The 12 Best Canister Filters for Turtles


If you have an aquarium, you want to ensure that you find the best canister filter for turtles to give your turtle the best filtered water system. Not only is it important to reduce odors and filter out toxins, but it’s also crucial to monitor chemicals and keep the water moving in the tank so your turtle’s water quality won’t suffer. A turtle tank canister filter will differ from other aquarium filters because it will need to be larger and more powerful.

Turtle in aquarium

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Turtles are larger than fish, and they generate more waste than most fish. Additionally, you will need at least a 50-gallon tank to house one turtle, plus helper fish and plants. This means your canister filter needs to be powerful enough to filter and circulate the water, and it can’t be the first filter you do a Google search for. Take your time and do plenty of research to ensure your aquarium is safe and healthy for your turtle.

1. Penn Plax Cascade 700 Canister Aquarium Filter

Penn Plax Cascade 700 Canister Aquarium Filter

The Penn Plax 700 canister filter is made for aquariums up to 65 gallons, but there are other models that are built for smaller and larger tanks as well. It features a self-primer push button and a flow-rate cut-off valve so that you can customize the water flow in your turtle’s tank. The two media filter chambers are also customizable for biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration, and they are large-capacity so you can go longer in between maintenance replacement. This canister is easy to install with your aquarium and will begin filtering within 30 minutes, and it is super quiet so you can enjoy the peace and relaxation of your turtle aquarium. If you have multiple turtles, Penn Plax makes canister filters for aquariums up to 200 gallons, which provides plenty of power for your filtering needs. Customers love the quick and easy set-up and filtration that this canister filter provides for their beloved turtles.

2. Hydor Professional 350 External Canister Filter

Hydor Professional 350 External Canister Filter

The Hydor Professional 350 filters aquatic turtle tanks from 60-100 gallons in size. They also make models for tanks up to 150 gallons for turtle lovers with more than one turtle in their aquariums. This filter features an easy priming function and it’s simple to set up. Just open the box, place the media trays into the filter, and measure/cut the tubing. Within minutes, this canister filter is removing biological, chemical, and mechanical media from your water, ensuring a clear, quality movement of water for all of your marine life friends. It’s incredibly quiet when it’s running, and it keeps the water very clean of biological waste, especially when compared to similar filters. Hydor filters are worth the investment so you can rest assured that your turtle will be swimming and breathing in healthy, clean water.

3. Eheim Pro 4 250

Eheim Pro 4 250

The Eheim Pro 4 250 is one of the most trusted name brands on the market for your water filtration needs. The 250 model runs well on tanks up to 65 gallons, and many customers find it superior to other pro systems. This filter is very easy to clean with minimal spillage, and is very quiet to run. The baskets are large and easy to remove, and the installation is clear and simple, especially with the handy priming button. You’ll find this product to be one of the best canister filters for turtles, and your turtles will love it, too.

4. AquaTop CF Series 264 Canister Filter

AquaTop CF Series 264 Canister Filter for Turtles

The AquaTop CF Series 264 is a great value. It’s more affordable than other canisters of similar size, and it is made for tanks up to 75 gallons. You can use this canister on your saltwater or freshwater tanks, and it features a 3-stage filtration system. The “264” in the name filters up to 264 gallons of water per hour. This series also allows you to customize three media trays to filter mechanical, biological and chemical media. The set-up and install is very easy to follow, and the self-priming button takes a load off of your tasks. Many customers report that this canister lasts for years, and that it runs so quietly they sometimes have to double-check to make sure it is. A downside to this particular canister is the lack of handles to hold it while transporting it, which may affect some users depending on their set-up at home.

5. MarineLand Magniflow 220 Canister Filter

MarineLand Magniflow 220 Canister Filter for Turtles

Marineland is another trusted brand for your water filtration needs. It features a 3-stage filtration process which is great for either saltwater or freshwater aquariums. The canister is easy to install, and has an easy priming button to make the set-up faster. It runs very quietly and clears the water quickly. The media baskets are large and customizable for chemical, biological, and mechanical media filtering. This particular model does have an issue with clamps: the hose clamps it comes with are not always strong enough, so many users have found a simple fix with cheap metal hose clamps from their local hardware store. Once the unit is up and running, customers are pleased with how quickly and efficiently it clears their tanks. 

6. API Filstar XP

API Filstar XP best canister filter for turtles

This canister filter by API provides powerful filtration technology for your tank. The API has models for 45-, 75-, 175-1 and 265-gallon filters so you can trust this brand to grow with your turtle colony. The self-priming system is easy to use and primes in under a minute, and the built-in Anti-Airlock System prevents the filter from overheating which can lead to re-priming. It’s easy to service each month and resume after cleaning, and it’s a very quiet and peaceful filter. The 3-stage filtration system, coupled with large media baskets and 4 media pouches in each basket provide quality filtration and customization of your media. An additional benefit to these media pouches is that they are square in shape, which makes them incredibly versatile and easy to customize your filter materials.

7. Fluval FX4 High Performance Aquarium Canister Filter

Fluval FX4

Fluval is another trusted name brand in the filtration industry, and this canister filter will last you many years with little trouble. While the FX4 series is large enough to filter a 250-gallon tank, it’s one of the best canister filters for turtles on the market because it provides turtles with up to three times the filtration which keeps their tanks at optimum levels. While this canister filter is a financial investment in the beginning, it will surely pay for itself with the quality of the system and parts over time. The filter is ultra-quiet, and has a self-priming mode for simple installation and set-up. A huge benefit to the FX4 series is its internal Smart Pump microchip technology with self-monitors the pump performance for issues and optimization. It also auto-evacuates trapped air every 12 hours so you don’t need to worry. The media baskets are stackable and removable and can be customized for all 3 media forms.

8. Odyssea CFS500 Aquarium Canister Filter

Odyssea CFS500

The Odyssea CFS500 canister filter works well on tanks for up to 100 gallons, and is affordable as well. The canister is appropriate for both saltwater and freshwater aquariums, and customers say that this canister provides an excellent power current for saltwater aquariums in particular. The Odyssea filter features a 3-stage filtration system, and it’s incredibly quiet and efficient. It’s easy to set-up and install, and easy to disconnect for monthly maintenance. This model does not feature media trays, but you can fit media bags in between the foam if you wish. One challenge some customers have had with this model is that the hoses are a bit on the shorter side– only 4 feet long. If you have an aquarium that is up higher, you may need to get some hosing from your local pet shop to modify this filter.

9. Polar Aurora 4-Stage External Canister Filter

Polar Aurora 4-Stage

Another powerful filter built for a 200-gallon tank, the Polar Aurora 4-Stage canister filter is one of the best canister filters for turtles, and it’s affordable. It does come in smaller, 3-stage sizes, but for the price, it’s best to go with the 200-gallon filter. It features a UV bulb to kill viruses and parasites, and features 4 media baskets which you can customize. The canister is easy to set-up and prime, and it runs quietly. Customers say it’s simple to clean and maintenance each month, and it’s a great value for so much power. It clears up the water of your tank in just a few hours, and will keep it clear and clean so you can set your mind at ease about your turtle’s habitat. Since it can run up to 200-gallons, you can easily utilize this filter for 2- or 3-turtle aquariums.

10. SunSun HW-304B 5-Stage External Canister Filter

SunSun HW-304B 5-Stage

SunSun-China is another great brand of filters, and trusted by many long-time aquarium enthusiasts. This particular model runs well for tanks up to 150 gallons, and it’s not overly expensive. It features a UV-sterilizer light built-in to keep harmful bacteria and troublesome algae at bay. The SunSun HW-304B has a self-priming pump for easy set-up, and customers say it’s easy to break down and maintain each month. The HW-304B also features 4 customizable media trays which are large with plenty of space to add your own media preferences. It’s a powerful pump and keeps the water flow moving well. Even though it works for 150-gallon tanks, it’s one of the best canister filters for turtles because of the recommended 3-times filtration rate.

11. Eheim Classic External Canister Filter

Eheim Classic for turtles

If you’re looking for the trusted Eheim brand, but you’re not looking to invest in their Pro 4 filter, the Eheim Classic might be the best choice for your turtle aquarium. This filter comes in 3 sizes which filter 40, 66, and 92 gallons of water. The media baskets are round which makes the pads easy to replace, and they are simple to maintain. The media baskets are not removable, which many customers prefer. Instead of dealing with multiple pieces of the filter, you just need to rinse the media canister and place it into the housing. Unfortunately, this model does not include a self-priming feature; however, customers who have purchased this say that it’s very easy and quick to prime anyways. This canister filter is incredibly quiet and will run for years with proper maintenance and cleaning. Like other Eheim products, you can trust this canister to be one of the best canister filters for turtles on the market, especially at an affordable price.

12. Aqueon QuietFlow

Aqueon QuietFlow turtle filter

The Aqueon QuietFlow canister filter lives up to its name. It’s super quiet, almost too quiet. You’ll often wonder if it’s still running until you see the current moving lightly in your turtle’s water. This canister filter works in both saltwater and freshwater aquariums and has a self-priming system for simple set-up. Maintenance is also a breeze with easy access to media baskets and quick disconnects. It also contains an activated carbon cartridge which is easily replaceable. It has a multistage filtration system, and it will work on aquariums up to 75 gallons. Overall, if you’re looking for a superior filtration system for your turtle’s habitat, Aqueon’s QuietFlow is one of the best options on the market for your reptile friend.

Final thoughts

There’s a lot to learn when it comes to raising aquatic turtles, but most of all, you just want them to be happy and healthy. Having a superior water filtration system for your aquarium will help filter out the waste and keep the current moving for your turtle. Since turtles produce more waste than most fish, it’s important to invest in a powerful canister filter that will be able to handle that, and be easy for you to maintain.

Once you find the perfect canister filter, you’ll be ready to thoroughly enjoy your turtle and rest assured that he or she will be happy and healthy in their filtered aquatic paradise.