Yellow-Bellied Slider Turtle (Tank Setup and Care Guide)

Yellow Bellied Slider Turtle

Are you thinking about getting a yellow-bellied slider turtle as your new pet? If so, you’re in for a treat! These turtles are some of the most popular pets around and for good reason. They are very easy to care for and make great additions to any home. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about setting up their tank and taking care of them. So read on and learn how to provide the best possible care for your yellow belly slider!

Related Article: Best Turtles For Your Backyard Pond

Yellow belly turtle overview

Common name: Yellow-bellied slider turtle, yellow-bellied terrapin

Scientific name: Trachemys scripta scripta

Origin: United States

Length: Up to 18 inches

Weight: Up to 11 pounds

Temperament: Beginner-friendly, non-aggressive, active

Life expectancy: In the wild, yellow-bellied slider turtles can live up to 30 years. In captivity, they often live much longer—some yellow-bellied slider turtles have been known to live for more than 50 years!

Male vs female yellow-bellied slider turtle

The main difference between the male and female yellow belly slider is that males have a long, curved claw on their front legs used for courting females. Additionally, the bottom shell or plastron of a male yellow belly slider is concave, while the bottom shell of a female yellow belly slider is flat. The concave plastron in males helps them grip the female during mating.

Female yellow-bellied slider turtles tend to be larger than males. While females can reach up to 18 inches in length, males only grow to be about 12 inches.

Males yellow-bellied slider turtles also tend to be more aggressive than females and may even fight with other males. If you have the space, it’s best to house yellow-bellied slider turtles separately to avoid aggression and fighting.

Yellow-bellied slider vs Red-eared slider

When it comes to yellow-bellied slider turtles, there are two types of species that you will find in the market. These include the yellow-bellied slider turtle and the red-eared slider turtle. Both are similar in appearance, and yellow-bellied slider turtles are often confused with red-eared slider turtles.

The best way to tell the difference between the two is by looking at the red marking. The red-eared slider has red markings on its ear, which yellow-bellied slider turtles do not have.

So, which one should you choose as a pet?

Both yellow-bellied slider turtles and red-eared slider turtles are popular among turtle enthusiasts. The yellow-bellied slider turtle is more active and has a better sense of smell than the red-eared slider turtle. They are also more resistant to diseases.

Overall the yellow-bellied slider turtle is a better choice for a pet if you are looking for an active but less aggressive turtle. If you want a turtle that is more laid back, then the red-eared slider turtle is a better choice.

How to take care of a yellow-bellied slider turtle?

Yellow-bellied slider turtles are one of the most popular pet turtles. They’re easy to care for and make great pets for people of all ages.

If you’re thinking about getting a yellow-bellied slider turtle, there are a few things you need to know about their care. Yellow-bellied slider turtles are semi-aquatic, so they need both land and water in their tank. They also need a basking spot where they can dry off and warm up. The basking spot should be located under a heat lamp or other source of heat.

Your yellow-bellied slider turtle’s tank should also have a strong water filter to keep the water clean and free of bacteria. The water should be changed regularly, and you’ll need to use a de-chlorinator to remove chlorine from the tap water.

Yellow-bellied slider turtles are omnivores, so their diet consists of both plant and animal matter. You can feed them a variety of foods, including pellets, vegetables, fruits, and live food like insects or worms.

It’s important to offer your yellow-bellied slider turtle a variety of foods to ensure they’re getting all the nutrients they need.

Let’s now understand their food and tank setup in more detail.

Yellow belly turtle food

As yellow-bellied slider turtles are omnivores, they require a variety of food such as vegetables, commercial pellets, worms, insects, and meat. As they grow, yellow belly turtles become more herbivorous.

Protein is an essential part of their diet for baby turtles and so they should be given more protein-rich food in early life. You can offer them live food like crickets, mealworms, and earthworms. You can also give them frozen or freeze-dried. It would be best if you can give them live insects or worms as it will provide them with the much-needed exercise.

Vegetables and fruits can be given to yellow belly turtles daily. You can offer them dark, leafy greens like kale, collard greens, and dandelion greens.

There are plenty of commercial foods available which you can give them. I recommend using:

  1. Tetra ReptoMin Floating Food Sticks
  2. Zoo Med Natural Aquatic Turtle Food
  3. Freeze Dried Shrimp & Mealworms

Tetra ReptoMin Floating Food Sticks are excellent for yellow-bellied turtles. These sticks contain good amounts of nutrients calcium and Vitamin C to support the vitality and good health of your turtle. It also has essential amino acids and protein which is very important for their growth.

Zoo Med Natural Aquatic Turtle Food is another great choice as it has 35% protein content, which is much needed for turtles in their growing age. The interesting thing about these pellets is that it floats as most aquatic turtles prefer to feed at the water’s surface.

Freeze Dried Shrimp & Mealworms are also good sources of protein for yellow-bellied turtles. The product contains Freeze-dried Shrimp & Mealworms, which are delicious as well as healthy for your turtle. Shrimp and mealworms are great sources of essential Proteins, Fats, Vitamins, and Minerals. They are easily digestible and provide nutrition to your turtle. The company claim that it is 100% natural insects that are raised organically and thus safe to consume by your turtles. You can feed these freeze-dried worms to your turtle as treat along with their regular pellets.

For feeding your yellow belly turtle follow the famous 5-minute method. In this method, you should offer food to your turtle for only five minutes and then remove the uneaten food. This will ensure that your turtle does not overeat and become obese.

It’s important to offer yellow-belly turtles a wide variety of food to ensure they’re getting all the nutrients they need. A healthy diet for yellow-belly turtles includes both plant and animal matter, as well as a variety of protein-rich foods.

Now that we know what yellow-belly turtles eat, let’s take a look at their tank setup.

Yellow-bellied slider tank setup

Before getting yourself a yellow-bellied slider, it is important to understand their requirements. Though these turtles are perfect for living in an outside pond, in this guide, we will be talking about the indoor tank setup.

Tank Size

Yellow-bellied slider turtles are semi-aquatic, so they will need both a water area to swim in as well as a land area to bask on. A common rule of thumb is to provide at least ten gallons of water per inch of the turtle. A male yellow belly slider can grow up to 12 inches whereas females can grow up to 18 inches. So for one yellow-bellied slider turtle, it is a good idea to have a tank that is at least 100 gallons.

If you plan on keeping multiple yellow-bellied slider turtles together, you will need an even larger tank. You can take 5-10 gallons extra per additional turtle. Yellow-bellied sliders are also known to be good climbers, so it is important to have a few rocks here and there on which they can climb.

Basking dock

Basking is an important part of yellow-bellied slider turtle care. Your turtle needs a basking platform where it can climb out of the water to dry off and warm up. A basking platform can be anything that floats on the water’s surface and provides a dry, warm area for your turtle to bask.

A piece of driftwood, a floating log, or a commercial basking platform all work well. Be sure to provide a ramp or other means for your turtle to easily get out of the water and onto the basking platform.

If your turtle does not have access to the basking platform then it will not be able to dry its body and could lead to several health complications like shell rot or respiratory infection.

I am personally a fan of DIY basking platforms. You can easily make one yourself with just a few household items. Alternatively, you can also buy any commercial readymade basking docks. Below are some of my favorite basking dock recommendations:

  1. Penn-Plax Reptology Above Tank Basking Platform
  2. BigTron Turtle Platform
  3. Penn-Plax Reptology Floating Turtle Pier and Basking Platform

All of the above are great choices and will provide your turtle with a great basking spot. Just be sure to pick the right size for your turtle tank.

Lighting arrangements

Proper UVB lighting is very important for yellow-bellied slider turtles. They need 12 hours of UVB light every day. They also need a heating lamp or UVA lamps under their basking spot for drying up their body.

Turtles are cold-blooded animals and can not maintain their body temperature. So they require a heating source to regulate their body temperature. A UVA lamp helps them warm and maintain their body temperature.

Be sure to position the light so that it is not in direct contact with the turtle’s shell as this can cause shell burn.

If you are using a basking spot, the UVB light should be positioned over the basking spot so that the turtle can get to the light easily. UVB light is important for yellow-bellied slider turtles because it helps them to absorb calcium and vitamin D, which are essential for their health.

Without proper UVB light, yellow-bellied slider turtles can develop shell problems and other health problems.

There are two types of UVB light available for yellow-bellied slider turtles: fluorescent bulbs and mercury vapor bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs are the most common type of UVB light used for yellow-bellied slider turtles.

Mercury vapor bulbs are more expensive than fluorescent bulbs, but they last longer and provide more UVB light. If you choose to use a mercury vapor bulb, be sure to get one that is specifically made for reptiles.

There are some reptile bulbs available that provide UVA, UVB, and heating. So you would need not spend more on an additional heating bulb.

You can get Zoo Med PowerSun UV UVB. It is a Mercury Vapor lamp that emits UVA, UVB, and heat all in one convenient lamp.

While the yellow belly slider required 12 hours of light, one should turn the bulb off at night so that your turtle can sleep in the dark. This is important otherwise you will end up making your yellow belly slider turtle sick.

Water treatment

It is very important to have clean and treated water for yellow-bellied slider turtles. You will need to make sure that your turtle water does not have any chlorine or heavy metals in it. These dissolved chemicals are harmless to humans but can cause harm to these turtles. The best way to ensure that your turtle’s water is clean and treated is to use a water conditioner.

Water conditioners help remove these harmful chemicals from your turtle water, making it safe for your yellow-bellied slider.

There are a lot of different types of water conditioners on the market, so be sure to read the labels and follow the instructions carefully. Below I am giving a few conditioners that I use personally and that I know work well.

  1. API TAP Water Conditioner
  2. Zoo Med Reptisafe Water Conditioner
  3. Tetra AquaSafe for Turtles and Tortoises

Once you have treated your turtle’s water, you will need to change it regularly. I recommend changing at least 25-50% of the water every week. This helps to keep the water clean and fresh for your yellow-bellied slider.


One of the most important things you’ll need to take care of when setting up a yellow-bellied slider turtle tank is filtration. A strong water filter is essential to keeping the water clean and clear, and it’s also important to make sure that the filter is the right size for your tank.

Yellow belly turtle is very messy and they poop a lot so you need a filter that can handle the amount of waste they produce. If your tank does not have a strong filter it would lead to ammonia build-up which can hurt turtle health.

A good rule of thumb is to get a filter that’s designed for a tank that’s double the size of your own. If you have a 100-gallon tank then your filter should be designed for a 200-gallon tank. This ensures better cleaning of the tank.

You can choose any 3 stage filter or canister filter if you have a large tank. The canister filter is best as it provides maximum filtration. Whatever filter you choose make sure it has 3 stages: mechanical, chemical, and biological.

For a detailed guide for selecting filters for your turtle tank follow our guide best filter for turtle tanks.

Temperature control

Yellow belly slider turtles are ectothermic reptiles which means they require an external heat source to regulate their body temperature. A basking spot is essential to provide your turtle with a place to warm up and dry off.

The basking spot should be located under a full-spectrum UVB light and have a temperature between 88-92 degrees Fahrenheit.

A water heater can be used to maintain the correct water temperature. The water should be between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. The heater is even more important during winter when the temperature of your house can drop and affect the tank. If these turtles do not provide with adequate temperature then they will go into brumation.

You can use a digital thermometer to monitor the temperature in both the basking spot and the water. We recommend AQQA Submersible Aquarium Heater. It is my personal favorite due to its features. It is explosion-proof so your turtle is always safe from any accident. This comes with a temperature regulator and LED display which comes in handy for maintaining the temperature of the tank.

For measuring basking spot temperature you can use Exo Terra Thermometer. This is a very good product which you can mount on smooth surfaces with adhesive dots. It can measure temperature in both Celsius and Fahrenheit.


The substrate can be used to give your tank a more classy look. It is not a mandatory step rather something you may want to consider. Some yellow-bellied slider turtle keepers use a substrate while others do not. It is really up to you whether you want to use one or not.

If you do choose to use a substrate make sure it is something that yellow-bellied slider turtles do not ingest. A good choice for a yellow-bellied slider turtle substrate would be something like Exo Terra Turtle Pebbles or Reptile Sciences Terrarium Sand.

While substrate does make your tank look awesome but it also has some disadvantages. The main disadvantage of using a substrate is that it can yellow the water if not cleaned regularly.

If you do choose to use a substrate in your yellow-bellied slider turtle tank make sure to clean it regularly.

Another thing to consider when yellow-bellied slider turtles are babies is that they like to eat small rocks and gravel. If you have substrate in your yellow-bellied slider turtle tank and they eat it, it could cause problems.

A good way to avoid this is to get a yellow-bellied slider turtle that is at least a few years old. By the time they are a few years old, they usually outgrow the phase where they want to eat rocks and gravel. Alternatively, you can use big size gravels which are usually larger than turtle heads.

Do yellow belly turtles bite?

No, yellow belly turtles are not known to bite. However, they can give a mild nip if they feel threatened. If you have small children, it is important to teach them to be gentle with the turtle and not to pull on its limbs. yellow belly turtles are generally calm and docile creatures that make great pets for families. However, they can be aggressive if two or more males are kept together. It is best to keep only one male yellow belly turtle per tank.

What fish can live with yellow-bellied turtles?

One of the main questions people ask when they are looking to get yellow-bellied turtles is what fish can live with them. The answer to this question is not as simple as it might seem.

There are a few different factors that you need to take into account when deciding what fish can live with yellow-bellied turtles. The first is the size of the fish. Yellow-bellied turtles can grow to be quite large, so you will need to make sure that the fish you choose is not too small. Otherwise, your turtle will end up eating the fish.

The second factor is the temperament of the yellow-bellied turtle. These turtles can be quite aggressive when it comes to their territory, so you need to make sure that the fish you choose is fast enough to escape in any such situation.

The third factor, you need to make sure that the fish you choose is not too timid. Yellow-bellied turtles can be quite forceful when they want to, and if the fish you choose is too timid then it may not do well in the presence of these turtles.

And lastly, you should provide enough hiding spots in the tank where your fish can hide in times of danger. Make sure your yellow belly turtle would not be able to fit into these hiding spots and only fishes can use them.

Some good examples of fish that can live with yellow-bellied turtles are:

  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Bass
  • Minnows

Do some research on the specific fish you are looking to get and make sure that they meet all of the criteria mentioned above. With a little bit of effort, you should be able to find the perfect fish to live with your yellow-bellied turtle.

How fast do yellow belly turtles grow?

Yellow belly turtles grow relatively quickly. In their first year of life, they can grow up to four inches in length. After that, their growth rate slows down, but they can still grow up to two inches per year. yellow belly turtles can live for 20-30 years with proper care.

What to feed baby yellow belly slider turtles?

When it comes to feeding your baby yellow belly slider turtle, you have to be very careful as they are very delicate creatures. You can give them live food such as small fish, tadpoles, earthworms, crickets, and other insects. You can also give them pellets specially made for turtles. It is important to note that you should never give them chicken or red meat as it can make them sick. Baby turtles require protein for their growth so you should give them protein-rich food. Adding veggies and fruits to their diet is also a good idea. You can give them chopped-up lettuce, spinach, kale, and other dark leafy greens.

Do yellow belly turtles need a heat lamp?

Yes, yellow belly turtles need a heat lamp to help regulate their body temperature. The basking spot should be around 88-92 degrees Fahrenheit. The heating lamp also helps them dry off their body which is essential to prevent any shell disease or respiratory problems.

Do yellow belly turtles hibernate?

Yes, yellow belly turtles are known to hibernate. During the winter months, they will burrow into the mud at the bottom of their pond and remain there until the water starts to warm up again in spring. If you have a yellow belly turtle as a pet, you can simulate this by providing a cool, dark place for them to rest during the winter months. Be sure to keep an eye on your turtle during this time and make sure they are not losing too much weight. If you are concerned, consult a veterinarian.


Yellow-bellied sliders are the perfect pet for any beginner. They are very good swimmers and so they require a larger area to swim. If you are planning to keep it in a small tank then it probably won’t be a good choice for them. Ideally, you can give them at least 100 gallons of the tank, or alternatively, you can do arrangements for an outside pond. These turtles require special care to live a healthy life. Tank setup with proper light arrangements, adequate temperature, basking platform, strong water filter, and chlorine-free water is very important for them. By following these simple tips, you can provide your yellow-bellied slider turtle with a healthy and happy life.