Now you have all the equipment required, you need to know how to set it up.
The picture below shows how a standard turtle tank set up should be. The picture below is probably my 5th set up arrangement for my turtles since I got them. Although every one of my tank arrangement looks different, the essentials labelled below are the same.

Water level

Contrary to what you have been told, 1 inch water depth is not good advice. Water level should be high to allow ample swim space for your terrapin to be active.  The more the water, the more three-dimensional space available for your turtles to utilitse. More water will also reduce maintenance and keep your waters cleaner for a longer period of time. Water depth of at least half of your tank height would suffice.

Basking area & light

Basking area should be an area where your terrapins climb up to dry off. Therefore, it should be higher than your water level and remain completely dry. A dry basking area will prevent shell rot.

Your basking lights should be directed to your basking area from overhead, allowing them to bask under the light. Distance from the light is generally about 20cm away, but it depends on the bulb and wattage used. Adequate UVB light will prevent your turtle’s shell from becoming soft.


Filers needs to be set in a way that it allows as much water to be filtered as possible. Filter inlets and outlets have to be on opposite ends of the tank to promote circulation, otherwise you will end up with dead spots i.e. areas in the water where dirt accumulates. Once you have set up your filter system, ensure that your filter is running smoothly and quietly without any odd sounds. Any rattling sounds is tell-tale that your filter is not running correctly. Your filtration inlet must have a strainer. Your terrapin can get stuck at the inlet if a strainer is not installed and will risk drowning.

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