There’s no doubt about it. When it comes to pets, a turtle is an absolute slob. Even in the less than fastidious world of the reptile kingdom, the turtle is one of the few creatures who not only has no problem flopping about in murky, filthy water but seems to be drawn to it.
While it’s true that turtles are a lot heartier than your average koi, that doesn’t necessarily mean unclean water is healthy for it. We all know that all sorts of unpleasant microbes and bacteria can lurk in dirty water. And while your turtle may seem a bit better equipped to handle it, you really don’t know what he’s thinking. Or do you?
Furthermore, if you’re placing your turtle in a tank, you’re taking him out of his natural environment. Add non-native plants and non-native food and… the result isn’t often pretty. This is because turtles excrete ammonia waste at rates that would shock most humans.
Cleaning your water efficiently and thoroughly is critical for the life of your turtle. Below, you’ll find our reviews of some of the best turtle filters on the market, as well some things you’ll need to take into consideration when purchasing one.
ExoTerra External Turtle Filter for Aquarium Review
The odor pad in combination with dual carbon pads is remarkably effective, but a word of caution; this is probably better suited for smaller tanks (50 gallons or under.)
Tetra ReptoFilter for Terrariums Review
What’s more, it’s a biological filter; cultivating useful bacteria which help destroy harmful ammonia, nitrite and other toxins.
Again, this is better suited for mid-size tanks (under 55 gallons.) A 125 gallon per hour rating.
Zoo Med 511 Turtle Clean Canister Filter Review
Perfect for mid-size tanks up to 60 gallons, with a 160 gallon per hour rating.
Zoo Med Turtle Clean External Canister Filter, 50-Gallon Review
There’s a double filtering system with internal biological recirculation and a three stage process of filtration.
The clear viewing case helps let you know when the filter pads need to be changed, and there’s a spray bar for increased aeration.
Suitable for tanks up to 50 gallons, with a 200 gallon per hour rating.
A Buyer’s Guide to Turtle Filters
The first thing to keep in mind is the size of the tank itself, as well as the size of your turtle. An external canister filter is obviously one of the most durable and space saving (and ideal for medium size tanks,) but it’s not much use to either of you if your turtle isn’t exactly comfortable in a 20 gallon tank.
Another recommendation is whatever the water capacity of your tank might be, double it when it comes to your filter. Your filter rating (gallons per hour) should be twice the size of your tank: for a 50 gallon tank, use a filter with a gph rating of at least 100. This is critical to ensure proper aeration.
A biological filter is also highly recommended. As we mentioned, the amount of toxins, nitrites and ammonia that a turtle releases can be absolutely detrimental to its health. A filter that helps cultivate and circulate bacteria will go a long way in helping to eliminate not only murky build up, but can also help keep your turtle in the best of shape.
Try to ensure your filter comes with multiple filter media (screens, pads, spray bars, etc.) This will go a long way in maintaining the life of your filter, as well as the efficacy of filtration.
Motor stability may seem almost minor, but choosing one that has been noted by consistent ratings can go along way between you replacing your filter every two months.
In conclusion, it may be that filtering your turtle tank is the last thing you want to think of. But you’d be surprised how much difference it can make; not just in your tank, but your turtle as well.