Best Turtle Tank Heater – Complete Guide

As turtles are cold-blooded and use the environment around them to regulate their body temperature, you're going to need a heater for your turtle tank. Warmer water not only keeps them active, but it helps them fight off diseases and illnesses more easily.

I’ve gone through a lot of aquarium heaters over the years so I know all too well that picking a good quality reliable one isn’t always straightforward. If your heater failed your turtle could go into hibernation which isn’t good for a captive turtle.

With that in mind, I sat down with some friends in the hobby who keep turtles, and between us, we’ve put together everything you need to look for in a turtle tank heater and short-listed what we consider to be the best turtle tank heaters.

Now that we’ve done the hard work for you, you should be able to find the best heater for your turtle tank from our choices below.

Check out the safety section further down this post for a top tip on prolonging the life of your heater and saving you money long term.

Our List Of Best Turtle Tank Heaters

If you’re short on time and want to know which is the best heater for your turtle tank without reading the whole post, here are our top picks:👇

What Is A Good Heater For A Turtle Tank?

There are 2 things to consider when choosing your turtle tank heater:

1 – Heater Power

The first factor to consider is picking the correct wattage of heater for your tank.

There is no definitive answer here, but a general rule of thumb is 5 watts per gallon of water.

You will also need to consider where is your tank located? In a warm sunny room, in a basement, or next to an air conditioning unit?

If your tank is located in a cool room, your heater is going to have to work much harder to get the tank water to the ideal temperature, so it’s recommended you go ‘up a size’ if the room temperature and desired tank water temperature is more than 10°F apart.

Use the chart below to determine how many watts you are going to need to heat your aquarium:

Volume Of Water
To Heat Up
Heater Wattage
(To Raise Water Temperature
By Up To 10°F)
Heater Wattage
(To Raise Water Temperature
By More Than 10°F)
20 Gallons100 Watts150 Watts
29 Gallons150 Watts200 Watts
40 Gallons200 Watts300 Watts
55 Gallons300 Watts400 Watts
75 Gallons400 Watts500 Watts
100 Gallons500 Watts600 Watts
150 Gallons800 Watts1000 Watts

2 – Type Of Turtle Tank Heaters

There are 2 types of turtle tank heaters available.

Submersible Heaters

A submersible heater is the most popular choice of turtle tank heater due to them being readily available, inexpensive, and simple to use. You attach it to the side of your tank, set it to the desired temperature, and plug it in. Super simple.

One important thing to note is that they are designed to operate underwater so may become damaged if left running while exposed to dry air.

External Heaters

Also called an in-line heater, an external heater fits outside of your turtle tank and plumbs into your canister water filter.

Alternatively, you could hook it up to a water pump if you don’t have a canister filter setup.

They’re a great option if you don’t want unsightly bits of equipment on display in your turtle tank.

The drawback to in-line heaters is the price point. They’re generally a lot more expensive than a submersible heater.

They may require a bit of DIY to make them fit certain water pumps or canister filters as aquarium equipment doesn’t use a standardized size of fittings from one manufacturer to another.

Submersible Heater
Pros
❌ Submersible Heater
Cons
• Cheaper• Visible in tank
• More readily available• Can be damaged by turtles
• More choice
• Simple to set up
External Heater
Pros
❌ External Heater
Cons
• Look neater• More expensive
• Don’t take up tank space• Not as readily available
• Not waterproof
• Harder to set up

Best Turtle Tank Heater Reviews

Now you know what you need to look for in a turtle tank heater and what wattage you require, let’s get down to the reason you are here and find the best turtle tank heater for your little turtle buddy.

1. Fluval E Series Advanced Electronic Heater

Fluval E300 Heater
Fluval E300
  • Power: 100 Watts – 300 Watts
  • Temperature Range: 68°-93°F (20°-33°C)
  • Size: Height 9.75″-14″ x Width 2″ x Depth 1.125″

Pros

  • Simple to set up and use
  • Factory calibrated to 77°F
  • Fully submersible
  • Clear LCD display
  • Dual temperature sensors
  • Low & high water temperature warning system
  • Low flow warning indicator
  • Auto temperature shut off
  • Comes fitted with a heater guard
  • Suitable for freshwater and saltwater

Cons

  • Not the cheapest
  • Only available in 3 wattage options

The Fluval E Series Advanced Electronic Heater is my top pick for your turtle tank. I’ve been a fan of Fluval for years because they make good quality equipment that is durable and simple to use.

It’s fully submersible, factory calibrated to 77°F straight out of the box, and has a simple toggle switch to increase or decrease your water temperature in 0.5° increments. The dual temperature sensors ensure accurate water temperature readings at all times.

The LCD screen will light green if your water temperature is where you set it, blue if it’s on and heating your water, or red if it’s switched off because your water has got above the desired temperature. The sensitivity of this feature is + or – 2°F/1°C giving you peace of mind that it won’t overheat your water, nor will it allow your turtle to become cold before it kicks back on again.

Should your water temperature be + or – 5.5°F/3°C the LCD display will flash blue or red to alert you to a potential problem.

If your heater needs to be moved to an area where there’s more water flow needed, the screen will display an LF warning light. Placing your heater in a part of your tank with a higher water flow ensures a more even heating of your water as you avoid warmer water or cooler water staying near the temperature sensor for too long.

Automatically shuts off at the desired temperature, and switches back on again if the temperature drops.

Comes fitted with a protective casing that not only prevents your turtle from damaging the heater element but also prevents them from burning themselves.

Certainly not the cheapest heater, but you get what you pay for. I swear by the Fluval E Series.




2. Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Pro Aquarium Heater

Cobalt Aquatics Neo Therm Heater
Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Heater
  • Power: 25 Watts – 200 Watts
  • Temperature Range: 68°-94°F (20°-34°C)
  • Size: 25 Watts H 6.5″ x W 2″ x D 0.75″
  • 75 Watts H 6.75″ x W 2.25″ x D 1.25″
  • 100 Watts H 11″ x W 2.25″ x D 1.25″
  • 200 Watts H 11″ W 2.25″ x D 1.25″

Pros

  • Shatterproof casing
  • Smart energy-efficient technology
  • Dual temperature displays
  • Easy to install and setup
  • Fully submersible
  • Ultra-slim design
  • Auto temperature shut off
  • Suitable for freshwater and saltwater

Cons

  • Expensive

This heater is a great choice, it has a nice slimline design so will look good in your turtle tank.

Where a normal aquarium heater will click on when needed and run at full power until it switches off again, the Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Pro has smart technology so it will run only at the power it needs to in order to get your tank water back up to temperature. It can run as low as 10% of its power which gives you 3 major benefits:

  • Less wear and tear on the heater so it will last longer
  • Good for the environment due to its low energy use
  • Low energy use lowers the cost of your utility bill

Made from a resin-filled shatterproof casing so can handle a lot of knocks and has an ultra-slim design that stops it from taking up too much space in the tank.

The dual LED temperature display is another great feature. A solid LED displays the set temperature while a flashing LED displays the actual temperature.

Must be fully submerged at all times and can be mounted vertically or horizontally.

Like all heaters on this list, it has the auto shut off when the desired temperature is reached to avoid overheating your water and stressing your turtle.

The only drawback to this heater is the price point! It’s not the cheapest, but when you look at what you get for your money and the potential savings on your utility bills, it’s definitely worth considering.




3. Eheim Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater

Eheim Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater
Eheim Jager Heater
  • Power: 25 Watts – 300 Watts
  • Temperature Range: 64°-93°F (18°-34°C)
  • Size: Height 9.6″-20″ x Diameter 1.4″

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Available in 8 wattage options
  • Easy installation
  • Made from shock-resistant shatterproof glass
  • Fully submersible
  • On/off indicator light
  • Auto temperature shut off
  • Low water auto shut off safety feature
  • Suitable for freshwater and saltwater

Cons

  • Not as accurate as it ages
  • Quite large, the 300-watt heater is 20″ long
  • No heater guard included

The German-engineered Eheim Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater is a very popular choice of heater in the aquarium hobby.

They’re great for turtle tanks as they’re made from laboratory-grade shock-resistant shatterproof glass, meaning they can take a fair amount of knocks and bumps.

Needs to be fully submerged and can be used vertically or horizontally.

Not only does the Eheim automatically shut off when the desired water temperature is reached, but it also features an automatic safety shut-off should your water level drop too low to avoid it overheating and potentially cracking from running in dry air. Should you forget to turn your heater off before performing a water change, you’ll be thankful for having this. The heater will restart automatically when the water level returns to normal.

The temperature dial can be quite stiff to adjust, but given that turtles are known to be rough on equipment in their tanks that’s a good thing. You have peace of mind knowing your turtle is going to knock the dial and end up either freezing or overheating.

Although this heater is made from shatterproof glass, turtles can be boisterous so I recommend that you buy a heater guard/cage to protect it.




4. Fluval M Series Submersible Heater

Fluval M50 Submersible Heater
Fluval M Series Heater
  • Power: 50 Watts – 300 Watts
  • Temperature Range: 66°-86°F (19°-30°C)
  • Size: Height 11″-13″ x Diameter 1″

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Available in 6 wattage options
  • Slim and compact design
  • Made from hardened shock resistant glass
  • Blends in with surroundings
  • Computer calibrated thermostat
  • Easy to install and setup
  • On/off indicator light
  • Auto temperature shut off
  • Fully submersible
  • Suitable for freshwater and saltwater

Cons

  • No heater guard included

The Fluval M series is a great choice for your turtle tank. Super easy to install and set up, it’s no wonder many people use them in their aquariums.

The M series features an ultra-slim design with a diameter of just 1″ and has a reflective coating so it blends in nicely with your tank and its surroundings.

Constructed from hardened shock-resistant borosilicate glass means it won’t shatter due to knocks and bumps, and will also retain its structural integrity by not overexpanding due to heat.

Comes with a silver-nickel thermostat that is designed to be far more durable and withstand more on/off cycles than other heater thermostats.

One thing to point out with the Fluval M Series is there’s some confusion over whether this heater is fully submersible or not. It comes with minimum and maximum water level lines, however, it is fully submersible.

Although this heater is made from hardened glass, turtles can be boisterous so I recommend that you buy a heater guard/cage to protect it.




5. Marineland Precision Submersible Heater

Marineland Precision Heater for Saltwater or Freshwater Aquariums
Marineland Precision Heater
  • Power: 50 Watts – 400 Watts
  • Temperature Range: 65°-89°F (18°-31°C)
  • Size: Height 10.2″-19.4″ x Diameter 1.6″

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Available in 8 wattage options
  • Simple to set up and use
  • On/off indicator light
  • Auto temperature shut off
  • Fully submersible
  • Suitable for freshwater and saltwater

Cons

  • Not toughened glass
  • No heater guard included

The Marineland Precision Submersible heater is a solid choice for your turtle tank if you’re on a budget.

Easy to set up, fully submersible, and works both vertically or horizontally.

Automatically shuts off when the desired temperature is reached and switches back on when the temperature drops again. There’s an LED light to tell you if it’s running or not.

The temperature setting dial increases or decreases the temperature by 1°F for every click so very easy to set to a precise temperature.

The suction cups are a particularly strong point with this heater, they’re quite difficult to detach once they’re in place so there’s less chance of your turtle knocking this heater off the side of their tank.

I wouldn’t use this heater in a turtle tank without a heater guard to protect it from breaking or getting damaged by your turtle. With this heater being in the more ‘budget friendly’ price range, it’s not as tough as some of the other heaters on this list.




6. Finnex Deluxe Titanium Tube Heater with Guard

Finnex Deluxe Titanium Tube Heater with Guard
Finnex Deluxe Titanium Heater
  • Power: 300 Watts – 800 Watts
  • Temperature Range: 67°-93°F (19°-33°C)
  • Size: Height 10″-16.5″ x Diameter 1″

Pros

  • Made from titanium
  • Comes with a heater guard
  • Fully submersible
  • Slim design
  • Easy to install
  • Suitable for freshwater and saltwater

Cons

  • Not the cheapest option
  • Needs a separate control unit to operate
  • Wattage rating may not be 100% accurate

If you’re looking for the most durable turtle tank heater, you’ve found it!

The Finnex Deluxe is made from titanium and comes with a heater guard so it is ultra-durable and ideal for turtle tanks and can handle bumps and knocks without breaking.

With just a 1″ diameter it leaves a very small footprint in your tank.

Available in an 800-watt option, this could be the best heater for large turtle tanks.

A couple of drawbacks are that the wattage isn’t 100% accurate and you have to purchase a separate control unit so that you can control the temperature, such as the Inkbird ITC-306A WiFi Temperature Controller, which bumps the cost of this heater up quite a bit.




7. Orlushy Submersible Aquarium Heater

Orlushy Submersible Aquarium Heater
Orlushy Submersible Heater
  • Power: 100 Watts – 500 Watts
  • Temperature Range: 68°-93°F (20°-33°C)
  • Size: Height 9.5″-13″

Pros

  • Best budget-priced heater
  • Made from 2mm thick toughened quartz glass
  • Fully submersible
  • Works vertically and horizontally
  • Simple to install
  • Comes with a separate digital thermometer
  • On/off indicator light
  • Auto temperature shut off
  • Extra long 6ft power cord
  • Suitable for freshwater and saltwater

Cons

  • No heater guard included

I’m usually very wary of budget-priced products, especially when there’s water and electricity involved, however, the Orlushy Submersible Aquarium Heater has exceeded my expectations. It feels well built and has all of the features of premium heaters. Although having said that I still wouldn’t swap my Fluval E series for it.

Easy to install, and made from break-resistant quartz glass, you’ll be hard pushed to find a better heater at such a low price point.

Fully submersible and can be mounted vertically or horizontally. There’s an LED light to tell you when it’s working and will automatically shut off when the desired temperature is reached.

Even though it’s toughened glass, I still recommend you buy a separate heater guard.

Not a bad heater for the price, and the reviews online speak for themselves.




8. DaToo External In-Line Aquarium Heater 300W

DaToo Aquarium External Heater in-Line
DaToo External In-line Heater
  • Power: 300 Watts
  • Temperature Range: 68°-95°F (20°-35°C)
  • Size: H 12″ x W 1.8″ x D 2.7″

Pros

  • Durable ABS plastic shell
  • Doesn’t take up tank space
  • Wide temperature range
  • German-made glass-ceramic heating tube
  • Auto temperature shut off
  • Connections for 3 different sized hoses included
  • Cleaning brush included
  • Suitable for freshwater and saltwater

Cons

  • Inlet and outlet may leak, but easily fixed with plumbers tape
  • Temperature sensors could be better

My top pick of external aquarium heater goes to the DaToo In-Line Heater. I have no ‘hands-on’ experience with this product, so my review is based on reading customer reviews of every available in-line heater on Amazon, and overall I feel this is the best choice.

It connects to the outlet of your canister filter and comes with fittings to connect to 3 different sizes of hose: 1/2″ (12mm) 5/8″ (16mm) 3/4″ (20mm). I’d order some plumbers tape to use on the inlet and outlet connections as a few reviewers reported they leaked.

The heating tube is made of high-strength German-engineered glass-ceramic which is stronger and far less likely to expand with heat than standard glass.

The all-important auto shut-off safety feature is included to avoid your water overheating and harming your turtle.

The main complaints other than leaks out of the box are around the temperature sensors being out slightly.

All in all, it doesn’t seem like a bad heater for the price.




9. Tetra Pond De-Icer

TetraPond De-Icer
Tetra Pond De-Icer
  • Power: 300 Watts
  • Temperature Range: Fixed
  • Size: L 11.31″ x W 6.44″ x H 6.94″

Pros

  • Works down to -20°F (-28.8°C)
  • Allows harmful gasses to escape pond water during winter
  • Auto temperature shut off
  • Natural stone-look finish
  • 15-foot power cord
  • 3 year warranty

Cons

  • May need to run 24/7 when it’s very cold

For those who are looking for a turtle pond de-icer, the Tetra Pond de-icer is a solid choice. 1 heater is suitable for 150 square feet of surface area.

Works in temperatures down to -20°F and keeps running until the internal temperature reaches 82°F. Automatically restarts up again once the temperature drops.

By keeping a ring of water thawed it allows toxic gasses from decaying matter to escape from your water that would normally be trapped below the ice during the winter months.

The natural stone finish allows the de-icer to blend in and not look out of place in your turtle pond.

The only drawback is during the harsh winter months, some reviewers have said it runs 24/7 which increased their utility bill.




Turtle Tank Water Temperature

The age and species of your turtle will determine what the water temperature of your turtle tank should be. Use the chart below as a general guide only and be sure to do research for your particular species of turtle.

Life StageAgeTemperature
Hatchling0-1 Year75°F – 80°F
Juvenile1-4 Years72°F +
Adult4 Years +68°F +

A younger turtle requires warmer water than an adult turtle due to them needing a higher protein diet in order to grow properly. The warmer water helps their digestive system process this extra protein.

Safety Tips And Extra Equipment

The best safety precaution with any aquarium equipment is to always use it in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

There are a few other safety precautions that you can follow to keep you and your turtle as safe as possible.

Automatic Shut Off

This is a must-have feature in a heater for me. Any heater that doesn’t automatically switch off once it reaches the desired temperature will continue heating your water until you switch it off.

Too much heat long-term can cause your turtle no end of problems, so for that reason, every heater on this list has this safety feature.

Use A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter

If there’s a sudden power surge in your home, a ground fault circuit interrupter will stop that power surge from reaching whatever is plugged into your power outlet.

Having lost a blu-ray player to a power surge, I can tell you it’s not a good feeling when an electrical appliance suddenly makes a loud popping sound and starts to smoke.

Luckily, that was something that sat on my TV stand. I dread to think what may have happened had it been one of my aquarium heaters!

Since investing in the GE 6-Outlet Surge Protector power strip I have had no further problems with power surges. I cannot recommend this highly enough.

Be Wary Of Budget Heaters

Some things you can skimp on, some you can’t. When it comes to an electrical product that’s either submerged in water or has water running through it, this is not the place to skimp.

There are a ton of horror stories about cheaper heaters breaking and/or overheating and causing significant harm to people’s turtles.

The sad part is it could have been avoided by spending a few extra bucks on a good quality heater in the first place.

Drip Loop

What is a drip loop for an aquarium? Drip loops are an important but very simple safety measure for all electrical items that you use in your aquarium, we all know water and electricity are not a good combination! 

You need to make sure your power cord loops down below your electrical outlet so that if any water runs down your power cord, it will drip onto the floor and not go into your electrical outlet.

See the image below for a drip loop example:

Drip Loop Example

Use 2 or 3 Smaller Submersible Heaters

If you need a 400 watt heater for your 75 gallon tank, you could use 2 x 200 watt heaters, or even 3 x 150 watt heaters instead.

Using 2-3 smaller heaters instead of 1 large heater gives you the following advantages:

Evenly Heated Water

Instead of 1 heater being in the center of the tank and the water around being warmer than the water at the edges of the tank, your water will be heated evenly as you can space your heaters out. Keeping your water temperature consistent is one of the keys to keeping happy aquatic pets.

Prolongs The Life Of Your Heaters

As your turtle swims around its tank it’s going to move the water around too. Because your water is heated evenly in all areas of the tank you’re not going to be getting cooler water passing over the temperature sensor on your heater making it switch back on over and over.

You Have A Back-Up In Place Should One Fail

If 1 of your heaters fails, you’ll still at least be able to keep some heat in your turtle tank water so the temperature wouldn’t suddenly plummet leaving your turtle freezing its butt off until you replaced the broken heater.

Prevents Overheating

No one heater is capable of overheating your tank water by itself should it malfunction and stick on.

Mount Your Heaters Horizontally – Top Tip

Mounting your heaters horizontally or at a 45° angle will prolong their lifespan and save you money. It helps to think that your heater has a preset amount of times it can turn on and off, and once you’ve hit that number of on/off cycles you’ll have to replace it.

We all know heat rises, and if your heater is vertical, the heat from the element goes straight up to where your temperature sensors are causing your heater to think the water is warmer than it is and switch off. That heat then spreads through the cooler water and your heater clicks back on again because it thinks the water isn’t warm enough. The cycle goes round and round and round until your heater on/off mechanism fails.

If you mount your heaters horizontally or at a 45° angle, the heat doesn’t directly pass the temperature sensor, so it doesn’t cause the heater to click on and off as frequently, this prolongs the life of your heater and saves on electricity – win win!

Mount Aquarium Heater Horizontally Or At A 45° Angle

Use A Heater Guard

Submersible heaters are made from either glass, titanium, or plastic. It’s your choice which material you go for, but be aware that turtles are known to be rough in their tanks and may damage a glass heater. Broken glass is not good for you or your turtle, and I’m sure I don’t have to point out that an electrical heating element exposed to water is not good!!

If you do decide to choose a glass heater make sure it either comes with a heater guard or that you buy one to fit your heater.

The Xiaoyztan Plastic Detachable Aquarium Water Heater Protector comes highly recommended.

Beware Of Cold Air

Do you have air conditioning? If you do I recommend laying your heater on its side on the tank bottom when performing water changes. Older glass heaters may blow up on you if they’re suddenly exposed to cold air. Most new heaters automatically shut off when they’re exposed to air to prevent this from happening.

Use A Separate Thermometer

Don’t rely on your heater to tell you the temperature of your tank water. Always use a separate thermometer to tell you this, as it’s more reliable.

I like to keep 2 thermometers on all of my tanks just in case 1 becomes faulty. They’re pretty inexpensive so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

I use the Zacro Pack of 2 LCD Digital Aquarium Thermometers, or you could use stick-on thermometer strips if you like, but they are not generally as accurate and can be difficult to read.

Turtle Tank Heater FAQ

2 frequently asked questions about turtle tank heaters are:

1. Should I Put A Heater In A Turtle Tank?

Yes. Turtles are cold-blooded animals and use the environment around them to regulate their body temperature. If your turtles’ water is too cold it will slow down their metabolism, make them go into hibernation, and potentially lead to respiratory problems.

2. Can I Use A Fish Heater For My Turtle Tank?

Yes. Whether you’re putting fish or a turtle in your aquarium, you’ll need to buy the same product which is an aquarium heater. Just be sure to fit it with a protective heater guard in case your turtle bumps into it or tries to bite it.

Final Thoughts…

There you have it, my top picks for the best turtle tank heater. I hope I’ve made it easier for you to pick the right heater for your pet turtle. If you’re still undecided, I highly recommend the Fluval E series automatic heater, it’s the one I have been using for years and a good quality brand.

Check out my equipment section for more in-depth reviews like this.