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are turtles easy to take care of

If you are interested in getting a pet turtle, it’s important to understand the time commitment. In today’s article, I will discuss whether or not turtles are high maintenance, and whether or not turtles are easy to take care of.

Are pet turtles easy to take care of?

Yes, as long as you have the proper ecosystem and setup for your turtle, they are easy to take care of. I spend about 4 hours per month taking care of my turtle.

The main things you have to do for a pet turtle include daily feeding, spot cleaning, partial and full water changes, substrate cleaning, and filter cleaning.

 I will break down each task below.

Daily feeding (30 minutes a month)

feeding a turtle

When it comes to taking care of a turtle, the most frequent (and arguably most important) task is making sure they are properly fed. Most turtles under the age of 4 will need to be fed every day.

I usually feed my turtle in the morning when I get up, and it usually takes less than a minute. The key here is to make sure that you don’t overfeed your turtle, because uneaten leftover food can cause your tank to get dirty.

Make sure you feed your turtle different types of foods and pellets to help ensure their diet has variety and they are getting all of their required nutrients. You can learn more in my guide on how much to feed a turtle.

Spot cleaning (1 hour per month)

spot cleaning turtle tank

It’s also important that you regularly spot clean your turtle’s tank. I try to do this every day or every other day. This doesn’t take too long, and it mostly just consists of using a net to scoop out any debris.

You might also need to use a sponge to scrub parts of the tank that have buildup on it.

Spot cleaning also doesn’t require much time, and you can usually get it done in 2-3 minutes. If you want to learn more about cleaning, check out my guide on the best way to clean a turtle tank.

Partial and full water changes (1-2 hours per month)

partial water change turtle tank

One of the most time consuming parts of caring for a turtle is water changes. You should do a partial water change (25%-50% of the water) either every week or every other week. The easiest way to do this is with a large bucket. Use it to scoop out water from the tank, and then fill it up with fresh water to refill the tank. Make sure you put water conditioner in the new water if you get it from the tap.

While it depends on the size of your tank, a partial water change usually takes around 15-20 minutes.

Full water changes need to be performed less frequently. This also depends on the size of your tank and the power of your filter, but full water changes should be done anywhere from once a month to every 3-4 months. I recommend that you use a siphon for full water changes and connect the tube to a bathtub to let the water run out. You can then connect the siphon to a sink to fill the tank back up.

full water change turtle tank

Full water changes do take a decent amount of time. For reference, doing a full water change on a 75 gallon turtle tank usually takes 1-2 hours.

Substrate cleaning (30 minutes per month)

cleaning turtle substrate

While you can elect to have a bare bottom tank (no substrate), most turtle owners decide to have a substrate. The most popular substrates for turtles are rocks and sand. Since waste and debris can easily get stuck in the substrate, its important that you give it a thorough clean at least once a month.

While there are a couple methods to do this, I find that the easiest is to use a siphon substrate cleaner to suck up all the waste from the substrate.

This usually takes around 30 minutes or so.

Filter cleaning

cleaning turtle tank filter

An often overlooked aspect of turtle care is cleaning the filter. Most people forget that turtle filters need to be regularly cleaned. While it depends on the type of filter you have, I suggest doing a filter clean anywhere from once a month or once every three to four months.

If you don’t clean the filter regularly, it can get clogged up. This will cause your filter to become less efficient and will likely lead to your water getting dirty.  

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to clean a turtle tank filter. You just need to take out the sponges and give them a nice rinse in some water.

It usually takes me around 15 minutes to clean my filter.

Enrichment (time varies per month)

playing with pet turtle

While turtles don’t require nearly as much attention as other pets such as dogs, I do try to interact with my turtle every now and then. Turtles are generally pretty solitary creatures and don’t necessarily require engagement, but I still think it can help.

I try to take my turtle out of the tank at least once a month. Sometimes I let her roam around my living room, and other times I’ll take her outside. The one good thing about taking her outside is that she get’s exposure to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, which help support her shell growth.

Enrichment doesn’t have to require you personally engaging with your turtle. You can also look into toys for pet turtles that can help keep them entertained.

Are turtles high maintenance?

No, as I listed above, turtles are not high maintenance and only require a couple hours per month of care. That being said, it is still important that you stay diligent and check in on your turtle daily.

Turtles are not a good pet for people that can’t perform daily care tasks for their turtle.

Get the right equipment

The key to making it easy to take care of a turtle is getting the proper equipment. It’s important that you get a big tank, as more water makes it easier to break down waste. It’s also important to have a high power filter that can adequately clean the water. Of course, there are other turtle accessories you will need, but the large tank size and strong filter are the most important if you want a low maintenance pet.