How to Keep a Turtle Tank Hygienic & Clean?

Prevention is better than cure. Turtles are messy by nature. Despite thorough cleaning, tank water can get murky within days. Murky tank water can lead to severe health problems for the turtle. As a turtle owner, you must try your best to keep your turtle tank clean. 

A clean environment and hygienic water matter the most for a turtle, but the cleaning process of a turtle tank is no joke.

Cleaning up a turtle tank can take 3 to 4 hours of hard work. According to some owners, it can take up to half a day to clean a tank. Doing this twice a month is tougher than said. A great way to avoid cleaning twice a month is by taking precautions to keep the tank water cleaner. 

We will learn how to keep a turtle tank hygienic & clean in today’s article. 

How to Keep a Turtle Tank Clean

How To Keep A Turtle Tank Hygienic & Clean? 

Keeping your turtle tank hygienic and clean does not require a lot of hard work or money. You will be able to reduce cleaning hassle by following some easy steps and upgrading your turtle habitat. Here is how to keep a turtle tank hygienic and clean:

Getting A Big Enough Tank

The size of your turtle tank matters the most when it comes to keeping it clean. Turtles sleep, swim, and feed inside one tank unless it has a different feeding area. A separate feeding area is not a common thing among many turtle owners.

As we have said, turtles defecate, feed, swim, and live in the same water. If you have a smaller turtle tank, it will get dirty faster. With larger tanks and more water, the concentration of feces, ammonia, and bacteria will not be harmful enough for your pet.

Most turtle owners determine the tank size according to the turtle’s shell. It is a common rule where an inch of turtle shell requires 10 gallons of tank space.  

Canister Filter Installation

Turtles produce a lot of waste. Installing filters inside the tank helps to get rid of this waste and keep the water clean. But smaller sized filters of regular filters may not be enough for your turtle and its produced waste. If the filter is not strong enough, the water inside will get dirty and murky within days. 

According to most turtle owners, installing a high-powered canister filter in the turtle tank is a great way to keep the filtration inside up to date. Installing regular aquarium filters inside a turtle tank is not a great idea since turtles produce significantly more waste than fishes. Canister filters are larger and have a more effective filtration.

These filters pump more volume of water than regular aquarium filters, which then go through a series of filters inside. A canister filter is a great way to reduce cleaning hassle without risking your turtle’s hygiene.

Cleaning After Feeding

Cleaning leftover food after each feeding is a great way to prevent murky water in the turtle tank. Leftover food inside the water will rot with time, producing ammonia. As more time passes, the concentration of ammonia will get higher, becoming toxic for your turtle. 

A smaller amount of ammonia is not harmful to your turtle.

The nitrogen cycle inside the turtle tank produces ammonia by converting leftover food or droppings. With more leftover food and waste, the nitrogen cycle will create a higher level of ammonia. 

Cleaning the bottom of the tank after feeding the turtle is preventing an increased level of ammonia and keeping the ammonia inside at a minimum level.

Many turtle owners prefer using a scoop to pick up leftover food and dropping. It is a great way to clean the tank within minutes. This method works great if you have a bare bottom. It will not provide effective cleaning like a gravel vacuum with substrates but will get the job done. 

Another great way to clean the bottom is by using a gravel vacuum.

A gravel vacuum is preferred if you have substrate or gravel at the bottom of the tank. Using a vacuum will ensure there is no waste stuck or hidden under the substrate. When choosing a gravel vacuum, opt for one with a long hose. A long hose will ensure more convenient cleaning. 

Water Sterilizer

Water sterilizing is not a process that is required regularly. Water sterilization is a great way to kill unwanted bacteria, salmonella and clean up cloudy water inside the turtle tank. 

Bacteria, algae, and a higher concentration of ammonia can turn the water inside hazy.

While murky water naturally cleans within a few weeks and is not necessarily harmful to your turtle, it may leave a stinky smell throughout your house. The turtle tank will also look quite unattractive due to the green and murky-looking water inside. 

Along with salmonella, turtles can carry many other pathogens. A UV water sterilizer is the best way to deal with such a situation. 

Water sterilization requires a UV water sterilizer which is different from the UVB basking lamp. Choose a UV water sterilizer according to the tank capacity. 

Regular Water Changing Schedule 

Nothing you do will be able to keep your turtle tank hygienic and clean if you don’t do partial water changes every week. 

Partial water change ensures that the water inside the tank is fresh. Adding fresh water also dilutes the ammonia inside. 

With partial water changes, removing about 30% of the tank water and replacing it with fresh water will get the job done perfectly. Weekly water changes and a good filter are the keys to a clean turtle tank.

However, as most people use tap water in their turtle tank, you must de-chlorinate your tap water before pouring it into the turtle tank. De-chlorinating is necessary because the chlorine in the tap water can kill all the good bacteria inside the tank. Chlorine also kills harmful bacteria but killing the good one can do more harm to your turtles. 

Adding Live Plants And Fishes To Keep The Water Clean 

Instead of adding fake plants to enhance the beauty of your turtle tank, opt for live plants. Live plants will not require extra cleaning like artificial plants do and will feed on the nutrients inside the water.

Live plants will also look more natural than fake plants. Adding live plants will starve the algae inside the tank thus, keeping algae growth in control. Most live plants are not toxic for your turtle, but some are. So be sure to check before buying one. 

Another great way to keep your turtle tank clean is by adding scavenger fishes. If your turtle is not hostile towards other animals, adding a few fish according to the tank size is recommended. But if your turtle is the type that eats everything, chances are it will eat the fishes. Adding ghost shrimps is a great idea.

Ghost shrimps are cheap and will scavenge every bit of leftover food inside the tank. These shrimps are a delicious snack for turtles so, adding a few will not displease your turtle at all. Adding small hiding places in the gravel can help your ghost shrimps to survive for a few weeks and feed on the leftover bits of food.

Separate Feeding Area 

Keeping a separate feeding area is a great idea if you want to keep the waste inside the tank in control. Many turtle owners see this as a hassle. With each feeding, you need to take the turtle out of its habitat and feed it in a different area.

However, if your turtle wastes a lot of food and the tank water gets dirty frequently, keeping a separate feeding area can be an effective method solution to this problem.

If you end up making a different feeding area for your turtle, make sure the tank is big enough. A separate feeding area can act as temporary housing for your turtle when you are cleaning its tank. 

Do not forget to wash your hands, wear gloves and take enough precautions before touching your turtle. 

No Substrate 

Keeping the bottom of the tank bare with zero substrates can help to keep the tank clean. Due to the substrate at the bottom, cleaning up leftovers and droppings can be difficult. Leftover food can get stuck in the substrate may lead to the overproduction of ammonia.

Substrates can also make it harder to scoop waste manually.

Even during tank cleaning, substrate makes the work harder. For example, if you use fine sand for substrate, you will need to clean it thoroughly frequently, or else it will trap feces and turn into a stinky cluster of feces. 

Substrates do look attractive but, they are not necessary for your turtles. Many pet store owners may tell you that your turtle requires substrates, but the truth is, an aquatic turtle spends most of its time swimming in the water. Inside your tank setup, there is also a basking area. 

Substrates may enhance the beauty of your turtle tank, but your aquatic turtle doesn’t need it at all. Some turtles eat substrate and end up hurting themselves. For example, if you use gravel or fine sand as a substrate, there are chances that your turtle will eat it and end up harming itself in the process. It is why avoiding substrates is a good idea. 

Importance Of Keeping A Turtle Tank Hygienic and Clean 

Up until now, we have been talking about how to keep a turtle tank hygienic and clean. But why you should keep a turtle tank clean is also equally important. Contrary to popular belief, turtles prefer clean water as their habitat. Here are a few reasons why you should keep a turtle tank clean

Algae Overgrowth Prevention 

Any place that is wet and has direct sun exposure is considered algae heaven. If your turtle has a daylight routine that requires it to sit in direct sunlight, there are chances that you will find algae in the tank soon. Even with proper cleaning, you will see a small number of algae in the turtle tank.

A small number of algae is not harmful to your turtle. But a poorly cleaned environment, higher concentration of ammonia, and direct sunlight exposure for long hours can lead to an algae overgrowth within days.

Keeping the water clean with a weekly water change, adding live fishes that eat the algae is recommended to prevent this. An algae overgrowth can become fatal if it is not dealt with properly. 

Salmonella Outbreak Prevention 

Turtles carry salmonella in their feces. As you know, turtles live, swim, eat and defecate in the same water. Their feces that has salmonella sits on the bottom of the tank. If not cleaned properly, it will soon spread a foul smell through your house.

With more feces building up and less cleaning, the chances of a salmonella outbreak are not rare.

Do not forget to wash your hands and wear safety gear while cleaning the turtle tank. 

Keeping Your Turtle Healthy 

Without a clean and hygienic environment, your turtle will fall sick. Unhygienic water can cause permanent eyesight damage for your turtle. Algae can grow on the shell of your turtle. Without proper cleaning and poor hygiene, shell infections may occur. Different types of parasitic worms can cause digestive issues for your pet. 

Final Words

Cleaning a turtle tank is a must to ensure a healthy environment for your turtle. Hopefully, with this article, you have learned how to keep a turtle tank hygienic & clean. By following these steps, you will no longer have to see cloudy water in your turtle tank.

You will be able to provide a clean and hygienic environment to your turtle without risking their safety. If you keep an unhygienic turtle tank in your house, that can endanger your safety too.

Without proper measures to keep the turtle tank clean and clean it properly, both you and your loving pet can fall sick quickly. A messy aquatic animal like a turtle requires maximum hygiene and, it is a must that, you as a turtle owner, ensure it. 

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