The Best Filter For Turtle Tanks: The Top 7 of 2019

Happy turtles need clean water!

Which is why your pet turtle needs the best filter that you can afford!

As you may have observed, turtles tend to spend a good deal of time in the water. Making sure the water is regularly changed, or even better filtered, will guarantee better overall health for your turtle.

This guide will help you find the best filter for turtle tanks!


Top 7 Turtle Tank Water Filters : Comparison Chart

best filter media for turtle tank

Just like us, turtles also need to use the bathroom, and naturally do so in the water. Not to mention food, that can build up in the cracks and crevices and affect the quality of the water.

Keeping the water fresh and healthy for your pet turtle can be challenging. If the water isn’t properly filtered, it may start to smell or get cloudy.

We definitely don’t want that, so getting a good water filter is essential for your pet’s health. The water may even look fresh, but still contain harmful waste products such as ammonia. So do your shelled friend a favor, and make sure the water is clean and healthy!

Want to see how the best water filters compare to each other? 

Here is comparison chart of the best three filters you can buy in 2019

Editor's Picks

Product​​​​ Name


Best Choices

Fluval FX6 Canister Filter

Best Value Water Filter

Hydor Professional External Filte

Best Innovative Water Filter

Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter

Best Filtration Mechanism

Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter

Best Looking Water Filter

Tetra Decorative Filter

Best Silent Water Filter

Aqueon QuietFlow Internal Filter

Best Water Filter for Small Tanks

Zoo Med 511 Turtle Filter

My Top 7 Review of the Best Filters for Turtle Tanks on the Market

Now it’s time to review the best filters for turtle tankshere go!

Fluval FX6 Canister Filter - Best Professional Water Filter

Now the Fluval Canister Filter was made with professional pet owners in mind, as it’s one of the best turtle tank filters you can get. It’s also one of the most expensive, but the hefty price tag more than justifies this beast of a filter!

The best part is it’s simple design and use, with incredible filtration performance.

As you would expect, it’s a huge piece of equipment with an equally powerful motor. The latest FX6 model can support tanks of up to 400 gallons capacity! On top of that it packs a water circulation rate of up to 563 gallons per hour, which guarantees fresh and healthy water for your turtle pets at all times!

It’s also very easy to use and setup right out of the box. It’s plug and play design needs you to just connect it to the tank and power it on.

Unlike other tanks, you don’t need to push any buttons to drain the water or interact with it since it’s completely automatic.

A unique feature is the filtration system that uses Smart Pump Technology to get rid of air trapped in the water. This helps prevent the proliferation of harmful bacteria and toxins. The auto-timed system will shut off every 12 hours to allow eliminate the air bubbles before it re-starts.

There is also a utility valve at the bottom that helps the water recycle, keeping it healthy for your pet. 

This innovative filter features  Smart Pump Technology, including an electronic circuit board for monitoring, that helps in eliminating any trapped air in the system.

This filter stop after every 12 hours in order to allow trapped air to escape before it self-start again, making it super efficient. It even has a built in monthly maintenance reminder, which is a really cool feature.

You can easily put your preferred filtering media in the“baskets” which is the core of Fluval's multistage filtration system. Baskets are engineered precisely to eliminate any water spill or leakage, making it even more efficient. The large basket containers can hold almost 6 liters of filtering media, and can be stacked the way you want.

They feature a foam lining to improve mechanical prefiltering, to ensure clean and healthy water.

  • Powerful and efficient motor
  • Easy to use and self-starting
  • Can support turtle tanks up to 400 gallons
  • 563 gallon per hour water circulation rate
  • Eliminates trapped air
  • Not for beginners
  • Expensive

Hydor Professional External Filte - Best Value Water Filter

This filter is one of the best external canister filters you can buy on the market.

As the name suggests, it’s made for serious hobbyists and pet turtle owners. The hefty price tag is well justified by the quality of the build and durability of this filter.

The Hydor professional filter comes packed with features, creating an eco-system for your pet right out of the box! It uses a 3 stage filtration system that includes biological, chemical and mechanical filtration. This will guarantee that your pet turtle has clean and healthy water to inhabit for a very long time!

With a starting price of $135 for the 20 gallon tank, this canister filter is a bit pricey but well worth your money in the long run.

It features a 4-clamp system and seal to ensure that the motor functions optimally for years to come.

This filter works out of the box, making the installation process smooth and easy. It comes with detailed instructions and you have to put the parts together like “LEGO” to build it. It also boasts a flow rate of around 240 gallons per hour to keep the water properly cycled.

The Hydor filter is also available in many sizes, including huge tanks of up to 150 gallons. Despite the powerful motor, it operates quietly compared to other water filters on the market.

  • Easy to setup and clean
  • Powerful flow rate on all models
  • 4 clamp safety lock mechanism
  • Durable high-quality build
  • Non-replaceable parts

Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter - Best Innovative Water Filter

This filter by Penn Plax is another popular choice due to it’s innovative design and great performance.

As an industry leader in quality and innovative products, Penn Plax builds are beautifully crafted. Looks aside, it packs many features and heavy duty performance for your turtle tank. Definitely one of the best filters for turtle tanks on the market!

The Penn Plax Canister Filter comes with a powerful 3 stage filtration system that keeps the water fresh and bacteria-free.

It has some cool features like independent 360 degree rotating swimming pool style valves with flow controls. It pumps about 185 gallons per hour an is ideal for turtle tank of up to 65 gallons capacity.

Other good features include an intuitive push button for self-priming and a sturdy base that is guaranteed not to tip over. It also comes with 2 large baskets to fit the filtration media of your choice.

Maintaining it is easy, as the flow valves can be removed while all the other parts stay in the turtle tank.

This water filter is one of the best filters for turtle tanks, and one of the best on the market in 2019. Zilla being a reputable brand also offers a warranty on all their products. Their products can be found online and also at most pet shops, making it easy to find replaceable parts.

  • Easy setup and installation
  • Powerful and reliable
  • Works on both salt and fresh water tanks
  • Available in models up to 200 gallons
  • Expensive

Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter - Best Filtration Mechanism

This water filter by Aquatop is one of the most popular choices for turtle tanks. It’s modern and sleek look combined with it’s unique filtration system make it one of the best filters for turtle tanks.

The Aquatop CF Canister Filter comes in various sizes, maxing out at 175 gallons with a 525 gallon per hour flow rate.

What makes this filter one of the best turtle tank filters is that it includes a UV sterilizer. This feature isn’t commonly found on water filters and adds another level of filtration. It’s main function is to remove algae spores, parasites and other harmful bacteria found in the water by using UV rays.

The filter is easy to setup and the build is good quality. The only issue is it’s made of plastic, which makes it less durable than other filters on the market

The powerful motor is quiet an can pump out a whopping 525 gallon per hour flow rate on it’s 175 gallon tank model.suitable for tanks up to 175 gallons.

The entire kit can be used right out of the box, and includes a coarse filter sponge to improve mechanical filtration and 3 large filtration media compartments that you can customize with your preferred filtration media.

It also comes with AquaTop’s Premium Activated Carbon or Bio-Balls.

  • Quiet motor
  • Powerful flow rate
  • Slick design
  • 4+1 filtration including UV
  • Supports tanks of up to 175 gallons
  • Plastic build

Tetra Decorative Filter - Best Looking Water Filter

The Tetra 25905 is another budget option for a turtle tank filter that packs some good features.

Tetra is a long-standing brand on the market and this filter manages to combine good looks with good water filtration performance. For hobbyist and pet turtle owners with smaller tanks, the Tetra filter is a great choice.

The first point is the general aesthetics of the water filter, making it one of the best filters for turtle tanks in it’s own right.

Most filters can look like some mechanical object attached to your pet turtle’s natural environment. Here Tetra managed to find a way to make the filter blend into your tank, making the turtle’s environment look more natural.

It features larger intake holes to prevent clogging, and of course the patented waterfall system. The filter uses clever design to create a waterfall and a basking spot for your pet, all in one! So not only do you get an aesthetically pleasing addition to your turtle tank, but water filtration as well.

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It uses 3 stage whisper filtration, including replaceable Bio Bags to keep the water in the tank clear and fresh for your pet. This water filter can be used for both land-based turtles or fully aquatic turtle tanks as well.

Whether you choose to raise frogs, lizards or turtles, this water filter does it at a good price.

As a lower budget filter, it supports tanks of up to 60 gallons. It also includes a locking cover to keep your pets safely out of the filtration area.  

Overall, a great choice for amateur and hobbyist pet turtle owners, and it’s beautiful design make it a popular choice.

  • Beautiful design includes a basking area
  • 3 stage whisper filtration system
  • Locking cover keeps pets safe
  • Supports turtle tanks of up to 60 gallons
  • Quiet motor
  • Requires frequent cleaning and maintenance

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The Aqueon QuietFlow Internal Filter is fully submersible and can be place vertically or horizontally in the tank.  

This water filter boasts a high flow rate, and can accommodate tanks up to 40 gallons in size. It’s also adjustable, allowing you to control the direction and height of the water return.

A good investment for beginner and intermediate pet turtle owners, as it packs great features for decent price.

What makes this filter stand out is the excellent filtration system, that combines chemical, mechanical and biological filtration. It’s 3 stage filtration system ensures your pet turtle’s water is clear of food particles, debris, toxins and odour.

The patented BioGrid system keeps the water free of ammonia and nitrates, creating a healthy environment for your pet.

Another convenient feature of the Aqueon Quietflow Internal Filter is the internal pump, which reduces noise significantly. Aptly named “quietflow”, this model from Aqueon is affordable and gives you lots of bang for your buck.

You will need to replace the cartridges from time to time, but they are easily found online or at pet shops since Aqueon is a known brand.

This is one of the best filters for turtle tanks, and it also comes with a lifetime warranty.

  • Excellent performance
  • High flow rate
  • Available for various tank sizes up to 40 gallons
  • 3 stage filtration system with BioGrid
  • Internal pump for quiet operation
  • Internal cartridges need to be replaced
  • Cheap build and materials

Zoo Med 511 Turtle Filter - Best Water Filter for Small Tanks

Zoo Med, like the aforementioned Tetra, is another big player in the pet product industry for a long time.

Their products have a great reputation, and their water filters are no different. The Zoo Med 511 is designed to accommodate turtle tanks of up to 39 gallons, at a good price.

The Zoo Med 511 Turtle Clean Filter comes with flow rate control, which is completely adjustable. The design is compact and saves a lot of space in your turtle tank.

The filtration system uses a large carbon chamber to help keep the water free of toxins, ammonia and harmful particles. The filtration system is industry standard, keeping the water fresh an bacteria-free.

The filtration system used by the Zoo Med 511 filter is also 3 stage, combining mechanical, chemical and biological filtration. It keeps the water clear and odor-less, while keeping it free of built up debris. It’s easy to maintain, but requires more frequent maintenance than some of the more powerful water filters on the market.

It’s not very expensive, and comes with easy to follow instructions for setup and installation. The compact design will fit in your turtle tank without taking up much space in your pet’s environment.

A good choice for smaller tanks, and overall good value for your investment.

  • Small and compact
  • Built-in spray bar odor control
  • Adjustable flow rate
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Requires frequent maintenance to prevent clogging
  • Noisy motor

How to Choose the Best Filter for Your Turtle Tank? What You Need to Know

best filter pump for turtle tank

There are many factors to consider when choosing the best filter for a turtle tank.

Before you go out and spend a lot of money at the pet shop, consider the following

External vs Internal Filter

Internal filters are cheaper and easier to setup than external filters.

For experienced pet turtle owners, an external canister filter is the way to go as they provide the best performance.

You can also use a combination, by adding both an internal and external filter.  

It all depends on your setup, including of course the size of your turtle tank and what it can fit.

The Motor

This part of the filter is also important, since there are a few things to consider.

Motors can be loud, but the good news is you can buy “quiet filters” which is great for tanks in small living rooms.

The motor takes on a heavy load, so make sure to buy a good quality filter with a reliable motor.

Motors can run for several months at a time with no maintenance if you invest wisely.

You can find cheaper filters that will require much more hassle and maintenance, so the choice is yours!

Filtration Mechanism

Water filters can use different methods of filter the water.

So make sure to check the type of filtration it uses and choose a suitable one for your tank  Types of filtration include:

1. Mechanical Filtration

best filter setup for turtle tank

These filters operate like a “strainer” and sift out chunks of food and dirt from the water.

Usually they will use a sponge or floss type mechanism to keep the water clean.  

Mechanical filters are basic, but get the job done.

2. Chemical Filtration

To clean the water completely, chemical filtration is one of the best options.

It uses compounds such as activated carbon to absorb any toxic or harmful chemicals from the water.

It’s a more thorough type of water filtration that will help keep your pet turtle healthier.

3. Biological Filtration

This type of filter uses a more natural approach to keeping the water clean by pumping more nitrogen into the tank to produce oxygen.

This will keep the tank water fresh and clean, making it a more pleasant environment for your turtle to live in.

Additionally, this type of water filter promotes healthy bacteria, creating a more natural ecosystem in the tank.

Tank Size

As you may already know, turtle tanks come in various shapes and sizes.

The most important thing you need to know is the liter or gallon capacity of your turtle tank.

Filters are usually designed for specific tanks, such as for 20 gallon or 40 gallon. They can also be adjustable and configure for several tank sizes.

Always make sure the read detailed product information so that you know exactly what kind of tank the filter will support.

You can use a less powerful filter on a bigger tank, but it will have to work harder and may affect the lifespan of your water filter, for example.  

Make sure to buy a water filter that will work with your turtle tank!

So the Best Water Filter for My Turtle Tanks Is?

Although there are many great candidates for the best filter for turtle tanks, I would have to choose the Hydor External Canister Filter as the best overall water filter.

The combination of durability, ease of setup and affordability make it a great choice for both amateur and veteran turtle pet owners alike.

For serious hobbyists and professional turtle pet owners, the best choice would be the Fluval FX6 Canister Filter. It packs an insane water circulation rate of up to 563 gallons per hour and can support tanks up to 400 gallons capacity.

For those who want a cool and aesthetically pleasing filter that is under $100 and still performs well, I recommend the Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter. The innovative design and industry standard features are perfect for those getting your feet wet as a pet turtle owner for the first time.

At the end of the day, it all depends on what you have planned for your turtle or turtles.

No matter which filter you decide to go with, know that your buying a critical piece of equipment for your turtle tank.

The quality of the water is extremely important to the overall health and happiness of your little pet, so make sure to do your research and plan ahead before buying one!

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