Best Tank For Red Eared Slider – Guide, Setup & Reviews

Red eared sliders are one of the most popular pet turtles and they make great pets. But, all too often I see people keeping these turtles in a tank that isn’t big enough, these guys can grow up to 12 inches! I’ll go over how to choose the best tank for a red eared slider turtle and how to set it up correctly, so your turtle will be happy and healthy.
Best Tank For Red Eared Slider - Tetra 55 Gallon (top left) - Aqueon 75 Gallon (top right) - Rubbermaid 150 Gallon Stock Tank (bottom)
Best Tank For Red Eared Slider – Tetra 55 Gallon (top left) Aqueon 75 Gallon (top right) Rubbermaid 150 Gallon Stock Tank (bottom)

One of the most common mistakes people make when buying an aquarium for a red eared slider is buying one that is waaaaaay too small.

Red eared sliders require a large tank setup, you should aim to provide 10 gallons of water per 1 inch of straight carapace length (SCL).

I’ve weighed up the pros and cons of the best RES tanks available, so you can be sure to find a great home for your little buddy.

4 Best Tanks For Red Eared Sliders

If you’re short on time and want to know which is the best red eared slider tank, here are my top picks:πŸ‘‡

How Big Do Red Eared Sliders Grow?

Something you need to be aware of before you buy that super cute 4-inch RES at the pet store, is that it will grow around 1 inch per year until it reaches its full size at around 5-8 years old.

  • Male red eared sliders grow to around 8-10 inches.
  • Female red eared sliders grow to around 10-12 inches.

There is a myth that red eared sliders will only grow to the size of their tank, so some people purposely keep them in a small tank to try and stunt their growth. This isn’t true and they will keep growing until they reach their full adult size.

It is against federal law in the USA to sell turtles as pets that have a carapace length of fewer than 4 inches. Some states have even stricter laws, so be sure to check out your local laws.

You measure the SCL along the length of the shell, ignoring the curve of the carapace.

Red Eared Slider Straight Carapace Length
How to measure the length of red eared slider

What Size Tank Does A Red Eared Slider Need?

A Red-eared slider needs a large tank, I recommend a minimum of 55 gallons.

I see many websites recommending the Tetra Aquatic Turtle Deluxe Kit, but this 20 gallon tank is not a suitable red eared slider aquarium setup, as it is far too small.

You need to provide 10 gallons of water per 1 inch of straight carapace length (SCL).

Red eared sliders are active and require a lot of space to swim in.

The depth of the water in your tank should be double the length of their shell to allow them enough space to rotate a full 360Β° without bumping into anything.

If the water isn’t deep enough they could get stuck on something and drown.

If you don’t have the space to keep a red eared slider, you could consider keeping a smaller species of turtle.

Red eared slider size guide:

LifestageAgeSizeTank SizeWater Depth
Hatchling0-1 year1”-4”10-40
gallons
2”-8”
Juvenile1-4 years4”-7”40-70
gallons
8”-14”
Adult4 years +7”-12”70-120
gallons
14”-24”

Don’t make the mistake of buying a terrarium for your red eared slider.

A terrarium isn’t designed to hold water and its thin glass will break under the strain.

Best Tank For Red Eared Slider Reviews

Now I’ve covered what you need to look for in a tank, we’ll get to the reason why you are here and find out what is the best tank for a red-eared slider turtle, and go through the pros and cons of each.

I recommend you choose a tank suitable for a fully grown red eared slider straight away.
This will save you money in the long run because you won’t have to keep upgrading your tank as your turtle grows.

1. Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium Kit

Tetra 55 Gallon Aquarium
Tetra 55 gallon aquarium kit
  • Gallons: 55
  • Dimensions: 48″ L x 13″ W x 20″ H
  • Lifestage: Juvenile
  • Weight (Empty): 79 lbs
  • Material: Glass
βœ…  Pros❌  Cons
β€’ Good value tankβ€’ Designed for fish
β€’ Lid includedβ€’ Filter not powerful enough for turtles
β€’ Stick on thermometer includedβ€’ Heater hasn’t got great reviews
β€’ RES will outgrow in 2 years

The Tetra 55 gallon aquarium kit is made from 3/16″ (6mm) tempered glass, this aquarium will make a great starter tank for your red eared slider until it grows to 5.5 inches in length.

This aquarium kit is designed for fish, so you will need to upgrade the filter and heater and buy a basking platform, UVB/UVA lights, and a basking lamp to make it suitable for your red eared slider.

The 20 inch height of this tank allows your RES plenty of room for swimming and safe rotation.

Red eared sliders are known to try and escape from their aquarium given half a chance. The lid offers you peace of mind that your turtle won’t be able to escape and injure itself.




2. Aqueon Standard Glass Aquarium Tank 75 Gallon

Aqueon 75 Gallon Standrad Aquarium
Aqueon 75 gallon standrad aquarium
  • Gallons: 75
  • Dimensions: 49″ L x 19.5″ W x 21.25″ H
  • Lifestage: Juvenile – Small Adult
  • Weight (Empty): 98 lbs
  • Material: Glass
βœ…  Pros❌  Cons
β€’ Great value for moneyβ€’ Potential silicone issues
β€’ Braced for added strength

The Aqueon 75 gallon aquarium is a great value glass tank and offers plenty of space for a RES up to 7.5 inches in length.

Over 20 inches of height allows plenty of room for your turtle to swim and safely rotate.

You will need to purchase a lid/screen, filter, water heater, thermometer, UVB/UVA lights, basking lamp, and basking platform, but this allows you to build the ideal setup for your RES.

There are a few negative comments that the silicone quality can occasionally be poor or messy, so be sure to do a thorough inspection.




3. UNS Rimless Standard 114 Gallon Aquarium

UNS 114 Gallon Glass Aquarium
UNS 120U 114 Gallon Diamant Glass Aquarium
  • Gallons: 114
  • Dimensions: 47.24″ L x 23.62″ W x 23.62″ H
  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Weight:
  • Material: Glass
βœ…  Pros❌  Cons
β€’ Suitable for fully grown RESβ€’ Not cheap
β€’ Looks amazing
β€’ 1/2″ thick Diamant glass
β€’ Rimless
β€’ High quality German silicone
β€’ Leveling mat included

The UNS 120U 114 gallon aquarium is constructed from Diamant glass with 45Β° precision cut mitered edges and unobtrusive high-grade silicone.

Its low iron content allows more natural light to pass through and reduces the green tint found in ordinary glass.

If you’re looking for the best luxury glass aquarium for your red eared slider that will be the envy of anyone that sees it, this tank is for you. Because this aquarium is rimless, it will look great from every angle.

You will need to purchase a lid/screen, filter, water heater, thermometer, UVB/UVA light, basking lamp, and basking platform, but this allows you to build the ideal setup for your RES.

Available in a huge choice of different sizes, they also offer custom made tanks upon request.




4. Rubbermaid Commercial Products 150 Gallon Stock Tank

Rubbermaid 150 Gallon Stock Tank Best Tank For Red Eared Slider
Rubbermaid Commercial Products 150 gallon stock tank
  • Gallons: 150
  • Dimensions: 58″ L x 39″ W x 25″ H
  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Weight (Empty): 53 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
βœ…  Pros❌  Cons
β€’ Suitable for fully grown RESβ€’ Doesn’t look as good as a glass aquarium
β€’ Much cheaper than a glass aquariumβ€’ Not as easy to fit heater, filtration, etc
β€’ Much lighter than glass
β€’ Super easy to drain and clean
β€’ Seamless design to prevent leaking
β€’ Suitable for outdoors
β€’ Various sizes from 50-300 gallons

The Rubbermaid 150 gallon stock tank is excellent value for money and is a great choice for a fully grown red eared slider.

It provides plenty of room for your turtle to swim, safely rotate and play.

Much cheaper, lighter, and easier to move around than a glass aquarium.

Seamless design and is very durable, if you accidentally dropped it while moving it, it’s not going to shatter like a glass aquarium.

There’s no denying that it’s not the prettiest tank in the world to have on display, but if you are good at DIY I’ve seen some awesome transformations where a wooden outer layer has been added and it looks great.

An inbuilt drain plug allows quick and easy drainage if you need to drain your tank to relocate it.

You will need to purchase a filter, water heater, thermometer, UVB/UVA lights, basking lamp, and basking platform, but this allows you to build the ideal setup for your RES.

You will also need to be a bit inventive when it comes to fitting a basking platform, lighting, and the water heater, but there are some great tutorials on YouTube showing you how to do this and it allows you to customize the setup to your liking.




Glass Aquarium vs Rubbermaid Stock Tank

There are pros and cons to both glass aquariums and plastic stock tanks.

βœ…  Glass Aquarium Pros❌  Glass Aquarium Cons
β€’ Much more pleasing to look atβ€’ Heavy
β€’ Gives you a much better view of your RESβ€’ Expensive
β€’ Easier to fit heating, filtration, etc.β€’ Fragile
β€’ Available in many sizes
βœ…  Rubbermaid Stock Tank Pros❌  Rubbermaid Stock Tank Cons
β€’ Lighter and easier to moveβ€’ Don’t look as good
β€’ Won’t break as easily if droppedβ€’ Not as easy to set up a heater, filtration, etc.
β€’ Easier to drain and clean
β€’ Available in many sizes
β€’ Deep and wide so plenty of swimming space for your RES

Red Eared Slider Tank Setup Guide

Additional equipment needed for the best turtle tank setup:

  • Aquarium water test kit – To make sure your water parameters are stable and safe.
  • Basking area or floating dock –Β  So your RES can get out of the water and bask.
  • Heat lamp – To warm up and dry out your RES to help stop fungal infections.
  • Heavy duty filter – RES’s are very messy little critters!
  • Plants – To help keep the water clean and turtles like to snack on them.
  • Substrate – This is optional, bare bottom tanks are much easier to clean.
  • Tank water heater –Β  To keep the water at the ideal temperature.
  • Thermometer – To monitor the water and basking area temperatures.
  • UVA/UVB lamp – To provide your RES with enough vitamin D3 to keep their shell and bones healthy.
  • Water conditioner – To make your tap water safe for your RES to swim in.
  • Water vacuum – This is optional, but it makes water changes and cleaning a breeze.

Red Eared Slider FAQ

Some frequently asked questions about turtles and red eared sliders are:

Can You Put Fish In A Tank With A Red-Eared Slider Turtle?

Yes, with caution.

The best fish to keep with a red-eared slider are fast-swimming, short-finned fish.

Turtles eat fish in the wild and given half a chance they’ll make a tasty snack out of any fish in their aquarium, so make sure you provide somewhere for fish to hide and rest.

I’ve done a much more in-depth article, can turtles live with fish? Where I go through the best choices of fish to live with your turtle and which fish to avoid.

Can I Put An Algae Eater In My Turtle Tank?

Yes, you put an algae eater in your turtle tank.

Just make sure it’s something that can swim fast and has a few places to hide in, as your RES may see your algae eater as a snack.

What Plants Can I Add To My Red Eared Slider Tank?

Some of the best live plants for red eared slider tanks are; anacharis, anubias, Amazon sword, hornwort, and Java fern.

How To Clean A Red-Eared Slider Turtle Tank?

Once you’ve got your RES tank set up, you’ll want to keep it nice and clean, so that it doesn’t look or smell like a swamp!

I’ve done a step-by-step guide on how to clean a turtle tank.

Can Turtles Drown?

Sadly yes turtles can drown.

If the water isn’t deep enough they may become beached on their underside, or become wedged on something as they try and rotate.

Final Thoughts On The Best Tanks For Red-Eared Sliders…

So there you have it, my top picks for the best tank for red-eared slider turtles.

Hopefully, you now won’t make the costly mistake of buying a tank that is way too small, leaving you having to shell out (pun intended! 🐒) for a much larger tank a few months down the line.

If you’re still undecided, here’s a quick recap of my top picks:πŸ‘‡

Check out the turtle section for more product reviews and care guides and the aquarium health section for guides on how to keep your aquarium healthy and in tip-top shape.