Quick, Easy and Best Indoor Setup for a Red Eared Slider Turtle

Turtles are super cute and they are fantastic as pets. Turtles are known for their long lifespan and even if you get them when they are super small, they will quickly grow into adults. However, you need to ensure proper love and care to make the most of their lifespan.

You need to create the perfect setup so that the little munchkin gets to live a full life. Red-eared sliders are quite an intriguing breed and to be honest, they are a bit high-maintenance. Having just a tank will not suffice in this case. Along with the setup, you should ensure a balanced diet, proper lighting, and take care of their health to give them a happy full-filling life.

Now, let’s take a quick look at how to get the best indoor setup for a red-eared slider turtle.

Best Indoor Setup For Red Eared Slider Turtle

The Best Indoor Setup for a Red Eared Slider Turtle

Red-eared slider turtles are aquatic animals and they live most of their lives in water. It is important that there is an optimum water supply in their living space. I have seen many people having red-eared sliders in a small tank with little water. That is one mistake you sure want to avoid.


The first thing you will need for the setup is the tank. You need to choose a decent-sized tank for the turtle and for this specific breed, the bigger the better. A tank is the most common option to create a turtle habitat.

People generally tend to get a tank that is way smaller than needed. The rule of thumb is that you need at least 15-20 gallons of water for a 1-inch turtle. Turtles grow fairly quickly so don’t just get a tank based on its current size. Keep in mind that it will eventually grow up and buy a tank based on its grown size.

Also, if you are creating an indoor setup for multiple red-eared turtles then just add half of the original size for each extra turtle. Another mistake many turtle-parents tend to do is to get a wide tank instead of a deeper one.

The depth should be similar to the size of the turtle so that it can turn itself over if it gets upside down. For example, if the turtle is around 4-inches then the depth of water should be at least similar to that so that it can roll back to its normal position.

Different Sizes of Tanks

The red-eared turtles can grow up to 12-inches in length. So, it is important that you get a tank that will be suitable for the turtle even when it grows up. Strong swimmer turtles like red-eared turtles prefer vertical swimming and you should pick a tank that gives them optimum space to swim around.

If you are getting a small turtle then you can initially go for a 50-gallon tank. It is illegal to get a red-eared turtle less than 4-inches in diameter as a pet. So, for a 4-inches turtle, 50 gallons will be sufficient in the beginning. However, as the turtle grows, it will need a bigger space with more water.

You can initially get a 75-gallon tank as that offers plenty of space for the turtle to roam around freely. However, if you are a long-term thinker and you don’t want the hassle of getting a new tank once it grows up then you should pick the 120-gallon tank.

You can easily find these tanks in your nearby pet stores. However, if you want to avoid the trouble of carrying it all the way home then you can just order one online as there are many different brands available out there.

Heat Lamp and UVB Light

Now that you have decided on the tank, you need to get to the types of lamps for the indoor setup. Turtles need both heat lamps and UVB light in their habitat. Here are some quick tips that will help you with the setup procedure.

  • Since the red-eared slider turtle is an aquatic animal, you need both UVB and UVA spectrum lights. You can find UVB lights that also produce UVA. The UVB spectrum light bulb should be the main light in the tank.
  • The lights should be set up in a way so that it properly illuminates the basking area of the tank.
  • You will also need a heat lamp along with UVB and UVA lights. The red-eared slider turtles need a warm basking place. The heat lamp will generate warmth and mimic their natural habitat with sunlight. It will help them to dry off and stay healthy.
  • To create a natural habitat setup, you need to create a 24-hour day. You should keep the lights on for about 12-14 hours a day and keep it dark for at least 10-12 hours which will mimic the night. You can get a timer to get on with the process as it will be too hectic to do it manually. There are many budget-friendly timers available on Amazon and eBay.


The setup will be incomplete without a good filter. You should always invest in a high-quality powerful filter for the tank. Turtles are messy animals and the filter will make your task 100-times easier. The filter will take out all the dirt and gunk from the water and keep it clean. This will also benefit the health of the turtle.

There are tons of different types of filters on the market. Canister filters are super powerful and there are tons of different models available in the market. I personally loved this Penn-Plax  Canister Filter for its superior quality and performance. It has 3 media baskets that can clean up to a 100-gallon tank.

However, you can also go for sponge filters, power filters, or hang-back filters depending on your requirements and budget.

Water Heater

As we said earlier, red-eared slider turtles prefer a warm environment. If you live in a cold area, you should definitely get a water heater to create an ambient temperature for the turtles. The heater will maintain a constant temperature all throughout the year. You can also get a thermometer to constantly monitor the temperature of the water.

Basking Place

A basking place is a must-have place for an aquatic animal. It should be at least 25% of their living space. The general rule of thumb is that the basking space should be around 2 times larger than the length of the turtle. This is the zone where the turtle will dry itself and it is super important to maintain healthy growth in the turtle.

Final Thoughts

Red-eared turtles are superb as pets. However, their housing needs to mimic their natural habitat which is warm water for swimming and a dry warm area to bask. You can easily create the best indoor setup for your red-eared slider turtle so that they can live a long fun life.

We have tried helping you with different setup ideas to create the best one of your choice. Keep in mind that these turtles have a life expectancy of about 55-70 years and they grow up quickly. So, it will be wiser to get started with a large tank or aquarium so that you don’t have to change it every now and then.

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