Finding the best turtle tank heater is something that a lot of new owners struggle with. They may have used a heater in the past for a fish-based aquarium, but don’t know where to start when it comes to turtles.

And that’s understandable.

Turtles are a very different kind of animal than the fish aquarists usually keep. They need a different kind of environment and require warm water in order to function and stay healthy.

This is why getting a reliable heater is so important. If your heater fails it can cause your turtle to go into hibernation (which can lead to serious health complications). This isn’t a piece of equipment you want to get from the bargain bin.

That’s why we put this guide together. We’ve done all the hard work for you and have come up with a list of the very best turtle tank heaters out there.

If You’re In A Rush And Just Want To See Our Pick:

This heater by Cobalt Aquatics is our absolute favorite for turtles. It’s safe, efficient, and built to last. We really don’t have any complaints about it!

Our List Of The Best Turtle Tank Heaters

We developed our list of the best turtle tank heaters by doing a lot of research and asking seasoned owners to weigh in as well.

This helped us take a pretty lengthy list of heater options and trim it down to the very best. All of the heaters on our list were included specifically with turtles in mind.

1. Cobalt Aquatics Flat Submersible Heater With Adjustable Thermostat

Here’s another fan favorite that’s been in the game for a while. Based on its track record and reputation, we assumed that it would be on our list of the best turtle tank heaters before we started our research.

And we were right.

This was one of the most impressive submersible heaters we looked at without a doubt. It’s well-designed, accurate, safe, and powerful. It’s also made by a very trustworthy company in Cobalt Aquatics that we’ve been a fan of for years.

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Cobalt Aquatics Flat Neo-Therm Heater with Adjustable Thermostat

  • Fully submersible, modern design for energy efficient heating
  • Accurate one touch system when setting temperature
  • Range of 66°F to 96°F
  • Unlike cheap, glass heaters, the neo-therm is a resin/thermoplastic heater with a shatterproof outer-casing

The footprint that this heater leaves in your turtle tank is super small which is great. When you couple that with the impressive output it has, you’re looking at one of the strongest pound-for-pound heaters on the market.

Everything about the rest of the design is great. It has a bracket that allows you to position it however you want which is a really nice touch.

It’s also extremely accurate too. The temperature calibration is top-notch which means you can have confidence that the temperature that you see on the display is correct.

The durability of this turtle tank heater is fantastic as well. It has a shatterproof exterior and a thermoplastic base means you won’t need to worry about any accidents affecting your pets.

Lastly, it has a safe auto shut-off feature that can monitor the water temperature and turn off before it exceeds your desired number. The interior circuitry is also well-protected from the rest of the heater so you’ll never have to worry about things going haywire.

Pros:

  • Small footprint
  • Extremely accurate and well-calibrated
  • Bracket gives you flexibility with placement in the tank
  • Best-in-class when it comes to durability and safety

Cons:

  • Great quality doesn’t come cheap

2. Fluval E Electronic Heater (Great For Turtles)

This heater is a staple among turtle owners. During our research process, this was on the shortlist of almost every experienced owner we spoke to.

One of our favorite things about this turtle tank heater is that it has two temperature sensors which ensure accuracy and instant data about the water temperature. This is shown to you via a high-quality LCD display that is easy to read.

It also has reliable safety measures to ensure that it doesn’t overheat and cause harm to your turtles. This combined with the barrier it has to stop animals from touching it makes it one of the safest heaters out there.

We found that this was one of the most accurate products out there too. If you set this thing at 80°F, it’s going to be a true 80.

Some other turtle heaters are consistent and reliable, but their baseline is off (75°F is really 77°F for example). While you can work around this, it’s always preferred to have the calibrated temperature be perfect right out of the box.

We’re big fans of Fluval and have been using their products forever. This is a company that cares about the quality of what they release, and it shows. Throughout our entire research process, we didn’t find a single owner who regretted buying this heater!

Pros:

  • Extremely well-calibrated
  • Trustworthy safety features
  • Very accurate safety sensors
  • Easy to read LCD display

Cons:

  • Only three wattage types to choose from (shouldn’t be a problem for most turtle owners)

3. ViaAqua Quartz Glass Submersible Heater

This is the most affordable heater on the list and honestly, it’s pretty surprising given the quality. While it’s not our favorite overall turtle water heater, it’s definitely the best budget buy.

ViaAqua 300-Watt Quartz Glass Submersible Heater with Built-In Thermostat

  • Fully-submerisble
  • Visible temperature setting
  • High quality quartz glass
  • For use in fresh or saltwater aquariums

The build quality is really impressive and feels like something you can keep for a long time. We reached out to a lot of previous owners and couldn’t find any instances where this heater fell apart after a short period of time. That’s a testament to the quality and commitment ViaAqua put into their development.

This heater comes with a lot of the standard features that you would expect in a higher-priced model. You get a durable quartz body that’s resistant to heat and shattering. There’s also an accurate temperature gauge that lets you monitor just how warm things are.

The accuracy of this heater isn’t as perfect as some of the other fancier models, but that’s to be expected given the price difference. We definitely recommend using an external thermometer and fact-checking the readouts with this if you decide to get it though.

Since we normally advocate for getting the best of the best when it comes to crucial elements like heaters, it really says something about this product to have it included in our list. If one of the more expensive models doesn’t fit with your budget, this is a solid backup plan.

Pros:

  • Great build quality
  • Most of the same features you see in premium-priced heaters

Cons:

  • No foolproof auto-shutoff feature
  • Accuracy can fluctuate 

4. Aqueon Pro Submersible Heater

Another staple in the world of turtle tank heaters, this product by Aqueon simply takes care of business. There aren’t really any specific features that will blow you away, but it has no real weaknesses either.

Aqueon Pro Submersible Heater

  • Adjustable heat setting 68 to 88°F
  • Shatterproof and nearly indestructible
  • Auto Shut-Off when over-heats, resets when it cools down
  • Limited Lifetime warranty

Picking this up gets you a very accurate and reliable heater that has no trouble heating any tank that fits within the corresponding wattage range. Even though we always advocate the importance of a secondary thermometer, our tests showed that this heater was extremely well-calibrated right out of the box.

It’s also a very safe option as well. It’s shatterproof and when you hold it you’ll have no trouble believing it (it’s built like a tank). The auto-shutoff feature kicks in quickly and reliably too, so you never have to worry about things getting too toasty for your turtle!

The one thing that we’re not a huge fan of is the primitive temperature knob at the top. While it does help keep the cost down, there’s something about having an actual screen giving you readings that provide a lot more confidence.

Aqueon also offers a limited lifetime warranty for this product as well. We didn’t come across any long-time owner who needed to use it, but it’s nice to know that it’s an option.

Pros:

  • No real weaknesses
  • Shatterproof design
  • Very accurate

Cons:

  • Primitive temperature knob
  • Limited wattage options (only offer 50 and 100)

5. Hydor In-Line External Heater

This turtle heater was a pleasant surprise. It wasn’t on our radar at first, but made it through our gauntlet and proved itself as a high-quality product for those thinking about a non-submersible option.

Hydor In-Line External Heater

  • Suitable for marine and tropical aquariums
  • Easy to use
  • High precision electronic temperature control
  • For external use

As an external heater, the Hydor functions by heating water it pulls from the tank before sending it back in. This is a design that a lot of turtle owners aren’t familiar with, but that doesn’t make it inferior.

We found this heater to be very efficient when it comes to keeping the water warm. The accuracy was solid and the build quality was impressive as well. When you get your hands on this thing it’s quite clear that Hydor put a lot of time and effort into it.

It has a great safety limiter that prevents it from overheating or cranking the water temperature up too high. The display indicator is sufficient and we found it to be quite accurate (a little bit on the small side though).

The setup with this heater can seem a little intimidating at first, but it’s actually pretty simple. Hydor does a great job making sure the instructions are clear and easy to follow, and we didn’t bump into any problems hooking it up as a test.

The big advantage of going with a turtle tank heater like this is it goes well with setups that use sumps or canister filters. This allows the heater to stay out of the way so your whole setup can remain nice and clean.

Pros:

  • Best external heater we’ve seen so far
  • Accurate and efficient
  • Reliable safety limiter
  • Good for tanks that use a sump or canister filter

Cons:

  • The display is a little small
  • Design is probably unnecessary if you have a standard tank setup

6. Finnex Hang-On Titanium Turtle Heater

This product was a no-brainer to be included on our list of the best turtle tank heaters. What confused us was that it wasn’t on our radar before we did our research and asking other owners.

Finnex Hang-On Electronic Controller Aquarium Heater

  • Durable titanium tube
  • Sleek analog controller
  • Ultra fast heating tubes
  • Compact build that keeps your setup tidy

We think this has to do with the fact that it’s a hanging heater, not a submersible one. While we agree that submersible heaters tend to be a little bit better and easy to use, there definitely are some great hanging heaters out there as well (like this one).

One thing that stood out to us was the build quality. The titanium design is about as sturdy as you can imagine, and we haven’t found any cases of this heater physically falling apart no matter how old it’s gotten. The main tube is resistant to corrosion which plays a big part in this as well.

It’s also very powerful. Even the lower wattage models really pack a punch. A lot of turtle owners worry that hanging heaters aren’t strong enough to get the job done, but this one delivered.

It has a pretty minimal display set which means you’ll definitely need to pick up an additional thermometer for convenience (something we believe you should do regardless of what turtle heater you have).

Overall if you’re looking for a turtle tank heater that gets the job done and you’re not a fan of submersible designs, this is your best bet.

Pros:

  • Very powerful
  • Durable and sturdy build quality

Cons:

  • Very limited temperature indicator
  • Setup is a bit awkward

7. Eheim Jager Thermostat Heater

This is an extremely popular heater that has been used for fish and turtles quite heavily over the years. When we were talking to turtle owners it seemed like half of them owned this at one point or another!

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Eheim Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater

  • 8 wattage options to fit a wide range of tank sizes
  • Fully submersible
  • Thermo safey control protects against running dry
  • Made of shock resistant and shatter proof glass for fresh or marine water

The reason for this is it’s made by a reliable company (Eheim), easy to use, and affordable. It’s a submersible heater which means the entire body of the device lives underwater to keep it warm.

So we’ve established it’s popular, but is it high-quality?

In our opinion, this is a perfectly fine tank heater if you have a turtle. It’s not our favorite on the list, but if you like the price and are an Eheim fan then go ahead.

It does a great job of heating the water even with the lower watt units. It’s probably one of the most powerful heaters we’ve reviewed! It also has some neat features like shatterproof glass and shock resistance which will give you some peace of mind.

Although this heater comes with standard safety control buttons we always think it’s smart to get a backup thermometer. This will help ensure an element of redundancy so you can quickly catch a shift outside of the normal temperature range.

These units in particular have a higher likelihood of becoming inaccurate as they age. This isn’t uncommon or anything you should be scared of (as long as you have a separate thermometer), but it is a documented issue with the older models.

Pros:

  • Strong heater
  • Fully submersible
  • Shatterproof and shock-resistant
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Accuracy/overheating issues as they age
  • Some plastic components can come loose rather easily

What To Look For

A lot of new owners aren’t sure what to look for when it comes to picking the best turtle tank heater. This is because on paper a lot of them seem very similar.

While we have gone through and done the hard work for you (everything on our list above passes the quality test), this section should be helpful if you decide to do additional research or buy another in the future.

Safety

Safety is something that we can’t talk about enough. When it comes down to it, your turtle tank heater only exists for the purpose of safety.

If your turtle gets too cold they might attempt to go into hibernation which is very bad in captivity. So you need a heater to keep them safe, but you also need one that won’t go haywire and cause additional problems.

There are a ton of horror stories about people buying low-quality heaters and having them shatter or overheat. This can seriously harm your turtle and most of the time could have been prevented by spending an extra twenty bucks on a better heater on day 1.

Some of the safety features you want to look for are things like an auto-shutoff feature, shatterproof materials, shockproof designs, and more. These features will help keep your pet safe and allow you valuable peace of mind.

Heating Efficiency

It’s important to get a heater that’s strong enough to heat the water in your turtle tank. Most of the time this can be ensured by matching the wattage with the recommended tank size (more on that below), but sometimes a low-quality heater simply can’t do the job.

All of the heaters on our list are strong enough to handle the corresponding tank size for each wattage option they offer (sometimes even larger). If your heater can’t keep things warm, there’s no point buying it in the first place.

Design & Type

While a lot of the heaters on our list are submersible (that’s the most popular design type by far), there are other types that might be a better fit for your particular tank setup. Things like external heaters work if you have a sump or canister filter since they stay out of the way and keep your tank clean and free of equipment.

Knowing your tank layout is important for finding the best type of turtle tank heater for you. While a submersible heater will be fine for most people, any unique setup might require a unique heater!

Additional Recommendations

If you pick from our list above you won’t have an issue with quality, efficiency, or reliability. However, there are still a couple of extra recommendations we have for using turtle tank heaters that you need to hear.

Get A Thermometer

You probably saw us mention this a few times in our main list, but we’ll say it again. Always get an additional thermometer to add an element of redundancy to your safety protocol.

Even if your heater is the best of the best, things can go wrong. Having an external source of data where you can verify that the water is truly at its target temperature is worth its weight in gold.

They’re so cheap that there’ no reason not to pick one up (here’s one we recommend). You’ll sleep easier at night knowing your turtle is safe and comfortable!

Consider Using Two Heaters

It’s also common practice among experienced turtle owners to use two heaters. While this might seem like overkill at first, there’s a reason.

Splitting the required wattage up between two water heaters protects your tank on both ends of the danger spectrum.

If one of them stops working you’ll at least have one source of heat in play until you can get another. While the remaining heater will be overmatched, it’s far better than nothing!

It’s also good for protecting your tank from an overheating event. This is because each heater won’t have the necessary wattage to wreak havoc on your tank (it’s not ideal but again, better than nothing).

Conclusion

As you can see, there’s a lot more to choosing a turtle tank heater than new owners realize. That’s why we put together this list to make things easy for you!

Owning a turtle is a fun and unique challenge that many aquarists don’t get the chance to dabble with. Make sure you do it right by fitting their tank with high-quality gear!

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