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The Best Filters for Red-Eared Sliders and other Aquatic Turtles

C. insculptaLong-lived, responsive and intelligent, Red-Eared Sliders and similar turtles are among the most popular of reptile pets.  However, aquatic turtles feed in water and are quite messy about it, and produce a great deal of waste.  Keeping their water clear and odor-free, and in a state that promotes good health, is a challenge faced by all turtle-keepers.  Today I’ll review some filters that are especially designed for use with aquatic turtles and other reptiles and amphibians; you can view other available models here.

General Considerations

Your turtle’s natural history and feeding behavior will greatly influence the type of filter that should be used, so be sure to research these topics before making your selection.  For example, Spotted Turtles will be stressed by fast currents, Soft-shelled Turtles will kick sand about and dislodge intake tubes, the carapaces of Pig-Nosed Turtles are prone to bacterial attack in highly-oxygenated waters, and so on.  Please write in if you need help in selecting a filter. Read More »

Filtering Turtle Tanks – The Zoo Med Canister Filter and Submersible Models

Spotted TurtlesMaintaining clean water is one of the biggest challenges facing aquatic turtle keepers.  Here at ThatPetPlace we stock a number of filters designed especially for use with turtles.  Most are submersible and will function even in very low water…one, the Turtle Cliff Filter, also doubles as a basking site and waterfall base.  Today I’d like to highlight the unit I’ve found most effective in situations where very strong, effective filtration is required – the Zoo Med Turtle Clean Filter.

An Adaptable, Effective Filter

The Turtle Clean Filter is designed along the lines of aquarium fish canister filters, with separate chambers for activated carbon, filter pads and aerobic bacteria colonies, and is backed by a powerful motor (aquariums up top 60 gallons in size, and possibly larger, can be handled by Model No. 511).  Unlike other canisters, it is set up next to, and not below, the aquarium.

Turtle canister filterThe Turtle Clean has the largest areas for filter media of any turtle filter, and its absorbant pads are very thick and quite effective.   It is very simple to clean, requires no priming, operates in as little as 1-2 inches of water and is equipped with a perforated return bar so that outflow can be adjusted.  Waterfalls and turtles requiring low water levels or moderate currents are thus easy to accommodate.

I’ve used the Turtle Clean Filter on heavily stocked turtle aquariums for some time now, and am very pleased with the results.  Feedback from colleagues indicates that it definitely simplifies the keeping of Red-Eared Sliders, Painted Turtles, Cooters, Snake-Necks, Mata Matas, Sidenecks and other messy feeders.

Easing the Filter’s Job

Turtle TankFrequent partial water changes and, if possible, feeding your turtles outside of the aquarium, will render any turtle filter more effective by lessening the volume of uneaten food and feces that must be removed.

A bare-bottomed aquarium, which enables the filter to more easily pick up solid waste, is preferable for most turtles (Soft-shelled Turtles, however, are best kept with a fine sand substrate under which they can hide).

Further Reading

For more tips on keeping your turtle tank water in top shape, please see Feeding Aquatic Turtles: Water Clarity.


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