Aquarium equipment

Turtle Tank Filters

Last Updated June 27, 2021
turtle tank filters

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Turtles are cute, and they can make great pets, especially for kids. But setting up your very first turtle tank can be a challenge, as there’s a lot to buy, and the choice of equipment is seemingly endless.

Although you may read otherwise, we can confirm that you definitely do need a filtration system in your turtle tank. But with so many different types and brands of turtle tank filters to choose from, how do you know which is the best for your setup?

To make a choice a little more clear-cut, we’ve reviewed six of the best turtle tank filters that are currently on the market and included details of them in this guide. We also discuss the whys and wherefores of choosing and maintaining turtle tank filters so that you have all the information you need to provide your pets with a clean, safe, and healthy environment.

Quick Summary: Best Turtle Tank Filters

Penn-Plax Cascade CCF5UL Canister Filter For Large Aquariums and Fish Tanks – Up To 200...Penn Plax Cascade 1500 Canister Turtle Filter
  • Cascade Canister Filter For Freshwater Or Marine Environments
  • State Of The Art Features Of The Cascade 1500
  • Use Any Combination Of Media
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Eheim Pro 4+ 600 Filter up to 160gEheim Pro 4+ Canister Filter
  • Easy To Use
  • Can Handle Aquariums Between 30-160 US Gallons
  • Manufactured In Germany
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Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter With Quad Filtration System Cleans Up to 100 Gallon Tank...Penn Plax Cascade 300 Hang-on
  • Quad Filtration System
  • Adjustable Flow Knob
  • Activated Carbon Cartridge
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POND BOSS Filter Kit with PumpPond Boss FM002P Filter Kit
  • Eco-Friendly Filter Kit
  • Energy Efficient
  • Quiet Operation
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Fluval Canister Filter for Aquariums - 406 - 100 GallonFluval Canister Filter FX6
  • Multi Stage Filtration
  • Sound Dampening Impeller Design
  • Suitable For Aquariums Up To 100 Gallons
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MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter, For aquariums Up To 97 Gallons, 10.5 IN...MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter
  • Internal Canister Filter
  • Versatile Filtration
  • Micron Water Polishing
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Our Best 6 Turtle Tank Filters Reviewed

If you’re looking for the best turtle tank filter, you’re in the right place! Check out the reviews, read other user’s opinions, and click the link to order the filtration that suits your needs best.

Penn Plax Cascade 1500 Canister Turtle Filter

Penn-Plax Cascade CCF5UL Canister Filter For Large Aquariums and Fish Tanks – Up To 200...
  • CASCADE CANISTER FILTER FOR FRESHWATER OR MARINE ENVIRONMENTS: the Cascade 1500 (CCF5UL) has 5 media baskets, works at 350 GPH, and is recommended for Aquariums up to 200 gallons. It measures 11.5 x...
  • STATE OF THE ART FEATURES OF THE CASCADE 1500: ♦ flow valves that rotate 360 degrees for easy maneuvering in even the tightest aquarium cabinets ♦ large capacity media baskets allow aquarists to...
  • USE ANY COMBINATION OF MEDIA: floss pad for removing particulate matter and a course sponge that provides abundant surface for promoting bacterial growth (to remove ammonia and nitrites) included free...

The Penn Plax Cascade 1500 Canister Turtle Filter is the perfect choice for a beginner or for you if you’re working to a budget.

Although this filter doesn’t offer quite as much space for filter material, it’s still a powerful unit that does deliver excellent filtration for your tank. This is one of the most popular turtle filters on the market, providing a maximum flow of around 350 GPH (gallons per hour) and recommended for tanks up to 200 gallons.

The Penn Plax Cascade 1500 has many state of the art features, including:

  • 360-degree rotating flow valves to accommodate even the tightest aquarium cabinet.
  • Huge media baskets enabling you to customize your filter media.
  • A push-button primer enables quick and hassle-free priming.
  • The filter comes with a spray bar, tubing, and directional spout.

Another appealing feature of this filter is that you can use any combination of filter media that you want. Included with the pack, you get a floss pad for removing floating particles and a coarse sponge to create a surface for beneficial bacteria to colonize.

What we like:

  • Excellent value for money
  • Powerful and effective
  • Customizable filter media

Room for improvement:

  • Too much bypass, so the filter isn’t as efficient as some other designs

Eheim Pro 4+ Canister Filter

Eheim Pro 4+ 600 Filter up to 160g
  • This product is easy to use. This product adds a great value. This product is Manufactured in Germany. This product is designed for pets and there use.
  • These filters can handle aquariums between 30-160 US gallons (Depending on model purchased)
  • As with most EHEIM filters, the Pro4+ comes complete with filter pads and media and all installation equipment.

The Eheim Pro 4 is a powerful external canister filter that’s excellent for use in turtle tanks. Canisters make excellent turtle tank filters, largely because they have much larger filter media containers.

Eheim manufactures a large range of aquarium filters, and the German brand is renowned for its high-quality, durable products. The Eheim Pro 4 is suitable for use in aquariums of up to 160 gallons and provides a maximum flow of 330 gallons per hour. This filter is super-quiet, too, which is essential if you have your turtle tank in your bedroom or living room where a noisy filter would disturb you.

What we like:

  • Excellent quality and durability
  • Extra-large filter media container
  • Includes filter media and installation equipment

Room for improvement:

  • Expensive compared to other filter systems

Penn Plax Cascade 300 Hang-on

Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter With Quad Filtration System Cleans Up to 100 Gallon Tank...
  • Hang on aquarium filter quietly delivers 300 gallons per hour of crystal clear water for your fresh or marine aquariums from 55 to 100 gallons in size.
  • Revolutionary Bio-Falls Quad-Filtration system provides efficient filtration with anaerobic bacteria for additional ammonia and nitrite removal providing maximum oxygenation.
  • Activated carbon cartridge removes harmful chemicals, toxins, odors, discoloration, and other contaminants for your aquarium.

Although most HOB’s aren’t powerful enough for use in turtle tanks, the Penn Plax Cascade 300 Hang-on filter is an excellent unit that certainly does the job.

This filtration unit is very powerful, producing a maximum flow rate of 300 gallons per hour, which is very impressive for a HOB filter. So, you could use two of these units (rated for a maximum of 100 gallons) as the main filtration system for a turtle tank. Alternatively, you could use one Cascade 300 filter for a turtle tank in conjunction with an external canister filter or for a grow-out or quarantine tank.

The patented Bio-Falls Quad Filtration system that this system uses is highly efficient and features chemical filtration in the form of an activated carbon cartridge that removes odors, discoloration, and chemical toxins from the water. Also, biological filtration media and a poly-fiber floss cartridge combine to trap floating particulate matter.

What we like:

  • Excellent value for money
  • Comprehensive filtration media setup
  • Very reasonably priced

Room for improvement:

  • For maximum power, you need to use two units for a turtle tank

Pond Boss FM002P Filter Kit

POND BOSS Filter Kit with Pump
  • Ecofriendly Filter kit
  • Energy efficient
  • Quiet operation

If you like to keep your turtle pets outside in a pond during the summertime when the water is warm enough or you live in a region where the climate is warm year-round, the Pond Boss FM002P Filter Kit is the perfect solution for you.

The filtration kit and pump set is suitable for turtle ponds up to 500 gallons and produces a flow rate of 320 gallons per hour. Also, some filter media is included with the package. The fountain pump that’s supplied with the kit is ETL listed and energy-efficient. The filtration unit’s patented sloping lid is designed to prevent the accumulation of debris, and there are two filter pads to trap large and small particles of debris, making maintenance easier.

As an extra bonus, you get a water spray nozzle that produces a gorgeous fountain effect that both aerates the water and adds a nice extra feature to your turtle pond. Sweet!

What we like:

  • Quiet operation
  • Eco-friendly, energy-efficient design
  • Lovely fountain effect

Room for improvement:

  • The fountain pipe and spray height are not adjustable, which could be a problem if you have a deep pond.

Fluval Canister Filter FX6

Fluval Canister Filter for Aquariums - 406 - 100 Gallon
  • Multi stage filtration for healthy fresh & saltwater aquariums
  • Suitable for aquariums up to 100 gallons. Flow Rate: 1450 LPH (383 US GPH)
  • Sound dampening impeller design for a quieter operation. The Fluval 406 Canister Filter has a unique square shaped canister design that holds 35 to 50 percent more water than round canister filters of...

This external canister filter by Fluval packs a serious punch and is perfect for you if you keep large turtles in a big tank.

This bad boy shifts 560 gallons of water every hour and has space for 1.5 gallons worth of filter media, giving you plenty of scope for biological filtration media. As with most of Fluval’s aquarium equipment, this canister filter is easy to set up and is completely silent when it’s running. The filter is rated for use with tanks of up to 400 gallons.

The filter has a unique square-shaped canister that can hold 35 to 50 percent more water than average round designs of a similar size. The design allows better water flow through the unit, providing maximum contact with all the filter media. The unit is equipped with a dual-layer foam screen and clog-proof intake strainer, a patented Aqua Stop Valve, rim connector assemblies, and multiple baskets for your filter media.

What we like:

  • Super-powerful unit to suit big tanks
  • 3- year warranty
  • Excellent flow through the unit for efficient filtration

Room for improvement:

  • The mechanical filtration unit produces a lot of micro-bubbles that some people don’t like.

MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter

MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter, For aquariums Up To 97 Gallons, 10.5 IN...
  • INTERNAL CANISTER FILTER: Submerged motor for quick and easy startup.
  • VERSATILE FILTRATION: Two refillable chambers house carbon or customizable filter media.
  • MICRON WATER POLISHING: High-efficiency polishing with the micron cartridge (included).

If you want the power of a canister filtration system but don’t like the idea of an external unit, you might like to consider the MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter.

This is a very powerful internal filter system with similar functionality to an external canister but without priming. Also, there’s no risk of an external filter system leaking in your cabinet or all over your floor. If you have a large setup, you might want to use two of these filters, as they’re rated for a maximum tank size of 100 gallons, pushing out a flow rate of 290 GPH.

The unit offers versatile filtration via two refillable chambers that can house your choice of filter media, including chemical filtration. Highly efficient water polishing is assured with the micron cartridge that you get with the kit.

What we like:

  • Very reasonably priced
  • Versatile filter media chambers
  • Advantages of an external canister filter without the danger of leaks

Room for improvement:

  • Filter cartridges don’t last long and overheats the tank if they are allowed to become clogged

Does your turtle tank really need a filter?

Many people will tell you that a turtle tank doesn’t need a filter. However, that’s an urban myth! Every aquarium needs a filtration system, no matter what kind of livestock you’re keeping.

Filters are essential. An efficient filtration system will keep your water clear so that you can see your pets, but, more importantly, a biological filtration system is crucial for processing the waste that your turtles produce, keep the turtle tank water safe for your crew of Ninjas.

Without an efficient filtration system, the levels of ammonia and nitrite in the water will rise to amounts that become toxic and harmful to your livestock. Through a complex, natural chemical process called the nitrogen cycle, the biological element of your filtration system processes ammonia and nitrites, converting them to nitrates that are much less dangerous to your pets.

Nitrates can be removed during weekly aquarium maintenance when you carry out partial water changes that help to keep the water clean. You’ll never completely remove nitrates from the water; they’re even contained in low levels in tap water. However, as long as nitrate levels in your turtle tank remain at 20 ppm (parts per million) or less, that’s fine.

What size filter for your turtle tank?

Turtles make a lot of mess, so your turtle tank’s filter has to be a powerful one to cope. Check out the filter’s packaging to see what size tank the filter is rated for. Ideally, you want a filter with a rating that is twice or three times that of your aquarium size.

An alternative solution is to buy two filters that are rated for your tank size. That approach pretty much guarantees that you’ll have all the power you need and you also have a backup plan in case one of the filters fails. If you take that route, we suggest using one powerful HOB, such as an Eheim Pro, and a canister filter like the MarineLand Internal Canister system.

What filter media does my filtration system need?

Pretty much all filtration systems come with a starter pack of filter media included. However, many offer you the option to customize what media you use. For that reason, you need to know a little more about filter media and what it does.

There are three types of filter media:

  • Mechanical
  • Biological
  • Chemical

Mechanical filter

The mechanical filtration element of your system is responsible for filtering out large particles of debris and turtle waste from the water as it passes through the filtration unit. Mechanical filter media is usually comprised of coarse sponges or flosses. Some beneficial bacteria do grow in your mechanical filter media, although it’s not the ideal medium for that.

Unlike most aquarium fish species, turtles produce a LOT of waste, and they’re pretty messy eaters, too. So, you need a strong power filter partnered with lots of mechanical filter media to keep your turtle tank water clean and clear. For the best results, set your filter up with layers of sponges from coarse to fine, and finish with a layer of floss to remove the smallest particles of debris from the water as it passes over the filter media.

Biological filter

The biological element of your filtration system is where the beneficial bacteria live that are responsible for processing toxic ammonia and nitrites in the water.

The biological filter media comes after the mechanical filter media in the system. Although there are several different types of biological filter media to choose from, the common denominator is that they are all porous. That provides a large surface area for colonies of bacteria to populate. Sponges, ceramic rings, crushed lava rock, and bio balls are all popular choices of biological filter media.

Chemical filter

Chemical filtration is usually comprised of activated charcoal that removes heavy metals and chemicals from the water. Be aware that charcoal also soaks up medication that you put into the water too, so you need to remove the charcoal if you’re treating your livestock for illness or move them to an isolation tank for the duration of their treatment. You can also use zeolite as a chemical filter media option, which helps to remove ammonia.

However, most people only use chemical filtration if they want to remove something in particular from the water, as charcoal can strip away beneficial substances, too.

Turtle tank filter maintenance

For your turtle tank filter to work efficiently and effectively, you need to maintain it properly.

If the filter media isn’t cleaned regularly, gunk and sludge will accumulate, clogging the filter and impacting its efficiency and output level. That will lead to problems with the water quality in the tank, as the flow of water through the biological filter is compromised, meaning that ammonia and nitrites aren’t removed from the water as efficiently.

Every two weeks, take the filter unit apart and wash the mechanical filter media in a bucket of tank water to get rid of the gunk that’s clogging the sponges and floss. Remove and replace any floss that’s beyond recovery. The biological filter media should be okay, as it won’t have trapped much dirt, and you want to keep as many beneficial bacteria intact as possible.

If you notice that the flow rate in your turtle tank appears to have decreased, even after cleaning the filters, it’s likely that you need to replace your sponges. Sponges generally last for quite a long time, but eventually, they get so dirty that they begin to break down, so you will need to replace them. Replace half the sponges at a time, rather than chucking out the whole lot all at once, as that will remove too many of the essential bacteria that are crucial to the efficiency and balance of the system.

In summary

Turtle tanks need an efficient filtration system to keep the water clean and healthy for your pets.

Choose a turtle tank filter that has a sufficiently powerful flow rate to cope with the demands of these messy creatures. Check the rating on the packaging of the filter, and choose one that’s twice or three times that of the size of your turtle tank. Alternatively, use two filters that are rated for your tank size.

Keep your new turtle tank filtration system working efficiently by cleaning the filter media once every couple of weeks, and your pets will enjoy a clean, hygienic home and a long life, too.

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