Best Substrate For Your Turtle Tank

Best Substrate For Your Turtle Tank

Every turtle owner wants to decorate their turtle tank to make it look attractive. The essential things of a turtle tank are heat lamps, UVB lamps, and basking areas. Apart from that, to make the turtle tank look good, most turtle owners use substrates.

Many of you must be wondering which substrates you should be using for your turtle tank? Before choosing the best substrates for your turtle tank, you need to ensure that it is not harmful to your turtle. Mant substrate available are not turtle friendly and can cause health issues in your pet turtle. Some could even result in turtle death.

Hence, you must choose the best substrate for the turtle to enjoy the environment around them and remain healthy. In this article, we have explained which substrate to choose for a turtle tank while keeping your turtle safe and healthy.

Related Articles:
Best Gravel For Turtle Tank
Best Plants For Your Turtle Tank

The best substrate for your turtle tank

Some of the best substrates you can choose for your turtle tank are sand, fluorite, gravel and charcoal. All these substrates have their advantages and disadvantages. So, based on your preferences and convenience, you need to choose among them. Some substrates can be even harmful to your turtle; hence choosing the right substrate is very important.

Below are our recommendations of the best substrates you can try for your turtle tank.

Image Product Price Purchase Link
Landen-sand-01 Landen Namaule Aquarium Sand $36.99 Buy on Amazon
exo-pebble Exo Terra Turtle Large Natural River Pebbles $20.61 Buy on Amazon
flourite Fluorite Premium Natural Substrate $16.60 Buy on Amazon
carib-sand CaribSea Supernatural Moonlight Sand $15.45 Buy on Amazon
pure-water-pebble Pure Water Pebbles Natural Aquarium Gravel $8.13 Buy on Amazon
eco-earth-coconut-fiber Zoo Med Eco Earth Loose Coconut Fiber Reptile Substrate $45.86 Buy on Amazon
repti-carpet REPTI ZOO Carpet Terrarium Substrate $25.99 Buy on Amazon
reptile-mat Purple Star Reptile Mat Substrate $15.99 Buy on Amazon

Landen Namaule Aquarium Sand

This sand is decorative sand used as turtle tank bottom sand and for aquatic plants landscaping. The color of the sand is soft and natural. The particles are uniform, and the diameter is 0.3mm-0.5 mm. It is safe for the turtles. It is natural sand and looks great in the tank.

Exo Terra Turtle Large Natural River Pebbles

These are very smooth and round pebbles. They do not consist of sharp edges, so your turtle can move around them easily. You can use these pebbles at the bottom of your turtle tank to give a good look to your turtle tank. They are very easy to clean and available in different colors. Their sizes range from 0.3-0.4 inches, perfect for the turtles with a shell diameter of 4 inches or less.

Fluorite Premium Natural Substrate

Adding a plant to your turtle tank has many advantages associated with it. Live plants keep the turtle tank clean by reducing algae growth. They also remove the waste from the water. The Fluorite Premium Natural Substrate is best for a planted turtle tank. It is an all-natural porous clay that supports plant growth in an aquatic environment.

CaribSea Supernatural Moonlight Sand

The CaribSea Super Natural Moonlight Sand is great for Aquatic turtles. This premium sand is natural, PH neutral, and fine texture. There are no paints and dyes used for this sand, and it is naturally white. The best part of this sand is it does not cloud the water or change the chemical status.

Pure Water Pebbles Natural Aquarium Gravel

These gravels are very affordable and the easiest option for the turtle tank. It consists of acrylic coating and is non-toxic. You can use it at the bottom of your tank for a good appearance. It helps in the filtering process of the water as well by increasing the surface area available by nitrifying bacteria to colonize.

Zoo Med Eco Earth Loose Coconut Fiber Reptile Substrate

This substrate is made entirely from natural coconut fibers and supports correct humidity within the tank. Terrestrial turtles require a different substrate than aquatic turtles. This substrate is best for terrestrial turtles because it helps maintain proper humidity in the tank. Also, it is natural and safe for turtles.

REPTI ZOO Carpet Terrarium Substrate

This substrate is high-quality, soft, non-toxic and has no strange taste fabric. It is very absorbent, breathable, comfortable, and safe for your turtle. It is also resistant to dirt, durable and easy to clean after repeated use. You can rinse it with water, soak it, and reuse it.

Purple Star Reptile Mat Substrate

This mat is made of natural coconut fiber and is very safe to use for your turtle. It provides your turtle with a comfortable and clean environment. This is one of the best substrates you can use for your turtle tank. With strong filterability and water permeability, and good resilience, it’s easy for you to shake the dirt off the mat and rinse it with water.

How do you consider which is the best substrate for your turtle tank?

  1. You need to choose a substrate that has a natural look. The main aim of the substrate is to make it look attractive and give your turtle a natural and comfortable environment to live in. You can use substrates like pebbles, sand and natural fibers that make turtles feel good.
  2. Choose a soft substrate that is gentle for turtles’ skin and safe for it. Make sure the substrate is soft enough for the turtle to walk in. You can use gravel at the bottom of the aquatic turtle tank.
  3. Don’t use dangerous materials inside the tank-like calcium sand, cat litter, walnut shells and so on. These things can harm your turtle and can be rough on them.
  4. Don’t use artificial additives as some substrates consist of chemicals or dyes. This can be harmful to your turtle. Ensure to choose a substrate that is natural and safe for your turtle. Also, clean the substrate before using it in your turtle tank.

Can you use sand in a turtle tank?

Yes, you can use sand in your turtle tank. Sand is typically made from disintegrated rock that has been compressed over time into finer and finer particles. It’s not sharp, and hence it is safe for the turtles.

Turtles love digging for their food in sand or soil. They take a little bit of sand in their mouth while digging. That could be dangerous if you use any sharp-edged rock. So, always make use of sand for turtles.

Sand substrate is a common choice of substrate for aquatic turtles. It is very important to your turtle’s health that the sand in their tank is clean and safe for them. Clean the sand regularly by removing the decorations and keeping the turtle in another container for a while. Then use hot water and thoroughly rinse all sand under the faucet until no more small particles are coming off.

Thoroughly wash your filter media. Any trapped sand particles can damage the impeller and lower the filtration of your turtle tank and hence cleaning it very thoroughly is necessary. Then you can keep all the decorations in place after cleaning the tank properly.


You can use substrate in your turtle tank to make it look more attractive and natural. You can use gravel, sand, fluorite and charcoal as a substrate for your turtle tank. Make sure not to use any artificial additives or dangerous material in the tank which can harm the turtle. You can use sand as it is very soft and smooth for your turtle’s skin and shell. When using any substrate inside the turtle tank, ensure that you clean it regularly.