(I’ve updated this article with a newer post, Guided tour of my pet turtle tank)

In mid-July this year (2008), I finally moved my two red ear slider turtles to their new home. It took a while before I finally set-up the tank because I was trying to sell it first since it was just way too big, even though me and AG had measured how much room it would take up. Failing that, I finally set it up in mid-July.

150 gallon pet turtle tank
Here’s the front view of the pet turtle tank. It measures 48" wide, 30" deep, and 24" high (or 4 ft wide, 2.5 ft deep, 2 ft high). I divided the tank for each turtle using egg crate (light diffuser), the left side for Rex, the right for Cinderella. The background was (I later removed it) a foam 3D background, with fake plastic leaves hanging off the top. Basking area is corkbark and is attached to the egg crate. Two xP3 filters are used, each with a Hydor ETH external Heater. I have a 24" UVB light and two ceramic heat emitters. In each pet red ear slider turtle’s space, or territory as I like to call it, there’s driftwood, 2 river stones, and two cichlid "caves". 3 zebra danios, 3 long-finned leopard danios, 4 electric yellow cichlids, and 1 red zebra cichlid share the tank with the two RES turtles.

Rex's side of the turtle tank Here’s Rex from a side view of his territory. The blue thing is a fish feeder which I used to keep the turtle food in one place. I later took it out because the turtles eventually always removed it from the place it was suctioned to, and it didn’t matter if their food went all over the tank, they (or the fish) would still find it.

turtle tank Close-up of Rex’s territory. I was attempting to have some moss grow on the driftwood, but with the pet turtles in there, they just wouldn’t give it a chance to grow and attach to the wood.

pet turtle tank and a red ear slider turtle Cinderella in her territory. I added the air bubbles on the front of the turtle tank and under the divider because that area was becoming a dead spot for water circulation and a lot of waste would just pile up in the area.
My female red ear slider turtle's tank area
Top view of Cinderella’s territory. The white eggcrate "tower" on the right is something I made to try to have some anacharis in the water to help clean out the nitrates and stuff. I eventually removed it because the anacharis just didn’t survive. There’s a roll of mesh inside the "tower" to protect it from Cinderella, but I think it just blocked all the light and killed the anacharis.

pet turtle tank
Top view of Rex’s territory. You can see their old 5.5 gallon tank on the left, which I converted to a natural (low-tech) planted tank.

pet turtle tank and my two turtles
Both turtles enjoying being able to swim freely in their new aquarium but still hanging out at the front, begging for food.

pet turtle tank picture
An angled view of the tank. I don’t plan on filling the tank up to the full 150 gallons because, honestly, I don’t know if the floor can hold the weight. The turtle tank is in an old apartment building and we don’t know where the support beams are. The tank is positioned on a corner of the building, so that gives the floor more support than anywhere else on the apartment, but there’s still a question of whether the floor can support the weight of 150 gallons of water. Anyway, I fill the pet turtle tank up halfway (about 75 gallons) and do water changes once a month. The water in the pix is obviously less than half, but that’s cause I didn’t do a water change before taking the pix.

turtle tank Another front shot. You can see both my pet turtles, Rex is swimming on the left side and you can see Cinderella sticking her head out just above the two cichlid caves on the right.

pet turtle tank
Rex taking a nap. He’s hanging on to a suction-cupped piece of mesh that has some moss sandwiched inside it. He enjoyed sleeping on it in his old tank and he enjoys sleeping on it in his new tank too.

red ear slider pet turtle tank
Here’s Rex smiling for the camera! His mouth looks yellow because he was eating the 3D foam background. I removed it because of that and the fact that it hurt Rex (I’ll explain in a future post).




Comments

  1. Hello,

    You mentioned the dimensions of your tank 48″ wide, 30″ deep(front to back?), and 24″ high (depth of water?) Where did you buy this tank? I have been looking a while for this exact size.. Are you sure its not 48 width 24 deep and 30 high? Thats how 15t0 gallon tanks ushaully are made. Anyway

    I would apreaciate a reply as I’m really interested in the tank! Thanks

    -Henry

  2. Yup, I got the dimensions correct, 30″ deep and 24″ high. Most places would charge a hefty premium for getting a tank with those dimensions since they consider it a custom tank. I ordered it from Glasscages.com and it happens to be one of their standard sizes – so they charged me the regular price.

    Hope this helps!!

    Ooh, do you have turtles too or are you going to use it for a planted or fish tank? In any case, I’m interested in seeing how you eventually set it up

  3. Salt water is what i will use it for. Although I did have 2 red ear sliders about 15 years ago. I finally released them in a protected lake upstate. They layed eggs regularly I was never able to get them to hatch though. Im in NYC also if your still wanting to get rid of the tank let me know.. *email address removed* just remove the —— I do that so the internet spiders dont get my email addy and spam me to death.

  4. Ahh, salt…that must be very impressive when it’s all set up!!

    I just totally removed your email address and just understood what you meant – oh well, but that’s ok – for your privacy and that I don’t think I’ll be wanting to be ridding myself of the tank anymore.It will be a challenge when it comes time to move apartments, but its perfect for my RES

  5. Just wondering what filter you use? Have a large tank and a turtle, but want to ensure I get the right filtration system.

    Thanks in advance

    Joe

  6. I use two Filstar XP3 filters. Since I have roughly 75 gallons of water with my setup, one filter is enough. I’m using two since I felt like there was some deadspots in terms of water circulation, so I’m using two. The two XP3s will be enough even if I fill my tank to the brim with 150 gallons of water.

    The XP3 is one of the best filters for turtles

  7. I am very curious to know how the water is kept clean / changed in a large tank such as yours.

    I have 2 red earred sliders who make a real mess and I have to take them out put them in my bath tub and then clean out the entire tank using a bucket. Also, the filter gets really dirty and is a huge chore to clean manually. Any info. you could give me would be very helpful. I am on a low budget and can spend about 3 hundred if it makes a difference in keeping the tank clean for about 4 weeks. Its a big pain cleaning the tank and my kids are very reluctant to get rid of our turtles, but I see no solution in sight, had them for 6 years now.

  8. Hi Neville,

    How much water do you have? I would recommend getting the biggest aquarium you can get. A 50 gallon tank is much cleaner than a 20, an even larger one even moreso.

    Besides a lot of water, strong filtration with properly cycled biological filter media is the best way to keep the odor free.

    Sadly, the turtles will not be maintenance free no matter how much (or little) money you put in. Water changes will still need to be done at least once a month and filters will need to be cleaned every now and then. If the filters get clogged too quickly, I would recommend getting 1 or two XP3 filters or something bigger.

    If changing water is a hassle, it would be done much easier with something like a Python No Spill Clean and Fill system.

    Hope this helps, let me know if you have more questions

  9. Hello, I have 2 red eared slider biys and i got them a 108 gallon tank a few months ago, im looking to redo their tank and make it look “cooler” I am in dier need of a new filter system as the one i have is not very big I am interested in the xp3 and i was wondering how much it is and where to buy it. also if you have any other tips on redoing my tanks please feel free to let me know 🙂

  10. the cheapest one I found is on Amazon. They have it listed for $145.26 and $138.

    To make the tank look cool I would fill it up 100% with water and make a natural looking above tank basking area, with lots of wood or rocks…That’d be awesome and what I would do if I could fill my tank up all the way

  11. A quick question. I have had a maleyellow bellied slider for about 10 years now. I get hassled by many people to get him a roommate. I tend to lean towards the fact that might not be a great idea since my turtle snaps at his own reflection. This leads me to ask…I notice you keep your turtles separated, is there a reason for that?

    1. A lot of people think that just because they see photos of turtles basking together that turtles are social animals. They are not. Sliders in particular are territorial (when not basking).

      My turtles are separated because they fight and constantly attempt to hurt each other.

  12. Thanks for the quick reply! To be truthful I think my situation is due to people seeing Disney movies and not pictures of turtles basking.

    I guess since I am leaving another post I should not waste it. Next question:

    Considering my turtle generally eats any feeder regardless of size, what type of fish do you recommend have the best chance of survival? I see mention ofseveral ciclade types of fish, is there any in particular that you believe have the best chance of survival?

    LD

    1. you are welcome! Disney movies – that’s funny, but not as much if they referenced the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

      As a matter of fact, just recently one of my turtles bit my other turtle while I was holding them…

      In my opinion, the best fish to keep are electric yellow cichlids. They all got eaten in the end, but they lasted the longest of any fish I’ve tried. I pick them amongst the cichlids because they aren’t as aggressive as other cichlids and will manage fine without the cichlid type of water (hard).

      And please don’t worry about wasting a post comment – there is an infinite amount of space for any and all questions or comments!

  13. the tank looks amazing..i just got a tank that just havnt set it up yet ihave 5 yellow belly sliders im sure they will love it whenits done

  14. Hey there, I have a 100 gallon tank and I run a fluvalfx5 filter in it and I love it. My question to you is why do you not fill the tank alot higher with water to give them more swimming room. I have my filled about 5″ from the top and the love it. It just seems like a waste of a big tank to not give them as much swimming room so they can have fun.
    Thanx for your time, P.S. the tank looks great
    Thanks
    Don

    1. Hi Don – I would really love to give them more room and fill the turtle tank all the way up. But we live in an old building and we’re not confident that the floor can take the weight.

      And thanks! I’ve tried to make my pet turtle tank look as nice as I can..

  15. Is your water depth still around that level?

    Your turtles are far too big for such shallow water.. Your tank should be filled at least half way, or more.

    I fill mine to within 2 inches of the top. Sliders are great swimmers and need the room for it.

    1. I know, pet turtles do need alot of water – believe me, I know I should fill it up to the full 150 gallons – but unfortunately I live in an old building and I’m very doubtful the floor could handle the weight of so much water in a turtle tank. They do get 75 gallons of water though…

      What size tank do you have and what kind of turtles do you have? It’d be great if you could share some pictures of your pet turtles here.

  16. i have two red ear sliders and for about two years i kept them in a 29 gallon tank. they were the size of a fifty cent piece when i got them but now they are about five inches in diameter! i recently bought them a 150 gallon tank complete with custom oak hood and stand for 200 dollars. i completed the set-up this past saturday night and they LOVE it! they explored their new home for about three days and are now well adjusted to it. my turtle’s names are crush and tiny. tiny is actually bigger than crush but has a piece of her shell missing on the back left leg. i should have switched their names but they dont seem to mind. i was thinking of putting sand in the tank so they can dig, is this a good idea? also what kind of canister filter do you reccomend? p.s. your tank looks good

    1. $200 for a 150 gallon turtle tank??? Wow!!! that is AWESOME!

      (I deleted your other comment since it’s the same as this one)

      How did Tiny loose some turtle shell? Sand is ok – no risk in terms of swallowing and impacting. But I personally wouldn’t do it as it’s just something that will get mixed in with turtle waste and will make cleaning a little more difficult than it as to be.

      I recommend the XP3 filter. It’s what I use and they are great turtle filters and haven’t given me any problems.

      Thanks for the complement!! Will be be filling your tank all the way? I wish I could.

      Would you like to share some photos of your turtles and new tank here? Just fill this form. Thanks!!

      1. i dont know how tiny lost some of her shell. its a mystery to me since i’ve had her. and yeah 200 bucks for a 150 tank is awesome. got it from my friend at work! i saw the same one at a local pet shop, tank and stand but no hood for close to 1,000 dollars! i filled the tank a little over half way for the same reason you did not fill yours all the way, worried about the floor. i might try to put more in there, just seeing how the floor handles the weight. we just bought our first house and i would hate for anything to happen! sorry about the same comment, in the middle of sending that one my computer froze and i thought it didnt send it. going to put pictures of tiny, crush and tank up soon, my wife will have to help me, im lost when it comes to computers. just so you know a 150 gallon tank filled all the way weighs 1,200 lbs. not including stand hood and whatever deco you have! thanks for the filter tip, will def. be looking into it.

        1. Maybe she lost some shell cause of Crush. Do they fight each other?

          Yup, that 1200 lbs can be a scary thing!! We’re in the same boat on that one

  17. no they dont fight and anyway i had tiny before crush. crush is a male and tiny is female. he has been doing his mating dance with her for about six months, tho they are not mature enough to mate yet. i think he is practicing! ha ha! and that 1200 lbs. is not including the weight of the tank itself, which is quite heavy. my wife and i had a heck of a time getting the tank into the house! i’m guessing the tank itself weighs about 200 to 250 lbs.? by the way i remembered that the floor where my tank is is concrete! that means more water for crush and tiny. hope to get pics up soon.

    1. Was it just the two of you that moved your turtle tank in? We had a hard time too – it took six guys to get it up the stairs into our 3rd floor apartment!!

      Awesome about the concrete…I’m looking forward to seeing your pictures soon!!

      1. yes it was just my wife and i! and i have to say that i am very impressed with her! she’s a lot tougher than i thought!she only weighs about 120 lbs. thats less than the tank! yeah i was pretty excited about the floor in our bedroom being concrete. i now have the tank about two thirds full. they really like the extra swimming room. goin to get pics up soon, promise. just waiting now to add a few more decor to the tank first. i cant imagine moving that tank up three flights of stairs! wow. at least its done now, until you move that is. i was also wondering how many big rocks i could put into the tank without the bottom falling out. i have some and i want to make a rock wall in there but im worried about the bottom breaking. anyone have any idea? any advice would help.

        1. Wow, your wife sounds impressive! Yes, when we move we are hiring several movers…I dont want to move that turtle tank myself again!!

          Regarding rocks, you want to be careful about putting too much weight on one spot. If its a background you want I would attached it directly on the wall (or hanging), but to be very sure that they dont come loose and fall off. Looking forward to seeing your photos!

  18. I made a post a while ago about filters, I am happy to say I finally got an Xp3 filter for my two red eard sliders and thier 108 gallon tank 🙂

      1. just got the rena xp3 filter yesterday and set it up last night! love it! i do have some questions tho. the water in my tank is still a quite murky. how long does it take to clear up? with my old filter the water never really got crystal clear but im hoping that this filter will solve that problem. i do have quite a bit of water in there, (roughly 110 gallons) so im thinking that it may take a few days to clear up all the way. is a few days the normal time for the filter to clean the water all the way? maybe im just paranoid. but i must say that the filter is the best for the set up i have. i looked at tons of other filters but the xp3 was the best choice. thanks for the suggestion!

        1. glad you’re enjoying your turtle filter! What do you mean by murky? Is it a whitish, cloudy – like kind of murky? If so, you’re tank is going through something called “new tank syndrome” – which can happen even if the tank isn’t entirely new. Just make sure you have some biological filter media (ceramic rings are the usual) and once your tank has properly cycled the murkiness will disappear.

  19. ya, its cloudy-murky. yes i have some bio. filter media but i need more. i think the more bio media the better for turtles because of the high output of waste. i here you can make them yourself out of any plastic that has holes or places for the bacteria to grow, i’ve even heard of people using marbles. is this true? has anyone tried it or using it now? just wondering. thoght about using 2 liter bottle caps but just wanted to check it out first. and you r right, i checked it out omline and what you said about the murky water is correct. thanks for answering. thinking about getting rid of the gravel, but hate the thought of taking it all out! if i do take it out i’ll wait til the tank has cycled properly so as not to disrupt the biological balance of the tank. once the tank is clear i promise to get pics up then. thanks for ALL of your help! nice to know where you can go for prof. advice on all of this stuff. by far my favorite turtle blog!

    1. I haven’t heard of anyone making their own bio media. I suppose it’s ok to make your own so long as the material is non-toxic. Ceramic rings are great because they are porous, which means there is more surface area for the friendly bacteria to grow and stay on – so just make sure whatever you use has a lot of surface area. Surface area is what makes bio balls work and, in my opinion, does not make glass marbles a good idea.

      As for gravel, it actually makes the turtle tank dirtier – it traps a lot of waste. It’s a hassle to remove (esp. for a big tank!), but will make future maintenance a breeze in comparison (but it is helping speed up your cycling!).

      You are very welcome Ryan, thank you for enjoying this turtle site!!

  20. yeah thats what im NOT looking forward to, trying to get that gravel out. i went and bought some bio media today from the local pet shop. i got ceramic rings and bio balls. just put them in like 4 hrs ago. hopefully it helps speed up the cycling. how long does it usually take for a tank of this size to cycle? i also had a question about the xp3. how much water is in the canister on your filter? mine has about an inch of air at the top where the lid is. is this normal? doesnt say in the manual how much is supposed to be in there. the water in your tank looks crystal clear, was it murky when you first set it up? and do you run 2 xp3’s? i thought i read somewhere that you do. is one enough for 110 gallons? once again any input would be appreciated! and when i take the gravel out, will my tank have to cycle all over again? thanks so much for everything!!!

    1. Hey there,
      I run 1 Fluval Fx5 on my 100 gallon tank that has about 3″ of gravel/rocks on the bottom. My tank is also filled all the way to the top since I built an above tank basking aera.I do a 25-30% water change every couple of weeks and vacuum the gravel ever month and a half or so. My water is always crystal clear. I hope you get same results with your new filter =)

      1. Thanks Bigworm!

        The Fx5 is actually a lot bigger and stronger than the XP3, so Ryan will have a different experience, but I do hope results will be just as good!!

        I’m interested in what your above tank basking area looks like – if you like, I would like to showcase your turtle tank on this website. Share your pet turtle pictures here and I’ll put your photos up in a future post.

    2. It’s hard to say exactly how long a large turtle tank will take to cycle since there’s too many things to account for. It’s going to be a lot quicker than a fish aquarium!

      The water level inside the XP3 doesn’t matter, so long as it’s running, it’s ok. I got my tank brand new but didn’t get “new tank syndrome” since I mixed old bio filter media with new filter media – and the tank cycled very, very quickly.

      I bought two XP3s with the intention of using it on 150 gallons of water – which would be optimal. With my tank being half full, 2 XP3s are more than enough, I keep them both on cause I felt there were too many “dead spots” of water movement.

      One is enough, but you might want to get another one – wait to see how it works out.

      Once your filter media is cycled, that’s it – removing the gravel will have no impact.

  21. thanks to everyone for your answers! since i added a lot more bio media yesterday my tank looks a lot less cloudy today. i think i will have crystal clear water. im thinking about exchanging the xp3 from the place i got it and getting the xp4 since it is only 40 bucks more. i think that will be plenty for my set up. why not more filter for a little more money? i think i am going to remove the gravel, glad you guys know your stuff! saved me a lot of trial and error. thank you both very much for taking time to help out. above the tank basking area? how do you keep them from climbing out? sounds cool. would very much like to see some pics of it. and by the way, what exactly does forlogos mean?

    1. more filter is always better 🙂

      An above tank basking area will need walls of course to keep turtles from falling out. Think of it as adding a vertical extension to your turtle tank, but with a floor. They are the way to go to maximize the amount of water. The best above tank basking areas are DIY, but there are a few commercial products out there, like the turtle topper.

      I made up the pseudonym forlorogs a long time back in college. I had wanted to sell logos, so I would be for logos or forlogos. The logos thing never took off, but I kept with the name. Incidently, logos is also ancient greek for wisdom (or something like that).

      You are most welcome!

  22. got the xp4 last night and set it up. working just fine. cant wait to get pics up, waiting on the water to clear a little more tho. for logos, thats funny, i thought that it was some foreign name for turtle! lol. thats cool tho. do you know of any sites that have instructions on DIY above the tank basking area? would like to check it out. the turtle topper isnt big enough for my tank. i think i read somewhere that they are for tanks up to 55 gallons or something like that. the xp4 is doing well. i have read some bad reviews of the whole xp line and i think that most of them were due to improper set up or there were a few that really did have bad filters. i am having no trouble what so ever with mine. it works like a top! i think that most of the people probably had air in the filter somewhere or didnt read the instructions thru. anyway i would def recomend it to anyone!

    1. I agree with your thoughts about the bad Filstar XP series reviews. I am glad that you are loving it!

      It would be cool if forlogos did mean “turtle” somewhere.

      I don’t know of any site offhand, but I would recommend searching through some of the turtle forums. Turtle Times I recommend on particular – and they have had many discussions on above tank basking areas

  23. hey just sent you some pics of my tank,crush,and tiny! hope you get them. let me know if you did or didnt. like i said before im not computer literate so i dont know if i did it right or not. thanks!

  24. sweet! thanks, i didnt know how they would turn out, the only camera we have is the one on our cell phones. cant wait to see them up! the water in my tank is getting better by the day, the xp4 is amazing!! will have crystal clear water in no time!

  25. hey people! its been a while since i posted but ive been too busy at work to do much of anything lately. crush and tiny are no longer with us. i wanted something different as far as turtles go so i found them a great home with someone who knows thier stuff with turtles and was looking for some red ear sliders. not that they are not great turtles, i miss them very much, but just wanted something out of the ordinary. i got two map turtles. one is a texas map, the other is a pearl river map. the texas map turtle’s name is Iggy and the pearl river map turtle’s name is Ziggy. i hope to have pics up soon! well thats all on my end, anyone have any questions, go for it. p.s. tiny and crush are happier i think, they are in a HUGE set up!! 260 gallons! the person who took them lives close so i can still see them from time to time.

    1. wow, you are very fortunate to have found someone who loves turtles and was willing to take in some new pet turtles in such a short time-frame!! It is even awesomer that you can go out and visit them!

      Congratulations on you new map turtles – how big are they and are they male/female? I hope they have adjusted to their new home with you. Do share your pet turtle pictures. Looking forward to it.

      A 260 gallon pet turtle setup – that is impressive? Is it a turtle tank or a pond? Pictures of that too would be awesome – that sounds like a really amazing setup!!

  26. they are adjusting well! they are eating crickets and grasshoppers, but they wont eat the pellet food. the texas map is 2 inches and the pearl river map is 1 and a half inches. they really loke their new home! they just keep exploring and hiding in the tree roots. they LOVE wood piles so im adding more wood in the tank tonight. i will have pics up soon!

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