5 Best Filters for Turtle Tanks In 2023 (Buying Guide & Review)

As an aquarium owner, you have an idea of how messy fish, reptiles, and amphibians can get. They tend to excrete in the water, making it is tasking, if not impossible, to ensure that the tank stays clean at all times. Therefore, you need a filtration system like the Aqueon Quietflow E Filter, which provides an automated and convenient way to keep your pet’s habitat clean.

In this article, we’re going to review the following filters for turtle tanks:

Best Filters for Turtle Tanks

Considering there are numerous options available, we sampled some of the reliable products in the market to give you the best filter for a turtle tank. Read on for the detailed review.

7 Best Filters for Turtle Tanks Reviewed

We took our time to research the best products in the market that have your pet’s interest at heart. We considered high quality and value for money as we selected different filter types to broaden your selection. Take a look at what we found.

1. Penn Plax Cascade Canisters 

This filter is a multi-stage external gadget powerful enough to run a 200-gallon water tank; thanks to a high 350 GPH (gallon per hour) flow rate. It can work perfectly in fresh and salty water to make it useful for owners in both spectrums. The filter has different types of filtration media that perform biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration processes, improving its ability to sufficiently clean wastes in the turtle tank. 

The pump also has a fast switch that easily starts the pump. Also, these cleaners are durable; therefore, providing value for money since they will serve you for longer. Penn Plax is also simple to install as it comes packed with every piece you need and will take you less than forty minutes to set it up. The filter comes with two rotating valves (rotating at 360°); thus, easy to fit the filter. It also has hose clamps and controller valves that check the water flow rate. 

Additionally, this pump has a large filter basket that lets you try any media you prefer, whether filtration media, input, or output tubes. You will also appreciate its airtight sealing that reduces the noise normally experienced with internal filters. On the downside, the Penn Plax Cascade Filter wouldn’t be the ideal option for you if your tank is tiny. You may need a different system if your aquarium is less than 100 gallons. 


  • It has an easy to push button that makes it convenient to operate
  • It has a gigantic media basket to hold numerous filtration media


  • It is not an ideal option for low capacity tanks

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

2. Tetra Whisper Internal Filters EX

This pump is another great option, especially if you need a submersible filter. Tetra whispers are designed with value for money in mind. They are pocket-friendly; hence, can fit within your budget. Additionally, this sleek product doesn’t emit loud noises like other products. It is also ideal for turtle tanks below seventy gallons. However, the pump may strain when you use it with large tanks, which may hasten the process of wear and tear. 

Regardless of the filter’s mini size, it is still all-inclusive for functionality, just like the more expensive and high-end pumps. The gadget is quiet, offers multi-stage filtration, and possesses a robust water flow in the tank. Besides, the pump can comfortably filter water up to 125 gallons per hour, which is pretty effective for smaller tanks. Additionally, the pump comes with a time strip that alerts you whenever you need to replenish the carbon filter; this way, you will only replace it when you have to.

It won’t be hectic for the owners keen on low-maintenance products to replace the bio-bag cartridges since they are within your reach. The demerit is that the filter is suitable for small tanks because it doesn’t take a lot of space to let your pet play and roam freely. However, it would be best if you were cautious with the cables since they can be fatal to your pet when it munches on them, removes the covering, or contacts the sharp ends. 


  • It is more affordable than most filters
  • It is easy to set up
  • it is effortless to clean


  • It is only ideal for smaller tanks
  • It may be fatal to your pets if they come in close contact

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

3. Aqueon Quietflow E Filter

As one of the most high powered in the market, the Aqueon Quietflow offers you cleaning in all three stages, mechanical, chemical, and biological. The system has impressive qualities and is easy to maintain that any first-timer or veteran would adore. For functionality, it has a diffuser grid that comes in handy to eliminate clogging, meaning that it is long-lasting and durable. Due to the enhanced chemical filtration, you will get an effective cleaning system that leaves the water clear and goes beyond to eliminate even the dissolved impurities.

The setup is also super easy since you can place it vertically in your tank using the suction cups or hooks to the aquarium wall. It also doesn’t occupy a lot of space to leave enough room for your pet. Given that our choice is a forty-gallon option, you are certain of its high performance and functionality. We cannot ignore the great feature where it starts up without any priming even when the power fails temporarily. If you are worried that your tank is too small for this filter, the manufacturers have you covered to offer alternative options to suit different tank sizes. 


  • It comes with a four-stage filtration system.
  • It does not require priming; hence, it can start automatically when the power is on.
  • It is available in different sizes to suit your needs


  • Some buyers have concerns that it is quite loud

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

4. Fluval FX Canister Filter

If you are skeptical about having a filter inside your turtle tank, you can go for an external alternative like the Fluval FX. It is huge and of high performance meant for large tanks. The design is compact, making it fit under many aquariums. In addition, it utilizes all filter methods, biological, mechanical, and chemical, to ensure that your water stays sparkling clean every time.  

It is a 400-capacity filter and works at hundreds of gallons an hour, making it a great choice if you are housing many turtles or a giant pet in a huge aquarium. It is also automatic, meaning that, it starts running as soon as you plug it in, saving you the hassle of switching it on and off when you want to use it. For enhanced performance, the system comes with advanced technology for close monitoring. 

The feature allows the pump to shut off for a while after 12 hours as it lets out air bubbles. Therefore, you don’t need to open the canister manually. Given the high performance, it is expected that the filter will be quite pricey. However, purchasing it means that you will get a durable and effective system that will work well for you, especially if you own a giant aquarium.


  • It has smart pump technology
  • It has a customizable media
  • It is a high capacity filter


  • It is quite pricey
  • It is bulky 

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

5. Marineland Penguin Power Filter

Another hang-on-back filter we wish to present to you is the Marineland Penguin. It offers high performance and great money value. It has a unique bio-wheel technology that gives the system great biological filtration. It works on the three filtration systems to provide you with unmatched elimination of nitrites and ammonia toxins. The product comes in different sizes to suit each buyer’s needs; hence, you don’t need to worry about your tank’s size. You can place your turtles at any life stage from hatching to adulthood, knowing that they will live in a clean home. 

The equipment is ideal for starters because of its low maintenance and durability. The great suction power also makes it easy to install and start immediate use. The system is not complex, and you can get further help from the manual. The appliance is also hassle-free since you don’t need to deal with valves, tubing, or other components in the typical filters.  


  • It allows successive use of four cartridges
  • It has great money value
  • The product is well-reviewed


  • There is a bubbling sound when in use, and it gets louder if the water level is too low.

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

6. TetraFauna ReptoFilter

This is one of the most attractive filters we have tested. Apart from its functionality, you can also use it for aesthetic reasons. This option provides an effective filtration system and makes the tank look great in the process. It has a natural stone-like appearance that enables your tank to stand out, especially if you use your aquarium as a décor piece. It may take a keen eye to notice that it isn’t natural. In addition, it has a waterfall feature to enhance the rock look further.  

You will also find it straightforward to use, easy to clean and maintain. Like most products on our list, this system also allows a three-stage filtration, eliminating dissolved toxins to leave your water crystal clear and odorless. The design will enable it to function with shallow water as low as two inches deep. 

An added advantage is its large capacity since it functions with up to 50 gallons of water. You will also appreciate the whisper technology that guarantees quiet filtration, enabling you to place your aquarium in any room of your house. This system’s functionality is surprising given the price range.  


  • It has a natural rock-like and waterfall feature that improves the tank’s aesthetics.
  • It doubles up as a decorative piece


  • It has several moving parts; hence, may need regular maintenance
  • The rocks can persuade the turtles to climb

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

7. Cascade 300 Hang-On Filters 

This system is a hang-on-back Penn Plax product that you fix at the turtle tank edge. Unlike the internal and external options, this system requires you to place the water levels high enough to reach the purifier; otherwise, it won’t function. Unlike other hang-on products, this type is more robust, pumping an impressive 300 gallons per hour and still attentive on space to leave room for your pet. 

It can work effectively for a 50-100 gallon aquarium, but you may need to use two of them if your tank is bigger or you have more pets. You can also combine this pump with an external canister for better filtration. It is ideal for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums and has an adjustable knob that you can use to increase or decrease water flow, especially during feeding. 

Furthermore, this equipment offers chemical, biological, and mechanical filtration that ensures that the aquarium water is always crystal clear. The double-sided reachable cartridge allows for simple maintenance, making it a durable option. The inbuilt bio-fall system provides a reliable filtration for the removal of ammonia and nitrates. It helps that it adds more oxygen to the water.


  • It is more powerful than most hang-on
  • lt can work effectively with other filters or canisters


  • It is not ideal for some tanks since it requires high water levels.

>> Check Price on Amazon <<

Factors To Consider When Choosing the Best Turtle Tank Filter 

It would be best to have an elaborate checklist as you go shopping for your turtle’s filter. We ensured that all our top picks have the qualities below to help you pick a product based on the essential features. 

Tank Size

This aspect is perhaps one of the most important factors to consider. Since you are looking for a gadget that you will use for your aquarium, your tank’s size is a key feature to consider. It will guide you when selecting your filter’s power; that is, the more massive your tank is, the stronger your filter needs to be. Huge aquariums contain a lot of water, which needs high voltage equipment to keep the water going. 

Apart from the tank capacity, you may also need to consider how many turtles you have; the higher the population, the more powerful your filter should be to get rid of all the dirt. In contrast, you also don’t need a super filter if you are working with a small tank, as it would be stressful for your pet and can cause accidents since we are dealing with an electrical appliance. 

Read more: Best Turtle Tanks


Proper maintenance means safety and your pet’s well-being; therefore, make it a top priority in your checklist. Besides it being a matter of convenience, the filter’s maintenance is a critical factor to consider. If anything happens to the system, especially without your knowledge, your pet will wallow in the dirt, and given the impact on your pet’s health, you wouldn’t want to risk it. 


The most effective filter should have enough power to run in your tank. You wouldn’t want a low-performance or non-durable product that isn’t value for your money. A low-power filter will strain in cleaning your tank, and you will have to replace it soon, which is costly.

You can judge its performance by the time it requires to clean the water in your tank entirely; a great performing machine works within a short time. It will also be durable to last a long time and serve you longer without ever breaking down. Another way to tell performance is by checking the motor function since it is the main component of the entire system. It should be powerful and reliable too. Otherwise, the entire equipment won’t be effective.   

Types of Filtration

The filtration system directly correlates to your pet’s health; therefore, as a keen keeper, you need to know the various forms of filtration for you to ensure thorough cleaning of your tank. 

  • Mechanical Filtration

Most aquarium filters are equipped with a sponge filtration system that blocks all the particles and dirt in the water. In this filtration method, you can use a filtration media of your choice. You can also improve efficiency by applying a two-level filtration process to enhance purification in the aquarium if your system is multi-stage. Using sponges at the final stage of water filtration is essential since it can perform biological and mechanical processes at once. 

  • Biological Filtration

Biological filtration uses beneficial bacteria to get rid of waste and works effectively with mechanical filtration technology. You can also decide to use biological filtration methods independently. Turtles excrete a lot in the water such that relying on a single filtration system may be overwhelming. Their urine contains a lot of ammonia, which the ordinary sponge may not eliminate. Bacteria require a wide surface of porous biological filter material such as ceramic rings that attract beneficial bacteria to consume all the wastes in the tank.

  • Chemical Filtration

This process uses the principle of activated charcoal to remove bad odor in the tank. The ammonia filtering system also assists in the elimination of excess ammonia from the water body. Once the biological filtration system is established, the chemical filtration becomes grounded. However, an emergency may call for the use of chemical filtration. Hence, it is best to have it standby even if you aren’t using it.

Types of Tank Filters

Settling on the best filter needs caution because any wrong choice means that you will get ineffective equipment that will also put your pet at risk. Different filters need are placed at various places; thus, you need one that works best for you. 

  • Hang-On-Back Filters

As their name suggests, these filters function while on the back of the tank and may not be effective if you place them inside the tank. HOB filters require a certain water level to operate. Unfortunately, most turtle aquariums have low water levels making them tasking and noisy. Therefore, you will need to raise the water level close to or above the basking spot if you need this cleaner to work best for you. Also, note that turtles are pretty messy and will need a more powerful HOB.

  • Under Gravel Filters

UGF filters have sparked a lot of debate among keepers, with many people showing contrasting opinions on this equipment’s functionality. Some hobbyists praise it, while others are certain that it is not effective since waste clogs on the tank surface. Therefore, it is difficult for the system to clean, creating a breeding ground for bacteria that may pose health hazards to your pet turtle.

  • External Filters (Canisters)

These filters rank highly among most keepers. They are outside the aquarium, which leaves room in the tank for your turtles, giving your buddies enough space for play and thrive. Due to this feature, canister filters are pricier than other cleaners in the market, but you will get quality and value for your money with the purchase. They usually come fitted with biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration media, enabling easy installation and immediate use. 

  • Internal Filters

These are submersible filters that work while inside the turtle tank and function best for small and medium tanks. Given its small size, it becomes straining to work in a massive tank. Secondly, if you settle for one, you will need to be careful with the cables and keep the filter hidden from the turtle since your turtle can tamper with it and get hurt in the process.

Wrap Up

Getting the wrong filter puts your pet’s life in danger, which is why some owners prefer having two filtration systems in case one fails. Base on our findings, purchasing the Aqueon Quietflow E Filter will go a long way to keep your pets healthy and happy. It is an internal gadget that is durable and low maintenance, offering great value for money. It also comes in different sizes suitable for any buyer, and you will appreciate the automatic turn-on feature. The Marineland Penguin Power Filter is our second pick since it is just as durable and affordable, and it works for users who love the hang-on-back filters.

Harvey Wells

I am an intense cool pets lover. I have tortoises, tarantulas and a few other exotic pets. And I would love to share what I have learned.

Recent Posts