How Much Is a Turtle Tank

by Carl Crane | Updated: December 27, 2021

The cost of a turtle tank is dependent on the type of turtles you wish to keep.

Aquatic turtles, for instance, would need a tank that is thick to accommodate the pressure from the volume of water in it.

While land turtles would need a large tank for a spacious dry area since they spend most of their time on land.

The state of the tank is another factor that contributes to its cost.

Fairly used tanks are cheaper than brand new ones.

Apart from the cost of the tank itself, equipment for each type of tank varies and adds to the overall expenditure.

Before going into being a turtle parent, you have to be sure that you can afford to care for them.

Their needs can be expensive but they are necessary to ensure good health and happiness of your pet.

Even if you must compromise on things like the tank size for young turtles, be sure to replace the tank with a more suitable one as they grow larger.

Aquatic Turtle vs Land Turtle Tanks

Aquatic turtles spend most of their time in water and so require a lot of extra stuff to make them comfortable.

This is the reason why they are more expensive to maintain.

An aquatic turtle would require a large enough tank and a stand strong enough to hold it.

The tank should be one that can hold enough water and not the type for terrestrial reptiles.

As a rule, the tank size should be 10 gallons per carapace inch.

The tank would need a continuous supply of water so there must be a means of emptying and refilling the tank conveniently.

They also require light together with UV radiation and warmth it brings.

They need a platform on which to bask and dry off and being ectotherms, they need a heater in the tank to keep the water warm.

Without a system that continuously works to keep the water clean, the tank would get very dirty as turtles are messy.

So you’ll need a filter in the tank to clear off debris, and also break down waste in the form of ammonia and the resultant nitrite.

Constantly checking the water’s chemical and temperature levels are very important to keep you informed, so you need test strips and thermometers too.

A substrate to line the bottom of the tank and give them something to dig, an air pump to aerate the water and different forms of decorations are also required to make your aquatic turtle tank comfier.

Just like aquatic turtles, land turtles also need enough room in their tank.

They prefer to be left in the sunlight but can also be kept indoor if it’s the only option.

Their tanks do not need to be sophisticated as is the case with aquatic turtles so in the beginning, a standard size fish tank can be used.

Be sure however to change to something bigger as your turtle grows.

They also require a source of heat being ectotherms, and they need UV light too.

A special platform with heating bulbs should be provided so they can bask in it.

A substrate is also necessary but most importantly is the need for you to provide a large but shallow water dish.

Land turtles would occasionally need to rehydrate by dipping and drinking from the dish.

Glass vs Plastic Tubs

Glass Aquarium

Glass aquariums are the most common types of enclosures for turtles for several reasons.

They are pleasing to look at and add to the beauty of the room where they are placed.

Their beauty together with their transparency makes them the best choice especially for aquatic turtles meant for a showcase.

Good glass aquariums are also very sturdy and unlike plastic do not tend to bow out.

They are easy to get and large sizes over 100 gallons are available for your large reptile friend.

Even though they have so many good sides, they come with downsides too.

Cost is one factor to be considered as when compared to plastic tubs, they are more expensive.

Large aquariums are also more likely to get broken due to water pressure if the glass isn’t thick enough, or if the seal between two pieces of glass is leaky.

Aquariums are difficult to clean as they are heavy and large, and their weight can put a lot of stress on your floor especially if you live in an old house.

Plastic Tubs

Plastic tubs, on the other hand, are light and easy to move and clean.

They are cheap and will allow you to take care of your pet without creating a hole in your pocket.

Their durability in that they don’t break easily is one feature worthy of admiration because turtles can live for long and so require something strong.

Top on their cons is the fact that they are not aesthetically pleasing and can’t be used as a form of decoration or show off.

Your view of your turtle is restricted to only from the top and not the side as it’s not as transparent as glass.

Plastic tubs don’t take the pressure of water well and tend to bow out when the water level is high enough.

Another disappointing feature of plastic tubs is that they do not come in sizes over 100 gallons implying that they can’t be used with large turtles.

Turtle Tank Size

When it comes to turtles, bigger is always better.

Aquatic turtles are active and love to swim and flip, while land turtles also need enough space to walk about.

The general rule for turtles is that you need to provide 10 gallons for every inch of the carapace.

If you can’t afford to get the big tank at once and yours is still a baby turtle, then you can use a minimum tank size of 20 gallons but be sure to increase this as your pet grows.

For multiple turtles, provide a tank size of 10 gallons per carapace inch, and provide half of 10 gallons per carapace inch each for any other turtle present.

Turtle Tank Material

Tank materials contribute to the cost of a functional turtle tank and as much as it may inconvenience you, the equipment and decorations are an absolute necessity for the wellbeing of your pet.

To improve the life of your turtle, tank additions like a filter, heater, thermometer, lighting, a basking platform, a substrate, and also decorations are necessary. to make your pet feel at home.

Turtles are messy by nature and tend to pollute the water almost immediately when you clean it up.

So you need a means to ensure that the water doesn’t get too dirty quickly and that’s where filters come in.

Filters go beyond just keeping the tank clean of debris, they also work to reduce the ammonia and nitrite levels in the water.

A recommended filter is one that is labeled for twice your aquarium size so that it can take care of all the mess adequately.

Being cold-blooded creatures, they require an external heat source to stay warm and active.

This is why you need to include heaters in the water, and a basking platform with heat lamps on which they can dry off and absorb heat.

Lack of heat could lead to inactivity, reduced metabolism, and even death.

The heat requirements are not just random and so you need to monitor it with a thermometer.

This tells you when the tank is too hot, or when the heat is not enough.

In the wild, turtles, as well as other reptiles, get UVA and UVB radiation from the sun.

UVB light helps with vitamin D3 production for calcium metabolism necessary for strong shells and bones.

UVA helps with mood regulation, mating activity, and their metabolic and general body activities.

They can get this radiation from appropriate bulbs and so are a necessary inclusion to the tank.

The lights also regulate their circadian cycle. Without a proper division of day and night, your pet would be stressed.

Decorations are part of turtle tank material and are  especially added to aquatic turtle tanks meant for a showcase.

Depending on the decorations you have in mind, factor in the space that would be taken by the décor and make up for it.


The cost of a turtle tank depends on the type of tank you use, and on the type of turtle you own.

Aquatic turtles are more expensive to care for because of the cost of glass aquariums, and the contents of the tank.

But they are beautiful and can be used to enhance the look of your home. Whereas land turtles are cheap to maintain as they do not need much.

If you have a tight budget, there is some level of compromise that can be made especially when the turtles are still babies, like the use of smaller tank size, but be careful not to make your pet uncomfortable in the long run.

A happy turtle is a healthy turtle.

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!