The 10 Best Filter for Turtle Tank in 2023

Turtles are great because they’re friendly, cute, and fabulous! Also, they live forever (sort of). And it gets even more awesome to have one (or a couple of them) in a lovely spacious tank. The filters that we will talk about are the best filter for turtle tanks.

Making a home for a turtle usually starts with an aquarium. A big one will keep your shell friend happy. What’s more, is that you can decorate your tank the way your heart desires. But there’s one problem.

You can make the best looking turtle tank in the world, but you have to make sure that the water isn’t getting all dirty; this is why we think that you must have the best!


Best Pick and Budget Pick

Best Pick

Our best pick is the Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter. We believe that it is the best filter for turtle tank; this is because this brand is a trustworthy one and that this model of submersible filter comes in all sorts of capacities. Be it 10-gallon capacity up to 40 gallons.
Unlike the rest of the competition, this filter is compact; this means that it can fit into tight spaces inside your tank without obstructing the beauty of it. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.

Budget Pick

The Fluval Underwater filter comes as the strongest contender when it comes to filters being the budget king. Its filter capacity can range from 12 gallons to a whopping 65 gallons! And all of that at a reasonably affordable price.

Unlike the competition, this filter sports a convenient three-way flow control. The top part is responsible for circulating water and oxygenating it at the same time.

Moreover, this filter also has a flip-top system to enable you to access the cartridges. That is a straightforward way to replace and clean your cartridges. With many features packed into a budget-friendly price, this is indeed our top budget pick.


Top 10 Best Filters for Turtle Tanks Review

These are the top 10 best filter for turtle tank. These filters have their strengths and weaknesses. But all in all, they are the best in class. Whichever filter you choose, rest assured that you are getting a very good product and that it will function as you expect it to.


1. Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter

This filter comes with excellent flow rates. Therefore, they can cycle three times more water than their rating in one hour. For instance, a 20-gallon rated tank would be able to cycle 60 gallons of water every hour. That’s pretty neat, I’d say! Please note that this is not the GPH that we all want to know about filters.

Convenient as it is, this filter brings in house filter cartridges for you. The Aqueon filter cartridges are reliable and convenient. They easily slot inside the filter with zero workarounds; this increases the speed at which you can change filters. Unlike other filters whose filter media you have to swap out manually, this cartridge system is a very convenient choice.

Incredible as it is, this filter’s unobstructed nature allows it to be the submersible type; this means that unlike other filters that hang off tanks, this filter clings flush inside the tank without looking bulky; this is one of our best filters for turtle tank.

Another big plus is that this nifty filter comes with a three-stage filtration system wholly built into the filter. As your turtle tank is being used, many waste and harmful chemicals get generated. They need to be taken out of the water. This filter does that nicely.

The three-stage filtration comes with activated carbon for neutralizing toxins. Additionally, this filter boasts directional and height control of the return flow; this can be especially helpful when you want your flow to not interfere with your turtles.


  • Can be submersed fully with any orientation
  • Boasts good filtration capability for small tanks
  • Great and efficient three-stage filtration
  • Compact size fits into most places
  • Very less noise output from the filter


  • Not the best for durability
  • Bigger models take up more space


2. Fluval Underwater Filter

This filter can be a great addition to your turtle tank since it can mount horizontally. Turtle tanks are usually filled halfway to have room for a platform where turtles can relax and bask. The horizontal mounting feature will be great for turtle owners like you who want your turtles’ best experience.

Noise is not an issue for this filter. The sound is quite negligible compared to other competitors out there. The sound can barely be heard, which is excellent for environments where sound can be a problem. With this filter inside your turtle tank, you can have beautiful turtle tanks in places like offices and libraries. That’s a win in our books!

Coming with more convenient features, the Fluval Underwater Filter comes with an adjustable flow feature. Also, the filter sports two foam filters, two carbon cartridges, and 90 grams of BioMax. Additionally, this filter also provides biological filtration and filters dirt, debris, and other wastes swimming in the water.

On top of all of this, this filter also gives you the convenience of extremely easy setups. Straight out of the box, you can easily get this filter working. It is also very tireless to maintain with easy maintenance procedures.

You can position this tank horizontally for one added feature – you get to control the flow of water and create a beautiful waterfall-like flow, which looks great. This nifty feature is definitely on our books!


  • This underwater filter is relatively lightweight
  • Easy assembly and setup – no learning curves
  • Quiet operations ideal for noise-free environments
  • BioMax amounts are optimal for water processing
  • Three-step filtration is excellent for making water clean


  • Durability is questionable after a month of use
  • The knob for adjusting flow may stop working


3. Tetra Decorative ReptoFilter

The guys at Tetra have heard your nonsensical yowls for a filter that looks inconspicuous, and they’ve had enough of your screams; this is one of the best filters you can get your hands on! Its natural stone-like design can throw anybody off guard.

Beautiful as it is, this filter’s lid also doubles as a basking platform for the tank inhabitants – namely turtles, newts, and other things that you may have. Additionally, this lid also keeps reptiles out of the filter, which is good news for everybody. This filter is also good for tanks with only 4-6 inches of water.

This filter uses a unique three-stage tetra filtration technology. This technology helps clean the water and keep the water clear from dirt, debris, and waste that would’ve otherwise accumulated and harm your turtles. Additionally, you can place this filter in any corner for a dramatic waterfall-like effect! This is one of the best filter for turtle tank of 2021.

Whisper technology consists of mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. This combo maximizes water filtration and gives you the cleanest possible water.

Additionally, this filter works at very shallow water levels to facilitate your convenience. The Bio Bags of this filter can be easily swapped with new Bio Bags for filter replacements when replacing them; this helps your water from getting unnecessarily murky and gunky. This filter also reassures you of being able to set up and maintain very easily.


  • Looks like a decorative rock – legitimately inconspicuous
  • Can work even when the water level is shallow
  • Bio Bags can be replaced very easily
  • The lid doubles as a basking platform
  • Pleasing waterfall-like flow from the filter


  • Suitable for small tanks only
  • Filter does not have a biological filtration stage


4. Hydor External Canister Filter

If you are looking for a filter that looks like it will last you years and does back that claim up, you’re looking for this filter! This is one of our best filter for turtle tank. This filter is built like a tank – you can forget about the possibility of cheap materials.

The four clamp system in this filter supports the internal motor and makes sure that the motor keeps working as expected. These clamps also ensure that no water gets leaked out of the system and maintains a very tight seal to ensure that it does not happen.
Moreover, this filter boasts great capability for handling huge turtle tanks from a measly 20 gallons to 150-gallon large mammoth tanks along with incredible flow rates. This is a good range for many people since this filter is good for this entire capacity range.

If noise is a problem for you, well, it’s not a problem for you anymore. This filter creates minimal noise than the rest of the competition. This filter looks like the people who made this did not care about noise, but looks can be very deceiving.


  • Setup procedures are easy and intuitive
  • This filter is relatively easy to clean
  • This filter boasts a powerful flow rate
  • Priming this filter involves very few easy steps
  • The four clamp system is robust and reliable


  • Some connection points may introduce leaks
  • Replacement parts are rare to come by


5. Tetra Whisper EX

This is one of the best filter for turtle tanks on this list, and on top of that, it is a beginner-friendly one too! With a few simple instructions and some time spent, this filter will be up and running at full speed! This can be used as a standalone filter or as an auxiliary tank.

The filter comes with its aces – two carbon filters and two bacteria growth plates. The carbon filters are important for cleaning the aquarium off of harmful chemicals. The bacterial growth plates are used to process certain harmful toxins into harmless chemicals. The beneficial nature of these bacteria is indeed invaluable to the needs of turtle tank owners.

It comes with its aces – two carbon filters and two bacteria growth plates. The carbon filters are essential for cleaning the aquarium off of harmful chemicals. The bacterial growth plates are used to process certain harmful toxins into harmless chemicals.

Timestrip technology is another one of the nice features that this filter houses. It is an indicator to tell you when your filter media is about to die and need replacing or cleaning. The indicator will automatically turn red when it senses that the filter medias’ effective usefulness has been served. It’s time for a replacement or cleaning. This is going to be a very convenient feature for you!


  • The compact body is aesthetic
  • Quiet operations – usable in quiet environments
  • Timestrip technology alerts replacement or maintenance time
  • Simple and easy out-of-the-box setup procedures
  • For its compact size, performance is great


  • The filter can detach itself often
  • The filter is known to cause vibrations


6. Eheim Classic External Canister Filter 

This tank is a fighter when it comes to capacity. The insane 95-gallon rating is excellent for your turtle tank, meaning that this filter is suitable for tanks of 45 gallons or less. Additionally, this filter is quite durable.

With this filter, you can reliably bid farewell to water stagnation because of the raw power that this filter presents. The 165 gallons per hour (GPH) is enough to circulate water through your turtle tank many times. Water stagnation is something that you do not want, and we are fully aware of that. This is why this is one of the best filter for turtle tanks.

Unlike the other filters so far, this one is a bit complicated to set up. Since this is a filter that sits outside your turtle tank, it has tubings and other stuff that may jar you slightly. But there’s nothing to fear because the filter comes with clear instructions and all the necessary tubing to set your nice tank up in no time!

The polishing pad is excellent for clearing out water from debris and fish waste. This pad makes the water all clean and sparkly, but it is a double-edged sword. The polishing pad is too fine, thus filtering out all wastes and making the water clean.


  • Powerful 165 gallons per hour pump
  • Durable construction and will last a long time
  • Comes with necessary setup tubing and materials
  • Large filter capacity to handle large turtle tanks
  • Elastic ring seals for safe tubing


  • The polishing pad needs frequent cleaning
  • Chemical filtration is absent from this filter


7. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter

This filter takes place as one of the best filter for turtle tanks. Canister filters are known for their durability, and this filter is no slouch. The Penn Plax canister filter sets its durability standards right along with the best of its class. It is one of the most durable filters to buy.

Now, many people may be put off by the flimsy-looking plastic exterior. But it is anything but that – it is rock-hard durable plastic.

We wouldn’t lie; all those pipes, tubes, elbows, and fittings look intimidating. That is a con for us. But we would still recommend this filter. Why? Because even though the instructions are quite limited, they’re easy enough to understand, and when you finally set this filter up, it would be worth it!

When it comes to flow rate, this filter excels at that. This filter can dish out an astounding 312 gallons per hour flow rate, and it does so with ease. This is good for turtle tank owners because more flow means more clean can circulate and be cleaned every hour.

Self-priming filters are something that tank owners desire because nobody wants to fill their tanks up after cleaning the tank manually. Or when the electricity goes poof, if you’re not around by the time the electricity is back, the pump will not work, which may risk your turtles in the tank.


  • The self-priming filter automatically fills itself
  • Very durable construction ensures longevity
  • The spray bar is included with the filter
  • High-quality tubes, valves, sealing, and connectors
  • Impressive 312 gallons per hour flow rate


  • May be difficult to set up for beginners
  • Filter draws quite a lot of power to operate


8. Ovation Submersible Filter

If a large turtle tank is what you have, this filter would be the one for you. This submersible filter can dish out a whopping 265 gallons per hour rate of flow. This is great for people who own large tanks, up to 80 gallons. The construction of this filter is excellent, and its plethora of features makes this filter even better.

This filter sports a unique design. It allows you to position the filter either horizontally or vertically. With the bountiful flow rate and beautiful design, bypassing non-filtered water is not necessary. Additionally, this filter possesses two filter elements that handle the mechanical and biological filtration of your tank.

Unlike many other competing filters in the market, this one is completely silent. Unless you get quite close, you won’t even notice that the sound is there. That’s a big plus, we say. This filter will be under the limelight in environments where silence and beauty are both appreciated (like offices, your bedroom, or libraries).

Also, this filter comes with another ace up its sleeve – a nifty carbon filter. This filter shall wage war against harmful toxins and neutralize them. These waste materials can make the water toxic, which can be detrimental to your turtles’ health. Carbon filters also help clear the water of any other harmful chemicals that may affect the healthy ecosystem that prevails in your turtle tank.


  • Very silent and suitable for quiet environments
  • Spray bar included – helps with water aeration
  • Easy to assemble and get it going
  • Nullifies any discoloration of the water
  • Able to mount horizontally and vertically


  • Questionable durability have been reported
  • Carbon filters are a little controversial


9. Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter

Now we know a lot of you may be wondering why number one and number nine are the same, but trust us, they’re not; this is the bigger brother of that one – presenting this one! This is the 40 gallon variant of the previously mentioned 10 gallons one; this is also in the top-10 spot primarily because of the same features but combined with much more power.

This filter has two large cartridges for filter media, which is better for more water being filtered. This filter’s filter’s filtration process is better than many other brands in the competition. This filter has had lots of positive reviews from customers. So we think that if most of the people loved it, you’d love it too!

It has a four-stage filtration system, unlike many three-stage filter systems. With your conventional mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration, this filter also has an added filtration layer – a dry/wet diffuser grid. The additional filtration method is sure to amplify and accelerate the already existing excellent filtration procedure.

This filter is no slouch. It will filter at a reliable 155 gallons per hour – not the fastest but reliable. What’s even more, this filter enables you to adjust the flow of water however you like. Depending on the filtration demand and how much flow your turtles would like, this can be changed. This is one of the best filter for turtle tanks and one of the best aquarium filters of 2021 in general.


  • Can adapt to many filtration situations
  • Useful and handy dry/wet diffuser grid
  • Dampened internal pump reduces motor noise.
  • Reliable performance with 155 GPH motor
  • Can handle from 10 to 40 gallons comfortably


  • Build quality is not the best
  • Not known for its longevity


10. Zoo Med Filter

This is a nifty little submersible filter that works best when completely underwater. It features an interchangeable cartridge slot and two water inlets, which makes this filter a nifty one. This filter also comes with an activated carbon filtration system and a sponge filtration system. There are two sponges for better filtration.

Activated carbon is something this filter comes with, and it’s great! The extra chemical filtration goes a long way when it comes to cleaning your turtle tank. With 30 gallons as its capacity, it has the power to work under its capacity very effectively, and we love it! This could be your best filter for turtle tank!

The valve controls how much water flow you would want. For this reason, it gives you the luxury to jump between two modes – minimum and maximum. These settings allow you to control water flow depending on the demand and the flow that your turtles are comfortable.

Something about the manual and assembly – the assembly is quite simple. The manual contains simple instructions without too much technical jargon. It is easy for you – the end user who would not want to bother with technical jargon. We believe that this is very useful and considerate. The self-explanatory instructions also tell you how to disassemble and clean this filter. This filter is made easy primarily by the manual that comes with it.


  • Convenient, interchangeable cartridge slots for easy cleaning
  • Handy manual with clear and straightforward instructions
  • Valve allows regulation between two modes
  • Noise is minimal with this filter
  • Two inlets to reduce clogging chance


  • No fine-tune controls for water regulation
  • Motor gets damage as seals eventually weaken


Buying Guide for the best filter for turtle tank:

Now that you know about the best filter for turtle tanks, this comprehensive buying guide will help you get further knowledge about buying the best filter for yourself.

Rate of flow: Turtle tanks need reasonable flow rates because of the mess turtles make. They make more of a mess than other tank pets. They require this because a higher flow rate means more water gets filtered. Measured in GPH or gallons per hour, it regulates how many gallons of water would pass through the filter every hour. A higher filter for your turtle tank is generally better.


Filtration: We would recommend getting the best filtration system for the best filter for turtle tank of 2020. This way, the turtles can stay healthy and happy. There are filter media and filter types.

Filters can come in many ways. Whether it is biological, mechanical, or chemical filtration, they either come in a casing, filter like substance, in a solid cartridge, or any other way. We recommend the best kinds of media for your turtles, and they can be found in the best filters.

Mechanical filtration alone can clear the water by a lot. You’ll see the water clear as it catches all sorts of turtle excrements and other solids. But you’ll also need to get rid of other impurities which require chemical reactions to fix. This is where biological and chemical filtration comes in.

Biological filtration removes the harmful chemicals from the aquarium. It uses beneficial bacteria to get the job done. Chemical filtration isn’t as useful for turtles, but they’re responsible for getting rid of some harmful chemicals as well.

So for buying the filters, make sure that they are equipped with good mechanical and biological filters. A good chemical filter would be a nice addition.


Longevity: Maintaining your turtle filter is one of the critical aspects of its longevity. Then there’s the natural durability of the filter itself. The right combination of durability and maintenance can result in outstanding filter longevity. Let’s break it down:


Durability: Durability is the overall build quality and how your turtle filter is engineered to ensure your filter’s long life. Build quality is the choice of materials used for building.

The usual turtle filter recommendation is to get a sturdy filter with good hard plastic and other durable materials. The best filters are usually very well built.


Maintenance: This is where you come in. In our opinion, this part is more important than durability since turtles make a lot of mess, and we need you to clean that off your filters regularly.

The simple rule is this – you take care of your turtle filter; the filter takes care of your turtles. Turtles make big messes, and most of the mess gets to the filter media. But some of them get stuck to the motos and tubing, etc. Cleaning them yourself is a crucial aspect of maintenance.

These two things wholly contribute to the overall longevity of your turtle filter. This way, the best filter for a turtle tank can be made even better!


Ease of access and maintenance: We always want our machines to be easy to clean and maintain. You would not want to end up with a turtle filter that requires an engineering degree to clean and maintain. You’ll thank yourself by choosing a filter that is easy to clean and whose filter media you can easily replace.

This section of the buying guide contributes to the overall longevity of your filter too.

The best way to tell whether the filter you want to buy has easy maintenance accessibility is a cabinet system filter media. This way, you can simply pull your old media out and replace it with new, sparkly media.

For mechanical filters, it should also be easy to get to the mechanical filter. The mesh replacement or cleaning should not require you to take apart the entire filtration system and going past the motor. It should be simple and easy to access. These factors contribute to the ease of maintenance and access.

These things are important because many people break their filters, figuring out how to clean them or replace filter media. A filter that is easy to clean and maintain is likely in our top 10 best filter for turtle tank.


Size and power: If this was the matter of fish, you could’ve gotten away with slightly underpowered filters. As for turtles, they are bigger creatures. They produce a lot more mess than fish.

Water quality will start deteriorating quickly if left untreated, even for a short time. Turtle water gets murky very fast/ The environment will become very unhealthy for your turtles.

The simple thing is, turtles need more powerful filters with bigger filter capacities, and most filters are rated for fish. So you have to take a higher rating than what’s rated for your tank.

For example, if you have a filter that can handle 50 gallons, try getting your hands on a 100-gallon filter. Something close to 150 gallons would be ideal. If the filter you’ve chosen is specifically for turtles, your current tank’s capacity should be enough.As for flow rates, you circulate your tank’s entire volume of water once every hour is fine. In this case, we would say that more is better. Get this right, and you’ve got yourself the best filter for turtle tank for yourself!


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Is it okay to buy a turtle filter that exceeds the rating for my tank?
A: Yes! We think that it would be nice to buy it because having more disposable power means that your filter has more room to circulate the same water over and over again.


2. Does a large filter media capacity matter?
A: Yes, it does! Try getting your hands on a filter with a large media capacity because that way, you will have to replace your media less often. A large media capacity can also filter water to a greater degree to smaller sized filter media.


3. I like submersible filters, and I want to skip on canister and power filters. What am I missing?
A: You’re not missing much. It depends on what filter you’re buying. There are many good submersible filters, and there are many other canister types and hang on back types. If your submersible filter checks all your boxes, go for it!


4. What does the guide mean when it says cleaning your filters? Does it only mean cleaning the media and nothing else?
A: Good question! We urge every tank owner to clean their filters at least twice a month. And also, please clean the motors, the impellers, and other machinery too. Make sure to clean the tubings and replace filter media as per instructions. Remove gunk from anywhere there’s gunk. Gunk, begone!


5. Do filters get noisier the longer I keep using them?
A: Under normal circumstances, this shouldn’t happen. If you see that the filter motor is getting louder and louder over the months or years, see if you are cleaning the motor and other tubings well. If everything else is clean and gunk doesn’t seem to be a problem, we suggest taking your noisy boy to a place to get it professionally checked.


6. Do turtles even require a filter?
A: They do! They do more so than fishes because they are, in general, very messy creatures. Their tank water gets murky very quickly, and many people may think that this is something that naturally happens. It occurs naturally, but naturally occurring things don’t always have to be healthy, right? That “natural” water contains many kinds of toxins and harmful chemicals, dirt, debris, turtle waste, and what not! They can live under those conditions, but it is incredibly unhealthy for them to do so. So we would urge all turtle owners who do not have a filter to get a filter as soon as possible because things like this can sharply decrease your adorable pets’ lifespan.


7. Is activated carbon a fluke?
A: That’s difficult to answer because there are many strong differing opinions from both sides, and we believe that you should, for now, use activated carbon. We suggest you do your research before coming to your conclusion.


8. My filter is very durable and rated for durability. Maybe I don’t need to take care of it.
A: We think that you should take care of it. Durability is only useful if you take care of it. Something durable may wither quicker than it should’ve been if extra care is not provided.


9. I only have two (or one) kinds of filtration methods in my filter. Are my turtles safe?
A: If your turtles have been like this for a while, try clearing out the tank (if you haven’t done so lately) and add fresh water immediately. Usually, it is best practice to clear out old water and add new water more often if your filter is missing some of the fundamental filtration features. Nonetheless, we recommend buying one of our top filters.


10. I use an undergravel filter for my turtles. Is that okay?
A: We do not recommend undergravels for turtles. First off, they’re not powerful enough. Secondly, they’re not good enough. That’s the short answer. We recommend you buying a power, canister, or submersible filter.



To conclude is to say that there are many kinds of turtle filters. Some are good; others, not so much. Some are durable, others, not so much. The best filters have been laid out for you. We heartily hope that our top-10 guide has helped you a lot. We have laid down the best filters, a comprehensive buying guide with FAQ’s and spent lots of time in research. After reading through this, you should be armed to embark on your journey to get the best turtle tank filter!

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