Pet turtles are great, but their tank and accessories can get pretty expensive. If you have an old fish tank filter, or are looking online to buy one, you might want to know if you can use it. This article will cover everything you need to know about using a fish filter for a turtle tank.
Can I use a fish filter for a turtle tank?
Yes, you can absolutely use a fish filter for a turtle tank. However, it is important that it cycles enough water for your tank.
While fish filters can be used, it is important to keep in mind that turtles generate a lot more waste than fish.
You will likely need to clean your fish filter more often if you use it for your turtle tank. Below is a video where I show you how to clean a fish filter.
If you plan to put your turtle in a tank with fish, I recommend you watch my video below.
Below are some things you should know if you plan to use a fish tank filter for your turtle.
Most fish tank filters have a rated capacity. This means they will clarify the maximum tank size you can use for the filter.
Since turtles produce more waste than fish, it is best to get a filter that is rated for at least twice the size of your turtle tank.
For example, if your fish tank filter is rated for a 100 gallon aquarium, I would only use it in turtle tanks that are 50 gallons or smaller.
If your fish tank filter isn’t strong enough, you should check out my guide on the best turtle tank filters.
Another important component to keep in mind is flow rate. This refers to the amount of water a filter can clean in an hour. It is usually expressed in gallons per hour (gph).
It is important that your filter is able to filter the capacity of your turtle tank in an hour. Therefore, if you have a 75 gallon turtle tank, make sure your filter has a flow rate of at least 75 gph.
This will help ensure all of the water in your turtle tank gets filtered on a regular basis. If your water consistently looks like the picture below, you probably need a more powerful filter.
More filter maintenance
Since turtles create more waste than fish, you will also need to clean your filter more often. While it depends on the size of your tank and type of filter you have, you should clean your filter every one to two months.
This usually consists of cleaning or replacing the filter media that you use. It doesn’t take more than 15 minutes, but it goes a long way in keeping your tank clean.
You can learn more in my guide on how often do you clean a turtle tank.
Regardless of the type of filter you use, you will have to perform more regular water changes with a turtle tank. While fish tanks usually only require a water change every two to three weeks, turtle tanks should undergo a water change every week.
This water change should consist of replacing around 25% of the water in your tank. This will help prevent your turtle tank from getting cloudy.
Why do turtles require a stronger filter?
Now you might be wondering why turtles require bigger and stronger filters. There are a couple answers to this question.
For starters, since turtle’s are large animals, they require bigger tanks to give them enough room to swim. Bigger tanks mean more water that needs to be filtered, which means you need stronger filters.
Secondly, turtles require a lot more food compared to fish. While fish food usually consists of flakes or very small pellets, turtles require large pellets and sometimes insects. Everything that goes into a turtle must come out, so they produce a lot more waste compared to fish. Therefore, you need a powerful filter to clean up that waste.
Turtles also release a lot of urine, which must be cleaned by the filter as well.
Conclusion: Using a fish filter for a turtle tank
As I have stated above, you can certainly use a fish filter for a turtle tank. This can be a real money saver, especially if you already have a fish tank filter.
However, there are a couple things you need to keep in mind. The filter must be powerful enough and have a high flow rate. You will also need to clean the filter more often and perform more water changes compared to a fish tank.
If your fish tank filter is strong enough, go ahead and use it for your turtle tank. Make sure to keep an eye on the tank for the first couple of days to make sure the filter is functioning correctly.
If you have a new turtle tank, it might be cloudy for the first couple of days while your tank undergoes the nitrogen cycle. However, the water should start clearing up after a week or so. If it doesn’t, you might need to invest in a more powerful filter.