Musk Turtle Tank Setup – Guide

There is a joy in keeping pets, and the aquatic ones are not left behind. Musk turtles are one of the pets that can amaze and mesmerize you.

Musk turtle tank setup

With their small size, they are relatively easy to keep. They do not require a bogus home or an intricate physical requirement. They can be safely kept in a tank that is well set up.

The common musk turtle is small, about 3-5 inches in length. The turtle is decent of the United States, majorly eastern and southern United States.

Natural Habitat

It is an aquatic animal that dwells in shallow waters. They can be found in slow-moving and shallow streams and ponds. The musk turtle is not entirely aquatic as it cools off on land occasionally.

Their favored water temperature ranges between 75-800F. A basking temperature of about 900F is also perfect for the turtle.

As a defense mechanism, it has a musk gland from where it exudes a smelly liquid to ward off predators. This is why they are also called the stinkpot turtle. They rarely exhibit the defense when domesticated. Averagely the musk turtle can live for about 30 years.

Setting Up Musk Turtle Tank

Musk turtle is relatively easy to keep in the appropriate tank. Since they are small, they do not require so much space. But its love for swimming should also be considered. Here are the main points to take note of in setting up a tank for musk turtle.

Tank Size

The adult musk turtle can be conveniently kept in a tank of 20 gallons in size. Since the turtle loves to swim, a bigger sized tank can be used to allow it to enjoy the water. The tank size can be as large as 30 gallons for one male and 40-45 for a pair.

The baby turtle can be kept in a much smaller tank. A tank well below 20 gallons will be enough for a baby musk turtle. These are about minimum tank size, and you can go as large as you want.

A big space will not consume your small pet, so give it all the room you can afford.

Water Level

To meet the swimming need of your turtle, you need clean unchlorinated water. The tank should be filled with water to about a height of 7 inches for the adult turtle.

The shallow water of about 4 inches is enough for the little ones since they are more of a ground walker than a swimmer. A filter can be fitted into the tank to reduce the frequency of cleaning the tank to about once a month.

Because the musk turtle love to enjoy some moments off the water, a stone or small rock can be a good addition. This will provide the turtle with the land environment it can venture to when it is off the water.


The water temperature for the pet should be maintained at about 800F and a basking region of slightly higher temperatures up to 900F. The air temperature should be around 750F. For a young turtle, the temperature can be slightly warmer.

You should get the best water heater for this purpose. There are heaters specifically designed for tanks like this. Submersible aquarium heaters are available for this purpose. You can also use a basking bulb for the basking area of the tank.

Other Requirements

The lighting of the tank is an essential factor that must be considered. The light should be put on for 12 hours and off for the remaining 12 hours. This lighting schedule gives the turtle are very natural feel.

The humidity level of the tank should be kept moderate. About 40% of humidity is perfect for the turtle. This should be regularly checked to avoid too high humidity.

Aquarium sand and fine pebbles should be put at the tank’s base. This will allow your pet to walk along the bottom of the tank.

Another addition to the tank is broken ceramics, rocks, woods, artificial plants, and other materials. These materials will give the turtle options to play around with. It could want to hide or do some surveying around objects. You can also make use of live plants for your tank. It will only need you to get a UVB light for the plant to keep growing.

I have mentioned the need for a filter earlier. The cleaning of the tank is important. A musk turtle can be a dirty eater, making the water messy quickly. You should look to change the water completely once a month.

Feeding The Turtle

A musk turtle is an omnivorous animal; it can feed on insects and plants. You can easily provide your turtle with meals of earthworm, crickets, aquatic snail, mussel, fish, and others. Large portions of the insects and worms should be chopped, e.g., the fish and every other big food.

Duckweed is an example of a plant that the musk turtle can be fed. You can also chop some bits of carrot or lettuce for it to eat. The turtle can also be fed with musk turtle pellets.

You should pay attention to the few needs of the turtle. Water, temperature, humidity, and lighting are important for its health.

Paying attention to these things will ensure you don’t have to worry too much about its health. And you can keep enjoying the sight of your swimming pet as long as you want.

In The End

Setting up a tank for your musk turtle is now not as hard as you might have thought. It does not require that much space or water, and what it eats is not far-fetched.

You only need to be willing to take care of the turtle and build a good relationship. With this, you will soon need not worry about the smelly liquid it releases when frightened.

Now that you know all these, you can confidently go ahead with your setup. Musk turtles are one of the interesting aquatic pets to keep.