Why Is My Turtle Tank Water Brown? (2 Reasons Why + What To Do)

Brown water, in the wild or in captivity, is usually not a good sign, so if you notice that that water in your pet’s tank is turning brown then you may start to be concerned.

This article is a look into why the water in your turtle’s tank is turning brown

Why is my turtle tank water brown?

Any change in how the water in your pet’s tank looks will be of concern to you, as it should. A color change means that there is a huge change in your pet’s environment, and a change in environment can mean a negative change in your pet’s health.

Here is a look into why the water in your turtle’s tank is brown:


One of the reasons why your pet’s tank may be turning white may be because tannins have leeched into the water.

Tannins are naturally occurring acid chemicals found in tree sap. They are present in driftwood, they lower the pH of water, and they will cause the water in your pet’s tank to turn yellow or brown

They will make the environment more natural for the turtle as tannins exist in nature, they exist in the water that wild turtles live in.

What to do:

Thankfully the tannins that leech into your pet’s water are not dangerous so you don’t have to worry if this is happening in your pet’s tank.

As long as the filter in the animal’s tank is the correct size for the tank then the tannins will eventually be filtered out and the water will go back to being clear.

You can keep this discoloration from happening in the future by letting any new driftwood, that you want to add to the tank, soak in a different water-filled container.

Doing this will allow the tannins from the wood to leech out. Once done transfer the word into the tank with your turtle


If there is a lot of organic waste in your pet’s tank, if there is a lot of leftover food, waste produced by the turtle, decaying plants, or even delaying fish in the tank, then all this waste can turn the water brown

All of this organic matter will dissolve in the tank water and change the makeup of the water in the tank.

Your pet’s filter may be struggling to clean up the tank water and this may be why the tank water is turning brown.

What to do:

If the reason for the browning of the water is organic matter then this is a sign that your tank needs a clean up. This change in water chemistry can be harmful to your turtle

Clean up any dead and decaying fish in the tank, clean up any waste in the tank, you can use a turkey baster to do this, and clean up any uneaten food in the tank as well

If you want to keep the uneaten food waste, and other waste, out of the tank then consider feeding your pet in a separate container and then putting the turtle back into its tank once the animal is done eating.

Your pet will eat and poop in a separate container keeping the tank clean.

You can continue to feed your pet in its tank, but for this solution, only feed the animal as much food as would fit in its head if its head were hollow.

You can alternatively only feed the animal as much food as the animal can eat in 5 minutes.

You can also do a partial water change, a 50 percent water change, to dilute the waste in the water. Don’t do a full water change as this will disrupt biological colonies

Make sure that the filter in the tank is big enough as well, use a filter that is designed for a tank that is 3 to 4 times bigger than the tank that you are currently using

If you enjoyed this article then you may also be interested in other turtle/tortoise related articles. Here are some articles that you may be interested in: Why Is My Turtle Tank Water Yellow?Why Does My Turtle Tank Have Bubbles?Why Does My Turtle Scratch The Tank?Why Is My Turtle On Top Of My Other Turtle?

Why Is My Turtle Tank Water Brown? (2 Reasons Why + What To Do)
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