How To Keep An Aquatic Turtle In The Aquarium

The species-appropriate keeping of a turtle in an aquarium is truly not easy. Here you get some tips on what you should pay attention to if you would like to give a turtle home.

Because there are some things to consider such as the water temperature, design of the aquarium, and appropriate lighting.

Keeping A Turtle In An Aquarium

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Keeping reptiles and especially a water turtle in an aquarium is becoming more and more in demand. There are many different species of aquatic turtle.

Regardless of which species of turtle you choose, you should be aware in advance that the cost of keeping a turtle in an aquarium is high.

Many keepers underestimate the complex costs of aquatic turtles in the aquarium again and again.

Because the special requirements of the water turtle in the aquarium result in high electricity and water costs.

Keeping Aquatic Turtles In An Aquarium – Is It Possible At All?

Water turtles can be kept in a garden pond during the summer months or in an aquarium all year round. If you decide to keep the water turtle in the aquarium, you should think about some things before the acquisition.

Aquatic turtles in the aquarium, regardless of their species, need enough space to swim and at the same time a land area with a lighted and warm basking spot to which they can retreat again and again.

As with fish, in addition to the aquarium and good lighting, you will also need a filter that cleans the water and a pump that fits your aquarium for aquatic turtles.

But why is it so important to focus on the exact needs of the aquatic turtle in the aquarium when planning?

The answer to this question is actually simple: aquatic turtles are cold-blooded animals that come from much warmer regions than they do in Europe.

If the aquatic turtle is kept incorrectly in the aquarium, diseases such as fungus or kidney inflammation are possible consequences, which can even be fatal.

Size Of The Aquarium

The aquarium for a turtle must be sufficiently large. You should not skimp on the dimensions when buying an aquarium for a turtle. The aquarium for a turtle cannot be big enough!

The EU species protection regulation stipulates a size that should be five times as long and two and a half times as wide as the shell length of the largest aquatic turtle in the aquarium.

At this point, it must be explicitly mentioned that these are minimum requirements. You should go to the largest aquarium possible for the sake of your turtles.


Indispensable for an aquatic turtle in the aquarium is a swimming and land area. The land area is used to allow the aquatic turtles to dry out completely to prevent infection and fungus. You should make sure that your aquarium turtle can easily reach the land area from the water.

A piece of bark for it to rest on is ideal. The bottom of the land area should be sand, peat, and coconut fiber to allow the aquatic turtle to dig in the aquarium.

Some turtles show a pronounced digging behavior. Therefore, again, the attitude must be adapted to the species.

When keeping a male, one land part is sufficient. Females on the other hand need two land parts so that they have the possibility to lay their eggs.

The important thing with this land part is that it is designed in such a way that the female aquatic turtle in the aquarium feels that her eggs are safe.

This means that the land part or the place to lay eggs is clearly above the water. Otherwise, your aquatic turtle will avoid laying eggs in the aquarium and life-threatening egg-laying may occur.

You can largely do without plants in the aquarium for water turtles, because many are simply eaten by them. The same applies to fish.

Water Level, Water Temperature And Lighting

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Water Level

The water level depends on the size of the aquatic turtle in the aquarium. A rule of thumb is that the water level should be at least twice the height of the shell length. As a yardstick, you should take the largest aquatic turtle in the aquarium.

However, this information is a minimum measurement. The higher the water is for the aquatic turtle in the aquarium, the better. Some aquatic turtles can only swim moderately well, while others place great importance on climbing opportunities underwater.

You should take these needs into account in the design. For example, underwater climbing opportunities in the form of stones are suitable for the turtle in the aquarium.

Water Temperature

What water temperature your turtle prefers in the aquarium depends on the type of turtle. Some turtles like it warmer than others.

Some turtles go into hibernation, so the temperature needs to be turned down during this period. Therefore, there is no rule of thumb that says how warm it should be for the aquatic turtle in the aquarium.

Basically, you should inform yourself about the individual requirements of your turtle in the aquarium in order to meet its needs. This way you will be able to enjoy it for a long time.

For individual regulation, a heater for the water turtle in the aquarium is suitable. By using several heating elements, it is possible to lower the temperatures by two to three degrees at night, which is recommended.


Plenty of light is essential in the aquarium for aquatic turtles. You’ve certainly seen turtles deliberately seek out basking spots.

Their instinct tells them that it is especially warm there. In the aquarium, plenty of light and warmth is important for the turtle to stay healthy. Turtles belong to the alternating warm creatures and adjust their body temperature to the outside temperature.

The colder it gets, the more inactive your aquatic turtle becomes in the aquarium, because the metabolism shuts down. Therefore you should pay attention to sufficient lighting and enough warmth. Under the lamp should be a temperature of at least 40 degrees.

An aquatic turtle in the aquarium needs special lighting. In order to absorb calcium from food (vitamin D3 synthesis) the turtle needs UVB radiation in the aquarium.

This can be produced only by special lamps. Halogen lamps are recommended for the turtle in the aquarium.

Alone In The Aquarium Or Rather In Pairs?

The aquatic turtle in the aquarium can be kept alone or in a small group. How the optimal composition of your aquatic turtles in the aquarium should look like, you will learn here.

Group Composition

As much as the idea of using different turtle species for the group composition appeals to you – you should quickly distance yourself from this idea.

The individual species of turtles sometimes have extremely different demands on the aquarium and feeding.

Some species spend a lot of time swimming in the water, while others spend a lot of time on land sunbathing. Thus, it would be impossible to accommodate every aquatic turtle in the aquarium.

Since health problems can result if not kept properly, keeping a single species is always preferable for aquatic turtles in the aquarium.

Another problem with several different aquatic turtles is the communication between the turtles. Individual species communicate with each other quite differently via body language.

With several species in the same aquarium, fights with serious injuries and even deaths can be the result.

Sex Composition

When it comes to gender composition, there are a few things to consider with aquatic turtles in the aquarium. For male aquatic turtles, it is recommended that they be kept singly.

Several male water turtles have too much stress among themselves and sometimes attack each other.

Females, on the other hand, can be kept together. To avoid problems, larger groups of females are advisable. Keeping two females always causes considerable stress for one of the turtles, as the females are quite dominant.

More relaxed is keeping males and females together. Here the rule of thumb is that there should be at least four females to one male.

Otherwise, the females could be too stressed by the courtship behavior of the male.

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