Water Quality in Turtle Tanks: Complete Guide – Types and Best Aquarium Tests

Water testing is vital whether you have a turtle, a fish, or any other creature in the aquarium. But more so is a test kit. Aquatic turtles are messy creatures, and a turtle tank gets dirty first.

An aquarium test is, thus, vital because it lets you know the water condition in the tank and make the necessary adjustments. Even when the water looks the same, the composition is often different, and it is hard to tell with naked eyes.

The best aquarium test will give you accurate results when you check the water quality in your turtle tank. It will help you know the exact chemical, minerals, and contaminants composition of the water to determine whether it is suitable for the turtle.

Even with the best aquarium test, if you don’t know how to check the water quality in your turtle tank, then the kit will be ineffective. Thus, we will start by learning how to do this before diving into the types of aquarium tests you will find in the market and the best for your consideration.

Tips On How To Check the Water Quality in Your Turtle Tank

Water has different chemical properties, such as carbonate hardness, general hardness, ammonia, nitrate levels, and pH. They all vary depending on the water you use in your turtle tank and whether it is treated beforehand.

Since your pet turtle releases waste in the tank, it changes the water’s chemical composition. If you have live plants in the tank or substrates that affect the water pH, the water quality in your turtle tank will change. 

To perform an effective test on your turtle tank water quality, you need a water test kits also known as the aquarium test. These kits are available in local pet stores and online too.

Once you have the kit and are ready to test, first read the instructions and clearly understand how to use it. Different kits may have varying instructions; thus, don’t skip this crucial step.

Next, gather your materials together because time is of great essence in getting accurate results.

Collect the water sample from the aquarium, add the reactive agent or add the test strip into the sample.

Allow the sample to remain still for the recommended duration before interpreting the results as per the kit instructions. Lastly, clean up the area and determine how to make the necessary adjustments in the water tank quality.

There are different types of aquarium tests, but the best should be an all-around test that covers nitrates, pH, nitrites, ammonia. You need to monitor each and ensure that their content in water remains within safe levels for your pet turtle.


PH refers to how much acidic or alkaline a solution is. It is a scale of 1 to 14, with 7 being neutral and anything below 7 being considered acidic while anything above it is considered basic or alkaline.

Some turtle species need specific pH settings; else, complications may arise. For instance; Diamondback terrapins need a pH of around 7.5, while others need below 7.

A more acidic pH, i.e., below 7, is often ideal because it helps prevent particular fungal outbreaks and bacterial strains. The lesser it is, the less likely it is for harmful organisms to thrive and survive. The contrary is true.

If the test shows that the water pH is high, you may use Sodium Biphosphate to lower the levels or a more natural option; Black Water Extract.


Ammonia is very toxic to turtles, but it is bound to be in the aquarium since your turtle relieves itself in the water. It comes from these waste products and decaying leftover foods and treats. Ammonia levels in the tank should never exceed 0 part per million (0ppm) in the turtle tank.

In addition to changing the tank water frequently and having a good filter, you can also purchase products that break down toxic ammonia into healthy bacteria.


Nitrites result from ammonia breakdown in your turtle tank. Although not very harmful to most turtle species, extremely high levels are not conducive for turtles.


Nitrates come from further breaking down of nitrites in the aquarium, and although also not harmful to your pet turtle at minimal levels, it is good to ensure that they do not accumulate in the tank.

Aquarium tests can help you detect these levels and ensure that you keep nitrates pretty low n your turtle tank. Ideally, they should not exceed 20 – 40 ppm.

Removing or reducing nitrate levels in the turtle tank is one of the most effective how to fix cloudy turtle tank water solutions.

Types of Aquarium Tests

Now that the process of checking the water quality in the turtle tank, lets us look at the types of aquarium tests you will find in the market. They come at different costs and offer different levels of accuracy and convenience.

1. Test Strips

These are the most common aquarium tests, and they happen to be the most pocket-friendly and easiest to use.

Test strips come with small plastic strips bearing different reactive pads. The number and variety of the pads vary from one product to the other. In most cases, every pad measures a different and unique water content parameter, making it easy if you need an aquarium water kit that covers all the vital parameters.

The strips use colors to provide parameter readings, and the kit comes with a color chart. To get the results, you match the strips with the color chart.

One of the most significant advantages of test strips is the convenience they offer you, besides being affordable and easy to use.

All you need to do is to dip the kit in the aquarium water and wait for a few minutes for the results to get ready. You may also collect sample water in clean equipment instead of directly dipping the strip into the aquarium.

Even with such magnificent benefits, one drawback of test strips is that they are less accurate, primarily because they rely on your judgment on interpretation.

In addition, they are not durable because they react to the surrounding environment, especially if you live in a humid area.

In some cases, some pads might bleed on others and make the results inaccurate. Even so, strip-style tests will serve the purpose for most turtle tanks.

2. Liquid Tests

If you need more details about the aquarium water, a liquid test will make a better choice than a strip test kit. As with the strip test kits, they use a color chart but tend to be more accurate.

Take a small water sample for the turtle tank and mix it with reagents. The results are more accurate, although the process is more time-consuming. Be careful about the reagents as they might cause skin irritation.

Although more time-consuming and costlier, liquid tests for aquarium water are worth considering because of their accuracy and durability.

3. Electronic Water Tests

Electronic tests are the kind you would typically find in a professional lab. They are battery-powered and pretty fast, giving results within a few seconds or minutes. In most cases, they are used by professional aquarists.

These tests are the most accurate and have a screen that shows all the parameters with detailed readings to the extent of decimals. While this level of accuracy might not be necessary with most turtle species unless you are keeping the exotic ones, it is vital if you have sensitive fish in the tank.

Ensure to recalibrate the test often since leftovers from a past sample can affect the current results. Recalibration requires you to buy a calibration compound which makes this method more expensive.

If your budget allows, go ahead and get an electronic water test for your turtle tank. You will love the accuracy and speed.

10 Best Aquarium Tests For Your Turtle Tank

Now that we know how to test the water quality in the turtle tank and the types of aquarium tests available, let us look at the best aquarium test products in the market. Keep in mind that you need to primarily consider the convenience, accuracy, and ease of use.

1. API Aquarium Water Test 5 in 1

API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT 800-Test Freshwater Aquarium Water Master Test Kit, White, Single, Multi-colored

 in stock
25 new from $35.97
Free shipping
as of 11/26/2023 6:04 pm

API is one of the most famous test kit brands, having been in the industry for more than three decades. You will not go wrong with this product in monitoring the water quality in your turtle tank.

The liquid-based kit is a colormetric test meaning that it uses colors and a color chart for readings. It features four glass tubes with caps in addition to seven bottles of liquid testing reagents.

These reagents help you measure vital parameters for turtle tanks, such as high pH range, pH, ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites. In addition, the reagent bottles feature a drip style for convenient use.

It is pretty easy to use, and it has color-coding making it quite straightforward. This unit is for freshwater, but you can also get three other options for saltwater plus food, saltwater, and reef.


  • Pretty accurate
  • Includes 800 + tests
  • Ideal for measuring all turtle tank vital parameters
  • Features instructions


  • It only comes with four test tubes, yet you need to measure a minimum of 5 parameters

2. Nutrafin 10 Parameters Master Test Kit

Nutrafin Master Test Kit, Contains 10 Test Parameters

$119.99  in stock
3 new from $119.99
Free shipping
as of 11/26/2023 6:04 pm

Nutrafin provides one of the most robust aquarium test kits with this ten parameters unit. It is more than necessary for a turtle tank but good knowing that you can get results on additional water components. It includes ammonia, KH, GH, pH, phosphate, nitrite, nitrate, phosphate, calcium, and iron tests.

The liquid test is ideal for freshwater and saltwater and comes with easy-to-read color charts.

In addition, the package includes five glass test tubes with caps, one spoon, two pipettes, an instructions booklet with directions for each test, and a reference card to help you compare the tests easily. It also comes with a durable storage case that you can repurpose as a working area.


  • Quite comprehensive
  • Easy to use
  • Features instructions for imbalance correction
  • Ideal for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums


  • Costly

3. AQUA CARE PRO 6 in 1 Freshwater Aquarium Test Strip

Freshwater Aquarium Test Strips 6 in 1 - Fish Tank Test Kit for Testing pH Nitrite Nitrate Chlorine General & Carbonate Hardness (GH & KH) - Easy to Read Wide Strips & Full Water Testing Guide - 64 Ct

 out of stock
as of 11/26/2023 6:04 pm

This test strip comes with non-bleeding strip colors, which is a primary concern with most test strips. The strips are also wide, making it easier for you to hold, dip and read the results.

AQUA CARE PRO 6 in 1 test strip features several vital parameter measurements, including chlorine, carbonate hardness (KH), nitrite, general hardness (GH), nitrate, and pH. It, however, lacks ammonia readings which would be more helpful than the nitrites and nitrates.

An excellent feature of this kit is the inclusion of well-written, clear instructions. However, the color differences in the nitrates and nitrites readings are too close, making interpretation inaccurate.

In terms of costs, the package includes 52 plus 12 strips which are a whole year’s supply, and half of these test strips are in separate packaging to keep them fresh. You may also get the kit in 160 or 200 strips packaging.


  • Features well-written, easy to read instructions
  • Well-priced
  • Easy to use
  • It comes with wide, non-bleeding strips


  • It can be challenging to differentiate nitrate and nitrite readings

4. Milliard 7 in 1 Aquarium Test Strips

Milliard Aquarium Test Strips / 7 in 1/100 Count/for Fresh Water and Salt Water Tanks

$24.99  in stock
as of 11/26/2023 6:04 pm

Suitable for both salt and freshwater, this Milliard 7 in 1 test strips kit is an excellent choice if you check the water quality of your turtle tank frequently. It comes with 100 tests which should be enough for bi-weekly testing for a whole year.

Milliard’s test strips are more accurate than most test strips, and they are effective for measuring seven parameters, including pH, carbonate, total alkalinity, nitrate, hardness, nitrite, and free chlorine. It provides knowledge of the current state of basic water parameters in your turtle aquarium.

Each bottle comes with a comprehension card that makes it easy for you to understand the water test results. The package includes clear instructions on the three steps, and you get results within a minute.


  • Ideal for both saltwater and freshwater
  • Gives consistent results
  • Affordable
  • Features no-bleed color pads


  • Total alkalinity and carbonate results can be confusing

5. Tetra EasyStrips Aquarium Test Strips 6-in-1

Tetra EasyStrips 6-In-1 aquarium Test Strips, Water Testing, Model:19543

 in stock
4 new from $17.37
as of 11/26/2023 6:04 pm

Test strips are the most common water quality aquarium tests. It is no wonder that our next pick is yet another test strip by Tetra. If you are a seasoned pet turtle owner, Tetra is not a new brand to you. They make some of the best turtle products and turtle tank accessories.

The 6-in-1 aquarium kit tests parameters that include nitrates, pH, alkalinity, chlorine, nitrites, and hardness. Sadly, it does not include ammonia, a vital parameter to measure in a turtle tank. It is worth noting that the kit only has a pH range of 6.2 to 8.4, which delivers more accurate results. These strips are suitable for both freshwater and saltwater.


  • Suitable for saltwater and freshwater use
  • Delivers quick results
  • Accurate results


  • It doesn’t include ammonia testing

6. BOSIKE 6-in-1 Aquarium Test Strips

BOSIKE 6 in 1 Aquarium Test Strips Kit - 125 Fresh Water Fish Tank Tester Strips for Total Hardness, Nitrate, Nitrite, Cl2, Carbonate & ph Testing

 out of stock
as of 11/26/2023 6:04 pm

Although BOSIKE is not a popular brand in the pet industry, its 6-in-1 aquarium test kit is one to consider. The strips feature non-bleeding color, unlike some of the other strip-style aquarium tests. In addition, the manufacturer uses high-quality fiber papers in making the strips making them sturdy.

BOSIKE 6-in-1 test strip comes with six panels for testing total hardness, nitrate, carbonate, pH, ammonia, and nitrite.

Although the ammonia test is not direct, you get the results by observing the correlation between the nitrate and nitrite levels in the readings. You can use the strips for freshwater and ponds.

One of the most outstanding features is the quick results of the strips. You only need to hold the strip in the sample water for 2 seconds, and within 90 seconds, you will be able to read the results. It is an impressive feature for a strip-style test.

The strips come in a properly sealed bottle to keep them fresh and prevent them from reacting with the environment. You can get them in a pack of 50 or 125 strips.


  • Quick results
  • Durable strips
  • The packaging features a sealed bottle to maintain the strip’s freshness
  • Decent per strip pricing


  • The color chart could be better

7. JNW Direct 9 in 1 Aquarium Test Strip

Aquarium Test Strips - 9-in-1 Aquarium Test Kit with eBook - Aquarium Water Test Kit with Quick and Accurate Fish Tank Test Strips - 100 Test Strips by JNW Direct

 in stock
as of 11/26/2023 6:04 pm

As with all other strip-style tests, this unit uses colorimetric results. The color chart is on the bottle and impressively detailed. It covers a wide range of color variations which enhances accuracy. The strip can measure nine tests: pH, iron, total alkalinity, carbonate, free chlorine, nitrate, total hardness, nitrite, and free chlorine. 

The instructions are pretty simple, straightforward, and easy to follow. You only need to dip the strip in the sample water and compare the results with the broad color chart.

The package comes with 100 strips which is more than enough for one year if you are to check the water quality once a week. The strips are ideal for freshwater, saltwater as well as ponds.

JWN Direct also has a free mobile app that you can use to record, track, and monitor the aquarium tests’ results. It is available on both android and IOS, thus facilitating long-term observation and maintenance.


  • It has decent nine strips per strip
  • Suitable for ponds, saltwater, and freshwater
  • It has a smartphone app
  • Facilitates long-term support in identifying issues


  • The results fluctuate sometimes

8. Sera Aqua Test Box Aquarium Test Kits

Sera Aqua-Test Box (+ Cl) Aquarium Test Kits,Black

$100.58  in stock
2 new from $100.58
Free shipping
as of 11/26/2023 6:04 pm

This unit is one of the most affordable aquarium tests. It is an easy-to-read strip, thanks to its design. However, it lacks instructions on adjusting in case of an imbalance.

Sera Aqua offers nine tests, including total hardness, ammonia, iron, nitrate, copper, phosphate, pH, nitrite, and carbonate hardness.

It includes all the necessary tests for a turtle tank’s water. Whether you have saltwater or freshwater, these kits will be suitable for checking the water quality.

The comprehensive kit includes all you need to start testing right away. With such, it is one of the best-priced units in the market.


  • Pretty affordable
  • Includes nine tests
  • It comes with all you need for the test
  • Easy to read


  • Lacks instructions on correcting imbalances

9. SJ Wave 6-in-1 Aquarium Test Strip With Thermometer

SJ WAVE 7 in 1 Aquarium Test Kit for Freshwater Aquarium | Fast & Accurate Water Quality Testing Strips for Aquariums & Ponds | Monitors pH, Hardness, Nitrate, Temperature and More (100 Tests)

 in stock
as of 11/26/2023 6:04 pm

SJ Wave offers you an easy, quick, and hassle-free. It is an effective way of helping you stay up to date on the water conditions of your turtle tank. The kit offers six of the essential turtle tank parameters. These parameters include nitrate, general hardness, nitrite, carbonate hardness, pH, and chlorine.

 In addition, it has a thermometer for monitoring the tank’s warmth conditions. The strip test delivers accurate and quick results and has a comprehensive color chart. With such a unit, you can keep up with the invisible water problems in your turtle tank.

The package includes a test tube that you can use to collect water samples from the aquarium. It is a big enough tube that fits the entire strip, thus making testing a lot easier. In addition, the package comes with 100 testing strips in separate packages.

Ensure that you use any opened package within three months. Separate packaging helps keep the strips to be used later fresh for longer.


  • It comes with a handy test tube
  • The strips are packaged differently
  • Quick results
  • Packaging includes a thermometer


  • The strips have a shorter lifespan

10.  RUNBO Aquarium 6-in-1 Test Strips

RUNBO Aquarium Test Strips 6-in-1 (100 Count) for Fresh/Salt Water Fish Tank or Pond, Easy and Accurate Test Nitrate, Nitrite, General Hardness, Free Chlorine, Carbonate, Ph

$13.47  in stock
as of 11/26/2023 6:04 pm

Next, we have this RUNBO 6-in-1 aquarium test for general hardness, pH, free chlorine, nitrite, carbonate, and nitrate. It is effective for freshwater but not ideal for saltwater. Thanks to their quality fiber paper, the strips deliver high precision and reliable results.

It comes with 100 strips divided into two; one in the storage bottle and the other pack in a sealed water-proof foil bag. They are long-lasting and remain effective for use for up to 2 years.

Within 60 seconds of holding the strip horizontally, you will have your results after dipping it in the sample water. Compare the solution color with the color chart in the bottle.


  • It delivers excellent precision in the results
  • Ideal for freshwater
  • It comes with 100 trips
  • Easy to use


  • Not suitable for saltwater aquariums

Frequently Asked Questions

How To Keep Turtle Tank Water Clear?

One of the best and pretty effective ways to keep your turtle tank water clear and clean is by getting a quality filter. Canister filters are the best type and do a great job in maintaining the water clean.

Other methods of keeping the turtle tank clear include removing leftovers, avoiding overfeeding the turtle, and changing the water regularly. An aquarium test can help you know when the water parameters are at toxic levels necessitating a change.

Frequently cleaning the turtle tank is also helpful. If you are wondering where to keep the turtle tank when cleaning the tank, it is not complicated. Get a basin with water if you don’t have another aquarium. The basin should be sanitized before and after use and only used with the turtle.

How Long Can A Turtle Live In Dirty Water?

It is vital to keep the turtle in clean water. Else, you will compromise its health, and your pet might also start to smell. These reptiles poop in the tank water, making it hard to keep it entirely clean. However, it would be important if you did not let the dirt accumulate for long.

A turtle will survive several days in dirty water. After that, the turtle might get sick, and if the condition is not rectified, it might die.

How To Change Water In Turtle Tank?

To change the water in the turtle aquarium, use a siphon to get the water out into a bucket. Clean the entire tank before adding fresh, clean water back.

It is best to change the turtle tank water once a week. It helps reduce ammonia concentration and prevents the tank and your turtle from stinking.

Is Turtle Water Conditioner Safe For Fish?

Yes, you can use a turtle water conditioner for fish. In both cases, the conditioner’s purpose is to keep the water free from ammonia and chloramines. Even better, a turtle conditioner is more powerful since turtles are a lot messier fish, so a turtle water conditioner is very effective for a fish aquarium.

Why Is My Turtle Tank Water Red?

Iron minerals may cause a reddish discoloration in the tank because they will start to rust in water. In such a case, your turtle tank water may turn red. Another reason might be discoloration from food or turtle tank accessories or decorations.

If you rule out these two reasons, examine your pet turtle for any injuries to confirm that it is not injured.

Recent Posts