Best turtle tank setup

Fish & Reptile Supplies

Provide your pet turtle with everything it needs to thrive with a setup that includes a heater, UVB lighting and more.

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Which turtle tank setup is best?

Turtles are active, interesting reptiles that require unique care to ensure that they remain healthy. While adult turtles need large tanks, hatchling turtles can be temporarily kept in turtle tank setups designed specifically to hold them in so you can observe them.

The Tetra Aquatic Turtle Deluxe Kit 20 Gallons is the best choice for new turtle owners who want to ensure that their pet is kept in a suitable enclosure. Thanks to its generous size and included accessories, this setup will provide your turtle with room to grow.

What to know before you buy a turtle tank setup

Most prefabricated turtle tank setups are not suitable for permanent housing 

While many prefabricated turtle tank kits are available, these inexpensive, plastic setups should only be used as temporary enclosures for turtle hatchlings. They do not provide the optimum environmental conditions for the animals to thrive in, and therefore will quickly be outgrown. Any turtle enclosure that is not a large, fully-equipped aquarium with plenty of room for the animal to swim and explore should not be considered a permanent solution.

Extra accessories

Turtle tank setups are often sold without the specially designed lamps and heaters that reptiles need for their survival in captivity. Most turtle tank setups will require the additional purchase of UVB ultraviolet bulbs and fixtures, as well as a water heater. Turtles also require water filtration. Select a turtle tank setup that includes as many of these accessories as possible.


Generally, a pet turtle should be given ten gallons of tank space for each inch of the length of its shell. Because of this, most turtle tank setups on the market are only suitable for baby turtles.


Turtles are messy animals and require consistent attention to the cleanliness of their enclosures. Make sure that there’s a good place to feed the turtles quality food.

What to look for in a quality turtle tank setup

Access to water and dry land

Aquatic turtles will spend the vast majority of their lives in water. However, they also need an area of dry land that they will use to bask. Be sure to select a tank setup that either comes with a basking platform or allows you to provide your own.

Construction and durability

Turtles can be destructive, so select an enclosure that can withstand abuse. Turtle tanks designed for baby turtles do not need to be as durable as those meant to house adult animals.

How much you can expect to spend on turtle tank setup

Small, prefabricated turtle tank setups can cost as little as $50 but require additional expenses when it comes to the necessary lighting and other equipment. Large aquariums, able to permanently house adult turtles, are rarely sold as kits and can cost upward of $200 when all necessary accessories are accounted for.

Turtle tank setup FAQ

Why does a turtle need special lighting?

A. In the wild, turtles spend a great deal of time basking in direct sunlight and absorbing its UVB rays. Turtles, like all reptiles, require these rays to produce vitamin D and promote skeletal health. These rays are not present indoors, and therefore must be provided via specialized reptile bulbs. Turtles that are deprived of UVB radiation will lose interest in eating, suffer from malnutrition and develop fatal metabolic bone disease.

How warm does the turtle tank need to be kept?

A. Turtles are cold-blooded, which means they need to move between warm and cool areas to regulate their internal body temperature. While it varies from one species to the next, most turtles are comfortable in water kept at 75 degrees Fahrenheit. A basking “hot spot” should be provided via a heat lamp that will allow your pet the opportunity to further warm its body when it feels the need to do so.

How often should you change the water in your turtle tank?

A. Aquatic turtles do all of their eating in the water. As a result, they very quickly soil their environment, necessitating weekly water changes. If your turtle’s water becomes cloudy or especially dirty, more frequent changes may be required. Turtles also need constant water filtration to control messes and odor.

What’s the best turtle tank setup to buy?

Top turtle tank setup

Tetra Aquatic Turtle Deluxe Kit 20 Gallons

Tetra Aquatic Turtle Deluxe Kit 20 Gallons

What you need to know: This aquarium setup includes useful accessories and enough room to comfortably house a small or young turtle.

What you’ll love: With its included UVB light fixture, heat lamp, filter, screen top and more, this setup from Tetra is the best value for turtle owners who are serious about providing their pet with what it needs to thrive.

What you should consider: This tank is still a bit small for most adult turtles and still requires the purchase of a heater to keep its water warm enough.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Top turtle tank setup for the money

Turtle Tank Reptile Starter Kit

Turtle Tank Reptile Starter Kit

What you need to know: This setup is great for observing a pet baby turtle.

What you’ll love: Lightweight and easy to clean, this tank makes for a great temporary home for a hatchling turtle. It includes a filter and a small lamp.

What you should consider: This enclosure does not provide a way to heat the water, nor is the included lamp ideal for use with a reptile. This setup is best used as a temporary enclosure for observing and interacting with only the smallest turtles.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Neptonian beginner turtle tank

Neptonian beginner turtle tank

What you need to know: This unique enclosure provides a safe, secure home for a baby turtle or tortoise.

What you’ll love: Designed to look similar to the enclosures used by professional reptile breeders and enthusiasts, this tank features a design that sets it apart from other turtle tanks. Includes a thermometer and a small UVB lamp.

What you should consider: Plastic construction makes this tank lightweight, but prone to scratches and cracks. It’s only suitable for the smallest of baby turtles. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Derek Walborn writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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