How To Take Care of Aquatic Turtles as Pets

Keeping aquatic turtles as pets may seem easy—until you try to care for one yourself. The image of turtles as being easy to care for most likely arose because of the turtle’s reputation for hardiness and longevity. It may be true that turtles live long in their natural habitats, but keeping them as house pets will place them in an entirely different environment that may or may not work to their benefit.

If you want to keep aquatic turtles, you need to learn everything that you can about their species. There are several kinds of aquatic turtles that you can choose from, and each of them needs different manners of handling. Here are some tips for taking care of aquatic turtles.


Aquatic turtles need water for survival. In contrast to land turtles and tortoises, aquatic turtles spend almost all of their time in or near water. Therefore, clean water is the most important component of taking care of your aquatic pet. In its natural habitat (such as rivers, lakes, streams, seas, and ocean), aquatic turtles get a consistent stream of non-stagnant water.

The case is different when you keep your turtle as a pet in an aquarium. The water in the aquarium is stagnant. For this reason, you must regularly change the aquarium water. Turtles eliminate their body wastes into the surrounding water, and in an aquarium environment, these wastes can quickly accumulate and endanger the turtle’s health.

Besides regularly changing the aquarium water, you may also consider installing a filtration system to help keep the water clean and fresh. Keep the water’s temperature steady and warm, usually between 24 and 29 degrees Celsius. The ideal temperature also depends on the kind of turtle.


This is the best housing for an indoor pet turtle. The size will depend on the kind of turtle you are raising and how big an adult turtle of that species will grow. For most cases, a twenty-gallon tank will suffice. Place the tank in a shady area. Do not over decorate the aquarium. Adding in too many decors can give you difficulty when cleaning time comes. The simpler the aquarium interior, the better for cleaning. Since turtles do not stay underwater all of the time, provide them an area in the aquarium where they can bask.


What do turtles eat? It depends on your turtle. As a general rule, turtles need to eat a balanced meal, pretty much like humans do. Turtles are carnivorous, so expect them to respond more favorably to food or equivalent food items that are similar to the kind of food they would find in their natural habitats. Thus, most turtles would eat small fish (e.g., guppies, goldfish, smelt, and trout). Some turtles can also take in dried cat or dog kibble, small snails, earthworms, mollusks, and the like.

Observing pet turtles inside an aquarium can be a very relaxing activity. That is why lots of people like to keep them as pets. If you want to succeed in keeping one as a pet, make sure you know how to take care of your pet turtle well.

This site does not constitute pet medical advice, please consult a licensed veterinarian in your area for pet medical advice.

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