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Red-Eared Slider Water Temperature: This Is the Right Temp

For red-eared sliders, the water temperature should range between 75°F and 85°F. Those are the ideal temperatures for keeping your turtle healthy and flourishing.

If you’re the proud owner of a red-eared slider, then you know how essential it is to keep the water temperature in the tank at just the right level.

One of the most important things to remember about red-eared sliders is that these turtles are cold-blooded. 

The temperature of their environment has a direct impact on their bodies. 

In the wild, red-eared sliders would bask in the sun to warm up their bodies, and then retreat into cooler water to regulate their temperature.

Let’s discuss what that ideal temperature range is in the water and throughout the enclosure, and give you some tips on how to keep your turtle’s tank at the perfect temperature.

What Temperature Should a Red-Eared Slider’s Water Be?

The water temperature for a red-eared slider should be 75°F–85°F. This is the temperature range that allows your turtle to stay healthy and thrive.

If the water is too cold, your turtle can develop respiratory problems. In extreme cases, it can even lead to death. 

If the water is too hot, it can cause your turtle to overheat and become stressed. This can also lead to health problems down the road.

What Temperature Should a Red-Eared Slider's Water Be
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Do Red-Eared Sliders Need Heated Water?

Yes, red-eared slider turtles need heated water. As mentioned before, these turtles are cold-blooded, so the temperature of their environment has a direct impact on their bodies.

Aquarium heaters are an easy and effective way to heat the water in your turtle’s tank. We recommend using an aquarium heater with an automatic thermostat. That way, you can set and forget it, knowing that your turtle’s water is always at the right temperature.

What Type Of Water Do Red-Eared Slider Turtles Need?

Red-eared slider turtles need clean water to stay healthy. That means filtered, dechlorinated water. You can provide your turtle with this type of water by using tap water that has been treated with a water filter.[1]

If you live in an area with hard water, you may need to use a water softener to remove the minerals from the water. 

This helps to keep your turtle’s tank clean and prevent the build-up of scale on the glass.

Use a water conditioner to treat the water before adding it to the tank. These products are easily found at most pet stores.

Related: Red-Eared Slider: Care, Diet, Habitat & More

How Often Should I Change My Red-Eared Slider’s Water?

We recommend partially changing the water in your turtle’s tank at least once a week. Do it more often if it gets dirty quickly.

Do a partial water change of at least 25% once a week. A partial water change includes two steps:

  1. Simply remove some of the old water from the tank using a siphon or a bucket.
  2. Add fresh, clean water to replace it.

When you’re changing the water in your turtle’s tank, be sure to clean the filter at the same time. This removes any build-up of dirt and debris that can clog the filter and make it less effective.

Full water changes and tank cleans should be done once every four to six weeks.

How Often Should I Change My Red-Eared Slider's Water
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Red-Eared Slider Temperature Requirements

Red-eared sliders need a water temperature between 75°F and 85°F, a tank temperature between 75°F and 85°F, a basking spot that is around 90°F, and a nighttime temperature around 65°F.

Correct temperatures are important for red-eared sliders as they are ectotherms. The environment around them determines their ability to thermoregulate.

Thermoregulation is responsible for maintaining metabolism, powering all basic life functions, including but not limited to:

  • Digestion
  • Respiration[2]
  • Growth

Without the correct temperatures, red-eared sliders struggle to function correctly and are at risk of endless diseases.[3]

Wild red-eared sliders self-regulate their temperature using their natural environment. As captive pets, they require a tank with variable temperatures to be able to self-regulate.

Water temperature75°F–85°F
Basking temperature85°F–95°F
Night temperature65°F–75°F

Red-Eared Slider Basking Temperature

Basking is when your turtle lies under a heat source to warm up. It’s important to provide a basking spot that is the correct temperature so that your turtle can regulate its body temperature properly.

The basking spot in your turtle’s tank should be around 90°F. You can achieve this by using a basking lamp or a heat lamp. Position the basking spot so that it is not in direct sunlight. This can make the basking spot too hot.[4]

A heat lamp is the most intense source of heat within the tank. Position it at the end of the tank to create a gradient of heat away from the heat source. 

This way your slider can position themselves in the optimal range whenever they need to regulate their internal temperature.

You can also use a basking platform or a rock ledge to create a basking spot for your turtle. Be sure that the platform or ledge is not too close to the water as the turtle should be able to dry out completely.

Related: How Long Can A Red-Eared Slider Be Out Of Water?

Red-Eared Slider Basking Temperature
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Red-Eared Slider Night Temperature

At night, the temperature in your turtle’s tank should be around 65°F. Achieve this by turning off the basking lamp and allowing the tank to cool down.

If you live in a cold climate, you may need to use a night light or a red bulb to provide some light for your turtle as they sleep. Red light does not interfere with their sleep like other colors of the light can.

You can also use a ceramic heat emitter to provide heat for your turtle at night. This is a good option if you need to provide some extra heat for your turtle.

Lack of light and lower temperatures help a red-eared slider to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm and get a restful sleep that encourages:

  • a heightened immune system[5]
  • growth and development
  • a healthy appetite
  • energy conservation

Where Do Red-Eared Sliders Go In Winter?

In the wild, red-eared sliders brumate in the winter. They bury themselves in the mud at the bottom of a pond or lake and remain there until the spring when the weather warms up again.

Brumation is a survival mechanism that allows them to conserve energy and survive during periods of food scarcity.

In captivity, red-eared sliders do not need to brumate as they have a constant supply of food and their tank temperatures are stable. 

Some turtles may still go into brumation if the temperature in their tank drops too low.

If your turtle starts to slow down or stop eating, it may be going into brumation. If this happens, do not try to force your turtle to eat as this can be harmful.

Allow your turtle to brumate if it wants to and make sure that the temperature in its tank does not drop below 65°F.

red eared slider hibernation

Red-Eared Slider Winter Care

If your red-eared slider experiences cooler temperatures during the winter, you can ensure they remain healthy with these tips

  • Providing a hiding spot
  • Maintaining tank temperature
  • Reducing feeding
  • Providing a basking spot

For pet red-eared sliders that are kept in indoor tanks, you do not need to provide seasonal temperature changes. It’s easiest to maintain constant temperatures throughout the year with the use of tank heating equipment.

Cooler temperatures may still impact sliders if they are in outdoor enclosures or in cold indoor environments. Red-eared sliders are well adapted for the winter but still need extra care.

Provide a Hiding Spot

Turtles like to hide away when it’s cold so be sure to provide a hiding spot in their tank. This can be a cave, tunnel, or even just a pile of rocks.

Red-Eared Sliders movement

Maintain Tank Temperature

As mentioned above, the temperature in your turtle’s tank should not drop below 65°F. If it gets colder than this your slider may go into brumation. You may need to use a heater to maintain this temperature.

Reduce Feeding

Your turtle reduces its food intake during the winter due to lower activity. This is normal and you should not try to force your turtle to eat.

Related: What Do Red-Eared Sliders Eat?

Provide a Basking Spot

Even though the temperature in their tank is lower, your turtle still needs a basking spot. Be sure to provide a basking lamp or heat lamp so they can warm up when they need to.

By following these tips, you can help your red-eared slider survive the winter and stay healthy.

Final Thoughts

Red-eared sliders are hardy turtles that can survive in a wide range of environments. By understanding their needs and providing the proper care, you can ensure your turtle stays healthy and happy for many years to come.

If you have any questions about caring for your red-eared slider, be sure to ask your veterinarian. They can provide you with the best advice for your turtle’s specific needs.


Should I let My Red-Eared Slider Brumate?

Pet red-eared sliders do not need to brumate in captivity. If your turtle starts to brumate you should allow it. Make sure the temperature in its tank does not drop below 65°F and provide a hiding spot.

Can Red-Eared Sliders Live WIthout a Heat Lamp?

No, red-eared sliders need a basking spot with a heat lamp in order to regulate their body temperature. Without a heat lamp, they can not thermoregulate properly and could become sick or die.

Are Heating Pads Good For Red-Eared Sliders?

No, heating pads are not suitable for red-eared sliders as they can cause burns. It’s best to use a basking lamp or heat lamp instead.

Can A Red-Eared Slider Freeze To Death?

Yes, if the temperature in their environment gets too low red-eared sliders can freeze to death. This is why it’s important to maintain a temperature of at least 65°F in their tank.

About Sophie Herlihy (Zoologist)

Sophie Herlihy, a trained zoologist, is a lover of true misfit animals. With a specialty in insects, birds, and rodents, she helps the Misfit Animals craft factual and valuable informational pieces on various animals.

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