Best turtle tank

Fish & Reptile Supplies

Although popular pets, turtles require a great deal of care and special considerations to thrive in captivity.

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Which turtle tank is best?

Many people believe turtles are slow-moving, sedentary creatures that don’t require a great deal of space or exercise. However, turtles are active creatures that need special care and consideration when it comes to keeping them as happy, healthy pets.

The Tetra 55-Gallon Aquarium Kit is a great bundle for beginner turtle owners. It includes a wealth of useful accessories and its unique lid allows you to easily install the lighting equipment needed to provide your pet with a proper environment.

What to know before you buy a turtle tank

Turtle species and their needs

There are two types of turtles most frequently sold as pets, each with their own unique requirements.

  • Semi-aquatic turtles such as painted turtles and sliders spend a great deal of time swimming and floating in the water, but they still require a dry area upon which to rest and bask. Semi-aquatic turtles need a habitat that allows them to swim and completely and comfortably submerge themselves, meaning that the tank must be able to hold many gallons of water.
  • Land turtles, like box turtles, prefer environments like fields and forest floors. Because they do not spend much time in the water, they can be kept in dry enclosures that have at least one of their sides made of screen for increased ventilation.


Turtles are busy, curious animals that require more room than many new owners realize. Most experienced turtle owners recommend 10 gallons of tank space for every inch of your turtle’s length. A 7-inch turtle, therefore, should be housed in a tank of at least 70 gallons. Keep in mind that young turtles grow quickly, and the males and females of some species will grow to different adult sizes. Consider your species carefully to make the best purchase for your pet.


Aquariums make for convenient turtle enclosures, thanks to their visibility and ability to hold water. These can be made from glass or acrylic. Acrylic, however, is easily scratched. Since turtles spend a lot of time rearranging their tank decorations as they explore, swim and dig, you may want to invest in a more resilient glass enclosure. 

Water filtration

Semi-aquatic turtles require significant water filtration to stay healthy. Be sure that the tank you choose can support the filtration system needed to keep your turtle’s water clean and clear.


Reptiles require UVA and UVB light to survive. In the wild, this light is absorbed from the sun while basking. In captivity, however, you must provide this light to your pet with the use of specialized bulbs. Reptiles that do not receive the light they need will quickly become ill.


Being cold-blooded, reptiles are not able to regulate their body temperature. Select a tank that will allow you to provide your pet with the heat it needs to stay active. Land turtles can be heated via lightbulbs, ceramic heat emitters or a special heater installed under their terrarium. Aquatic turtles  require a heater for their water as well as a bulb under which to bask.

What to look for in a quality turtle tank


Some tanks are sold with accessories that are designed for use with turtles. From water pumps and filters to basking bulbs and more, there is great value to be found in kits that provide you with much of what you need to provide your pet with a proper home.


Whether your pet turtle loves the water or the land, you will need to provide it with the proper heating and UV bulbs. These are most easily placed atop the enclosure, resting on a heavy-duty screen. Be sure to select a tank that will accept a lid that will accommodate these accessories. Plastic lids should be avoided, as these can melt when exposed to hot bulbs or ceramic emitters.


Unlike fish, turtles can be rough on their tanks. Their sharp claws and shells can potentially scratch soft plastic. Turtles are also very powerful for their size, and can easily topple over rocks and decor. Because of this, it is important to select an enclosure that is strong enough to not break or shatter if something hard or heavy impacts its sides.

How much you can expect to spend on a turtle tank

Small tanks for young turtles can cost as little as $200 with some accessories included. Tanks and enclosures large enough for adult turtles cost $400-$600. Many of these will not include heaters, tank decorations or lighting fixtures, which are additional expenses.

Turtle tank FAQ

Are turtles messy?

A. Yes. Turtles, especially semi-aquatic species, are notoriously messy. Your pet’s water will need to be regularly changed and filtered. While land turtles aren’t the messy eaters that their water-loving cousins are, they too provide their owners with an endless supply of cleanup jobs and maintenance. A clean tank is necessary for the health of your pet.

How warm do you need to keep your turtle’s tank?

A. While different species have varying requirements when it comes to their preferred temperature, keeping your pet’s tank and water at 75 degrees Fahrenheit is generally acceptable for most species. It’s important to research your pet to ensure you are keeping it warm enough.

Can your pet turtle survive without UVA and UVB lighting?

A. Generally, no. While reptiles can go for periods of time without these lights, eventually their inability to produce vitamins and metabolize their food will catch up with them and lead to sickness and death. Turtles that are not provided with the proper lighting will develop brittle bones and a soft shell.

What’s the best turtle tank to buy?

Top turtle tank

Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit

Tetra 55-Gallon Aquarium Kit

What you need to know: While designed with fish in mind, this aquarium includes some useful accessories and can comfortably house a small, aquatic turtle.

What you’ll love: This aquarium’s lid allows you to install the proper lighting for your turtle on one side while leaving the other side closed. It includes a heater, water treatment, a thermometer and a filter.

What you should consider: It is recommended you swap the included filter with a stronger model to properly clean up after your turtle.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top turtle tank for the money

Tetra Aquatic Turtle Deluxe Kit

Tetra Aquatic Turtle Deluxe Kit

What you need to know: This aquarium kit has everything you need to house a baby turtle.

What you’ll love: This bundle includes accessories, including lighting and decorations. Its unique filter is disguised as a waterfall. 

What you should consider: At 20 gallons, this tank is not suitable for adult turtles and babies will quickly outgrow it.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

REPTI ZOO Large Reptile Terrarium 85 Gallon

REPTI ZOO Large Reptile Terrarium 85 Gallon

What you need to know: This spacious terrarium is excellent for a box turtle or small tortoise.

What you’ll love: Loaded with features specifically designed for reptiles, this terrarium has a screen lid, opening front panels, raised bottom for under-tank heater installation, a special port for any wires and heavy-duty tempered-glass construction.

What you should consider: This tank requires some assembly and is not suitable for aquatic turtles.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Pet turtle tips

Proper rest

Turtles require a day/night cycle for their well-being. Turn off basking lights at night, but be sure to keep any heating elements on to keep your pet warm while it is sleeping. Special red or blue lamps for night time heating are available.

A healthy diet

Land turtles such as box turtles primarily eat vegetables and fruit, but need protein as well in the form of special food available from pet retailers. Semi-aquatic turtles are more carnivorous. While their diet should primarily be high quality turtle food, they enjoy chasing prey and should have their diets supplemented with live fish, crickets or other insects.

Wash your hands

Reptiles harbor salmonella bacteria that can cause potentially serious illness in humans. After handling your pet or cleaning its tank, thoroughly wash your hands. Be sure that any children that come into contact with your turtle do the same. Cute as they may be, never kiss a pet reptile.


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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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