These adorable creatures are reminiscent of a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth. However, turtles are in no way scary, ferocious, or dangerous. Instead, these reptiles can become your best friend. But if you want to keep one of them at home, you’ll have to set up a tank to keep it in. So here is a guide to setting up a turtle tank at home.

When to set up the turtle tank

Your turtle tank should be set up completely before you get your turtle. However, do it after you’ve decided on which turtle you’re getting, so you can set up the tank according to the turtle’s needs and requirements.

Aquarium or tank

The tank that you are getting is vital because it is what’ll hold every single that you add in. It needs to be strong enough to hold everything you plan on adding along with water, and so a good idea is to use a fish tank. These tanks were designed to hold large volumes of water and so will not be a hindrance, unlike reptile tanks.

If you have the space in your home or backyard, you can also set up a pond, which can hold up to 80 gallons of water. If you want things to be easier, go for the pre-formed pond which acts as a liner and can hold more than just one turtle. In addition, you can also use plastic tubs and containers but you’ll have the disadvantage of not being able to see the turtles in the same way that you can in an aquarium.

Aquarium size

Another important factor to consider is the size of the turtle. If you are getting a mature turtle, make sure you have at least 10 gallons per every inch of the turtle. If your turtle isn’t mature, use averages of the species to decide on a size that’ll be ideal once it matures. For more than one turtle, use the original sizing, then add 5 gallons per every inch of the next turtle.

The width of the tank should be twice as big as the turtle, whereas the length should be at least three times the length of the turtle. In addition to this, make sure that the tank is deeper than it is wide – this is great for any instances where the turtle ends up on its back. You should also leave out at least a foot of space at the top to avoid escape.

Lamps and lighting

A part of the tank that you need to provide to the turtle is the basking area. This is a part of the tank where there is no tank. Aquatic turtles need to do this in order to stay healthy, and it can be vital for staying alive. Basking regions are made by providing full spectrum lighting.

Lighting is important for the tank. This light can be provided on the side of the tank or it can be placed on top of the tank. The light will fall on the side of the tank that you plan to leave for basking. The spectrum of light will allow the turtles to grow well and increase their appetite. You need to also set up a UV light which is vital for your turtle’s growth.

Heating and filters

Although lighting will provide warmth, you will need additional heating tools in order to keep the temperature in a good range. You can use commercial heaters but only go for the ones that have covered with stainless steel or plastic.

The glass ones can be broken. In addition to this, set up thermometers to check the temperature in the water and where the turtle will be basking in the light. However, not all turtles need heating throughout the year. Research what temperatures your turtles thrive in and do not fluctuate from them if not needed.

Filters are also an important part of the tank’s set up. Unless you want to deal with the hassle of cleaning out a tank every single day, filters are your best friend. They can deal with the mess that your turtle makes, and can even promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Testing water health

The health of the water can be tested every now and then and should be tested to make sure that there are no harmful compounds in it. You can test the compounds in the water, along with its pH levels, to make sure the turtle is safe.

Air pumps

Although this might not be a necessity, air pumps will definitely make your turtle’s health better, and they will also restrict the growth of harmful microbes. Air pumps basically push the air into the water. This creates conditions where the turtles have access to oxygen and can grow even better than without it.

Plus, anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that can’t survive when oxygen is present) die out, which is definitely a good thing for your tank. Air pumps are also important when you have other fish in your tank, who will need the dissolved oxygen to survive.

Live plants

Live plants

If you want to make your tank look even more beautiful, you can set up live plants. To do so, you have to provide substrates, such as gravel or even fluorite. These substrates are the place where your plants will take root. This can also be helpful for the turtles that enjoy digging. Live plants can be added to your tank, but you should make sure that the plant isn’t toxic, as turtles tend to nibble on the plants.

The help to make the tank beautiful, it makes the turtles feel safe and at home, and remove the waste materials that can build up in a tank. The plants that you should avoid for sure, are hemlock, ivy, and milkweed, along with land plants such as onions, plants, hyacinth, and more. You also need to consider the plants that can grow well at lower light conditions.

The light you provide your tank will probably not be very bright, so research carefully about what can grow in the tank. With the plants, you will need to make sure that you have adequate light, and have water filters ready.

Some good recommendations are:

  • Anubias species
  • Java Fern
  • Waterweed

Aquarium decorations

Although the turtle won’t exactly ask for decorations, giving it something nice can make the aquarium nice to look at, and it’ll give a homely feeling to the turtle. In the basking area, you can leave out the rocks and logs, as well as land plants. Make sure that the decorations in your tank are safe for the turtle, and not sharp at all.

If you are using decorations from the wild, such as stones, always sterilize them from before adding them to the tank. Also make sure that the decoration is big enough that the turtle cannot ingest it, and that it poses no risk of swallowing or ingestion. The turtle should also not get stuck within the decorations.

With all these tips on setting up a turtle tank, you can be sure to give your new pet the perfect home that it deserves. Coupled with love and care, this tank will bring you and your turtle a lot of happiness and care.

turtle tank

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