How Much Water Should Be In A Turtle Tank?

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How Much Water Should Be in a Turtle Tank

The water level is just as important as everything else when setting up your turtle tank. Different turtles have different water level needs, so it is important to research what your specific turtle needs.

When you bring a new turtle pet and set their turtle tank up, the first question that might pop in your mind is “how much water should be in the turtle tank?”. Depending on the size of your turtle and its species, the amount of water you put in the tank can vary greatly.

Turtles are aquatic animals and therefore need a lot of water to live in. The general rule is that the water should be at least twice as deep as the length of the turtle’s shell.

So if you have a 4-inch turtle the water level should be at least 8 inches or if you have a tiny 1-inch turtle the water should be a minimum of 2 inches in water depth.

These requirements are to make sure that in case your turtle somehow flips itself over on decoration or something, it will be able to right itself and get oxygen and not drown.

How Much Water Does a Turtle Tank Need?

Musk turtle
Musk turtle

The best way to determine water depth for your turtle species is by looking at their natural environment and physical characteristics.

Slider and painted turtles thrive in a variety of freshwater habitats, such as ponds, lakes, and marshes.

They will generally utilize the whole range of water depths available to them in those locations. Sliders can be found in the middle of the lake, lounging on a log or rock along the shore.

This indicates that they are strong swimmers, and if you look closely at the red-eared slider or painted turtles, you’ll notice that they are a more free-swimming species owing to their structure and makeup.

Turtles can control their buoyancy by either expelling air or inhaling it, and they can change how thick they are in the water to regulate how easily they swim at the top, middle, and bottom of the tank.

A fluid can exert an upward force on a partially or fully immersed object. This is called buoyancy or upthrust. The pressure in a column of fluid increases with depth, because of the weight of the overlying fluid.

In contrast to these types of turtles, musk and mud turtles have a dome-like form and can be observed in their behavior that they will spend more time walking and exploring along the bottom of the tank.

There is research on Sternotherus turtles (musk turtles). This research found that they have a specific gravity that is heavier than red-eared slider turtles. This means that musk turtles as a species sink quicker to the bottom when in water.

As a result of this gravity that takes the place, it means they require more energy to swim to the surface of the water because they’re battling against greater gravity than other turtles.

Aside from the turtles’ form and structure, there are several variables to consider when determining how much water should be added to their tank. The size and age of the turtle are also significant factors that need to be addressed.

If you think about it, humans learn to walk when they are infants in a similar way that baby turtles do. Young and tiny typically implies clumsiness. So, if you’re beginning with a newborn turtle, you’ll want your water depth to be lower than an adult’s.

If you have an older turtle that has developed muscles over time, you might need to add more water to its tank. The added water will help to support their stronger muscles.

What is the actual magic number when we know all of this information? And this is something that we can’t really tell you because it doesn’t work like that in a turtle’s natural habitat.

A pond maybe 10 feet deep or 2 feet deep, which means a turtle can easily adjust to these conditions.

The most crucial thing to consider is that they aren’t having trouble reaching the surface of the water and that they are comfortable in it.

If you notice your turtle struggling while swimming, either keep the water level lower or add more décor within the tank to provide resting areas for the turtle as it endeavors to reach the top.

People will generally fill their turtle tank with water to the very top, but this is due to ease of maintenance rather than necessity.

RELATED READ: The Best Turtle Substrate

What To Put in Turtle Tank Besides Water?

Turtles in the wild live a relatively stress-free life. They don’t have to worry about feeding, cleaning, or maintaining their environment.

In your turtle tank, you can partially recreate their natural environment to help make them more comfortable by adding things like plants, stones, and branches.

Turtles love to bask in the sun, and they need a spot in the tank where they can do this.

You can purchase a basking platform with a heating bulb that will help to warm up the area of the tank where they like to bask.

Turtles also like to hide, so it’s important to provide some areas in the tank where they can do this. Adding things like caves and plants will help to give them some privacy.

While you can add other things to your turtle tank, it’s important not to overload it.

Too many things in the tank can make it difficult for the turtles to swim and can also increase the amount of work you have to do in order to maintain the tank. When in doubt, less is more.

As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider when it comes to the water level in your turtle tank.

It’s important to keep an eye on your turtles and make changes to the water level as necessary to ensure their comfort and well-being.

RELATED READ: How to Set Up a Turtle Tank

Turtle and Fish Aquarium Setup

Red-eared slider turtle
Red-eared slider turtle

When it comes to turtles, the water level can be changed based on their requirements, but when you add fish to the play, you’ll need to add more water.

One gallon of water is needed for each inch of fish. This means that a 20-gallon tank would require at least 20 gallons of water.

You’ll also need to make sure that the water is deep enough for the fish to swim in.

The reason you add more water when you have fish is that the water level isn’t just for the turtles, it’s also for the fish.

The fish need oxygen to breathe, and they get this from the water. If the water isn’t deep enough, the fish won’t have enough oxygen, and they will die.

Just like with the turtles, it’s important to make sure that the water is clean and that there is enough oxygen for the fish to breathe. You can do this by adding an air pump to the tank.

The air pump will help to circulate the water and add oxygen to it, even though turtles don’t need it.

It’s also important to make sure that the water temperature is suitable for both the turtles and the fish.

Turtles like water that is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, while most fish prefer water that is a little cooler, around 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

You’ll need to use a water heater to make sure that the water temperature is correct for both the turtles and the fish.

RELATED READ: Can You Have Turtles And Fish In The Same Tank?


The most important things to keep in mind is to:

  • Make sure that the turtle is not struggling while swimming
  • Have the bare minimum of water in the tank in case the turtle flips itself over
  • Use less water when you are handling baby turtles
  • Be careful if you fill the turtle tank with water to the top because he might have a better chance to escape the enclosure