Best Filter For Turtle Tank (2021) | Buying Guide and Reviews

by Carl Crane | Updated: November 3, 2021

A lot of people are very confused as far as which is the best filter for turtle tanks since there are a dozen of filters on the market these days.

But to be honest, there’s no perfect filter you have to purchase for your specific turtle tank.

The only thing to ask yourself when buying a new filter for your turtle tank is if the filter is powerful enough for your tank size.

The turtle filter makes sure that the water within the tank stays clean regularly and your aquatic friends live a healthy life.

Some turtle owners consider that using filters made for aquarium fish is enough for what they need while others prefer turtle tank filters which are usually more powerful than your standard filter.

Keeping your turtle’s tank clean is an essential part of keeping your pet healthy and happy as turtles can leave a lot of waste behind them in comparison to other aquatic pets.

Their water will quickly become a bacteria paradise that will make your house stink and your turtles sick.

Luckily for you, we reviewed the best turtle tank filters to recognize which ones fit the best with your needs.

We Recommend

Do Turtle Tanks Need A Filter?

Clean water is the single most essential aspect of maintaining a healthy aquatic pet turtle. 

Many conditions that negatively affect the health of a turtle can be attributed to dirty water. 

Because your aquatic turtle spends most of his time in the water, he is basically swimming in his own filth. 

Without a good filter, it wouldn’t take long for your turtle tank to become a sludgy green mess.

While adding live plants and fish to your tank can play a role in keeping up the water quality, there’s no replacement for a filtration system when it comes to turtle tanks.

A filtration system will remove the dense wastes produced by your turtle and will also help to clean the water in which it exists.

How To Choose A Filter For Your Turtle Tank

The general guideline for turtle is you want a filter rated for 2-3x the size of the tank, or two filters that together provide that much filtration.

Remember that it is pretty much impossible to over filter the tank.

Bigger water tanks require more powerful filters, and it is also needed to choose between internal or external filters. 

Types of Filters

  1. Canister Filters/external filters in our opinion are the very best type of filter that you can get for your turtle because they have a lot of filtration capacity(high flow rate/ gallons per hour). They are great of tanks upwards of 55 gallons but not only that, but they also have a lot of space for media
  2. Hang-on-back/power filters are more like little waterfalls that hangs at the edge of your tank and are more compact but have less room for media
  3. Internal filters tend to be cheaper and the best option for small tanks. They don’t have that much room for media and can take space in the tank.
  4. Sponge Filters is a great choice since they are pretty much bulletproof and driven by air so it makes them really hard to break. They also grow a lot of beneficial bacteria because they are a sponge so there is a lot of surface area for them. The only issue with sponge filters is that the turtle might eat it and there is a high impaction risk.
  5. DIY Filters are really great because they can be cheap and fully customizable which can fit your needs. The only thing is that you will need to put a little bit of effort in order to create them. 

Filtration can be either mechanical, chemical, or biological it will depend on the kind of filter you need. 

Best Turtle Tank Filter


1. EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media

This filter is virtually indestructible. Buying this product should be considered as an investment, not a purchase.

It works almost without noise, and that makes it ideal for those living in small houses, or those with sleeping problems.

It has an optimized power consumption which makes the filter consume less energy and therefore, will avoid surprises in the electricity bill at the end of the month.

It is easy to clean and its maintenance would not represent a big challenge. 

However, the EHEIM Classic is a filter thought for small tanks, and it is not the best option for bigger tanks.

EHEIM Classic External Canister Features:

2. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter

This Canister filter’s main characteristics are its power and its hardness, which makes them ideal for big tanks.

The Penn Plax Cascade comes with a changeable flow rate, useful if there is a need for upgrading the water tank size.

The user guide easy explains step by step the installation and assembling, and it is easy to operate.

Penn Plax Cascade Canister Features:

3. Fluval 306 External Filters

Fluval filters are the only ones that compete with EHEIM in terms of longevity and noiselessness.

The main difference between them is Fluval filter’s pumps are powerful and meant for middle and big water tanks.

This brand also patented two features that make its filters unique. 

A sound-dampening technology that turns them virtually silent; and “Aquastop valves” designed to prevent any leakage during the cleaning process.

Fluval 306 External Filters Features:

4. Fluval FX4High Performance Aquarium Canister Filter

Another great product made by Fluval. Its main feature is what they call “Smart Pump” which prime the filter automatically every 12 hours.

The pumps installed in the FX model have a huge filter capacity filtering more than 538 gallons per hour.

It is also equipped with sound-dampening technology and they have excellent long term durability.

Besides, this filter also counts with an optimized energy consumption system, which the user will see reflected in the electricity bill.

The Fluval FX Series is one of the most suitable options for big water tanks.

Fluval FX4High Aquarium Canister Filter Features:

5. EHEIM 2262 Aquarium Filter

Considered by many the best “pound for pound” canister filter in the market, the EHEIM 2262 filter more than 630 gallons of water per hour.

Despite its large size, they are silent and like all the EHEIM products, reliable. Especially recommended for large size water tanks.

The power consumption is ridiculously low and it will last forever.

EHEIM 2262 Aquarium Filter Features:

6. Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter

Equipped with a four-stage filtration system, Aqueon is a good option for small tanks. Its filters perform a chemical, biological and mechanical filtration.

This filter maintains the water clean through the action of activated carbon, which gives the water a neat aspect.

The pump does not require priming, and it is available in several sizes from 10 to 40 gallons.

Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter Features:

7. Jack Super Turtle Internal Filter

Jack Super filter represents a good option for low water level tanks. It provides a mechanical filtration as it produces a satisfying waterfall effect.

Ideal for modest tanks with a couple of small turtles, it is silent and removes any solid waste.

The filter does not have a biological filtration which means the water has to be changed regularly.

Jack Super Turtle Internal Filter Features:

8. API Filstar XP

This filter combines practicality and power. The canister can perform mechanical, biological and chemical filtration.

Its trays are easy to remove when maintenance is needed, and the user can choose which kind of media to install.

Its larger version can filter up to 265 gallons of water per hour.

Square shaped canisters ensure a more effective biological filtration. Its pumps are not completely noiseless but still, the sound produced by it is not a big deal.

API Filstar XP Features:

Turtle Tank Filter Setup

Turtles produce a lot of excesses, so you need to use a good quality filter. Not investing in a proper filter, your water will become messy without daily cleaning and your turtle will eventually grow sick.

There are distinct turtle filters that are built to handle the amount of waste that turtles produce.

The bigger aquarium filters are fine to use as long as they have mechanical, biological and chemical filtration.

When choosing an aquarium filter, be sure to choose one that is 2 or 3 times more powerful than your current tank size.

For example, if you have a 55-gallon tank, get a filter that is suitable for a 110-160 gallon aquarium.

Canister filters are external systems and take longer to maintain than other filters, as the unit is bigger and has more types of media that need replacing. 

Choosing an external filter that can turn the water over at least 5 or 10 times an hour is ideal. 

Hang on back filters are relatively cheap and don’t take up too much space. They’re effective, but they need to be fixed at the water level. 

This can prove tricky in a turtle tank as the water level is usually much lower than in an aquarium and most hang on back filters are created to hang on the back of aquariums that are filled up.

Submersible filters tend to be designed for smaller types of tanks. They are designed to be attached inside the tank using suction cups. 

These filters are ideal for starter turtle tanks as they aren’t created for use with tanks larger than 50 gallons and don’t have much space for media so you’ll find yourself replacing the media frequently.


Getting to choose the best turtle tank filter can be a daunting task, and we hope our list will help you pick the right one for you and your turtle needs.

A water filter is vital for turtle tanks and aquariums. Despite your decisions, you will need to have one of these filters to secure the purity and freshness of the water in your turtle tank.

In the meantime use this complete guide to turtle tank setup in case you will ever want know exactly what your turtle pet needs.

Carl, the reptile-obsessed creator of this website, got his first turtle years ago and he made a ton of mistakes along the way. His goal now with TheCritterCove is simple: help others to not make the same mistakes that he did!