Since your turtle will spend most of its life in the water, it is important to maintain safe water conditions. One of the most important jobs as a turtle owner is to provide your turtle with clean water. When it comes to the type of water you use, I am frequently asked if turtles can live in tap water.
Can Turtles Live in Tap Water?
Yes, turtles can live in tap water. However, you should treat the water with a conditioner to remove chemicals that are harmful to your turtle.
Below is a video where I show how to properly add tap water to a turtle tank.
How to condition tap water for turtle?
There are two simple ways to condition tap water to make it safe for your turtle. You can either use a water conditioner, or let the water sit out for a day or two in a bucket.
Using a water conditioner
This is the method that I use, and it is by far the easiest of the two options. All you have to do is get a water conditioner from amazon or your nearest pet store. They usually cost $5 or less.
Make sure to read the directions on the conditioner bottle, but most of them suggest that you put water into a bucket, and then put the conditioner into the bucket. After the water has been mixed around, you can pour it into your tank. Water conditioners work pretty fast, and they kill the harmful chemicals that are in tap water such as chlorine and ammonia.
Below is a step by step process on how to fill your turtle tank up with water.
Let the water sit in a bucket
If you are not able to use a water conditioner, you can also just set the water outside for two days, and then put it into your tank.
The UV rays of the sun are able to attack the harmful chemicals in the tap water, and it causes the chemicals to rise to the top as bubbles and disperse into the air.
Partial water changes
Unless your turtle tank water is extremely contaminated, I suggest that you only perform partial water changes. I usually change around 20% to 30% of the water for each water change.
While turtles are pretty hardy animals, you put them more at risk when you change 100% of their water all at once. It can remove beneficial bacteria from the tank, and there is a chance the new water isn’t 100% filtered. Therefore, it is better to do smaller water changes at a time.
If you notice that your turtle is staying out of the water for a little bit after you do water changes, you should probably do smaller water changes.
Will tap water kill my turtle?
No, using untreated tap water will not kill your turtle, especially if you only do it once. However, over time it can lead to stress, inflammation, and respiratory illness.
Why isn’t tap water safe for turtles?
The reason tap water is harmful to your turtle is because it usually contains chemicals such as chlorine, fluoride, and ammonia.
These chemicals are put in tap water to help kill harmful bacteria, but they are not healthy for a turtle.
What happens if you put tap water in a turtle tank?
As mentioned above, if you put untreated tap water in your turtle tank one time, it will most likely not harm your turtle. However, if you regularly put untreated tap water in your turtle tank, your turtle might start exhibiting the following symptoms:
- Irritated eyes
- Discharge from eyes, nose, or mouth
- Inflammation on skin
- Throwing up
- Respiratory infection
- White residue on turtle shell
If you notice your turtle has any of the above symptoms, you should start treating your water immediately. If the symptoms persist, you should take your turtle to a vet.
Should I use distilled water for my turtle tank?
A lot of people online recommend that you put distilled water into your turtle tank. Distilled water is purified water that has organic minerals filtered out of it.
While this is certainly beneficial because it removes harmful minerals, I have read that it can also remove good chemicals from the water. For this reason, I think it is best to just use tap water that is conditioned.
Can I use well water for my turtle tank?
Since well water varies significantly across the country, it is important that you test the well water before you put it into your turtle tank.
You should get test trips that test the pH level, along with the presence of chlorine, ammonia, and nitrate.
Can I use shower or hose water for my turtle tank?
Both the water that comes out of a shower and hose is considered tap water. Therefore, you should follow the steps above to conditioner the water before you put it into your tank.
Have a good filter
No matter what type of water you use for your turtle, it is extremely important that you have a strong filter in your tank.
Since turtles both eat and release their waste into the water, it can get dirty pretty quickly. If you don’t have a filter that can properly clean the water, your turtle will certainly develop respiratory problems in the future.