Best Turtle Tanks Everything you need to know about turtle enclosures

Turtles are adorable pets with unique characteristics that make a lovely aquarium addition. The shelled friends are aggressive swimmers who require a quality sturdy home so that they can freely move from one end to the other. Setting up a turtle tank can be a bit daunting and needs a bit of research.

best turtle tanks

With so many turtle kits on the market, we’ve researched and analyzed ten best turtle tanks that are available to help you establish an excellent habitat for your new pet. To keep healthy, these cold-blooded animals need to stay warm and gulp air regularly, so you’ll need to maintain the right habitat for them with the right conditions. The buyer’s guide below will show you the features you should look out for before purchasing a turtle tank.

What Factors Should You Consider before Purchasing a Turtle Tank?


A turtle needs sufficient space to swim, bask, hide and eat. Finding the right space will help your shelled friend not feel stressed or cramped in small areas. Experienced hobbyists recommend ten times the length of the shell of the turtle in gallons. So, if a baby turtle is 2 inches long, you multiply that by 10 to get a 20-gallon tank.

A 10-inch adult turtle requires a 100-gallon tank, so keep in mind that a baby turtle grows quite fast and if you’re going to house it in the same aquarium tank you may have to buy another one soon if it outgrows that one. Also, if you'll accommodate more than one turtle, a good choice would be a slightly bigger tank rather than a small tank.

Basking Space

Your shelled friend likes to crawl out of the water and warm itself frequently and breathe fresh air without which it would eventually die. A sufficient dock that would cater to this need would be best set up at the top on one side of the kit to create more space. Remember, your turtle needs to keep safe and comfortable all the time.

UV Light

Naturally, turtles bask in the sun to keep warm. Unfortunately, this is not possible when they’re in a tank. A UV light is the next best option to substitute natural light and warmth. Now it will be possible for your shelled friend to crawl out of the water, gulp air and bask in the docking space.

Ease of Connecting Filters, Heaters and other Components

Before buying an aquarium for your turtle, ensure that all components like filters and heat lamps are easy to connect. Besides this, you'll need a screen with bio-wheels that can help grow beneficial bacteria and at the same time keep the tank clean.


Speaking of turtle tank filters, you’ll need one that keeps the water clean and safe since the tank holds their feed and their droppings. You'll need to clean the filters regularly since algae grows in them which can be harmful to juvenile turtles. It's also essential to consider replacing cartridges often.

Proper Nutrition

Just like other fish type, turtles require adequate nutrition to grow and stay healthy. Proper nutrition will help it to flourish, and increase in size and weight.

Tank Decorations

turtle in the tank

If you want your aquarium to look as natural as possible with plastic aquatic plants, rocks and other accessories invest in quality rather than quantity. The decorations should be well anchored and sturdy to survive for some time. Also, a visually attractive tank is one that many turtle owners would love to have in their households so that it can be a center of attraction. Tank decorations can be purchased or replaced to suit your needs and preferences.

Turtles are aggressive and can uproot and swallow the substrates that are in the tank. Ensure that the decorations you use such as plastic plants, rocks and gems are large enough to safeguard their lives.


Durability is an essential factor to consider before purchasing a turtle tank. The best kits feature durable materials and sturdy construction that will offer you service for a long time without breaking down.

Additionally, well-known brands are the best though more expensive than other unknown brands. However, some unknown brands are feature-packed though you may need to check their reviews and do a little research before purchasing them. Also ensure that when you're buying other accessories, you check their quality for durability.

What is the Best Turtle Tank Size?

There are three main sizes of turtle tanks:

  • 10 gallon
  • 20 gallon
  • 40 gallon tank

The 10-gallon tank is the right size for starters but too small for your fast-growing shelled friend. On the other hand, the 20-gallon tank is considered the best by most veterans as it can host a growing turtle for a long time and suits most homes.

A 40-gallon tank is huge and can fit several young turtles or an adult turtle. However, it requires an ample space to set up making it an unsuitable choice for most homes.

Now, with a small aquarium, you could soon be budgeting for another one for your growing shelled friend. A large tank is also not ideal as it may not fit your space, this means that a 20-gallon turtle tank is the best choice and most reviewed for both starters and veterans.

How to Select the Right Size for Your Turtle

Selecting the right size may not be easy for novice hobbyists. However, as your baby turtle grows it needs more space, so you're better off with a slightly bigger tank. The right size will depend on many things like pet species and the number of turtles you own among others.

If you have a very active turtle species, you may need a large tank to offer your shelled friend with sufficient space to swim and bask. Also, if you have more than one turtle, you'll need a kit that can host several pets at a go and maintain space for each to swim and bask for warmth.

Types of Turtles

Two different kinds of turtles are kept as pets by most hobbyists namely: land turtles and aquatic turtles.

  • Land Turtles
Land Turtles

They are easy to maintain and mostly require a desert substrate in their tanks. They prefer shallow waters to submerge themselves and a basking platform to keep them warm. The best examples include box turtles and tortoises, and long tanks suit them best.

  • Aquatic Turtles
Aquatic Turtles

This type requires more care and are more demanding than land turtles. They're agile swimmers moving from one end of the tank to the other. Your pets can escape if the kit is not adequately secured. Ensure that you purchase an aquarium that comes with proper security features that keeps all your pets safe inside the tank.

How to Keep Your Turtle Tank Clean

Turtle tanks need to be clean so that harmful bacteria will not grow and cause diseases to your shelled friend. To keep it clean there are some tips that you can follow for a healthy and vibrant pet.

  • Spacious Tank
    First, in addition to the extra decorations that you may prefer to purchase for your turtle kit, ensure that you choose a tank that’s large enough to fit your turtles and all other accessories. These shelled friends are quite messy. Therefore, if you opt to go for a small tank, it will be harder to keep it clean.
  • Clean Food Leftovers
    Secondly, clean up all the food leftovers to discourage harmful bacteria growth. Old food combines with turtle droppings, rots and disintegrates forming a bad odour-causing a massive threat to your pets.
  • Turtle Tank Filter
    Additionally, you need an excellent turtle tank filter. What is most important is that it can clean and keep the environment healthy for your pet. It should also feature a durable construction that will be durable for many years to come.
  • Regular Overhaul Cleaning
    We recommend you do an overhaul cleaning of your pet's environment once every week so that you can keep harmful bacteria and odour away; which will include cleaning the floor mat, the net, sponges, the decorations and other accessories.
  • Regular Water Changes
    To cut down on waste, stinky water and turtle droppings conduct frequent water changes for healthy and vibrant pets. Also, monitor ammonia and nitrates as they constitute a significant threat to the life of marine animals.

In this review, we shall look at the most versatile 10-gallon to 20-gallon turtle tanks for juvenile turtles.

10 Best Turtle Tanks

Frequently Asked Questions About a Turtle Tank

What Is the Best Tank for a Turtle?

TheTetra Deluxe 20 Gallon Aquatic Turtle Kit is the best tank for your pet reptile. This terrarium has got basking platforms as well as a floating platform for food. Your pet turtle can swim, submerge and bask inside this kit. It has two lamps that provide all the lighting and warmth that your turtle needs. In addition to mimicking a natural habitat, this kit also has a mock waterfall. It can become the centre point of your room with its beauty. The screen top is removable and can be uncovered for cleaning the tank.

What Size Tank Do I Need for a Turtle?

It totally depends on the size of your turtle. If you have a turtle that measures between 4 to 6 inches then you need a 30-gallon tank. If your turtle measures anywhere between 6 to 8 inches then a 55-gallon tank would be necessary. However, if your turtle measures above 8 inches then you need to go for a tank measuring anywhere between 75 to 125 gallons. If you are starting with a small turtle then make sure that you change the enclosure size as the turtle starts to grow.

What Does a Turtle Need in Its Tank?

turtle needs to have many things in its tank. You can place as many items as you want for decoration, but there are some absolutely necessary things that you need to keep inside the tank. One of them is a UV-B light bulb. A turtle will choose to either sunbathe or live in the water. A UV-B bulb will be able to provide the necessary warmth and complete the requirement of UV-A too. A turtle is going to require a basking place too. Additionally, you need to put in a ramp, a substrate and a water heater to keep the water at the right temperature.

Do Turtles Get Lonely?

Turtles are not social creatures, and they do not get lonely. Hence, it is alright if you buy a single turtle for your aquarium. They prefer to live alone. If you put multiple turtles together then they might fight among each other, making it necessary to have adequate space for all of them. Usually, people are advised not to pick up their turtles too many times. They get stressed when they are handled by a human. Stress in any animal is not good and it affects their health and longevity.

What Is the Natural Habitat of a Turtle?

Turtles are mostly found in shallow coastal waters and near large water bodies. They prefer to live where the water meets the land, as they have a requirement for both water and land. They prefer to bask for long hours when they are on land and retreat into the water only when they have to. Remaining in the water for too long damages their shell; they have to come up to the land to dry themselves and soak in the UV-A and UV-B rays. Estuaries and bays are also common areas to locate them.

How Much Water Does a Turtle Need?

As a rule of thumb, you need to provide at least 10 gallons of water per inch of the height of your turtle. As your turtle grows, so should your aquarium. This need is created out of the requirement of the turtle to move around and swim freely. Also, a turtle drinks the same water that it swims in, so keep the water in the tank clean.

Is Tap Water Safe for Turtles?

In the majority of the cases it is perfectly fine to use the tap water to take care of your turtle. But until and unless you are absolutely sure about the water quality, it would be wise to use some form of water conditioner to make the water habitable for the turtle. If you want to be sure, then check the tap water for its pH value, the chlorine content and the presence of any other chemicals in the water.

Do Turtles Need Light at Night?

No. A turtle does not require light during the night. Just like in a normal person’s life, there needs to be day time and night time for a turtle, too. If you are not using a daytime light bulb at night, then you are doing well. However, if you do want to provide some form of light for a turtle then it would be better to use a night lamp. You would not disturb the sleeping pattern of the turtle.

Do Turtles Need Rocks in Their Tank?

The majority of the basking turtles do not need to have rocks or gravel in their aquarium. Unless you plan on using the rock as a basking platform, you do not have to worry about it. In fact, having rocks or gravel in the aquarium makes it harder to clean. Most of the basking turtles will live well in a flat bottom aquarium. If you can keep the water clean despite the presence of gravel then you can put it in.

How Often Should I Clean My Turtle Tank?

You should use a net daily to remove the larger particles that are floating around in the tank. Every couple of days or once a week, you should check the water’s pH level in the tank to ensure it is still habitable. The pH level should be at 7 or 8. Also, every week replace some of the water in the tank to maintain its level. The frequency of cleaning is also dependent on the type of filter you use. If it is a good one then you can manage to clean the tank once every 10 days.

Wrap up

If you’re new to taking care of turtles, then we’d recommend that you choose one of the listed high quality 10 to 20-gallon turtle kits. Each of these picks comes with high-quality neat features and durable materials designed to last you for a long time or until you upgrade.

Many reptile and amphibian owners prefer the starter tanks as they come as a complete kit, so you won’t have to spend extra money purchasing those accessories.


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