What is the Best Canister Filter for Turtles?

Written by Randy Martin
Turtle closeup

I love canister filters, they are amazing, but my experience is how they work in fish-only aquariums. Recently I’ve been seeing lots of others opting for canister filters with turtles and I was wondering why, and which one would be best if I was setting up a turtle tank.

What is the best canister filter for turtles? Most canister filters are going to work great in a turtle tank. The key factor is to get a canister filter that is over powered for the size of your tank. Turtles produce a lot of waste and need the extra filtration.

That is the reason most people use canister filters with turtles, because they need a powerful filter to deal with all that waste. So it’s a great choice to go with a canister for sure. But I will give my opinion on which one I would go for in a turtle aquarium.

Best canister filter for turtles

I don’t keep turtles myself, but I do a ridiculous amount of research on aquariums and filtration in general.

So based on what I have picked up on over the years, and what I uncovered recently when I was researching about the connection between turtles and canister filters, I have a good idea what direction I would head towards.

First off as I said above you need something powerful. In the turtle community (that’s a thing? Yes, everything is a thing) I keep hearing it said often that you should be using a filter that is designed for a tank size that is 2 or 3 times larger than your tank.

For turtles you should use a filter that is intended for an aquarium 2x-3x the size of your tank.

The waste and smells produced by the turtles can be a lot, so you need to stay on top of that.

A canister filter is also going to allow you to use media, or a combination of media that will really help you cut down on smells.

So with all that said, if I had my pick I would settle on a Fluval FX4. This thing is a beast and being used by so many pet turtle owners.

It’s designed for 250gal size, which would be about right for most people who have a 55gal to about 150gal.

Of course there is even bigger units like the Fluval FX6, but my guess is most people don’t need that much power.

These are definitely a little higher in price for filtration, but the FX4 isn’t bad. Generally I recommend canister filters that are cheaper, because I mostly mess around in smaller fish tanks that don’t need that much.

Here is another article I wrote on this site of the very best canister filters I recommend for the most part. If your tank isn’t that big, maybe 20gal to 100gal, you could probably get by with one of those filters I have listed there.

But really if you have a turtle, you are going to avoid a lot of headaches by looking into the Fluval. And I don’t think they run too high, you can check the price for the Fluval FX4 on Amazon (affiliate link) and see if that would be doable for you.

If not, then check out my list for some cheaper but still great canisters—including a smaller sized Fluval there too.

Turtle swimming in a home aquarium


As I stated this filter is a beast. Any canister this size is going to be a beast. But Fluval is a very well known and trusted brand. It’s kinda king.

The water circulation is excellent, and will do a great job at moving and getting rid of all that waste.

Your headache of dealing with the waste and grime is going to be gone.

The output is adjustable, so you can control it pretty well to make sure you don’t turn your aquarium into a raging river. Some hobbyist use a spray bar or some kind of DIY solution to further cut down the water output if it’s just too powerful.

And one of the really nice factors of this unit is it’s super quiet. Most canister filters are, that’s the added benefit. But you wouldn’t think a filter this size would be that quiet, however you really can’t hear it, especially if it’s closed behind doors in the aquarium stand or something.

The canister size will give you plenty of room to add all the media you need to really take care of the bio filtration, which is most important.

So to sum up, hopefully that gives you a good idea at least what to look for in a canister filter. And if the FX4 is too overkill for your situation then check out one of the smaller yet still highly capable filters I have wrote about here best aquarium filters for all your needs, and I’m sure you will find something that will work for you.

Related Questions

How to know if your turtle is happy? Turtles don’t give any bodily indicators that they are happy, like a dog wagging it’s tail. However most owners can get a good sense if their pet turtle is happy based on it’s behavior. It’s level of physical activity and how often it basks for example.

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