Do Turtles Drink Water

So, you just got a turtle and did some research. You probably learned about the requirements of turtles, such as what they eat, what is their preferred temperature, how much UV light exposure they require per day, and everything else.

But now you might be wondering what turtles drink. Do they drink water, and if yes, do they drink the same water they swim in?

We have put this article together to explain exactly what turtles drink.

Do Turtles Drink Water?

Yes, turtles do drink water. In fact, it is essential for their survival.

Just like most living beings, turtles also require water for their survival. Water is essential for the many of their vital metabolic processes. Water is very important for may process inside their body, as it provides them with the required energy to carry out their day-to-day actions.

Just like other organisms, turtles pee after the water has passed through their system.

The intake of water by turtles depends on what kind of food you are feeding them. As you probably already know, most turtles are omnivores, which means they can consume both animal and plant-based food products.

If the food you are giving them is dry and animal-based, then your turtle will most likely consume more water. On the other side, since plants naturally have a higher water content, your turtle will not have to drink as much water when they eat vegetables.

That being said, you should remember that only around half of their diet should be plants/vegetables. If your turtle’s diet becomes more than 75% plants, they will not consume enough of their required vitamins.  

That is why I always stress to my readers to feed their turtle both leafy greens and animal-based products/pellets. This diet will be full of all the nutrients you turtle require for a healthy life, and will help them avoid certain diseases such as respiratory illnesses.

Why do turtles eat in the water?

Now you might have heard that you should feed your turtle directly in the water. The reason for this is because when your turtle eats in the water, they also drink the water at the same time.

Turtles must eat in the water because the water helps them digest the food. You should know that turtle’s are not able to produce saliva, which helps other animals digest their food. Therefore, the water helps break down the food and makes it easier to pass through their digestive system.

Do turtles drink the same water they swim in?

If you put two and two together, you now realize that turtles drink the same water that they swim (and poop in). While this might sound unhealthy, in the wild it is totally safe for turtles to drink the water of their habitat.

This is because there are bacteria present in marine or freshwater environments that are really good at consuming all the animal waste and toxins found in the water. Additionally, since these bodies of water are so big, much of the waste and toxins present become diluted.

However, the situation completely changes when turtles are kept in captivity. This is because the water in a turtle tank does not contain the same bacteria that cleans the water in the wild. Additionally, the water in a turtle tank is more at risk of contamination since it is much smaller and contained. It is much harder for bacteria and other toxins to get broken down in such a small body of water.

For this reason, it is extremely important that you maintain clean water in your turtle tank.

How to keep water clean in turtle tank?

If you ignore the water in your turtle tank, it will certainly become polluted by your turtle’s waste. This can have serious health implications on your turtle. To avoid this, you need to pay special attention to the purity of the water in your tank. Below are some important steps and guidelines to keep in mind to make sure your turtle has clean water.

Turtle filter

It is important that you purchase a strong filter for your turtle tank that is able to handle the amount of water in your tank. When you purchase a filter, make sure you confirm that it is compatible with the number of gallons in your tank. Turtles usually require stronger filters than fish because they produce way more waste. You should also check your filter every couple of days to make sure it is clean and works properly.

Water changes

Just like for aquariums, you should also perform water changes in your turtle tank. I recommend you do a water change at least every two weeks. You may want to do it more frequently if you notice the water in the tank is dirty. It is best to exchange around one third of the water in the turtle tank when you perform a water change.

Water conditioner

Another great way to maintain healthy and clean water in your turtle tank is to purchase some water conditioner. These can be bought for a couple dollars on amazon, and can go a long way. Water conditioner can help remove toxins such as chlorine (which is present in tap water) while also providing healthy vitamins such as calcium to the water.

Do turtles need a separate cup for water?

No, your turtle does not need a cup of water on land. It is much more natural for them to drink the water that they swim in. The only exception to this rule is if your have to quarantine your turtle because they are sick. If this is the case, you may want to provide a small cup of water for them to drink since they can’t go in the water.


Today you learned that turtles do drink water, and they drink the same water that they swim in. For this reason, you should always ensure that the water in your tank is fresh and clean.

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