What Do Red Eared Sliders Need In Their Tank?

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

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Are you fond of having pets? Then you must know that turtles are one of the most low maintenance pets one can ever have. Red Eared Sliders are one of its kinds. They have some unique features. So when you are trying to figure out, what do Red Eared Sliders need in their tank, you should realize that they have some different needs due to their biological specifications.

These cute little living beings are semi-aquatic. So they can live under the water. But most of the time they prefer living in the outside environment basking in the sun. It’s not only coded in their genes but also it is beneficial to them. These cute little turtles grow very rapidly from little hatchlings into adults. A full-grown Red Eared Slider turtle can have a size of 12 to 16 inches.

So it would be a wise decision to keep it in a large tank from the very beginning. If you take care of it properly it will have a maximum life span of up to 30 years!

Isn’t it amazing?

How to Choose Your Red Eared Sliders?

You can easily buy Red Eared Turtles from nearby pet shops. These pets are easily available in any place. You can see all the available Red Eared Sliders in the pet shops to find the best one. It is not wise to pick just a random one. Rather, a sincere decision of picking your Red Eared Slider can let you bring the healthiest of them all to your home.

While choosing a pet, you have to notice the shell very carefully. The shell should be at least 4 inches long. You have to observe if the pet is active, has a good appetite and fungus-free. You will also have to ensure that the turtle was kept in a safe environment. If you see the water is dirty and there is not much light, then the turtles might have some health issues.

It is also important to know about the diet chart of the turtle while living in the pet store.

Taking Your Red Eared Sliders Home

You got to be careful while taking your Red Eared Sliders Turtles home. You have to keep in mind that the little hatchlings of Red Eared Slider turtles breathe air not water initially. So bringing it home with a container full of water will not be a good idea. It would increase the possibility of drowning on the way home.

Instead, you can bring your Red Eared Slider home in a small shoebox or plastic box. You can cover it with some dampen materials like wet clothes or newspapers. This would be an ideal arrangement in a situation like this.

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If you are buying a larger turtle rather than hatchling then you may need a bigger box or container. The big turtles can get hurt in a congested space. The container has to be securely covered with lids. It must have some holes for maintaining proper air circulation inside. You must have to be careful about the temperature inside the box while bringing it home.

According to the temperature outside you have to arrange a normal temperature that is convenient for the turtles inside the box.

Red Eared Slider Turtle Tank Size

Red Eared Slider turtles are very small during the hatchling stage. But they grow up very quickly. So it is always better to buy an appropriately sized tank considering the future. There is a general rule of thumb that you should plan for 10 gallons of water for each inch of the turtle. So for a hatchling, it would need a minimum 20 gallon sized tank. So considering the grown-up size of the Red Eared Sliders this is most likely that you will need big a sized tank eventually.

So it is better to buy it in the first place.

What Do Red Eared Sliders Need in Its Tank?

Red Eared Sliders are so small and cute but soon they become grown-up turtles. They grow up to be almost 12 to 16 inches. For keeping this little one healthy their habitat is very important. It should be made in a convenient way for them.

So, what do red eared sliders need in their tank?

Well, it is a very significant question to ask. Red Eared slider’s tank set up is related to their health and longer life. A very well maintained and functioning tank or ecosystem can ensure a happy, healthy and long life of your beloved Red Eared Slider Turtles.

You will need a few materials for setting up the tank, which are:

An Aquarium or Plastic Tank

For creating a perfect habitat for your Red Eared Slider, you will have to arrange at least 20 gallon aquarium or a plastic container. In a 20 gallon aquarium, you will only be able to keep a hatchling. For a bigger turtle, you might need a bigger aquarium. For an average Red Eared Slider, you might need at least 55 gallon tank.

If you want to start out with a 20 gallon aquarium for a hatchling, this can be a good choice.

Basking Area

Red Eared Sliders are semi-aquatic. So for making a basking area for them, you will need rocks, stones, and a plastic floating shelf. In the basking area, the turtle can dry themselves and gets the atmosphere outside as well. This is extremely important for keeping the turtles healthy.

This is my all-time favorite basking platform for red eared sliders!

Lighting Arrangement

In their natural habitat, these little creatures enjoy the sunlight. They also like ponds or any water source. So you have to create such an artificial environment. Lighting set up is very vital for them.

You have to set up a basking light for your Red Eared Sliders. For adding any sort of basking light or heat you can choose to buy a reptile warming ultraviolet light (UVA/UVB). You can buy these from nearby or online pet stores.

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When your turtles get exposed to a UVA or UVB bulb their metabolism rate increases. It also increases their appetite and protects them from having any algae on their shells.

Placement of the bulb must be done in a way that the turtle might get the most benefit out of it. It should be kept at a certain distance from the basking place. Before placing it, you should go through the complete user manual from the manufacturer.

I have always relied on this UVB and heat lighting kit for my red eared sliders!


It is more likely for a Red Eared Slider to get sick in a messy environment even though Red Eared Sliders are pretty messy. So filtering your tank’s water on a routine basis is essential.

You can use any type of filter. But having a power filter and canister filter can perfectly serve your purpose. You should choose a filter that can filter twice the water your tank can hold. For messy creatures like Red Eared Sliders, this is needed. Regular filtration will reduce your stress of changing the water of your tank regularly.

If you are someone who loves DIY projects, then you can make a filter too. This would even save your money. You will just need a few supplies for building it. This will work in your tank pretty fine.

Since when I started keeping red eared sliders, I’ve been using this canister filter. Till now I am completely satisfied with its performance. This is surely one of the most reliable canister filters that can cope up with the load of a turtle tank.


Red Eared Sliders need a convenient temperature inside the tank for their survival. In a Red Eared Turtle’s tank water should be kept around 74-78 degrees Fahrenheit. However, for the hatchlings, it is different up to 80 Fahrenheit. On the contrary, the basking spot needs a temperature of about 90 to 95 Fahrenheit.

A submersible heater can keep the water and inside the environment of the tank accordingly. But for placing it you have to be extra careful so that the turtles can’t bump into it. Try to hide it away with something inside the tank. Installing an aquarium thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature can be beneficial.

This heater is reliable and works perfectly for red eared sliders!

Some Decorations

It is more convenient for you to keep the tank any sort of clutter-free with minimal decoration. The Red Eared Turtles are very messy. So having a clutter-free inside environment can help you to keep the tank clean easily.

Having aqua plants could have been a great way to decorate the tank. But the turtles might uproot it or eat it out. I don’t like having plastic plants. This artificial look in the tank seems unnecessary to me. You can keep some if you want.

But having some natural rocks apart from the basking area can create a more natural look in the tank. Red Eared Turtles seem to like this rock a lot. They are incapable of messing with it as well.

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Apart from this stuff, you can get some decoration stuff from the pet store as well.


Keeping your Red Eared Sliders healthy is a crucial task to do. To do so, the first and foremost thing is to do is to keep the tank and the water clean. You may have to change the water regularly for the sake of your turtles. Needless to say, this is a pretty daunting task.

This procedure is comparatively easier for a smaller tank but for a big tank, it is much difficult. Doing it without the help of a pump is not advised.

There are different types of pumps available in the market. You can choose a suitable pump for your tank from those. It can be conveniently placed in your tank for water pumping. It is a much-needed tool for Red Eared Slider’s tank.

Red Eared Sliders Turtle Tank Setup

All these above-mentioned supplies are needed for setting up a perfect Red Eared Slider Turtle’s tank. After arranging all these you can set it up by yourself. If needed you can take help from someone having prior experience of doing so.

After setting up the tank, you just have to do some routine basis maintenance works. You can’t ignore any of the maintenance work for the tank. Neglecting these works will make a dirty tank for your turtles. Such a tank is not healthy for them at all!

How to Prevent Tank Set Up Problems

While setting up the tank you might face some problem. Awareness about such possibilities is beneficial for your pets. It will prevent complications in the future. These are some of the ways of avoiding tank set up problems;

  1. Arranging a separate space for the turtles to feed. Doing so will help you to create less mess in the tank.
  2. Don’t buy a small tank for the hatchling at the very beginning. You will have to change it anyway. So considering the size of a full-grown Red Eared Slider you should buy a big tank in the first place. This can save you from unnecessary hassles.
  3. Cluttering your tank with unnecessary stuff can make your tank hard to clean. So, avoid this.
  4. Having real aqua plants might make your tank dirty as the turtles might uproot it and have it as a snack.

Try to avoid all these for making sure your pets and you don’t have to face any trouble once the tank set up is done.

Final Words

Red Eared Slider turtles are very low maintenance, cheap and adorable pets. They can be your companion for a long amount of time. All you have to do for it is just to take good care of it and its habitat.

What do Red Eared Sliders need in their tank is pretty much obvious. These are the basic things which are needed to keep them in good health and happiness. If you deeply observe, they are very playful. Sometimes you will even feel they are communicating with you and showing you gratitude for having a home.

It will feel very good, right? I think so.

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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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