How Often To Clean Turtle Tank?

how often to clean turtle tank

Turtles are one of the messiest animals. They can’t clean the water tank themselves, so obviously, the turtle owner has to do it. The turtles swim, eat, drink, defecate and urinate in the same tank so it can get very dirty and smelly.

We clean our rooms regularly for a clean and good ambiance; similarly, the turtle tank needs to be cleaned up to make turtles feel good and keep them healthy. The tank’s water needs to be changed often; otherwise, it will develop bacteria, creating health problems for turtles.

Keeping the water tank clean is not an easy job and requires a lot of effort and dedication, particularly when you have a messy friend in that tank who can increase your work ten times. So how frequently do we need to clean the turtle tank? Read the article, and you will get all your answers.

Related Article: Do Turtles Need Filters?

How often should we clean the turtle tank?

The turtle tank should be cleaned every week. It can get very dirty and requires regular cleaning. Hence, make sure you clean it regularly.

You can set a day to do the turtle tank cleaning every week. You can also set the alarm or reminder on that day so that you don’t miss out on it, and it doesn’t get messier and create a bad smell.

Here are a few tips you can use to keep the turtle tank clean.

1. Vaccum the turtle water tank frequently

With time, the leftover food gets accumulated, resulting in water in the tank getting polluted with ammonia.

When you don’t clean up the turtle water tank frequently, the unutilized organic matter cause bacterias. The bacterias then convert it into ammonia which ultimately converts it into nitrite. Hence, Vacuuming the tank is very important. You can use Luigi’s Aquarium/Fish Tank Siphon and Gravel Cleaner to vacuum the tank. You can put the hose into the bucket and use the nozzle to vacuum the tank.

Make sure you turn off the water heater and let it cool down for a while before changing the water.

Luigi’s Aquarium/Fish Tank Siphon and Gravel Cleaner

2. Use a larger tank

It is always a good idea to use a larger tank for your turtle. Being a messy animal, it defecates a lot, and if the tank is too small, it gets dirtier and stinks.

Using a larger tank will help them swim better, and it will take time to generate ammonia even if you don’t clean it regularly. So this will buy you some time when you have some important work, and you miss out on cleaning the tank.

Most turtle owners change the water in the tank twice a month if they have a larger tank and good filters, but if your tank is smaller, you have to change the water more often to avoid the smelly and dirty tank.

3. Sterilize the water with Ultraviolet rays

Please note that the UVB lamps or the sunlight cannot achieve water sterilization. There are separate devices called a UV water sterilizer which you need to use to sterilize the water.

You must have noticed the turtle tank getting green color or cloudy. This is due to the excessive organic matter caused by not cleaning the water frequently. The green water you can see is due to the algae spores and the cloudy water due to the free-floating heterotrophic bacteria.

The sterilizers can be placed in the water line to the filter. The algae can eventually make your turtle sick hence these UV sterilizers can help you keep the water clean and free of algae.

We recommend TAISHAN UV Sterilizer for Aquarium. It is suitable for smaller tank but could be used with a larger capacity tank as well. You can check out all its features from the amazon link give below.

TAISHAN UV Sterilizer for Aquarium

How often to clean the canister filter?

The canister filter needs to be cleaned once a month. An enclosed canister filter can go longest between cleanings; such filters are the best and can be cleaned every three to four months.

You can set a strong canister filter to keep the water in the turtle tank clean. Canister filters pump enough water, purified through the massive trays consisting of many filter media. Having such a filter can help maintain turtles for a longer time.

To clean the canister filter first, you need to unplug and remove any other types of equipment attached to it, for example, an inline heater. Then fill a bucket with water from the tank and empty the filter media. It is essential to keep them wet not to dry out and kill the beneficial bacteria. You need to focus on the canister and the hoses and impeller while cleaning the canister filter. 

You can use a soft brush to clean the impeller, hoses, and other parts. Ensure you clean all the parts before reassembling them so that there are no leaks for canister filters. After cleaning all the parts, fill the canister with tank water before turning it on.

We recommend this canister filter which you can use: EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media

How to deeply clean the turtle tank?

The deep clean of the turtle tank should be done at least once a month to keep the turtle safe. 

You can pick the turtle up and place it into a container. The container should consist of enough water for swimming. Place some rocks or peats for the turtle to climb on the container. Do not use this container for any other purpose for sanitary reasons. A transplant container is preferred for this purpose.

After removing the turtle from the water tank, unplug and remove all the electric devices you are using, such as water heaters, heat lamps, etc. Place the devices properly in one place so that you can make precisely the same setup once you clean the turtle tank.

Then remove all the rocks, live plants, and other material placed in the turtle tank and then place it in a bucket that you use only for your turtle. Then carry the turtle tank to some cleaning areas and empty all the water inside the tank.

Using a garden hose, fill the tank with fresh water and empty it three to four times until the water gets clearer. You can then use a mixture of chlorine bleach with water as a cleaning solution. You will find it in the pet store. Then scrub all sides of the tank, including the bottom. Then clean all the material that was inside the tank. Let it dry for some time. Rinse out the tank to make sure you have removed all the residue.

Then carry the tank in its place. Place all the material back into the tank. Reinstall all the devices that you have removed. Refill the tank. Make sure to use dechlorinated water. You can also use testing kits to check the PH level. The PH level should be between 7 to 8 for most turtles.


The turtle tank needs to be cleaned every week. The turtles are messy animals and often make the tank’s water dirty and smelly. To keep them healthy and safe, you need to ensure that the tank is clean. You can vacuum the turtle tank regularly so that it doesn’t cause harmful bacteria. You can also use a larger tank, which will help even if you delay cleaning the tank as it will not get dirty faster. You can use UV sterilizers to prevent the formation of algae and other germs. If you are using a canister filter, It’s advised to clean it once a month; however, if it is a strong enclosed canister filter, you can change the frequency by three to four months.