The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.
I think Hydor Professional External Canister filter is the best filter for turtle tank. If you want to know more about it, read the rest of the article.
Filtration is one of the most important aspects of keeping a pet turtle. As turtles tend to be very messy animals, it is very hard to keep their habitat clean. In this article, I’ll talk about the best filters for turtle tank. All of these filters are reviewed and tested thoroughly. So, let’s get started.
Choosing a reliable filter is extremely important to ensure your turtle is growing in a healthy, clean environment. As there are thousands of types of filters in the market, one can easily get confused on which one to buy.
7 Best Filters for Turtle Tank:
|Hydor professional canister filter
|10 x 8 x 19 inches
|Penn Plax Canister Filter
|15 x 11.5 x 10 inches
|SunSun external canister filter
|10 x 13 x 15 inches
|Fluval external canister filter
|7.6 x 11.4 x 14.8 inches
|Polar Aurora canister filter
|11.5 x 11.5 x 19 inches
Let’s get to meaty stuff now. Here is a list of my top favorite external canister filters for turtle tank:
1. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter:
Hydor professional external canister filter is a complete eco-system built in a box. It provides all the necessary mechanical, biological as well as chemical filtration for maintaining a healthy turtle tank. Everything you need is included with the filter and it is super easy to set up.
If you are interested to know the latest price of this filter, click here. It will take you to the review page on Amazon.
- A complete built-in ecosystem in a box.
- Provides mechanical, biological and chemical filtration.
- You don’t need to have any technical knowledge to set up the filter. It is super easy to get the filter ready.
- Everything you need to start the filter is included with it.
- Comes in multiple powers for multiple sizes of tanks, so you can easily choose one that suits your tank size and water volume.
- The dimension of the filter is 10 x 8 x 19 inches.
- It weighs about 13.5 pounds.
- The inlet tube has a diameter of 3/4 inches and the outlet tube has 5/8 inches.
- The filter includes long thick hose for increased water flow. It also has enough power to pump all the water throughout the tank.
- It produces next to no sound which is actually great and rare among filters.
- Very easy to setup and maintain.
- Some customers complained the filter is a bit hard to clean.
2. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter:
Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter offers powerful multistage external filtration for either freshwater or saltwater tank. It can work perfectly even with a 200-gallon tank. The filter has a flow rate of 350 GPH. There are various types of media inside the filter which provides mechanical, biological as well as chemical filtration for your turtle tank.
The filer is very straightforward to install. Everything you need comes with the package. from start to finish it will take about 30 minutes to set up the filter and make it running. There are two 360-degree independent rotational valves which make placing the filter very easy. There are also valves for controlling flow rate and hose clamps like the one that is used in swimming pools.
The pump comes with a large filter tray, filter media as well as tubes for input and output. It has airtight seals which ensure minimal noise when the filter is operating. You can use any combination of filtering media inside the filter for a superior filtration.
So, if you are interested to know more about the filter, click here. It will take you to Amazon.
- Has an easy quick push button to start the filter.
- Two 360 degree rotational valves that are independent.
- Very sturdy and durable construction
- 350 GPH flow rate which is sufficient for even a 200-gallon tank
- Swimming pool style hose clamps are used in the filter.
- Comes with 2 large media baskets. You can customize these baskets with any type of filter media you want.
- Valves for controlling the flow rate
- The dimension of the filter is 15 x 11.5 x 10 inches
- The filter weighs about 10 pounds
- Water flow rate up to 350 GPH
- Two 360 degree rotational valves for easy maneuvering.
- Large media baskets can hold a lot of filter media
- Easy push button to control the operation of the filter
- Includes tubing, spray bar, filter media as well as a directional spout.
- Some customers complained the flow rate is not enough.
- One customer faced some tilting issue after the first cleaning of the filter.
3. Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter:
Marineland Magniflow canister filter is an industry standard filter which has an excellent combination of style and high-voltage performance. This filter has a three-stage powerful filtration which is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater tank. The multistage high-powerful filtration system ensures that your turtle tank has a healthy and clean environment.
The lid has a watertight seal, which ensures minimal sound when the filter is running. The polishing filter pad strains out even the smallest particles from the water. The ceramic rings and bio balls offer great biological filtration. On the other hand, the black diamond carbon is excellent for chemical filtration.
Click here to check out the latest price of this filter at Amazon.
- The lid of the canister filter provides a watertight seal which ensures minimum sound when the filter is operating.
- The polishing filter pad removes even the tiniest particles from the water column
- The bio balls and ceramic balls offer superior biological filtration
- The black diamond carbon is perfect for chemical filtration
- Included filter foam pad for excellent mechanical filtration
- The dimension of the filter is 12.2 x 9.2 x 15.5 inches
- It weighs about 11.7 pounds.
- The customer service is excellent
- The setup procedure is very straightforward and easy.
- Thanks to the airtight seal, it doesn’t make as much noise as other external filters
- Very easy to clean and maintain
- Some customers don’t prefer the micro bubble feature
- One customer complained that the filter is slightly underpowered.
4. SunSun External Canister Filter:
SunSun external canister filter is ideal for a large turtle tank or overstocked tank. They are suitable for both freshwater as well as saltwater tanks. The filter has a large body, which is appreciated because you can stuff more filter media inside it.
This canister filter provides superior biological, mechanical as well as chemical filtration. Unlike most other canister filters in the market, you can stuff a greater amount of filtering media inside the filter which provides better filtration.
Water circulates through the filter and the tank with the help of a pump. The pump is set inside the filter. The maintenance of the filter is very easy and straightforward.
Click here to check out the latest price of this filter at Amazon.
- Comes with 3 media trays where you can stuff your favorite filtering media. As SunSun canister filter has a bigger body, you can place more filter media inside this filter than most other filters.
- No need for siphoning manually. The self-priming pump does all the job for you.
- Works great both for freshwater and saltwater tank.
- The package contains one main filer body, one barrel head, four draining trays, two 5 feet length flexible tubes, one cover for the draining trays, one output and input curvy bar, two spray bars, two connected bars, one spray bar cover, 3 cotton pads and lastly, 3 input bars with a cover.
- The filter can work well for up to a 75-gallon tank
- The maximum flow rate is 265 GPH
- The dimension of the filter is 10 x 13 x 15 inches
- It weighs about 9.7 pounds.
- As the filter offers 3 trays for keeping filtering media, it works great for mechanical, biological as well as chemical filtration.
- The maximum flow rate is 265 GPH which is sufficient for most turtle tanks.
- The assemble and set up of the filter is very easy and straightforward. Everything you need is included with the package. All you need is to follow the instructions.
- Some customers didn’t like the construction of the filter.
- According to some customers, the flow rate can be better. There is a similar model with 525 GPH flow rate. If you are interested, check out the filter here.
5. Fluval External Filter:
Fluval external canister filter is a refined more powerful canister filter with efficient motor for superior filtration. Fluval makes the filtration process for turtle tanks easier, more convenient and easy to manage. It contains 35% to 50% more internal space than most other canister filters in the market. so, you can stuff more filtering media inside it for better filtration.
The filter comes with necessary filtration media for mechanical, biological and chemical filtration. This filter comes in 4 different sizes, each with an increased amount of flow rate and interior space. The one-motion lock clamps make cleaning this filter very straightforward and easy. You have the ability to customize the media baskets and control the flow rate of the filter.
If you want to check out the latest price, click here. It will take you to Amazon.
- Works in multistage for better and more efficient filtration. It is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater tanks.
- Comes in four different sizes each with better flow rate and interior capacity
- Designed with a sound dampening impeller which makes the operation quiet.
- The intake strainer is clog-proof. So, you’ll not have to face any hard time cleaning it.
- Has a double layer foam screen
- Made with more than one filtration baskets, Aquastop valves, and assemblies for rim connector.
- Comes with a 3-year warranty.
- The dimension of the filter is about 7.6 x 11.4 x 14.8 inches
- It weighs about 6.4 pounds
- The flow rate is 206 GPH
- With Fluval canister filter, you’ll get premium performance with maximum versatility
- Made using advanced motor technology for superior filtration
- Precisely engineered bearings and impeller make next to no sound while the filter is operating
- Multistage filtration system provides better filtration
- Inserting and removing the filtering media is easy due to the independent modules.
- Some customers have faced some problems with leaking.
- The user manual needs to be revised and more helpful.
6. Eheim Classic External Canister Filter:
Eheim classic external filter has been tried for hundred times for superior level of efficiency. The process allows mechanical as well as biological filtration at the same time simultaneously. The constant water circulation through the filter ensures enrich amount of oxygen in the water. The best thing about this filter is, it has a very compact and stylish design which comes with a stand.
Click here to check out the current price of this filter on Amazon.
- The silicone sealing ring made from Permo-elastic ensures easy opening and closing of the filter.
- Comes with loose filter media such as sponges.
- The package includes inlet pipe, spray bar, hose along with accessories for installation.
- Everything you need is sent with the filter (media and valves). So, you don’t have to worry about buying anything else.
- The dimension of the filter is 8 x 6.3 x 14 inches
- It weighs about 4.49 pounds
- Comes in three sizes each suitable for different sizes of tank
- Along with the filter, you’ll get Eheim’s large surface area bio media, one sponge, one carbon filter floss, one polishing pad and Eheim Mech.
- the setup is easy and straightforward. You just need to follow the instructions.
- Easy maintenance.
- The instruction manual needs to be better looking.
- Eheim needs to be more careful when shipping their items. Some customers received their filter with broken parts.
7. Polar Aurora Canister Filter with Sterilizer:
Polar Aurora canister filter is a great canister filter suitable for tanks up to 150 gallons. It is also equipped with a sterilizer. With the help of adapt lever, you can adjust the flow rate of this filter.
Check out the latest price of this filter on Amazon.
- Polar Aurora canister filter provides 5 stages of filtration for keeping the turtle tank clean and healthy.
- It is equipped with a built-in 9 watt UV sterilizer which kills all the bad bacteria and pathogen from the water.
- Suitable for tanks up to 150 gallons
- The maximum flow rate of the filter is 525 GPH
- The power of the pump is 55W
- Comes as a complete kit. everything necessary to assemble the filter is sent with it. You don’t have to worry about getting anything else.
- The dimension of the filter is 11.5 x 11.5 x 19 inches
- The shipping weight is about 17 pounds.
- The maximum flow rate is 525 GPH
- Very effective filtering. Takes care of the tank and makes the water clean within a very short period of time.
- I love the UV sterilizer. Thanks to it, I don’t have to worry about pathogens in my turtle tank.
- Great construction and durable body
- Makes absolutely no noticeable sound when the filter is operating
- Some owners faced slight issues with the surface skimmer
- A few customers have faced difficulty with the priming
Best Underwater Turtle Filter:
As I have mentioned earlier, I don’t prefer any other types of filter other than canister filter for a turtle tank. However, if you do need to use an underwater turtle filter, then I’ll recommend getting Fluval Underwater Filter.
It is a decent underwater filter with 3 stages of filtration. The BioMax biological filtering helps to create a crystal clear water quality inside the tank. This U3 filter is suitable for any type of freshwater, saltwater or reptile environments. You can control the position of the flow at three different positions.
For getting maximum circulation and oxygenation, you need to select the Top Output. With the integrated spray bar, you’ll get a gentle water flow throughout the aquarium. The bottom output setting is used for agitation in deep water. You can either install it vertically or horizontally, however you want. Moreover, if you have a creative mind, you can use it as a waterfall too!
Check out the latest price on Amazon.
How to Choose the Best Filter for Turtle Tank:
Do you know what is the purpose of a filter? The actual purpose of a filter is to clean the water and remove all the impurities from it. The impurities can be fish waste, oily films on the water, scum, debris etc. Here are the things to consider for choosing the best filter for turtle tank:
The first thing you need to look for is your budget. Filters come in a large price range. So, you need to choose one that falls within your price range and works efficiently.
Generally, the costlier a filter is, the better it performs. Though there are many types of filters available in the market, I think canister filters are the best for turtle tanks. Canister filters generally tend to cost a lot more than other types of filters. So, I’ll always recommend getting a canister filter. You can get a cheap one if you are on a tight budget.
Don’t think that you are wasting money by getting a high-quality canister filter. It is like an investment. The filter will pay itself off in the future.
Size of the Tank:
The power of your filter will depend on the size of your tank. If you have a medium size tank, then a medium power canister filter will do the job. On the contrary, high-power filters are required for large turtle tanks.
In most cases, turtle tank tends to be at least 30 to 40 gallons. Tanks of this size need powerful canister filter.
Is it Durable?
Durability is also a very important factor when choosing the best filter for turtle tank. No one wants a filter that will last only 2 months. So, always check the durability before you buy a filter.
Granted, it is difficult to know the durability of a filter when you didn’t even use it. However, you can research beforehand on the internet and see what other customers have said about it. If the average customer review is positive, then you can be sure that it is a pretty durable filter.
The more powerful the filter is, the more efficient it will be. You want to get a filter that is sufficiently powerful for your tank. An underpowered filter will face a hard time cleaning your turtle tank. The power of a filter also depends on how much time it takes to clean the water of the tank. The less time it takes, the more powerful it is. Always try to get the most powerful filter within your budget. A sufficiently powerful filter will continue to work for a long time in a turtle tank.
The filter needs to be very easy to setup and have low maintenance. Filters that require constant high maintenance are not ideal for turtle keepers. These type of filters will make our life harder. We need to find a filter that is simple and requires next to no maintenance. Generally, freshwater filters require low maintenance than saltwater filters.
It is the main part of an aquarium filter. The motor is what drives the filter and cleans the water. Always choose a filter whose motor is reliable, efficient and powerful. Keep in mind that not all motors have same durability and maintenance. You need to choose one that has higher durability yet low maintenance. If the motor is good and long-lasting, then your filter will last for a long time too!
Why You Need to Treat Turtle and Fish Differently:
Turtles and fishes are similar in many cases. Both are aquatic and live in an almost same habitat. Both fishes and turtles are cold-blooded animals. They hunt in the wild to gather food and lay eggs for reproduction. However, caring for fishes and turtles are not the same. Turtles need somewhat different care and here is why:
Turtles get much larger than most of the ornamental fishes. They are also very messy animals and produce a lot of waste in the tank. So, you need to do much more work and have a much more powerful filter for a turtle tank. You’ll also need to have a larger tank as turtles need much more space than a similar size fish. Don’t think that the filter you are using for your fish tank will be sufficient for the turtle tank. You need to buy a more powerful one to keep the habitat clean and healthy.
What Are the Types of Filtration?
Before choosing a filter for your turtle tank, you need to have a clear base on filtration. There are basically three types of filtration that every turtle tank needs. I’ll talk about them in details here:
Mechanical filtration is the easiest to understand and the most visible one. It is basically straining out all the debris, solid stuff, uneaten food, fish waste from the water. Most filters perform mechanical filtration through a filter sponge. There are other media such as filter floss, fine sponge etc. Basically, you’ll need something that’ll let the water pass through but block all the solid stuff.
The good thing is, you can customize your own mechanical filtration media. I prefer this because it is much more effective than what comes with the filter. Polyester fiberfill pillow is a great media for mechanical filtration. You can insert it inside your filter chamber for superior mechanical filtration.
You can use both a filter sponge and a filter floss for the mechanical filtration. I like to use the filter floss for the primary stage of mechanical filtration. Then I set the sponge as a secondary stage filtration as sponges are great for biological filtration too.
Biological filtration is performed by the beneficial bacteria colony inside the tank. These bacteria colony grows on the same media as mechanical filtration, however, there are media specifically made for biological filtration. Ceramic rings, Seachem matrix etc. are great for growing beneficial bacteria colony. These beneficial bacteria are very important because they eat up the turtle waste, ammonia, nitrate and other harmful chemicals from the tank.
You can use any number of stages of biological filtration in your tank. Most filters in the market now use 2 stages of biological filtration. However, you can only use one if you are using a superior biofilter media such as Seachem Matrix. Seachem matrix has a great surface area and it is very porous which is ideal for growing aerobic and anaerobic bacteria. You can also use the matrix as a substrate layer. Though it seems a bit pricey, once you start using it, it’ll last forever.
If you don’t like the matrix, then I’ll recommend using ceramic rings. They are my second favorite media for growing bacteria. Like the Seachem matrix, ceramic rings are porous and have a large surface area. They also last for a long time.
Chemical filtration isn’t as important as the other two mentioned above. most of the time, you’ll not need it once the beneficial bacteria colony has grown well and the tank becomes established. It is usually performed with activated charcoal as well as ammonia filtering media.
If there is a bad odor from your turtle tank, then you can use activated charcoal in the filter to remove the elements that is making the bad smell. Ammonia filtering media should be used if the water contains too much ammonia.
Chemical filtration isn’t something that you want to mess with. Only perform it if you know what you are doing.
Various Types of Turtle Tank Filters:
Here are some of the popular types of turtle tank filters:
Internal filters are those which we use inside the turtle tank. They are also known as submersible filters. Internal filters are suitable for small to medium-small tank.
I don’t really like internal filters for a turtle tank. Firstly, they are not suitable for large tanks which turtles need. Secondly, these type of filters can’t handle the amount of waste that turtle produce. So, you need to often change the filter. Thirdly, submersible filters make a lot of noise which is not appreciated. Lastly, these type of filters contains very little media inside. So, they provide very poor mechanical and biological filtration.
If you do decide to choose an internal filter for any reason, be careful when setting it up inside the tank. Make sure that the filter is placed in a way so that the turtle can’t find it easily. Make sure that the wire doesn’t run over any sharp edges. You can shop for internal filters here.
External Canister Filters:
To me, external canister filters are the best type of filters for turtle tanks. They are named external because we can setup them outside the turtle tank. Thus, it saves up a lot of space. Also, canister filters are much more powerful than other types of filters. So, they are perfectly suitable for a turtle tank.
Here are the things you need to look out for when buying a canister filter:
- Canister filters with large space inside are better as they can hold much more filter media. The more filter media a canister filter can hold, the better it is.
- The filter needs to have a sufficient water flow rate in terms of the tank size. The flow rate needs to be enough so that it can turn the tank water over at least 5 times every hour. Though many turtle owners prefer a 10 times every hour turnover ratio, I have found that 5 times is enough provided that you have a decent amount of filter media inside the filter.
- The filter should have at least three stages of filtration. Most canister filter these days have 4 to 5 stages of filtration. The filter should perform mechanical, biological and chemical filtration. If the filter does not come with any media for chemical filtration, then you can use activated charcoal, aquarium peat, crushed coral etc. in the final stage for chemical filtration.
As canister filters are very effective in terms of cleaning a large tank, they are pretty expensive too. These type of filters cost much more than other types of filters in the market. So, whenever you are choosing a canister filter, you need to get one that offers excellent quality to cost ratio.
For this, I prefer, Hydor Professional External Canister filter. I think this filter provides great value and quality. Though it is a bit pricier than other canister filters, it is a complete eco-system in a box. Every stage of mechanical, biological and chemical filtration is already done for you. All you need to do is just plug in the filter and turn it on. Amazon has a great deal on this filter currently. Check out the latest price here at Amazon.
HOB Filters (Hang-On-Back):
These filters are named hang on back because they hang on the back of the turtle tank. They are really not that great for a turtle tank. It is because HOB filters need a specific water height for it to work. If the water height doesn’t reach the filter cutout, then the filter will not work. Most of the turtle tanks have much lower water depth than the required depth for HOB to work. As a result, HOB filters are not suitable for most turtle tanks.
If you need to use a HOB for your turtle tank, then you need to have an above the tank basking place so that the water height can be raised for the HOB to work. Also when buying the HOB, get one that has a power rating at least 3 to 4 times the amount of water in your turtle tank. It is necessary because turtles are messier than fishes and they produce a whole lot of waste.
UGF Filters (Under Gravel Filters):
There has been a lot of debate regarding using UGF in a turtle tank. Where some love them, many turtle owners think they are utterly useless.
The way a traditional UGF filter works is this: water gets pumped down through the gravel by the aquarium powerhead. The filter releases the water through its vertical tubes. It is an ideal strategy to grow beneficial bacteria colony on the substrate. However, this might not work great in a turtle tank because often times turtle waste and leftover foods get clogged up deep down the substrate. These can build up bad bacteria and create a pocket of ammonia, nitrate etc.
If you want, you can use a UGF filter and see how it works. Personally, I don’t like them in my turtle tank. I don’t think they are much effective at all for cleaning a turtle tank.
Here are some important notes regarding filter maintenance in a turtle tank:
- Always keep the filter turned on, no matter what filter you choose. If the filter is turned off for a considerable amount of time, then all the good bacteria will die because of lack of oxygenated water through the filter media. On the other hand, in the absence of oxygenated water, bad bacteria will start to grow.
- If you turn off the filter for water change or daily maintenance, then it is fine. However, don’t turn it off for more than an hour. In case of power failures, it is better to change the filter media and replace them with new ones.
Filter Medias for Turtle Tank:
Filter media are the thing that does the actual filtering in the filter. They differ according to the purpose of filtration such as mechanical filtration requires one type of filter media whereas biological filtration needs other types.
Media for Mechanical Filtration:
Media for mechanical filtration includes sponges, fiberfill floss etc. These media are used for straining out all the debris and particles from the water column. Sponges can be washed and re-used for several times. A quick thing to be noted here, never wash your sponge with tap water. Use the turtle tank water instead. It will not kill all the beneficial bacteria colony in the sponge.
Media for Biological Filtration:
Ceramic rings, bio balls, lava rocks etc. are used for biological filtration. These type of media have a porous large surface area which is ideal for growing beneficial bacterial colony. You can wash and re-use bio balls, ceramic rings until they wear away.
Media for Chemical Filtration:
Activated charcoal, peat moss, crushed coral etc. are popular chemical filtration media. They help to remove harmful chemicals from the turtle tank water. They are also helpful for getting rid of bad odor from the turtle tank.
Here are some important notes on filter media:
- Never use soap or detergent to wash the filter media. It will kill all the beneficial bacteria colony growing on the media. The safest way is to wash the media with the water from the turtle tank. It will make sure no harm is done to the beneficial bacteria.
- Gravels are also a great media for growing beneficial bacteria. However, you need to keep it clean for keeping the turtle tank healthy. Using a gravel vacuum cleaner is the easiest way to clean gravel.
Important Notes On Cleaning Turtle Tank Filter:
- Before you start to clean the turtle tank, you’ll have to unplug the filter first. Otherwise, various types of accidents may occur.
- Whenever you are plugging in or off the filter, make sure that your hands are dry and you are standing in a dry place. otherwise, you may get electrocuted.
- Always keep in mind that regular vacuum cleaners are never suitable for cleaning turtle tanks or fish aquariums in general. For cleaning turtle tank, you’ll have to get gravel vacuum cleaner specially made for aquariums.
- If a child is cleaning the turtle tank, then adult supervision is required.
- If you have any cuts or scrapes on your hand, then it is better not to work with the filter. As the filter media contains thousands of germs and pathogens, you can easily get ill from it.
- It is better to wear a protective glove whenever you are cleaning the interior of the filter and filter media.
- Clean your hands thoroughly with a soap or detergent after cleaning the filter. It is extremely important to remove all the germs from your hands.
- If any water from the turtle tank is splashed on your dress accidentally, then it is better to wash the dress before you get to wear it again.
Can You Use More Than One Filter?
Yes, of course, you can use more than one filter in a turtle tank. In most cases, it is better to use more than one filter if you have a very large turtle tank. If you have several filters, then their capacity will add up and you’ll get more effective filtration.
Another benefit of using two filters is, you’ll always have beneficial bacteria colony in your turtle tank even if you clean the filter media in one tank. You can alternate changing or cleaning the filter media between the two filters every month. This way, your tank will always have a colony of beneficial bacteria for biological filtration.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can I turn my turtle tank filter off at night?
No, the filter should run 24/7. You should never turn the filter off.
Can you use a fish tank filter for a turtle?
Turtle tanks need more powerful filter than a fish tank. If you want to use a fish tank filter for a turtle tank, make sure that the filter is at least 3-4 times more powerful than specified for the tank size.