turtles in aquarium using the the best turtle tank heaters to be happy

Best Turtle Tank Heater: Buyer’s Guide

A lot of people love keeping turtles as pets, but they don’t know how to keep their turtles warm. Turtles need a specific temperature in order to function properly and stay healthy. Finding the best turtle tank heater for your situation is critical for optimum turtle health.

It’s important that you make sure the water stays at the right temperature for your turtle. If it gets too cold, their immune system will suffer and can possibly die.

The best way to take care of your pet is by using a quality aquarium heater with accurate temperature controls. Our favorite turtle tank heater is the Cobalt Aquatics Flat Submersible Heater With Adjustable Thermostat. This turtle tank heater guide covers the ins and outs of purchasing an aquarium heater so you can make a responsible choice that will keep your pet happy.

Best Turtle Tank Heater Options:

What is the best turtle tank heater?

The best turtle tank heater depends on your situation. Our favorites are:

Types of Turtle Heaters

There are several different types of heaters available for sale in today’s market. Some you can put in the water and others hang outside of the tank. Your heater choice will depend on your individual set-up (tank size and location) and pet turtle species. We recommend reviewing the following types of heaters so you know the various options before making a decision.


One of the most common types of turtle tank heaters is a submersible aquarium heater. This type of heater stays inside the water and is not as visible from outside the tank. A submersible aquarium heater is usually shaped like a stick and features a heating element covered in glass or plastic.

Most models have adjustable temperatures so you can adapt the needs to your tank. We also recommend looking for one with a safety shut-off so there is no risk of cooking your turtles in water that gets too hot.

We also recommend checking if there is even distribution of heat throughout your water, especially in larger turtle tanks. However, this usually isn’t a huge issue in turtle tanks because there is often a powerful filter, like a canister filter, that circulates the water efficiently.


Another option for turtle owners is an external heater. This type of heater is a larger piece of equipment that hangs outside the tank and keeps your water at a consistent temperature. External heaters allow you to control the temperature more precisely because the heating process happens on land, not in the tank itself.

External heaters are less popular than submersible heaters. They require canister filter use. Some hobbyists are intimidated by setting up external in-line heaters. There are lots of guides and videos online available so if you’re interested in going this route, you don’t need to feel nervous.

Under Gravel

The third option for turtle heaters is an under gravel heater. As the name implies, the heater sits under your gravel substrate. Undergravel heaters are designed to jumpstart your plant’s growth. However, even with their intended use case, under gravel filters get a lot of pushback. We don’t recommend these for turtle tanks.

Heating Mats

Similar to undergravel heaters, heating mats go completely underneath your turtle tank. They’re not inside touching the water at all. As such, they’re pretty poor heaters for aquatic turtle tanks. This option is more ideal for terrestrial reptile keepers.

Heating Rocks

These are rock-shaped decorations that have a heating element. Sounds perfect right? Not quite. All of the models on the market today are meant for terrestrial reptile set-ups. Don’t put them in your aquarium – they’re likely not water-proof and could possibly electrocute your pets!

What Type Of Turtle Water Heater Do You Need?

There is no single right answer on the right turtle tank heater. The correct answer largely depends on your tank size. Bigger tanks hold more water which requires more heating power in order to heat and maintain a certain temperature. If you can swing it, purchase two heaters. They can work in tandem for more consistent temperatures and if one breaks, you always have a second one to hold down the fort until you can replace the first one.

Aquarium heaters are one place you don’t want to skimp on quality. Choose heavy-duty, quality heaters. The cheaper options are more likely to overheat, break, and lead to incidents such as cooking your aquatic creatures.

These are the minimum required power your heater needs, based on your tank size:

  • 15 gallons – 50 Watts
  • 20 gallons – 75 Watts
  • 30 gallons – 100 Watts
  • 45 gallons- 150 Watts
  • 65 gallons -200 Watts
  • 75 gallons – 300 Watts

What To Look For in a Turtle Tank Heater

When choosing an aquarium heater for your turtle tank, it is important to be mindful of what features are essential and which ones you can live without. For example, some heaters come with an integrated controller or thermostat. While these are very convenient features, viewing them as 100% needed or a nice-to-have will depend on your individual situation.

Likewise, many heaters come with advanced functions like timers and energy monitoring. These things are great to have if you’re looking for the best turtle tank heater on the market but might not be the right choice if you’re just starting out. Let’s dig in deeper!


Safety is key. Safety, in the context of a turtle heater, means the unit is shatterproof and has built-in safety features like auto-shut-off and internal thermostats that help regulate your heater.

There are a lot of horror stories about people who buy low-quality heaters and have them shatter, overheat, or catch fire. These events can seriously hurt or kill your turtle.

turtle tank with a heater

Heating Efficiency

Your heater needs to be strong enough to heat the tank water. Seems simple, right? You can do this by pairing the heater wattage with the recommended tank size. However, in some low-quality heaters, you might run into an issue where the heater can’t support the size tank because the heating efficiency is lower than higher-end models.

If your heater can’t warm your tank, it’s a waste of money.

Design & Type

Submersible heaters are the most popular design type. However, depending on your set-up, something like an external heater might work best if you have a sump or canister filter.

Additionally, tank layout is important for purchasing your turtle tank heater. While a submersible heater works for most hobbyists, more advanced hobbyists might have more complicated set-ups which require a unique heater!

The Best Turtle Tank Heater Options

Now that you know what to look for in a turtle tank heater, which one is the right one for your needs? To help you out, we’ve put together our top choices. Let’s jump right into it! All of these choices specifically consider turtle tanks (versus aquariums).

Cobalt Aquatics Flat Submersible Heater With Adjustable Thermostat

This is a popular submersible heater that has a strong reputation among aquarists. It’s well-designed, accurate, safe, and powerful at heating your water.

It is relatively small compared to other options, meaning it doesn’t leave a clunky footprint that mars the aesthetics of your tank. It uses a bracket so you can easily position it for maximum efficiency. It is quite durable, with a shatterproof exterior and a thermoplastic base so you don’t need to sweat it if your turtle bumps into it frequently. This heater has impressive output and excellent design, making it one of the best heaters on the market.

Further, it is an accurate heater, meaning you can be confident that the temperature is correct and you’re not accidentally overheating or overcooling your tank.

Finally, it has an auto shut-off feature where it will automatically turn off once the temperature reaches a certain threshold. Your turtles will love this choice!


  • Set temperature between 66-96°f and electronic thermostat will maintain tank temperature within +0.5°F
  • Includes three-year warranty


  • Safety – thermal protection circuitry prevents overheating. If you forget to turn it off, the neo-therm will automatically shut it down.
  • Small size footprint
  • Extremely accurate


  • More expensive than other options

Fluval E Electronic Heater

This is another turtle owner favorite. It comes from a reputable brand – Fluval – and has glowing reviews. One of our favorite features is that it has two temperature sensors to help get accurate readings. Plus, if one breaks, you still have a sensor to keep an eye on things for you.

The LCD temperature display is easy to read and available in both Fahrenheit and Celsius; with a range of 68 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit. It also uses a slim profile mounting bracket so it makes it easy to get the positioning you’re looking for.

It has a strong safety record with stopgaps to make sure it doesn’t overheat. It also has a physical barrier so your turtles don’t come into contact with it, preventing burns and other injuries.


  • Displays water temperature digitally in Celsius or Fahrenheit
  • Precision temperature control allows for increments (+ or -) of 0.5 degrees


  • Slim mounting bracket and aesthetically clean design
  • Extremely accurate
  • Strong brand reputation


  • Only three wattage types to choose from (not likely a major issue)
  • Must be mounted at 45-degree angle

ViaAqua Quartz Glass Submersible Heater

This is the cheapest option on the list that still retains quality performance. For the price, the quality of construction is impressive and feels durable. Based on the reviews, it appears that these heaters stick around for a long time which is great value, considering the price.

This heater comes with many of the same standard features available in higher-priced options. For example, it has a quartz heater body that’s heat and shatter-resistant. It also has an accurate temperature gauge for keeping an eye on the overall tank temp.

One thing that we noticed is that the accuracy of this heater isn’t bulletproof as more expensive options. However, for the price, we think it still performs pretty well. Because of this though, we recommend using an external thermometer and double-checking the temperature regularly.

With heaters, we always advocate for spending the money and getting one of the top-tier models. However, sometimes that doesn’t always work for the budget. If one of the more expensive models doesn’t fit with your budget, this is a solid backup plan.


  • High-quality quartz glass
  • For use in fresh or saltwater tanks


  • Affordable
  • Lots of higher-end features at more affordable price


  • Less accurate than higher-end models
  • No auto shut-off feature

Aqueon Pro Submersible Heater

Aqueon is another heavy hitter in the world of aquarium equipment. This is an excellent middle-of-the-road option; it has all the features that you need at an affordable price point.

This is an accurate and reliable heater that does its job well. This heater comes well-calibrated right out of the box so you can trust its accuracy.

Additionally, it has a lot of safety components built-in like the top-end models. It’s shatterproof so don’t worry if your turtles bump into it a time or three. It also has an auto-shutoff feature, so you never have to worry about your tank getting too hot.

The main drag on this option is the temperature knob at the top. It lacks an LCD screen like the more expensive options, making the effort involved in reading the temperature higher and more prone to error.

Aqueon offers a limited lifetime warranty for this product. This is the best warranty across the products we looked at.


  • Limited life-time warranty
  • Shatterproof construction


  • Accurate, well-calibrated heater


  • Limited wattage options (only 50 or 100 which means you might need multiple heaters)
  • Temperature knob instead of screen

Hydor In-Line External Heater

If you’re looking for a non-submersible option, this is an excellent choice. The big advantage of this external heater is it works extremely well with set-ups that use sumps or canister filters. The heater is external so it is out of the way and your set-up retains that clean design.

This unit works by pulling water from the tank and heating it, versus heating it inside the tank. This method of water heating is very efficient giving you a lot of bang for your buck with this option. Further, the accuracy was excellent and the construction and materials are good.

This unit has excellent safety features – a limiter that prevents it from overheating your tank.

The main downside of this unit is that the setup can be a little intimidating when first preparing. However, once you get into it, it’s pretty straightforward. Hydor maps out clear and easy-to-follow instructions, making the process a breeze.


  • External heater option
  • Works in both salt and freshwater tanks


  • Accurate temperature calibration
  • Good safety features like temperature limited
  • Excellent for use with sumps or canister filters


  • The temperature display is small
  • Might be a little over the top for standard aquarium

Finnex Hang-On Titanium Turtle Heater

This is a slight deviation from the other heaters on the list. This is a hanging heater, not a submersible heater. If you dislike submersible designs, hanging heaters can be a great alternative.

This model is extremely well-built. It is made from titanium, which is extremely durable and long-lasting. The main tube is also resistant to corrosion, which helps the longevity.

It’s also a powerful heater which means you can trust it to heat your tank appropriately. The display screen leaves something to be desired, so we recommend purchasing an additional thermometer to keep an eye on tank conditions.


  • Titanium construction is long-lasting and durable
  • Compact design for sleek aeshtetics


  • Powerful heater
  • Durable
  • Good value for money


  • Limited temperature indication (requires second thermometer)

Eheim Jager Thermostat Heater

This is one of our favorite aquarium heaters – both for standard aquariums and turtle tanks. It is made by Eheim, which has a strong reputation in the aquarium industry. It is an easy-to-use submersible heater that is affordable.

It is an excellent water heater, even the lower watt units. It is high on the power scale. It also has shatterproof glass and shock resistance which means your turtles won’t break it if they bump into it while vigorously swimming.

As with any aquarium heater, we recommend purchasing a back-up thermometer and potentially a temperature controller. It is better to have multiple back-ups when your aquatic creatures’ lives are on the line.

This model is accurate out of the box but does have a tendency to become less accurate with age. Not a reason to avoid purchasing this model but something to be aware of (and why you need a second thermometer).


  • Submersible heater
  • Shatterproof design


  • Strong heating power
  • Affordable
  • Good brand reputation


  • Can become less accurate with time

What Temperature Is Too Hot For Turtles?

This is a question that has launched many debates. There are varying opinions on the “perfect†turtle tank temperature.

Some believe turtles need to be kept in tropical temperatures, around 76-85 degrees Fahrenheit. This is hot enough for them to move around quickly and warm themselves but not too hot that they can’t find a cool spot. Others worry that warm temperatures encourage bacteria growth. Others think that turtles need to be kept in cooler temperatures because they are cold-blooded. Also, consider if your tank has any turtle toys because you will want to keep these out of direct contact with the heater.

The truth, without making this article any longer than it already is (I’d like you to actually read it!) is that the max temperature that turtles should be kept in is around 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Again though, this is a rough guide and totally dependent on your turtle’s species and health status.

Turtle Tank Heater Recommendations

Think you know everything there is to know about turtle heaters? Well, we have two more suggestions for you!

Get A Thermometer

Seriously, get a thermometer. They can tell you if your heater is working properly (or not!) and help give you peace of mind when it comes to knowing the temperature in your turtle tank.

If you want help picking out an aquarium thermometer, check out our aquarium thermometer guide.

Consider Using Two Heaters

Using two turtle tank heaters is the ideal situation because it helps ensure that your entire tank is sufficiently warmed. The benefits of using two heaters include:

  • More consistent heating throughout your tank (no cool zones)
  • Back-up protection if one heater breaks so your tank doesn’t get too cool
  • You can cross-check your temperatures on each heater to make sure they’re working properly

Conclusion – What is the best turtle tank heater?

When you’re purchasing a new turtle tank heater, there are many things to consider. In the end, you want a product that works well and is going to keep your turtles happy and healthy. Every heater on our list has been rigorously tested for safety, heating efficiency, and design so you can make the best choice for your tank.

What is your favorite turtle tank heater? Tell us more about your set-up in the comments!

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