Best Turtle Tank Filter in 2023 (Review by Experts)

The role of the top rated turtle tank filter you choose for your little creature is imperative to its growth and development. The same goes for any aquatic creature you choose to raise, the tank filter is an indispensable part of your tank setup. Any pet you choose to care for will deserve the best, and turtles do too. So how do you know which turtle tank filter is the best? There are a ton of turtle tank filter reviews out there and it’s tough to weed through all the options to find the best tank filter for turtles. Our job today is to help you decide on the best one.

Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will have emerged on the other side with a good choice in mind. Not only will we present you with our top choices, but we will also help you dissect the features to identify which is most suitable for your turtles and particular tank setup. Read on to find out which ones made it into our top rated turtle tank filters list!

View The Best Turtle Tank Filters Below

1. Best Value: Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter

Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter

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Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter is a bit up there in terms of price, but it really does give you the best value for your money. It has made it on our list as the best filter for a turtle tank because of its durable and sturdy construction, as well as its versatility. It’s a great tank filter for turtle species that thrive in fresh or saltwater. It is a great option for larger tanks all the way up to 150 gallon turtle tank options.

The flow valves in this turtle tank filter can rotate, making it a better fit for tight spaces. The priming can be achieved with a simple push of a button and the maintenance of the Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter is very simple. Each component is removable for easy cleaning.


  • Rotating flow valves
  • Great for large tanks up to 150 gallons
  • Easy maintenance
  • Push-button primer
  • Large media baskets

Why We Like It

It’s pricier but it gets the job done. The convenience in the build such as the push button primer and the easy maintenance is why we have chosen this turtle tank filter as the top choice.

2. Best Budget: Tetra Decorative ReptoFilter

Tetra Decorative ReptoFilter

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Made especially for a terrarium, the Tetra Decorative ReptoFilter is not only affordable, making it the best budget filter for turtle tank setups, but also the prettiest. It has a very decorative design that looks like a pile of natural rocks and it uses a waterfall mechanism to keep the tank clean. The waterfall is actually a 3-stage filtration technology Tetra uses that can also remove odors. Turtles can smell, but with the Tetra Decorative ReptoFilter, your little critters won’t have pungent odors.

Not only is this decorative filter a nice fixture in your turtle habitat, but this best filter for turtle tanks can also double as a basking platform if you don’t already have one. Turtles need a basking platform when they aren’t in the water to laze around and soak up the sun, which is in the form of a heating lamp in domestic tanks.


  • 3-stage filtration
  • Beautiful design
  • Doubles as a basking platform
  • Great for shallow habitats
  • Waterfall feature

Why We Like It

Buying a turtle tank filter that can also double as a basking filter is the best choice for versatility. Not only does the ReptoFilter have advanced technologies for filtering, it also makes for a beautiful decorative fixture in the tank.

3. Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter

Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter

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If you have a smaller tank, the Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter is our top suggestion for the best turtle tank filters. As a turtle owner, you may want to hear the constant flow of water through the filter. The QuietFlow option can be fully submerged in the tank and also has a quieter operation. For such a slim design, the Aqueon turtle tank filter also features 3-stage filters including mechanical, biological and chemical. After the water has passed through the Aqueon filter, your turtles will be left with an impeccable environment.

The return flow rate of the filter is adjustable as is the direction and height of the water return. As for maintenance, you won’t have to do much work other than replacing the filter canisters every so often. You will also be glad to know the internal power filter comes with a limited lifetime warranty.


  • Small and slim design
  • Fully submersible
  • Adjustable flow rate
  • Adjustable direction
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Why We Like It

The customizability of the Aqueon QuietFlow is what really attracted us to these turtle tank filters. Because of the adjustments available, this filter can be tweaked to fit all tanks.

4. Penn-Plax Cascade 600 Submersible Aquarium Filter

Penn-Plax Cascade 600 Submersible Aquarium Filter

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The next filter option on our list is also another Penn-Plax Cascade. This one is also a full submersible turtle tank filter that gets right into the nitty gritty to clean the tank water. The efficient filter can pump out 175 gallons of clean and clear water every hour, which is more than a lot of other turtle tanks with filters can say.

The Penn-Plax Cascade 600 is the perfect filtering option for up to a 50 gallon turtle tank. Another special feature this in-tank turtle filter provides is the adequate aeration of your turtle habitat. The spray bar can make sure the water output is even and the Penn-Plax filter itself can be placed horizontally to save space.


  • High performance
  • Provides aeration
  • Can be submerged
  • Place horizontally to save space
  • filter media chambers

Why We Like It

Although it’s for a smaller tank, the Penn-Plax Cascade 600 is an extremely efficient and powerful fully submersible filter for its size. It can pump out 175 gallons of clean water per hour!

5. Zilla Internal Filter for Aquatic Reptiles

Zilla Internal Filter for Aquatic Reptiles

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This is a basic filter meant for terrariums. If you have a smaller turtle tank anywhere from a 20-40 gallon size tank, then this is the one for you. Although small, it’s a good and hard worker and pulls double shifts to keep your tank clean. The installation of this small filter for turtle tanks is very easy to install and the filtration process targets odor, waste and debris.

Turtles are quite small when they first come home with you, and what many people don’t realize is that a filter for aquariums can actually pose a threat to your little critters. The Zilla internal filter has a safety grate that will make sure your new turtles don’t get sucked in.


  • Best filter for turtle tank smaller than 50 gallons
  • Efficient
  • Safe for your turtle
  • Quick and easy installation
  • Easy to clean

Why We Like It

We love the simplicity of the design. A lot of turtle tank filters can be complicated to set up but this one from Zilla is not only simple to install, but also easy to clean.

6. JackSuper Aquarium Turtle Filter

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This next turtle tank filter also has a waterfall design. It’s a great fish tank filter and also works well for turtle tanks. The installation is simple. Turtle tanks that cannot be fully submerged can usually be hung on the side of the tank. The JackSuper Aquarium Turtle Filter has suction cups that make sure your new tank cleaner stays put. While the filter isn’t submersible, the motor is designed to be underwater, which contributes to the quiet operation.

The turtle filter uses carbon cartridges that are a good filtration system for biological filtration. With this, the tank water for your pet turtle will be crystal clear and free of bacteria.


  • Great water circulation and cleaning
  • Quiet operation
  • Easy to install
  • Activated carbon cartridges
  • Can be converted into a makeshift waterfall with rocks

Why We Like It

This filter is also a good fit for terrariums with shallow water. Just because you have a land turtle, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve clean water with the help of a heavy duty filter.

7. LONDAFISH Turtle Filter

LONDAFISH Turtle Filter

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Affordable and efficient, the Londafish Turtle Filter is one of the best turtle filters for aquariums that need filtration and circulation. The flow rate is quick but quiet, and the motor can be submerged underwater to create a soundless operation. Not only is this filter easy to use, but it’s also a good fit for fish tanks, terrariums and even swamp-like environments. The waterfall type design can be customized into a waterfall with rock decorations to hide the filter.

The installation of this best filter is very simple with a hanging hook and suction cups to ensure security. Do be advised that the Londafish Turtle Filter is more suitable for smaller tanks. Turtles require a lot more filtration compared to fish tanks and these aquarium filters will do a better job for a small habitat.


  • Can be party submerged
  • Waterfall design
  • Great for circulation and cleaning
  • Very versatile
  • Easy to install

Why We Like It

The LondaFish turtle filter works in different environments and with salt or freshwater. This means it can support and clean the habitats of any aquatic creature.

8. Zoo Med Laboratories Turtle Submersible Power Filter

Zoo Med Laboratories Turtle Submersible Power Filter

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The Zoo Med turtle filter comes with a spray bar. The purpose of the spray bar is to make sure the filtration process is even and so is the water distribution. The spray bar also provides better circulation and aeration, which makes this a very versatile power filter. The turtle canister filter can be adjusted and depending on your setup, this best filter can also be submerged.

For this size, the Zoo Med submersible power filter is the best fit for tanks up to 60 gallons. The water flow is quick, efficient and quiet. The canister is also easily replaceable, making this a minimal, no-fuss and low maintenance design.


  • Great for turtle tanks and vivariums
  • Spray bar for aeration and water distribution
  • Adjustable flow system
  • Removable hose
  • Easy to clean

Why We Like It

The spray bar feature on this canister filter is great for your turtle tank. It ensures the environment is always in an optimal condition for up to a 60-gallon turtle tank.

9. EmmaWu Turtle Filter

EmmaWu Turtle Filter

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This sleek turtle tank filter has an adept filtration system that involves a biological filtration system at its finest. Not only does it get rid of larger particles and debris, but it’s also able to break down the waste and biological particles given off by your tank inhabitants. This will greatly reduce the waste and odor given off by your turtles.

The filtration is also designed like a miniature waterfall that provides more aeration for your turtle tanks. With more air and circulation, healthy microbes can thrive and contribute to a healthier environment for your turtles. The turtle filter from EmmaWu is also very small and won’t take up much space.


  • Small size
  • Waterfall design for aeration
  • Biological filtration system
  • Submersible
  • Long cord

Why We Like It

For such a small filter, it’s capable of quite a few tasks. Not only can it create the best environment for your turtle tank, but it can also be submerged and save space by hanging it on the corner of the tank.

10. Zoo Med Turtle Clean Filter

Zoo Med Turtle Clean Filter

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The next turtle canister filter is also one from Zoo Med. This is another fully submersible turtle tank filtration system that has a quiet operation. The tanks it is suitable for are smaller, only up to 30 gallons but the convenient design of dual intake ports to prevent clogging and replaceable cartridges. The maintenance of the Zoo Med Turtle Clean Filter is almost non-existent with the easy-to-change filters.


  • Easy filter for your turtle tank
  • Comes with filter sponges
  • Easy to change the filtration system
  • Good fit for smaller aquarium setups
  • Dual intakes

Why We Like It

Unclogging a clogged-up filter is one of the most time-consuming tasks to undertake. Thanks to the dual intakes of the Zoo Med filter, the chances of clogging are slim.

Best Turtle Tank Filter Buying Guide

Red-eared slider swimming in the water in the aquarium.

What should you look for when purchasing filters for turtle tanks? Some people wonder if fish tank filters can work for turtle tanks, but ones meant for your amphibious critters are still recommended. Penn Plax makes great filters, but other than the brand, what type of filter is best for your tank? What about flow rate and size? These are the questions we aim to answer here in our turtle tank filter buying guide.


It’s a pretty sizeable task a filter undertakes to keep your tank clean. For this reason, you should look for a powerful filter. But do powerful filters always come in larger sizes? It’s true that bigger means more powerful in most cases, but large filtration systems may not be the best fit for your tank size. Tank size is important when considering how big your filter will be.

Turtle aquarium filters will always tell you the recommended size of the tank. For example, if the filter describes tanks of 100 gallons or more being the best fit, then don’t use that filter on tanks of a smaller 50 gallons as the flow rate and the motor will be much too powerful. The suction could pose a danger to your turtles, especially smaller ones.

Oftentimes, there will be a size range the filter is most suitable for, look to see if the filter for your turtle tank fits into the range.

Turtles produce more waste than fish do, so it’s advised to look for one capable of an adequate filtration process. The water in the tank needs to be kept clean, and with an under-performing filter, it will end up being a waste of money. This is truer if you have more than one turtle or have an entire habitat of fish, crustaceans and turtles.

Another idea when purchasing a filter is to decide if one or two is best for you. Two is, of course, more powerful than just one, and you can have one running while maintaining the other one. Having two will also guarantee you have a plan B when your canister filter breaks down and you can’t immediately go out and purchase another one.


In this section, we will answer whether or not you need a filter for a turtle tank specifically or if filters for fish tanks can do the job. The short answer is: you can use either one! The only caution is you need to find a powerful filter. The best filters for a turtle tank is, of course, one that is made just for turtles. However, fish tank filters are much more common than ones just for turtles, but because turtles create more waste, fish tank filters may not be powerful enough.

A trick around this issue is to make sure the fish tank filter you get is made to power a larger fish tank than your turtle habitat. This way, the flow rate and power of the best turtle tank filters will be sufficient.

Flow Rate (Gallons per Hour/GPH)

The flow rate, also referred to as gallons per hour or GPH, is the equivalent to the power. The flow rate is measured by how many gallons of water the turtle tank filters can clean in an hour. A higher flow rate means more power and a cleaner tank.

Maintenance and Cleaning

The filter is meant to clean your turtle habitat, but it’s your job to clean these canister filters. The gunk, bacteria, germs and debris will be trapped inside the filter and needs to be cleaned out over time. You do not want a filter that takes a long time to clean or is difficult to clean. To make sure of this, the filter you choose for your turtle should be taken apart easily and put back together again with minimal effort.

Maintenance should be done either weekly or biweekly at most. Turtles produce so much waste that your turtle tank filters and you have your work cut out. Just clean the sponges, canisters and grates included in your filters until there is no more dirt and gunk – it’s that easy!

A good way to gauge whether it’s time to clean the turtle tank and perform water changes is to look at the water flow. If you noticed your filter has become less powerful over time, it’s a good indication that it’s time to clean the filter. When you think about replacing the sponges or filters, don’t remove them and put in new ones all at once. Do it gradually to prolong the life of the sponges and canisters and to also make it easier on your budget.


Is the turtle tank filter easy to set up? The setup has more to do with the placement and security of the filter rather than the assembly. Many turtle tank filters come with a filtration system that has suction cups or hanging hooks to keep it in place. If you have a hanging filtration system, make sure to keep it to a more unpopulated side of the tank or in the corner.

Also, double check to see how secure the filtration device is. You don’t want your filters for turtle tanks to slip into the water sometime in the night, this is especially true if your filtration system isn’t submersible. This last point brings us to the next section of our turtle tank filter review.

Is it Submersible?

Some turtle tank filters are fully submersible while others are only partial. You also have options that cannot be submerged in water. Whether or not the turtle tank filter is submersible has to do with the type, but more on that later. One thing is for sure, a submersible turtle tank filter is usually more efficient as it has the best access to the dirty water. It can pull the contaminated water quickly via the intake and pump it out again through the other side, usually in the form of a waterfall.

A submersible or even partially submersible filter is usually more durable as well since you won’t have to worry about splash damage. If the motor is built into the part of the filter that can be submerged, then the operation of the turtle tank filer will be much quieter than other canister filters. This is why we recommend submersible or at least partially submersible filters.

Filter Type

There are two main types of canister filters – internal and external. Just as the name suggests, internal filters are made to be inside the tank, so many of the submersible options are internal filters. The other option is external filters, which are meant to be hung outside of the tank. Other than the submersible possibility of an internal filter, it also creates a more compact setup for your tank. However, the benefit of an external filter type is the efficiency it affords you and your turtles.

Do not go for undergravel filters. This is because they require gravel to work, but gravel is often mistaken for food by your turtles. These creatures also like to spend their time digging and burrowing in substrates, but if you choose to have undergravel filters, they may kick and push the gravel into the filter and clog it up in no time. This will cause the filter to break down quickly.

Spray Bar Aeration

Aeration is important for your turtle habitat for environmental maintenance. With proper aeration, your turtle tank will blossom with healthy microbes and the circulation will be better as well. The best feature for aeration is a spray bar. A spray bar will also ensure the distribution of your water is even throughout the tank.

Another type of aeration is done through a waterfall design. Not only is this great for circulation of the turtle tank, but it’s also a very pretty design that can be seen in waterfall filters that are made to look like real miniature waterfalls.

Filtration System/Filtration Media (Mechanical, Biological, and Chemical)

The filtration media is divided into three main parts: mechanical, biological and chemical. There are also filtration systems that have two of the three or all three types of filtration for a thorough job. Let’s take a closer look at the breakdown of each type of filter media.

Mechanical filtration focuses on all the debris in the water that you can see. This item’s mechanical filtration can take care of the leftover food particles, dirt and waste from your turtles. As we have mentioned profusely throughout the article, turtles are messy and can produce more waste than fish. This is why mechanical filtration is important in a turtle tank filter.

Mechanical filtration in a tank will keep the water clear and prevent it from getting muddy. You can most likely find a mechanical filtration filter for all gallon tanks. The next type of filter for your turtle tank is biological filtration.

This type of filtering is usually done with a sponge, which houses good bacteria. Biological filtration utilizes the traits of these good bacteria to feed on other biological materials you do not want to build up in your tank. This type of filter will keep the tank clean on a biological level, which will also prevent disease in your turtles.

Other than biological and mechanical filtration, there is one other type that is needed for the best care, and that is chemical filtration. Chemical filtration uses activated carbon in most cases to filter your aquarium on a chemical level. Chemical filtration isn’t as essential as biological and mechanical filtration and is mostly used as a supplemental form of filtration.

The best filters will have all three, but the ones that only offer two should definitely be biological and mechanical. Cascade canister filters will often have two or more and with higher-grade filters that can offer all three, your water conditions will improve greatly.

Motor Type

The motor is the heart of your filter, so it needs to be strong to complete all the tasks you expect from it. Choose the best filters with a stable and reliable motor to ensure longevity. Cascade canister filters are a great example of this that can perform all tasks and more. A reliable filter can also do its job efficiently and in the shortest amount of time. A lot of the time, the GPH, or gallons per hour will also contribute to the durability of the motor.

Does Brand Matter?

In a lot of situations, the brand won’t matter as long as the quality is good. But there is a reason why big brands become big brands, and that’s because they consistently create reliable products. So while we don’t want to put emphasis on the brand, we do believe that going for filters from reputable brands may have a lower risk.

Sometimes, you may notice that smaller more obscure brands have similar or even the same products listed as the larger brands. In some cases, you are paying for the same product and more for just the brand name. To make sure it isn’t a knockoff design made from poorer quality materials, read the labels carefully. All the ones on our top list are well-made and safe for your turtle friends.


Are expensive options the best filters? Yes and no. The price of the turtle tank filter hinges on the stage filtration it possesses, whether you have an aquarium filter or terrarium filter, the size of your tank, and features such as a power jet filter. There is no one size fits all or best choice, but there are best options for your particular setup. To find the best option for you, consider all aspects of our buyer’s guide. The best fit for you may not be the best one for someone else, but we always suggest prioritizing quality over the price.

Frequently Asked Questions

Turtle with open mouth

Can you use a fish tank filter for a turtle tank?

Yes, you can use a fish tank filter for your turtle tank. It’s not the type of filter that matters but the performance and the filtering capabilities. Consider factors such as flow rate, filtration stages, filtration media, type of filter and placement. Since turtles produce much more waste than fish, you will need a fish tank filter that is meant for a tank larger than your turtle tank to be sure there’s enough power.

What is the best turtle tank filter?

The best turtle tank filter is the Penn-Plax Cascade Canister Filter. It is a submersible option, which is great for saving space and has a quiet operation. There are 3 filtration stages to clean up the tank on a mechanical, biological and chemical level. It’s easy to install and the cartridges are easy to replace. One extra feature it has is a spray bar option. This feature of the canister filter will provide adequate aeration, similar to a waterfall filter.

What is the best filter for red-eared sliders?

If you have a red-eared slider, the best type of filter is the one from Zoo Med. The fully-submersible filter is quiet and powerful. It’s another cartridge filter that’s easy to switch out and it features dual intakes to prevent clogging. Just one intake on an aquarium filter makes it much easier to trap grime, debris and waste, which also increases the need for maintenance.

How often do you clean a turtle tank with a filter?

We recommend cleaning your turtle tank with a filter at least once a week. Cleaning it weekly may not mean a deep clean, but just clearing the filter or tank from visible debris can lengthen the time between major cleanups. You can also use this chance to replace some of the water. Using water measuring kits to ensure the tank environment is optimal is a great way to monitor your turtles’ health.

Do I need a filter for my turtle tank?

Yes, you need a filter for your turtle tank. It’s one of the most important aspects to look into when you first get a turtle. Because turtles create a lot of waste, they are also more prone to bacterial infections and diseases if their habitat isn’t kept clean. Not only is a turtle filter essential for your tank setup, but it’s also indispensable for your turtle’s health.

How can I quiet down my turtle tank filter?

Make sure your tank is clean. If you are easily bothered by the noise of a filter, look for ones that are listed to have quiet operation. A lot of the time, a submersible filter is also quieter than an external one. Never turn off your filter at night because it’s crucial to the circulation of the tank and maintenance of the environment.


There are key steps to take as a turtle owner to ensure the health of your reptilian creatures. The food you feed your pet is crucial in their development, and their everyday health needs to be maintained with a clean environment. There is no way you can clean the water by just removing the waste, your turtles need purification on a chemical and biological level, and this is when the right turtle tank filter comes in. There are so many things to look for when buying a filter, so to make sure you make the right choice, our buyer’s guide lists out all the important qualities to want to help you during your filter-finding journey.

Expert Tip

Place your turtles near a window during the daytime. Giving your turtles a sense of day and night will be helpful for their internal clocks. Also, having sunlight shine into their tanks will save you the need for buying a UV lamp or heating lamp. Having real sunlight on their basking platform is ideal.

Did You Know?

If your turtle filter starts getting loud, don’t just assume it’s broken and switch it out. A loud turtle tank filter could be the result of dirt, grime and waste buildup in the tank. It could be a signifier that it’s time to clean out the filter and the tank. Clean everything out to find out if the filter is damaged.

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