Indoor Turtle Pool Setup

Updated on July 19, 2019
mariekbloch profile image

Marie is a lover of everything about and inside of aquariums. Among other friendly creatures, she has a turtle that she adores.

Creating an indoor pool for your turtle can be justified for several reasons, whether it is winter and you want your turtle to escape its aquarium from time to time, or you need a cheap alternative to an aquarium. Although I think the turtle should be placed in deeper water on occasion, the kiddie pool would certainly suffice as a good home as long as you have everything it needs.


First of all, this pool should be placed in a room with the right temperature. A turtle's temperature range can be determined by the species and age. Once you have found out the right water temperature for your turtle, find a way to make this the regular temp in your pool. Just because your room temperature is 75 degrees does not mean it is the same temp in the water. This may require an aquarium heater. Always know the temperature of the water and regulate it.


Because you cannot simply lift up a side of the pool and pour out the water when it needs changing, filtration is essential. The best filter for a kiddie pool is a lightweight waterfall filter. There are different kinds of waterfall filters for aquariums. The smallest, cheapest ones do the job, and all it usually requires is a change in carbon cartridge every once in a great while. But even then, only a portion of the pool is getting circulated while the rest is still. That is why air stones are needed on the other sides of the pool, so all of the pool's water has some kind of movement. This delays cleaning.


And how to go about cleaning? The water is not deep enough to be siphoned out with a tube, so this requires a little bit of work. Basically, the only way to deplete water from the pool is by the use of buckets. As tedious as this might be, once or twice a week, scoop up as much water as possible and replace it with dechlorinated water. With a small size like this, it should not take too long but it does require constant running back and forth depleting and refilling the pool. When scooping up water, try to scoop up areas with debris and waste. Because the cleaning is less sufficient than siphoning from an aquarium, I recommend not feeding your turtle in the pool, unless this is an aquarium substitute. Then you would have to be more thorough and clean more often.

Also, remember to clean out the filter. If you've changed cartridges and the waterfall seems weaker (thinner), it is because the filter needs thoroughly cleaned.


Make sure to provide all the turtle's needs when setting up the pool. Give him places to hide, bask, and swim freely. One accessory that is a must is a UV-B bulb that can be placed over a basking area. Seven inches above the pool's rim is probably the safest distance, but be your own judge and watch the turtle's reaction to it. I would not place any basking area (objects) near the wall of the pool in case the turtle decides to make a break for it. Of course, this also depends on the water level.

Sand would only be required if it is a softshell turtle. In this case, choose the basking area (under UV-B) and press up as much sand as possible against the wall so your turtle can bury himself with ease. My turtle sometimes likes the sand to reach above water level so he can cake himself with it. Just watch out how high you build that sand. You don't want the turtle to reach the top of the pool. When cleaning with sand, it would be best to spread out the sand and shuffle your hands through it so any trapped debris can be collected in the water. Between cleaning, you will have to push up the sand against the wall daily because your turtle will inadvertently spread the sand out, defeating its purpose.

My Pool

In my example, my turtle has four places to hide under, three places to dry off his shell, and an area to bury himself underneath UV-B radiation. The middle is cluttered up, therefore he has that sense of security whenever he wants to hide from me. But there is also a lot of room on the left-hand side to give him space.

Even a small size kiddie pool can take up a lot of space, so including temperature, make sure to place the pool in a clean environment that is out of everyone's way. If this is a home and not just a vacation for your turtle, I recommend getting a pool with water that is at least a foot deep.

Watch out for dusting and spraying near the pool. With it being so wide, it is easy to expose your turtle to dangerous chemicals and dust in the air. Also not recommended if you have large animals around that can harm the turtle.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2011 mariekbloch


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      2 years ago

      I did this same thing many years ago. Love it!


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