The Best Water Filters for Turtles

We've spent a lot of time researching the best turtle filters for you, so if you are looking for recommendations and ratings you've hit the right page. Picking the right filter for your tank is a very important part of ensuring your turtle's well being. You absolutely must get a filter with the correct capacity for the size of your tank. Since turtles put out much more waste than fish, its recommended that you get a canister filter with a rated capacity about 3 times the capacity of your tank. If you're curious about why a canister filter over others, we have a great page explaining the reasoning here.

Guidelines for Filters

Our Recommendation

EHEIM Canister Filter

We bought the 66 gallon version of this for our 29 gallon tank. We really like our filter. It's simple, quiet, and works very well. The nice thing about the EHEIM Classic Filters sold by Amazon is that the filters come bundled with easy shut off valves which make it much easier to disconnect the filter when cleaning or priming.

On Amazon reviews these EHEIM filters get glowing reviews. Reviewers were impressed with the reliability specifically. Several people mentioned only needing to clean these filters once every 6 months or sometimes less depending on the amount of waste. Most reviewers also mentioned this is a very quiet filter -- which we noticed as well.

It isn't uncommon for these filters to run for years with no maintenance. Many of the reviews we read mentioned having the EHEIM filter for 3 or more years without a single problem.

The only complaints a few reviewers had, was that the plastic quality wasn't as high they like. A couple of the reviews mentioned that the plastic clips holding the lid down broke off during installation, but our filter hasn't had this problem. The vast majority of reviews spoke highly of the build quality.

For its excellent reviews and very reasonable pricing we picked the EHEIM as our favorite. If you want a top quality filter and have a higher budget though take a look at our Second Favorite below.

This filter comes with all the substrate and filter media you need to get started, but if you want to pre-buy additional media (which we did) here are the model numbers that correspond with the media sizes:

Model Numbers

  • 40 gal = 2211
  • 66 gal = 2213
  • 92 gal = 2215
  • 159 gal = 2217

Our Second Favorite

Fluval Filter

The vast majority of reviews on Fluval filters say they are superb. Reviewers particularly mention that the build and materials on this filter felt more solid than others. If we hadn't already bought our Eheim I would definitely consider a Fluval.

The most common complaint about this filter is the impeller can become noisy after about 6 months. The fix for that, is to wrap the impeller motor cover in plumber's Teflon tape from a hardware store. Once its wrapped down tightly the noise seems to disappear.

The other downside to these filters are the prices. They are more expensive than a comparable EHEIM, which is the only reason we did not choose this as our recommended filter. If your budget is higher and you want quality to match, Fluval is your choice.

Model Numbers

  • 15 gal = 106
  • 15 gal = 206 (adds additional filter media)
  • 30 gal = 306
  • 40 gal = 406
  • 65 gal = G6

Other Great Filters

The Budget Choice for Experience Users

Best Choice Filter

The Best Choice Products 5 Stage Filter is an amazing buy for the price and quality. It has great reviews like the two recommended filters above, but at a much lower price. It is rated for up to 150 gallons which is one of the highest we found. A 150 gallon filter should work in up to a 75 gallon turtle habitat. You may want to get one of the lower capacity filters from Best Choice if you have a smaller tank though. The spray from this one could easily be too much for a smaller turtle.

In our research we ran across many different glowing reviews mentioning it worked wonderfully. People were surprised that it functioned as reliably as it did because the price is so low. The flow is said to be consistently high and it is often mentioned that it is surprisingly quiet.

So you may ask, why isn't this our favorite filter? Well there are two major reasons for that. Firstly, the instruction manual is not good. There were many people who complained that the instructions were inaccurate or difficult to read. And secondly, the same filter has been sold under multiple different brand names in the past few years. That might not be a big deal to you, but we'd prefer to recommend a filter created by a stable company with a longer track record.

If you don't mind the not so stellar instructions and are not bothered by the possibility that the company may not be around to honor a warranty, The Best Choice Products 5 Stage Filter is a great filter at a great price.

More Options to Consider

Penn-Plax Cascade

The Penn-Plax Cascade is a solid filter. Its built for a 100 gallon tank, but probably the largest tank you'd want to use this in with a turtle is about 50-75 gallons. Penn-Plax mainly focuses on aquarium accessories and in-tank waterfall filters, and this appears to be their first foray into cannister filters.

Reviewers generally said this was a reliable filter that in most cases worked perfectly for years. Where it gets lower marks is when cleaning and assembly. It doesn't come with instructions, so setup isn't as straight-forward as it could be. Also, not all the parts can be completely pulled apart which makes a thorough cleaning difficult.

The price for the Cascade is its real selling point. Its cheaper than a similarly rated EHEIM with only a few downsides. If you're already comfortable with setting up and cleaning a filter and want to save yourself some money pick up the Penn-Plax Cascade or the Best Choice Products filter.

SunSun HW-30

The SunSun is the cheapest of all the filters, but not as cheap capacity-wise as the Best Choice Products filter. The SunSun HW-30 is rated for 75 gallons, but you'd probably want to limit your aquarium size to under 40 gallons for this particular model.

Many people love the SunSun HW-30 for being a solid filter for the price. From our research it looks to stand up to that reputation.

The reason we aren't rating this one higher is that it has a few minor downsides that the other filters do not. It comes with an adjustable spray bar and all the tubing you'd expect, but where many people were disappointed was that there is no filter media. So if you plan on purchasing the SunSun make sure you add the price of filter media to the total purchase. The other minor issue is that if suction is too strong in the canister, the plastic handles on the filter trays can come off when you try to remove them for cleaning.

Overall, the SunSun line looks good, but given the other filters on this page, SunSun doesn't stand out. If you get the option to pick one up at a discount I would give the SunSun HW-30 a try.