Best Red Eared Slider Turtle Tank Setup

If you are looking at getting a new pet, and you have your heart set on a Red Eared Slider Turtle, then there are lots of things that you are going to need to know in terms of how to house them safely.

You are going to need to provide your turtle with a safe and stable living environment that is able to cater to all of their needs, which is why we are going to give you all of the information that you could possibly need on how to do so.

Caring for a pet is one thing, but making sure that their habitat is exactly as it should be is another thing entirely.

red eared slider turtle closeup image

There are certain things that you will need to include in their living area to make sure that they are happy and comfortable, and you will need to provide your turtle with everything that they might need in their tank.

Turtles can make great pets as long as you know how to properly take care of them, and we are going to tell you exactly how you can do this.

About Red Eared Slider Turtles

To help you learn how to properly care for your pet turtle, it can be helpful to know a bit more about them and where they come from.

This will give you some insight into this species of turtle and its natural habitat.

Where Do Red Eared Slider Turtles Come From?

Red Eared Slider turtles are a species of turtle that can commonly be found in sunny areas like Lake Washington, the Mississippi River, and the Gulf of Mexico.

They typically like warmer areas, and they will live in ponds, lakes, marshes, and even slow-moving rivers that are home to soft and muddy bottoms.

Pond Sliders are actually native to the southern Great Lakes region, and they are really common in the pet trade, which means that they are turning up in many places around the globe.

They are now considered to be an invasive species due to the fact that people get tired of them and release them into the wild, so they really can be found anywhere. They do not hibernate, but as they do enjoy warmer climates, they will slow down in the wintertime.

How Long Do Red Slider Turtles Live?

Naturally, if you are going to get a Red Eared Slider turtle as a pet, you are probably wondering how long it will live. They actually live for a very long time if they are properly cared for, and getting this pet is a very long commitment.

If your turtle is not being properly cared for, it is likely that it will die within its first two years of life. Those that do exceed these two years will generally live much longer in captivity than they would in the wild.

The average lifespan of your turtle is around 20 to 40 years, but the maximum lifespan is an impressive 70 years.

How to Choose the Best Tank for a Red Eared Slider Turtle

Interestingly, this species of turtle can be kept in a tank or in a pond, but we aren’t going to be looking at pond habitats in this article. For turtles that are going to be kept in a tank, there are certain requirements that you will need to adhere to.

If you are intending to have multiple of these turtles, then you might want to consider a pond, but if you only want to get one, then we will explain everything that you need to know about their tank here.

The way in which you set up your tank for your turtle is going to impact their general lives and levels of activity, which is why it is so important that you do it correctly.

Red Eared Slider turtles are a semi-aquatic species, which means that they will spend an equal amount of time out of the water as they do inside it.

How Big Should the Tank Be?

You will need to provide them with a tank that is large enough for them to swim around in and get their daily exercise, and they will also need lots of room to spend on dry land when they need to.

For a baby turtle, you will need a tank that is at least 20 gallons, but as they grow, you will need to increase the size. This is why many opt for the bigger tanks so that they don’t have to keep upgrading as the turtle grows bigger.

You will need to fill the tank with enough water so that it is at least twice as deep as they are long. However, the ideal amount of water would be enough water so that your turtle would be able to swim for around five times its body length in one direction. This might seem like a lot, but it will be necessary so that your turtle can have a good quality of life.

The actual size of the tank will be dependent on the size of the turtle, but 75 gallons of water should be more than enough for an average-sized turtle of this species. Typically these turtles will grow to around 6 to 8 inches, but it can sometimes be more than this.

As a general rule when it comes to sizing up your tank, you should provide your turtle with 10 gallons of water for every inch that they are in size. This means that for turtles that are particularly large, you might find that you need to increase the size of the tank.

Tips for Choosing a Tank for Your Turtle

The first thing that you should make sure of is that the tank you are using is sturdy and well-built. The tank needs to be durable and long-lasting, and not cheap and flimsy.

The most important thing is that there is enough space inside the tank for your turtle to be able to live a healthy and happy life.

Make sure that you do not put the tank in direct sunlight, and that the tank is in a shaded area of the room. Make sure that you are using a tank that is suitable for holding water, as you can’t just use any old big container.

If it can’t handle the pressure of the water, it can break. Don’t forget that your turtle is going to grow much bigger than they are when they are a baby. Keep this in mind when choosing their tank. This will save you from having to buy bigger tanks later down the line.

Make sure that there is a part of the tank that is designed to stay dry, so your turtle has an area where it can relax outside of the water and dry off. This dry area would be best suited under a heating lamp.

a red eared slider being held up in the air

Including Areas of Land in Your Tank

One half of your tank should have an area of land where your turtle can retreat to when they don’t want to be in the water.

You can use things like rocks and gravel to create this area yourself, or for best results, you can buy turtle docks and other tank accessories that you can use to create a basking area.

Make sure that your turtle will be able to access this area without any help, and that these areas provide your turtle with the opportunity to get dry.

The Lighting in Your Tank

When they are in the wild, this species of turtle would enjoy basking in the sun on land or on the banks of the body of water where they are native. This is why it is really important to provide a form of basking light for your turtle.

You can purchase these types of lights online or in pet stores, and they will make your tank feel more like a natural habitat rather than just a tank. The best tanks will have these basking lamps above the area of ‘land’ that your turtle can retreat to when they want to get out of the water.

Basking is actually really important for your turtle’s health, as it can prevent certain illnesses, and it also helps to keep them warm. As well as this, basking actually prevents certain types of algae from growing on their shells.

When the basking area is being heated by the lamp, the temperature should be anywhere between 85 and 90 degrees Farenheight. If it gets too hot, you should move the lamp further away, and if it is too cold, you should bring the lamp closer.

The turtle should not be able to touch any of the light fixtures, as this is dangerous, and any lighting that you have on in the tank should be turned off at nighttime. You can also get timers that will turn the lights on and off when necessary.

Choosing a Filter for Your Tank

The filter that you choose for your tank is also really important, and a good filter will make sure that the water in the tank is as clean as possible.

Turtles actually produce a lot of waste, which is why the filter needs to be compatible with more than the size of the tank that you are using. Otherwise, it will not be able to fulfill its purpose properly.

Essentially, you should double the filter capacity for the tank that you have. So, if your tank has 75 gallons of water, your filter should be able to cope with 150 gallons of water in order to be the most effective.

You can choose between a variety of different filters that are available, and you can get both those that go inside the tank, and those that go outside of the tank. It doesn’t matter too much which type of filter you choose, but those that go on the outside of the tank are known to be much more expensive.

You should do some research when it comes to choosing the best filter, and make sure that you are getting the best value for your money.

Water Temperatures

The water temperature needs to be carefully controlled to make sure that the turtle is able to live a healthy life. If the temperature is too high, it is likely that the turtle will not bask as often, and this can lead to a rotting shell, as well as many other health conditions.

The temperature of the water in the tank should be somewhere between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which is warm enough to encourage swimming and cool enough to encourage basking.

If the temperature of the water is below this level, then it is likely that you will need to get a water tank heater, which will be able to make it warmer.

Signs That Something is Wrong

You will be able to tell if you are doing something that is negatively affecting your turtle, as they will show visible signs that something is wrong. You should watch out for these signs to make sure that everything is okay.

If your turtle has a decreased appetite, or they aren’t as active as they usually are, then this could be a sign that they are not living their best life. Make sure that their tank is always clean and safe, and that any decor is safely secured.

You should also make sure that any accessories that you have installed have not moved out of place, like lighting, as this could cause harm to your turtle.

Dorothy Razo

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