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Care for Red Belly Turtles

| Updated September 26, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Aquarium, 10 or 20 gallons

  • Gravel

  • Larger rock with a partial flat surface for basking

  • Thermostat sticker

  • Aquarium lamp that emits UVA and UVB radiation

  • Water neutralizing drops

  • Commercial turtle food

Red-bellied turtles can easily be kept as pets in an aquarium in your home. However, their environment needs some special requirements. They prefer deeper bodies of fresh water to swim, but the turtles also enjoy basking in the sun. Their day-to-day care should also be taken seriously.

Aquarium Set Up

Rinse out the aquarium and the gravel.

Place a thin layer of gravel on the aquarium tank bottom with an increasing amount leaning toward one of the corners. The amount in the corner should be high enough for the rest of the aquarium tank to serve as a pool. Place the basking rock securely on top of that gravel mound.

Pour lukewarm water in the pool area of the tank. Measure and drop in a few neutralizing drops per gallon of water to eliminate any water chemicals. Attach the thermostat on the outside of the aquarium. The water should be between 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Attach the UVA/UVB lamp on the top edge of the tank above the basking rock. That temperature should be about 87 to 92 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. The lamp can be turned off at night.

Allow the aquarium to sit for a couple days to get regulated. Place the turtle in its new environment after that waiting period.

Turtle Care

Feed your reptile commercial turtle food one to two times per day. Only give it as much it can eat within several minutes. Do not overfeed it because it can be fatal.

Keep a clean tank. A clean environment promotes good hygiene and health. Watch out for dirty water and dirt or grime on the walls of the aquarium. Perhaps once a week, change the water and wipe off the walls near the water line. Remember to add the neutralizing drops whenever replacing the water.

Brush the turtle's back gently with an old soft toothbrush every so often to keep the shell clean of fecal matter.


  • Commercially packaged shrimp and krill can be used as treats. Small pieces of romaine lettuce can be given to the turtle once a day for extra protein.


  • A submersible heater should be used if the water falls below the recommended temperature.