The Perfect Red Eared Slider Tank Set-Up

Looking after your pet red eared slider is about more than watching them and feeding them. It’s about providing the perfect habitat that gives them the environmental conditions they need to truly thrive.

The Perfect Red Eared Slider Tank

This setup will include both a large tank and a nice basking area. So, in this article, I’m going to explain about the different types of red-eared slider tanks, and why I prefer glass tanks.

And I’ll also be giving you specific product recommendations to get your home all set up for your pet.

By the end of the article, you’re going to know exactly what items you want for your red eared slider and why, and you’ll see where you can get them from.

But I know you’re eager to get all the things you need so you can have your new homie move in with you ASAP, so I’m going to start off with my product recommendations and save the other details for later!

(Please go ahead and skip to whatever section you want to.)

Aquarium Recommendations

I’ll kick things off with my aquarium recommendations. I’ll put them in size order for ease of reference.

Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit

Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit with Fish Tank, Fish Net, Fish Food, Filter, Heater and Water Conditioners

Now, while this tank may be smaller in capacity than the one I showed you earlier, and may seem a little cramped, it does have some great advantages. (So long as you only have the one red eared slider.)

It is wide and shallow rather than deep, so you don’t have to worry about your red eared slider drowning in the water. And you should still have room for an ornament (possibly more).

What’s more, it comes with a great many accessories included in the box, such as an LED low profile hood, a submersible heater, a flow power filter, water conditioner, a thermometer, a boxwood plant, and more.

It’s super affordable, and very reliable.

Also available to buy at: Walmart and Odzoie

Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit with Fish Tank, Fish Net, Fish Food, Filter, Heater and Water Conditioners
  • LARGE ENVIRONMENT: Larger environments can house more fish or a greater variety of fish. Maintains water temperature. Essential for tropical fishkeeping
  • KIT INCLUDES: one 55 gallon tank, EasyBalance Plus, TetraMin, AquaSafe, 6” fish net, 200W heater, WPF 60 Filter, Stick on digital thermometer, 24” Tetra hinged hood x 2, 2 plant multipacks and a boxwood plant, TetraCare brochure and instruction sheet
  • LED LIGHTING: Included lighting adds the natural daylight effect to your aquarium, giving you illuminated viewing of the entire space
  • ACTUAL TANK DIMENSIONS: 48.25" L x 12.80" W x 20.90" H
  • WEIGHT: This aquarium tank weighs approximately 79 lb by itself. With water, total tank weight can reach 521 lb.

Aqueon Standard Glass Aquarium Tank 75 Gallon

Aqueon Standard Glass Aquarium Tank 75 Gallon

The key thing to think about for the tank is that it needs to be a big size and have plenty of space for water (I’ll explain why later).

And this tank is about just right for a red eared slider, at 75 gallons, and it doesn’t break the bank.

I also like that it has a high quality glass construction, so you get to check out your red eared slider in all its glory.

It’s available from Petco, and you can either pick it up at the store or have it delivered.

Also available to buy at: Pets Warehouse and Slick Deals

SEAPORA 90 Gallon Reef Ready Aquarium

Seapora 56520 Reef Ready Aquarium

If you want a tank that’s bigger than the 75 gallon one we showed you earlier (and who would blame you) but you just don’t have the budget for the 120 gallon SC Aquarium I showed you earlier, then this would be right up your alley.

It features a super-efficient overflow system, out of the way in the corner, that will maximize water flow through the filter system, and at the same time minimize noise.

Also available to buy at: Elmer’s Aquarium and Whitlyn Aquatics

Seapora 56520 Reef Ready Aquarium
  • This product is easy to use
  • This product adds a great Value
  • This product is Manufactured in United States
  • The Package Weight Of The Product Is 4.31 Pounds

SC Aquariums 120 Gallon Starfire Glass Aquarium

SC Aquariums 120 Gallon Starfire Glass Aquarium 48x24x24 12mm Eurobraced with Built-in Overflow Box

If, however, you aren’t overly concerned about your budget and have plenty of money to spend, then this tank may be more up your alley. It’s huge at 120 gallons, giving you all the water space you could want for your red eared slider.

What’s more, it’s made from Starfire glass, which does a far superior job of controlling the temperature in your tank than regular ordinary glass would.

And it has a built-in center overflow box. Plus there’s even a plumbing kit included in the price.

Also available to buy at: SC Aquariums

SC Aquariums 120 Gallon Starfire Glass Aquarium 48x24x24 12mm Eurobraced with Built-in Overflow Box
  • Size: 120 Gallon Aquariums 48x24x24" 12mm Eurobraced
  • Starfire (Low Iron) glass on front 3 Sides
  • Black Background, Black Silicone
  • built-in Overflow Box, max flow 1500 GPH (3 holes drilled inside all fit SCH40 1" bulkhead)
  • SCH40 Plumbing Kit included

SC Aquariums 150 Gallon Starfire Glass Aquarium

SC Aquariums 150 Gallon Starfire Glass Aquarium 60x24x24 12mm Eurobraced with Built-in Overflow Box

More is more, as they say. And this certainly applies to red eared slider tanks, because they just love having room to move around.

This tank is absolutely huge at a whopping 150 gallons, almost 3 times the size as some of the others on my shortlist.

It has that amazing Starfire glass that I mentioned in an earlier review, and it has a convenient center overflow box.

It is very pricey, admittedly, but customers seem to think it’s worth the money, given that most customers who bought through Amazon gave it a full 5-star rating.

Also available to buy at: SC Aquariums

Basking Area

Now, let’s move on to products for the all-important basking area.

Penn-Plax Basking Platform

Penn-Plax Reptology Floating Turtle Pier and Basking Platform – Decorative, Functional, and Naturally Inspired – Large Size (Model Number: REP603)

This quaint little wood-like floating pier is both decorative and functional. And if you buy through Amazon, you may be able to catch one of their occasional deals.

Also available to buy at: Painted Reptile  and Tractor Supply Company

Dallfoll Reptile Heat Lamp

Reptile Heat Lamps, Turtle Lamp UVA/UVB Turtle Aquarium Tank Heating Lamps with Clamp, 360° Rotatable Basking Lamp for Lizard Turtle Snake Aquarium Aquatic Plants with 2 Heat Bulbs (E27,110V)

Turtles such as red eared sliders need both UVA and UVB rays in order to stay healthy, which is exactly what this basking light provides.

What’s more, you can adjust the height and overall position of the lamp, thanks to the 360 degree rotatable clip and flexible arm, which is super convenient.

And you can adjust both the temperature and the brightness as you see fit.

And, even more conveniently it comes complete with not one but two replacement bulbs.

Reptile Heat Lamps, Turtle Lamp UVA/UVB Turtle Aquarium Tank Heating Lamps with Clamp, 360° Rotatable Basking Lamp for Lizard Turtle Snake Aquarium Aquatic Plants with 2 Heat Bulbs (E27,110V)
  • REPTILE HEAT LAMP: UV lamps can effectively provide high penetration and easier absorption to promote the healthy development of reptile bones. and make your pet reptile’s enclosure more homely and comfortable with the use of heat lamps with clamp for reptiles.
  • ADJUSTABLE TEMPERATURE&DIMMING: Switches of this basking Lamp can adjust the brightness and temperature, you can also adjust the heat lamp head distance to meet the needs of reptile at different times.
  • 2 PCS 25W/75W UV Bulbs: Turtle Lamp with 2 UVA UVB bulb, simulate sunlight to provide daily UV intake for your reptile, UVA (visual) light, UVB (vitamin production) light. The Ceramic socket which can withstand constant high heat. Suitable for incandescent, fluorescent, UV bulbs, and ceramic heat emitter
  • FLEXIBLE AND CONVENIENCE DESIGNED: 360° clamp rotatable clip adjustable arm, it can be adjusted to suitable for most aquariums, you can position it exactly the way you want, and the flexible tube is stronger and more durable than ordinary. And the tension of the clip is 5cm / 2in.
  • SAFE & WARRANTY - Safe materials and CE certification, the turtle light's cable length is 1.0m, which is convenient to connect to the socket. 1-year warranty provided, If you have any query or product problem, please contact us for a replacement or refund.

Replacement Bulbs For The Dallfoll Reptile Heat Lamp

2PCS 25W / 50W Reptile Heat Lamp Dallfoll Turtle Heat Lamp Basking Lamp Heater Light Replacement Bulbs…

Once you’ve chosen your preferred heat lamps, it’s important that you know where you can get replacement bulbs that are compatible with your particular heat lamp.

This pack of two replacement bulbs is compatible with the Dallfoll Reptile Heat Lamp I showed you earlier. You get one at 25 watts, and one at 50 watts.

Anyway, that’s all of my recommendations covered. Now for the details and guidance I promised you earlier.

2PCS 25W / 50W Reptile Heat Lamp Dallfoll Turtle Heat Lamp Basking Lamp Heater Light Replacement Bulbs…
  • 2 PCS 25W/50W UV Bulbs: Turtle Lamp with 2 UVA UVB bulb, simulate sunlight to provide daily UV intake for your reptile, UVA stimulate appetite and UVB promote vitamin D3 synthesis, fully absorb calcium.
  • The basking bulb is Made of high-quality glass, durable wick avoid anti-aging and three-dimensional reflection, which is to strengthen the ultraviolet spectrum.
  • This heat lamp's output voltage is AC 110-120V, power is 25 watts and 50 watts, full size is diameter 2.0 inch x height 2.0 inch, standard E27 screw base.
  • Reptile lamp could be used for reptiles and amphibians, including turtles, lizards, bearded dragons, snakes, frogs, iguanas, tortoises, chuckwallas, etc.
  • Note: Please turn on >4 hours per day, please do not use your hand to test the temperature when working, also please adjust the distance between the heat lamp and the pets.

Types Of Potential Red Eared Slider Tanks

Lone Red Eared Slider in the tank

There are two main types of tanks that you can use for red eared sliders. The first is the classic plain glass tank, and the second is stock tanks.

(For those of you who don’t already know, stock tanks aren’t like regular glass tanks intended for use by fish or reptiles. They’re actually intended as troughs of water for large animals like cattle to drink out of. This makes them very large, and crucially, large enough to home a red eared slider in.)

Both types of tank have advantages and disadvantages, and I’ll break them down for you.

Plain Glass Tank Advantages

Plain glass tanks come in a wide range of sizes, with different dimensions, starting from as little as one gallon (which is way too small) and going all the way up to a whopping 400 gallons or more.

This means that you have plenty of options available to you.

And they are entirely see-through, which means that you don’t have to be leaning over the tank to see your pet, and instead you can watch them from every angle.

Moreover, because they are transparent you can use them to form all kinds of different themes, with a few carefully chosen ornaments and decorating. I know of one Red eared slider enthusiast who made a Star Wars aquarium!

They are also more readily available, both at pet stores and online.

And what’s more, they frequently come complete with lots of useful accessories such as water heaters, water filters, thermometers, and so on, since many of these tanks are built and sold with such an end in mind.

Plain Glass Tank Disadvantages

As I’ll be explaining later, the bigger your tank is for your red eared slider, the better.

But unfortunately the bigger your glass tank, the higher the price tag. Especially if you go for something fancy with all the trimmings, like the SC Aquariums Starfire Glass Aquariums I showed you earlier.

And if you were to invest in an entire turtle set-up kit, you can expect to pay more money than if you were just buying the tank alone.

That said, you can get some good ones without having to break the bank, or alternatively, there’s no harm in looking into buying a second hand one, if that doesn’t trouble you.

You will also have to think about shipping as well if you decide to buy online. Glass can be quite heavy which may push up shipping costs.

And if you go for regular glass rather than Starfire glass, you could risk your tank getting damaged during shipping.

Stock Tank Advantages

For the purposes of this article, I’m just going to concentrate on stock tanks made by Rubbermaid, because I know they produce the best stock tanks for red eared sliders.

Rubbermaid stock tanks are available in a wide range of sizes, starting at 50 gallons and going all the way up to 300 gallons.

They are of excellent quality, and are far more durable and long-lasting than glass tanks because they cannot smash like glass sometimes can. (They’re practically indestructible!)

They are both deep and wide, so they will give your red eared slider plenty of room to move around and swim, which they love.

And when the water gets too dirty and needs an old fashioned water change, it’s super easy to drain the water out of them. And what’s more, they have a conveniently placed oversized drain plug, for super quick drainage.

And in my experience, they’re easier to clean than traditional glass tanks, which really show up all the dirt.

Stock Tank Disadvantages

You know what? Stock tanks are nowhere near as easy on the eye as glass tanks are.

They don’t show off your beautiful red eared slider in all its glory, and in fact, many people see them more as an eye-sore rather than something to be admired.

In fact, those who do have a stock tank for their turtle tend to keep them where guests won’t see them, such as in a basement.

And secondly, stock tanks really aren’t designed with turtles like the red eared slider in mind – they are intended as water troughs for livestock, after all.

And as such, they won’t come with all the accessories you might be able to get if you were to invest in a glass tank, with all its commonly included items such as an LED lid, a thermometer, some kind of filtration or overflow system, and so on.

Sure, you could still kit the tank with all the bits and pieces you need, but that’s a lot of legwork on your part – especially if you’ve never cared for a red eared slider before. I know not everybody likes the idea of making a basking area by hand.

Red Eared Slider swimming in the tank

Frequently Asked Questions

Now, let’s tackle your most pressing questions.

What Size Tank Do I Need?

Now, this is a very important question to answer because it basically means the difference between your red eared slider living a long and happy life or having it cut short due to factors beyond its control, as I shall explain. (That’s why I’m starting with this question first.)

But first, the golden rule: For every inch of shell length, you should have at least 10 gallons of water.

So, for example, if your red eared slider has a shell that is 6 inches in length, then you should ensure that their tank can hold at least 60 gallons of water at the very minimum.

And I can assure you that this is not just some made up rule put forward to convince you to buy a bigger tank than necessary – there’s a good reason behind it…

As you probably already know, red eared sliders love to swim around in water.

However, they can only swim face down, and not face up, so it is absolutely crucial to ensure that they have sufficient water in their tank that if they do decide to go for a little swim, they have deep enough water to be able to turn around a full 360 degrees.

This way, if they do manage to topple upside down, they are easily able to turn themselves around again, without any pesky ornaments or plants getting in their way.

And remember, even if your red eared slider is just a baby when you first buy it won’t remain a hatchling for very long, and will soon achieve its full grown size.

I would recommend that you look at tanks at least 80 to 100 gallons in size ideally, and you should certainly never drop below 55 gallons.

How Should A Red-eared Slider Tank Be Set Up?

We’ve already covered how red eared sliders like to be in and around water, and to have a good swim, but it’s also very important that they have enough light coming through.

We did make mention of this earlier, but it bears repeating here. Turtles such as red eared sliders need both UVA and UVB rays in order to stay healthy.

You can either achieve this by placing a lid over the tank which features an LED light that emits both UVA and UVB rays.

Or alternatively, and preferably, you could arrange for your red eared slider to have their own special little basking area. They can emerge from their tank’s water onto a dry area, which features a dedicated basking lamp, like the one I showed you earlier.

You will also need a thermostatic heater to help the turtle regulate its body temperature. The water temperature should be kept between 75 °F and 85 °F, and the basking area temperature should be about 85 °F to 95 °F.

Final Thoughts

So, as I’ve said, the important thing to remember is that your tank needs to be large enough for your turtle to be able to turn 360 degrees in the water.

I recommend glass tanks, but you could go for a stock tank if you prefer.

Peace out!


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners. Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.

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