How Do You Make An Indoor Turtle Pond? [Step By Step Instructions]

indoor turtle pond

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Do you think turtles require a spacious outdoor pond to thrive? Well, no! Turtles will also live a happy and healthy life in an indoor setup. Of course, the habitat must meet their requirements.

To make an indoor turtle pond, first select a suitable location with access to sufficient air and light. Place the pond tub in a frame and build a barrier wall around it. Install filter, heater, and dock with a ramp for convenience. Make lighting arrangements and use substrates where necessary.

Keep reading if you are thinking of building an indoor aquatic turtle pond.

Key Takeaways

  • A turtle pond must include a filter, a heater, a heating lamp, and a UV light.
  • Make arrangements for a basking dock and proper land areas.
  • Secure the pond sides with walls so that turtles do not meet an accident.
  • Add decorations and live plants to replicate a wild vibe.

Build An Indoor Turtle Pond With Easy Steps

Turtles are quite sensitive about their enclosure requirements. If you miss out on a single piece of equipment, the pets will fall sick. Hence, be very careful when building the pond for these aquatic creatures.

Hey! Do not stress if you are not so good at DIYing. I got your back. Just follow the below steps, and your turtles will have a fantastic house.

1. Select The Ideal Spot

You can not just put the turtle pond anywhere in the house. Building a pond in a congested area raises the risk of an accident. If you have children at home, they can get hurt or harm the pet by spilling water everywhere.

Usually, the ground floor is the best spot to keep the turtle tank. You can also get a pond when you live on the 2nd or 3rd story. In any case, make sure that the floor where you will keep the pond is even. Otherwise, the entire setup can fall on the ground.

Next, there must be enough space near the pond. In other words, do not put the tank in a congested area. Do not place any expensive showcases or souvenirs near the pond. An unwanted leakage might ruin your favorite piece.

The room must be airey and receive enough sunlight. But it is wiser not to keep the pond close to the window. Direct sunlight might raise the inside temperature. It will make the habitat uncomfortable for turtles.

Finally, be mentally prepared to transfer the entire setup to a new spot if necessary. Turtles can be very demanding and picky about the location.

2. Gather The Materials

Only proceed further when you can manage the space for a pond. If you live in a small apartment, buy a smaller turtle. The small pets will occupy less area of your home.

The pond size will depend on the space available in your apartment and the pet’s length. Turtles thrive in bigger and more spacious habitats. Make a decision on the pond size considering all the factors.

Remember, turtles require 10 gallons of water space for each inch of their shells. It means a 7-inch turtle will be comfortable in a minimum 70-gallon tank.

Turtle ponds are available at the pet stores. Depending on the size and quality, it will cost you $50 to $100. Go for a tub slightly smaller than the allocated size.

You will need several supplies to prepare the turtle indoor pond. Gather all the items before starting the work. The necessary materials are,

  • A smooth and even surfaced table
  • Tub or surface mound pond (according to your decided size)
  • Pond liner
  • Lighting stand
  • Bulb fixtures
  • Water heater
  • Water filter
  • Thermometer
  • Thermostat
  • Basking dock
  • Dock ramp
  • Basking lamp
  • UV lamp
  • Lumbers for the frame (2 by 4 feet)
  • Aquatic plants
  • Blocks to raise the setup
  • Rocks, logs, and other decoration

N.B. The water should not be in direct contact with wood. The lumbers at pet stores are mostly chemical-treated. These can cause physical harm to the turtles.

3. Preparing The Frame

Measure out the dimensions of the specified area. Next, take the lumbers and cut them accordingly. This job requires at least 16 wooden bars and one large plank.

Neil the bars or use strong adhesives to hold them together. Build two rectangles, one for the bottom portion and another one for the upper part. Place them on the plank and glue the entire frame.

The frame’s length, width, and height should be enough to accommodate the surface mound pond or tub inside. Also, there should be a little space left for land areas.

Next, put the frame on the table and place the tub inside the wooden case.

4. Fencing The Frame

After fitting the tub into the frame, build a barrier around it. The fence is mandatory. Otherwise, the turtles will escape the habitat or fall from the height. Remember, turtle shells are strong, but not unbreakable.

You can use chicken wire fencings or wooden plank barriers around the frame. The walls should be high enough so that turtles can not climb out.

5. Getting The Land Area Ready

Fill the gap between the pond walls and the frames with suitable substrates. Use top soils with coconut pit, sphagnum moss, and dry leaves. You can also go with the commercial substrates suitable for turtles. Cover the area with grass, which will give off a natural vibe.

It will take a minimum of a week to grow the grass. Trim off the growing weeds regularly so that they do not turn into a mess.

6. Prepare The Pond

Wash the surface mound pond at first and cover it with a liner. Next, layer up the bottom with a suitable substrate. The recommended bedding is large pebbles, sand, and crushed corals. Small gravels can be dangerous for turtles as they might choke on these stones.

I usually do not use a substrate unless my turtle is a bottom-dweller. Again, the substrate is a must if you plan to add aquatic plants to the pond. Beddings make the water hazy and the pond dirty quickly.

7. Buy A Tank Heater

You can not allow your turtles to swim in cold water. It will only raise the risk of cold and infectious diseases. For example, respiratory sickness is deadly in turtles.

Hence, install a water heater in the pond. The heater capacity depends on the tub’s size. For example, a 75-watt heating device is required for a 20-gallon pond. Similarly, a 300-watt heater is a must for a 75-gallon tub.

Do not go for cheap heaters. Those can malfunction and even melt down the plastic. Instead, buy a quality heater that fits both glass and plastic tubs.

8. Get The Best Water Filter

Turtles can be very messy. In fact, they eat and shit in the same place. So, you will find everything in the pond water, from food scraps to feces.

In the wild, the flowing water takes away the waste and cleans the water naturally. Maintaining pond water hygiene can be a hassle unless you install a water filter. This device traps the filth and circulates fresh, mineral-rich water. The filter capacity depends on the pond size.

You will find my top 5 canister filter recommendations in this article.

N.B. Installing a filter is not enough to keep the aquarium clean. You have to replace 25% of the pond water every week and wash the entire tub at least once a month. Catch the cleaning guidelines in this post.

9. Setting Up A Basking Dock

No turtle can go without basking. As we know, turtles are cold-blooded creatures. They need to soak in heat to stay warm and functional. Basking allows the turtles to absorb heat and UV rays.

Therefore, you must provide the turtles with a basking dock. You can buy these platforms from the store or build one at home with wood, foam, or plastic. Click here for the top 3 basking docks for turtles, along with some DIY ideas.

The basking platform should be spacious and strong enough to accommodate turtles. Also, there must be a ramp for the pets to get on the dock. Otherwise, turtles can not jump on the platform.

10. Make Lighting Arrangements

Turtles need two types of lights for a healthy life. The first is the heating lamp and the second is the UV light.

While the heating lamp provides the pets warmth, the UV lamp radiates enough UV exposure. The heat keeps the turtles active and playful. Likewise, UVA and UVB promote solid immunity and growth in pets.

Use the bulb stands and fixtures to set up both lights. Make sure the UV light includes 2.5 – 5% UVB. You have to maintain a minimum of 12 inches distance between the dock and the UV light.

The ideal basking temperature is around 85 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Set up the heating lamp at such an angle that it creates a temperature gradient inside the pond. This way, the turtle can move from the hot to cool zone if necessary.

Compact bulbs with both UV and heating facilities are available now. But I discourage buying those.

Keep the lights on for 10 – 12 hours a day. Also, replace the UVB light every 6 months.

One more thing. Do not install a night light in the turtle enclosure. Turtles prefer sleeping in the dark with their eyes closed. Excess brightness will only interrupt their sleep cycle.

Go through this link for more information on turtle’s lighting requirements.

11. Fill Out The Pond

Pour freshwater into the pond and let it settle for a few days. The water will turn hazy and cloudy. But do not worry. This is a natural process for good bacteria to set in the habitat.

Once the water clears out, turn on the filter. Let the entire system run for a couple of days. Then, you can welcome the turtles into their new home.

If a cloudy turtle pond bothers you much, read this article. I have explained the probable reasons along with the fixes here.

12. Add Plants And Decorations

Finally, it is time to decorate the pond and make it more homely. Start with adding aquatic plants to the pond.

Adding live plants has several advantages. For example, the pond looks aesthetic and appealing. Also, the board leaves will act as hiding spots. Moreover, the water becomes a rich source of oxygen. You will also catch your omnivorous turtles munching on the leaves.

There are hundreds of live plant options available for your turtle pond. The safe and popular options are,

  • Duckweed
  • Hornwort
  • Java fern
  • Mariomo moss
  • Java moss
  • Water hyacinth
  • Dwarf hairgrass
  • Water lettuce
  • Anarchies, etc.

Substrates are mandatory for many plants, while some will thrive without soil. Get a step-by-step guide to adding live plants to the turtle pond from this link.

Besides plants, place large logs and rocks in the pond, too. These will work as both hiding spots and basking docks. There should be no rough edges on the decorations.

How Do You Make An Outdoor Pond For Turtles?

Building an outdoor pond is a time-consuming project. You have to dig a pond first and line the walls with bricks. Later, cover the bricks with a pond liner.

Fill the pond with suitable substrate and add some live plants. Place logs, rocks, and basking platforms in the area. Installing a pond filter and oxygenator is recommended for the outdoor setup.

On the outside, turtles receive heat and UV rays directly from the sun. Hence, you do not have to provide them with any artificial sources.

Finally, pour water into the pond, and the habitat will be ready for your turtles within a week.

And yes, do not forget to put fences around the outdoor pond. Covering the roof with chicken wire is also recommended to keep the predators out.

How To Prepare The Turtle Pond For Winter

Turtles are sensitive to the winter season and chilly weather. These creatures can not generate body warmth when the temperature falls. Eventually, the pets will shut down their metabolism and go into hibernation.

Though hibernation is a natural process, unplanned hibernation is life-threatening. It is wiser to avoid this stage in captivity. So, make sure the tank heater and the heating lamp are working properly.

You will not struggle much to maintain a comfortable temperature in the indoor setup. But for an outdoor habitat, it is a nightmare to keep the temperature checked. Even installing a heater will not work sometimes.

Therefore, transfer your outdoor pets to the indoor setup. Follow this write-up for more information on turtle pond’s winter settings.

Before You Go…

An outdoor turtle pond is the best option if you have space available in the backyard. You will find unique outdoor pond designs in the article attached below.

18 DIY Ideas For An Outdoor Turtle Habitat

About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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