How To Setup An Outdoor Kiddie Pool Turtle Pond?

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

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Not gonna lie! The outdoor pond setup (even the surface mount ponds) can be a little too expensive. I have tried settling my turtles in an outside kiddie pool (to cut the budget!), and the experience is satisfying. In this article, I will share the details on kiddie pool setups for turtle ponds.

Select the hard plastic kiddie pools according to the size of your turtle and decoration planning. Setting up a dock and hiding spots will be enough. Add live plants to bring a natural and home vibe to the pond. Finally, install a pump and filtration bucket to maintain the pond hygiene.

How much does the kiddie pool turtle outdoor pond setup cost? How should you start building a kiddie pool outdoor pond for your turtles? Catch the details below.

Key Takeaways

  • Inflatable kiddie pools are not an ideal choice for turtle outdoor ponds.
  • Heaters, basking lights, and UV lamps are unnecessary in outdoor ponds.
  • Place the pond in a place which receives both shade and sunlight.
  • Too much direct sunlight can overheat and kill the turtles.

Outdoor Turtle Pond Setup With A Kiddie Pool

To be honest, I was just exploring my cheap options for a turtle outdoor pond with a kiddie pool. But surprisingly, the result was quite satisfying. Here is how to set up the kiddie pool for the turtle,

1. Buy The Hard Plastic 

Kiddie pools are available in different qualities. I recommend you buy the ones made of solid, soft plastics. These pools can hold a moderate load. Besides, the pond surfaces are smooth, so your turtles will not get any bruises.

2. Decide On The Size

The hard plastic kiddie ponds are available at the lowest of $15. This rate will go up depending on the pool quality and size. A 45 to 60-gallon kiddie pool will work fine with the small turtles and the species who prefer shallow water.

Again, I personally suggest buying a bigger kiddie pool. Turtles always love spacious habitats. Also, you need to spare rooms for decorations in the enclosure.

With a surface mount pond or a turtle pool, you need to spend more to get a bigger accommodation. But upgrading to a larger habitat is relatively cheap with the hard plastic kiddie pools.

3. Where To Put The Pool?

The setup location is very crucial for the outdoor ponds. You can not just place the pond in the middle of the open yard. Though the sunshine is good for the turtles, the direct light will heat the water. Hence, the turtles will look for an escape from the pond.

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A report claims that turtles in small ponds often die because of overheating. Moreover, the direct sunlight increases the algae production.

So, set up the kiddie pool pond in a location that receives both sunlight and shade. The ideal habitats include half-shade and half-open areas. This way, there is a temperature gradient in the enclosure. It allows the turtles to move freely and choose their preferred temperature zone.

Keeping the pool against a wall provides a permanent shade. I suggest you set up an umbrella near the pond. It will help you move and position the shade according to the weather.

4. Add The Necessities

Some basic supplies are a must at any turtle enclosure. Take the basking dock as an example. Turtles must soak heat and UV rays to maintain healthy immunity and biological functions. Remember, basking is mandatory for both indoor and outdoor turtles.

You can use a commercial or DIY basking platform in the kiddie pool. Rocks and stones work as perfect basking docks for the turtles.

The bright side of using rocks is that you can build caves by arranging these stones. Those will act as hiding spots for turtles. Not to mention that the stacked rocks provide excellent land areas to the pets.

Be very careful when choosing the stones for the habitat. Avoid the ones with sharp edges.

Add substrates to the kiddie pool along with the basking platform and land area. I know most turtles are not a fan of bedding. Yet, layering up the bottom with gravel and pebbles is always a good idea. It brings a wild vibe to the habitat.

Finally, decide on adding either live or plastic plants to the pond. I always recommend live plants because they make the pond look natural.

On top of that, turtles love munching on the plant leaves. They will, in fact, use the broad leaves and vegetation as hiding spots.

However, maintaining the ecology with live plants can be too much to handle. Most plants demand soil to thrive. In those cases, putting bedding becomes mandatory in the pond.

But yes, you can always place the plant with the pot it comes in. It can resolve the substrate issue.

Considering these, artificial plants may sound like a good option. But remember, turtles may bite and munch the plant leaves. So, there is a chance that the pets may choke on the plastic.

In short, make sure that the turtle kiddie pool outdoor pond has pebbled bedding covering 1/3rd to 1/2 the bottom surface. There must be a land area or basking platform present. Finally, do not leave out the hiding spots and plants from the pond.

5. Lighting Arrangements

Well, the outdoor turtle ponds require no additional lighting arrangements. The sun is enough to provide the pets with heat and UV rays.

Nevertheless, you may want to install a night viewing light to observe these little pets after dark. But do not keep the light always turned on.

6. What’s The Deal With Heater?

Good news! You do not need to install a heater in the outdoor kiddie pool turtle pond. The water will heat up naturally from the direct sunshine. On sunny days, there is a risk of water overheating. Use a shade of any kind to prevent such unwanted heating.

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I generally build outdoor ponds or place the turtle pool closer to the walls or big trees. This way, the turtle receives enough sunlight and shade.

But I strongly feel the necessity of a movable shade. You can not allow the turtles to play in the scorching sun in some weather. For example, when the temperature is 90F, a little sunny area is enough for the pets. Likewise, keep the pool under the shade if the temperature hits 100F.

An umbrella or even yard tables can serve this purpose.

7. The Wind Protection

Smaller kiddie pool turtle ponds with basic decorations may get tripped over by a gusty wind. Of course, we can not take the risk. So, you better use rocks and pot plants to add weight to the pool turtle ponds.

8. Water Filtration Management

Maintaining the water quality is important in both indoor and outdoor habitats. Installing a commercial filter is easier with the sturdy pond structures. Hence, go for DIY filtration arrangements if you plan to use a kiddie pool pond.

Buy a pump twice the size of the pond. For example, for a 60-gallon kiddie pool, you need a pump with 120-gallon water processing capability.

Well, the pumps will only move water from one spot to another. You must arrange a filtration bucket with fibres, nets, lava rocks, and activated carbon. The pump will dump the pond water into the bucket. Here, the filtration layers will eliminate the filth, circulating fresh water.

You can definitely buy a pond filter. But plan on the installation before purchase. You might have to make a few adjustments to fit the filter into the kiddie pool.

In Alabama, turtles are protected, and their removal from privately constructed farm ponds is not allowed unless it’s for controlling nuisance animals. (Source)

9. Secure The Area

In outdoor ponds, turtles are exposed to predators. Raccoons, foxes, dogs, cats, opossums, and birds are common predators for turtles. Therefore, if you really want an outdoor turtle pond, first ensure security.

I strongly suggest building a chicken wire fence around the kiddie pool pond. In many cases, you may also have to cover up the pond with wiring to keep out the birds.

Do not go for the outdoor pond if you can not ensure the security.

10. The Final Touch

Now, your kiddie pool turtle pond is almost ready. Pour fresh tap water into the pond and wait for 24 hours. You can add conditioners to level the water composition.

The pond water may look cloudy at first, which is natural. Give the pool some time, and the water will clear out eventually.

snapping turtle in outdoor tub
Owner: Josh Kelley

Turtle Kiddie Pool Outdoor Pond: Cost Breakdown

As I mentioned, the kiddie pools are the cheapest way to build an outdoor habitat for turtles. How cheap, you ask? Well, here’s a cost chart,

Small Kiddie Pool$10
Large rocks$20
Water filter$25
Plants and decorations$10
Total$75

You can even cut this price by DIYing the entire project. So, if you want to build a turtle outdoor pond on a low budget, do not forget this kiddie pool idea.

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Turtles have a unique way of hibernating in ice-covered ponds. They resort to “butt-breathing”, which is a method of breathing through their rear end due to the lack of oxygen in frozen ponds. (Source)

Can You Use An Inflatable Kiddie Pool As Turtle Pond?

Yes, the inflatable kiddie pools can accommodate your turtles. But these products are made of cheap plastics. So, you may struggle to fit the basic pond supplies in the pool. For instance, the pump will create too much turbulence, and the pond may trip over.

Again, turtles have sharp claws. They might puncture the pools and create a huge mess.

But the inflatable kiddie pools can be a fun outing for your indoor turtles. On summer days, you can take your pets out in the yard and let them enjoy the sunshine. You do not have to make any special arrangements for this.

As they say, “Summer is only fun when you sparkle in the pool water.” It stands true even for the turtles.

Just set up the pool and pour fresh tap water. Let the water sit for 24 hours, and you are done. Leave the turtles in the pool and let them enjoy the sunbathing.

Oh! You have to keep a shaded area on one side of the pool. Besides, do not forget to provide the pets with a temporary basking dock.

Allowing the turtles to soak under the sun is actually beneficial for them, especially if they are shedding. The pets will get an instant immunity boost.

You do not have to make any additional fencing or security. Just keep an eye on the turtle while it is enjoying its swim. Keep the pet under the sun for a few hours and then shift it to the indoor tank.

One more thing. Do not take the turtles out on hot summer days. The scorching sun will burn their skins. Instead, a sunny day with clouds floating around is the perfect weather for this fun outing.

Are Kiddie Pool Turtle Outdoor Ponds A Good Idea?

Honestly, the answer depends on several aspects. For starters, I would only suggest you use a kiddie pool as a turtle outdoor pond if you are on a strict budget.

As I always say, an outdoor turtle setup is always better. Turtles can enjoy a nice, homely vibe. Besides, there is an abundance of sunlight outdoors. Hence, the pets will get a natural dose of immunity booster.

Anyway, you have to save your outdoor pet turtles from predators. But, securing the kiddie pool sides and roof is difficult. So, a kiddie pond is a bad idea if you can not manage the security.

In my opinion, you should go for the surface mount or readymade pond if you have the money. Fencing and hygiene maintenance are easier with these steps.

Before You Go…

A kiddie pool is okay, but you should aim for a sustainable pond. It is possible with surface mount tubs, or you can dig a pond yourself. Get a step-by-step guide to building a turtle outdoor pond with a material list.

Outdoor Turtle Pond Setup Guide: Material List + Maintenance

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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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