The Best Turtle Aquarium Decorations Beginner’s Guide

Taking proper care of your turtle is quite vital. You need to provide it with an ideal habitat which partly entails getting a good and adequate tank, proper filtration system, balanced diet, and the ideal temperatures.

However, once the turtle tank is well set up with the basic pet turtle accessories, it is common for most pet turtle owners to find it looking basic, which is why you may want to consider turtle tank decorations.

Turtle tank accessories are not a mandatory addition; however, they will enhance the appearance of your pet turtle’s habitat.

In addition, turtle tank decorations enhance your pet turtle’s physical and mental wellness allowing it to exercise its wild instincts such as hiding, burrowing, climbing, exploring, etc. Here is a look at the best décor for turtle tanks you should consider getting for your hard-shelled friend.


A bare glass or plastic stock tank bottom isn’t the most attractive. Wastes such as leftovers and shed shell pieces are bound to settle there, which can look pretty ugly before the next cleaning session. Unless you are quarantining the turtle and need to monitor it closely, a bare bottom is not good to look at.

Turtle tank substrates come in handy in enhancing the appearance of the aquarium’s base. They are quite versatile, coming in various materials such as sand, crushed coral, fluorite, pebbles, river rocks, and gravel.

In addition to making the turtle tank look great, they also allow your pet turtle to burrow and root for food, the natural behavior of the turtle in the wild.

Although substrates will enhance the look of the tank, ensure that they do not compromise the well-being and safety of your pet turtle. The best turtle tank substrate should be big enough not to fit in your pet turtle’s mouth; else, it might cause impaction or even death.

You should also ensure that the substrate has smooth edges, has no artificial colors or chemical treatment, and doesn’t affect the pH of your turtle tank’s water.

Let’s have a look at 4 of the best turtle tank substrates you can choose from

1. Carib Sea Crushed Coral Substrate – ACS00120

Carib Sea ACS00120 Crushed Coral for Aquarium, 15-Pound

 in stock
12 new from $23.49
Free shipping
as of 11/27/2023 9:41 pm

Your pet turtle is bound to move a lot in the tank and can thus crush or move around the decorations if they are not stable enough. If you need a decorative substrate that will remain in the same neat turtle tank setup, these crushed corals by Carib Sea are what you should consider.

Carib Sea crushed coral substrates are pretty heavy, making them remain neat and stable in the aquarium. You can be sure that the tank’s base will maintain the same appearance till you re-arrange it. You may mix these crushed corals with tiny pebbles for an enhanced natural appearance.

Besides making the turtle tank aesthetically pleasing, a diamond terrapin pet turtle will enjoy crushing these corals with its sturdy beak.

2. Exo Terra Natural River Pebbles

Exo Terra Turtle Pebbles, Large

 in stock
as of 11/27/2023 9:41 pm

For most turtle owners, Exo Terra is not a new name. The brand makes several turtle products and turtle tank accessories, with one of their best turtle tank substrate being these natural river pebbles.

These 10 lbs packs in both small and big sizes and the small sizes will be ideal for turtles whose carapace length is under 4 inches.

These river pebbles are also quite versatile, coming in different patterns and designs to make your tank more beautiful, which is what you need.

Their smooth edges also enhance the aesthetics of your tank besides protecting your pet from cuts. With such qualities, the Exo Terra natural river pebbles are certainly one of the best turtle tank decorations you can get.

3. Royal Imports Decorative Polished River Rocks

Royal Imports 5LBS River Rocks Decorative Ornamental Pebbles, Garden Landscaping Stones, Gravel Filler for Plants, Vases, Succulents, Home Decor, Aquariums, Crafting, Animal Habitat - Small Natural

 in stock
as of 11/27/2023 9:41 pm

Royal Imports Decorative polished river rocks make one of the best decorative rocks for your pet turtle’s habitat. They have smooth edges that enhance the appearance of the tank and protect the turtle from being hurt.

The rocks are also made of natural premium stones, which give the tank a more natural appearance. It also makes them toxin-free, eco-friendly, and durable.

These polished river rocks come in a pretty design and shape, making them a suitable decorative addition to the habitat. You can get them in either a small or medium size.

In addition, you can choose from a light, natural and white color depending on your décor theme for the tank.

Another advantage is that they are inexpensive; thus, you get to have a durable substrate that enhances the tank’s look without spending much.

4. Pure Water Natural Aquarium Gravel

Pure Water Pebbles Aquarium Gravel, 5-Pound, Turquoise

 out of stock
as of 11/27/2023 9:41 pm

If you are not very keen on getting a more enhanced look of your tank that differs from the natural appearance, then these acrylic-coated pebbles are worth considering.

The acrylic coating on these decorative pebbles is non-toxic and will not affect the tank’s pH. The coating gives them an attractive shell appearance.

They are also cheap, which is a plus, especially if you are on a budget. Versatility is also another advantage of these decorative turtle tank substrates.

You can choose between snow-white, turquoise, and blackberry-glo, among the other ten colors. Such colors are unique and not common for most substrates, thus helping you achieve a decorative and unique appearance for your pet turtle’s habitat.

Basking Rocks/ Platform

You probably know the essence of rocks in turtle tanks for basking purposes. However, when you use rocks as a turtle tank platform for basking, they can also serve as decorative items for your turtle tank.

Turtles often bask on rocks, floating logs, riverbanks, etc., in the wild. The inclusion of rocks in their habitats mimics their natural environment besides making the habitat more aesthetically pleasing.

Rocks create a natural-looking basking platform, and they also absorb heat from the lamp, thus providing your pet with the warmth they need.

When choosing the best turtle tank decoration rocks, avoid the ones with sharp edges, as they can injure your pet. In addition, the rocks should have a stable base to prevent them from wobbling, which can discourage your pet turtle from basking. Heavy rocks also remain more stable in the tank compared to lighter ones.

Remember to disinfect the rocks before adding them to the tank; you don’t want to compromise your pet turtle’s health in the name of aesthetics.

Here is a look at the top 3 best turtle basking rocks that will enhance the appearance of your turtle aquarium.

1. Alblinsy Fbaby Basking Platform Rock

Reptile Basking Platform Tortoise Rock Plate Turtle Bathing Area Feeding Food Dish Resting Terrace Grinding Nail Landscape Habitat Decor for Turtle Lizard Bearded Dragon Crested Gecko Snake

$12.89  in stock
as of 11/27/2023 9:41 pm

Decorative items will enhance the appearance of the turtle aquarium, but if they are not easy to clean, you might regret the decision. With this basking platform from Alblinsy Fbaby you don’t need much time and effort to clean it. It comes in an easy-to-clean design and texture.

The basking platform comes from real rock, and the manufacturer carefully cuts it to meet your turtle’s basking needs. It, therefore, has a hard texture and natural color, which mimics some of the rocks turtles bask on in their natural environment.

You get a turtle tank that looks great, and the turtle gets a basking experience close to what it would have in the wild.

A hard and natural texture allows your pet turtle to grind their nails; thus, you don’t need to expose them to the dangerous process of artificially cutting the nails.

2. Carolina Custom Cages Natural Habitat Basking Rocks

Carolina Custom Cages Natural Habitat Rocks, Deep Maroon, Medium Size Pair

$36.99  in stock
as of 11/27/2023 9:41 pm

It features 100% natural rocks, giving your turtle an experience similar to the wild. The natural look also makes the habitat look more natural, which is ideal if you are going to a natural theme.

They weigh either 6.98 pounds or 8 pounds which helps them remain stable in the tank, which is a vital quality in the best turtle tank decorations you go for.

In terms of colors, Carolina Custom Cage’s natural habitat rocks come in a deep maroon, Uluru red, Watarrka rose, and painted desert colors. Such variety allows you to choose the one that fits your preference and theme.

If you are concerned about the stability of the rock in the tank, these natural rocks are carefully selected, ensuring that they have a flat base.

You can get these decorative turtle basking rocks in a medium or large size, depending on your tank’s size and that of your pet turtle. They cost more than other basking rocks, but you get total value for the money, and your tank looks great.

3. Linifar Basking Rock

Linifar Reptile Basking Rock Plate Tortoise Feeding Platform Rock Slate Food Dish Habitat Decor for Bearded Dragon Lizard Crested Gecko Chameleon Snake

$16.59  in stock
as of 11/27/2023 9:41 pm

Yet another basking rock that also comes in handy as a turtle tank decorative piece; we have the Linifar reptile basking rock. It features a natural texture and pure stone, making it suitable for a natural-themed turtle tank. In terms of stability, it has slip pads on all sides, making it remain stable in the aquarium.

The basking rock’s natural appearance and hard texture make your turtle have a similar experience as they would in their natural environment.

In addition, the smooth edges enhance the general appearance besides protecting your pet turtle from being hurt. If you are wondering about your turtle’s safety with these multipurpose basking rocks, worry not; it is harmless, non-toxic, and eco-friendly.


This is one of the pocket-friendly ways of enhancing the appearance of your pet turtle’s aquarium. Unless you place the aquarium in the center of the room, having a tank background is essential. It prevents it from looking plain.

Turtle tank backgrounds come in either internal or external. Each of these turtle tank accessories has its strengths and drawbacks; thus, the choice is up to you.

Internal backgrounds are 3-D inserts. You attach them to the tank’s back, and they have a few inches in thickness. These backgrounds often feature natural designs such as rocks and tree roots.

They appear very natural and even have carves where you can put plants where the turtle can hide. Despite giving your turtle tank a very natural look, internal backgrounds are challenging to install and clean.

On the other hand, external backgrounds are basic stickers you can use to cover the back of the aquarium. They come in designs that imitate a natural turtle environment but may also feature abstract objects.

It is pretty cheap and easy to install as you don’t need to remove the turtle. However, they look more artificial than natural.

There is no doubt that backgrounds are one of the turtle accessories for a tank that can transform it from looking basic to all glam. Pay attention to your needs and budget to help you choose the type that suits you best.


Plants can completely transform the appearance of your turtle tank, and it is for the better, giving it a more natural appearance. Although, as with most of the other turtle tank decorations here, they are not mandatory, these turtle tank accessories can vastly enhance the overall quality of life of your pet turtle.

Decorative turtle aquarium plants can either be natural or artificial.

Natural plants look great in the tank and may provide a source of food for your pet turtle. However, they require regular maintenance and a substrate such as fluorite that will support the nutritional needs of the plants. The turtle may also damage some plants; thus, you need to choose carefully.

On the other hand, artificial ones do not require maintenance, and turtles will hardly ruin them. Go for artificial plants whose leaves and stems are sturdy and not easy for the turtle to remove and ingest.

Some of the best and safe natural plants to add to your turtle tank include water sprite, Brazilian Pennywort, Java Moss, duckweed, fanwort, amazon sword, java fern, arrowheads, moss balls, water hyacinth, waterweed, water fern, pondweed, and frogbit.

Avoid plants such as bamboo, elephant ears, arrow arum, and dumb cane as they are toxic to most turtle species.

A combination of different plant types will make your turtle tank more aesthetically pleasing. Choose those that are both safe and good-looking.

Hiding Places

In the wild, turtles hide upon spotting a predator. It is ideal to also provide your pet turtle with a hideaway place in captivity where it can hide and feel safe. While doing so, the hiding place can also serve as a decorative item in the turtle tank.

Turtle hideaways come in varying designs and sizes. The design preference is ultimately up to you, but the size should largely depend on your pet turtle’s current and potential size. If your pet turtle species grow significantly big, you might need to get a hideaway whose size will accommodate the pet turtle when it matures.

The look of the hideaway spot will affect the overall appearance of the tank. These decorative items come either as logs or rocks. Logs are more suitable if you have plants in the aquarium. On the other hand, rocks are more suitable if the rest of the tank’s design features natural colors or items.

Here are some of the best decorative hideaways for a turtle tank.

1. Zilla Bark Bends

Zilla Pet Reptile Bark Bends Terrarium Decor, Large

 in stock
12 new from $25.35
Free shipping
as of 11/27/2023 9:41 pm

These décor hiding bends come in a realistic look. The turtle hiding spot is made of natural wood bark bends and is ideal for aquatic as well as terrestrial turtle habitats. Besides making the tank look more natural, it stimulates and satisfies the turtles burrowing instincts.

Place one of the open ends alongside the glass to help you see the turtle’s activities when inside the bend. In terms of safety, it is resistant to bacteria growth, thus keeping your pet turtle safe and making your tank remain smelling fresh for longer. The unit is easy to clean, and all you need is soap and warm water.

Depending on your turtle’s and tank size, you can get it in small, medium, or large sizes.

2. Exo Terra Décor Primate Skull

Exo Terra Terrarium Decor Primate Skull

$20.70  in stock
17 new from $20.70
Free shipping
as of 11/27/2023 9:41 pm

The Exo Terra décor primate skull is an excellent accent to add to your turtle’s tank. It offers your pet ith multiple entrances facilitating easy access to the hideout. Besides being a décor item, it will help alleviate your turtle’s boredom.

Besides turtle tanks, you may also use them in terrariums, making them pretty versatile.

3. MODERNJOE’S Rock Hiding Place for Reptiles

MODERNJOE'S Rock Hide Cave Hiding Place for Reptiles, Amphibians and invertebrates (7 x 7 x 5 Inches)

$26.96  in stock
as of 11/27/2023 9:41 pm

One of the advantages of this unit is that it is pretty heavy, which makes it remain stable. Even if your turtle is big, it will not easily tip it over. The hiding spot is also easy to maintain and clean. It features a sturdy resin build, facilitating sterilization and cleaning ease.

MODERNJOE’s rock hide for reptiles, including turtles, has a realistic rock-like texture that adds a natural look to the habitat. Your turtle can hide, lay eggs or even rest in the spot.


Wood is another excellent decorative turtle tank accessory you can add to the aquarium. If you opt for large wood pieces, they can also act as basking spots. Mopani wood is one of the best decorative woods to use for red-eared sliders turtle tank accessories. It is mold-resistant and heavy enough to remain stable at the tank’s base.

Cork bark is also suitable, but it will change the water’s color to brown and has a tendency to float.

Zoo Med Mopani Wood Terrarium Accents, Medium

$11.59  in stock
7 new from $11.59
1 used from $11.59
as of 11/27/2023 9:41 pm

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