How Often To Change Turtle Tank Water?

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

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I understand you want to maintain top-notch cleanliness in the turtle tank. But changing the aquarium water every single day is definitely the best idea. In fact, this approach can backfire sometimes. So, how often should you change the water in the tank?

You should replace 25% of dirty tank water with fresh water weekly. Use a siphon to drain water and a pipe to fill the tub. Change the aquarium water at least once a month, along with deep enclosure clean-up. Besides, you should remove the food wastes and feces from the water daily.

Find more insights into turtle tank cleaning below.

Key Takeaways

  • The ideal rule is to change turtle tank water once every month. But you have to replace 25% of the tank water every week with fresh water.
  • Deep clean the tank at least once a month.
  • Do not use regular detergent, shampoo, or soap to clean turtle tanks and supplies. Green solutions and specifically designed turtle cleaners are preferable.
  • Clean the tank filter once every month.

How Often Should You Change Water In A Turtle Tank?

Have you kept your turtle in a plain aquarium with no decoration? If yes, then you have a boring setup.

Only keepers with such a simple setup can think of changing the water every day! Well, they do not know how messy it gets to drain out the water and refill the tank. You have to readjust the aquarium decorations and equipment, which is time-consuming.

But hey! Even if you have plenty of time at hand, you should not change water in the tank every day.

Experts suggest that changing water too frequently kills the good bacteria in the habitat ecosystem. It will take weeks for the freshwater to grow the beneficial organism. But it does not mean you should let the turtles live in filthy water.

So what should you do?

Follow the replacement method instead of changing the water every day or week. As per this technique, you have to replace 25% of the entire tank water every week. This way, you keep feeding the aquarium freshwater without killing helpful bacteria.

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But of course, you can not go on with this technique forever. You must change the tank water at least once a month. Some experts suggest changing the water twice a month, too! Well, you may have to change the tank water twice if your turtles are messy.

Florida red-bellied turtle eating a yellow pond lily

How Often To Clean Turtle Tank?

Maintaining the turtle enclosure hygiene is tough. You have to do some cleaning every day.

See, turtles eat and shit in the same water. These creatures can be messy eaters. There will always be food scraps trapped between the rocks.

Also, you will see leftovers settle at the bottom or float around. The same thing happens with turtle feces, too.

It is wiser to clean the droppings and food scraps daily. Otherwise, the tank water will get dirty quickly. Besides, these wastes will rot and spread a foul odor. It may also raise the risk of infectious diseases in turtles.

Besides these daily clean-ups, you must perform the tank deep cleaning at least once a month. In this session, you need to drain the water and disassemble the entire setup. Next, you have to do spot scrubbing and wash the decorations separately.

Remember, once a month’s clean-up is sufficient only when you have a quality tank filter. A low-quality filter can not circulate freshwater nor maintain the terrarium’s hygiene. In such cases, you have to wash the entire tank twice a month.

How To Deep Clean Turtle Tank?

Turtle tank clean-up sessions are indeed time-consuming but fun. Here is a detailed procedure for how to wash the turtle aquarium,

1. Gather Materials

Collect the cleaning supplies before proceeding to the main step. You will need,

  • Siphon
  • Magnetic sponge
  • Regular sponge
  • Algae scraper
  • Liquid cleaner
  • Hand gloves
  • Water test kit, etc. 
Owner: Josh Kelley

2. Move The Turtle

You can not scrub the tank with the turtle inside. Right? So, move the turtle to a temporary habitat with all necessary facilities.

3. Drain Water

Use the siphon to drain the tank water without spilling. You can use the same pipes to replace 25% of dirty water with fresh water weekly.

4. Dismantle The Setup

Turn off the electric power to the heater and filter. Then, remove the basking dock, logs, and rocks from the tank.

5. Clean Up

Use the regular sponge and an organic washer to clean the dock and decorations. The platform, log, and rocks can get slippery because of the water and algae accumulation.

Next, move the aquarium. Do spot cleaning first. Use the magnetic sponge to reach every corner of the enclosure. A few drops of the organic washer will kill the bacteria.

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6. Rinsing Session

Once you are done with the scrubbing, rinse the tank and the decorations. Make sure there are no stains of liquid washer left.

7. Assemble The Tank

Allow the tank and supplies to dry under direct sunlight. Then, put the log, stone, and other decorations back inside the housing. You can try out new layouts or renovate the aquarium if you want.

8. Almost There

Pour fresh water into the pond or tank and turn on the necessary devices. The water will look cloudy at first. Do not panic. It is a natural process of colonization of good bacteria inside the tank.

The water will turn crystal clear within a few days. Use the test kit to check the water condition inside the tank. Transfer your little turtle to its home if everything is alright.

9. Bonus Tips

I have mentioned the clean-up process for tanks with bare bottoms. What if you have layered up a substrate in the aquarium?

Well, do not worry. Remove the substrate when disassembling the tank. Wash the bedding under tap water. It is better to replace the substrate with a new one. Later, puck the substrate back when you redecorate the habitat.

How To Maintain A Water Filter In A Turtle Tank?

Water filters are mandatory for aquatic and semi-aquatic turtle enclosures. These devices assist you in maintaining the hygiene and cleanliness of the habitat. The filters trap the dirt, poop, and leftovers in their internal chamber.

So, it goes without saying that the filters also require regular cleaning for satisfactory output. Otherwise, the machine will fail to circulate fresh and clean water. Also, expect a foul odor coming from the filter.

Experts advise cleaning the water filter once every month. You can decide the frequency depending on the daily load the filter deals with.

During the cleaning session, you have to disassemble the filtration chamber. Remove the trapped wastes and give it a good rinse. You may also have to add new bio-balls, activated carbon, or filter pads if necessary.

Owner: Josh Kelley

Why Does My Turtle Tank Look Cloudy?

I have just cleaned my turtle tank and poured fresh water. Why does it look cloudy already?

Do you have the same complaints? Well, you are not alone. This scenario is called the new tank syndrome.

The water looks hazy because the bacteria and microorganisms are settling in the habitat. They are colonizing and building an ecosystem.

Now, are these organisms harmful? Of course not! In fact, these bacteria play a crucial role in breaking down the wastes inside the tank. Also, they fight against the harmful bacteria.

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It will take a few days for the bacteria to settle down. Then, the water will look clear, and you can welcome your pet to its home.

There are other reasons why a tank of water gets hazy. I have stated all the probable reasons alone with fixes in this post.

How To Keep The Turtle Tank Clean For Longer?

No matter what trick you follow, you have to deep clean the tank and filter once in a while. Installing a high-capacity water filter is the best way to delay the cleaning. This filter will remove the dirt, keeping the water clean.

Another trick is to feed the turtle in a separate box. As turtles prefer eating in water, use a bow in such scenarios. Fill the container with water and put your turtles in it. Now offer the pets food.

Transfer the turtles to the tank after the meal. This way, you do not have to deal with the leftovers, and the habitat will stay clean.

Which Cleaner Is Best For Turtle Tank?

Do not use regular soaps, detergents, shampoos, and bleaches to wash your turtle tank. These ingredients may include chemicals, waxes, and harmful oils. Even indirect contact with these cleaners can harm the turtles.

I always suggest using green solutions of any kind to wash up the turtle enclosure. The green solutions contain no harmful chemicals. On top of that, those are human, animal, and environment friendly.

You can also use turtle-cleaning solutions for this task. You will find the cleaner in the nearest pet store.

What Kind Of Water Is Best For Turtles?

There is a misconception that turtles only require distilled water. Well, it is a misunderstanding. In fact, turtles will thrive in freshwater of any source. You can even use the tap water in the turtle pond.

But yes, check the water composition beforehand. Turtles can not stand high pH, ammonia, or nitrate contents. The ideal water composition for turtles is,

pH Level6 to 8
Ammonia Level0
Nitrate Level0
ChlorineAlmost 0

A high percentage of ammonia, nitrate, or chlorine will irritate the turtle’s eyes and skin. You can level down these elements by using a water conditioner.

Before You Go…

Tank filters play a significant role in maintaining hygiene in turtle aquariums. They trap dirt, keep the pH, chlorine, and ammonia levels checked, and inhibit bacterial growth. But which is the best filter for the turtle tank? Click the link below for a detailed guideline.

5 Best Canister Filters for Turtle Tank [Review & Buyer’s Guide]

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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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