How to Clean Algae off Turtle Shell | Guide to Turtle Lover

how to clean algae off turtle shell

When you see algae growing on the turtle’s carapace, it can be worrisome. But, frankly speaking, algae on turtle shells aren’t harmful as most people perceive.  In fact, with the right tank setup and water, a turtle will not have algae on its shell.

When the water becomes dirty, and it starts growing algae, it will slowly find a place on the turtle’s carapace. At this time, knowing how to clean algae off turtle shells might be a great idea. Luckily, this process isn’t difficult.

In fact, you can quickly get rid of algae from the turtle shell with proper bathing. Here, we will present you with the steps to remove algae from the shell and keep the tank or pond water for turtles free of algae development.

How to Clean Algae off Turtle Shell

Is It Necessary to Clean Algae from Turtle Shell?

Algae on the turtle shell, in general, aren’t harmful to the pet. It is a common phenomenon for most turtles, and most wild turtles have algae on the carapace.  Since wild turtles often live in muddy and dirty areas, algae build-up is common for them.

But for pet turtles, it suggests that the water has become dirty and needs cleaning and maintenance.  You should also never ignore the algae on the turtle shell and treat it. You need to clean and remove it to help the turtle enjoy a healthy and happy life.

Also, the proximity to clean algae will depend on the type of algae the turtle shell has. Generally speaking, there’re two types of algae that you may find on a turtle carapace. It includes-

  1. The carpet-like algae. It has a greenish and porous structure.
  2. Rather disgusting algae that look slimy and stingy.

The first kind of algae is harmless and grows nearly in every location. So, you need not worry about it. If you, however, observe the slimy and stingy algae on a turtle shell, there’s every reason to worry. It is a signal that you have failed to maintain water hygiene in the turtle tank or pod. The algae may develop due to one or all reasons described below-

  • When the water temperature is too cold or hot (Usually hot water develops more algae)
  • If the water filtration system is weak or if it stops working due to maintenance issues
  • Suppose you don’t change the tank water in a timely. The water has a biological cycle, and after that, it becomes dirty.

When the algae on the turtle shell remain for too long, it may lead to shell infection or shell rot. That’s why you must take care of algae build-up on the turtle shell ASAP. It will help you avoid shell rot and infection, which can be fatal at times.

Tips On How Clean Algae Off Turtle Shell

Now we know the importance of cleaning algae off turtle shells for their healthiness. Also, it keeps your turtle in good condition and makes it more favorite, especially for kids.

But how do you remove the algae from its carapace? Well, the process is easier than most people think to accomplish.  

You will need the following things for it-

  1. A spacious bucket or sink
  2. Lukewarm water; not too cold or hot
  3. A soft toothbrush
  4. Sanitizer

You may even use an old toothbrush. Just make sure its bristles are not too harsh for the turtle skin. Also, sanitizer is essential to clean off the sink or bucket after cleaning the turtle to avoid any chances of a salmonella attack.

The cleaning steps include-

  1. Once you are ready with the cleaning bowl, gently put the turtle in it. The plug must be set at an un-drained position.
  2. You will need lukewarm water to bathe the turtle. So, set the faucet in warm water. Check the water with your hands to make sure it is not too cold or hot. The turtle should feel comfortable in it.
  3. Now, hold your turtle with one hand mildly. Use the soft toothbrush to wipe out the algae from the turtle shell. The turtle won’t like the process and try to move away forcefully. Please don’t be anxious about it, and hold it with minimal pressure.
  4. Continue brushing off the turtle shell until you have removed the last algae from it. You won’t need to scrub the shell for more than 2 minutes to get rid of the algae.
  5. Keep your turtle in a safe location and allow it to dry off naturally. Don’t use a hairdryer or blower to dry off the turtle.
  6. Meanwhile, use sanitizer on the cleaning bowl such as a sink or bucket. It is essential to prevent salmonella attacks.

Now, please focus on the tank water maintenance as the turtle happily dries off itself. Check the tank water and fix it if there’s an issue.

  1. Use a thermometer to check the water temperature. For most turtle breeds, the ideal water temperature is 75-85°F.
  2. Also, check the temperature of the basking spot. It needs to be around 80-95°F mostly. It is crucial because the turtle will spend a good amount of his daytime in the basking spot.
  3. Also, the water filtration system needs to be strong enough to deal with the tank water. It is pretty important because turtles are insanely dirty and create massive waste. Hence, the filtration system capacity needs to be 2X than the actual water-holding capacity of the turtle tank. For instance, the filtration system capacity must be 80L if you have a 40L tank for the turtle.

When the filter works properly, the tank water flows too. Thus, moving water will stop algae development and keep the environment clean.


Here we end our discussion on how to clean algae off turtle shells. The cleaning process is pretty easy and won’t take more than a few minutes. However, it is recommended that you clean and maintain the tank water to get rid of the algae forever. 

This way, you can easily prevent algae and other harmful bacteria and virus build-up in the turtle tank. It will give your favorite turtle a long, happy, and healthy life.

How to Clean Algae off Turtle Shell | Guide to Turtle Lover

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