10 Best Filters for Turtle Tanks

BEST OVERALL

Fluval Underwater Filter

PREMIUM CHOICE

Ovation 1000 Submersible Power Jet Filter

GREAT VALUE

Zilla Internal Filter for Aquatic Reptiles

Aquatic pets are not all the same. Fish and turtles are alike but different in many ways. They need filters, but they also need different care from one another. When searching for a filter for your aquatic turtle, there are many things to think about, such as your tank’s size and the filtration process. We’ve taken a look at some of the best ten filters for turtle tanks.

Table of Contents

BEST OVERALL

Fluval Underwater Filter

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Fluval is a good brand when it comes to filters for our aquatic friends. This particular product can be used in reptile tanks, and it has a three-step filtration process. It removes large particles and other debris and waste from the tank for healthy, clear water. This process includes biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration for your turtle. It comes in different sizes, and this filter, in particular, can be used for tanks that are up to 65 gallons in size. Depending on the water level, it can be placed horizontally or vertically so that your water can get the best filtration possible. It has a quiet motor as well as an adjustable three-way flow control for maximum oxygenation and circulation.

What We Like Most

Comes in different sizes up to 65 gallons

Includes biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration

Can be placed inside the tank horizontally or vertically

Has a quiet motor

Easy to install

Our Synopsis:

This product is the right choice for a turtle because of the adjustable flow control and the two different ways it can fit into the tank.

Analyst Rating

PREMIUM CHOICE

Ovation 1000 Submersible Power Jet Filter

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This product is another good internal power filter. It gets completely submerged in the water so that the motor is quiet. It includes a spray bar so that you can have maximum oxygenation and aeration throughout the tank. The flow rate is 265 GPH for tanks that are up to 80 gallons in size. It will work hard biologically and mechanically to filter through the dirty water for your turtle. It gets rid of all the debris, turtle waste, discoloration, and odors for healthy water. Your tank will be crystal clear. It’s easy to set up, maintain, and clean when the time comes to rinse out the filter. This product only comes with the filter itself. The replaceable filter cartridges and any other equipment to go along with this product are sold separately.

What We Like Most

Suitable for tanks that are up to 80 gallons

Includes biological and mechanical filtration

Has a flow rate of 265 gallons-per-hour (GPH)

Comes with a spray bar

Easy to set up and maintain

Our Synopsis:

This is a simple yet powerful internal power filter that will get the job done for your turtle.

Analyst Rating

GREAT VALUE

Zilla Internal Filter for Aquatic Reptiles

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Zilla is a well-known and trusted brand for reptiles. This particular filter comes in two different sizes - one for up to 20-gallon tanks and the other for up to 40-gallon tanks. It’s an internal filter that will sit nicely inside your tank without taking up too much through the use of suction cups. It filters through the water removing any odors, waste, and other debris. The water will remain clean and clear for your turtle. The filter also comes with a protective grate at the bottom and the top so that your turtle won’t accidentally get too close to the suction. This filter is easy to set up, maintain, and clean, making it an excellent choice for any beginner turtle-owners.

What We Like Most

Works well for tanks up to 40 gallons

Removes odor, waste, and debris

Internal filter with suction cups

Has a grate to protect your turtle

Easy to install and to clean

Our Synopsis:

Zilla is an excellent brand for reptiles, and this is an ideal choice for tanks up to 40 gallons.

Analyst Rating

4

Tetra Decorative ReptoFilter

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Tetra is a good brand for any aquatic pets ranging from fish to reptiles. This filter is specific to reptiles, and it’s made to blend in with their environment. Turtles enjoy basking, which means they love to sun themselves under their heat lamps. This filter is hidden inside a large rock that your turtle can climb on and bask. It also creates a lovely waterfall. You can place this filter anywhere you want inside the tank without worrying about the filter being an eyesore. Besides an extra piece of decor, the filter goes through a three-step filtration process that will remove odors, debris, and turtle waste. This will fit nicely inside a tank that’s up to 55 gallons in size, and the best part is that it’s easy to set up and clean.

What We Like Most

Suitable for tanks up to 55 gallons

Includes a three-step filtration

Removes odors

Naturally blends in the environment

Easy to install and clean

Our Synopsis:

If you’re looking for a simple filter that gets the job done plus an added decor feature, then this product is a good choice.

Analyst Rating

5

Zoo Med Turtle Clean Filter

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Zoo Med is a great brand for turtles, and this filter from them is no different. It works well for tanks that up to 30 gallons in size, and it submerges in the water. This internal power filter will go through the three filtration processes, such as biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration inside the tank and out of the way from your other equipment. Since it’s submerged in the water, it has two intake ports. This will prevent any clogging that could happen from the amount of debris and other waste. If your filter needs cleaning or gets backed up somehow, you should be able to catch it before it flushes back out into the tank. With that said, this filter is simple to install and easy to maintain and clean.

What We Like Most

Works well in tanks up to 30 gallons

Submerges inside the tank

Goes through biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration

Includes dual intake ports to prevent clogging

Simple to set up and clean

Our Synopsis:

This is a simple internal power filter that will filtrate your turtle tank well while being simple for you to use.

Analyst Rating

6

Aquarium Turtle Filter Waterfall Flow Water Clean Pump Bio-Filtration for Reptiles

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This product is yet another internal power filter for your turtle. It works with tanks that are up to 40 gallons in size. Since it’s under the water, the motor is whisper-quiet so that it won’t bother you at all. There are two different ways to place it inside your tanks as well. You can hang it by the top rim, or there are suction cups that can stick to the side of the glass. Inside the tank is a filter cartridge and a sponge with some extra space for you to add media balls, should you choose to do so. The filter will give your tank a good cleaning and circulate the water well to ensure your turtle and the water stays clear and healthy.

What We Like Most

Works with tanks that are up to 40 gallons

Has a quiet motor

There are two ways to place inside your tank

Includes water circulation and cleaning

Easy to install and maintain

Our Synopsis:

This is a good choice if you have a simple set up for your turtle and need something minimalistic.

Analyst Rating

7

K1-Store Internal Filter Aquarium Turtle Filter Low Water Level Clean Pump for Reptiles

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This particular filter is an excellent idea for smaller tank setups. If you have a smaller turtle or a baby turtle, this filter will keep their separate tank clean. The motor is quiet so that it won’t disturb you or any of the aquatic pets. Even though it’s a smaller filter, it’s still pretty powerful and will get the job done. This product goes through biochemical filtration and oxygenation and removes debris, waste, and leftover food. It will also remove any discoloration of the water and any odors. The filter comes with a water pump, filter cartridge, and cover so that it’s easy to assemble and clean when needed. It also has extra space inside for media bios if you decide to add that to the filtration process.

What We Like Most

Goes through biochemical filtration

Cleans the water and removes discoloration and odors

Has a quiet motor

Suitable for tanks up to 10 gallons

Suitable for breeding tanks

Our Synopsis:

This is a good choice if you have a smaller tank setup for your turtle.

Analyst Rating

8

Exo Terra Turtle Cliff Aquatic Terrarium Filter/Rock

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This is another filter that also acts as decor and a basking spot for your turtle. The filter is hidden inside so that it doesn’t look like an eyesore to you, and it’s still a functional space in the tank for your turtle. The only thing with this product is that it’s better suited for smaller tanks. So, if you have a smaller setup or baby turtles, then this would be an excellent choice to start with. The filter itself is strong as it goes through the three-step filtration process, cleaning the water. It circulates the water well and also includes aeration. It’s easy to set up inside your turtle’s tank, and it’s just as easy to take back out and clean when needed.

What We Like Most

Suitable for smaller tanks

Has three-step filtrations

Includes water circulation and aeration

Acts as a basking spot and decor

Easy to install and maintain

Our Synopsis:

This is a good choice if you need something small or need an extra filter to boost your current one.

Analyst Rating

9

5W 400L/H Turtle Fish Tank Filter

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This is yet another small but mighty filter for a turtle tank. It can be placed inside your turtle’s tank by hanging on the top rim or by using the suction cups to cling to the inside of the glass. It has a quiet motor and will submerge under the water so that it doesn’t get in the way of anything outside of the tank. It’s suitable for smaller tanks but can easily be added to bigger tanks as an extra filter if your setup needs an extra boost. This product will filter through your tank’s water well, removing any debris and waste. It will clear the water and get rid of any odors. Plus, oxygenation and aeration are included.

What We Like Most

Good for smaller tanks

Has a quiet motor

Cleans and filters the water

Two ways to place inside the tank

Easy to set up and clean

Our Synopsis:

This filter works great for a small tank set up or an extra filter for a more extensive setup.

Analyst Rating

10

AQUANEAT Low Water Level Filter, Small Turtle Tank Filter

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This little filter is one that will work with tanks up to three gallons. Of course, you can’t put a turtle in a tank that’s only three gallons big. This one is more suited for baby turtles, but it can also make a remarkable boost filter to an existing tank that could use some extra help with the filtration. This filter goes through chemical filtration so that it removes odors and discoloration from the water. It also gets rid of any debris or water from your turtle. It creates a waterfall providing proper oxygenation for your turtle and water circulation. This one can sit on the inside of your tank using the suction cups provided. This simple filter is easy to install and maintain. It’s also simple to clean and a good budget option.

What We Like Most

Can be used in tanks up to three gallons

Good for baby turtles

Uses chemical filtration

Provides clear water and oxygenation

Easy to install and clean

Our Synopsis:

If you’re looking for something simple for a small setup or starter turtle home, this is a good filter choice.

Analyst Rating

Buyer's Guide

When choosing the right filter for your turtle, there are a few things to look into before you buy. You need to think about your turtle’s needs and also the kind of set up you have, such as your tank’s size and the type of filter you’ll need.

Tank size

Turtles need to have a lot of space to thrive inside their tank. Depending on the species, aquatic turtles can be small as four inches to as big as over eight inches. They enjoy swimming and being on land plus needing room to bask inside their tank. This is why your turtle tank should be, at minimum, 30 gallons: the more space, the better. Turtles enjoy stretching their legs and need plenty of room to swim around and get their exercise. Unlike land turtles, aquatic turtles don’t like to be handled as much by humans, so that they will spend most of their time inside their tank. They need to get some sort of exercise, and if they can’t move around freely inside their tank, you might need to look into upgrading the tank.

Filtration process

Aquatic turtles need the same filtration process as fish do. Their tank water needs to go through biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration. They also need proper water circulation and aeration. Even though they can climb on their decor to bask in their heat lamps, the water still needs to go through the correct filtration stages so that when the turtle decides to go for a swim, they won’t get sick. These different filtration processes will be done with a single filter. Of course, all filters are made differently and have different strengths. Check what kind of filtration your filter will do for your tank before buying. You’ll want a filter that says it does all three filtration stages, or it will sometimes say, “three-step filtration” or something of the kind. This filtration will keep the tank’s water clean, clear, and healthy for your turtle, thus keeping your turtle healthy.

Internal or external filters

Some filters are internal, which means they sit inside your turtle’s tank. Other filters are external, which means they’ll sit outside the tank either beside your turtle’s set up or underneath it, possibly hidden inside the stand. Other than where they’re placed, there’s no difference between internal and external filters (depending on the size and brand, of course). Whether you choose an internal or external filter for your tank is up to you. Each one has its pros and cons. An internal filter will take up space inside the tank so that there’s less room for your turtle to move around and less decor for you to be able to place. However, some internal filters also act as decor or basking places for your turtles so that you can get a 2-for-1. External filters may have the same effect because it’ll be outside your tank, and you’ll need to accommodate the space beside it alongside the other equipment required to care for your turtle.

Why does my turtle need a filter?

Your turtle does need a filter for a few reasons. Any aquatic animal needs to have a filter, and even though turtles are relatively sturdy, they still need a clean environment to live in. Turtles produce a lot more waste than fish do. Therefore, their tank gets dirtier faster. A proper filter will take care of that through the different stages of filtration. A filter will also circulate the water and make sure there’s a fair amount of oxygen within the tank. If the turtle’s tank gets too dirty, then it can make the turtle sick. On the other hand, there will be a strong odor that will bother the turtle, but it will bother you as well when you’re in the same room as the tank. Aquatic turtles need to have plenty of space to swim, but they also need to bask too. The entire tank will not be filled with water, but that doesn’t mean the tank will be easier to clean. Therefore a filter is not needed. To make your life easier and give your turtle a clean, healthy environment, a filter is necessary.

Can I use a fish filter?

Yes, you can use a fish filter. Fish and aquatic turtles are different, but they need the same filtration processes, such as mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. They may also need oxygenation and aeration as well. A fish filter will work just fine for your turtle, provided it’s the proper size for your tank set up. Fish filters are similar to any other filter that’s catered to reptiles because they can be internal or external, can be power filters, canisters, or sponge filters. One thing to note is that you can use an under-gravel filter for your turtle, but it’s not recommended. An under-gravel filter is as it sounds - it’s buried underneath the gravel in your fish tank. However, turtles and gravel don’t mix well. Turtles will mistake the gravel for food and eat it. You don’t want your turtle to be eating rocks, of course. So, you can use an under-gravel filter for your turtle without the gravel so that the airflow will come from the bottom of the tank. Just be sure not to place any gravel or sand or anything else of the kind at the bottom of the tank. This way, your turtle won’t mistake non-edible things like food, and nothing will get sucked into the filter that’s not supposed to.

How often should I clean the filter?

The filter should be cleaned whenever it looks visibly dirty. Your turtle tank should have a routine water change. It doesn’t need to be changed, but you should change out about 20-25% of the water weekly or bi-weekly. Whenever you change the water in your turtle tank, be sure to check on the filter. You might be able to get away with leaving it alone sometimes, but it’s always a good idea to check it to make sure that it’s working correctly and nothing is clogged. If it looks dirty, you can clean it. When you clean out the filter cartridge, rinse it out in the old water you took out from the tank already. Washing it out in tap water will kill some good bacteria and put some toxins back onto the cartridge. You should only rinse out the cartridge and not clean it with dish soap or laundry detergent, or any other chemicals. If you attempt to clean the filter and it doesn’t look as though it’s getting cleaned or if the cartridge itself looks warped or damaged, it might be time to replace it with a new one. A good rule of thumb is to replace the filter cartridge every couple of months, but you can get away with only changing it when the filter looks as though it’s not filtering through the debris anymore. This is because the filter will have some good bacteria on it for your turtle, and replacing the cartridge will eliminate the good bacteria. Even though a filter may look super dirty, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not doing its job.

Can I turn the filter off at night or at all?

Your turtle’s filter needs to stay on at all times. Your turtle is always inside its tank, and it doesn’t stop producing waste or swimming in the water for long periods. Turning your filter off for a while will disrupt the good bacteria and the filtration process’s overall flow. By doing so, the water can get dirty and, sometimes, filtered water will backwash into the tank that’s already been cleaned. Even at night, your turtle may not necessarily be sleeping. They could go for a midnight swim and, when you wake up in the morning, the tank may be visibly dirty. If the power goes out at your house and the filter shuts off for a few minutes or even for a couple of hours, your turtle will be okay. If it happens once in a while and you’re able to keep up with the water changes, that won’t be much of a problem. However, if it’s constant and you turn your filter off at night, which is seven or eight hours, then you’d be depriving your turtle of some of the necessary bacteria they need through the filtration system. They would be fine for a little while, but it would soon catch up with them and make them sick.

Expert tip

Find a filter that will go through the biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration process, similarly to fish.

Did you know

Turtles go to the bathroom more often than fish do, thus creating more waste. This is why they need a filter to keep the water clean for them and free of any odors for you.

Conclusion

In the end, turtles are similar and yet so different from keeping fish. They need the proper filtration, but they also require that extra boost in care and cleanliness. Choosing the right filter for your turtle tank will get you off on the right foot.