While turtle tanks are fun to observe, it is not secret that a red eared slider would much rather live in an outdoor pond. While it will certainly take a lot of time to prepare and setup, I have found that outdoor ponds are easier to maintain than a tank. In today’s article, I will cover everything you need to know about how to set up an outdoor pond for a red eared slider.
Outdoor Pond for a Red Eared Slider
An outdoor pond for a red-eared slider should have an appropriate depth, a fence around it, a basking spot, some land space, plants, and some shade.
Depth is very important when it comes to an outdoor pond. Red eared sliders are a very aquatic species, which means they love to spend their time swimming around. Ideally, you will want your pond to have a depth of at least 3 feet so your turtle has enough room to swim.
On the other end, there should also be some shallow parts of the pond. This is important so that the turtle can easily get out of the pond if they want to. If you don’t already have a pond or don’t want to dig one, you can check out this pond on amazon.
Just make sure there is still land for the turtle to bask and rest on.
You should have some form of fencing around your pond area. Ideally the fence should be at least 18 inches tall so that your turtle cannot escape. You should check the perimeter regularly to make sure there are no holes in the fence. Another great solution is a pond garden cover.
If your turtle does escape, you should check out my article on what to do if my turtle ran away.
You might also want to consider putting a larger perimiter on the outside of your pond in order to protect your turtle from predators. I strongly recommend you do this if there are racoons, skunks, or opossums in your area.
Just about every turtle species need to bask in order to maintain an appropriate body temperature, and red eared sliders are no exception. There are a couple options you can have for a basking spot in your pond. Ideally you will want to have at least 2 to 3 basking spots that your red eared slider can choose from.
You can put some large logs in your pond, or you can put some boulders in the water that your turtle can climb on. I personally recommend doing one of these since this is how most red eared sliders bask in the wild.
If you do use large rocks for your outdoor turtle pond, make sure that your turtle is able to climb up the rock and that it isn’t too steep. I suggest having multiple rocks.
You can also get creative and put some logs across the rocks to make a bridge.
You can find a boulder near your house, or you can check out this rock on amazon.
Another option is to have a ramp out of your pond that leads to a nice dry area that is exposed to the sun. Luckily you do not need to buy a lamp since your turtle will have access to the sun which will emit all the UVA and UVB light your turtle needs.
You will also need a basking platform for an indoor red-eared slider habitat.
While your red eared slider will likely spend most of its time in the water, it’s important that you have some land space around the pond. This is important because your turtle will likely want to rest occasionally on land and take a break from the water.
Since some turtles like to dig, I suggest that you have some soft substrate on the land that your turtle can burrow through.
It is also important that your outdoor pond has some plants. You can have aquatic plants, land plants, or both.
Additionally, since red eared sliders are omnivores, the plants could be a good food source for them. To learn more, check out my article on the best plants for turtles.
While it is often overlooked, I recommend that you have some shade either over a portion of the pond or the land. This is important in the summer when temperatures might reach an uncomfortable level and your turtle will want a space to cool off.
Ideally your pond naturally has some shade from a nearby tree. If not, you should consider planting a bush near your pond.
While outdoor turtle ponds cost more upfront, they provide the best experience for your turtle. If you are looking for another option, check out my list of cheap turtle tanks.
Should I put fish in my outdoor turtle pond?
You can certainly put fish in your outdoor pond. If don’t want the turtle to eat the fish, make sure that the fish are bigger than your turtle. If the fish is smaller than your turtle, there is a good chance your turtle will try to eat it.
Goldfish are a great option if you want the fish to live alongside your turtle. You can learn more in my article on can red eared sliders live with goldfish?
If you need more advice on feeding a turtle in a pond, check out my article on what to feed turtles in a pond.
Do red eared sliders need a filter in an outdoor pond?
While it’s not 100% necessary, I strongly suggest you get a filter for your outdoor pond. It is important that you get a filter that is powerful enough for your pond. I personally recommend the TotalPond Complete Pond Filter.
Depending on the model you get, it can filter anywhere between 800 to 1,200 gallons of water.
To learn more, check out my article on the best filter for a turtle pond.
What temperature should an outdoor pond be for a red eared slider?
Luckily, red eared sliders are hardy animals that can endure a wide range of temperatures and conditions. Ideally, the pond should reach at least 75 degrees in the summer, and not below 40 degrees in the winter.
Since hibernating can be dangerous for a red eared slider, another option is to bring your turtle inside for the winter. You should bring your turtle inside if the pond freezes completely over. If you decide to do this, you should check out my article on the best tank for red eared sliders.