The Best Turtle Tank Filters
Fish & Reptile Care

Keeping your turtle’s tank clean is an essential part of keeping them healthy and happy. They don’t always make it easy though; turtles can be pretty messy little guys, especially in comparison to other aquatic aquarium dwellers like fish. That’s why it’s so important to have a reliable, effective tank filter for your turtle’s home. Yet with so many different filters on the market today, it can be tough to know which filters are good and which ones are best skipped over.

Fortunately for you, we reviewed dozens of turtle tank filters to identify the best of the best. We looked at reviews for both general tank filters designed for various aquatic animals and tank filters specifically designed for turtles, including various sizes of both internal and external filters that use a wide range of different filtration mediums. All that effort allowed us to find the best turtle tank filters available and list them here for you.

Best 100 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter
Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter
When it comes to filters for large turtle tanks, the Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter is the total package.

We chose the best filters for different sized tanks to help make your choice easier. For example, the Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter is a standout turtle tank filter suited for tanks up to 100 gallons. It’s packed with features like a built-in pump with a flow rate of up to 265 gallons per hour,  three-stage filtration, and an adjustable spray bar to easily adjust the filter output volume.

The 5 Top-Rated Turtle Tank Filters

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Best 10 Gallon Turtle Tank FilterAquaneat Aquarium Bio Sponge Corner Filter4.3
Best 20 Gallon Turtle Tank FilterAquapapa Corner Filter XY-20084.1
Best 40 Gallon Turtle Tank FilterNEWKOSEA Aquarium Double Sponge Filter4.9
Best 55 Gallon Turtle Tank FilterAquapapa Pack of 2 Bio Sponge Filter4.9
Best 100 Gallon Turtle Tank FilterPenn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter
4.0

*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change

Best 10 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter: Aquaneat Aquarium Bio Sponge Corner Filter

Best 10 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter
Aquaneat Aquarium Bio Sponge Corner Filter
The tiny Aquaneat Aquarium Bio Sponge Corner Filter can be used as a pre-filter or doubled up for use with larger tanks.

As a general rule, you want 10 gallons of available water per inch of length with a minimum tank size of 20 gallons for hatchlings and 40 gallons for full-grown turtles. However, you can use multiple smaller capacity filters in a larger tank. In fact, it’s often recommended to use multiple filters to minimize the damage should one filter stop working, as well as the effect of filtration media changes. This is where a small volume filter like the Aquaneat Aquarium Bio Sponge Corner Filter can shine.

It includes only the filter, but it can easily be attached to an air or water pump with 3/16″ tubing, providing both filtration and aeration. It can also function as a prefilter on a complete filtration unit. The sponge filter provides mechanical filtration, as well as a base for bacteria for biological filtration.

The filter fits discreetly in the corner of your tank, where it’s easily hidden by plants or other tank ornaments, and produces very little noise. Even a few of these filters in the different corners of the tank tends to be much less obtrusive than one or two larger filters. You can also mix and match the 10-gallon size with the larger 15, 20, and 35-gallon sizes for greater volume.

Aquaneat Aquarium Bio Sponge Corner Filter Key Features:

  • Also available in 15, 20, and 35-gallon sizes
  • Discreet corner filter
  • Biological and mechanical filtration
  • Low noise
  • Can be used as a prefilter

Best 20 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter: Aquapapa Corner Filter XY-2008

Best 20 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter
Aquapapa Corner Filter XY-2008
With three layers of filtration, the Aquapapa Corner Filter XY-2008 can be used on its own, in multiples, or as a prefilter.

A 20-gallon tank is the smallest you’ll want to use for hatchlings, but again, you can also use two or more Aquapapa Corner Filter XY-2008 at once for larger turtle tanks. In fact, it can even be bought in a pack of two, making using multiple filters at once even more convenient. Like the Aquanet Aquarium Bio Sponge Corner Filter, this is a relatively discrete and quiet corner filter.

This filter provides three layers of filtration media, combining both mechanical and biological filtration. The top white layer is a mechanical filter, while the black bio-sponge and the layer of ceramic rings and gravel below it provide additional mechanical filtration as well as help develop and maintain colonies of beneficial bacteria for biological filtration.

Once again, only the filter is included, so you’ll also need an air pump and hosing with which to attach the filter to the pump, or you can use it as a pre-filter for another complete filter. Since it uses air, this filter also helps to aerate your turtle’s tank as it cleans.

Aquapapa Corner Filter XY-2008 Key Features:

  • Available in single and double packs
  • Discreet corner filter
  • Biological and mechanical filtration
  • Low noise
  • Can be used as a prefilter

Best 40 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter: NEWKOSEA Aquarium Double Sponge Filter

Best 40 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter
NEWKOSEA Aquarium Double Sponge Filter
The NEWKOSEA Aquarium Double Sponge Filter is a great choice for small turtle tanks.

The NEWKOSEA Aquarium Double Sponge Filter is an excellent choice for small tanks for adult turtles, both when used individually or when using multiple filters at once. It has two 10 layer ribbed sponges that provide mechanical filtration and an excellent home for bacteria colonies for biological filtration. The ribbing increases the surface area of the sponges for the health of bacteria colonies and allowing the filter to work more quickly, and the sponges aerate the water as they filter. You can also add small filtration media to the tubes for an additional layer of filtration.

Again, this includes only the filter itself, so you’ll also need an air pump and air hose or you can use it as a pre-filter or secondary filter. Like other sponge filters, the NEWKOSEA Aquarium Double Sponge Filter is low noise, but it’s quite a bit larger and than the other filters that we’ve talked about so far. The two included suction cups, however, allow you to affix the filter to the back or side of your aquarium, where you can use plants or other aquarium decorations to shield it from view. The extendable air feed tube with a right angle duct makes it easy to place the filter at the right height in the tank. The arms to which the sponges are attached are also adjustable, making it easy to position them to work best in your tank.

NEWKOSEA Aquarium Double Sponge Filter Key Features:

  • Also available for 20-gallon tanks
  • Dual sponge filters
  • Extendable air tube with right angle duct
  • Comes with suction cups for mounting the filter
  • Biological and mechanical filtration
  • Low noise
  • Can be used as a prefilter or secondary filter

Best 55 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter: Aquapapa Pack of 2 Bio Sponge Filter

Best 55 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter
Aquapapa Pack of 2 Bio Sponge Filter
Use Aquapapa Bio Sponge Filters individually or double them up for larger or multiple turtle aquariums.

For slightly larger tanks, the Aquapapa Pack of 2 Bio Sponge Filter is another filter that’s very similar to the NEWKOSEA Aquarium Double Sponge Filter. Each of the two filters included has two 10 layer, ribbed sponges that provide mechanical filtration and encourage the development of colonies of beneficial bacteria for biological filtration. They also aerate the water at the same time that they filter it. The filters have built-in suction cups and an extendable air tube with a right angle duct for easy placement.

Also like the NEWKOSEA Aquarium Double Sponge Filter, the Aquapapa Pack of 2 Bio Sponge Filter includes only the filters, so you can use it as a pre-filter or secondary filter, or use it with an air pump and tubes to use as a primary filter. And since it comes in a pack of two, it’s very easy to double up for larger or multiple turtle aquariums.

Aquapapa Pack of 2 Bio Sponge Filter Key Features:

  • Comes in pack of two
  • Dual sponge filters
  • Extendable air tube with right angle duct
  • Built-in suction cups for mounting the filter
  • Biological and mechanical filtration
  • Low noise
  • Can be used as a prefilter

Best 100 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter: Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter

Best 100 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter
Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter
When it comes to filters for large turtle tanks, the Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter is the total package.

For large turtle tanks, the Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter is an external canister filter that’s hard to beat. For one thing, this system includes so much. It has a easy to use priming button for a pump that allows for a flow rate of up to 265 gallons per hour and removes the need for manual siphoning, and an adjustable spray bar that allows you to adjust the filter output volume. The filter is also easy to take apart and clean to make routine cleaning and maintenance a breeze, and to keep your filter running as efficiently and effectively as possible.

The three media trays allow you to easily combine biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration mediums in a three-stage filtration process for a turtle tank that’s consistently contaminant-free, even removing organic film and debris from the water’s surface.

Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter Key Features:

  • Adjustable spray bar
  • 360 degree flow valves
  • Three media trays that you can fill with your preferred filtration mediums
  • Easy to clean and maintain

Who Should Buy a Turtle Tank Filter

Anyone who has a turtle tank must have a turtle tank filter. A filter is necessary to keep the water in your tank clean. Without one, dangerous substances like ammonia will build up while feces and uneaten food can rot. Even substances in your tap water, like chlorine and fluoride, that are safe for you can be dangerous for your turtle, either by directly harming them or by upsetting the pH balance in your tank. These kinds of things can lead to your turtle becoming sick or even dying.

Remember, you don’t want to live in a mess, especially not one that can get you sick, and your pet turtle doesn’t either!

And if all that’s not enough (and it really should be) a dirty tank is just an eyesore. No one wants to look at a gross, filthy tank. They want to look at one that’s clean and natural-looking, and that looks like a great place for a healthy, happy turtle (or a few) to make their home.

Best 100 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter
Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter
When it comes to filters for large turtle tanks, the Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter is the total package.

Important Features to Consider

A filter for a turtle tank should do several things well. Here’s what to consider when selecting a filter for your turtle’s tank:

  • Designed for turtles or fish. You can use a filter specifically designed for turtle tanks or you can use a fish tank filter. Fish tank filters are easier to find and frequently more affordable, but turtles create significantly more waste than fish do, so if you choose to go with a fish tank filter, you’ll need one that’s designed for about twice the amount of water, or use multiple filters at the same time.
  • Capacity. At the absolute minimum for a tank with one turtle, your filter needs to be rated for your tank size. If you have additional turtles, you may want a filter rated for a larger tank. Ideally, you should go with a filter rated for two to three times larger than your tank, even if it only houses one turtle, to keep the water cleaner. However, a larger filter is not a substitute for regular water changes, maintenance, and other cleaning practices.
  • Internal or external filter. Internal filters sit inside your turtle’s tank. They reduce the total footprint of your tank set up and can make it appear more sleek and streamlined, especially if you get one that’s designed to blend in with your tank’s decor. External filters sit outside the tank and use input and output hoses to feed the water to the filter and back into the tank. They’re typically more effective than internal filters and, because they’re outside the tank, they also tend to be easier to maintain.
  • Filtration medium. Filters can use biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration to keep tanks clean. Biological filtration uses beneficial bacteria that feed on unwanted substances like ammonia. Mechanical filtration strains actual particulates like solid waste, uneaten food, and dust from the water. Chemical filtration uses a substance, usually activated carbon, to remove a variety of chemicals from the water, like dissolved metals, chlorine, and antibiotics. It’s less common than the other two and is frequently skipped except in special circumstances, like when initially setting up the aquarium and after putting medication in the tank. The best filters will use at least biological and mechanical filtration, but ideally all three. Otherwise, you’ll need to combine filters.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a turtle tank filter and how does it work?

A turtle tank filter is exactly what it sounds like: a device that’s used to keep water in a turtle tank clean by removing unwanted substances. As we discussed above, turtle tanks use biological, mechanical, or chemical filtration systems, or a combination of those systems, to keep the water clean. They do so by sucking water in, running it through the filtration system, then releasing the clean water back into the tank.

Do turtle tanks need a filter?

Turtle tanks absolutely need a filter. Without a filter, waste, rotten food, and other substances will build up, leading the tank to become not only unsightly but also dangerous for your turtle, leading to illness and even death. In addition, even clean tap water needs to be filtered to remove substances like fluoride and chlorine that, while safe for you in the level in your tap water, can be potentially dangerous for your turtle.

How often should I change the filter in my turtle tank?

As a general rule, you only need to change your filtration medium when it looks damaged, unless otherwise directed by the manufacturer, which can take a few years. However, you should be cleaning the filtration medium every two to three months, once again unless otherwise directed by the manufacturer, to make sure it stays effective. Use tank water to rinse the filter and don’t put the water back in the tank. At this time, you can go ahead and look it over and, if necessary, replace it. You should also be changing out 25 to 50 percent of the water in the tank at least once a week.

Why does my turtle tank get dirty so fast?

There are several factors that can lead to your turtle tank getting dirty again quickly, but they pretty much all go back to either not using a high enough capacity filter or not practicing necessary regular cleaning and maintenance habits that allow the filter to work effectively. Make sure you’re using a net to fish out any obvious droppings or remaining food each day, testing the water pH and spot cleaning a few times a week, switching out 25 to 50 percent of the water in the tank each week, and deep cleaning the tank every few weeks. You should also dismantle and deep clean the filter, including the filter medium, every two to three months.

You can also add plants or cleaning fish, like otos or plecos, to your tank. Plants consume pollutants and prevent algae growth while cleaning fish will clean up any extra food and consume any algae that does develop. Just make sure any other organisms that you add to the tank aren’t toxic to your turtles and that your turtles won’t snack on them instead of letting them help clean.

Other Turtle Tank Filters We Reviewed

Best 100 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter
Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter
When it comes to filters for large turtle tanks, the Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter is the total package.

We looked at 20 other turtle tank filters. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best turtle tank filters list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for your turtle’s tank. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.

Turtle Tank Filters for 30 Gallon & Smaller Tanks

Aquapapa 4X Bio Sponge Filter

Aquapapa 4X Bio Sponge Filter-min

Two of our top picks were also from Aquapapa, so you know you can trust these bio sponge filters too.

Key Features:

  • Pack of four
  • Mechanical and biological filtration
  • Aerates and filters
  • Can also be used as a pre-filter or secondary filter
  • Rated for up to 15-gallons

Cost: $10

Aquapapa 4X Dual Bio Sponge Filter

Aquapapa 4X Dual Bio Sponge Filter-min

Here’s another great option from Aquapapa that will help keep your turtle tank fresh and clean.

Key Features:

  • Pack of four
  • Dual filters with two sponges each
  • Mechanical and biological filtration
  • Aerates and filters
  • Can also be used as a pre-filter or secondary filter
  • Rated for up to 30-gallons

Cost: $12

Boxtech Biochemical Sponge Aquarium Filter

Boxtech Biochemical Sponge Aquarium Filter-min

This aquarium filter has a layer of ceramic bio-filter media in addition to the sponge filter for more complete filtration.

Key Features:

  • Two-layer filtration
  • Two suction cups for easy placement
  • Suitable to filter up to 15 gallons
  • Also available in a double sponge version for 20 gallons

Cost: $11

Tetra Whisper In-Tank Filter with BioScrubber

Tetra Whisper In-Tank Filter with BioScrubber-min

The Tetra Whisper In-Tank Filter with BioScrubber uses replaceable filter cartridges to make cleaning and maintaining your filter a breeze.

Key Features:

  • Uses replaceable filter cartridges
  • Built-in hanger for easy placement
  • Functions in as little as 2 inches of water
  • Suitable to filter up to 10 gallons
  • Also available in sizes for up to 3, 4, 20, and 40 gallons

Cost: $7

Turtle Tank Filters for 40 Gallon Tanks

Aquapapa Corner Filter XY-2010

Aquapapa Corner Filter XY-2010-min

This filter is similar to our top pick for 20-gallon tanks, but with twice the layers of filtration media.

Key Features:

  • Available in single or double packs
  • Mechanical and biological filtration
  • Compact, discreet corner filter
  • Easy to clean and maintain

Cost: $10

JackSuper Turtle Aquarium Filter

JackSuper Turtle Aquarium Filter-min

This aquarium filter is made specifically for turtle tanks, so you know it can handle your turtle’s mess.

Key Features:

  • Pleasant waterfall style output
  • Functions in as little as 1.6 inches of water
  • Included sponge filter
  • Internal space for additional filtration mediums
  • Built-in suction cups and hanger for easy placement
  • Small footprint

Cost: $21

Odyssea EX 250 DX Internal Filter

Odyssea EX 250 DX Internal Filter-min

With a flow rate of 250 GPH, you can also use this filter as a stand-alone powerhead to circulate water.

Key Features:

  • Air tube included
  • Suction cups for easy mounting
  • Can use to filter or circulate water
  • 110 volts
  • 250 GPH flow rate

Cost: $17

Powkoo Double Sponge Aquarium Filter

Powkoo Double Sponge Aquarium Filter-min

The Powkoo Double Sponge Aquarium Filter combines 9-layer ribbed sponges and containers that you can fill with your choice of filtration media.

Key Features:

  • Use your preferred filtration medium
  • Available with and without loose filtration medium
  • Mechanical and biological filtration
  • Dual intake
  • Adjustable outlet

Cost: $19

Turtle Tank Filters for 55 Gallon Tanks

Aquaneat Large Air Pump Double Sponge Filter

Aquaneat Large Air Pump Double Sponge Filter-min

This easy to set up, easy to clean, and easy to maintain filter is another great option.

Key Features:

  • Mechanical and biological filtration
  • Dual intake
  • Adjustable outlet, suction cups, air tube, and non-return check valve included
  • Also available in 4 pack and without accessories

Cost: $8

Hygger Aquarium Double Sponge Filter

Hygger Aquarium Double Sponge Filter-min

This dual filter comes with an extra set up of sponges to keep your filter working better for longer.

Key Features:

  • Mechanical and biological filtration
  • Dual intakes with sponge filters and ceramic filtration media
  • Suction cups for easy mounting
  • Also available in sizes for 5, 15, and 40 gallons

Cost: $20

SeaChem Tidal 55 Aquarium Power Filter

SeaChem Tidal 55 Aquarium Power Filter-min

This filter has a built-in self-priming pump, so you don’t need to attach it to another piece of equipment.

Key Features:

  • Surface skimmer
  • Dual water intake
  • Filter basket that holds your choice of loose filtration media
  • Maintenance monitor
  • Self-cleaning impeller

Cost: $54

Turtle Tank Filters for 75 Gallon Tanks

Polar Aurora 3-Stage External Aquarium Filter (265 GPH)

Polar Aurora 3-Stage External Aquarium Filter (265 GPH)-min

This external canister filter is a smaller version of our top pick for 100-gallon aquariums.

Key Features:

  • External canister filter
  • Built-in self-priming pump
  • Adjustable spray bar
  • Three media trays that you can fill with your preferred filtration mediums
  • Easy to clean and maintain

Cost: $54

SeaChem Tidal 75 Aquarium Power Filter

SeaChem Tidal 75 Aquarium Power Filter-min

This is the 75 gallon equivalent of the SeaChem Tidal 55 Aquarium Power Filter that we discussed above.

Key Features:

  • Surface skimmer
  • Dual water intake
  • Filter basket that holds your choice of loose filtration media
  • Maintenance monitor
  • Self-cleaning impeller

Cost: $68

Turtle Tank Filters for 100 Gallon Tanks

CoralVue Technology BH-1000 Octopus

CoralVue Technology BH-1000 Octopus-min

This filter goes inside your turtle tank, but places the attached pump outside to prevent water heating and make maintenance easier.

Key Features:

  • Made from high-quality acrylic
  • Easy to remove pump for easy cleaning and maintenance
  • Combines internal and external designs
  • Hang on back style mounting

Cost: $205

Jebao 4-Stage Aquarium Canister Filter

Jebao 4-Stage Aquarium Canister Filter-min

This filter allows for four stages of filtration, plus has a built-in pump, all in one small canister filter.

Key Features:

  • External canister filter
  • Four filter trays that you can fill with your preferred filtration media
  • Built-in pump
  • 320 GPH flow rate
  • Includes all necessary parts except filtration media

Cost: $60

Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter

Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter-min

This hardworking filter provides four-stage filtration covering mechanical, biological, and even chemical filtration.

Key Features:

  • Built-in pump
  • Four-stage filtration
  • Provides mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration
  • Waterfall style output
  • Hang on side style filter
  • 300 GPH flow rate
  • Also available in five other sizes for smaller amounts of water

Cost: $20

Turtle Tank Filters for 110 Gallon & Larger Tanks

Aqua Clear Power Filter

Aqua Clear Power Filter-min

The Aqua Clear Power Filter provides mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration with easy to clean, easy to replace filter cartridges.

Key Features:

  • Built-in pump
  • Three-stage filtration
  • Provides mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration
  • Easy to use filter cartridges
  • Waterfall style output
  • Hang on side style filter
  • Suitable for up to 110 gallons
  • Also available in four other sizes for smaller amounts of water

Cost: $70

CoralVue Technology BH-2000 Octopus

CoralVue Technology BH-2000 Octopus-min

If you like the CoralVue Technology BH-1000 Octopus but need something that can handle a larger volume, consider the BH-2000 Octopus.

Key Features:

  • Made from high-quality acrylic
  • Easy to remove pump for easy cleaning and maintenance
  • Combines internal and external designs
  • Hang on back style mounting
  • Suitable for up to 125 gallons

Cost: $270

Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

Hydor Professional External Canister Filter-min

With the ability to filter up to 150 gallons of water, you’ll have a hard time finding a filter that can handle more volume than this one.

Key Features:

  • Provides biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration
  • Telescopic intake tubes
  • Suction cup mounts for tubes
  • Easy to prime pump
  • 345 GPH flow rate
  • Suitable for up to 150 gallons
  • Also available in four other sizes for smaller amounts of water

Cost: $275

SeaChem Tidal 110 Aquarium Power Filter

SeaChem Tidal 110 Aquarium Power Filter-min

If neither the SeaChem Tidal 55 or 75 are large enough, perhaps the SeaChem Tidal 110 Aquarium Power Filter is right for you.

Key Features:

  • Surface skimmer
  • Dual water intake
  • Filter basket that holds your choice of loose filtration media
  • Maintenance monitor
  • Self-cleaning impeller
  • Suitable for up to 110 gallons

Cost: $80

Avatar