How often should you clean a turtle tank? (Self-cleaning turtle aquarium and more)

If you want to have a piece of prehistoric reptile in the yard, a turtle would be the best choice. Having a turtle pet is such a blissful thing. No wonder more and more people these days are wanting turtles for a pet. Trying to understand their nature and behavior is fun by itself. The most important thing to remember in keeping these ancient mariners is to make sure they are healthy, always in a good mood, and happy.

Now that you have a turtle tank, you might be asking the same question – How often should you clean a turtle tank? There is no definite set of guidelines on how often you should clean a turtle aquarium tank. People have different settings, so it varies from one person to another. Changing of water tank depends naturally on so many various things such as the size of the tank, what kind of turtle, the amount of waste of your turtle, what type of filtration you use, and the Nitrogen cycle. Some people change the water tank every two and a half weeks. But the good rule of thumb is to change the water once every three weeks. Set your schedule, take note of it, and make sure to stick to it as a part of your cleaning routine or your “turtle routine.” The rule is best applicable for one turtle pet in a tank.

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How about if you have more than one turtle pet in a tank? It is most likely that you will have more than one turtle pet in the tank. The more turtles you have, the more amount of waste you will see in the water, and soon you may notice a build-up of algae in the glass. In this case, change the water tank every two weeks and stick to it as your monthly routine.

Some sources tell you to change the water tank 3 to 4 times each month. You have to be careful about this and avoid doing it as doing so kills all of those beneficial bacteria – which plays a vital role in making your tank clean and your turtle healthy. There are still lots of things you need to remember in cleaning a turtle tank.

How to change the water in a turtle tank?

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By the time you read this second question, you already have an idea of how often you should clean a turtle tank but are you clear on how to change the water in a turtle tank? The water tank does not have a natural ecosystem as no fresh water comes in. It means whatever amount of mechanical or physical waste released stays in the tank for a long time unless you execute changing water. In performing the water change of your turtle tank or fish tank, you may need the following;

Big Bucket
Handy Pump Siphon

Magnetic Algae Scraper
Chemical Dechlorinator
Towel

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Let’s get started to clean a turtle aquarium tank. Here is the procedure on how to change the water in a turtle tank:

  • First and foremost, before you get started taking out the water, make sure to turn off the water filter and heater or any electrical device connected to your tank so that they are not running as you take out the water and unplug everything. It is to avoid damaging your filter and heater and also to be on the safe side.
  • Now that your filter and heater are turned off, grab your magnetized algae scraper and use it to get rid of those unsightly algae around your tank. Scrape any algae that you see built-up on the glass and do it carefully from all sides.
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A photo shows an owner using a magnetic algae scraper to get rid of algae in the glass.
  • After scraping off the algae, get your water bucket on the floor and hold your siphon. To do this properly, make sure the bucket is lower than the water level of the tank. Put the siphon into the tank and start by pumping it, and the water flows easily by itself to the bucket. Hold the siphon the whole time until finished in taking out the amount of water you want to replace. You can also do spot clean where you can find areas to siphon out poops or molds you want to clear from the bottom of the tank. This is what you want to do the most to get rid of those unsightly waste matter when you clean a turtle tank.
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A photo shows a pet owner pumped the siphon to start the water flow.
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A photo shows a pet owner holding the siphon and reaching the areas of the turtle tank with poop to siphon it out.
  • At this time, you have the dirty water on the bucket but do not throw it yet. Clean your filter media, decorations, stones, and plants using the dirty water from the tank and not using any tap water. You want to make sure that you do not get rid of all of those necessary beneficial bacteria for your turtle and your tank.
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A photo shows a pet owner washing forest ceramic rocks in the dirty water from the tank.
  • After cleaning the bucket, add tap water and put in some Chemical Dechlorinator to remove the heavy metals or chlorine as they are harmful to your turtles. Chemical Dechlorinators may be unhealthy, but they are the best option for those who do not have enough space to stock dechlorinated water.
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A photo shows a big bucket used for changing water in the tank.
  • Put the dechlorinated water back to the tank and your turtle, and that’s the finished line in cleaning a turtle tank.
  • Dry the area with a clean towel.

What to do with the dirty water from the tank?

After using the dirty water to clean your filter media and other things you have in the turtle tank, you can use it to water the plants or throw it away and make sure to dispose of it properly.

How to dechlorinate your water naturally?

Chemical Dechlorinator may still have harsh chemicals and can be harmful to your pet turtle then you might want to consider how to dechlorinate your water naturally. You can do this by leaving the water out in the bucket for 24 hours and allowing it to aerate. You can also put air stones or river rocks in it to intensify the process of dechlorinating your water and do this a few days before you clean a turtle tank.

What is Filter Media?

A Filter Media refers to the materials used to filter the water to protect the quality and make it clearer for a long period. It is effective at removing pollutants in turtles’ tanks such as turtle excrement, uneaten food, suspended solids, dust, and sludge. It is best to clean the filter media regularly to prevent build-up. The photo above has large smooth river rocks and some safe aquatic greeneries for turtle filter media.

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How do I keep my turtle tank clean?

There are many ways to clean your turtle tank but you need to consider the best way to maintain the cleanliness of your tank. You can keep your turtle tank clean by following these 3 helpful tips:

  • When feeding your turtle, try to feed it from a separate container as you know turtles are the messiest when it comes to feeding, and that small debris can sit at the bottom of the tank that may release a stinking odor after some days.
  • Do the water change regularly and you need to be self-disciplined in sticking to this routine. If you think you need to change the water every week then stick to a 25% water minimum.
  • Get a strong water filter. Choose a filter rated at least 2 to 3 times the size of your tank. It will definitely help your job much easier and make the water really clean. For example, in a 110-gallon pond, you can get a 200 to 400-gallon filter. It is a smart investment to maintain the cleanliness of your turtle tank

Where to put turtles when cleaning tanks?

It is a challenging task, but it is a routine activity that you should clean your turtle tank regularly. Some people are comfortable cleaning the tank with the turtle in the way, but if you do not know what to do you may ask – where to put the turtle when cleaning the tank? The first thing you want to consider in this procedure is the safety of your turtle. You will need a Plastic Bin to settle your turtle pet while you are performing the whole process of cleaning the tank.

Here is the procedure on where to put your turtle when cleaning the tank:

  • Fill the plastic bin with water from the tank (not fresh from the faucet).
  • Then go ahead and gently grab your pet turtle or turtles from the tank.
  • Put the turtle into the tub of water in the plastic bin and let it relax while you are on the move.
  • You can put some turtle food as it is also good timing to feed the turtle while it is in the plastic bin and just let your turtle enjoy and then you can proceed to clean the tank knowing your turtle is safe and sound.

What is a good pH level for turtles?

Fish are more temperamental than turtles. You can change the pH level for turtles quicker than fish, but still, you want to give it some time. In general, a good pH level for turtles is around 6.0 to 6.09. That is enough pH level to slow down the growth of fungi or any bacteria lurking in your turtle’s tank.

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Can a dirty turtle tank make you sick?

Warning and take heed! Turtles poop a lot in the water, and turtle poop can turn into Salmonella germs in the water. When turtles swim, they get these Salmonella germs to stick to their bodies and can be passed to humans when you are holding them. As you know, Salmonella germs are dangerous to humans but not for turtles. That is one thing you must remember in cleaning a turtle tank.

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How do you keep a turtle tank from smelling?

To clean a turtle tank is pretty easy to follow, but you must be annoyed that your turtle tank still smells like turtle poop all day. The best way to combat a smelly turtle tank is to put a Moss Ball and let it sit at the bottom of your tank. Moss ball is for clarity and odor control that can last up to 2 to 6 months for 55 gallons of water. You can follow the instructions at the back of its package. Put it into your water tank and let it sink. You will know it is working when it starts to release some bubbles. Another way is to vacuum your stones or rocks. Also, do not forget to feed your turtles in a separate plastic container. These are the most effective ways to clean a turtle tank and keep it odorless.

Conclusion

As a responsible turtle owner, do your water change regularly and stick to your schedule. To avoid cloudy water, change the water to not more than 50 percent of it. It is also helpful to study more about the Nitrogen cycle so you can understand deeply how to clean a turtle tank. And most importantly, wash your hands with soapy water properly after handling turtles and their tank to avoid getting Salmonella.

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