How Big of a Tank Does a Turtle Need

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how big of a tank does a turtle need

When turtles are involved, bigger is always better. Not only does a large tank help with cleanliness and hygiene, but it also allows your pet to stay stress-free as they are active swimmers.

The minimum tank size for smaller turtle species is a 30-gallon tank and that is for turtles measuring about 4 to 6 inches.

Larger turtles measuring between 6 to 8 inches would require a 55-gallon tank and turtles larger than 8 inches would require tanks from 75 gallons to 125 gallons.

If you can’t afford a large tank to serve your juvenile turtle till adulthood, you can go for a smaller one but be sure to get a larger tank as your pet grows.

Popular turtle tanks are glass aquariums and plastic tubs. No matter the one you for, remember that size is important.

Aquarium Sizes for Different Types of Turtles

Aquatic Turtles

Different turtle breeds have different growth rates and maximum growth size, so it is important to find how large your turtle would get at adulthood.

This will enable you to plan properly and provide the essential space your pet needs.

Aquatic turtles usually require a tank that is large enough to accommodate both wet and dry areas.

The wet area should be wide to accommodate flipping and turning without obstacles.

Juvenile aquatic turtles should be provided with a tank of no less than 20 or 30 gallons.

Longer tanks are most preferable as these types will allow more space.

Land Turtles

These categories of turtles are way easier to maintain and care for when compared to aquatic turtles.

This is because you can make them comfortable with a desert type of substrate and a water dish for dipping in.

With land turtles, it is more appropriate to use long tanks rather than short and high walled tanks.

This encourages roaming within the tortoise enclosure.

A 2-by-3 foot tank is good enough for a small turtle but doesn’t forget to replace it with a bigger tank as the turtle grows.

The aquarium floor has to be 6 times bigger than the turtle.

Breeding Turtles

If your intentions are to breed your turtle, then you will require more space to take care of the area for laying eggs.

If you fail to provide a conducive environment for your turtle to lay its eggs, it may not release the eggs and this could be a cause of major health issues.


Turtles are not only for your personal amusement and can be used for decorative purposes too.

A nice aquarium with beautiful decoration will definitely enhance the look of your home.

If you plan to decorate your turtle tank to make it more beautiful, note that you are taking up your turtle space and you have to make up for it.

For instance, if you have a 100-gallon tank and the decorations take up 50% of the tank space, what you have for your turtle is only 50 gallons and so you should aim to compensate for this.

How Much Water Should Be In A Turtle Tank?

Having a 30-gallon tank for your turtle doesn’t mean that you should fill the tank with 30 gallons of water.

Aquatic turtles can stay for long in water but just like humans, they breathe and will need to come out of the water.

This doesn’t mean you should make the water too shallow because they enjoy an unrestricted swim and need enough space to flip.

So how much water should you add to your turtle tank then?

The best way to know the right amount of water to fill in your turtle’s tank is to measure the width of its shell.

With this measurement in mind, fill the tank to be about an inch taller than the measured shell width.

This applies to baby turtles and as your turtle grows you can make the water deeper.

Can Turtles Climb Out Of Tanks?

Turtles are active and will escape from their tanks if preventive measures are not put in place, for example having an aquarium hood will prevent this from happening.

Most turtles would require a tank length as much as three or four times their own length, and a tank width twice their own width.

Other specifications for tank size are a height of one and a half to two times the turtle’s length.

The height is the most important in preventing your turtle from escaping and you should allow a space of one foot above the highest point the turtle can reach from inside the tank to prevent it from climbing out.

How Many Turtles Can You Put In A Tank?

Turtles are not really social animals and may not get along in the company of other turtles, so it’s advisable to have just one turtle per tank.

This will reduce the chances of fights and allow each to enjoy its space.

But if you really want to have more than one turtle in a tank, then remember that you have to make adequate provisions for each to avoid competition.

The tank size for multiple turtles is quite different than that for a single turtle.

You should have at least 10 gallons of water per inch carapace length of the first turtle, and half of the total space for every additional turtle.

Simply put, this means that for every inch of the first turtle, you give 10 gallons, and then 5 gallons for every inch of each other turtle.

The tank capacity should be based on the size of an adult turtle.

So if yours is still a baby and you want to make a permanent tank, then it should be based on the estimated size of an adult turtle of the same species.

Do Turtles Stay Small In Small Tanks?

Different turtles have their different maximum growth size at adulthood, and therefore different expected tank sizes to accommodate them.

Tank sizes do not limit the growth of a turtle, only genetics and health conditions do.

So as long as your turtle is in good health, and is one that will get very large as an adult, it will grow to its expected size all things being equal.


One of the most confusing decisions new turtle owners have to make is how big of a tank a turtle needs.

Different turtle species grow up to different sizes at adulthood and using the general turtle size to plan for your turtle’s tank size is wrong.

Your turtle size as an adult may not be the same as the next person’s and if you use that wrong information to set up your aquarium, your turtle may lack space as it grows.

That’s why it’s better than you do research on your own turtle species, and stick to the right method of calculating tank space to ensure a happy and healthy pet.