How To Choose The Best Turtle Pond Filter? [Buying Guide]

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Aquatic turtles are the happiest when they live in a spacious area with lots of water. So, many turtles owners prefer to keep their turtles in a pond. If you want to keep your turtle happy, you must maintain clean water in the pond. But many people pay little attention to setting up the right pond filter for their turtle pond. 

In this article, I will tell you how to choose the best turtle pond filter and how you make a DYI Turtle filter at home. You may ask why you should be serious about setting a pond filter. Turtles do not need a filter in the wild, right?

So, let us first understand why turtles need a filter. 

Does A Turtle Pond Need A Filter?

First, you need to understand how important it is to set up a filter in your turtle pond, especially for an outdoor pond. 

Turtle species are aquatic or semi-aquatic. They spend most of their time in the water. So, the water quality seriously affects the health of a turtle. In the wild, turtles live in natural water sources. So, when they pee or poop in the water, the continuous flow of fresh water washes away the waste. 

But pet turtles are kept in an artificial water body. They do not have a natural water filtration system. Without a filter, all the turtle poops and leftover foods remain in the turtle tank or pond. 

The accumulation of waste is even higher for outdoor turtle ponds. Tree leaves, branches, and debris can easily find their way into the pond. Eventually, algae will form, and the water will turn green. All these wastes decompose in the water and increase the level of ammonia. Thus, it can kill the beneficial bacteria essential for turtle health. 

Besides, the pond will smell bad, and no one likes a dirty pond. Yes, you can change the water manually every other day. But cleaning the turtle tank every day requires a lot of time. It will also stress your turtle. 

So, a filter is necessary to keep your turtle pond water clean and safe for the turtles. It will remove and filter the turtle waste and debris from the water constantly. Thus, your turtle does not have to swim in their pee and poop. Besides, a high-quality filter keeps the water crystal clear so that you can see what your turtle is doing in the pond. 

How to Choose a Filter For Turtle Pond? 

Setting up just any filter is not enough to keep your turtle pond clean and healthy. There are different kinds of filters available in the market. A regular tank filter may not be enough for filtering a turtle pond. You have to consider a lot of factors before buying or building a filter for a turtle pond. 

Here are some factors you should consider before buying a turtle pond filter:

The Pond Size and Other Elements

As I have mentioned before, you cannot buy just any filter for a turtle pond. You must consider the size of the pond and how many turtles will live there. Big size turtles or multiple turtles will produce too much waste. 

If you want a filter for an outside turtle pond, you need to consider the amount of sun exposure, plant numbers around the pond, and the types of plants. 

The more plants and trees surround the pond, the dirtier it will get. Exposure to sunlight increases the chance of algae build-up in the pond. Hence, you will need a powerful filter for proper filtration.

The Cost of The Filter

Next, you need to consider the price of the filter. The price depends on the materials, features, durability, and brand value. Fixing a budget for the filter helps you to narrow down your choices. 

You have to pay a good amount for a high-quality commercial filter. Many people prefer to make a DYI pond filter at home. Then you have to buy the filter materials separately. Although the price will be slightly lower than the commercial filters, you have to build the filter manually. It requires careful planning and time. 

The Type of Turtle Filter

There are different types of filters to choose from. But for a turtle pond filter, we recommend canister filters for their water filtration process. You can use an underwater canister filter or an above-ground canister filter. 

If you do not have much space around the pond, consider getting an underwater filter. An internal or underwater filter is also a good choice for small ponds. 

An above-ground filter is a better choice if you have the space to install it. The water pump will be in the water, and the filter stays outside. The water is pumped inside the filter and returns to the pond after purification through a separate pipe. 

Size and GPH of the Filter

A turtle pond gets dirty faster than a regular fish pond. So, you must choose a filter compatible with the size and amount of water in the pond. It should be large enough to filter at least one-half of the pond water in one hour. 

It means for a 200-gallon pond, you need to install a filter that can purify 100 gallons of water per hour, and for a 300-gallon pond, the filter should clean 150 gallons of water per hour. Thus, high volume of water, it is necessary to set up a large external pond filter with a powerful pump.

The Filtration System

How the pond water is purified by the filter is the most important factor in choosing a filter. A filter must have a mechanical and biological filtrations system. If a filter also has chemical filtration, then it is the best option for a turtle pond.

All these filtration stages are necessary to purify different kinds of wastes in the water. The filter must not only remove the waste but also maintain the level of beneficial bacteria in the water. 

The first stage of filtration is the mechanical stage. In this stage, the filter removes the large particles such as turtle poop, food waste, algae and other debris. The water will look much cleaner after this stage.

However, this mechanical filtration cannot remove the ammonia in the water created by turtle pee and other decomposed materials. For that, the filter needs to have a biological filtration stage. 

The biological filtration stage helps to grow beneficial bacteria for the pond. These bacteria oxidise the ammonia and turn them into nitrates. Later, the aquatic plants in the pond absorb the nitrates.

The final stage is chemical filtrations. The water gets purified for the third time through the chemical filtration stage. This stage is necessary when the ammonia level in the pond is too high that the biological filtration is not enough to break it down. Chemical filtration removes the awful smell produced by a high level of ammonia in the water.  

Ease of Maintenance 

Eventually, the filter gets clogged with all the filth it purifies from the water. Then, you have to clean the filter and reactivate it. 

It should be easy to remove the media from the filter. You need to clean the filter media or replace them and re-install the filter. 

When you buy a filter, make sure it has replacements for substrates and other parts.  

How Do You Make A Filter For A Turtle Pond?

Now that you know how important it is to choose the right filter for your turtler pond, you are probably wondering how to get one. If you have the time and skill, build your own turtle pond filter. It can be cheaper than the commercial filters available on the market. You can customise the size and substrate according to your turtle pond. 

A DIY filter is the same as a commercial filter. However, you have to buy all the materials to build the filter from scratch. In this article, I will tell you how to build a 10-gallon water filter that can filter the water of a 110-gallon pond at least 8 times in one hour.

 Here is what you need to build a turtle pond at home:

  • A large plastic tote container or a plastic trashcan
  • High-quality water pump
  • Poly-fills 
  • Dishwashing sponges
  • Lava rocks
  • A few one-inch PVC pipes
  • Few in-capes
  • Two 90-degree connectors and a T-connector 
  • 1-inch Uni-seals 
  • PVC cutter 
  • PVC cement
  • Aquatic plant basket/ any baskets with holes
  • Terracotta pot 
  • Drill 

After gathering all the materials, you can start building your DIY turtle pond filter. Here is what you should do: 

Choosing the Filter Container

There are so many options you can choose from for the filter body. It can be a large plastic tote container or a trash can. A plastic trashcan proved to be a better choice for my turtle pond. So, you can choose a 10-gallon trashcan, as I have done for my 110-gallon pond. If you have a larger tank, use a larger trashcan to build the filter. 

You want the pond filter to be durable. So, do not buy cheap or flimsy containers to build the filter. The container should have high-quality, durable, and heavy-duty material. 

After choosing the trashcan, start turning it into a filter. Take a drill and make three holes in it. One hole should be on the top to let in the pond water, and the other two near the bottom of the trashcan to transfer the purified water back into the pond. 

Choosing the Pump for Filtration 

For filtration, choose a high-quality pump. It should be powerful enough to filter your turtle pond several times in one hour. For my project, I used the Jebao DCT-4000 Pump. It is a small size pump with great power. So, it will not take up much space in the pond yet provide an excellent service. 

Jebao DCT-4000 can pump up to 1,100 gallons per hour at full speed, which means it can filter 110-gallon-pond water at least 8 times per hour. 

You will get a remote controller to adjust the speed of the pump. There is also a feed button on the controller to stop the pump for 10 minutes so that you can feed the turtles and the food does not get sucked into the pump. 

Placing the Container and Pump

Now, it is time to decide where you want the turtle pond filter. It should be right beside the pond. Make sure to put the trashcan on level ground or surface. Otherwise, the bottom of the can may bow down and crack because of the weight of the substrates. 

It may not be possible to find level ground for an outdoor pond. In that case, you can place some cinder blocks on the ground and lay some wood planks on top. Then put the filter on the planks. 

Once you decide where the filter will be, think about where to put the pump. You better not put the pump right at the bottom of the pond. 

Unfortunately, the container can break or leak when you are not around. As a result, the pump might end up sucking all the water from the pond and leaving it empty. 

To avoid such a disaster, put the pump about two feet above the bottom of the pond. Use a terracotta pot or a plastic bucket with holes to lift the pump. This way, the pump cannot drain the entire pond water if the filter breaks. 

Installing the Pipes 

The pipes may not fit when you try to put them directly in the holes of the trashcan. Water will leak from the holes. So, use uni-seals on the holes to support the pipes. This way, the PVC pipes will fit perfectly. 

After that, cut the PVC according to the size you need to fit on the filter and the pump. You may have to cut the pipes, so use the PVC cutter to make things easier. 

Attach the pipes with the 90-degree connectors to bend the pipes inside the filter from the pump. The water should spread on the mediums evenly so you can use the T-connector and make some holes in it. Then attach it to the end of the pipe coming inside the filter.  

Placing the Mediums in the Filter

Now, set up the mediums in the trashcan. First, put a terracotta pot (with holes) at the bottom of the container. Then spread some lava rocks around it. The lava rocks will work as the chemical filtration stage.  

Next, fill a holed basket with sponges and place the basket on top of the terracotta pot. It will be the biological filtration stage. Finally, spread several layers of poly-fil on top of the basket. Here the mechanical filtration will happen. 

Run the Filter and Check for Leaks

When you finish setting up the mediums and fitting the pipes, you can do a test run of your new turtle pond

During the water testing, you may notice water leaking from some places where the pipes are connected. It can be from the 90-degree connectors. To fix these leaks, turn off the pump. Then use PVC cement to seal the leaks. Let the cement dry for at least 2 hours. Then do a test run again. 

So, this is how you can make a turtle pond filter. Yes, it may take some time, but you can customise the size of the filter according to your needs. 

For those who do not have time to build a DIY pond filter, you can buy a commercial one from the market. You may also prefer an internal filter instead of an external one. If you are buying a filter for the first time, you may not have much idea about which one to choose. 

So, here are two options you can consider: 

Aquagarden Pennington: Best Turtle Pond Filter

One of the best pond filters I can recommend is the Aquagarden Pennington. It is an all-in-one solution package for your pond. This in-pond filter comes with a Water Pump, UV Clarifier, LED Spotlight and fountain. 

The Aquagarden Pennington has three all three stages of the filtration process. So, the pond water will go through mechanical, biological and chemical filtration. The filter also has a UV clarifier, which removes the excessive build-up of algae in the pond and keeps the pond water clear. 

The filter has different models available for ponds of sizes from 200 gallons to 900 gallons. When it is time to clean the filter, you can easily take out the medium to clean them. 


  • All-in-one pond filter kit
  • Easy to set up
  • Easy to clean
  • UV clarifier for clear water
  • Two-years warranty 


  • Expensive 

Click for Price

POND BOSS Filter Kit: Best Economical Choice

If you want a budget-friendly filter, the Pond Boss Filter Kit is the best option. It is an ideal choice for smaller ponds, as it does not take up much space. It is also easy to assemble and place in the turtle pond. 

The filter has two layers of foam. The pump sucks in the dirty water and goes through the first layer of foam. The foams are coarse open-cell which filter the large waste particles, like leaves, branches, algae, and turtle food waste. 

The second foam layer has smaller pores that filter the smaller waste particles. Then there are the bio-balls as the third stage to help grow the beneficial bacteria. 

The ETL energy-efficient fountain pump spreads the water back into the pond. You can control the flow rate through the fountainhead. 


  • All-in-one pond filter kit
  • Easy to set up
  • Comes with a water pump and fountainhead


  • Only one-year guarantee 
  • The filter medium can clog sooner 

Click For Price

Outdoor turtle pond setup guide infographic

outdoor turtle pond setup guide infographic

For a printable version of this infographic, click here!


Hopefully, you have learned how to choose the best turtle pond filter. Choosing the right filter for the pond can be the best thing you do for your turtle. Your turtle’s health depends on it. 

Always go for pond filters with three stage filtration system as you have seen in this article. If you find the commercial filter expensive, you can make your turtle pond filter. 

About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


This site is owned and operated by Muntaseer Rahman. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.