To give your beloved turtle the best life possible, you need to keep them and their water warm. This is vital for your turtle’s health and helps keep them active and happy. So finding a good-quality water heater is incredibly important.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of the ten best underwater heaters for turtles. We’ll also discuss why you need a turtle heater and what the different types of heater are. You’ll also find a buyer’s guide designed to help you find the best turtle water heater for your setup.
Please note that you’ll need to know your tank size when reading this list since your water heating needs might change depending on the size of your tank.
Best Turtle Heaters
Why do I need an aquarium heater for my turtle?
Like most other reptiles, turtles are cold-blooded. This means that they cannot self-regulate their body temperature like us mammals can. Instead, turtles must rely on external heat sources to adjust their temperature.
Turtles rely on the warmth of the sun to get their bodies moving. They must maintain their circulation by swimming in relatively warm waters. If the water gets too cold, turtles will become sluggish and this can lead to health problems. This is especially true for fully aquatic turtles.
It’s even more important to keep the water warm if you have hatchlings or younger turtles. At these stages of their lives, turtles are more reliant on warmer temperatures to help their metabolisms. Warmer temperatures also help turtles to protect themselves against infections or diseases.
Different turtle species will require slightly different water temperatures. Make sure to bear this in mind when selecting a water heater.
Types of aquarium heaters
When it comes to turtles, two main types of aquarium heaters enter our consideration; external heaters and submersible heaters. Choosing which type to use will depend on your experience as well as the exact setup your turtle has.
As their name implies, external heaters connect to the outside of the aquarium. They heat the water by sucking liquid in through their tubes, passing it through the heating system, and then releasing it back into the water through another tube.
While slightly more fiddly than submersible heaters, external units can still be pretty easy to set up. Some will even connect directly to your filter system, giving you heating and filtration through one device. The Hydor In-line External Heater is a great example of an external heater.
These heaters aren’t as popular as submersible units, but some keepers prefer the aesthetic of not having their heater cluttering the inside of their tanks.
Submersible heating units are the most popular choice among turtle owners. These heaters can be placed directly in the tank underneath the water. By using a submersible heater alongside a powerful filtration system, you can evenly heat the water in your tank.
Most submersible heaters look like rods that are attached to the side of the aquarium. They are usually constructed from a plastic or even glass casing that contains the heating filaments. The casings also feature protective guards to stop your turtle from being burnt if they touch the heater.
Our first turtle heater comes from TetraFauna and makes our list because it’s an absolute workhorse. The TetraFauna Aquatic Reptile Heater is suitable for tanks that contain around 30-gallons of water, and the automatic thermostat keeps the water temperature at exactly 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
The two powerful suction cups let you stick the TetraFauna wherever you need it, while the eight-foot power cord can be extended from multiple parts of the unit, ensuring that you’ll always be able to reach a power outlet.
The TetraFauna also comes with a two-year warranty, giving you peace of mind. This durable, reliable aquarium heater is a solid choice for any turtle owner.
Our next heater is the Tetra HT Submersible Heater. The great thing about the Tetra is its small form factor, meaning that it suits smaller tanks and can also be conveniently hidden behind an ornament or plant if you don’t want to see the heater.
The Tetra HT Submersible Heater uses an automatic thermostat to keep the water temperature at a comfortable 78 degrees Fahrenheit. The Tetra may be small, but it’s also powerful with a capacity of 200 watts. This will suit aquariums of up to 55-gallons.
Along with its durable plastic and glass tube construction, the Tetra HT Submersible Heater is a great choice.
For more control over your tank’s water temperature, you can’t go wrong with the Aqueon Pro. This thin submersible heater gives you complete control of the temperature at all times. Using the dial, you can set the temperature between 68 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Aqueon Pro is also available in five different capacities to fit any size tank, ranging from 50-watts up to 250-watts. The sleek black shatter-proof construction gives the Aqueon Pro a minimalist look.
The suction cups allow you to mount the Aqueon Pro horizontally or vertically, making this one of the most versatile submersible water heaters for your turtle tank.
One of the most popular devices on the market, the Fluval E Series provide everything you could need in a turtle heater. The Fluval Advanced Electronic Heaters are available in capacities ranging from 50-watts to 300-watts, meaning that there’s a model to suit every tank size.
The clear LCD display shows the water temperature in real-time, allowing you to make minute adjustments as needed. The functional, utilitarian design features three powerful suction mounts and an emergency cut-out feature that protects your turtle in the event of any problems.
The Fluval E Advanced Electronic Heater is clearly one of the best turtle water heaters available.
One of the market’s best-selling underwater heaters for turtles is the Eheim Jager. Eheim is a byword for quality in the aquarium hobby, and this heater is no exception.
Available in capacities ranging from 25-watts up to 300-watts, there’s an Eheim Jager for every size turtle tank. Suction cups keep the heater attached to your tank, while the dial mounted on the top of the column allows for precise temperature control.
There’s also an emergency cut-out system if the water level drops, while the shatter-proof glass protects the Eheim Jager, and your turtle, from any nasty accidents. This submersible device is the gold standard when it comes to aquatic turtle water heaters.
The ViaAqua Quartz Glass series of submersible heaters are incredibly easy to use heaters that can suit most tank sizes, with the heaters available in models varying from 50-watts to 300-watts.
Most of the ViaAqua’s slim quartz glass body is taken up by a super clear thermometer, allowing you to easily keep track of the water temperature. The simple dial system on top of the heater allows you to control the temperature quickly.
The ViaAqua is a durable unit and is easy to set up and attach to your aquarium thanks to the powerful suction cups. These heaters are a great choice for beginners and experts alike.
For larger turtle tanks, the Finnex Deluxe Titanium Tube Heater is one of the best choices available. The powerful heating elements come in 300, 500, or 800-watt strengths, suitable for tanks of 80-gallons or more.
The titanium construction is virtually indestructible, while your turtles are protected from the element by the clip-on protective guards. The only downside to this heater is that you’ll need to buy a temperature controller and thermostat separately.
But if you have a large tank, there’s no better choice than the Finnex Deluxe.
Our last heater is the FREESEA Aquarium Heater, a nifty little unit that will suit smaller tanks. The 100-watt version is probably going to be the best option here, as turtles shouldn’t be kept in too small a tank. You can adjust the temperature between 59 and 94 degrees Fahrenheit.
The FREESEA is a submersible device that can hang in the tank or fix to the bottom. The FREESEA is equipped with an LED screen that indicates the temperature of the tank at all times and an external thermostat dial that you can control without inserting your hand into the water.
If you are just getting started with a smaller tank or if you have hatchlings, the FREESEA Aquarium Heater is a good pick.
Buyer’s Guide to Turtle Heaters
When it comes to buying the best turtle water heater, there are a few factors to bear in mind. In this clear and concise buyer’s guide, we’ll point out what to look for when purchasing a turtle heater.
Tank size and wattage
Remember when we said you’ll need to know your tank size when choosing a water heater? That’s because the larger your tank is, the more powerful a heater you will need to adequately heat all of the water in your aquarium. Here are some general guidelines regarding compatible measurements:
- For a tank holding up to 15-gallons, choose a 50-watt heater
- For a tank holding up to 30-gallons, choose a 100-watt heater
- For a tank holding up to 45-gallons, choose a 150-watt heater
- For a tank holding up to 65-gallons, choose a 200-watt heater
- For a tank holding up to 80-gallons, choose a 300-watt heater
Because installing a turtle heater involves bringing electronics into the water, it is vital that any heater you choose has some built-in safety features. The two most important safety features to look for are an emergency cut-off system and temperature guards to protect your turtle.
Emergency cut-off systems are devices that shut down the heater if the water level suddenly drops. This is because the majority of heaters are designed to be fully submerged, not exposed to the air.
If heaters are installed incorrectly or if the water level drops below the heating unit, you could put your turtle at risk of electric shocks.
Temperature guards are protective casings that keep your heater from harming your turtle. While your turtle swims around, they may brush up against the heater. If there are no guards in place, then your turtle may suffer some nasty burns.
Temperature reading and control
One of the most important features of a turtle heater is that you can measure and control the temperature. This measurement should be accurate otherwise the temperature may become too hot for your turtle or cause the unit itself to overheat. Both are debilitating for your pet.
Choose a heater with an easy to read temperature gauge, and make sure that the controls are simple and clear. Having the right amount of control over your heater is important for the safety of your turtle. Two of the easiest heaters to read and set are the Cobalt Neo-Therm Heater and the ViaAqua Quartz Glass Heater.
Type of heater
As we discussed above, there are two main types of aquarium heaters used for turtles. Using a submersible water heater for your turtle tank, like the Tetra HT, is the most common choice as it allows the heater to be easily attached as well as hidden behind plants or decorations.
However, some setups will suit the use of external filters such as the Hydor In-line External Heater. If you use an external filter system, then you can usually attach an external heating unit to the filtration device, cutting down on electronic equipment around your tank.
In this list, we’ve gone through ten of the best turtle water heaters. We’ve also covered why you need a heater and which types are available. We also provided a buyer’s guide to help you choose an underwater heater for your turtle.
As for our recommendations, each of the heaters on this list will meet different requirements. However, the best all-rounders are products like the Cobalt Neo-Therm Heater and the Aqueon Pro. If you have an external filtration system, the Hydor In-line External Heater is your best bet.
If you enjoyed this list or are thinking about buying any of these products, please feel free to comment down below!