Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.Henry David Thoreau

5 Best Canister Filters for Turtle Tanks

Most recommended
Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter
  • Size: Up to 30-Gallons
  • Canister lids
  • Black Diamond
A good choice too
High Performance Canister
  • Brand: Fluval
  • Style FX6 Filter
  • Item Weight 19.9 Pounds
A good choice too
Laboratories Turtle Clean 511
  • Zoo Med
  • Formerly the Turtle
  • Turtle Clean 30
HW-404B 525 GPH 5-Stage
  • White
  • Brand: SunSun
  • Pump power: 55W
Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter
  • Style: 370 GPH
  • 370 gals/hr
  • 9-Watt UV sterilizer

Choose the Best Canister Filters for Turtle Tank

Customer’s Choice: the Best Rated Canister Filters for Turtle Tanks

10 users answered this survey. Please help us improve this review!

20.00% of users selected Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter, 10.00% selected High Performance Canister, 50.00% selected Laboratories Turtle Clean 511, 20.00% selected HW-404B 525 GPH 5-Stage and 0.00% selected Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter. Every month we analyze your answers and change our rating.

Turtles are some of the most interesting pets to have in your home. They keep you entertained with their antics and they can teach kids about responsibility, but it’s important to take care of them properly too. One way to do this is by making sure that their water filtration system is up-to-date and working at its best. 

Two most important reasons you’ll need a turtle filter:

  • The water in your aquarium is in excellent condition;
  • You’ll save time and effort by cleaning the water yourself manually;

Turtles are a filthy lot. In fact, they create considerably more waste than most other pets. Because of this, many turtle owners think that dirty, murky water is “natural”. While turtles can survive in such water, it isn’t safe. It’s important to remember that while fish generate less waste than turtles, their waste requires a stronger filter to remain clean.

There are many different types of canister filters on the market today, each with its own pros and cons. This article will discuss what makes a great filter for turtle tanks, how it works, when you should replace it, etc., so that you know which one is right for your pet!

Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter for Aquariums – the Editor’s choice!

The Marineland Magniflow Canister Filters are an enhanced version of the C-Series Canister Filter and can filter tanks up to 100 gallons.

Leaks on this filter are no greater than with any other canister filter. All possible leak issues are covered by the manufacturer’s warranty (3 years for this filter). The C360 has a media capacity of 3.4 gallons, which is one of the biggest in its category, but be cautious not to overfill it.

The Magniflow filter includes a stack and flows filter tray, which prevents water from reaching the various stages too soon. The canister lid is a faster-latching design with a greater seal than the previous filters from this manufacturer.

  • 3-stage filtration;
  • Suitable for saltwater and freshwater;
  • Easy to install;
  • Easy to maintain;
  • 360 GPH flow rate;
  • A lot of space for different media types;
  • Auto-shutdown feature;
  • 3-year warranty;

  • The included filter media is average;
  • Too large to fit some small tanks;
  • Can filter only up to 100 gallons;
  • No valve switches for adjusting the flow;

The Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter for Aquariums is a top-quality 3-stage filter that is reliable, versatile, and easy to use. It’s perfect for aquariums up to 100 gallons, with a 360 GPH flow rate. The four media trays give you the maximum flexibility in choosing your media, and the auto-shutdown feature makes cleaning a breeze.

Fluval High-Performance Aquarium Filter – the best for large tanks!

The Fluval FX Series canister filters are high-end canister filters for aquariums with steep requirements. The filter is designed to last with its Italian construction, external pump design, and high-quality components.

The FX Series’ water flow rates are excellent, with the FX4 managing over 700 gallons per hour and the FX6 drawing 925 gallons an hour. Because of this strength, it’s great for bigger fish that create a lot of waste in the aquarium. The greatest storage capacity of all the aquarium canister filters on this list.

The filter also includes a multi-functional utility valve drain, which makes it easy to empty the canister for maintenance or water out of the aquarium without having to bust out your siphon. It also includes a gravel vac attachment so you may vacuum through the filter.

  • Multi-stage filtration;
  • Smart Pump tech;
  • High flow rate;
  • 3-year warranty;
  • For large aquariums up to 400 gallons;

  • Bulky;
  • Pricey;
  • Won’t fit any tight enclosure;

The Fluval FX6 is the largest model of the Fluval FX Series, rated to 400 Gallons. The dual output nozzles regulate flow and prevent scum from accumulating on the aquarium’s surface. With this design, Fluval has really considered everything.

Zoo Med Laboratories Turtle Clean 511 Submersible Power Filter – the best filtration system!

For individuals searching for very tiny tanks that have filters located externally, this choice is ideal. A lightweight design filter for reptiles and especially turtles that fits into a canister.

This is a wonderful option for auto-top fill systems that require a lot of space, especially because it may be used with small tanks. Because space might be an issue, it’s a well-known space-saving solution. It has a detachable hose, making maintenance and cleaning at regular intervals much easier and less expensive than other products.

It uses a mix of mechanical, chemical, and biological filters to purify your water more effectively. It’s ideal for people who don’t have much room because it’s small enough to be placed anywhere outside or beneath the tank.

The water flow controller is adjustable based on the demands and allows for reduced water flow during feeding and cleaning operations.

  • A mix of biological, chemical, and mechanical filters;
  • Hefty flow rate to turn over the tank every hour;
  • Includes the required media to use out of the box;
  • Budget-friendly;
  • Efficient for turtle 60-gallon tanks specifically;

  • Noisy;
  • Average build quality;

The Zoo Med 511 Turtle Clean Canister Filter is perfect for turtle tanks, vivariums, box turtle pools, and turtle tubs up to 60 gallons. It features a hefty flow rate that will turn over your tank at least once hourly, and it’s designed specifically for turtles so you know it’s efficient!

SunSun Hw302 265GPH Pro Canister Filter Kit – the best for sterilizing the water!

The SunSun Pro Canister Filters are the perfect choice if you’re searching for a cheap canister filter. For the money, this canister filter has many great features. The UV sterilizer built into the device is the most important feature.

This adds to your aquarium’s water clarity, algae control, and pest and bacterial removal. It features your typical three-stage filtration and gallons per hour ratings that are higher than those on other canister filters are.

  • Good UV sterilization;
  • Can fit even 75-gallon tanks;
  • Decent flow rate;
  • 5-stage filtration;
  • A lot of accessories and media included;
  • Very quiet;
  • Easy to install;
  • Recommended for cabinet-style tanks;

  • Motor issues are possible;
  • Not adjustable;
  • Doesn’t include any filtration media;
  • Stiff hoses;

SunSun’s HW302 265GPH Filter Kit is a great value for your money! This five-stage filtration system comes with a UV filter to help keep your water clean and healthy. The high water flow rate of 265 GPH means that your aquarium will stay clean and healthy, even with a large number of fish.

Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter – the best for quiet operation!

The Aquatop CF500UV filter raises the bar for UV filtration. This is a 4+1 filtering system with a capacity of 525 GPH. The filter can be used in any freshwater or saltwater tank up to 175 gallons in size. The UV filter is coupled with a 9-watt UV sterilizer, which is efficient in maintaining the aquarium germ-free, clean, and healthy.

Despite being more costly than the Aquatop CF750, with this filter you’ll get not only a UV sterilizer but also all of the plumbing installation equipment. There are four big compartments in the filter where you can put extra filter media. You may add any type of filter media you wish.

Even though it has many plastic components, this filter employs a sturdy filter, which many people would consider unsightly. The purpose of the UV sterilizer is to destroy microorganisms like algae, bacteria, and other parasites that may be found in your tank’s water and sand substrate.

  • GSelf-priming pump;
  • 4-stage filtration system;
  • 370 GPH;
  • Easy to install;
  • Budget-friendly;
  • Good for 125-gallon tanks;
  • Has 9-Watt UV sterilization;

  • MThe flimsy plastic impeller;
  • Only 1-year limited warranty;
  • Flimsy outtake/intake attachments;

With a capacity of around 150 gallons, you can rest easy knowing that this filter is excellent for your fish. The capacity, on the other hand, is smaller but still acceptable. This type may be used with tanks up to 175 gallons in size.

The Buyer’s Guide

Here are the two most important reasons you’ll need a filter for your turtle:

  • Your aquarium water is in good condition;
  • You’ll save time and effort by cleaning the water yourself manually;

Turtles are a messy lot. In fact, they are far more so than most other pets. Because of this, many turtle owners believe that dirty, murky water is “natural”. While turtles can live in such muddy water, it isn’t safe. It’s worth noting that while fish produce less waste than turtles, their waste requires a stronger filter to remain clean.

What is the difference between a fish tank and a turtle tank?

Turtles and fish are two distinct species with different behavioral behaviors. As a result, turtle-specific filters have been created to accommodate turtles and their specific qualities, such as waste generation. Turtles generate more waste than fish do, thus their filters are more active than those in fish tanks.

However, a basic fish filter may still be used in your turtle’s tank if you acquire one that pumps more water per hour than the volume of your tank

For example, if you have a 40-gallon turtle aquarium, you’ll need a regular fish filter that can clean 80-120 gallons of water each hour [1].

Benefits of using a canister filter for your pet turtle

Turtles are one of the world’s most serene and silent creatures, with a lengthy life span and regular bowel movements. They tend to be messy, which necessitates a spotless environment where they can relax and dig out. Frequently, turtle connoisseurs choose to create their turtle’s habitat using a 30-gallon aquarium with transparent glass and an excellent filtration system.

Because cleaning these habitats manually is time-consuming and hard, many turtle tank fans like using canister filters. 

Here are some of the reasons why you should invest in canister filters for turtle tanks:

  • Versatile filtration system. In a compact-sized machine, canister filters include all forms of filtration. You may use just one canister filter to combine various types of filtration depending on your preferences. This function is more beneficial for individuals with more than one turtle in their tank;
  • Strategic mounting. Canister filters are placed under the turtle’s tank, generally hidden inside a cupboard, out of sight of your aquarium. As a result, you’ll have more room in your turtle’s tank, making it easier and more attractive to the eye. You may also choose to add some decorations to your tank since there is now an additional area available;
  • Multiple mediums and stages of filtration. You can use three or more stages of filtering with canister filters and various media. For example, you might choose to employ mechanical filtration via a sponge for stage one, followed by chemical filtration utilizing crushed coral, peat, or activated charcoal for stage two. With a canister filter, you may utilize or replace any medium as needed;

As a result, a special turtle tank canister is an excellent method to maintain cleanliness in your tank since it allows you to make adjustments as needed. If you go away frequently and return to find your turtle’s pH or ammonia level has changed, canister filters are the best choice since they will provide you with a fast and immediate solution.

Main Features:

Turtle species

With over 250 distinct turtle species [2], each one is different in terms of intestinal movement habits, carapace length, as well as space, and basking time needs. Furthermore, turtles deplete more than fish do, therefore you’ll need a strong canister filter that can process such waste efficiently. The amount of turtles in your tank also affects the filter’s capacity requirement.

Each species is different in terms of size, waste production, and basking space required:

  • Red-eared sliders. If you have a red-eared slider, you should always choose a canister filter. Even if your turtle is still small, it may grow up to 12 inches in length and hence require more intensive filtration than most internal filters can provide;
  • Musk/mud turtles. Internal filters are inappropriate for long-shelled species of musk turtle and mud turtle, in which case a power filter would be the best option. They seldom exceed 5 inches in length, and they aren’t powerful swimmers, so internal filters are an excellent choice for them. Strong water currents may be dangerous for them, therefore high-powered canister cleaners aren’t the greatest alternative. Internal filters will work well;

Tips for users: remember to take other tank inhabitants into account when calculating your filtration needs. Even if they appear tiny in comparison, these creatures will contribute to the bioload of your aquarium, thanks to their presence. The same can be said for many turtles – two turtles require twice the filtration!

Type of filtration systems:

1) Canister Filters

Outside canisters have separate intake and output hoses, which means they need to be filtered separately from the tank. They use stronger motors, are filtered through more media, and have a greater flow rate than internal filters.

Overall, if you don’t need to worry about space or cost, a canister filter will almost always be the best option [3].


  • Efficient filtration;
  • Can hold many filter media;
  • Can be stored externally;
  • Easy to maintain;


  • Pricey;
  • Requires a lot of space;

2) Internal Filters

These filters are best utilized for tiny aquariums since they are placed inside the tank and secured to the glass with suction cups or incorporated into beautiful constructions.


  • Doesn’t need any external housing;
  • You can disguise it with plants and rocks;
  • Affordable;


  • Low flow rate;
  • Requires frequent replacement;
  • Not easy maintenance;
  • Occupies internal space of the tank;

3) Undergravel Filters

Undergravel filters are used in fish tanks, but they should not be used in a turtle tank. Undergravel filters have several drawbacks, including the fact that turtles will occasionally jump out of them.

The first is that undergravel filters require the use of a gravel substrate on the bottom of your tank. Turtles, on the other hand, don’t mix well with gravel.

Turtles mistake gravel for food particles and attempt to eat the rocks, which is extremely detrimental to their health.

Turtles also enjoy digging. As a result, an undergravel filter is likely to clog. Gravel frequently accumulates unfiltered bits of feces and food waste, which turtles will occasionally kick up into the tank and create a mess with.

When using a filtration system for your turtle tank, it’s usually best to avoid undergravel filters[4].

Types of filtration methods:

1) Biological Filtration

Turtles can tolerate ammonia better than fish, but you must still find a method to remove it from the environment. The major approach to cope with this is to provide enough biological filtration.

Biological filtration media acts as a home for nitrifying bacteria and transforms ammonia and nitrites into less hazardous nitrate by utilizing natural biological processes. The Bio-balls, ceramic bio-media, and rock-based media are only a few of the most popular choices when it comes to biological filtering media.

The most important feature to look for in a good bio-media is how much surface area it has for the same volume. Ceramic bio-media has the surface area, as well as a rock-based matrix. Bio-balls, on the other hand, have less surface area and are typically better suited to wet/dry filters.

The majority of the time, as long as you utilize a bio-media with enough surface area, the nitrifying bacteria will be able to thrive. The biological filter media should not need to be replaced frequently, and you want to minimize the amount of disturbance to the bacteria population as much as possible. To keep your bio-filter functioning properly, clear out any detritus that has accumulated over time; this will aid in avoiding any blockages from forming in your filter.

2) Mechanical Filtration

Turtles are notorious for being extremely dirty feeders. Before they begin to rot and pollute the water, all of those uneaten meal fragments need to be removed from the tank. As a result, you’ll want a canister filter with easy-to-maintain mechanical filtration media because you’ll be cleaning it often.

Do not use any mechanical filtration media that isn’t intended to be reused. Floss filtration media and all-in-one filter cartridges are examples of this. Instead, invest in a canister filter with sponges for mechanical filtering. Sponge filters are considerably more efficient than floss and have larger pores, making them less prone to clogging.

Sponge filters are also recyclable, so you won’t have to spend a lot of money on them. All you have to do is rinse them off in de-chlorinated water and then reinsert them back into the canister filter. You might want to maintain a backup sponge filter on hand because they may still clog up, although they will eventually degrade over time.

3) Chemical Filtration

Turtle tanks are notorious for giving off foul smells. This is due to the high concentration of organic compounds in the water. These organic chemicals, which originate from decaying food and turtle excrement, have a strong odor.

To remove these volatile organic compounds, you’ll need some form of chemical filtration media. Activated carbon is the most prevalent type of chemical filtering. This kind of carbon has been heat-treated to increase its surface area, allowing it to absorb a large number of dissolved organic chemicals.

Activated carbon is included with all decent canister filters. You’ll need to buy some more since activated carbon isn’t recyclable. Because the carbon will lose its effectiveness, you’ll have to replace it immediately after it runs out.

Turtles also create a lot of organic waste, and you’ll go through more carbon filtration media in a turtle tank. If your turtle tank’s odor becomes stronger, it’s typically a sign that the carbon filter needs to be changed. Just keep some extra activated carbon on hand so you won’t have to go out all the time to replenish it [4].  


If you had only fish in your aquarium, a somewhat underpowered filter might be enough to maintain a healthy living environment.

Turtles, on the other hand, do not require frequent water changes. They are bigger and produce more waste, so if the circulation of filtered water isn’t maintained, it can go rapidly.

It’s doubly vital if you have more than one turtle in a tank or if you have other fish and plants in the tank with your turtle.

Many canister filters are rated for fish, so you’ll need to scale up if you want one for a turtle tank. In general, you should select a filter with twice to three times as much filtering capacity as the area of your aquarium.

So, if you have a 50-gallon tank, get a filter with at least 100 gallons of capacity and ideally closer to 150 gallons. If you buy a filter specifically for turtles, all you need is one that has enough capacity for the size of your tank [5]

If you under-estimate the filtration needs of your pond, it is likely to result in murky swamp water and a sick turtle.

If a filter is marketed for use with turtles, buy it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. If not, choose a filter that can handle twice the amount of water as your tank. 

Unless it’s made particularly for turtles, a filter labeled “suitable for tanks up to 100 gallons” should only be used in a tank with a capacity of up to 50 gallons:

  • 20-gallon tanks. The majority of 20-gallon tanks don’t need an elaborate setup or a high flow rate, and an adequate internal filter will suffice in most situations. Smaller tank sizes are also more typical among novices, so if you consider yourself to get one, consider using an internal filter – they’re typically simpler to grasp. Simply maintain a regular maintenance schedule since tiny tanks are more vulnerable to water chemistry issues. It’s worth noting that even for hatchlings, you should not keep fish in a tank less than 20 gallons. Most turtles will outgrow the little nano-tanks within months, leaving you with a large tank and bigger filter as well;
  • 20-50 gallon tanks. Internal and hang-on filters are usually compatible with tanks in this price range, although small/medium-size canister filters are typically more efficient. Choose the latter option if you don’t have to limit your expenses. If you’d prefer to spend a little less, be sure the filter you pick is designed specifically for turtles and can handle their waste output;
  • 50-100 gallon tanks. For tanks with more than 50 gallons, a big canister filter with 3-stage filtering and large filter media compartments that may go weeks without cleaning is ideal;
  • 100+ gallon tanks. When it comes to filtering a tank as big as this one, you want the best filtration capability you can get and a top-end canister filter is your only option;

The “x8 Rule”

Aquatic turtles are extremely filthy animals that need a significant amount of attention for their aquarium water.

It’s not uncommon for turtle parents to compromise with their tank’s filtration, resulting in foul, green tank water with a marshy stench. Bacterial blooms can also produce hazy white water.

Aside from being disgusting, this is also dangerous since it stimulates the growth of a variety of undesirable microorganisms.

To prevent all of this, a popular pastime adopted the “x8 rule”.

The x8 Rule holds that if you have an aquatic turtle as a pet, the filter in your aquarium should turn the available quantity of water in the tank at least 8 times per hour.

The rule in the fishkeeping world is 6 water cycles per hour, but it may increase to 8 times for overstocked tanks or turtle-occupied tanks (sometimes much higher).

This is a good level of filtration, which helps to minimize the possibility of water pollution and usually improves your aquatic turtle pet’s quality of life [6].

Advertised GPH vs Actual GPH (Gallons per Hour Flow Rate)

To properly clean the water in your turtle tank, you’ll need a canister filter with a large flow capacity. In most situations, you’ll need a canister filter with a flow rate that is almost double what you’d require if you were simply keeping fish in an aquarium.

A standard rule of thumb is to expect your filter to turn the water in your tank at least 4 times each hour. If you have a very dirty turtle, you might want to invest in a filter that turns the water 8 times each hour just to be cautious.

If you have a 55-gallon aquarium, for example, you’ll need a 220 to 440 GPH canister filter. You should always strive to acquire the most powerful filter feasible within your budget and home [7]

The GPH ratings of aquarium filters are important to know. When manufacturers evaluate the GPH potential of their aquarium water filter, they do not include filtering media, livestock, or decor in the equation.

This is done to artificially inflate the declared flow rate (though genuinely, the figure isn’t incorrect).

Let’s look at the Eheim 2262 as an example. According to its makers, the Eheim 2262 has a pump output of 900 GPH. Keep in mind that this is not the same thing as the filter’s GPF rating; rather, it refers to the pump. It’s one of the most powerful canister filters on the market. Only the Fluval FX6 canister filter offers a comparable pump power output.

However, performing proper flow rate testing will show you that the “actual” GPH an Eheim 2262 can endure is considerably lower [8].

Ease of Maintenance

Cleaning out or replacing the filter media is necessary at some point, even if your turtle tank’s filter is excellent. When that time comes, you’ll be happy you chose a filter that makes cleaning simple.

The most obvious indication that a filtration system is simple to keep is if it has a straightforward cabinet system for filtering media. You may simply remove the filter, dispose of the old media, and replace it with fresh material in this manner.

You can also clean or replace the filter in an aquarium made of glass, plastic, or some other rigid material if you don’t want to buy a new one. If you’re using an aquarium with a built-in filter and the pump is located within the tank itself (as opposed to externally attached via tubing), you may simply pull out the filter, wash it off, or remove and replace it. Ideally, removing and replacing the filter media should not necessitate dismantling the entire filtration system, and doing so should not be necessary.

Another thing to consider while evaluating maintenance is whether two filters are better than one. You may switch out one of your filters while cleaning it and replacing outdated media if you have two.

It’s not necessary, but it might help keep ammonia from forming in the tank filter during cleaning. If you choose to use two filters, make sure their combined capacity equals the total filtration capacity you require.

With or Without a Basking Area?

In the realm of turtle keeping, providing your pet with a basking area is typically considered a good idea. Turtles are cold-blooded animals that require sunlight every day in order to maintain their optimum condition.

3 different filter setup options for turtle tanks influence the selection of a suitable filter:

  • The water level in an aquarium that is completely filled with water;
  • An aquarium with a basking surface on the inside and only half of the volume filled with water;
  • An aquarium with a water level that is nearly full and a separate above-tank basking area;

You may see that there are numerous quantities of water to be filtered. It’s one thing to filter a 100-gallon turtle tank that is almost full. However, a 100-gallon tank with only 50 gallons of water should require a different water filter [9].

How Quiet the Filter Operates?

Not everyone can handle the splashing noise that HOB filters produce when in operation. Because it is made of steel, the quietest of all other filters available on the market, canister filters are not for everyone. Everything is done through the tubing and there’s no “air time” for the incoming water stream, which means everything is sealed uptight.


Turtles rely on continuous operation. As a result, their longevity should be considered when purchasing. The most prevalent failure point for impeller motors is the plastic casing and valve quality, but you should also think about the housing’s durability. Canister filters are generally more durable, although they often come at a much higher price tag[10].

Space for Filter Media

Media is an important part of any aquarium filter. It’s what traps the dirt, debris, and other nastiness that would otherwise pollute your tank water. As such, the more media a filter can hold, the better it will be at performing its job.

Ideally, you want to find a filter that has enough space for all of the different types of media you might need: 

  • mechanical filtration (foam or mesh);
  • chemical filtration (activated carbon);
  • biological filtration (ceramic rings or bio-balls);

Some filters come with removable baskets that make adding and removing media a breeze. Others have slots in their casing where you can add bulk items like activated carbon pads. Find a filter with space for everything you need.

Alternatively, if the media capacity is too low, consider investing in an external canister filter or sump tank to complement your existing turtle tank filtration system. This way you won’t have to worry about finding a whole new setup that fits into your aquarium footprint!


How do you filter a turtle’s water?

There are a number of ways to filter your turtle’s water, but the most frequent is with a HOB (hang-on-back) filter. Canister filters are also popular among turtle fans. They’re quieter and more durable than HOBs, making them an excellent choice for huge aquariums. Regardless of which type of filter you pick, make sure it has an adequate area for all of your media requirements [11]!​ 

What is the worst filter system for turtles?

A submersible filter isn’t the best solution for turtles. While they are effective in small tanks or temporary setups, these filters may not be powerful enough to handle the large amounts of waste generated by bigger turtles and can quickly become clogged. For optimum results, stick with a HOB or canister filter!

In turtle tanks, you should also avoid using sponge filters. These filters do little to reduce waste and germs from the water and can actually protect harmful organisms that may harm your turtles.

How to sterilize green and smelly turtle water?

It’s typical for green water in turtle tanks to be caused by algae, which isn’t particularly dangerous in itself. However, it’s essential to examine the tank circumstances that can lead to algal growth since they might indicate additional problems that must be addressed right away. Anytime you have a water problem (such as cloudy or smelly water, or high ammonia or nitrate levels), check your tank size and filtration techniques first.

Conditions That Promote Algae

Algae thrive in turtle tanks since turtle feces act as nutrients for the algae. To begin, make sure your turtle has enough space in its tank – smaller tanks encourage waste particles to grow rapidly and are ideal for algae growth. A tank should accommodate at least 10 gallons of water per inch of turtle, according to the rule. A full-grown turtle needs a tank that is more than 100 gallons in size. If the tank is too tiny, maintaining water quality will be difficult. Your turtle’s health and well-being would be jeopardized if the tank was too small.

Finding the Right Filter

The third and most important step is to invest in a very strong filter, such as one of the kind that comes with a canister-type filter rated for a tank three to four times the size of your actual turtle tank. Because turtles are dirty creatures, they require extra filtration. Cleaning the filter while the turtle is still in its container can also assist reduce algae growth. Don’t disinfect or use excessively hot water to clean the filter because you don’t want to harm the bacteria that live there. Good bacteria are required to break down turtles’ waste products.

Tank Lighting

Make certain that the lights on your turtle tank aren’t on for too long. The lights should be on for 12 hours each day, and if they’re turned on longer, algae will grow (not to mention stress your turtle). Make sure you don’t cut the lighting too much – while the lights may contribute to algae growth, adequate lighting (both basking and UVA/UVB) is crucial to your turtle’s health. However, if the tank receives any direct light, moving it away from the light can be beneficial.

Water Quality

Keeping the tank clean is critical for water quality, which will assist with algae growth – “dilution is the solution to pollution”, as they say. Keep in mind that there may always be some algae in the tank and maybe even on your turtle’s shell; attempting to totally eliminate it is futile and counterproductive. The objective is to keep the algae under control, but more importantly, ensure that the water quality is good.

Snails and plecs are two other algae-eater fish that you might add-in. However, your turtle may eat them, so you’ll have to replace them on a regular basis [12].

Do you need multiple filters for your turtle tank?

Because this freshwater turtle’s diet has a higher proportion of fish, it benefits from having two turtle tank filters. This will help to keep the water cleaner and reduce the number of water changes you’ll have to perform as your turtle gets larger [13].

When should I replace the filter media in my turtle tank?

Every week, at least a portion of the water in the tank should be replaced with fresh water. Even if your turtles’ swimming water appears clean, it may be high in ammonia or nitrite. Every two to three weeks, remove and replace the whole tank’s water [14].

Can you over-filter a turtle tank?

Let’s assume you have a 40-gallon tank and an 880 lph (liter per hour) Top Filter. You’re employing an 880 lph (liter per hour) Top Filter in your tank, which is ideal. If you put a 1,500 lph Top Filter in its place, the beneficial bacteria receive less time with the water and biological filtration becomes ineffective.

The beneficial bacteria grow within the filter media and consume harmful components including ammonia and nitrite. The germs should meet the water for a set length of time in order to function correctly. If the filter is too strong for the tank’s volume, the microbes will not have enough opportunity to interact with the water.

Even if you use a higher-capacity filter, this will result in under-filtration because of the high flow rate [15]

Do turtles like dirty water?

Water that has been properly cleaned is especially important for your pet turtle’s tank since aquatic turtles spend the majority of their time in it and thus need to eliminate waste.

How long can a turtle stay in a tank without a filter?

The water may have been fine for a few days, but you should change some water each day to be on the safe side.

What do turtles like in their tanks?

There are a few things to add to your turtle tank [16]:

  • Gravel and sand. Turtles adore digging. You should provide a digging area for your turtle in its tank. Gravel is an excellent way to keep your turtle occupied. You may also bury a snack for them to dig up;
  • Plants. Live or plastic plants provide a safe place for your turtle to hide. They can be readily replaced with another quick change in the environment that will undoubtedly pique the interest of your inquisitive turtle;
  • Rocks or caves. Different rocks or caverns can provide your turtle with a safe place to hide and relax, much like plants do. They’re also simple to switch around for a quick habitat makeover;
  • Decorations. Turtles can see out of their tank, so switching up the décor around it will provide your turtles with something new to look at. You may either put fresh plants outside their tank or hang a new poster on the wall behind it to provide them with fresh scenery;

Can you turn off your turtle filter at night?

It’s critical to keep your turtle’s tank water clean (as well as regular water changes, vacuuming, and testing) with the filter running at all times. It’s not a good idea to turn it off at night; you want to keep the habitat stable, so continuous filtration is required [17].

What happens if I don’t have a filter in my turtle tank?

The water quality will deteriorate dramatically if you don’t use a filter or clean the aquarium regularly. In fact, if you have more than one turtle, it is critical to install a good filtration system.

Useful Video: Fluval FX6 Aquarium Canister Filter Overview & Setup

Final thoughts 

Turtles are great pets. They have a lot of character, they are cute, and they can live up to 50 years old! One downside is that turtles need special care because their biology is very different from other animals. That means you should invest in the right filter for your turtle tank. If you want to be sure your pet has clean water all the time, read our guide on what makes a great filter for turtle tanks so you know which one will work best for your needs!


  1. http://www.turtleexpert.com/best-canister-filters-for-turtles/
  2. http://www.turtleexpert.com/best-canister-filters-for-turtles/
  3. https://petmag.com/best-filters-for-turtle-tanks/
  4. https://thepetsupplyguy.com/best-canister-filter-turtles/
  5. https://modestfish.com/best-filter-for-turtle-tank/
  6. https://aquanswers.com/best-filter-for-turtle-tank-by-size/
  7. https://thepetsupplyguy.com/best-canister-filter-turtles/
  8. https://aquanswers.com/best-filter-for-turtle-tank-by-size/
  9. https://aquanswers.com/best-filter-for-turtle-tank-by-size/
  10. https://petmag.com/best-filters-for-turtle-tanks/
  11. https://www.tankarium.com/canister-filter-vs-hang-back/
  12. https://www.thesprucepets.com/why-water-in-my-turtle-tank-turns-green-1238371
  13. https://www.petmd.com/how-pick-right-turtle-tank-filter-and-tank
  14. https://www.petsmart.com/learning-center/reptile-care/cleaning-your-tortoise-or-turtles-habitat/A0077.html
  15. https://expertaquarist.com/can-you-over-filter-a-fish-tank/
  16. https://petkeen.com/what-do-turtles-like-to-play-with/
  17. https://www.quora.com/Can-I-turn-my-turtle-tank-filter-off-at-night