The Best Tank for Red Eared Slider (2021) | Buying Guide and Reviews

by Carl Crane | Updated: September 29, 2021

The red-eared slider is probably one of the most popular animals for people to buy, but they are usually not being properly taken care of and kept. 

And by that, I mean that people are buying them and they get rid of them because they eventually realize that turtles are not the most cuddling pet to have. 

People are ending up releasing them in local ponds or lakes which automatically makes them an invasive species in most states in the United States

Some try to rehome them but most of the turtles ultimately start getting sick and eventually die because people don’t know what a red-eared slider needs. 

The red-eared slider turtle can look like an easy pet to take care of, and most pet shop sellers will probably suggest you to just place the turtle into a 10-gallon aquarium with a light source, give him some pellets, and their good to go. 

But that’s not even close to being true, there is a lot more to think about than just some basic care, so providing the best tank for red eared slider will be a good start.

Choosing The Red Eared Slider Tank Size 

First of all, you need to know how big a red-eared slider can actually get and at what pace is growing in size.

A good rule of thumb when choosing the turtle tank size is to have about 10 gallons per inch of shell turtle, so for a red-eared slider that’s about 3 inches long, you should ideally put him in an at least 30-gallon turtle tank.

To take the right measurement for your red eared slider, you stretch a line between the front of the shell and the back, ignoring the curve of the carapace.

Hatchlings are roughly 1 inch (2.5 cm) in length and after the first year, he should be around 2-3.5” inches long.

Correct Shell Measurement

Adult males range between 7-9 inches (17.8 cm – 22.8 cm) and the adult females fall within 10-12 inches (25 cm – 30.5 cm).

The most useful slider tank that you can buy is the largest one that you can afford, even if your turtle is still a small. It doesn’t take to long for red-eared sliders to develop to their full-size of around 8-12 inches.

Red-Eared Slider Tank Size Calculator

If you are unsure about what size you’re red eared slider tank should be, you can use this turtle tank calculator to determine the right size for your red eared slider pet.

Turtle Shell Length
1 in.
Turtle Tank Size
10 Gallons

Red-Eared Slider Size

A full-grown adult red-eared slider turtle can reach up to 12 inches in turtle shell length, with females usually being the largest. 

There are rare situations of adult red-eared sliders getting larger than 12 inches.

Red-Eared Slider Growth Rate

In general, the growth rate of a red ear slider is affected by a lot of conditions like genetics, nutrition, and habitat conditions.

But usually, they will grow at about 3 inches during their first year, and then around 1 inch per year in captivity.

Red-Eared Slider Sex / Gender

Similar to how red ear sliders will grow faster in captivity, they will also mature sexually faster. 

This is important because red eared slider females are larger than the males. 

The male sliders are significantly smaller than the females, growing to be only at about 8-10 inches in turtle shell length, and they have thicker tails and long front claws used in mating. 

The adult female sliders can become as large as a food plate, about 14-16 inches from tip to tip of the carapace, and they typically have a short tail and small front claws used for digging retreats for laying eggs and sheltering its young.

These characteristics can only be determined only after your turtle reaches the ages between 2-4 years for males (less than 4 inches) and the females at around 3-5 years (less than 5 inches).

The Best Red Eared Slider Tank

best red eared slider tank

The Rubbermaid Commercial Products Stock Tank a good option if you are looking more for function over form.

If aesthetics aren’t particularly relevant to you, and you simply want something suitable for the turtles, and easy for you to keep clean you will be more than satisfied with this tank.

The tank doesn’t leak, but the plug and the through-tank fitting do.

They aren’t adequately tightened at the factory, so before or as you are filling it (if a drip won’t bother you) then be prepared to tighten both the plug and the larger fitting.

Our Top Pick

Rubbermaid Commercial Structural Foam Stock Tank

100 Gallon | 53 x 31 x 25 inches | 35 pounds

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Pros

Cons


Turtle Tank Types

Owning a pet turtle takes a lot of effort so you need to be up for this, both physically and financially. There’s a reason so many turtles wind up in rescues.

They are not cheap to care for and are not low-maintenance at all adding the fact that they can live for several decades.

Red-eared sliders can get very large so getting the biggest tank you can manage, is not only important for the turtle but will also spare you the time and money if you were to buy a small enclosure.

You don’t need to have that much water, but the enclosure needs to be 10 gallons per turtle inch.

Glass Turtle Tanks

What you will usually find on the market when it comes to turtle enclosure are these glass tanks that are specifically marketed towards them.

Some come with turtle kits that can contain a lot of useful stuff for him especially if someones a beginner and doesn’t really know what components to get for the tank.

They can be found mostly in every pet shop and some turtle keepers will even put them in a fish tank or aquariums as they come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

They are more beautiful and charming to look at, you can easily see what your turtle is doing and are a bit easier to set-up equipment for it.

Our Top Pick

Tetrafauna Aquatic Turtle Deluxe Aquarium Kit

20 gallon | 30 x 12 x 12 inches | 42 pounds

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Rubbermaid Turtle Tanks

If you are not into having a beautiful aquarium in your living room to showcase it to other people than a tank tub is the best enclosure that you could get.

Not only that these are way cheaper than your standard glass tank enclosure, but they can also be easily moved around and are very resistant.

Many people keep their sliders outdoor during the summer, and so having something that you could easily relocate its huge stress relief.

We honestly recommend using plastic tubs like livestock watering tubs or specialty tubs such as Waterland turtle tubs. 

You can include a water-tight drain hole at the bottom tank, and place them on a raised table on wheels with a hole drilled in it to match. That will allow you to move the thing outside and give it a good scrub out every now and then. 

Even with the most reliable filtration, you’ll need to do clean it manually. Turtles, unlike fish, just need really clean water. So, clean and disinfect the tank regularly.

Our Top Pick

Tuff Stuff Products Tub

40 gallon | 40 x 27 x 13 inches | 16 pounds

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Red Eared Slider Habitat

Before you start setting up the red ear slider tank we need to know what he likes and what type of habitat he comes from.

The Red Ear Slider geographically originates from the region around the Mississippi River down to the Gulf of Mexico.

red_eared_slider_native_habitat

They can thrive in warm climates, particularly the Southeast portion of the United States. 

The native habitat will normally have a few conditions. They include a freshwater source, areas to bask, proper vegetation and an area to nest. The water source, such as a pond or a narrow river, should be warm and calm.

There should be plentiful aquatic vegetation, which is the main component of an adult turtle slider’s diet.

red_ear_slider_habitat

The environment usually contains rock formations or logs to provide a basking area but anything above the surface that is stable and dry will normally do.

Red Eared Slider Tank Setup

Getting to select the best red-eared slider tank will help tremendously with the overall well being of your pet.

Turtles, especially the aquatic ones, will spend most of their lives in the tank, so giving them enough size for them to move and swim will ensure a long and healthy life throughout its days spent with you. 

​Select an Appropriately Large Tank

Before deciding on the red-eared slider tank you need to know foremost what’s the current size of your pet and if you will own more then one.

If you just started out being a proud red-eared slider owner and you just bought him the best practice here is to buy a large enough tank that will be big enough for him even after reaching its maximum size.

The general rule is 10 gallons per turtle inch and that’s a lot of space that you need to provide for him. They can’t just be stuck in a little turtle tank without being able to move around.

Something that you don’t need to underestimate is the size the red-reared slider can grow, they become quite big and you will need to prepare for it. 

​Ensure Enough Space for Your Turtle

Having enough space for your red-eared slider to swim is all fine and dandy but you need to take into consideration the room for him to bask.

Turtles are reptiles and they can’t produce heat within their bodies so they will need a completely dry area to bask.

Not only this will keep your pet’s health in a good condition but will also make him happier as he has the option to stay whenever he wants on land if he doesn’t feel like swimming.

The basking area can also help you determinate some key things about your turtle. In short, if your red-eared slider is basking too much it’s either that your water temperature in the tank is too cold for him or he is feeling ill. Another cause is that your turtle might be gravid (pregnant).

​Maintain Suitable and Stable Water Temperature

As we humans need stable temperatures in our houses so as the turtles need a suitable temperature in their tanks.

So providing an appropriate temperature for your turtle is required to keep him happy and healthy.

The optimum temperature for them ranges between 74 ° – 85 ° degrees Fahrenheit and anything below that will make your pet unhealthy over time.

We recommend buying a thermometer to properly observe the temperatures of the tank.

Ensure Your Turtle is Receiving Enough UV Light Per Day

To keep your red-eared slider shell in a good condition your tank needs to be equipped with UVB light source as this will help your turtle to produce enough Vitamin D3.

Just having a normal lamp will not be enough for him so be sure you have a UVA and UVB light source.

​Add a Roper Filtration System

Most people will use a filter system for their turtle tank and because turtles are messier than your standard pet, you may need a more heavy-duty type of filter to deal with their wastes.

Even when you do use a filter, you’re still going to have to change the water regularly.

​Prepare the Appropriate Substrate for the Tank

Not only that having a substrate in your turtle tank will mimic the natural habitat of a turtle but it also comes with a lot of benefits for your turtle.

It will make your pet happier since they like to dig and will give him a sense of protection and satisfy his need to explore more. 

Not only this will make your turtle feel at home but it also helps his overall health by helping to trap debris and maintain a proper pH level within the turtle tank, as well as help the water remain as clean as possible.

Our Top Pick

SeaClear Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set

50 gallons | 36 x 15 x 20 inches | 20 pounds

If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Commonly Asked Questions About Red Eared Slider Turtle Tank

What Plants Can I Add In My Red Eared Slider Tank?

They usually eat submerged plants like anacharis, water lettuce, water hyacinth, duckweed, frog-bit and azolla (fairy moss).

Other vegetables that they eat are carrots (both the orange vegetable and the green part), squash, and green beans.

What Water Temperature The Red Eared Tank Should Be At?

The water temperature should be at around 76 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not let the water temperature fall under 75 degrees Fahrenheit. We recommend an aquarium thermometer that is needed to monitor the temperature.

How Do Red Eared Slider Sleep?

Red-eared sliders are great swimmers and at night they sleep underwater, usually sleeping on the bottom or floating on the surface tank.

Do Red Eared Sliders Need Light At Night?

At night, when they are sleeping, extra heat and light are not required as long as the water temperature remains at around 65 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18 -24 degrees Celsius).

You must give your Red-eared Slider with a “night time”. In the wild, the nighttime water temperatures usually fall gradually.

Do Red Eared Sliders Need Light At Night?

At night, when they are sleeping, extra heat and light are not required as long as the water temperature remains at around 65 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18 -24 degrees Celsius).
You must give your Red-eared Slider with a “night time”. In the wild, the nighttime water temperatures usually fall gradually.

Can I Add Fish In A Tank With A Red Eared Slider?

Red ear sliders will try to eat most fish kept with them in the tank. In a big habitat, fish like koi may endure with red ear sliders, though the turtles may bite at their fins.

Can Red Eared Sliders Share A Tank?

As long as the tank is big enough, you can put a red-eared slider with other species who share the same tank requirements. 

Our Last Thoughts

No matter your choice from this list, you will get the best satisfaction when you will see your red-eared slider enjoying his new home, so go with what suits you best and give your pet the best life.

Carl, the reptile-obsessed creator of this website, got his first turtle years ago and he made a ton of mistakes along the way. His goal now with TheCritterCove is simple: help others to not make the same mistakes that he did!