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Can A Box Turtle Survive In A Fish Tank?

It’s great that you’re providing guidance for new box turtle owners! A fish tank can indeed serve as a suitable habitat for a box turtle, but it’s crucial to ensure that it meets certain requirements to mimic their natural environment as closely as possible. For instance, providing ample space for the turtle to move around, […]

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Can A Box Turtle Survive In A Fish Tank?

It’s great that you’re providing guidance for new box turtle owners! A fish tank can indeed serve as a suitable habitat for a box turtle, but it’s crucial to ensure that it meets certain requirements to mimic their natural environment as closely as possible. For instance, providing ample space for the turtle to move around, bask, and swim (if applicable) is essential. Additionally, incorporating appropriate substrate, hiding spots, and a shallow water dish for soaking are important considerations.

For indoor habitats, proper heating and lighting elements are necessary to maintain the turtle’s health and encourage natural behaviors like basking. UVB lighting is particularly crucial for box turtles to help them metabolize calcium and prevent shell deformities.

Outdoor enclosures offer the benefit of natural sunlight and a more expansive living space, but they must be secure to prevent escapes and protect the turtle from predators.

By educating new owners about these factors, you’re helping them provide the best possible care for their box turtles.

And for others, like I always say, it’s fun to know about turtles.

Box Turtle And Fish In The Same Tank?

It’s important to note that while some subspecies of box turtles may occasionally venture into water, they are primarily terrestrial and do not spend the majority of their time submerged. As such, cohabitating them with fish in a tank requires careful consideration and monitoring to ensure the well-being of both the turtle and the fish.

Choosing larger fish species is a wise precaution to minimize the risk of the turtle hunting and harming them. Additionally, selecting fish that produce minimal waste helps maintain water quality, benefiting both the turtle and the fish.

Providing a spacious tank is crucial for the turtle’s growth and well-being, as it allows ample room for movement and exploration. Regular monitoring of water parameters and tank cleanliness is essential to prevent health issues for both the turtle and the fish.

By emphasizing these considerations, you’re helping pet owners create a harmonious environment for their box turtle and any fish companions.

What Is The Ideal Tank Size For A Box Turtle?

The tank size of a box turtle depends on the turtle’s size. Two size tanks are available for a box turtle:

  • A 36″ x 18” size fish tank, which can hold 40 gallons of water
  • A 48” x 18″ size fish tank, which can hold 75 gallons of water

The bigger the tank, the better it is for the box turtle to move. Many people use 80 gallon fish tank for their pet turtle. Before buying a fish tank, you have to keep in mind that a box turtle grows until it reaches its adulthood. So a smaller container may hinder its free movement.

While choosing a tank for your box turtle, do not buy those with average glasses. It is because

  1. A box turtle can see right through the glass. It may try to move but fail, which can be stressful for it.
  2. The box turtle may suffer from anxiety issues because of it. Anxiety can reduce the turtle’s lifespan.

Supplies To Make A Fish Tank Perfect For Your Box Turtle

Absolutely, creating a suitable habitat for a box turtle involves more than just placing them in a fish tank. Customizing the setup with appropriate supplies is essential to meet their specific needs. Here are some key supplies to consider:

  1. Substrate: Choose a substrate that mimics the turtle’s natural environment and allows for digging and burrowing. Options include coconut coir, cypress mulch, or a mixture of topsoil and sand.
  2. Hiding spots: Provide hiding spots such as rocks, logs, or artificial caves where the turtle can retreat and feel secure.
  3. Basking area: Create a basking area with a flat rock or platform positioned under a heat lamp. This area should allow the turtle to bask under a UVB lamp to aid in shell health and calcium metabolism.
  4. Water dish: Place a shallow water dish large enough for the turtle to soak in comfortably. Ensure that the water is clean and regularly replenished.
  5. UVB lighting: Install a UVB lamp over the basking area to provide the turtle with essential UV rays for proper calcium absorption and overall health.
  6. Heating equipment: Use a heat lamp or ceramic heat emitter to maintain the appropriate temperature gradient in the enclosure, with a basking spot around 90-95°F (32-35°C) and a cooler area around 70-75°F (21-24°C).
  7. Food and water: Provide a varied diet consisting of leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, insects, and occasional protein sources like cooked chicken or fish. Ensure access to fresh water for drinking and soaking.
  8. Thermometer and hygrometer: Monitor temperature and humidity levels in the enclosure to ensure they fall within the appropriate range for box turtles.

Customizing the habitat with these supplies helps create a comfortable and enriching environment for box turtles, promoting their physical and mental well-being. Regular maintenance and observation are also essential to ensure the habitat remains clean and suitable for your pet turtle.

How To Set Up A Tank For Box Turtle


Creating a suitable indoor habitat for a box turtle requires careful planning and consideration of their needs. Here’s a step-by-step guide based on the instructions provided:

  1. Selecting the enclosure: Choose a spacious enclosure that accommodates the size and activity level of your box turtle. A wooden waterproof turtle table or a large plastic container can work well.
  2. Covering the enclosure: Use a long piece of solid paper to cover the sides of the enclosure to prevent the turtle from seeing through the glass. This helps reduce stress for the turtle.
  3. Ensuring escape-proofing: Make sure the enclosure is escape-proof, as box turtles are capable climbers. Avoid using cages with bars, as they may not be suitable for containing box turtles.
  4. Adding substrate: Provide a substrate such as coconut coir, cypress mulch, or a mixture of topsoil and sand for the turtle to dig and burrow.
  5. Heat source: Install a heat source such as a 75-100 watt bulb or a heating pad under one side of the tank to create a temperature gradient. This allows the turtle to regulate its body temperature effectively.
  6. UVB lighting: Set up a UVB lamp over the basking area to provide the turtle with essential UV rays for proper calcium metabolism and overall health.
  7. Maintaining humidity: Ensure proper humidity levels within the enclosure by misting the substrate and providing a shallow water dish for soaking. Monitoring humidity levels with a hygrometer is essential.
  8. Creating hiding spots and accessories: Place rocks, logs, or artificial caves within the enclosure to provide hiding spots and enrichment for the turtle.
  9. Swimming area: If your box turtle enjoys swimming, create a shallow water area with a ramp or platform for easy access.

By following these instructions, you can create a comfortable and stimulating indoor habitat for your box turtle, promoting its health and well-being. Regular maintenance and monitoring are key to ensuring the habitat remains clean and suitable for your pet turtle.

Can A Box Turtle Live Outside?

A study shows that outdoor habitat is always preferable to a box turtle. There are some obvious reasons for it.

You’ve highlighted some important considerations when deciding between an indoor or outdoor habitat for a box turtle. Outdoor habitats indeed offer several benefits, such as larger space, natural light, and a more stimulating environment. However, they also come with challenges and potential risks, especially for pet owners with limited space or concerns about predators.

Indoor habitats, such as fish tanks or custom enclosures, provide greater control over the turtle’s environment and safety. Pet owners can closely monitor their turtle’s behavior and health, and there’s less risk of predator attacks or exposure to harmful elements.

Ultimately, the decision between an indoor or outdoor habitat depends on factors like available space, lifestyle, and the pet owner’s ability to mitigate risks associated with outdoor environments. Both options can provide a suitable living space for a box turtle, as long as they meet the turtle’s needs for space, temperature, humidity, and enrichment.

Which Will Be Better For Your Box Turtle: Indoor Or Outdoor Tank?


Exactly, considering factors like available space, climate, and long-term care needs is crucial when deciding on the best habitat for a box turtle. Large outdoor enclosures can provide a more natural and enriching environment for box turtles, but they require careful planning to ensure safety and protection from predators and extreme weather conditions.

For those living in urban or colder climates where outdoor enclosures may not be feasible year-round, indoor habitats offer a practical alternative. Indoor setups like terrariums or custom enclosures can be tailored to meet the specific needs of box turtles while providing a controlled environment that remains consistent regardless of external conditions.

Ultimately, the well-being of the box turtle should be the top priority, and pet owners should carefully consider their living situation and resources before deciding on the type of habitat to provide for their pet. Planning for both short-term and long-term care needs ensures a comfortable and healthy living environment for the box turtle throughout its life.

Final Words

Well, fish tank is always good as an indoor habitat. Moreover, it gives you proper control over your box turtle. I hope now it will be easier for you to set up a habitat for your pet box turtle according to its need.

Soumik SarkarS
WRITTEN BY

Soumik Sarkar

I am an animal lover from India. It's a trusted website for animal lover.

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