Getting a reliable turtle tank filter is very important if you want the best for your pet. But for some reason, a lot of owners don’t realize just how impactful a good filter can be.

Here’s why it matters:

Turtles are messy little critters. They make a lot of waste and can get quite dirty!

This means the water in their tank is going to get dirty fast. It’s just the way it is.

But if you don’t have one of the best turtle tank filters, you’re going to fall behind. Over time, the water will get dirtier and dirtier. And if left unchecked, it will impact the health of your turtle.

Not good.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best filters for turtle tanks. It will save you from the frustrating and time-consuming process of doing all the research yourself!

Our List Of The Best Turtle Tank Filters

We spent a lot of time researching each of the products on this list. While we’ve definitely used a handful of these before, we didn’t want to base our recommendation on past experience alone.

There were undoubtedly high-quality filters out there that we hadn’t used before. We knew this for a fact because some of the most experienced turtle owners we spoke to were telling us the same thing!

So we started from scratch (almost). We took our existing list of turtle tank filters that we’d used before, and did fresh research on a whole new batch of ones we hadn’t.

By the time we were done researching, testing, and gathering feedback on each of them, we were quite happy with our final list.

No matter what kind of tank setup you have (or what turtles you own), there will be something on this list that works for you.

1. Magniflow Fast Maintenance Canister Filter For Turtle Tanks By Marineland

This turtle tank filter kicks off our list because it’s absolutely fantastic and pretty darn affordable. The Marineland Magniflow canister filter is a tool that can be used for pretty much any turtle owner because of the versatility and tank size it can handle.

Magniflow Canister Filter for Turtle Aquariums

  • Powerful three-stage filtration
  • Significantly improves water clarity
  • Long track record of reliability
  • Tight water seal canister lid

Marineland is a company that’s been around the block a few times when it comes to creating high-quality aquarium gear. And honestly, this might be our favorite product of theirs.

This filter has an incredibly efficient three-stage filtration system that can contend with the best of them. You get great flow through each of the media stacks that efficiently cleans and filters out anything unwanted.

The Magniflow has bio-filter balls and ceramic for a large surface area for bacteria that neutralizes ammonia to grow and thrive. There also an activated carbon bag that removes odor and discoloration (this worked like a charm in our experience).

Lastly, there’s some top-notch mechanical filtration in place as well. Well-made foam filter pads grab a fair amount of debris.

This is one of the best turtle tank filters when it comes to improving the clarity of the water too. It has a high-quality polishing filter pad that removes fine debris to give your water a crystal-clear appearance.

The combination of all this in such a reasonably-priced package is simply amazing. It’s definitely the first canister filter we think of when planning for a turtle tank.

Pros:

  • Highly effective three-stage filtration
  • Significantly improves water clarity
  • Best value for the money

Cons:

  • The setup is a little trickier than advertised

2. Classic External Canister Filter w/ Media By EHEIM

When you think of great aquarium products, EHEIM is usually a brand that comes to mind. This classic external canister filter for turtle tanks is a great example of why.

EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media

  • Equipped with filter sponges and/or loose filter media
  • Extremely efficient for a variety of tank sizes
  • Installation process is quick and painless
  • Accessories included: spray bar, inlet pipe, hose and installation accessories

On the surface, there’s nothing about this filter that really jumps out at you. It has a very standard build, an unassuming design, and no fancy trademarked features.

But it just works.

With three different size options (40 gallons, 66 gallons, and 92 gallons), this canister filter by EHEIM can handle pretty much any standard turtle tank you have. And pound for pound, it’s one of the most efficient filters on our list!

When you get your hands on it the build quality impresses you right away. It’s sturdy, has a high-quality sealing ring on the pump head, and the accessories are well-made too.

When you buy this turtle tank filter you get loose filter media and filter sponges included which is nice. There’s also the inlet pipe, spray bar, and hose.

It’s really impressive to watch this filter go to town. Within a day or two, you’ll be able to notice a significant difference in the quality of the water. Turtles have a habit of making the water murky (they’re dirty little creatures), but this filter combats that quite nicely.

The installation process is very manageable as well. This is one of the easiest filters to get up and running, which is great if you’re an aquarist who doesn’t want to spend a lot of time tinkering.

Pros:

  • Durable build quality
  • Extremely efficient for a variety of tank sizes
  • Comes with everything you need on day 1
  • Easy installation

Cons:

  • The hose isn’t as impressive as the rest of the equipment
  • Cleaning it can be a bit challenging

3. FX4 Canister Filter By Fluval

This is one of the best filters for turtle tanks (and one of the best filters in general). If you’ve been in the aquarium scene for a little bit already, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about this legendary product.

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Fluval FX4 Canister Filter

  • Multi-stage filter pumps out 700 US Gal (2650 L) of water per hour
  • Smart Pump advanced microchip technology continuously monitors and optimizes pump performance
  • Self-starting – just add water and the Smart Pump will take over.
  • Removable, stackable media baskets eliminate water bypass and hold a total of 1 US Gal (3.9 L) of media

We’ve talked about the FX4 in length on our site in the past. However, this time we’ll cover it in from the angle of using it strictly for a turtle tank.

To be honest, this is our favorite product on the market. The only reason we didn’t include it as the very best canister filter for a turtle tank is it’s a bit overkill (and pricey).

If you want the very best money can buy, then just go pick one of these up. But if you’re trying to keep costs low, you can make do with something much more affordable.

Anyway, on to the filter details:

The multi-stage filter is extremely strong and can work through 700 gallons per hour. This means if your turtle tank is anything under 250 gallons (which most are), the FX4 will get rid of waste and debris with ease.

One of the best things about this filter is that it comes with a microchip that optimizes the performance of the pump based on the conditions of the water. This will prevent the pump from working harder than it has to, saving you money (and cleaning time).

There are a few filter baskets as well (biological, mechanical, and chemical) which can hold different types of media. It also has a nice hose and pump that allows you to change water without straining your back.

Like we said earlier, if you want the very best filter for your turtle tank and money isn’t an issue, get this beast.

Pros:

  • Pumps 700 gallons per hour
  • Included microchip optimizes performance automatically
  • Easy installation
  • Comes with filter media baskets
  • Small footprint

Cons:

  • Expensive

4. Cascade 600 Submersible Turtle Tank Filter By Penn Plax

The Cascade 600 by Penn Plax is an underrated filter for turtle tanks that we’re a big fan of. It’s one of the most affordable filters on our list, but it still packs quite a punch.

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Penn Plax Cascade 600 Submersible Turtle Aquarium Filter

  • Quietly delivers 175 gallons per hour of crystal clear water
  • Cleans tanks up to 50 gallons in size
  • Activated carbon cartridge provides highly effective filtration
  • Pump head comes with adjustable and directional water flow

Unlike the first few on our list, the Cascade 600 is a submersible filter. It can work through 175 gallons per hour on a reasonably-sized tank (50 gallons). If you’re keeping a turtle in a tank of this size, this is definitely a filter to look into.

It has a fairly small footprint but still makes plenty of room for solid filter media cartridges. This is something that some submersible turtle tank filters struggle with. The quality of the media containers tends to suffer as size becomes a priority.

One nice feature we like about this product is the directional water flow you can get from the pump head. This is completely adjustable too, yet still feels sturdy. That makes it quite easy to customize the flow in your tank without feeling like the pump head is getting weaker over time.

While this filter obviously won’t take care of the water as effectively as a more robust canister filter, for the cost it’s rather impressive! As long as you have a tank that fits within the proper size guidelines, you’ll likely find the Cascade to be suitable for what you need.

Pros:

  • Adjustable and directional water flow
  • Very affordably priced
  • Well-made filter media cartridges

Cons:

  • Doesn’t get your water as clear as some of the other options on our list
  • Not as quiet as we would expect

5. Penguin 350 BIO-Wheel Power Filter By MarineLand

This is one of the most popular tank filters out there. It’s created by MarineLand, a company with a fantastic reputation and track record for creating high-quality products for aquarists.

This turtle tank filter is a little bit different than the other ones on our list. This is because It uses a rotating bio-wheel that provides an extremely high-quality level of filtration. The overall filter can handle all three of the man types of filtration (chemical, biological, and mechanical).

For such a small and affordably priced product, it packs quite the punch. It can filter up to 350 gallons per hour and can be used in aquariums all the way up to 75 gallons in size.

We were shocked when we use this product up close and personal. The amount of power and the efficiency it provided in terms of filtration was quite mind-blowing considering the size and price.

One of the downsides to using this turtle tank filter is that you’re stuck with the Marineland filter cartridges. while they aren’t terrible, there are definitely better options out there on the market right now.

This means if you want to upgrade to something a bit more robust you won’t be able to. It’s not something we anticipate many buyers needing to worry about, but it’s worth noting.

It’s also important to point out that depending on the number of turtles you have and the setup of their tank, you’ll probably find this filter struggling a bit at maximum size capacity. This means a 75-gallon tank with a lot of dirty water will probably challenge this filter a bit.

However, the price you pay for this turtle tank filter really can’t be beaten (for anything of quality at least). If you’re on a tight budget and your aquarium configuration works with this product, we definitely recommend it.

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Solid filtration rate
  • Does a good job keeping the water clear

Cons:

  • Struggles a bit at the tank size limits (as expected)
  • The components feel easy to break

6. Whisper EX Silent Multi-Stage Power Filter By Tetra

Another solid choice on the list, the Whisper EX by Tetra doesn’t disappoint. Made with noise (or the lack of it) in mind, this turtle tank filter is a great low-budget option for owners who don’t want to be deafened by their tank.

Tetra Whisper EX Silent Multi-Stage Turtle Filter

  • Provides silent multi-stage filtration for clear clean water
  • Moves water continuously to prevent debris buildup
  • Sets up easily right out of the box – no priming required
  • Design minimizes dripping to make cartridge changes eas

The truly impressive thing about this filter is how effective it is. It’s not large, is very affordable, and doesn’t make much noise. All of those things would typically indicate a weaker filter, but that’s not the case here!

However, you should be realistic. This filter does best with turtle tanks that are smaller than 70 gallons (assuming you buy their largest model), and it will struggle a bit at the upper end of the tank size range.

But if you have a small tank this is a great option. You can get it up and running in minutes which is great if you’re a low-maintenance aquarist who doesn’t want the hassle of a long setup.

Even though it’s quiet and small, the Whisper EX still has a lot of the same features you would expect from a high-quality filter. Multi-stage filtration, easy access cartridges, and solid water flow are all included.

It also has a convenient time strip that will give you a heads up on when your carbon filter needs to be swapped out. This will save you from buying filters prematurely, or having to keep track of when to buy new ones on your own.

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Very quiet
  • Impressive outflow

Cons:

  • Only for smaller tanks
  • Can struggle at the upper limits of recommended tank sizes

7. FX6 Canister Filter By Fluval

The big brother to the FX4, the Fluval FX6 is a beastly filter that can handle just about any home aquarium. It’s basically the FX4, but bigger.

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Fluval FX6 Canister Filter (400 Gal)

  • Best-in-class Multi-Stage Filter produces healthy aquarium water
  • Self-starting filter. Just add water and plug in.
  • Microchip optimizes filter performance and efficiency
  • For aquariums up to 400 gallons

This means that it’s definitely overkill for any modest-sized turtle tanks. Like way more than you need.

But if you have a really large setup and want to provide your turtles with the very best, this is the filter for you. It has a fantastic multi-stage filter that absolutely destroys any waste and debris found in the water. It doesn’t really matter what filter you stack it up against, the FX6 will come out on top.

It has the same high-tech microchip technology that allows the pump to optimize and improve its performance over time. This makes it not only more effective, but much more efficient.

One neat thing about the FX6 is that for all its power and internal complexity, it’s a breeze to set up. The installation process will only take you a few minutes once you know where you would like to put it. This is because it’s a self-starting filter that only needs water to get up and running!

Just like the FX4, the Fluval FX6 has removable baskets for filter media that can stack nicely on top of one another. This allows for water to get filtered effectively while still making it easy to swap things out.

Pros:

  • Extremely powerful and efficient filter
  • Pumps up to 925 gallons per hour
  • Microchip monitors and optimizes performance

Cons:

  • Quite expensive
  • Overkill for most turtle tanks

8. Decorative ReptoFilter For Turtle Tanks By Tetra

The ReptoFilter by Tetra is one of the more unique turtle tank filters on our list. Aimed primarily at turtle tanks, this provides a mix of habitat enrichment and filtration.

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Decorative ReptoFilter For Turtle Tanks

  • 3-stage Tetra filtration technology keeps water clear, remove odors, and creates an instant waterfall
  • Realistic natural stone appearance
  • Easy to set up and simple to clean
  • Comes with 2 year limited warranty

At first, we thought this might be a gimmick that negatively impacts performance. But upon further inspection we were wrong.

This turtle tank filter uses three-stage filtration just like most of the other filters on our list. It works well and keeps the water clean and odor-free. As you know, turtles can be a bit dirty. Such a small filter performing at this level was very impressive.

This is done with a filter that doubles as a waterfall. This creates a very pleasant and enriching environment for your turtles (something most other filters can’t provide).

We were really impressed with how realistic the fake rock looks. It’s really hard to tell the difference even when you’re up close!

You can use this turtle tank filter in an aquarium up to 55 gallons in size. This is actually quite a solid number for the price. Initially, our thoughts would be it would only work in tanks half that size!

Pros:

  • Waterfall provides enrichment
  • Rocks look very realistic
  • Solid filtration even when used in max tank sizes

Cons:

  • More moving parts means there’s a greater chance of it needing maintenance
  • Rocks can entice turtles to go climbing

9. Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter By MarineLand

This is another one of the best turtle tank filters, and it’s made by a company we’ve already included on our list. MarineLand did a fantastic job with this canister filter and was able to provide it in a relatively small (and affordable) body.

MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter

  • Submerged motor for quick and easy startup.
  • Two refillable chambers house carbon or customizable filter media.
  • Capable of filtering 290 gallons of water per hour.
  • High-efficiency polishing with the micron cartridge.

Even though the footprint is relatively small, you have two areas inside the filter to add your own filter media. These areas are easy to access but seal quite well (something you don’t get with all filters).

It has a submerged motor that keeps the design nice and allows you to finish the installation process in very little time. You pretty just much follow a few steps in the instruction booklet and you’re on your way!

As you might have guessed by the name of this filter, it’s really geared toward aquarists who want to polish and clean the appearance of their water. This is something that’s often challenging in turtle tanks, so to have that functionality in such an affordable product was quite surprising to us.

290 gallons of water can get filtered per hour which is a respectable output. You can also use this turtle tank filter in an aquarium as large as 97 gallons (odd number we know).

Pros:

  • Does a fantastic job of clearing up the water
  • Fast installation/setup
  • Solid filtration rate

Cons:

  • Gets louder with age
  • Very dirty water will challenge this filter

10. Quietflow Internal Power Filter By Aqueon

This is a great turtle tank filter that’s quite underrated in our opinion. In fact, we didn’t even know about it until we started our research process (we were at least aware of most of the other ones).

Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter

  • Fully submersible in vertical or horizontal position
  • Adjustable return flow rate
  • Features three-stage filtration
  • Recommended for 40 gallon turtle tanks-flow rate is 155 GPH

This filter is relatively small and quiet, which are two of the main reasons why it’s a good buy. It’s made to be unassuming and out of the way unlike some of the larger filters for turtle tanks on our list.

Despite this, it does a really solid job of cleaning the water. You get three-stage filtration that helps remove toxins, debris, discoloration, and other water impurities.

This filter is submersible and comes with a directional water return which allows you to customize how it’s used in your tank a bit more. It can work through 155 gallons per hour and is made for tanks up to 40 gallons.

Pros:

  • Quiet with a small footprint
  • Directional water return
  • Comes with a limited lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Not a good fit for large tanks with multiple turtles
  • The advertised filtration rate is likely a bit high

11. Turtle Clean 15 External Canister Filter Zoo Med

If you have a pretty small turtle tank, this might be the filter for you. Made by Zoo Med, this product is known for its ability to be consistent and solid.

Zoo Med Turtle Clean 15 External Canister Filter

  • Small, convenient filter fits outside the tank
  • Contains biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration
  • For turtle tanks up to 15 gallons
  • Clear viewing case lets you see when filter media needs replacing

There’s no patented technology or fancy features. It’s just a solid all-around turtle tank filter that does the job.

Because of its small footprint, it’s easy to set up and easy to clean. The filtration actually happens outside of the tank which makes the whole process of changing things out significantly easier than other filters.

But even though there isn’t a lot of space inside this product, you still get the industry-standard feature of three-stage filtration. Biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration all occur in this tiny little package!

To top things off, you get a nice one year warranty when you pick up the Turtle Clean 15. This should help provide you with a little peace of mind when giving this product a shot.

Pros:

  • Small footprint
  • Fairly quiet
  • Design makes for easy cleaning

Cons:

  • Only good for tanks 15 gallons or smaller
  • Accessory gear is a bit lackluster

What To Look For In A Turtle Tank Filter

As you can probably tell by now, there are a few things you’ll want to keep an eye on when picking a turtle tank filter. All of the best ones provide a significant amount of value in each of the areas below.

But there’s something you shouldn’t forget:

At the end of the day, the best turtle tank filter is the one that fits with your setup. While one filter might look better on paper, if it doesn’t match what you need for your aquarium it doesn’t really matter.

You should take this process very seriously, because a good filter is just as important as a good heater.

Our advice is to take each of the factors below into account and pick your favorite from the list above.

Tank Size

This is an obvious one, but it’s surprisingly easy to forget about. With so many other specs and features left to consider, sometimes the obvious stuff gets missed!

While tank size might seem like a straightforward thing to compare, you need to consider the conditions and strength of the filter as well. Here’s what we mean:

Let’s say you have a 50-gallon turtle tank with two turtles that love to make the water dirty. While there are plenty of filters for turtle tanks that are rated for use on aquariums up to 50 gallons, not all of them will be suitable for your situation.

Some of them struggle at their tank size limits, and the nature of your dirty tank might be too much for it to handle. In this situation, you’ll need either a very strong filter rated for use on 50-gallon tanks, or a filter that can handle a larger tank (something like 70 gallons).

Reliability & Maintenance

Maintenance and reliability aren’t just convenience factors when it comes to turtle aquarium filtration. It can actually be far more serious.

If your filter breaks completely and you don’t have a backup plan handy, the water is going to get dirtier and dirtier while you try and solve the problem. This isn’t good for the health of your turtles!

That’s why we like to view these factors as more of an element of safety and health than anything else. When you view it through that lens, it becomes a very big priority.

Flow Rate

The amount of water your turtle filter can work through each hour is a very important spec to consider. Generally speaking, the higher this number is the better.

The downside is that this will increase the price. That’s a big reason why a filter like the FX6 costs so much, and a filter like the Turtle Clean 15 can only move a fraction of that.

Take your budget, tank size, and habitat into consideration when it comes to this.

Type Of Filtration

You’ll see that with many of the turtle water filters, we mention something called three-stage filtration. This refers to the three main types of filtration available (mechanical, biological, and chemical).

Having all three isn’t a requirement for a filter to work, but it makes a big difference. That’s why most of the best filters for turtle tanks have them!

If you want the very best, make sure you only consider a filter that has all three types.

Wrapping Up

The best filters for turtle tanks come in all shapes and sizes. You have canister filters, submersible, and hang-on-back available to you.

This is great because it allows you to find the best style and fit for whatever turtle tank setup you currently have. You won’t be forced to shuffle the habitat in order to find something that works!

We hope you find a product on this list that you like. We spent a lot of time putting this guide together, and are confident that no matter what your needs are there will be at least one filter above that works for you.

If there are any other turtle aquarium filters that you think we should consider, feel free to send us some information about them. If we think they’re worth exploring, we’ll pick it up and start the research process!

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