How to Care for Swimming Turtles

Four Parts:Providing HousingSetting up for BaskingFeedingCleaning the Aquarium

Turtles are great pets and are a lot of fun. However, a lot of people underestimate their needs and the costs of these precious animals. These are all the steps on what you need to properly take care of your swimming turtle!

Part 1
Providing Housing

  1. 1
    Get a good-sized aquarium. Generally, for every inch of the turtle's shell 10 gallons (37.9 L) of water for the aquarium is needed. For example, if you got a 5 inch (12.7 cm) turtle, you would need at least a 50 gallon (190 L) aquarium. Aquariums are expensive!
  2. 2
    Buy some decorations. Your turtle will need some decorations in their aquarium so he/she won't get bored! Turtles love to play with decorations. Don't get anything that takes up too much space in the aquarium, or the turtle won't have as much space to swim.
  3. 3
    Get a heater to heat the water, if your species needs it. Place it in your tank and set the heater for whatever the normal temperature of your species of turtle needs.

Part 2
Setting up for Basking

  1. 1
    Provide a basking rock. Your turtle needs a place where it can get fully out of the water. It is extremely important, because otherwise your turtles shell will rot! You can buy a basking platform at pet stores, and place it in your tank. Make sure it is completely out of the water, and that your turtle can easily get on the platform.
  2. 2
    Provide a heat lamp. Your turtle will need a heat lamp to be able to properly bask. Depending on the species of turtle you get, the hotter/cooler the basking area will need to be. Place the lamp so that the heat is shining over the basking area.
  3. 3
    Provide a UVA/UVB light. It helps take care of their shell, by providing rays from the sunlight. Place it over your tank, just like the heat lamp, except you can put it wherever you would like.

Part 3

  1. 1
    Provide variety in their diet. Most turtles enjoy live crickets and worms. They can also live on traditional turtle food that are pellets. They also enjoy vegetables such as lettuce. Research your turtle before giving certain foods!
  2. 2
    Feed your turtle as much as it can eat in 10-15 minutes once every 1-2 days. Make sure you do not overfeed your turtle, or it will grow too big for its shell!
  3. 3
    Provide calcium. It is good for their shells. You can buy them calcium sticks and put it in their tank for them to eat.

Part 4
Cleaning the Aquarium

  1. 1
    Get a very good filter running at all times in your aquarium. You should get a filter that is 2-3 times more powerful than needed, because turtles are very messy.
  2. 2
    Clean your aquarium every 3-4 weeks. Do not do a full water change! Only change out most of the water. You will need to rinse off the tank, basking area, and any other decorations in your tank. You will also need to clean out your filter, and replace any parts of the filter if needed.


  • You can take your turtle out of its aquarium to feed so that the aquarium doesn't get dirty as fast.
  • Turtles don't like to be handled much. It gives them stress.


  • Turtles may bite!
  • Turtles also may scratch, and it hurts!
  • Do not touch the heat lamps or the UVA/UVB lamps with wet hands!
  • Turtles may carry various diseases so wash your hands directly after handling!

Article Info

Categories: Swimming and Water Games | Turtles and Tortoises