How to Clean your Red Eared Slider Tank?

How to Clean your Red Eared Slider Tank

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

Sharing is caring!

You must feel sad when you find your red eared slider among filth. Their mossy shell and the blurry glass of the tank take away the joy of watching your turtle freely drifting around in the tank. Apart from the aesthetic appeal, there are health problems that your turtle can suffer from if it’s not properly taken care of.

Red eared sliders are delicate turtles sensitive to cold temperatures. They need their habitat to be adequate. If not they catch algae on their shell. The bacteria accumulate that pollutes the water. These disasters in the tank can lead to permanent damage to the turtle.

If your red eared slider is catching moss on its shell and you don’t know what to do then you have come to the right place. Here you will get everything you need to know to keep your little turtle healthy and clean.

How to clean your red eared slider tank:

Before understanding how to clean your red eared slider tank, take a moment to consider the cases that can ruin the hygiene of the turtle’s habitats. Take basic steps to prevent anything from getting in touch with the water and keep it away from objects that radiate heat.

With the matter of how to clean your red eared slider tank comes the matter of its environment. There are several parts such as the tank, tank water, gravel that are strongly related to the turtle. To maintain a sustainable condition, these elements and the turtle itself need to be cleaned thoroughly.

How to clean your red eared slider tank? It’s not that much work if you have some household items at hand:

  1. Use a soft-bristled brush or sponge to wipe off moss and algae from the glass. Never use anything rough to clean your red eared slider tank.
  2. Be aware of using detergent or bleach. But you can use vinegar to clean the tank.
  3. Keep the basking spot clean.
  4. Clean the gravel, filter and other objects before putting them back in their place.

Make sure you put the turtle in a safe place while cleaning your slider’s tank. Here you have to focus on the glass and gravel. They will show visible signs of bacteria. They will get mossy and unclear. To clean your red eared slider tank they will be your top priority.

How do you clean a red eared slider?

A healthy turtle is a clean turtle. If the habitat is set up correctly then the turtle doesn’t need regular cleaning. But a tainted turtle becomes sick very easily. It bears bacteria within its pale mossy shell. Turtles catch filth mostly because of the water condition and bad filtration. To clean up the turtle you will need to:

  1. Take your red eared slider out of the water.
  2. Mix lemon juice with distilled water in a bowl.
  3. Dip a soft-bristled brush into the solution.
  4. Brush the turtle shell slowly for two minutes. Make sure that you cover the whole shell.
  5. Check if anything is lodged under the shell.
  6. Let the turtle dry.
See also  Where To Buy Red Eared Slider?

This way you will have your little turtle clean. It will look attractive. And at the same time, cleaning reduces the risks of damage to its skin.

But be careful not to use any kind of soap or detergent. The chemical substances can cause the shell to decay.

How often should you clean the tank?

The environment must be appropriate if a being is to survive. Red eared sliders are semi aquatic turtles. Most of the time they dwell in water but they also bask in the sun. So, there must be a station where it can get enough heat. Gravels and live plants are optional additions. But it is advised to save a place for them in the tank as it helps to build an ecosystem.

If there will be so much stuff in a tank, it bounds to get filthy. Even if a strong filter is used, even if the whole tank is empty except for the turtle it requires cleaning. Otherwise, the tank can prove to be a harmful environment for the turtle. It can evoke diseases.

The whole tank can get dirty for various reasons. The most common reasons are the water, leftover foods, and feces. There are various steps to take to ensure a properly clean tank.

  1. Use filter to prevent bacteria from messing up the ecosystem of the tank.
  2. Looking out for leftover foods and feces in the tank. They need to be scooped out every day.
  3. Clean the tank every two or three weeks. Use soft scrub just to wipe off the moss. Be careful. Do not use detergent, soap or bleach.
  4. Change half the water every week.
  5. Do a deep clean every month. For deep clean take everything (gravel, plant, filter and of course the turtle) out of the tank. Place the turtle in a safe place. Remove the water. Clean away any filth that is visible within the tank like feces or chunks of food. Clean everything and let everything dry before putting them in their places.

If you want your turtle’s habitat to be healthy, remember to clean every part of the tank thoroughly. Use a strong filter and clean water. The condition of water depends on the filter. If the filter is not so strong, the effects will be weaker.

But how will you clean all the parts of the turtle’s habitation? The parts that basically consist of a tank are the tank glass, the gravels, and the filters. For the turtle to be in good shape everything must be in good condition.

How to clean turtle tank glass:

The function of the glass in a tank is mainly to give a transparent vision of the creature within. But it becomes filthy very frequently as it’s a residing place for an alive being and a lot of bacteria. The dirt on the glass can bear a lot of detrimental diseases and make the glass blurry. So, for the wellbeing of the turtle and also, for the satisfaction of us, the glass needs to be clear.

You must clean the tank glass at least every two weeks. Just wipe it thoroughly with a sponge. It will remove the algae stuck on the glass.

See also  How Does Red Eared Slider Mate?

Once every month, while cleaning the whole trunk you must clean the glass as well. It can be done in the following steps:

  1. Make the whole tank empty. Drain all the waters and take all the stuff out.
  2. Move the tank to a cleaning spot. Don’t bring stuff to where the tank is placed, rather take it somewhere where you have easy access to water. If you take all the stuff to your tank, the whole area can be ruined.
  3. Wipe off the algae or moss from the glass. Use a napkin or sponge. You can use soft scrub if you like. But don’t use anything hard. It can leave a scratch on the glass.
  4. Use vinegar or cleaners specially made for aquariums. Don’t use a normal glass cleaner to clean the inner side of the glass. The ammonia could disturb the ph level of the water.
  5. Use a lot of water to totally wipe off any kind of filth.
  6. Wipe the whole glass after cleaning. Use a tissue or soft fabrics.
  7. Clean the outer side of the glass using a glass cleaner.

To ensure a clean glass you can use distilled water but tap water is just fine if you change it regularly.

Again, it is recommended to use a strong filter. The glass basically collects filth from the water. So, keep the water clean.

How to clean turtle tank gravel:

Gravels increases the beauty of a tank. It gives the tank a natural sort of look. But apart from being natural in appearance it directly contributes to the environment.

Gravels are suitable for the growth of good bacteria. It contributes to keeping the water safe for living. But the bacteria can’t consume everything. Eventually the gravels become filthy with food chunks and excretions. If they are not cleaned, harmful germs can spread throughout the water. It can even mean death for the turtle. And as red eared slider is very delicate it can harm them greatly.

So in order to keep the gravels clean, the following instructions can be followed:

  1. A bucket and a big sieve are all you need in this process. So take a bucket and a big sieve.
  2. Place the bucket under a fast flow of water.
  3. Place the sieve over the bucket.
  4. Fill the sieve to its half with gravel
  5. Let the water run.
  6. Shake the sieve and stir the gravels. Keep doing it till the water running through the sieve is clean.
  7. Keep doing it with the rest of the gravels.

Do not use any chemicals in the process. It can ruin the natural attributes of the gravel. Remember to remove the excess water from the gravels before placing them back again in the tank.

What if the turtle tank smells like rotten egg?

The tank can smell like sulfur (or like rotten egg) due to serious buildup of bacteria in water. The chemical imbalance in the tank can also cause the water to smell this way. All these attributes can be the result of a clogged filter.

If the water is in this condition, then the problem needs to be addressed immediately or it can cause damage to both the turtle and the tank.

To get rid of such condition:

  1. Do a deep clean of the tank. Remove everything from the tank. Drain the whole water. Clean the whole tank using a scrub. Use razor to remove stubborn algae off the glass. Keep flushing the tank till water runs clean.
  2. Clean the gravel and the glass in the above-mentioned method.
  3. Clean the plant if there is any.
  4. Unclog the filter if it is clogged. Clean the filter using a soft brush. Gently scrub the filter to remove all the filth.
  5. Look out for leftover foods and feces. Food chunks can cause the sulfurous smell of the water.
  6. Change the water regularly as the smell is basically coming from the water.
  7. Use enough water. Try vinegar for the best result.
See also  How Long Do Red Eared Sliders Brumate? [4+ Months?]

Keeping the tank clean is the most essential thing to do to ensure a good environment. Vinegar will kill off bacteria. The water will be clearer and it won’t smell.

How to clean the turtle shell:

If the tank is not cleaned and water is not changed regularly the turtle will obviously suffer. It will make the turtle heavy with moss and algae.

It can steal away the beauty of the turtle. And it certainly will cause damage to its shell. So, without any doubt, it is mandatory for a turtle shell to be clean.

And to do that:

  1. Place the turtle someplace dry
  2. Take a bowl of lukewarm water.
  3. Take a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  4. Dip the toothbrush into the lukewarm water.
  5. Gently brush the algae away from the shell.
  6. Let the turtle dry before placing it in the tank.

Due to the imbalanced environment, this kind of situation occurs. The application of proper steps can keep the turtle healthy and prevent further damage.

Keeping red eared slider comfortable:

Providing food is not enough to make sure that your red eared slider is cheerful. You need to ensure it’s in a comfortable condition. You must meet its basic needs.

To do that you have to:

  1. Keep the ph level between 6.0 to 8.
  2. Maintain the water temperature. It is very important. Red eared sliders are sensitive to temperature. The water must be between 24 to 27 degrees Celsius. Keep the temperature of the basking area between 28 to 31 degrees Celsius.
  3. Get a big enough tank. It will keep the water in the perfect condition for the turtle and help the turtle to sustain. There must be 10 gallons of water for every inch of the turtle. An average red eared slider is 10 to 12 inches long. So you have to preserve them in a tank that can at least hold 120 gallons of water. This will keep the environment of the tank steady.
  4. Use clean water. Change water frequently. You need to replace 25% of the water every week. Replace the whole water every month. You can use vinegar or medicines designed for turtles. Do not use any random chemicals such as ammonia. It can disturb the environment of the tank.
  5. Never use detergent or bleach.
  6. Do a deep clean at least once every month.

Keep in mind, the goal is to maintain a healthy life for your red eared slider. The little creature depends on you a lot. So don’t disappoint it. Keep your little buddy clean and healthy. Go grab your tools and get to it right now.



Sharing is caring!

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.


This site is owned and operated by Muntaseer Rahman. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.