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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Ask An Expert > Answered Questions > I Have A 3 Year Old Red Slider Turtle Housed In A Tank With

How to Clean a Turtle Terrarium


I have a 3 year old red slider turtle, housed in a tank with 3 gallons. I currently use the small tetra whisper, but even with that, I have to manually clean the water out and put fresh water in weekly. What can I do so I never have to manually do this? As in, what filter system do I need? I can even spring for a bigger tank if thats what it takes, it is just that the manual dumping and putting of water weekly is getting strenuous. Let me know, thanks!

Unfortunately, a 3 gallon aquarium is way too small for a red ear slider turtle.
They can reach a maximum size of 10" shell length, and require an aquarium about 30 inches long or larger (standard 29-gallon aquarium or larger).

Using a canister filter outside of the aquarium is the best method for keeping the water clean. The filter media will usually require monthly rinsing, which is not hard to do. Because bacteria can be present in the turtle water and in the filter, it is recommended NOT to clean any of the equipment in the kitchen sink. Always wash your hands after handling the turtle or cleaning its habitat.

You can use a siphon hose (such as a Python fish system) to clean the debris off the bottom of the tank and to make a partial water change in the aquarium. This way you can drain the aquarium water into a bucket and discard it into the toilet or outside, and refill the aquarium without having to move the actual aquarium. We recommend partial water changes every few weeks.

Be sure your water turtle also has a platform so he can get out of the water and bask. A UV/heat lamp is necessary over his basking site so he can get warm and also produce vitamin D. Without it he will have difficulty growing and will do poorly.

For more information, see the care guide for Water Turtles on the PetSmart.com website, or speak to a Pet Care associate at our store.