Filter Advice?

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an interest in aquariums or fish keeping!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.


Aquarium Advice Newbie
Aug 15, 2007
Hello, I am setting up a new 55 gal Tank for some Cichlids and a Small Aquatic turtle.

I would like some opinions on Canister Filters, I am currently looking at the
Rena Filstar xp4
Fluval 405
Eheim pro II 2028
These filters are all About $199 in price and seem Comparable in size, so I am looking for some personal Advice/incite to pro's and con's

Thank you
I prefer sumps or wet/dry filters where turtles are concerned. Canisters can hold a lot of waste build up within the mechanics of the filter causing nitrates to saturate even if water quality is kept pristine (hard to do with turtles...they are poop machines).

What species of cichlids and turtle? Do you plan on having a nice platform for the turtle to climb onto?

IMO, it is best to keep these animals apart unless the tanks can hold lots of water. A 55 is a nice sized tank, but is small to most adult turtles and many cichlids. For example...a red earred slider will eventually need an environment much bigger than a 55. They get BIG. 12" on males. About 8" for females. They require lots of swimming room and a decent sized land area to bask. They will also eat the fish if they are able to catch and overpower them. Mostly the important reasons are with nitrates. Turtle water can get pretty nasty and quickly so.
The Turtle is a painted Turtle, and no fish as of yet waiting until my wife take the other 55gal back to school with the Dempsey's and larger turtle before setting up this tank. As of now thanks to Craigslist I have a Cascade 700, Aquaclear 402 I got for free both work fine just needed new media for the Cascade. I also already had an Aquaclear 300 HOB so I will see how this works out for now
I won't comment on the turtle as I am not versed in turtles, but for Cichlids, I know they make a lot of waste. Over filtering is the way to go. The only thing is that for that price of $200, you can almost get two XP3 filters. Having two would do well for giving enough circulation and filtration as one is normally enough on a 55 gallon tank for standard fish.
The turtle is approx 3"dia as of now.

I have also hooked up the AC300 and the Cascade to the Schools 55gal so to get the Bacteria jump started for the next 2 weeks before it goes back to school. This should help get my Cycle jump started when I set up my tank.

On the Filters I used:
AC300: Bottom to Top..Sponge, Carbon, Biomax
Cascade 700: Coarse Sponge, Filter Floss. There is more room in the filter for items..
The best set up regardless of how small or big for aquatic turtles I found to be similar to how you would set up a river tank. I had a 60 gallon that was up for 7 years before the tank was accidently broken. The only turtles I had in there were hatchlings, but this set up is ideal for any sized environment to house an aquatic turtle.

The tank should be half filled with water. Make land areas rising from the water strategically placing rocks, wood and slate rock from one side of the tank to the other, leaving a large open swimming area underneathe and preferrably up front. A bridge basically. I lined the wood and rocks with peat moss...nice and thick for padding. I let edges of wood and slate rock serve as ladders for easy mobility onto land. The water must be deep enough for the turtle to be completely submerged and able to freely swim about. If a turtle is incapable of such in a tank half filled with water, then the enclosure is too small.

My filtering was simple, but I had small animals and mostly minnows, fire belly toads, fire belly newts and rubber eels. On occassion I took in other fish such as catfish and angels, but they were rescues and temporary.

I had a powerhead's intake embedded in a larger sponge. The out take was lead by a hose that ran to the top of a land cave in the middle of the tank. The filter bag filled with carbon and zeolite was tied to the end of the hose that rested on top of the cave and covered in peat moss to hide it. The rocks and wood the cave was made of served as bio media as well as the peat moss. Peat moss is great, but there is a downfall if you are keeping fish that require high pH values. Peat moss is media that will bring the pH down. It's a natural buffer. The waterfall is an awesome effect.

I thoroughly rinsed the sponge in tap water every week. I didn't worry about losing bio, because the wood, rocks and peat moss held enough. The sponge was the mechanical part of filtering. Peat moss was rinsed on occassion in used tank water. I just scooped out some water from the tank and cleaned it in a bucket. Once every six months or so I would rinse the peat under tap, but a section at a time rather than all of it at once. I also had a second water pump to circulate the water...out take pointed to the middle back glass panel, so the water would bounce off the side and go into a circular motion around the tank. This maximizes effectiveness from your equipment.

For a three incher...the same can apply, just make everything bigger or more sponge to catch solid waste...more bio media to accomidate the large waste load of a larger turtle and stronger water pumps, etc. Instead of a sponge embedded powerhead, you can use external filters, just run the hoses properly for the type of filter. This sort of setting allows you to be creative with effective filtering without it breaking your wallet. Use the environment you set up to help you maintain the waste load.

The key to keeping turtles, is to never feed them in their home tank. Feed them in a basin, and allow them to evacuate before returning them to their home.
Top Bottom