Top 9 – Best Filter For Turtle Tank Guide & Reviews

Turtles are great pets, but boy do they make a mess! One thing you'll definitely need for your pet turtle is a high-quality filter to keep their tank water clean. Just because the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle's lived in a sewer doesn't mean your hero in a half shell can too.
Best Filter For Turtle Tank – Fluval 407 (left) Fluval FX6 (center) Polar Aurora 4-Stage 525GPH (right)

I’ve gone through a lot of filters over the years so I know it can be mind-boggling knowing which is the best choice, and whether it will be reliable and do a good job of keeping the water crystal clear.

There are a lot of options available when it comes to aquatic turtle filtration systems….should you choose a canister, HoB, or a submersible filter for your turtle tank setup?

With that in mind, I’ve put together this guide to save you the time and hassle of figuring out which is the best type of filter and which filters you should avoid, so you don’t waste your hard-earned cash!

Top Tip: Turtles require much more powerful filtration than fish, when a filter says it’s suitable for a 50-gallon tank, that is usually based on fish waste, not on turtle waste.

For turtles, you need a buy a much more powerful filter, I’ve done a chart below showing the g/ph recommended based on the water volume in your turtle tank.

Which Is The Best Turtle Tank Filter Available?

Here are my top 3 recommendations👇.

Best Filter
Quietest Filter
Budget Buy
Best Filter

Suitable for turtle tanks up to 150 gallons.

$366.95
Quietest Filter

Suitable for turtle tanks up to 55 gallons.

$229.99
Budget Buy

Suitable for turtle tanks up to 75 gallons.

$95.99
04/16/2024 01:11 am GMT

If you want to know which is the best filter based on the volume of water you need to filter, see the list below.

Recommended G/PH For Turtle Tank Chart

Use the chart below as a guideline for choosing a filter with a suitable gallons per hour (g/ph) rating for a turtle tank to ensure your turtle has a nice clean home!

HoB and submersible filters have less space for filter media than canister filters, so I wouldn’t recommend using them on large turtle tanks (over 75 gallons) and I’d double the g/ph compared to canister filters so they can filter all the waste efficiently.

VOLUME OF WATER (GALLONS)RECOMMENDED CANISTER FILTER G/PHRECOMMENDED HOB/SUBMERSIBLE FILTER G/PH
20 140 g/ph 280 g/ph
29 200 g/ph 400 g/ph
40 280 g/ph 560 g/ph
55 385 g/ph 770 g/ph
75 525 g/ph 1,050 g/ph
90 630 g/ph n/a
100 700 g/ph n/a
150 1,050 g/ph n/a
200 1,400 g/ph n/a

Best Filter For a Turtle Tank Guide

Let’s get straight into why you are here and go through the best filters available, so your turtle can have a lovely clean sweet-smelling home!

Note: The turtle tank size suitability information listed below is based on the volume of water that the filter is optimum for, not the actual size of your turtle tank.

If you have a 100 gallon turtle tank, but it’s only half full of water, pick a filter with a turtle tank size suitability of 50 gallons.

1. Fluval FX6

Turtle Tank Size Suitability: Up to 150 gallons

Most Powerful Filter

FLUVAL FX6 CANISTER FILTER

4.6
$366.95

The Fluval FX6 is a beast of a filter!

Made in Italy 🇮🇹, this filter is reliable, powerful & will keep running for years to come.

Perfect for large or heavily stocked aquariums that you want to keep sparkling clean with minimal effort.

Brand: Fluval
Pump Output: 925 g/ph (3,500 l/ph)
Power Consumption: 43 watts
Annual Running Cost (0.15¢ per kWh): $56.54
Dimensions in Inches (L x W x H): 15.75 x 15.75 x 20.8
Pros:
  • Quiet
  • Easy to clean & maintain
  • Quality Italian built pump
  • 6 stage filtration
  • Filter media included
  • Self priming
  • Drain valve
  • Service kit & accessories available
  • Suitable for fresh & saltwater aquariums
  • 3-year warranty
Cons:
  • Heavy
  • No carry handle
  • Awkward to maneuver in confined spaces
  • Not compatible with inline aquarium heaters
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04/16/2024 01:11 am GMT

Without a doubt, the Fluval FX6 is the best filter for large turtle tanks up to 150 gallons.

As we’ve already established, turtles make a lot of mess and you need a high-quality filter to keep their water clean and safe for them to live in. That’s exactly what you’re going to get with the impressive Fluval FX6 specs.

It’s easy to set up and has a quality feel to it, the new and improved design features a self-starting pump. Just fill it with water, turn it on, and the pump takes care of the rest – easy peasy!

Smart pump technology means the pump monitors itself 24 hours per day to ensure it runs at optimal performance.

Every 12 hours it automatically shuts down and gets rid of any air trapped in the system, ensuring the filter is running at maximum efficiency.

The FX6 is super quiet and uses 10% less power than previous versions making it more environmentally friendly and better for your utility bills.

If you find the FX6 is creating too much current for your turtles’ liking, the flow rate can be adjusted down to as low as 50% using the AquaStop output valve without the risk of damaging the pump.

The intake and output valves are angled at 45° and can be fully rotated 360° to assist you with intake and output tube positioning.

One thing to point out here is the tubing comes in a single 13.25 feet piece that you have to cut to length yourself. I’d advise you to add a few inches onto whatever length you measure out just to be sure. Remember the adage: Measure twice, cut once!

If you do miss-cut your tubing it’s not the end of the world, you can buy a replacement hose here: Fluval FX4/FX6 Ribbed Hosing

The water intake is telescopic so it can be adjusted to suit the depth of your water and features an anti-clog strainer to stop large chunks of detritus from being sucked in and clogging up the hose, so you have a continuous flow.

The water output is a multi-directional twin nozzle setup that can be adjusted to create a water current where you want it.

The tank rim connectors are a great design, they easily fit onto your tank and do a great job of keeping the tubing in place.

If you have a rimless tank they also come with the option of suction cups to hold the tubing in place. The suction cups stick so well I’ve found them difficult to get back off the tank, which isn’t a bad thing, at least you know it’s securely fixed.

Even if your turtles’ favorite pastime is going to the bathroom, you’re always going to have clean water as the canisters 6 baskets hold 1.9 gallons of filter media which is more than enough to cope with even the messiest of turtles.

Comes with 6 Bio-Foam pads, 2 Bio-Foam + pads, 2 bags of BioMax rings, and 1 Carbon Foam pad giving you all the media you need straight out of the box.

The purge valve is awesome! One of the big drawbacks of a canister filter is they’re heavy when filled with water and filter media making them difficult to wrestle in and out of tight spaces. This is where the purge valve comes in.

You can attach a hose to the purge valve and drain the water out of the canister making it easier to move for cleaning. Not only that, but you can also use the purge valve to drain dirty water from your aquarium when you do your water changes.

If you want to give your substrate or tank bottom a quick spruce up, there’s the Fluval FX Gravel Vac which attaches to the purge valve and sucks the detritus into the FX6 saving you from carrying a bucket of dirty turtle poop water through your home.

Maintenance is a breeze. Due to the size of the canister and the amount of filter media, you should only need to clean this filter every 2-3 months with each cleaning taking around 30 minutes.

Not compatible with inline external aquarium heaters due to using ribbed tubing.

Yes, it’s expensive, but you get what you pay for. If you want a high-quality reliable filter that will last for years to come it’s worth the investment.

Without a doubt, the Fluval FX6 is the best filter for red eared slider tanks and other large turtles.

If the FX6 is overkill for your tank size, you could consider its little brother…the FX4 below.




2. Fluval FX4

Turtle Tank Size Suitability: Up to 100 Gallons.

Powerful & Reliable

FLUVAL FX4 CANISTER FILTER

4.6
$309.99

The Fluval FX4 is an awesome filter!

Made in Italy 🇮🇹, this filter is reliable, powerful & will keep running for years to come.

Perfect for large or heavily stocked aquariums that you want to keep sparkling clean with minimal effort.

Brand: Fluval
Pump Output: 700 g/ph (2,650 l/ph)
Power Consumption: 30 watts
Annual Running Cost (0.15¢ per kWh): $39.45
Dimensions in Inches (L x W x H): 15.75 x 15.75 x 16.5
Pros:
  • Quiet
  • Easy to clean & maintain
  • Quality Italian built pump
  • 5 stage filtration
  • Filter media included
  • Self priming
  • Drain valve
  • Service kit & accessories available
  • Suitable for fresh & saltwater aquariums
  • 3-year warranty
Cons:
  • Heavy
  • No carry handle
  • Awkward to maneuver in confined spaces
  • Not compatible with inline heaters
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04/10/2024 11:14 pm GMT

The smaller and lower-priced little brother to the FX6, the Fluval FX4 is a great choice as your turtle tank filter for tanks of around 100 gallons.

Everything is pretty much the same as the FX6 apart from the flow rate and the amount of filter media it can hold.

Its 2 baskets hold 1 gallon of filter media which is more than enough for the messiest of turtles.

Comes with 4 Bio-Foam pads, 1 Bio-Foam + pads, 2 bags of BioMax rings, and 1 Carbon Foam pad giving you all the media you need straight out of the box.

Not compatible with inline external aquarium heaters due to using ribbed tubing.




3. Fluval 407

Turtle Tank Size Suitability: Up to 55 Gallons.

Quiet & Economical
FLUVAL 407 CANISTER FILTER
4.6
$229.99

The Fluval 407 is a great filter, I've owned one for years without any issues.

Made in Italy 🇮🇹, this filter is well-built, reliable & will keep running for years to come.

It's whisper quiet, so there's no annoying drone in the background when you're trying to watch TV or read!

The Aquastop valve and EZ-lift media baskets help make maintenance quick, easy & stress-free.

Brand: Fluval
Pump Output: 383 g/ph (1,450 l/ph)
Power Consumption: 23 watts
Annual Running Cost (0.15¢ per kWh): $30.24
Dimensions in Inches (L x W x H): 9.5 x 7 x 19.3
Pros:
  • Whisper quiet
  • Cheap to run
  • Easy to clean & maintain
  • Quality Italian built pump
  • Filter media included
  • Replacement parts & accessories available
  • 3-year warranty
Cons:
  • Not compatible with inline heaters
  • No carry handle
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04/10/2024 07:41 pm GMT

If (like me) you’re a fan of Fluval filters and don’t need something as big as the FX6 or FX4, the Fluval 407 is a great choice.

The noise reduction technology in the 407 makes it 25% quieter than previous models. I’d go so far as to say the Fluval 407 is almost silent. If you’re looking for a quiet turtle tank filter, this is my top pick.

The water flow rate can be adjusted from 145 – 383 gallons per hour using the AquaStop valves so you can fine-tune your tank’s water current to your turtles’ needs.

The AquaStop valves have a quick-release feature where you shut the water flow off and remove the valves from the canister in 1 piece, all without dripping water everywhere which makes things easier when it’s maintenance/cleaning time.

The 4 chamber filter media basket holds 1.6 gallons of filter media to provide all 3 stages of filtration.

All the filter media you need to get started with is included. You get 2 x Bio-Foam Max pads, 2 x Bio-Foam pads, 2 x Bio-Foam + pads, 4 x bags carbon, 2 x bags BioMax rings, and 2 x Quick Clear pads.

The basket’s central handle makes it so much easier to lift out the entire basket for cleaning instead of having to remove separate baskets one by one which usually results in spilling the filter media everywhere.

A great accessory to go with the 407 is the Fluval Spray Bar Kit which will help with surface agitation, keeping the tank well-oxygenated.

If you miss-cut the tubing you can get a replacement length here: Fluval Ribbed Hosing for 407

This filter is not compatible with inline external aquarium heaters due to using ribbed tubing.

If the 407 is a little too powerful, its little brother the Fluval 307 is a great option for 29-40 gallon tanks.




4. Polar Aurora 525

Turtle Tank Size Suitability: Up to 75 Gallons

Best Budget Filter
POLAR AURORA CANISTER FILTER
4.3
$95.99

The Polar Aurora canister filter is a great choice budget filter.

It doesn't have the quality robust feel of Fluval or Oase filters, but that's to be expected at this price point.

It has the bonus of a 9w UV bulb which can help to reduce algae, keeping the water clear.

Brand: Polar Aurora
Pump Output: 525 g/ph (1,987 l/ph)
Power Consumption: 55 watts
Annual Running Cost (0.15¢ per kWh): $72.32
Dimensions in Inches (L x W x H): 12 x 12 x 19
Pros:
  • Affordable
  • UV light included
  • Spray bar included
Cons:
  • Poor instructions
  • Intake tube not adjustable
  • No adjustable flow rate
  • Prone to leaking
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04/10/2024 08:17 pm GMT

The Polar Aurora 4-Stage 525GPH is a good choice budget external canister filter.

The build quality is decent for the price, some of the plastic clips feel a little flimsy though.

One of the stand-out features of this canister is the internal UV sterilization light which helps to kill bacteria and keep algae under control, giving you crystal clear water.

You just have to remember when stripping it down for cleaning that the bulb is on the underside of the filter lid so you need to be careful you don’t break it by putting the lid down on the floor.

The UV light can be turned on or off when required. The on/off button has a blue light to tell you if it’s on or off. When fitting the UV bulb you have to apply what will feel like way too much pressure to get it to lock in place.

The intake and output valves are angled at 45° and can be fully rotated 360° to assist you with tubing positioning.

The intake and output tubing comes in 2 separate pieces that are 5 feet in length. They feel a little stiff and can be difficult to work with, soaking them in hot water for 10 mins can help make them more manageable.

For the water output, you have a choice of a multi-directional nozzle or a spray bar.

There are a few drawbacks to this filter. The length of the intake can’t be adjusted to suit the depth of your tank (unless you trim it yourself). On a standard 75 gallon tank it almost reaches the tank bottom so may suck up the substrate if you have any.

The tank rim connectors aren’t the best. I’ve seen these fitted to an Aqueon 75-gallon standard aquarium, and although they just about fit, there’s a 1/8 inch gap between the top of the tank trim and the underside of the clamp.

If you have a tank bigger than 75 gallons they may not fit at all. If you decided not to use the rim connectors, there are no suction cups to hold the tubing in place so you’d have to order some separately.

There are mixed reports on the filter noise, some say it’s quiet while others say it’s really loud.

If you can live with a few niggles, this will be a great budget turtle filter that doesn’t carry the price tag of the Fluval filters…but don’t expect it to last as long.




5. Penn-Plax Cascade 1500

Turtle Tank Size Suitability: Up to 55 Gallons

Great Mid-Range Filter
PENN-PLAX CASCADE 1500 CANISTER FILTER
4.4
$157.86

The Penn-Plax Cascade 1500 is a great mid-range filter.

It doesn't have the quality feel of Fluval filters, but it's cheaper so that's to be expected.

It is easy to set up and comes with everything you need right out of the box, including an intake strainer, spray bar, and filter media.

Overall it's a great filter for the price.

Brand: Penn-Plax
Pump Output: 350 g/ph (1,325 l/ph)
Power Consumption: 45.5 watts
Annual Running Cost (0.15¢ per kWh): $59.83
Dimensions in Inches (L x W x H): 12 x 11.5 x 20.5
Pros:
  • Easy to setup
  • Easy to prime the pump
  • Color-coded inlet and outlet valves
  • Hold 5 baskets of filter media
  • Filter media included
  • Spray bar included
  • Fully adjustable flow rate
Cons:
  • Feels cheaply made
  • Leaks when disassembling
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04/10/2024 08:58 pm GMT

For those looking for a mid-priced canister filter, the Penn-Plax Cascade 1500 is a good option.

It’s simple to set up and has color-coded (black and blue) intake and output valves. The valves are angled at 45° and rotate a full 360° so you can position them easily under your tank.

Once it’s set up you just open the fully adjustable taps on the intake/output valves and press the button on top of the filter to prime the pump.

The intake and output tubing comes in 2 lengths of approx 4 feet. The tubing sits over the top of the tank and is held in place with suction cups. Filtered water is returned to your tank through either a nozzle or a spray bar.

It has 5 baskets for the filter media to sit in and comes with 5 poly-fiber floss pads, 1 coarse bio-sponge, and 1 bag of activated carbon.

It’s noisier than the Fluval canister filters, doesn’t feel as well built, and doesn’t turn over as much water per hour. But, it’s cheaper so this is to be expected.

It also leaks quite a bit when you take it apart for cleaning, so have a towel handy.

All in all, not a bad filter for the price if you don’t mind compromising on a couple of things.




6. Marineland Magniflow 360

Turtle Tank Size Suitability: Up to 50 Gallons

MARINELAND MAGNIFLOW 360 CANISTER FILTER
4.1
$142.68

The Marineland 360 is a decent choice mid-range filter, if you're prepared to make a few small tweaks to help prevent it leaking.

It's easy to set up if you've used a canister filter before, but if you're a newbie, the included instructions are poor, so I suggest watching a YouTube tutorial on how to set up this filter.

Brand: Marineland
Pump Output: 360 g/ph (1,363 l/ph)
Power Consumption: 35 watts
Annual Running Cost (0.15¢ per kWh): $46.02
Dimensions in Inches (L x W x H): 13.4 x 7.5 x 17.25
Pros:
  • Quiet
  • Quick prime pump
  • Filter media included
  • Quick-release valves
  • Replacement parts and accessories are easily available
  • 3-year warranty
Cons:
  • Prone to leaking
  • No adjustable flow rate
  • Tubing can be difficult to work with
  • Assembly instructions could be better
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04/10/2024 08:40 pm GMT

The Marineland Magniflow 360 is a more budget-friendly alternative to the Fluval’s.

Note: When you open the box, you’ll find a large rubber O ring inside a plastic bag sitting on top. This rubber ring is the seal that goes between the canister body and the motorhead.
It isn’t listed on the parts list, nor is it included in the assembly instructions.
If you don’t fit this ring, you’ll have water leaking everywhere!

Hopefully, they’ll update the instructions soon. 🙂

The intake and output valves are clearly marked, are angled at 45°, and can be fully rotated 360° to assist you with tubing positioning.

They feature a quick-release mechanism to make it easy for you to shut off the water flow and remove them in 1 piece without water dripping everywhere when it’s maintenance/cleaning time.

The tubing comes in 2 separate 6-foot pieces and is held in place with suction cups. The tubing isn’t the easiest to work with, in fact, you’d think it has a mind of its own sometimes! Soaking them in hot water helps make them more pliable.

The included snapper clamps are not great, I suggest buying a couple of metal hose clamps that can be tightened with a screwdriver for a more secure leak-free fit.

The water intake has a fixed length of 17 inches but can be trimmed to suit the depth of your tank if it’s too long.

The water output is through a directional nozzle which is designed to be at the water’s surface to create surface agitation and help keep the water oxygenated, you can adjust the levers within the output nozzle as a workaround to adjust the flow rate.

The 4 internal filter media baskets take care of all 3 stages of filtration.

Filter media included are 2 filter foam pads, 1 water polishing pad, 2 Black Diamond Activated Carbon pouches, 1 bag of Bio Filter Balls, and 1 bag of Ceramic Filter Rings.

Once it’s up and running it’s pretty quiet. All in all, a great mid-priced canister filter if you don’t mind making a couple of small tweaks.

Just remember to fit that O ring!!




7. Fluval U4 Underwater Filter

Turtle Tank Size Suitability: Up to 20 Gallons

Best Underwater Filter
FLUVAL U4 UNDERWATER FILTER
4.2
$96.99 $80.77

The Fluval U4 is a great underwater filter for small tanks.

Can be mounted vertically or horizontally (useful for shallow tanks) and is almost silent when running.

It will require much more frequent cleaning compared to a canister filter, due to it holding much less filter media that will get clogged up quicker.


Brand: Fluval
Pump Output: 260 g/ph (983 l/ph)
Power Consumption: 12 watts
Annual Running Cost (0.15¢ per kWh): $15.78
Dimensions in Inches (L x W x H): 13 x 4 x 4.5
Pros:
  • Quiet
  • Compact
  • Filter media included
  • Can be used horizontally or vertically
  • Easy to disassemble and clean
  • No worries about water leaks
  • 3-year warranty
Cons:
  • Takes up space in the tank
  • Needs frequent cleaning
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04/10/2024 07:00 pm GMT

If you have a small aquarium or only keep yours half full of water, you have the option of choosing an underwater filter.

The best underwater filter for your turtle tank is the Fluval U4.

The compact design doesn’t take up too much space in the tank and will work both vertically and horizontally, the downside of it being inside your tank is that your turtle may bash into and damage it.

For the water output, you have a choice of 2 multi-directional flow nozzles or a central spray bar that has 3 positions, upwards, straight ahead, or downwards. A slight niggle here is you can only use 1 of the output options.

Provides all 3 stages of filtration and comes complete with the 2 x Bio-Max foam pads, 2 x Poly/Carbon Cartridges, and 1 bag BioMax rings so you’re good to go right out of the box.

The center cartridge holds the BioMax rings, but you only get enough included to half-fill the cartridge so I would order some extras.

With turtles being so messy you will be cleaning the U4 pretty often. The flip-top lid allows you quick and easy access for cleaning or replacing the filter cartridge media.

If you are concerned about the possible water leaks associated with a canister or HOB filter, the U4 sits inside your tank so if it does spring a leak the water’s going to stay inside your tank.

A great choice for small or half-filled tanks if you don’t mind having equipment on display and having to clean it regularly.




8. AquaClear 110 Fish Tank Filter

Turtle Tank Size Suitability: Up to 40 Gallons

Great HoB Filter
AQUACLEAR 110 HANG ON BACK FILTER
4.3
$91.47

The AquaClear 110 is a great powerful HoB filter, with an impressive pump output of 500 g/ph.

It holds more filter media than other comparable HoB filters and you get 3 types of media included, so it's ready to go straight from the box

HoB filters are easier to set up and maintain than canister filters, but need cleaning more frequently due to them holding less filter media.


Brand: AquaClear
Pump Output: 500 g/ph (1,892 l/ph)
Power Consumption: 5 watts
Annual Running Cost (0.15¢ per kWh): $6.57
Dimensions in Inches (L x W x H): 13.5 x 6.75 x 9
Pros:
  • Easy to set up
  • Easy to clean
  • Filter media included
  • Adjustable water flow
  • Cheap to run
Cons:
  • The media basket isn't fully enclosed
  • May not restart after a power cut
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04/14/2024 11:20 am GMT

The AquaClear 110 is my top pick as the best turtle tank HOB filter.

Super easy to set up and comes with a large filter sponge, a bag of bio rings, and a bag of activated carbon so you have all 3 stages of filtration right out of the box.

The flow control is simple to adjust by turning the intake tube side to side.

The media basket holds a lot of media and is easily removed for cleaning. But, it doesn’t have front and back panels so the media could easily fall out and make a mess.

You’ll need to have your tank around 4 inches away from the wall as the part of the filter that hangs outside of your tank is 3.75″ deep.

As the pump motor is outside the tank rather than submerged underwater, this filter will make a little more noise than some other HOBs.

My biggest gripe with the external motor is if there’s a power cut, they rarely get going again by themselves.

If you can live with a little bit of noise, the AquaClear 110 is the best HOB filter for a small turtle tank as the water turnover rate and space for filter media are great.




9. Aqueon QuietFlow 75 LED Pro

Turtle Tank Size Suitability: Up to 29 Gallons

AQUEON QUIETFLOW 75 HANG ON BACK FILTER
4.3
$49.84

The Aqueon Quietflow 75 is a great mid-range HoB filter.

It's super easy to set up and comes with filter media included, so you're set to go straight from the box.

The downside is that it doesn't hold much media, so you will need to clean it regularly.


Brand: Aqueon
Pump Output: 400 g/ph (1,515 l/ph)
Dimensions in Inches (L x W x H): 12.9 x 6.6 x 8.4
Pros:
  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to set up
  • Filter media included
  • Auto start pump
  • Automatically restarts after a power cut
  • Limited lifetime warranty
Cons:
  • Doesn't hold much filter media
  • Needs cleaning frequently
  • LED 'cleaning' light is a gimmick
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04/10/2024 08:16 pm GMT

The Aqueon QuietFlow 75 LED Pro is my 2nd choice HOB filter for a turtle tank.

Easy to set up and comes with filter media so you’re good to go right out of the box, however, it doesn’t hold a lot of media so you will need to clean it frequently.

Comes apart easily for cleaning, which is always a bonus when you don’t have to wrestle things apart.

Because the motor is submerged in the water it’s self-priming and will automatically restart if there’s a power cut. The only noise it makes is the water trickling back into the tank.

The idea of the LED light is to let you know when the filter media is clogged and needs cleaning. I think it’s a bit of a gimmick, to be honest. It either doesn’t come on at all or starts blinking every 2-3 days even though the media doesn’t need cleaning.

There’s not a lot to dislike about the Aqueon QuietFlow filter, but the AquaClear above would be a better choice due to the higher water turnover rate and having more space for filter media, the only advantage this filter has over the AquaClear is that the motor is submerged.




Different Types Of Turtle Tank Filters

There are 3 types of filters suitable for a turtle tank and 1 to avoid.

Canister filters are the preferred choice for most turtle keepers.

1. Canister Filter

A canister is an external filter and is the best choice for turtle tanks.

Fluval FX6
Fluval FX6

✅ Canister Filter Pros

There’s a ton of space for filter media and beneficial bacteria to grow which removes the harmful toxins from the water.

Due to the rapid turnover of your tank’s water and the ability to have the intake and output pipes at opposite ends of your tank, they provide good water flow, even water temperature, and good oxygenation levels.

They’re a lot quieter than other types of filters. If your turtle tank is on show in your living room you can still watch the TV without having background noise drowning out your favorite show.

Doesn’t take up any space in your tank. All you’ll have is an intake pipe and an output pipe inside the tank. Turtles can be quite rough on whatever is in the tank with them, so the fewer things inside their tank the better! 

Gives your turtle more swimming space and you don’t have to look at unsightly equipment inside your tank.

❌ Canister Filter Cons

They’re certainly not the cheapest option.

It takes longer to clean a canister filter than a HOB filter, but on the plus side, you don’t have to do it as often so it’s not that bad really.

If your canister springs a leak it’s going to go all over the inside of your cabinet and your floor. Dirty turtle tank water on your carpet is nasty!! Stand your canister filter in a plastic tray or a large bucket to avoid this issue.

Another consideration is the positioning of your canister filter. You may have seen a bit of debate online about whether your canister should go below your aquarium or not.

To clear this up for you, the top of the canister filter needs to be lower than the water’s surface to work properly. The water intake pipe acts like a tank siphon and gravity feeds the water into the canister. The pump is only there to feed the water back to the tank.

Where should I put my canister filter?
Canister filter position

A buddy of mine keeps a red eared slider in a 150-gallon stock tank with a Fluval FX6 sitting on the floor next to it without any problems.

If the top of the canister filter is at the same level or higher than the surface of your tank water, you’re going to have some problems:

  • You’re going to have a hard time getting it running
  • The flow rate will be terrible
  • It’s going to put a lot more strain on the pump

Many manufacturers state using the canister filter incorrectly will invalidate your warranty.

2. HOB / Power Filter

Hang-on back filters (HOB), also known as a power filter, hang on the back or side of your aquarium.

AquaClear 110 Hob Filter

✅ HOB Filter Pros

They’re not as expensive as a canister filter.

Maintenance takes less time than a canister filter, but you have to clean them out more often.

They don’t take up too much space so you could have more than 1 HOB filter if you liked.

❌ HOB Filter Cons

If you only half-fill your turtle tank with water, a HOB filter isn’t going to work for you.

The noise of the water splashing back into your tank will either relax you or drive you insane!!

With the filter hung on the back (or side) of your tank, you’ll need to have the tank sat further away from the wall.

Waterflow around the tank isn’t as good due to the intake and outputs being closer together so you really only get water flowing in a vertical loop around the filter.

If your HOB springs a leak on its front, that water is going back into your tank. But, if it springs a leak on its back, it’s going to leak water onto your floor.

Power filters have nowhere near as much space for filter media as a canister filter meaning you won’t be able to colonize as many beneficial bacteria to clean the water.

You’ll therefore be cleaning and performing water changes more often.

3. Internal / Submersible Filter

A submersible filter is placed underwater in the turtle’s tank.

Fluval U4 Submersible Filter

✅ Submersible Filter Pros

One great thing about submersible filters is they are silent. No annoying hum, no water splashing back into the tank, nothing.

The price point tends to be lower than a HOB or canister filter.

They are waterproof so they can be fully submerged.

An internal filter draws water in through its back and then sprays it out of the front so you get better water circulation than a HOB filter.

Should it start leaking it’s not going to make a mess on your floor which is a major plus over both a HOB or canister filter.

❌ Submersible Filter Cons

Takes up space in the tank so your turtle has less room to swim.

They don’t hold as much filter media as a canister filter so you have to clean them much more frequently.

May become damaged as turtles are known for knocking into or trying to bite things inside their tank. If your turtle damages the filter and exposes any of the internal wirings to water…it’s not going to end well!

They have a gap between the back of the unit and the tank where water is drawn in. A hatchling turtle could become stuck in this gap and drown.

Having equipment inside the tank isn’t the prettiest thing to look at. You could always hide it behind a rock or piece of driftwood, but that’s going to take even more swimming space out of the tank.

4. Undergravel Filter – Not Recommended!

I don’t recommend using under-gravel filters for turtles. Firstly, you shouldn’t use gravel in a turtle tank as they will try to eat it, potentially choking to death or making themselves ill.

Under gravel filters can clog up easily and don’t do a great job of keeping turtle tanks clean because of how much waste they produce.

Do yourself a favor and don’t waste your money on an under-gravel filter for your turtle tank!

What Type Of Filter Is Best For Turtle Tank?

A canister filter is the best choice of filter for a turtle tank, they are the most effective at keeping the tank water clean and clear.

If you have a smaller turtle, such as a mud turtle or a musk turtle in a smaller turtle tank, you may be OK with a HOB filter.

A HOB filter is best suited to a tank that’s filled to the top with water. If you only half-fill your turtle tank with water, you will be better off choosing a submersible filter or a smaller canister filter.

Remember to turn the water output diffuser in a direction that won’t interfere with your turtles’ basking area, as it needs to be kept dry.

5 Things To Consider When Choosing A Turtle Tank Filter

Turtles need a good quality filter. To answer the question; how big should my turtle filter be? There are a few things you need to take into consideration.

1. Water Volume

The first thing to consider is the amount of water you have in your turtle tank.

Some turtle owners fill their turtle tanks only half full and keep the basking area inside the tank. Some fill it to the top and have the basking area above the tank.

So you need to make sure you base your choice of filter on how much water you have in your tank, rather than the actual size of the tank.

2. Filter Size

Most filter ratings are based on fish waste, so you’ll need to upsize the filter for your turtle tank because they are way messier than fish!

Turtles produce a lot of waste and you’ll end up with your tank resembling a swamp if you buy an underpowered filter.

Use the chart at the top of this post as a guideline, so that you don’t buy an underpowered filter.

3. Flow Rate / GPH

A general rule of thumb is that you want the pump output (gallons per hour) to be around 5-10 times the volume of water in your turtle tank, depending on how heavily stocked and dirty your tank gets.

Multiply the volume of water in your tank by 5-10 to find a suitable g/ph.

4. Filter Maintenance & Cleaning

Canister filters take longer to clean but need to be cleaned less frequently as they hold much more filter media.

HOB and submersible filters are a doddle to clean out but need doing much more frequently than a canister filter.

Always unplug the filter before cleaning, water and electricity aren’t a pleasant combination!

Turtles are also potential carriers of salmonella so I recommend you wear long rubber gloves to avoid any germs getting in cuts and on your hands, potentially making you sick.

This is something you need to be aware of, especially if your kids are helping you clean the tank or touching the turtle.

5. Filter Noise

Filter noise is one of those things that you will either love or hate!

HOB filter motors have a bit of a hum to them. If that’s going to bother you, get a HOB that has a submersible motor rather than an external one.

Depending on the depth of your tank water, they make extra noise from the constant stream of water splashing back into the tank.

Canister filters may have a soft hum to them too, but as they’re generally inside a cabinet it soon fades into the background.

I struggle to filter out background noise when I’m trying to concentrate on something else, but I don’t notice my Fluval canister filters at all.

If you’re sensitive to noise too, that’s going to play a big part in your decision and you should consider a Fluval canister filter.

A top tip for eliminating every last bit of noise is to stand the canister filter on a folded towel to help absorb any noise or vibration.

Types Of Filtration

There are 3 types of filtration.

1. Mechanical Filtration

Mechanical filtration refers to filter floss and sponges trapping uneaten food, poop, gunk, etc, as the dirty water flows through them.

The more media you have, the more waste you can remove from the water.

The higher the GPH rate of your filter, the more water is going to pass through the filter media.

2. Biological Filtration

Biological filtration is where the beneficial bacteria that have grown on the filter media (and surfaces inside your turtle tank) convert harmful ammonia into nitrite and then convert the nitrite into nitrate.

You then remove the nitrate with water changes.

3. Chemical Filtration

Chemical filtration refers to adding media such as activated carbon or zeolite to your filter to remove chemicals and odors from the water.

It isn’t essential like biological and mechanical filtration, but it can help keep the tank water crystal clear and reduce odors.

Top Tip: Chemical filtration needs to be removed if you are treating your tank with medication as it will absorb the medicine.

Final Thoughts On The Best Turtle Filter For Turtle Tanks

It took a while to put this post together, but as filtration is super important for keeping your turtle tank clean, it was well worth the effort.

Hopefully, this has helped you pick out the best filter for your turtle tank and highlighted all the important things you need to consider.

I highly recommend you choose a canister filter if your budget allows it.

They are the best turtle tank filters overall and do the best job of keeping your tank sparkling clean, giving you more time to watch your turtle rather than constantly having to clean out the filter!

Here’s a quick recap of my top picks if you’re still undecided:

Best Filter
Quietest Filter
Budget Buy
Best Filter

Suitable for turtle tanks up to 150 gallons.

$366.95
Quietest Filter

Suitable for turtle tanks up to 55 gallons.

$229.99
Budget Buy

Suitable for turtle tanks up to 75 gallons.

$95.99
04/16/2024 01:11 am GMT

Be sure to check out my turtle section for more in-depth reviews and turtle care guides.

Paul

Paul

Hey, fellow fish enthusiast 👋! I'm Paul and I've been an aquarium addict since I won my first goldfish at the fair many years ago. Let me share with you the knowledge that I've gained along the way (and avoid the mistakes I've made!), so you too can create an underwater paradise for your aquatic friends.