How To Get Rid Of Mites In Turtle Tank

Spread the love

Are you alarmed by the presence of mites? Is it making you worried about how to get rid of mites in turtle tank? Well, there is no need to panic. Unfortunately, mites infestation in a turtle tank is frequent. This blood-sucking organism will make the turtle anemic and lethargic. A safe and clean environment is essential to keep turtles healthy and happy.

Follow the steps below to eliminate mites from the turtle tank.  

  • Identify the presence of mites.
  • Empty the turtle tank.  
  • Bath the turtle.  
  • Apply the ointments  
  • Clean the turtle tank  
  • Install protective barriers  
  • Regular update and cleaning of the turtle tank  

Mites on turtles are not visible as they are as small as the size of dust particles. However, you can see them quite clearly when they are in clusters. Continue reading the article to find more about turtle mites and the method to get rid of them.  

Seven Steps To Get Rid Of The Mites In Turtle Tank

Follow the steps below to get the mites in the turtle tank.

1- Identify The Presence Of Mites  

There are over 250 species of mites that infect reptiles. Turtle mites are barely visible to the naked eye. In severe infestation, you will see mites concentrated in large groups on turtle skin, especially around the eyes and nostrils. The mites can crawl onto your hand when you touch the infected turtle.  

Turtle mites can survive in the tanks. They prefer to live in a warm, humid environment and continue to grow. When there is severe turtle mite infestation, you will see them crawling and floating around the tank or aquarium. Additionally, the turtle will be sluggish and inactive.  

2- Empty The Turtle Tank

After identifying the presence of the mites in the turtle tank, your first step should be to remove all the contents. Wear rubber gloves and protective clothing, then take out your turtle and place it in another clean container or box for the time being. Unplug all the electronic devices like the tank filter and heater.  

Remove all the tank accessories and sort them accordingly. Keep the things that can be washed and bleached like big stones, and throw the rest of the contents in a large garbage bag. Put these infested things far from your house. Finally, drain the dirty water.  

Clean the filter and the heater according to the manual. Wash all the accessories like big stones and plastic plants with a bleach solution and scrub them thoroughly. Leave all the things to dry after washing them thoroughly.

3- Bath The Turtle  

Washing the turtle will move all the mites down the drain. Take a plastic bucket or tub that is big enough to accommodate your turtle. Never give a bath to your infested turtle in your personal use bathroom sink or tub, as mites can crawl into the hidden spaces. Collect your remaining supplies; you will need a jug of warmth and a toothbrush.  

Fill the plastic bucket or tub with water and gently place your turtle. The water should at least reach the turtle’s chin. Then take a toothbrush and gently begin the scrubbing. Carefully scrub the turtle shell as it can have wounds from the mite’s infection. Then brush the legs, tail, and neck.  

Be gentle while cleaning the sensitive parts. Scrub the turtle belly in the end. Make sure you wear gloves as mites can fall on you while scrubbing. After scrubbing, carefully inspect your turtle for mites’ clusters or skin conditions. Drain the dirty water, and give the turtle a good wash with lukewarm water.  

4- Apply The Ointments  

The following compounds are safe to use on turtle skin after a bath. Carefully read all the details and confirm it with your vet before using it on turtle skin. Ensure that the turtle does not accidentally eat any of the following compounds.  

Antibiotic Ointment   

The vet will prescribe you some antibiotic ointment to use on the turtle’s skin. Typically, an Ophthalmic preparation is for applying around the eyes, which are more affected by mites’ infestation than any other parts.  

Essential Oils  

You can also use essential oils, preferably olive oil, on the turtle skin. Olive oil is safe to use on turtles. It will kill the mites by suffocating them without causing any harm to the turtle.

Cover the turtle thoroughly with olive oil and wait about one hour or more before bathing it. Rinse off olive oil from the turtle skin. You can use mild soap to clean the turtle skin to clear the olive oil residue.


Other than oils and antibiotics, you can also use chemicals like miticide to kill mites on the turtle’s skin. However, you must be careful while using miticide as it is toxic to the turtle.  


Pyrethroids are a commercial form of natural insecticide called pyrethrin. It is derived from chrysanthemums and is safe to use on turtle skin. Two common pyrethroid examples are permethrin and permethrin.

A permethrin-based treatment of mites called Provent-a-Mite. It is made for reptile treatment. Apply a moderate amount of pyrethroids to each leg opening. Avoid it from getting into the turtle’s eyes.  


Organophosphate is a synthetic insecticide safe to use on adult turtles. But it is toxic and can kill the turtle if not used correctly. Swallowing organophosphate can lead to respiratory failure in turtles.

5- Clean The Turtle Tank  

  • After clearing everything from the turtle tank and draining the dirty water, fill one-quarter of the empty turtle tank with the water from the garden hose or bathtub faucet.
  • Drain all the water you have filled and refill it with clean water. Redo this step five to six times to drain all the mites and their eggs from the tank.  
  • Prepare a disinfectant solution for the turtle tank. Take 0.2 Liter of 10% bleach and mix it in 3.8L of water. When you do not have bleach replace it with white vinegar in the same quantity, pour this bleach and warm water solution into the turtle tank and let it sit.
  • After at least ten minutes, drain the solution. Never throw the bleach solution on the grass or vegetation, as bleach will kill the plants.  
  • Then take a scrub, put a few drops of dishwashing soap on it, scrub all the sides and the bottom of the turtle tank, and focus on the corners and the edges as most debris, bacteria, and mite eggs are more likely to be in the hidden corner.
  • Rinse the turtle tank in depth. So no residue or smell of the bleach or any other detergent remains.  

6- Install Protective Barriers  

Install protective barriers like a screen cover and UV lights to keep the mites out of the turtle tank. Avoid using plastic or glass covers as they are ineffective against mites, not even louvered plastic. Instead, install metal screens with holes. You can find them in pet stores.  

Metal screens are sturdy and maintain airflow while keeping out small insects like mites. Never use the metal screen without holes, as it creates humidity, providing a perfect environment for mites to flourish.

Install a UV light in the room with a turtle tank. Uv light kills mites and other bacteria and causes little to no harm to the turtle.

7- Regular Update And Cleaning Of The Turtle Tank

Regular cleaning of the turtle tank is essential to keep the mites away. Clean and replace the accessories like plastic plants, stones, pebbles, rocks, and another floating object as required.

Closely observe the real plants in the turtle tank. If the plants are dead and rotting, replace them immediately. Clean the filter and heater after at least fifteen days, and replace the filter bag once a month.  

Try using a separate tank to feed the turtle as food attracts insects and pests. When you give food to the turtle in its regular tank, leftover will be in the tank for days, causing the growth of all sorts of microorganisms.

Deep clean the turtle once in two months and wash the turtle at least once in fifteen days.  

What Do Turtle Mites Look Like?

Turtle mites appear as tiny red or black dots often clustered around the eyes and nostrils. They can also infect other parts, including ears, legs, bellies, and shells. The turtle mites are small, less than 1 mm, and barely visible to the naked eye.  

Mite infestation on turtles causes scales on the skin and causes a dull appearance to the animal. Mites feed on turtle blood, causing anemia and leading to weakness and lethargy. The turtle will lose its appetite and rub itself against a tank, cage, or furniture due to the itching. Severe infestation can lead to death.

Can Turtle Mites Live On Humans?

Turtle mites can infect humans. Ophionyssus natricis is a common reptile mite that can cause dermatitis in humans. It is a blood-sucking organism that affects the neck, wrist, and torso, causing lesions in the pelvic, gluteal, coccygeal, and perineal regions.

The Ornithonysus mites can live inside the home and survive for up to three weeks without a blood meal. They will live in dark, warm, and humid areas like mattresses, carpets, bedding, curtains, bathrooms, and closets.

The reptile mites crawling on human skin are not visible to the naked eye. A laboratory diagnosis is required to confirm the presence of Ophionyssus.  

Can I Put Vinegar In My Turtles Tank To Remove Mites?

Turtle tank cleaners are expensive, and it is essential to clean the tank regularly as turtle waste can cause a smell and produce many microorganisms. Instead of looking for expensive tank cleaners, you can use white vinegar.  

Vinegar is used for cleaning purposes due to its acidic nature. It can eliminate grease, grime, dust, and allergens. Typically, white vinegar has a Ph of 2.5 as it contains acetic acid. In a small amount, it causes no harm to the turtle. Therefore, making it the best and cheap cleaner to use inside the turtle tanks.  

Make a vinegar solution by mixing an equal quantity of water and vinegar in a container. After clearing out the turtle tank, pour this solution and wait for twenty minutes.

Then scrub clean the tank and wash off all the residues. Replace all the things and pour fresh water. Keep repeating this procedure every week till the turtle is in better health.


For good turtle health, you need to regularly clean the turtle tank to avoid the formation of allergens like mites. Turtle mites are parasitic organisms that suck blood from the turtle, causing anemia, weakness, and lethargy. You will have to eliminate mites from the tank to bring the turtle back into good health, or else severe infestation can lead to death.  

Follow the procedure above to get rid of mites from the turtle tank. Take your turtle to the vet instead of using ointments of your own choice. If not used carefully, some of these mites’ treatments can be toxic to the turtle. Never use Ivermectin on the turtles as it can kill the animal.


Amanatfard, Emad & Youssefi, Mohammad reza & Barimani, Alireza. (2014). Human Dermatitis Caused by Ophionyssus natricis, a Snake Mite. Iranian journal of parasitology

Waap Helga, Aguin-Pombo Dora, Maia Maria, Case Report: Human Dermatitis Linked to Ornithonyssus bursa (Dermanyssoidea: Macronyssidae) Infestation in Portugal, Frontiers in Veterinary Science- 2020