The musk turtle, AKA the Stinkpot turtle, makes a good pet for beginner turtle owners. It’s relatively small and easy to care for. To keep your pet musk turtle happy and healthy, however, you’ll need to provide him with comfortable housing.
The ideal musk turtle habitat setup should include a decent-sized tank equipped with a filter to clean the enclosure, UVB lighting, and an underwater heater to maintain the correct water temperatures.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to set up a musk turtle indoor enclosure, all the essentials to consider for your tank turtle setup, and other helpful tips to keep in mind.
What you’ll need for a musk turtle habitat:
- Turtle tank
- Strong aquarium filter
- UVB bulb
- Heat lamp/basking lamp
- Basking platform
- Water heater
- Aquatic thermometer
How to set up a musk turtle tank
These are the steps to follow when setting up a musk turtle indoor enclosure:
Step 1. Get an ideal musk turtle tank
Musk turtles are generally small (they range from 2 to 5 inches) compared to other turtle species, so they require a smaller tank size
The minimum tank size for these turtles is 20 gallons, though we generally recommend getting anything from 30 to 40 gallons to give your pet lots of swimming space and keep them happy.
Clean your new turtle tank to get rid of any chemicals present that may affect the health and well-being of your turtle.
Step 2. Fill the tank with water
Next, fill your turtle tank with water up to the docking platform. Only use unchlorinated water for your turtle tank
Don’t make the water in your pet’s enclosure too deep. Bring it up to a level where your turtle can easily swim to the surface and back to the bottom without too much straining.
Musk turtles have been observed “hanging” in water, where their back feet rest at the bottom of the tank and their heads above water.
Providing them with a water depth that facilitates this behavior is a good idea.
Step 3. Install a filtration system
Regularly cleaning your new turtle tank isn’t going to be your new favorite task, so make sure you have a powerful filter in place. The experts recommend canister filters for their high efficiency and reliability.
A good filter will help remove turtle waste from your tank and keep the water clean and healthy for your musk turtle for extended periods of time.
Step 4. Install the water heater
As you already know, musk turtles are cold-blooded creatures and can’t regulate their body temperature on their own. This means you need to monitor their water temperature to ensure it remains at the recommended level.
Install a good aquarium heater (follow the heater instructions to correctly install the heater underwater and firmly attach it to the side of your turtle tank.
The water temperature for your musk turtle tank should be maintained at around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. And the basking area should be maintained at around 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 5. Set up the basking dock (and baking lamp)
Though musk turtles are aquatic turtles and spend most of their life in the waters, they’re not known to be the best swimmers among turtle species. Thus, you would want to equip your pet’s tank with plenty of landscape in the form of a basking area. This will give it a perfect platform for taking a break from swimming.
Place the basking platform on the warm side of your turtle tank. The other side should stay open. This way, your little friend can navigate back and forth between these two areas.
Needless to say, the basking lamp ought to come directly above the basking platform.
However, ensure the turtle can’t touch the lamp, and that the lamp is equipped with a thermostat. This will help prevent overheating.
Step 6. Get the UVB lighting in place
You’ll find musk turtles comfortably basking in the sun in the wild and drying off. So, it makes sense that they’ll need to be provided with a source of UV light in captivity.
Get lighting that produced both UVA and UVB lighting. Make sure the UV light mimics the natural light cycle. That is, it should stay on for 12 hours and off for 12 hours (i.e., at night).
We found this helpful video showing how to set up a musk turtle tank
Extras to consider for musk turtle indoor enclosure
Your turtle tank for a musk turtle doesn’t necessarily require a substrate, but you can still add it to their tank to make it look more aesthetically pleasing and give it a natural look.
Other items to help beautify your turtle tank include artificial plants, live aquatic plants, hideaways, and floating turtle tank toys as well as pieces of driftwood.
What’s the best tank setup for a baby musk turtle?
The best tank setup for a baby musk turtle is similar to that of an adult musk turtle.
The essentials you need for this kind of setup include a turtle tank, strong filter, basking dock, UV light, heat lamp, and a thermometer for monitoring the water temperature.
If you want, you can beautify their indoor enclosure with fake aquarium plants, floating toys, substrate, and hiding spots.
Do musk turtles need air pump?
You don’t need to install an air pump for musk turtles. The work of an air pump is to push oxygen into your aquarium.
Unlike the fish, your musk turtle has developed lungs and can come to the surface to breathe air and therefore doesn’t need their water to be equipped with an air pump.
Fish are more likely to require this device as they breathe in water via their gills.
The only time you may require an air pump in your turtle tank is if the tank has some fish in it or if your aquarium has slime or muck problems and you want to keep your tank clean for longer.
Do musk turtles need dry land?
Yes, you’ll need to provide your musk turtles with dry in their enclosure in the form of a basking dock.
This will give a platform for taking a break from the waters and drying off, warming up, and even soaking up the UV rays
We’ve already discussed the details of setting up an appropriate basking platform for your musk turtle in the setup section, so we won’t discuss that here.
How do you introduce your musk turtle to its new tank?
Don’t introduce your musk turtle into the tank immediately afterward. Instead, take some time to monitor the tan conditions to ensure they’re at par with the turtle environment requirements.
Monitor the water temperature. Ensure the basking area is warm enough, and check that the filter is functioning correctly. Once you’re confident that everything is running as expected, drop in your friend into his new home.
An ideal common musk turtle tank should have a water filter to keep it clean, a basking platform, a tank heater, and UV and heat lamps. You can also throw in a few large gravels, some artificial stones, floating toys, or floating driftwood to spice up their living space.
The ideal depth for musk turtle tank water should be around 6 inches for the adult turtle. As for hatchlings to baby turtles, you can set the water depth at around 3-4 inches and increase it to 5-6 inches as your turtle grows.
Tap water isn’t safe for musk turtles because it’s usually treated with chlorine and fluoride compounds which can easily upset your enclosure’s pH balance and make the environment unhealthy for your pet turtle. if you must use tap water for your musk turtle tank, then make sure you first dechlorinate it with a water conditioner.
That’s it for our complete guide on how to come up with an ideal musk turtle habitat. For a perfect setup, you’ll need a properly sized tank, water filter, water heater, basking platform, heat lamp, and UV lamp. Other items such as substrates, hide spots, toys, artificial plants, etc. are fully optional as they only help increase your turtle habitat aesthetics.
Follow the step-by-step guide plus tips we’ve outlined in the above guide on how to set up your new musk turtle indoor enclosure. And you’ll end up with the perfect habitat where your pet turtle will live happily and in good health!