Painted Turtle Habitat Checklist

Painted turtles are one of the better turtle pets because they stay small. They average about six to eight inches. They’re very colorful turtles. A lot of them have a fair amount of red on them and some yellow.

Painted turtles are native to North America. They are naturally found all the way from the east coast to the west coast going into southern Canada. With such a wide range of habitats, painted turtles are adaptable to many different conditions.

There are four different subspecies of painted turtle i.e. western, midland, southern and eastern painted turtle. A female of the largest subspecies (Western) can get to about 9 inches. A female of the smallest subspecies (Southern) can grow to about 6 inches. Keep in mind that males are almost always smaller than the females at least by a couple of inches, that’s something to consider when thinking about how much space you want to dedicate to a turtle tank.

Following is a list of all the supplies and equipment you’ll need to provide a proper home for the painted turtle.


As for the tank size, I’m sure you’ve heard of the ten gallons per inch of shell rule for Turtles. This rule also applies here. One thing to keep in mind though is that these Turtles absolutely love to swim and are very active so the bigger the aquarium the better.

List of things you will need inside of the painted turtle aquarium.


Painted turtles produce a lot of waste pretty much like any turtles but just keep in mind that you will need to be providing a lot of filtration. Most people recommend two to three times the amount of water volume in your tank. If you have 20 gallons of water in your tank, you’re gonna want at least a filter or filters rated for 40 gallons or more potentially even up to 60.

Water Heater

For adult painted turtles, room temperature can be sufficient as long as it is not dropping below 65 degrees. For baby turtles and juveniles, you do want to keep it a little bit warmer because it helps protect their immune system. For baby and juvenile, the recommended temperature is 76 to 78 degrees.


Installing a thermometer in your turtle aquarium is of great help in monitoring temperature.

UVB Light

Painted turtles love to bask. They’re actually part of a category of turtles that are known as basking turtles because they spend a lot of time out of the water sunning themselves. We definitely recommend providing a nice sturdy good basking area for them in their aquarium. Painted turtles need UVB light to produce vitamin D3. They need this vitamin to metabolize and process calcium in their bodies. So a UVB bulb is a must for turtles.

UVA Light

Painted turtles need UVA light for their metabolism, mood regulations and also to help with breeding. You can actually get a single 150-watt bulb that produces both the UVB and UVA lights.


Painted turtles are omnivores. They feed on fish, insects, roughage, and greens that they find in the water. In captivity, I recommend feeding them a variety of different well-formulated turtle pellets.

I am the editor-in-chief at I have been a reptile enthusiast for over a decade, and during this time I have kept and bred a variety of different reptiles such as bearded dragons, geckos, and chameleons. I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and experience with others to help them provide the best care possible for their pet reptiles.

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