How To Set Up a Red-Eared Slider Tank

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How To Set Up a Red-Eared Slider Tank

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Whether you’re a long-time turtle owner or you’re still considering getting your first reptile, one thing to decide is how to set up a tank for your pets. Of course, turtles have needs that change as they physically grow, so it’s important to remember that your reptile’s tank habitat will probably have to be revised many times over his or her lifetime. Each species of turtle has its own basic requirements when it comes to tank setup though, with the red-eared slider being one of them.

When setting up a red-eared slider tank for the first time, you will want to take into consideration not only the size of your slider and its tank but also the lighting, accessories and decorations.

What Size of Tank Does My Red-Eared Slider Need?

The tank for red-eared sliders should be proportional to the slider’s size. Baby sliders will obviously be smaller than their adult counterparts, but you should still set up at least a 20-gallon tank for a baby red-eared slider. If you have multiple baby sliders in one tank, try adding at least 10 gallons per every additional slider.

red-eared tank

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After two years of age, a red-eared slider tank should be chosen according to its current size. The rule of thumb when it comes to these turtles is to allow the turtle 10 gallons of tank per every 1inch of the turtle’s body length. This means that a four-inch slider will need a tank of at least 40 gallons; a six-inch slider needs a tank of at least 60 gallons, et cetera. Typically, an adult red-eared slider will grow to be between six and eight inches in length, so, unless your turtle grows to an extraordinarily long length, you can know what to expect.

If you have multiple sliders in one tank, you can still use the 10-to-1 gallon-to-inch ratio; just consider the body length of all your turtles combined. However, if you have three or more adult turtles, it may be easier to consider investing in an outdoor red-eared slider habitat with a pond and plenty of natural grass space for them to exercise.

How Much Water Should I Put in My Slider’s Tank?

Red-eared sliders are semi-aquatic pets, meaning they share their time equally between the land and the water. That being said, it’s vital that you supply your sliders with ample swimming space in their tank.

Again, the depth of the water in your turtle’s tank should be in proportion to the turtle’s length, or, if you have multiple sliders, in proportion to the largest turtle’s length. The depth of water you add to your turtle habitat should be at least twice that of its length. For example, a six-inch-long turtle should have a tank with water at least a depth of 12 inches. You may add slightly more water but be sure to not let the water overtake more than half of your tank.

What Should I Put in My Slider’s Tank?

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In order to keep your slider’s water clean, you’ll want to use a high-capacity, tank water filter. You’ll also need to add a UVB-producing light above a basking platform or dry land area so your turtle can get nutrients from the sun to keep its shell hard and healthy.

A great inexpensive, basking platform is the PENN-PLAX Floating Turtle Pier Platform which can sit just above the water in the tank. You can also check out the PENN-PLAX Turtle Topper Basking Platform that can be placed above the tank.

Adding plants and decorations to your turtle’s tank is entirely optional, but a lot of pet owners do so to keep the habitat realistic and natural. If you add any outside rocks to your tank, be sure to sanitize them and avoid adding any decorations small enough for your turtle to swallow.

Options for Turtle Terrarium Kits

Sometimes, it’s easier to get a turtle terrarium kit that comes with a tank large enough for a full grown red-eared slider, on top of all the accessories you know you’ll need. Some great options include:

When you set up your red-eared slider tank perfectly, your red-eared slider can live a perfectly happy life.

About the Author

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Kari is a long-time pet lover and owner. She has experience raising cats, dogs, rabbits, and aquatic life. Whenever she's not writing, she's probably baking homemade dog treats or camping with her family and their own four-legged friends![...] Author Details

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