an algae scrubber for tank glass. You’ll also get the sleek black casing rather than the blue tinted casing.

Inside the filter, there are 5 separate stackable trays for you to fill with your preferred type of filter media. Each tray has a large capacity, so you won’t have to replace them often.

To start the filter, simply hook it up and push the priming button. The water input and output hoses will connect to the 360 degree rotating taps on top of the filter.


The Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter also makes a great turtle tank filter because of the high capacity of the largest model (200 gallons). With a flow rate up to 350gph and tons of space for all types of filter media, it’s a solid choice for turtles. What’s the catch? More on that…

Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter
Our rating:3.8 out of 5 stars (3.8 / 5)

  • Easy to take apart and clean
  • Simple priming start mechanism
  • 5 spacious trays for filter media
  • 360-degree taps are convenient for most aquarium setups
  • Runs quietly
  • Sturdy, durable design
  • Excellent warranty and customer service from Penn Plax
  • Some small gaps exist around media trays that may cause slight water bypass issues
  • Locking mechanisms for trays are not sturdy, but will not cause the filter to stop working
  • Confusing instructions may lead you to set up your filter incorrectly

2 Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

A large canister style filter, the Hydor professional external canister filter has a capacity up to 150 gallons. Smaller options are also available, though choices below 100-gallon capacity may not be ideal for a turtle tank.

With the largest capacity option, your filter can clean up to 345gph. You’ll also get 5 trays to fill with your own choice of filter media. Smaller capacity models have a smaller number of trays for media.

In the kit, you’ll get all the necessary tubes, casings, and accessories for setup. Telescopic input and output valves make it easy to run the hoses down into the tank. To help you get set up right away, three types of filter media are included.


This is a powerful filter packed into a dark grey tinted box. The design is aesthetically pleasing and very easy to clean and maintain. For turtles, the flow rate and max capacity are just right to keep the water clear and healthy. But, that’s not the whole story.

Hydor Professional External Canister Filter
Our rating:3.9 out of 5 stars (3.9 / 5)

  • Easy to start with the prime button
  • Simple to set up in about 15 minutes
  • Runs quietly
  • Quick release taps are convenient for cleaning
  • Opens fully from the side for cleaning and tray replacements
  • Basic filter media included may not be enough to fill the trays, only enough for 3 trays
  • Priming pump doesn’t always work well
  • May be difficult to seal the top closed again after cleaning

3 EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media

An option for slightly smaller turtle tanks, the EHEIM classic external canister filter comes in three different capacity sizes. The largest capacity is 92 gallons, with a flow rate up to 164gph.

All filter media needed for mechanical and biological filtration is included with the kit. You’ll also get a collection of useful accessories, including an outlet spray bar and all necessary hoses, pipes, and pieces for installation.

This filter comes in a dark green tinted color with a dark green lid. Input hoses attach to the bottom and push water through filter media into the top output hose. There are no trays inside, but two dividers are included to help you separate your loose media as desired.


If you like to have a little more wiggle room in your custom filter setup, this Eheim is a good option. The open setup with only two dividers gives you more options for interior filter media since it won’t be confined to specific dimensions.

You can also easily customize all the installation parts with a little DIY knowledge. Hoses and tubing are long enough to work for most tank setups with little to no adjustment needed. It’s not all perfect though…

EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media
Our rating:3.9 out of 5 stars (3.9 / 5)

  • Simple opening and closing mechanism for easy access during cleaning
  • Long-lasting and very durable design
  • See-through tint color helps you to tell when the filter needs to be cleaned
  • Runs quietly with little noticeable sound
  • Maintenance is not needed frequently, even for turtles
  • No automatic priming mechanism
  • Instructions for setup not always clear
  • Lack of trays makes cleaning and changing filter media a longer process
  • Non-telescopic input and output are not set up for quick-connect

4 Fluval FX6 Canister Filter

If you’re in the market for a large and powerful filter, the Fluval FX6 canister filter is likely to meet your needs. It’s an enormous filter with the capacity to handle tanks up to 400 gallons. The flow rate reaches a maximum of 563gph.

In the center of the filter, you will place filtration media into stackable media trays. The trays are designed to fit tightly into the interior space to avoid water bypass. Each tray holds around 6 liters, for a total of 1.5 gallons of loose media.

A built-in monthly maintenance reminder helps you keep track of when you need to clean your filter. To remove the top for maintenance, simply unscrew the locking bolts and lift. All accessories and pieces required for setup are included with the filter.

Along with maintenance reminders, this filter monitors the impeller speed and energy usage for efficiency. If the impeller is impeded in any way, it will turn off the motor automatically.


For larger turtle tanks, this gives the power you need to keep it clean using only one filter. Its large capacity and compact size make it ideal for professional installations and large hobby tanks with multiple turtles.

Is this the perfect filter? Let’s see how it stacks up…

Fluval FX6 Canister Filter
Our rating:4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

  • Capable of going a long time between cleanings, due to large filtration surface area
  • Handles most large turtle tanks easily
  • Comes with convenient automatic air purge to keep the impeller functioning well
  • Great longevity with regular maintenance
  • Media included with the filter kit
  • Possibly overpowered for smaller turtle tanks
  • Heavy and large, it may not fit well for every tank setup
  • The strong flow rate may disturb your turtle unless you customize the output hose

5 AquaTop CF Series Canister Filter

There are three different options for the AquaTop CF series canister filter, from 264gph to 525gph flow rates. Out of the 3, the largest option has the capacity for up to 175-gallon tanks.

Interior filtration is set up with 5 individual areas (4+1 setup) where media can be placed. You’ll see 5 trays for media and an additional UV light to kill algae. The UV light bulb is included, along with media to fill the trays and all setup accessories.

Telescopic input and output valves are both located at the top of the filter. When you’re opening it for maintenance, the top seals with snaps on all 4 sides. It’s a tall canister, sitting at 18 inches high. The white color on the outside is opaque, giving it a chic appearance.

There is a self-priming mechanism built into the filter to help you turn it on after setup and cleaning. Once it gets going, the flow rate is strong and filtration is quick.


The strong power of this filter makes it an effective standalone filter for most turtle tanks. It’s also got an attractive casing that looks good even if it has to sit in the open. With a lot of space inside for filter media, you’ll get a lot of filtration power out of this canister.

You can use any type of filtration media of your choice, so you can get all three types in. More on why that’s important later…

AquaTop CF Series Canister Filter
Our rating:3.4 out of 5 stars (3.4 / 5)

  • A large amount of filter media can be held in the 5 trays
  • Run very quietly, no humming or buzzing
  • Great value for the price point
  • The filter has an attractive appearance fit for professional or personal use
  • Included spray bar can help reduce the pressure of water going into the tank
  • Pump slows down quickly when the filter gets dirty, lowering the flow rate
  • The UV light is not effective for larger tanks, expensive to replace the bulb
  • Priming mechanism is not easy to use, may take a few minutes to work
  • Some longevity issues reported

6 Fluval Underwater Filter

For smaller turtle tanks, you can choose this Fluval underwater filter. There are 4 different options, with the largest being meant for tanks up to 65 gallons. The other 3 options are not appropriate for turtle tanks due to their smaller size.

Inside the filter, you will insert cartridges that contain filtration media. Each cartridge performs all 3 types of filtration. There is an additional cage tray for adding small loose media of your choice.

Inside of sitting outside the tank, this particular filter sits directly inside the tank water. It can sit horizontally or vertically. This is a fully black unit with a sleek exterior design and very quiet underwater operation.


This filter is discreet and unintrusive. It won’t ruin the look of your tank area and it doesn’t require a lot of space to set it up. For smaller turtle tanks, it’s a nice way to keep them clean without too many tubes and hoses around.

You could also use this filter as a supplementary filter to work alongside a large filter. As a secondary filter, it would ensure your tank always has filtration ongoing, even during cleaning.

Fluval Underwater Filter
Our rating:3.4 out of 5 stars (3.4 / 5)

  • Sucks up debris and food waste from the bottom of the tank
  • Run silently
  • Easy to attach it vertically or horizontally in your tank
  • Excellent flow rate for a small size
  • Simple and quick to clean or change the filter cartridges inside
  • Little control over the direction of water output without additional pieces
  • Center section for loose media is small, cannot contain most types of bio media
  • Difficult to adjust the flow rate even with the built-in knob
  • Cannot suck in some larger pieces of debris left behind by turtles

7 Ovation 1000 Submersible Power Jet Filter

As a larger underwater option, the Ovation 1000 submersible power jet filter works for tanks up to 80 gallons. Because it’s an underwater filter, it rests on the bottom of the tank and sucks in water and debris from below. The flow rate is listed to be up to 265gph.

Water can be returned to the tank directly from the filter or through a hose attached to the included spray bar. When you use the spray bar, it will help to add air into the water.

This filter performs two types of filtration: mechanical and biological. You can change out the interior cartridges to get the combination you want and to maintain the right level of filtration. But, you won’t be able to get chemical filtration from this filter.


Great as a supplementary filter to your main filtration system. This Ovation filter does a good job at removing gunk and debris from inside the water to keep the whole environment cleaner. It can pair well with a filter that performs all 3 types of filtration. More on why you need that as we go…

Ovation 1000 Submersible Power Jet Filter
Our rating:3.7 out of 5 stars (3.7 / 5)

  • Runs quietly when clean
  • Strong flow rate for its size
  • Affordable budget option
  • Easy to clean
  • Not effective for larger turtle tanks
  • Durability may be an issue, not longlasting
  • Water comes out quickly, may disturb your turtles

8 Tetra 25905 Decorative Reptile Filter

This filter is designed with reptiles in mind rather than fish and is meant for a turtle tank up to 55 gallons. The Tetra 25905 decorative reptile filter has a flow rate up to 90gph.

You put cartridges into the filter to keep up the three filtration stages. Compatible replacement cartridges are available. Cartridges and all assembly pieces are included with the basic kit.

One of the main features of this filter is the appearance. It’s designed to look like a natural rock. This design helps it blend into your tank scenery without detracting from it at all.

Because it sits in the water directly, it’s easy to turn on the filter and get it working. The output tube sends water down the rock fixture to create a small waterfall. All openings are sealed to avoid any accidental injury or entrapment.


If you need an attractive alternative for a low water environment, this filter is a good choice. Its design makes an attractive centerpiece in your tank. You’ll also get extra basking space for your turtle, making it doubly functional.

Is this best turtle tank filter? Let’s check it out…

Tetra 25905 Decorative Reptile Filter
Our rating:3.7 out of 5 stars (3.7 / 5)

  • Basking space on top is great for small-medium turtles
  • Paint is very realistic, so it looks just like real rocks
  • Waterfall works to aerate the tank
  • Waterfall masks normal operating sounds
  • Sucks up excess food and debris from the water
  • Not ideal for tanks with high water levels, must work within a specific water level
  • This small pump won’t work well for larger tanks
  • Takes up a larger space inside the tank than some other filters

9 Zoo Med 511 Turtle Clean Canister Filter

Designed for reptiles specifically, this filter is intended for turtle tanks up to 60 gallons. It’s a black canister that sits outside of the tank, either beside or below it.

All the accessories and parts needed for assembly are included, with an additional spray bar. The spray bar includes flow control to help you avoid agitating your turtles.

Since it has a compact design, you can easily keep it anywhere around your tank. One side is clear to allow you to see inside, so you can tell when the filter needs to be cleaned.


If you want a compact canister to keep up with 1 or 2 smaller turtles, this can be a good choice. Using two may also work well for larger turtle tanks.

Zoo Med 511 Turtle Clean Canister Filter
Our rating:3.4 out of 5 stars (3.4 / 5)

  • Adjustable flow rate can accommodate many different tank setups
  • Good for cleaning up small turtle tanks
  • Only needs cleaning about once a month in most cases
  • Keeps water looking clear
  • Poor assembly instructions make it confusing to set up and maintain
  • Can be messy to clean, because of water spraying out of tubes when turned off
  • Not a good filter for larger turtles

10 Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter

Here’s a smaller filter option that comes in 4 sizes. The largest size for the Aqueon quietflow internal power filter is 40 gallons with a flow rate up to 155gph.

Using interior cartridges, you get all three types of filtration using only 2 cartridge slots. Because you’re using small cartridges, you can rinse or replace them as needed without having to remove the filter from the tank. As an internal filter, this device rests under the water.

You can stand this filter up vertically or lay it down horizontally, depending on water levels. The water intake is protected with a grate to prevent turtles from getting stuck or injured. Adjust the flow rate for returning water to suit the needs of your tank.


Because this is a smaller filter, it works very well alongside an external canister. It can help clean up the stuff that gets left behind in the water. This Aqueon is good for getting all the gunk that turtles leave behind in the water.

However, there are a few key points to note about this one…

Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter
Our rating:3.6 out of 5 stars (3.6 / 5)

  • A small filter that fits well in most tanks
  • Discreet appearance won’t ruin the look of your habitat
  • Great for supplementary internal tank filtration
  • Very little audible sound
  • Included filter cartridges are not the best choice
  • Difficult to adjust flow rate on the water outlet
  • Longevity may be an issue, may not last more than 1 year

What Makes A Good Turtle Tank Filter?

What do you have to look at when you’re buying a turtle tank filter? To sort out the best filters for turtle tanks from all the choices, you need to look at 3 different aspects. A lot of the top-rated turtle filter products should demonstrate the best of these qualities:

  • Filtration Strength

Filters for turtle tanks should be able to handle two or three times the capacity of the tank itself, whether you fill the tank fully or partially. Turtles are much dirtier than fish and most other aquatic animals. Therefore, even if the filter you choose would work well for a full load of fish, it may not be enough to handle the waste left by a small turtle.

  • Filtration Type

Ideally, you need a filter that has three different levels of filtration. It should have mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration included.

10 Best Filters for Turtle Tanks In 2021

Mechanical filtration is the basic level that cleans out particles and debris from the water. This will take care of the physical waste and dirt that builds up inside the tank water. While it helps keep the water clean, it won’t do much to keep your turtle’s water healthy.

Biological filtration keeps the water clean of ammonia and nitrites, both of which can be harmful when they build up in the water. Ammonia and nitrites are formed from the breakdown of waste, uneaten food, organic material, and otherwise.

Chemical filtration concentrates on the quality of the water and the chemical composition therein. A good chemical water filter will help to make the water quality better while also keeping the water a lot clearer.

  • Filter Style

Any style of water filter available can be used for a turtle tank. However, the best filers are usually HOB (hang-on-back) or canister filters. Undergravel filters aren’t preferred because they may not provide the consistent filtration you’ll need to keep your turtle tank water at its best.

Top 10 Best Filters for Turtle Tanks

Canister filters and HOB filters are more powerful and won’t disrupt your turtle’s habitat. Some submersible filters are an okay choice alone, or they work well in tandem with a canister. You might use a canister for the power, then add a submersible filter for the underwater cleanup.

Do You Need Multiple Filters?

For some tanks, it makes sense to have more than one water filter. Larger tanks may need a combination of filters to get the right strength. Or, you may choose to have more than one filter so you can avoid losing filtration if one of your filters dies.

Having two filters also helps you keep the filtration going when you’re cleaning. A second filter means you can maintain biological filtration too, by cleaning each filter at a different time.


With so many filter choices out there, it’s difficult to know if you’re making the best choice. All you can do is learn as much as possible about what makes the best filters for turtle tanks so special compared to others.

Making the right choice means less work for you and more time to enjoy your beautiful pets. The Penn Plax cascade canister aquarium filter may be a good choice to consider. With a strong filter, you’ll have healthier and happier turtles free to swim around in their beautiful habitat.

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