Best Filter For Turtle Tank – Complete Guide

Turtles are great pets, but boy do they take some looking after! 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.

I’ve gone through a lot of filters over the years so I know all too well it’s not easy to know which is the right one to pick, what features are needed, and what are gimmicks.

Turtles require much more powerful filtration than fish, when a filter says it’s suitable for a 50-gallon tank, that is based on fish waste, not on turtle waste. For turtles, you need a buy a filter that is rated for at least 2-3 times the volume of water in your turtle tank.

There are a lot of choices when it comes to aquatic turtle filtration systems and it can be confusing to know which is the right one 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 turtle water filter and which filters you should avoid, so you don’t waste your hard-earned cash.

What Is The Best Turtle Tank Filter?

If you’re short on time and want to know which are the best turtle tank filters without having to read the whole post, here are our top picks. 👇

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

  • Fluval 307 (Best Filter For 20 Gallon Turtle Tank)
  • Fluval 407 (Best Filter for 40 Gallon Turtle Tank)
  • Fluval 407 (Best Filter for 55 Gallon Turtle Tank)
  • Fluval FX4 (Best Filter For 75 Gallon Turtle Tank)
  • Fluval FX6 (Best Filter For 100 Gallon Turtle Tank)
  • Fluval FX6 (Best Filter For 200 Gallon Turtle Tank)

Do Turtles Need A Filter?

Yes, they do, turtles make a lot of mess! Unless you want your turtle tank to look like a swamp and have to deal with a sick pet, you’re going to need a heavy-duty filter to keep the water clean and your nitrogen cycle in check.

Types Of Turtle Tank Filter

There are 4 types of filters for your turtle tank, each with its own pros and cons.

1 – Canister Filter

A canister is a large external filter and in my opinion the best choice for turtle tanks.

✅ 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 your 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 space in your tank. All you’ll have is an intake pipe and an output pipe inside your 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 your 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 your canister. The pump is only there to feed your water back to the tank.

Where should I put my canister filter?
Where should to position your canister filter

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

If the top of your canister is at the same level or higher than your tank water’s surface:

  • 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 their canister filter in this way will invalidate your warranty.

2 – HOB / Power Filter

A hang-on back, also known as a power filter hangs on the back or side of your aquarium.

✅ 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 have 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 them and performing water changes more often.

3 – Internal / Submersible Filter

A submersible filter sits in the water in your turtles’ tank.

✅ 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 more often.

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.

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.

Maintenance is best done when you clean your aquarium and perform a water change but is straightforward to do.

4 – Undergravel Filter

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 Filter Should I Use For Turtle Tank?

Having seen how my friend’s red-eared slider treats anything in his tank, and just how messy he is (man he can poop! 💩) I’d definitely go with an external canister filter.

If you have something like a mud turtle or a male map 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 completely filled with water. If you only fill your turtle tank half full with water you will be better with a submersible turtle tank filter or a smaller canister filter.

If you intend to use a canister filter but keep your tank half-filled with water, it’s advised that you fill the tank fully, prime the filter pump, and then drain the excess water out. 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.

Best Filter For Turtle Tank Reviews

To save you trawling through tons of reviews looking for the best turtle tank filter, I’ve hand-picked and reviewed the best options available.

By choosing one of these filters you’ll have sparkling clean water and a happy healthy turtle.

Please 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 suitability of 50 gallons.

1. Fluval FX6

Fluval FX6 Best Filter For Turtle Tank
Fluval FX6
  • Brand: Fluval
  • Type: Canister
  • Dimensions: Height 20.8″ x Diameter 15.75″
  • Power Consumption: 120 Volts/60 Hz – 43 Watts / 230-240 Volts/50Hz – 41 Watts
  • Turtle Tank Size Suitability: 100-200 Gallons
  • GPH: 925

✅ Pros

  • Quiet
  • Self-priming pump
  • Smart pump technology
  • Up to 6 stage filtration
  • Holds 1.9 gallons / 5.9 liters of filter media
  • All filter media included
  • Easy to attach click-fit hoses
  • Leakproof quick fit intake and output valves
  • Purge valve for tank water changes
  • Replacement parts and accessories are easily available
  • 3-year warranty

❌ Cons

  • Not the cheapest option
  • Heavy and awkward to handle in confined spaces
  • Not compatible with inline aquarium heaters
  • Overkill for smaller tanks

Without a doubt, the Fluval FX6 is the best filter for large turtle tanks.

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 getting with the FX6.

It’s easy to set up, 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.

Smart pump technology means the pump monitors itself 24 hours per day to ensure it runs at maximum performance. Every 12 hours it automatically shuts down and gets rid of any trapped air in the system.

The newer technology also means the filter is super quiet and uses 10% less power than previous versions making it more environmentally friendly and better for your utility bill.

If you find the FX6 is creating too much current for your turtles’ liking, the flow rate can be easily 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 angeled 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 which you have to cut to length yourself. I’d advise you to add an extra 6 inches onto whatever length you measure out just to be sure. Remember the old 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 tube here: Fluval FX4/FX6 Ribbed Hosing

The water intake is telescopic so 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 damaging your filer. 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 pass time 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 to make 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 wanted 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 water through your house.

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 really do get what you pay for. Without a doubt, the Fluval FX6 is the best filter for red eared slider tanks and any other large tanks over 100 gallons.

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




2. Fluval FX4

Fluval FX4 best filter for 75 gallon turtle tank
Fluval FX4
  • Brand: Fluval
  • Type: Canister
  • Dimensions: Height 16.5″ x Diameter 15.75″
  • Power Consumption: 120 Volts/60Hz – 30 Watts / 230-240 Volts/50Hz – 30 Watts
  • Turtle Tank Size Suitability: 75-125 Gallons
  • GPH: 700

✅ Pros

  • Quiet
  • Self-starting smart pump
  • Up to 5 stage filtration
  • Holds 1 gallon / 3.9 liters of filter media
  • All filter media included
  • Easy to attach click-fit hoses
  • Can be used for changing your tank water
  • Leakproof quick fit inlet and outlet valves
  • Replacement parts and accessories easily available
  • 3-year warranty

❌ Cons

  • Not the cheapest option
  • Heavy and awkward to handle for cleaning
  • Not compatible with inline aquarium heaters
  • Overkill for small tanks

The slightly smaller and lower-priced little brother to FX6, the Fluval FX4 is a great choice as your turtle tank filter. 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 still more than enough for the messiest of turtles.

Comes with 4 Bio-Foam pads, 1 Bio-Foam + pad, 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

Fluval 407 quietest filter best filter for 55 gallon turtle tank
Fluval 407
  • Brand: Fluval
  • Type: Canister
  • Dimensions: Height 19.3″ x Width 9.5″ x Depth 7″
  • Power Consumption: 120 Volts/60 Hz – 23 Watts / 230-240 Volts/50 Hz – 20 Watts
  • Turtle Tank Size Suitability: 29-55 Gallons
  • GPH: 383

✅ Pros

  • Affordable
  • Easy to set up
  • Easy to clean
  • Quick-release valves
  • Latest technology
  • 25% quieter than previous version
  • Filter media included
  • Replacement parts and accessories easily available
  • 5-year warranty
  • Comes in 4 different sizes

❌ Cons

  • Not compatible with inline aquarium heaters

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 easily 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 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, 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 your filter media everywhere.

A great accessory to go with the 407 is the Fluval Spray Bar Kit which will help with water aeration due to the cleaned water being sprayed back into your tank across a wider area.

I just wish the joints on the tank intake and output piping were black and not grey, but that’s just me being fussy.

Something else to mention, the intake and output hosing, like with the FX4 and FX6, comes in a single 9.8 feet piece that you have to cut to length yourself. If you miss-cut your tubing you can get a replacement length here: Fluval Ribbed Hosing for 407

There are the 107, 207, and 307 models also available, but realistically the 307 is probably the smallest I would go to for a turtle tank (up to 20 gallons of water) as the 107 and 207 are more suited to fish tanks.

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




4. Polar Aurora 4-Stage 525GPH

Polar Aurora 4-Stage 525GPH best budget canister filter for a turtle tank
Polar Aurora 4-Stage 525GPH
  • Brand: Polar Aurora
  • Type: Canister
  • Dimensions: Height 19″ x Width 12″ x Depth 12″
  • Turtle Tank Size Suitability: 65-100 Gallons
  • GPH: 525

✅ Pros

  • Affordable
  • Well built
  • Self-priming pump
  • Quick-release valves
  • UV sterilizing light
  • Replacement parts easily obtained
  • Great customer service

❌ Cons

  • Tank rim connectors are badly designed
  • Not the quietest
  • No adjustable flow rate

The Polar Aurora 4-Stage 525GPH is a good choice for a lower-priced external canister filter if you can live with a few compromises. It’s well built and if you need any spare or replacement parts the customer service is top-notch.

One of the really stand-out features of this canister is the internal UV sterilization light which helps to kill bacteria and keep algae under control. You just have to remember when stripping it down for cleaning that the bulb hangs vertically from 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 angeled 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. For the water return output, you have a choice of a multi-directional nozzle or a spray bar.

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

There are a few minor drawbacks to this filter. The length of the intake can’t be adjusted to suit the depth of your tank. On a standard 75 gallon tank it almost reaches the tank bottom so may suck up your 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.

Due to the above issue with the tank rim connectors, the output nozzle or spray bar only just goes beneath the water’s surface with the tank filled right to the top, so if you only half fill your tank you’ll need to look at another filter.

No, it’s not perfect, but it’s near the top of my turtle tank canister filters for good reason. If you fully fill your tank and you can live with a few niggles, this would be a great choice of turtle filter that doesn’t carry the price tag of the Fluval filters.




5. Penn-Plax Cascade 1500

Penn-Plax Cascade 1500
Penn-Plax Cascade 1500
  • Brand: Penn-Plax
  • Type: Canister
  • Dimensions: Height 20.5” x Width 12″ x Depth 11.5″
  • Power Consumption: 110 Volts/60 Hz – 45.5 Watts
  • Turtle Tank Size Suitability: 65-100 Gallons
  • GPH: 350

✅ Pros

  • Affordable
  • Easy to setup
  • Easy to prime the pump
  • Color-coded inlet and outlet valves
  • Hold 5 baskets of filter media
  • Filter media included
  • Fully adjustable flow rate

❌ Cons

  • Noisy
  • Doesn’t feel as well built as a Fluval
  • Leaks when disassembling

For those looking for a lower-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 it 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 your 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 your 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.

I’ve also found it leaks quite a bit when you take it apart for cleaning.

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




6. Marineland Magniflow 360

Marineland Magniflow 360 best filter for 40-gallon turtle tank
Marineland Magniflow 360
  • Brand: Marineland
  • Type: Canister
  • Dimensions: Height 17.25″ x Width 13.38″ x Depth 10.75″
  • Turtle Tank Size Suitability: 29-50 Gallons
  • GPH: 360

✅ Pros

  • Affordable
  • Quiet
  • Easy to set up
  • Quick prime pump
  • Filter media included
  • Quick-release valves
  • Replacement parts and accessories are easily available
  • 3-year warranty

❌ Cons

  • Tubing can be difficult to work with
  • Assembly instructions could be better

The Marineland Magniflow 360 is a great alternative choice and a more budget friendly alternative to the Fluval 407.

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.

The intake and output valves are clearly marked, are angeled 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 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. I’d advise you to invest in 2 hose clamps to give it a tighter fit on the intake and output valves as they’re not the best fit and can become detached.

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.

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 very quiet. All in all, a great lower-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

Fluval U4 best submersible filter for turtle tank
Fluval U4
  • Brand: Fluval
  • Type: Underwater
  • Dimensions: Height 13″ x Width 4.5″ x Depth 4″
  • Power Consumption: 120 Volts/60Hz – 12 Watts / 230-240 Volts/50Hz – 10 Watts
  • Turtle Tank Size Suitability: 20-29 Gallons
  • GPH: 260GPH

✅ Pros

  • Compact
  • Silent
  • Filter media included
  • Can be used horizontally or vertically
  • Easy to disassemble and clean
  • Cheaper than a canister or HOB filter
  • No worries about water leaks
  • 3-year warranty

❌ Cons

  • Unsightly
  • Takes up space in the tank
  • May be damaged by your turtle
  • Needs frequent cleaning

If you have a small aquarium or only keep yours half full of water, you may be better with 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.

For the water output, you have a choice of 2 multi-directional flow nozzles, or a central spray bar that has 3 positions of 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 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

AquaClear 110 best HOB filter for a turtle tank
AquaClear 110
  • Brand: Aqua Clear
  • Type: HOB
  • Dimensions: Width 13.5″ x Height 9″ x Depth 6.75″
  • Power Consumption: 5 Watts
  • Turtle Tank Size Suitability: 29-55 Gallons
  • GPH: 500

✅ Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Easy to clean
  • Large cartridge for holding media
  • Provides all 3 stages of filtration
  • Filter media included
  • Adjustable water flow

❌ Cons

  • Not the quietest HOB
  • May not restart after a power cut
  • Media basket isn’t fully enclosed
  • Tank will have to be approx 4″ from the wall
  • Doesn’t create as much water flow as a canister filter

The AquaClear 110 is my top pick as the best turtle tank HOB filter, if you don’t have the space for a canister filter it’s a great alternative.

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 your 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 definitely the best HOB filter for a turtle tank as the water turnover rate and space for filter media is great.




9. Aqueon QuietFlow 75 LED Pro

Aqueon QuietFlow 75 LED Pro HOB Filter
Aqueon QuietFlow 75 LED Pro
  • Brand: Aqueon
  • Type: HOB
  • Dimensions: Width 12.9″ x Height 8.4″ x Depth 6.6″
  • Turtle Tank Size Suitability: 29-40 Gallons
  • GPH: 400

✅ Pros

  • Quiet
  • Auto start pump
  • Automatically restarts after a power cut
  • Filter media included

❌ Cons

  • LED light is a gimmick
  • Not as high a flow rate as the AquaClear 110

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.

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 your filter media is clogged and needs cleaning. I found it to be a bit of a gimmick, to be honest. In my experience, 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 really not a lot to dislike about the Aqueon QuietFlow filter, but if you can live with a little bit of noise the AquaClear above would be a better choice due to the higher water turnover rate and having more space for filter media.




How To Choose A Filter For Your Turtle Tank

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

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 all the way 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 turtle tank, rather than the actual size of your tank.

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!

Choose a filter that’s rated for at least 2-3 times the volume of water in your turtle tank. Turtles produce a lot of waste and you’ll end up with your tank resembling a swamp if you buy an underpowered filter.

If your tank has 75 gallons of water, buy a filter that is suitable for 150-225 gallon tanks. This is a situation where bigger is definitely better!

Flow Rate / GPH

Choose a GPH (Gallons Per Hour) flow rate that will turn over the volume of water in your tank at least once per hour. Again, more is definitely better.

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

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 height of your tank water, they make extra noise from the constant stream of water splashing back into the tank. Maybe it’s me that’s getting old, but this really makes me need to go to the bathroom!!

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 definitely consider a Fluval canister filter.

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

Types Of Filtration

There are 3 types of filtration.

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 your filter media.

Biological Filtration

Biological filtration is where the beneficial bacteria that have grown on your 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.

Chemical Filtration

Chemical filtration refers to adding media such as activated carbon or zeolite to your filter to remove chemicals and odors from your water. It isn’t essential like biological and mechanical filtration, but it can help keep the tank water crystal clear and reduce odors.

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

Final Thoughts…

It took a while to put this post together, but as filtration is super important, especially in a turtle tank 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 filter 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 your filter!

Be sure to check out my equipment section for more in-depth reviews like this and my aquarium health section for tips on keeping your tank clean and healthy.