There are so many amazing pets that you can have. Soft and fuzzy critters like dogs, cats, chinchillas, and rabbits make for great pets for those without allergies. But for those who can’t live with dander, or need lower maintenance pets, reptiles like turtles make for a great, friendly alternative.

Types of Aquatic Turtles that Make Great Pets

best turtle types img

The most popular species of aquatic turtles as pets include a variety of mostly colorful and unique reptiles. Many of these species enjoy interacting with humans, though some are shyer or can be a little aggressive. Do some study on these critters before taking one home for your children to play with.

  • Red-Eared Sliders
  • Painted Turtles
  • Soft Shell Turtles
  • Map Turtles
  • Wood Turtles
  • Matamata

Turtle Accessories You’ll Need

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As you prepare to bring home your first turtle, make sure you have these accessories.

  • Turtle tank
  • In-take filter
  • Gravel
  • Heat lamp/ultraviolet light source
  • Thermometers — one for the water, one for the air
  • Under water heater
  • Basking area
  • Terrarium screen — makes for easier mounting of lights, etc.

How to Choose a Turtle Tank

There are a few basic considerations for a turtle tank.

1. Size

Turtles need a certain amount of space for a happy and healthy life. Use the standard rule that every eight inches of turtle needs up to twenty gallons. Most turtles should not share space with more than one or two other turtles, however. Basically, consider getting a twenty gallon tank for up to two small turtles, or a forty gallon tank for up to three eight inch turtles.

2. Water-tightness

Unlike hermit crabs, aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles need both water for swimming, and a place to dry off and bask in the light. Make sure that your turtle tank has the ability to keep water. For this reason, you probably don’t want to look at used tanks at thrift stores or yard sales. If you do, however, ask to do a water-tightness check before purchasing.

3. Cost

You could spend a fortune on a fancy aquarium from the tip-top brands. If you want one of these, and it fits into your budget, go for it. But if you’re on a limited budget for your set-up, there are definitely options that are high quality. Shop around a bit before purchasing. You may find a sale at a pet store or online.

The Best Turtle Tanks

To give you a little help, we’ve narrowed down a list to our top two favorite turtle tanks and turtle tank kits, and filters.

Turtle Tank #1 — Tetra Deluxe Aquatic Turtle Kit

Tetra Deluxe Aquatic Turtle Kit, 20-Gallon, 30 x 12 x 12-Inches
  • This kit includes all the essentials needed for success, such as: a decorative filter, cartridges, basking platform,...
  • The Decorative ReptoFilter instantly creates a beautiful waterfall and basking area, while providing three-stage...
  • Two dome lamps are located in the screen above the tank for warmth and prime basking

For a full set up, the Tetra Deluxe Turtle Kit is our top recommendation. This kit comes complete with the turtle tank, a decorative filter and cartridges, heating lamps, screen top, a basking platform, and a boxwood plant mat. Two dome lamps work with the screen for heat lamps that give your turtle targeted basking spaces.

You’ll only need gravel, and additional basking surfaces, food, and water conditioner. This kit is great for any beginner turtle owner.

Turtle Tank #2 — Reptile Habitat Aquarium Tank

Reptile Habitat Setup Aquarium Tank Kit Filter Screen Lid Bask Lamp...
  • 10 gallon freshwater aquarium kit that includes nearly everything you need to get started.
  • See your reptile lives in its natural environment, the water CLEARED constantly with special filters and its body is...

The Zilla turtle tank is a great option for those who want to build their own turtle home. The tank is a modestly priced, water-tight tank that comes in an extra long 20 gallon tank. Since turtles don’t need as great a depth for swimming, this tank design is perfect for giving your turtle some extra lap length.

The Best Turtle Tank Filters

Turtle Tank Filter #1 — Tetra Whisper In-Tank Filter with BioScrubber

Whisper In-Tank Filter 10i with BioScrubber for 3 - 10 gallon...
  • Designed for Use in aquariums up to 10-Gallons
  • Uses medium Bio-Bag filter cartridges
  • Install with a hanger and suction cup or two suction cups depending on desired placement

This awesome filter is perfect for your turtle tank. You can get one of these designed for a 10, 20, or 40 gallon tank. This filter uses large bag filters, and is easy to clean. And for those who hate noisy filters, the Tetra Whisper In-Tank Filter is your choice to consider. It runs super quiet, and works in as little as two inches of water.

Turtle Tank Filter #2 — Aqueon Quiet Flow Internal Power Filter

Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter, 10 Gallon,
  • Fully submersible in vertical or horizontal position
  • Adjustable return flow rate
  • Direction and height of water return is also adjustable

Another great budget filter that does the trick is the Aqueon Quiet Flow Internal Power Filter. This filter has also received high rating from a good number of users, and works for turtle tanks ranging from 10 gallons to 40 gallons, depending on the model you purchase.

The Aqueon Quiet Flow is fully submersible, and can either stand up right or be laid on its side within the water. This awesome filter uses three stages of filtration.

1. The patented BioGrid for ammonia and nitrates

2. Activated carbon for toxins, odors, and discoloration

3. Dense foam for debris and particles

Bringing Your Reptile Buddy Home

Now that you’ve purchased the right filter, lamps, and tank, or kit, you’re ready to bring home your turtle buddy. Be sure to have his habitat set up before you arrive, and have plenty of food on hand. Turtles are mainly carnivores, so you may want to have some feeder fish as a special treat to help ease him into his new environment.