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 red-eared slider owners make is buying a tank that is waaaaaay too small.

You need a very large tank and the general rule of thumb is 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 on the market, so you can be sure to find a great new tank 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 tank for your red-eared slider turtle, here are my top picks:👇

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 RES 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.

how to measure straight carapace length
SCL – Measure straight across, ignoring the curve of the shell

What Size Tank Does A Red Eared Slider Need?

A red-eared slider needs a big one! I recommend a minimum of a 55-gallon tank.

I see many websites recommending the Tetra Aquatic Turtle Deluxe Kit, but this 20-gallon aquarium is not a suitable setup as it is nowhere near large enough for RES turtles.

It’s best to provide 10 gallons of water per 1 inch of straight carapace length (SCL).

A RES is a highly active turtle and requires a large volume of water to swim in.

The depth of the water in your turtle’s tank should be double the length of their shell to allow them enough space to rotate a full 360° 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 RES, you could consider keeping a smaller species of turtle.

Red eared slider size guide:

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

Don’t make the mistake of buying a terrarium for your RES.

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

Best Tank Options For Red Eared Sliders

Now we’ve covered what you need to look for in a tank, let’s get down to business and why you are here. I’ll go over the pros and cons of each tank, so you can find the perfect home for your turtle.

I recommend you choose a tank suitable for a fully grown RES 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
  • Gallons: 55
  • Dimensions: 48″ L x 13″ W x 20″ H
  • Lifestage: Juvenile
  • Weight (Empty): 79 lbs
  • Material: Glass
✅  Pros❌  Cons
• Good value tank• Designed for fish
• Lid included• Filter not powerful enough for turtles
• Stick on thermometer included• Heater hasn’t got great reviews
• 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 a red-eared slider until your turtle reaches 5.5 inches in length.

This aquarium kit is designed for fish, so you will need to upgrade the filter and heater.

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 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
✅  Pros❌  Cons
• Great value for money• Potential silicone issues
• 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.

There are a few negative comments that the silicone quality can occasionally be poor or messy, so be sure to do a thorough inspection of your Aqueon tank and check it’s watertight before adding your turtle.

3. LANDEN 150P 118.4 Gallon Rimless Low Iron Aquarium Tank

Landen Low Iron Rimless Tank
Landen Low Iron Rimless Tank
  • Gallons: 118.4
  • Dimensions: 59.06″ L x 23.62″ W x 21.65″ H
  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Weight: 242 lbs
  • Material: Glass
✅  Pros❌  Cons
• Suitable for fully grown RES• Not cheap
• Looks amazing• Very Heavy
• 1/2″ thick glass
• Rimless
• High quality German silicone
• Leveling mat included

The Landen 150p 188.4 gallon tank is constructed from 1/2″ thick glass with 45° precision cut edges and unobtrusive high-grade silicone.

It has a low iron content, which means more natural light can pass through and it won’t have the green tint that ordinary glass tanks have, you’ll love the crystal-clear view.

If you are searching for a luxurious glass aquarium that will make your red eared slider the talk of the town, look no further!

This tank is guaranteed to be the envy of anyone who lays eyes on it. The rimless design ensures that it looks stunning from every single angle, making it the perfect addition to your home.

Available in a huge choice of different sizes, if you want something a little smaller.

I have a couple of Landen tanks and can vouch for their top-notch quality.

4. Rubbermaid Commercial Products 150 Gallon Stock Tank

Rubbermaid 150 Gallon Stock Tank
Rubbermaid 150 Gallon Stock Tank
  • Gallons: 150
  • Dimensions: 58″ L x 39″ W x 25″ H
  • Lifestage: Adult
  • Weight (Empty): 53 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
✅  Pros❌  Cons
• Suitable for fully grown RES• Doesn’t look as good as a glass aquarium
• Much cheaper than a glass aquarium• Not as easy to fit heater, filtration, etc
• Much lighter than glass
• Super easy to drain and clean
• Seamless design to prevent leaking
• Suitable for outdoors
• 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 RES.

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 tank.

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

An inbuilt drain plug allows quick and easy drainage making it easy to clean and relocate.

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

You’ll need to get creative with your red eared slider’s setup and think outside the box a bit when it comes to fitting a basking platform, lighting, and water heater, but don’t worry – there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube that will show you how to set it up like a pro.

Glass Aquarium vs Rubbermaid Stock Tank

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

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

Red Eared Slider Tank Setup Guide

Your turtle will need the following equipment:

  • Aquarium water test kit – To make sure your water parameters are stable and safe.
  • Basking area or floating dock –  Create a basking area o your RES can get out of the water and absorb AVA/UVB light.
  • Heat lamp – To allow your turtle to completely dry off help stop fungal infections.
  • Plants – To help keep the water clean and turtles like to snack on them.
  • Heavy duty filter – RES’s are very messy little critters! A filter will also help your plants keep the water clean.
  • Substrate – This is optional, bare bottom tanks are much easier to clean.
  • Thermometer – To monitor the temperature in the tank and basking area.
  • 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 heater –  To keep the water at the ideal temperature.
  • Water vacuum – This is optional, but it makes water changes and cleaning a breeze.

Follow my turtle tank setup guide to ensure that your turtle has the perfect home.  

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!

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 red-eared slider tank.

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 on the right tank, here’s a quick recap of my top picks:👇

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.

Picture of Paul


Hey, fellow fish enthusiast 👋! I'm Paul and I've been an aquarium addict since I won my first goldfish at the fair many years ago. Let me share with you the knowledge that I've gained along the way (and avoid the mistakes I've made!), so you too can create an underwater paradise for your aquatic friends.