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FAQs About Turtle Systems 1

Related Articles: Turtles, The Care and Keeping of the Red Eared Slider, Trachemys scripta elegans by Darrel Barton, AmphibiansRed Eared Slider Care

Related FAQs:  Turtle Systems 2, & Further Subdivided FAQs on Turtle Systems: Turtle Enclosures, Turtle System Filtration, Turtles & Light (UV plus), Turtle System Heating, Turtle Substrates & Decor, Aquatic Turtle Basking Areas, Turtle System Maintenance, Overwintering Environments, RES Systems, & Turtles 1, Turtles 2, Red Ear Sliders, Turtle Identification, Turtle Behavior, Turtle Compatibility, Turtle Selection, Turtle Feeding, Turtle Disease, Turtle Reproduction, & by Species: Cooters/Mud Turtles, Softshells, Snapping Turtles, Mata Matas, Tortoises, & AmphibiansOther Reptiles

Know your animal... RES are amphibious.

Substrate, Terrapin sys.   2/19/09 Hello! I'm quite worried, as my red-eared terrapin, housed alone in a big tank, keeps trying to climb out non-stop. It's VERY restless... climbing and digging away at the sides of the tank. Currently it's about 7-inches in length, and I'm worried it may have eggs. It laid eggs in the water before, because I only have a rock as its basking area. Just need to check, would it be safe for me to place a small basin into the tank, with a mixture of soil and sand for it to lay its eggs? Thank you! Best Regards, Alex <Hi Alex. It does sound like you have a female anxious to lay her eggs. It's important to let her do so: if not, she'll be prone to egg-binding, and that's a painful (and expensive) problem to deal with. Yes, putting a dish of dry sand somewhere above the waterline is recommended. It will need to be reasonably big and deep so that she can sit on the sand comfortably, and dig a nest a couple of inches deep. Something like a cat litter tray is ideal, filled with silica sand or river sand to a depth of 2-3 inches, at least. The nesting site will need to be bigger than the turtle, otherwise she won't be able to climb in and make her nest. Obviously these eggs will be infertile and won't hatch if she's not mated with a male in the last couple of weeks. Cheers, Neale.> Hello Neale, Thank you so much! I will get cracking on it! Cheers, Alex <Happy to help. Good luck, Neale.>

Innovative New Turtle Basking Platform 02/19/09 Hi, Bob, Neale & Crew, <Paul> Hope all is well. I have written many times before and you have always been very helpful. Bob, I saw your revised book at the 2009 Global Pet Expo in the new product showcase (TFH entry), looks great, can't wait to get my hands on copy. Anyway I am writing to let your readers know about a great new turtle product that is going to hit the market very soon. I know you often get questions about turtles, so I thought you might enjoy seeing this product. The product is the Reptology Turtle Topper, a unique and innovative above tank basking platform that will fit most standard tanks up to and including 55 gallon tanks. For turtles that are active swimmers and baskers, this product will have so many benefits. If anyone is interested I would encourage them to watch the below video that I did with ReptilesTV.com, the video, which is posted on YouTube currently explains all the great features. I am confident you will enjoy the video and find it informative. Thank you. The link is - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LICy7PWiCQg Paul Demas Project Manager Penn Plax, Inc <Nice video, good idea for this ap. Hello to the Rosens and Goldmans. Bob Fenner>

Re: Innovative New Turtle Basking Platform 02/19/09 Bob, <Paul> Thanks, glad you liked it. I personally believe it is a great turtle basking product, different from anything on the market right now. Will say hello, didn't realize you knew the Goldman family. <I met them... many years ago... on Long Island... through Eugene Danner I believe, before he had son... Mike take over Supreme... man! I am getting olde!> Would also encourage everyone to take the time to visit www.reptilestv.com they have some great videos on reptile care. Thanks for everything. Paul Demas Project Manager Penn Plax, Inc <Welcome. BobF>

Small Turtle In A Big Pond  3/30/07 Hi, I just built an outdoor pond (4 X 9)  and am unsure of whether I should put my RES in.  It is the size of a half dollar and I have him in a 25 gallon  tub right now.  Is it too small to be put in a pond? Should I wait? Thanks. Michelle < At that size he could be eaten by many predators, like birds, raccoons, possums and snakes. I would recommend waiting another year.-Chuck>

Re: Turning A Turtle Loose In A Pond   8/21/06 Ok Thank you. Do you  think the turtle I already released is still alive or not? < Adult turtles are pretty tough and have few predators. Smaller turtles are preyed on by just about everything. If your turtle was released early in the year, close to being an adult size and in good health, then I think he probably made it if the winter was not too severe.> I don't have a  picture of the turtle but I was told its a Cooter or something like that. < Lots of turtles go under the name of cooters or sliders.> Also, I do want my turtle. I just think it would be better off with other  turtles then in my little pond. It is about 2 feet deep and 6 feet long and 3  feet wide. It is actually a kiddie pool and I have fish in there with it and it  kills them all the time and also bugs so I think it could survive in the pond  but I'm worried about if it could survive there in the winter. Thank you for  your answers and help. < Many people think that turtles get lonely and need other turtles to be around. Other turtle are looked at as competition. If your pond has a mud bottom and your winters are not too bad then your turtle may be OK outdoors. In the northern part of the country where winters are pretty long and winter temps are pretty severe they do not overwinter well.-Chuck>

New Turtle Questions  12/16/05 Hi there, I have 2 RES's that I purchased at a mall kiosk (my 1st mistake, I know), but I have been able to figure out most everything by now and they are doing well.  However, my 20 gallon tank is being overrun by green algae, and I have been cleaning out the entire tank repeatedly for 3 weeks, but it keeps coming back and just keeps spreading.  Your site doesn't seem big on it, but the people at PetSmart said as long as at wasn't brown algae it wasn't harmful.  But now its spreading onto their basking rocks, and the water is even turning green! < Turtles are pretty messy eaters. Excess food and turtle waste breaks down to ammonia that is loved by algae. Filters help by developing bacteria that break the waste down into less toxic substances such as nitrites and then nitrates. Just like in a fish tank. The algae really doesn't hurt anything, it just looks bad. Feed your turtles a little bit in the morning and a little bit in the late afternoon. All uneaten food should be removed after a couple of minutes.  Get a filter and plan on changing water a couple times a week. One turtle would be about 1/2 the work. Two in a 20 gallon will get pretty crowded pretty quickly as they grow. Scrape the algae off the glass with a single edged razor blade. Don't worry about the algae on the rocks. Too much work to keep clean.> Also, I read the water pH is supposed to be at 7.8.  Mine is at 6.8.  What do I do to raise it? < You can go to a local fish store and get some powder to raise the pH. I currently use the turtle floater thing, the de-chlorinating fluid, and Turtle Clean.  Lastly, one turtle was opening his mouth (gasping?) this morning on the basking rock, could he have gotten a chill, and if so, what should we do to keep them warmer at night when the basking light is off?  We have the water heater set at 80 right now.  Thanks for all your help!!!!!! < Turn the heater down to 70 F. Check the temp of the basking spot. It should be around 85 F. You turtle may have a respiratory infection. The temperature changes will help. The spot may be hot enough already. Reptiles sometimes cool themselves by opening their mouths to let moisture evaporate and cool them down. Down worry about keeping them warm at night . They are use to big changes in water temp.-Chuck>

Red Eared Sliders Changing With The Seasons  12/13/05 Should I adjust the basking and UV lamps for my sliders with the changing light conditions as the seasons change outside?  I keep my 3 RES's in a large indoor pond that is heated all year round.  Should I keep it spring and summer all year (maybe 12-14 hours of light), or should I shorten their days to reflect the fact it's winter coming on?   Again, the air and water temp will remain the same all year.  Thanks!   LARRY in Los Angeles < As long as the water temperatures don't change then I would not change the lighting. If you were trying to breed them then I might try a different diurnal period along with a cooling period. Then in the spring I might try to increase the water temp and the lighting to simulate spring.-Chuck>

Turtle With Little Worms  12/2/05 Hi, I have recently noticed tiny white parasites that are swimming in my RES habitat. I have a 55 gallon for him. They look to me to be round and mostly on the glass, but they are throughout the environment. I was wondering if you have any info as to what these are and how I can get rid of them? Could they be some sort of worm, like I have read about on your forum? < Treat the tank with Fluke-Tabs to remove them. Take a fecal sample to a qualified veterinarian that deals with turtles and see if there is an internal parasite problem.> Chubby has had a great appetite but I noticed today that these parasites are eating his pellets, in turn my RES is ingesting them also. What could come of this? <Hopefully they are really not parasitic and just a by product or contaminant that came in with some food or substrate.> These parasites are so annoying and disgusting. I have been looking for some answers but haven't found anything that really sounds like what I'm dealing with here. My turtles health has been excellent and I would like to keep that way. I'm not sure what ingesting these could do to him. Please help ASAP!! I do have some big rock on the bottom that I'm going to take out, to hard to get the yuk out of the bottom. What would you recommend for the substrate, I would like to put some sand down, if so what kind and where should I purchase it? < I would recommend a very fine well rounded non-abrasive sand. The small size means a smaller pore space between the sand grains and less junk getting trapped in there. Get it from an aquarium shop.-Chuck> Also, I don't have any live plants or fish in with him.  Thanks for any information that you could give me. Tammy 

Turtles and Copper  11/30/05 Dear people; Thanks so much for your time. I need to get rid of invertebrates. I have been told too use a copper treatment in my tank. Is this safe for my water turtle? Thanks, Tracie Lundahl <I would not get rid of inverts by using copper in your aquarium...unless they are parasites...Also the copper should not harm the turtle if dosed properly. good luck, IanB>

Useful turtle care info. A personal odyssey  11/21/05 Dear Bob,     I wanted to comment on the request you had on your website for help with the pond slider. <Thank you for this>     A few years ago, my husband spotted a newly hatched Peninsular slider crossing the road. It was only about the size of a silver dollar. It had likely come from a clutch of eggs deposited in the soft mud in a ditch months before when we had experienced torrential rains. The little thing would have had to travel at least 1/2 mile before finding any water so we took it home. I didn't intend to keep it but for just long enough to make sure it was healthy and eating.     I had a 5 gal. aquarium that I set up for it. I put some nice flat rocks in one end and water deep enough for him to swim about in. I used a small wattage light bulb in a clamp-on reflector over the rocks. I tested the amount of heat generated by the lamp with my hand on the rocks to make sure I didn't have it too hot. I wasn't sure what to feed him and at the time we didn't have a computer (the window to all information). But I figured that in the wild he would likely eat green plants, snails and small fish. So I chose the next best thing, tuna. I took canned tuna, rinsed it and drained it. I took him out of the tank and placed him in a small dishpan filled with water. I pinched off small pieces of tuna and hand fed him. He ate vigorously. He also ate bits of raw spinach, lettuce, green beans and grapes.     After a few days I figured he was doing well. But in the mean time I had found several books on turtle keeping and one of them said that once a wild turtle is handled it should never be released in the wild. He would be contaminated with bacteria that if he was released in the lake down the street, might compromise the health of other turtles in the lake. It sounds rational to me so my husband & I decided to keep "Cooter".     We continued with the same care, the only draw back to such a small tank was the fact that even though I fed him in a separate container (every other day).  I had to change the water in the tank every other day as well.     So I built a large tank, designed with a "Cooter" in mind. Wide and long and fairly deep. I also constructed a filtration system. Using a large plastic jar that I perforated around the bottom with rows of holes about halfway up the sides of the jar. I filled it with activated charcoal and filter material. I drilled a hole in the lid and took the end of a hose from a small water pump located at the other end of the tank and stuck thru the hole. I had to add more holes in the sides of the jar to make sure that the water filtered thru and out the holes as fast as it went it but once I had accomplished that it worked extremely well.  (Only once did Cooter in his active swimming dislodge the hose and shoot water out of the tank onto the floor!! LOL)  At one year old he was nearly 6" in length.  Here is a photo of him at about 1 year. <Outstanding. Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner> 

Worms in the Turtle Tank  11/16/05 Hello, my name is Bill Glueckert and I have a question about my turtles. I have two tanks set up with 3 baby turtles each. All are still relatively small (2-3 inches), and appear to be healthy and growing at a normal rate since I got them (they were about 1 1/2 inches in August when I got them). I have three Softshells in one tank, which I plan to separate eventually, but are getting along just fine for now, and the other tank has one red eared slider, a yellow bellied slider, and a Mississippi map.  The real reason I'm writing is because I am experiencing a similar problem to one that someone already brought up on your site. However, my situation may change the response that was given. The problem I'm referring to is dated 10/31/05 on the site and is titled "Wormy Turtle Tanks (He Means EVERYWHERE) 10/31/05". I am having the exact same problem this guy was having, but I don't have any plants in either tank so that can't be where the worms are coming from.  They are the same size he described (about 1/8 an inch), and are all over the walls of the slider tank. I have noticed a few in the other tank but its only about 10 per wall, as opposed to everywhere on the walls of the other. The real problem however is this is the second time I have seen them. I noticed them two cleanings ago in the slider tank (I clean the tanks once a week with a Clorox spray), and at the time I had gravel in the tank which I assumed was where some type of larvae from a food product or some external source was hiding and reproducing.  So I cleaned and bleached the tank and removed the gravel, and did not see them again until now. Now that I've been reading a little more about parasites that can come from these and other reptiles while trying to find out what these worms are, I'm getting the creepy crawlies just looking at them. Is there anything else you can tell me about these worms or how to get rid of them? My turtles all appear very healthy and eat regularly. I do feed them in tank however and there is sometimes small food remnants left at the bottom that I can not skim out with my net, could that be the source of the problem? Thanks for your time. < Take a fecal sample of each turtle to a vet to be examined for parasites. If the critters are coming from the turtles there are plenty of things a good turtle vet can prescribe to get rid of them. I think a more likely culprit is some sort of insect that lays its eggs in the water. The larvae feed on the turtle waste or left over food. If they were on the turtle s themselves I would be thinking fish lice. Treat with fluke-tabs to take care of all the invertebrates in the tank. Retreat in a week to get rid of any new larvae that just hatched.-Chuck> 

UVA/UVB For Turtles - 11/07/2005 I posted this question on the forums a week ago, but no one has replied, so I hope you don't mind my asking you directly. <No prob.> I read an answer that y'all posted on your web site, that suggested using a plant light for turtles to bask under, because it provides almost the same type of light as the sun. If I get a regular plant light bulb from Wal-Mart will that provide both heat and UVA/UVB rays for my Red-eared sliders? <Mm, no, highly unlikely.> I've read the packages and they don't mention UVA/UVB at all. <I very much doubt that they would provide UVA/UVB.... but you can always contact the manufacturer and ask!> Thank you. You have a great web site. <And thank you for your kind words!> Rebekah <Wishing you well, -Sabrina> 

Messy Turtle - Dirty Tank 10/31/05 Hi, I know a lot of people already asked if turtles and fish could co-exist. I kind of have a similar question, but I just want to be more specific. My turtle is very messy and I just don't have the time to keep up with it weekly. I was wondering if I could put cleaner shrimp or cleaner fish in the tank with the turtle to help pick up the mess. He's a North American wood turtle. I'd appreciate it if you could help. otherwise bongo's going to have to find a new home. :-( thanks. God bless, Roxanne < Putting cleaner shrimp or fish would not really be practical to keep you tank clean. Check out the filters at Drsfostersmith.com. Get one that will be easy to clean and at least move three times the volume of the tank water per hour. Add carbon to remove odor and color from the water.-Chuck> 

Wormy Turtle Tanks (He Means EVERYWHERE) 10/31/05 Hello, to all of you - Hope you can help me out or point me in the right direction - as you have in the past. I have three red-eared sliders all in separate tanks. One sighted female in a 75 gallon, a blind male in a 55 gallon and a second blind male in a 30 gallon (I adopted these turtles from a rescue so I took what they had and am quite fond of them) .  I feed all three in their own plastic bins. All three tanks are filled 2/3rds with water. The only substrate I have in any of the tanks is a few handfuls of calcium carbonate gravel. A couple of pieces of small driftwood sitting on the bottom of the tanks and a basking area.  A few days ago while doing a water change I noticed, what look to me like tiny white worms [1/16 - 1/8 of an inch long (nematodes ?)] EVERYWHERE in two of the enclosures. And when I say EVERYWHERE, I mean everywhere. The 55 gallon enclosure without the worms has two silver mollies as permanent occupants.  The reason I bring that up is I am not sure if the worms exist in the 55 and are being eaten and kept at bay by the mollies. I do buy and keep live plants in all the tanks at all times.  Do you have any clue as to what these worms might be and where they may have come from? Do you think they are parasitic? Is there a medication you think I should be adding to the water? Should I even be concerned at all about these critters?  It is buggin' me out a bit - especially the part of not knowing what they are or where they came from. Thanks for your input - always a pleasure to read. - Thomas < I think they probably came in with the plants and are harmless to the turtles. Take a turtle stool sample in to a vet that knows turtles and check for internal parasites. I would treat the tank with fluke tabs to get rid of the worms in the water.-Chuck> 

Tiny Turtles With Violet Fishes 10/28/05 I have a 20 gallon brackish water aquarium with a violet goby. I just got two tiny turtles - they are about 1 inch each. I would like to know if I put something in there where they can get out of the water - could I keep them in there? Yes they are turtles that live in water, and I do not know what kind they are. Even if I could keep them in there, It would be only a temporary housing until I can get a turtle cage. < Little turtles would benefit from a turtle raft by Zoomed. This is a little flotation device used to float up and down as the water level in the tank changes. They need heat and special lighting too. I would recommend a turtle book so you can read up on the requirements needed as well as check out the WWM website for setting up a turtle tank. Finding out what kind of turtle you have would be a big help too.-Chuck>  <<A side note:  A violet goby could easily be hurt by a turtle.  Not great tankmates at all.  Furthermore, brackish water probably isn't ideal for the turtles.  -SCF>>

Turtles Will eat The Newt 10/22/05 Hello, I would like to thank you for your extensive question database which has provided me with many answers! I was wondering  just how long one red-eared slider baby would be alright in a ten gallon tank. I've been researching and planning for providing a great home for one of these guys for a long time and realize that one day it will need a nice happy pond. < A ten gallon tank would only work for a few months depending on the temps you turtle is kept at.> Would a Whisper internal (10i) filter be good for about 5 gallons of water for the little guy? < Turtles are messy feeders. A filter helps but only as long as you are willing to clean it. Clean it often and do many water changes.> I also have one fire-bellied newt and was wondering (although I am quite doubtful) if they would be okay in the tank together until the turtle grows larger, or if a separate tank right at the beginning would be necessary. < Turtle will try and eat the newt every chance it gets. The newt may also be toxic to the turtle.> If this is possible, my newt tank is planted heavily with live plants. I would not mind if the turtle ate them, but have heard that some plants are not okay for a turtle to eat. I have Mondo grass, Anacharis, java moss, and a few other plants (I don't know the names of the others.) < Turtle would pick at the Anacharis and probably leave the others alone but it would be a bull in a china shop with all the plants being uprooted every chance he gets.> I also have a five gallon tank at home that is not being used and think that either the newt or the turtle could stay in it for a while. (I think the newt would be happier there than the turtle since it would only have about 2-3 gallons of water.) I previously had three newts, but the other two were VERY young and, like many pet store fire bellies, had a rough beginning and came to me with rot which I was unable to cure.  I eventually separated them from my adult, who is still living a happy and healthy life hanging out in her favorite plant, the Anacharis bunch. Also, what is your opinion on the occasional snack of a ghost shrimp for aquatic turtles? < Great.> (I know I am asking many questions here.) There is a very large debate over whether to use gravel or not. Of course cleaning is easier without it. I read where someone had used no gravel but had vinyl flooring in the bottom to give traction. Do you think the turtles really care? < No not really.> Like fish do, would turtles eat their own poo if there was no gravel to trap it? < They have been known to eat their own fecal matter if they are hungry and no other food is around. Many fish stores carry gravel vacs that will do a great job of cleaning your gravel while siphoning the tank water.> Thank you in advance for you time and patience with my plethora of questions. I appreciate what you do in an attempt to rid the world of people who improperly care for their pets. < Just plugging away one question at a time.-Chuck> 

Flies in the Turtle Tank, But Not in the Butter! 10/9/05 Hello, I have a Red Eared Slider in a 55 gallon tank, with an under the gravel filter and no living plants or fish in the tank. I only feed him pellet food, I did happen to change brands right before this happened. I was out of town for 3 days, I came home to find tons of clear worms and dark reddish sacks stuck to everything (in the filter too, but not on the turtle), and there were small black flies all over the surface of the water and flying around under the hood. I cleaned everything, let it dry out for 5 days and bought all new rocks. 2 weeks later it's infested again, only there's no reddish sacks and the flies are a little bigger and they are green now (see the links for pics of what I have now) http://tamity.com/hosted/turtle/01.jpg  http://tamity.com/hosted/turtle/02.jpg  http://tamity.com/hosted/turtle/03.jpg  http://tamity.com/hosted/turtle/04.jpg  So, I'm wondering how they got there and how to get rid of them, even if they aren't harmful it's not really ideal having flies in my living room, and did I really get infested with 2 different kind of bugs within 2 weeks?? thanks! -Tammy < Insects and insect larvae are attracted to excess food. The larvae or worms look like stonefly larvae. The flies on the surface appear to be simply whiteflies. Insects are attracted to the light and fall into the water. Aquatic insects like the stonefly larvae are harmless to your turtle and can be controlled with Fluke-Tabs. Check your house plants for the other fly- like creatures and treat with insecticidal soap.-Chuck> 

Filters for a Turtle Tank  9/20/05 What type of filter should I get for my turtles tank?  It is a 10 gallon tank and it has sand and aquarium rocks on the bottom and about 6 to 7 inches of water.  I want to get a really good one to help with the smell.  Do I get one that goes under the gravel or a floating one?  PetSmart recommended the one for under the gravel but I wasn't sure if that would clean it enough.  I just know I am really tired of cleaning her tank and having to replace the water when I change it every other day because it smells so bad. I know nothing about the filters so I am totally lost.  Thanks again, Debbie < The undergravel filter probably would not work because the turtle would expose the filters plates as it plows through the gravel looking for food. Go to your local fish store and get an internal power filter that will actually sit in the water at the bottom of the tank. Get one that will pump at least 15 gallons per hour. It should also have a carbon cartridge or be capable of adding activated carbon to it.-Chuck> New Turtle Tank Stinks  9/17/05 I have so many questions and I hope you guys can help.  My daughter bought a baby yellow belly turtle.  She is a little over quarter size, when will she really start getting an appetite? < At that size your turtle should already be getting an appetite.> I was giving her lettuce, carrots, grapes and watermelon and Krill.  She has eaten a little.  Also, I bought her an aquarium and the water was staying at about 70 so we were told to put this small heater in it but the water had to be at a certain point.  She probably has about 6 inches or so of water.  Is that too much? <Turtles actually like to be in deep water. Try feeding small earthworms and insects to get your turtle to eat.> How do I keep her aquarium clean? < There are numerous filters at the local fish store that will help, but you will need to change the water too.> It smells in her room, is there something that I should be putting in the aquarium to keep the smell away? < The smell is from rotting turtle food. Get a siphon from the fish store and a 5 gallon bucket from the hardware store. Siphon out the big stuff everyday. A filter will help catch the small particles. Activated carbon in the filter will help with the odor in the water.> How often do I have to change the water in there? < You have a little turtle with a little belly. Put a little food in there. If it is not eaten in a half hour then siphon it out and replace the water. Earthworms and mealworms will be a big help.> I really hope you can help me out.  I am totally stuck.  If you can't help can you forward this to someone that can.  I really need the input.  Thank you, Debbie < There is an inexpensive book by ZooMed on Water turtles. I would recommend it.-Chuck>

Turtle Goes to College  9/10/05 Hi, My name is Sara, and I'm going to be moving into a college dorm next month.   It says you are allowed to have a 10 gallon tank, and I was wondering if there was any way I could have a turtle in that tank, without having the heater and the light and all the extra stuff  that takes up too much room. Just a simple set up of a small tank and probably a rock. Please let me know. Sara <To be honest it would not be fair to the turtle to be kept in such a condition. It would soon get sick and you would not have the time or money to take it to a vet.-Chuck>

Outdoor Turtle Enclosure  9/2/05 Hello again, You guys have been a great help to us, from GSP's, Cichlid tanks, to keeping a gold fish tank. ONE MORE...  we have the opportunity to adopt 2 red eared slider turtles... we want to build an outdoor pond, could you please steer me in the right direction  to the proper construction, plants, protection, and feeding needs. We live in North Carolina, hot summers, some freezing, but not deep freezing cold winters. Thank You again  for all your help. You Have a great site.. Mike Berresford <Small turtles under 4 inches should be kept indoors. Larger ones can be kept outdoors in mild climates like yours year round. Go back to the WWM homepage and check out articles on turtles, pond construction and pond maintenance. Turtles are very messy feeders and water quality via filtration or water changes is very important. In general the area should be surrounded by fencing buried at least a foot deep. If you live in a rural are then the pond needs to be protected from predators like raccoons. The pond should be at least 2 feet deep. When the weather gets cold the ponds get less attention because you are spending less time outside , you turtles will probably bury themselves and hibernate.-Chuck>

Baby Red Eared Turtles 8/13/05 Sorry, I tried to find the answers to these but there were way too many entries to look through and no web search would bring them into focus for me. < Thanks for trying.> So, here are my questions: I have 2 red eared sliders that I have had for about a year now ("adopted" them as hatchlings) I have been told that for being as old as they are that they are really small (they were about the size of a half dollar when I got them, are now about 2")...how big should they be after a year? < Depends on temperature and conditions. Somewhere in the two to 4 inch range.> I would also like to confirm that I have adequate lighting so what I am using currently is the Exo-Terra Day Glo 150W (is that too high? < That is fine.> Does that cover the "sunlight" effect as well as the fluorescent lighting?) < That's all you need.> and it is used in the lamp that glows at night to give them the effect of the moon...how long should I leave it on during the day? < I would put it on a timer and set it for 12 hours per day. Set it so you will be home to watch them. I would try 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.> Right now I just have it set to come on shortly after the sun comes up and go off just before it goes down. It is on a timer so it's pretty accurate. Any help on the lighting issue would be greatly appreciated, this just seems to be the one issue I can't get a straight answer on! Thank you for your time!!! Rhea < Sounds like you are doing everything right.-Chuck>

Housing Red Eared Sliders Hi, I asked you if you should put two males or a male and a female together before. One more question, I have never had red eared sliders before, but have cared for 2 of them for about a month. I was wondering if I should adopt just 1 male turtle? ( I wanted male because I don't have the space for a female.) I will either get 1 or 2 but either way I have a 45 gallon tank with fish in it now, but when the turtles get bigger they will have to move to that tank (by then the fish will have died). <I would go with 1 male in the 45, that should last him a little while, you might find new homes for the fish instead of waiting for them to die, most aquarium fish have a long life span.> When I get them they will be in the12 gallon with NO fish. I have read on other sites that beginner turtle owners should get only 1 turtle (and that 1 turtle will not feel lonely in a tank). Is this a good idea? <I'd start with one, it will be easier to keep the tank clean and under control.> My dad said 2 would be better (they can stack on each other on their basking rock and will have a buddy to play with, but is this better for the turtles to be social?) I don't want to have 2 male turtles fighting each other when they are mature. Other web sites do say that 1 turtle will not feel lonely and getting another turtle after a few years can result in the older one picking on its new friend. I am going to get my turtle(s) at once and put them in a tank together when they are hatchings.  Please let me know!!!!     <The social behavior can be fun to watch, but I think starting with one is a better idea.  One turtle will outgrow the 12gal tank in no time, let alone two.> Can I put plastic plants in the aquarium? (I am going to buy a 12 gallon for now, and it will have a UVB fluorescent light, water heater, rocks and wood for land area, and I'm planning to leave the tank with very few plants if any because they will try to eat them.) <Yes, the turtles will tear up the plants, not so much when they are young, but definitely as they get older.  Plastic plants will work ok because you can always replant them.> Second, I was wondering if putting a male and a female together, or two males, I have read on some web sites that males will bite each other or fight over territory. Some web sites say that a male will sometimes harass a female nonstop during mating season and may bite each other. Thank you for your help, I want to know which would be better before adopting them when it's too late. -Sarah> <Hi Sarah, I combined your two emails, hope you don't mind.  I commend your efforts to research these animals before you make a purchase.  If I were to start out with turtles again I would start with at least a 55gal tank, this will give them some room to grow and you will be more cost effective in the long run.  First you buy a 10gal, then a 20gal, then a 29 gal, then a 55gal, then a 125gal, believe me, that's the way it works in this hobby.  Start with one turtle, it will be more manageable, you will not have to worry about aggression, and it will be a lot less messy as it gets older.  Best Regards, Gage>

Red Eared Slider Housing Hey Gage, thanks for the help. My RES's turtles are finally eating some Repto-Treat Shrimp that I just got for them. I haven't tried the turtle sticks that came with the turtles and hopefully when I try and feed them later on that they will accept it; however, I have one last question. <Good to hear, I fed the Reptomin floating turtle sticks as a staple with worms and crickets and all the other goodies mixed in as treats.> How big is my tank suppose to be? I've heard people say that the length of your turtle times 10 gallons. What the freak! 10 gallons. The one I currently have, I think, is big enough. Its only 3 gallons big [I think. The dimensions are 31.5x18x20cm] and the turtles seem to enjoy it very much. I just want to make sure that the current space to adequate for my turtles John <Oh no my friend, 3 gallons is no good, must be larger, much larger.  These fellas are going to grow, and fairly quickly, up to 12in.  In the long run you are looking at between 80gal and 180gal, or even an outdoor pond depending upon your climate.  The link below is to an article I wrote one morning while drinking too much coffee, give it a read, hopefully it will give you a little more info on what you are getting into. -Gage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/redearsliders.htm  >

Sliders  Thanks for the help! I have just bought my 29gallon tank and have an aerating decoration for the guppies and a basking rock for the turtles. My Eheim filter should be ready in about a week ( I am waiting for the parts to be shipped), so I will be ready for the turtles soon.  <A very nice setup for starters, but they will need a bigger tank in no time at all.>  How long should I run the filter before putting in the turtles?  <eh, I might go about a week or three, no matter what the turtles are going to foul up your water quick, fast, and in a hurry. Water change is going to be your middle name.>  I am going to adopt 2 hatchlings but I don't know if Arts of Nature is a good place to get them. Do you know of any other places I could get them from that is reliable and somewhat inexpensive? Thanks for your time I really appreciate it. Please let me know!  <If you can adopt that is great, you might search the Internet to see if you can find a club or some breeders in your area. Honestly, any local pet shop that has them will probably be your best bet as far as price is concerned. Best Regards, Gage>  -Sarah

Who..? For what? Thanks anyway? >Ok, the lights have been ordered and will be here probably on Monday, the 17th. >>Great, I love getting stuff in the mail or delivered! Where shall I put them? >Thanks a lot for all your help! >>Umm.. ok. I can't help but wonder who you're actually addressing, though. >I'm ordering two Ornate RES from TurtlePimp.com, and they should be here on Tuesday or Wednesday, so everything looks great! >>A pimp of turtles? You must be raising turtles, yes? From that.. alright, now, I'm just guessing here, but I think Gage may have helped you. He's out, been out for a little while and I don't know when he's going to be back. If it was someone else who helped you, let us know, or next time it's actually better to keep the body of query and response from us in the message. >I really appreciate your advice, thanks for your time. Sarah >>Whoever helped you I'm sure would tell you you're welcome, and.. good luck, something like that. In any event, I hope all works well. Marina

Red Eared Slider Aggression <Hi, MikeD here> I have three red eared slider turtles and noticed that the two of them have been showing what I think are signs of aggression.  They take both of their front feet and vibrate them in front of their face while at the same time, aim for one another.  A friend of mine was wondering if this was a sign of courtship?<It sure is! Males have very long claws/toenails on the front feet and they "flirt" with females by placing their paws in front of their face and doing just exactly what you are describing.  Males MAY do this as a sort of "hand jive" with other males as a stylized form of a dance in lieu of real and possibly fatal attacks. You might also want to consider giving the female access to some dry ground for egg laying, where they dig a pit similar to those excavated by their larger, more famous marine relatives!> Thanks! <You're welcome> Slider Fanatic

Red Eared Slider Turtles <Hi, MikeD here> First of all, thanks for the speedy reply!<You're welcome>  If it is a female and male and they are courting one another, than what do I do if I do not have a space for them so that she can lay her eggs?<That's a tough question that only you can answer. If she HAS to she may lay them on the rocks or even in the water, but there's an equal chance that she'll retain them and become egg-bound, which can be fatal. My solution, of course, is to get a larger container where you can build a dry land section to the terrarium>  They are all in a 20 long tank with about eight inches of water with about 10 inches of rocks piled up so that they can get out of the water and "bask" in the heat lamp.<Nowhere near large enough. They will grow to about 10"-12" long each>  Also, one of the sliders got out of the tank and fell to the floor!<Might I suggest a screen top as well?>  It's shell is cracked a little bit but its been eating and swimming fine.  Someone had recommended to put baby oil on the shell to promote growth.<I'd use a good antibiotic ointment for a day or so, then superglue along the crack, depending on the size of course>  The other two have been digging in the rocks quite a bit.<They'll likely injure themselves soon if you don't fix this situation as well>  I don't know if they are looking for a place to build their nest, but I don't know what I will do if I have turtle eggs!<I'd be more concerned with your turtles surviving than about any eggs, which certainly won't. They can be hatched and the babies raised quite easily, but not without a well designed enclosure, which you do not have. My honest suggestion is to do some reading and consider building a terrarium for your charges where they can be healthy and you will then truly enjoy them> Thanks! Slider Fanatic

I'm Looking to getting a RES Hello! <Hi, MikeD here>      Thanks for taking the time to actually read this. I have been searching online for quite a while researching Red-Eared Sliders. I have a 50gal. tank already.<that could work for several years> I'm figuring that I could possibly have 3 in there, however they can grow up to 12 inches.. so should I just get the one?<they get along well together and are easily sexed at an early age, and bred in captivity so that would have to fall into the individual choice category> Could I have two?<Sure> I'm still a little shaky on this. Also what kind of rocks should I use?<Any, as  along as they can get completely out of the water.> Does it matter if the water is 2ft. deep now, or should I make it smaller and get bigger when it grows?<I'd go shallower initially, then deepen it as they grow.> How much dry land should they have until they reach the water?<They need to be able to get completely out of the water to bask and a good daylight bulb for same  is almost essential.> What should I use for a spot for them to come out?<A landscaped dry land area, flat rock or even a piece of driftwood all work well. If you're planning on breeding them, the female will need a dry land area upon which to lay her eggs. The male have extremely long front fingernails which they wave in the female's faces while underwater and actually NEED to be fed in the water> I have read so much info and yet none of this has been answered for me.. So Like I said I have a 50gal. tank, what can you tell me about how I should go about this?<It depends largely on the size when you get them. As adults they are often kept in kiddy wading pools with an island set in the middle and again, with a basking area MANDATORY! Like most reptiles, FOOD CAN'T BE DIGESTED BELOW 70 degrees F. They occur wild down here and are often seen basking on the banks of ponds, lakes and rivers or on logs rising out of the water.  Meaty foods work best and be careful of many prepared turtle foods, such as dried insects (no food value), krill (contains salt that they can't excrete) and Spirulina sticks (good for BMs, but they need meat as they are scavenger/predators> ANYTHING Would be greatly appreciated.<Hope this helps a little> If  I have anymore questions I will email you. THANK YOU SO MUCH!! ~RES Newbie

Red Eared Sliders (continued) <Hi, MikeD here again> Thanks Mike! For all of your help!<You're very welcome> I did have another question... If I only had one RES Could a 50gal work for it's entire life?<Here I'm almost inclined to say no as these get to a fair size, sometimes dinner plate or larger> How would I set up the kiddy pool inside away from animals?<Animals, as in dogs or cats? Sometimes there's no need to be away from them. that shell is pretty tough and cats aren't likely to get wet to begin with. Most dogs simply ignore them.> Thanks for your help!<You're very welcome> ~RES Newbie

Red Eared Sliders (continued) <Hi, MikeD here again> Thanks Mike! For all of your help!<You're very welcome> I did have another question... If I only had one RES Could a 50gal work for it's entire life?<Here I'm almost inclined to say no as these get to a fair size, sometimes dinner plate or larger> How would I set up the kiddy pool inside away from animals?<Animals, as in dogs or cats? Sometimes there's no need to be away from them. that shell is pretty tough and cats aren't likely to get wet to begin with. Most dogs simply ignore them.> Thanks for your help!<You're very welcome> ~RES Newbie

Red Ear Sliders I have had two red ear sliders for about 6 months. They were about quarter size when I first got them. They seem to being doing well. I am getting ready to purchase a 90 gallon tank for them. I don't know what kind or equipment I should get for them,( i.e. filter, lighting, heaters) I currently have a basking light and a UV light in a 20 gallon tank. I have been doing a lot of reading but can seem to find any answers. Can you help? Thanks a bunch Joni >>>Greetings Joni, Good on ya for taking the time to learn about your charges! These animals need a warm basking spot which can be provided with a heat lamp. This basking area should be in the high 80's to low 90's. Water temps should be maintained with an aquarium heater in the mid 70's. The ambient air temperature of the enclosure should remain in the low 80's or so. They require UVB exposure, so keep this in mind when shopping for lights. Now personally, I don't believe these UVB bulbs on the market are worth the cardboard they're packaged in. My reptiles ALWAYS get natural sunlight when possible. I would create an outdoor area, or small enclosure for them to allow them bask during warmer weather. Having said that, you can use a commercial UVB bulb in the interim. The main heat in the enclosure can be provided with a ceramic heat element, which may only come on rarely (hooked to a thermostat) when the basking light is on during the day. At night, the heater will kick on more often. Thermostats can be purchased at most better pet stores.   Use 1 or 2 Aquaclear power filters on that tank to filter the water. You need filters that provide a rapid turnover, and are easy to clean. Canister filters are appropriate as well. Does all that make sense? Please feel free to drop me a line back if you need clarification. Remember, ambient air temps are what the enclosure is generally kept at. The basking spot is hotter, and the animals should be able to move around within that spot to thermoregulate. Water temp is separate as well, and maintained with an aquarium heater. Good luck Jim<<<

Red Ear Sliders Thanks for the quick reply. But I need help again. I am making progress, My husband and I made a stand for the aquarium  (took us 3 weekends). It is really heavy, we are waiting for some friends to help us move it from the garage to inside the house. I bought a Fluval 404 and an Jager 250 watt heater.  But now I am looking for some type of material to put on top of the tank. I can't find a screen made for my size tank. Any suggestions? >>>Hello again, These critters can't climb the glass, and they don't jump. Just leave an 8" or so gap between the top of the water, or basking area and the top of the tank. Aside from that, screen tops are easy enough to construct from wood and screen material. You can have Plexi or glass cut as well. Keep in mind you need some air flow in there. Cheers Jim<<<

A question about my turtles! Hi! I got two little red eared sliders for Christmas and I love them so much.  I got them a nice 10 gallon tank (they are only about the size of a  silver dollar each so this should be good for now) with all the right  necessities.   I do however, want to know how fast they will grow.  The  little birth certificate that came with them says they were born last  spring.  They are only about and inch across each.  When will they  outgrow their 10 gallon?  are they hearty? will they live?  thank you  please email me back. Bobbie < Your little turtles will live for many, many years with proper care. You need to have an area were they can get out of the water and bask under a warm light. They will do well on pellet food especially made for water turtles. Occasional earthworms or mealworms will be greatly appreciated. They are messy eaters so keeping the water clean will be a challenge. Nest year they will be about three inches long and need to be in something bigger. Go to ZooMed.com for all kinds of products for your turtles. Make sure that you wash your hands very thoroughly after handling your turtles so you don't get sick.-Chuck>

My Red Eared Sliders Hi, I bought two RES for my son for Christmas one of them is doing fine and seems to be growing normally. The other my favorite is not growing he is still the same size as he was when I got him and today I noticed that he seems to be off balance he keeps flipping backwards and swimming in circles I have looked him over for injuries and have found none, his eyes look fine the only thing I have done different is I got them some krill said it was high protein. If you could give some advice I would appreciate it. I know of no reptile vets in my area. Thanks Sandra < You don't want to give them a diet too high in protein or else they grow faster than their shell. This leads to a distorted shell that never really looks the same. I would isolate the smaller turtle into his own tank. Makes sure. If he still has a good appetite then I would give him some live food such as mealworms, earthworms and crickets. Make sure to give him a warm dry area to bask. A heat lamp with a full spectrum bulb is recommended. Usually high heat will take care of most of the parasites that affect turtles. Make sure to keep up on the maintenance and keep their tank clean.-Chuck>

Moving our red ear slider turtles.... We currently live in Colorado and will be moving to Florida in a few months. The trip will be 1900+ miles. My son has had red ear slider turtles for the past 11 years. He has two loved sliders (one male and one female) that we are hoping to make the move to Florida. We are hoping to move them if it won't be too difficult for them or kill them. I have several questions I'm hoping you can help answer.  First, although we don't want to find a new home for our turtles, we are wondering if it will be too hard on the turtles to move? Would it be less selfish of us to find the turtles a good home here in Colorado rather than moving them? < Keep the turtle. Moving them is no problem.> If you think we can successfully move them 1900+ miles successfully, can you please give us any ideas on how to best go about moving them such a long distance? < Take the turtle out of the tank and place them in a large covered insulated dry box. A store fish box would be fine. Once or twice a day take them out and soak them for a few minutes in a dish of water so they can re-hydrate themselves. Don't let them get too hot or too cold along the way. feed them a couple worms along the way every day to tide them over until they can get set up in their new home.> We haven't thought of a way to keep a filter system running for the long distance so I'm wondering if we can change the water every evening when we stop traveling for the day? < Don't worry about keeping them in an aquarium until you're in Florida.> Along this line, will the difference in tap water create any problems for the turtles along the trip? If the water can create a problem, is there an additive we can add to the water to solve the problem? < Turtles really don't care about the chemistry of the water as long as it is clean.> I've heard that many pets get completely stressed to travel and adjust to a new environment. If it seems to be okay to move the turtles, can you give us any ideas on how to reduce their stress? < Keep them dark and cool to reduce their metabolic rate along the way.> Any other tips you have would be greatly appreciated. < I think your turtles will really like Florida.-Chuck> Thank you for your help.  Adrienne 

Red- eared Slider, Changing Habitat Hello, I have a few questions that I have not seen answered here and have found very little info elsewhere. I have a 5 year old Red eared slider that I found as a hatchling and am building him a new habitat since he is outgrowing his current one. Let me start off with saying that he is very healthy and active in his current environment even though it is sub par--and that is why I am concerned about putting him in his new habitat. Currently he lives in a 20 gal tank with only florescent lighting and a rock to crawl out of the water. The water is not heated and is usually 65-70 degrees and was only filtered by a BioWheel. I know this is several degrees under what is suggested but he seems fine and has a voracious appetite. His tank was next to (not in front of) a window and even though he could easily climb out of the water onto his rock he rarely spends more than 20-30 minutes at a time basking. He has never had any signs of illness other than occasional dead skin clinging to him. With his current setup I am going with a 55 gallon tank, UV-A, UV-B and a basking light, water heater, canister filter and will provide a larger land area then what he currently has. I am currently cycling the tank with several goldfish that I will leave in for him to eat and expect to do 25 percent water changes every week and complete changes about every 2-3 months but will adjust the frequency if things get too bad. My concern is that since he has adapted to his current environment pretty well over the years, would putting him in the new environment put too much stress on him or should I not worry about it? < Don't worry about him, he will be fine.> If you think this would stress him too much how would you suggest that I acclimatize him. As it is I plan on setting the thermostat to about 70 degrees and raise it a degree or so a week until about 75 degrees but what about the ambient temp in the tank? < Don't worry about the water temp. You room temp should be around 65 degrees in the winter. You can set the water temp for 70 and leave it there if you like.> Should I slowly adjust this as well? < Not needed. They come from areas where the water temp changes all the time.> I have also found very little info about proper water pH and what I have found is contradictory. My tap water runs about 8.4 but with a cinderblock in his tank for support of his basking area it raises it a little bit. The carbonate hardness of the local water makes it extremely hard to lower the pH unless I constantly monitor it and add chemicals almost daily--any suggestions for this or is the pH fine since he has already adapted to it? < Don't worry about the pH. The additional calcium leached out by the cinder block will benefit the turtle.> One last question, about two weeks ago I noticed a small yellowish/white spot smaller than the size of a match head on his carapace. The spot is not symmetrical and is not a fungus. At first I just thought it was a scratch but after reading several sites on proper care and seeing how bad I have been treating him, I am concerned. Could this be from a scratch or is it most likely from the years of inadequate lighting and heat? < It could be the start of a bacterial infection. Adequate basking under a heat lamp should take care of it.> He doesn't suffer from soft shell and I do not believe he has a vitamin deficiency because we feed him a varied diet of vegetable, protein and store bought turtle food and keep a calcium block in his tank. I have called several vets in the area but none of them really seem interested in seeing a turtle and would probably be a waste of time. I have looked on several sites and read up on several diseases and checked out the photos but nothing seemed to match. Are there any signs you would suggest to keep an eye out for as in changes or discoloration? Anyways, thank you very much for your time and any comments/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Regards, Robert Bernier < Watch for it if it starts getting bigger . A sulfa block in the water would be beneficial during the transition.-Chuck> 

Freshwater Filter Selection, 5/27/05 I have two small red-eared sliders (3 - 3 1/2 in long) in a 10 gallon tank. I will be moving them to a 30 gallon long sometime in the next few days. Currently I have a Whisper in-tank filter, and I was thinking I could just get a bigger version of the same filter for the new tank, but apparently (from what I've read) in-tank filters don't really cut it in aquariums that big. My tank doesn't have any holes in it, either to let a filter hang down lower on the edge, or to come up through the floor of the tank. What are my options without having to find a way to cut a hole in the tank? <Hi Rebekah, Ryan with you today. There are plenty of filter options that will work for you here- Your best non-drilling option is a sump wet/dry filter with what's called an OVERFLOW. This uses suction to take water from the aquarium over the edge, rather than through a drilled hole. Hang on filters are capable of filtering a 30 gallon tank, however. I'd go with a large hang-on style power filter if all this seems a little overboard. Good luck, Ryan> 

Red Eared Slider Setup 7.24.05 I have read the questions posted on your site and did not specifically see these.   If I missed them, I apologize. My daughter received a red eared slider for her birthday (her idea; she researched it first).  It is in a 40 breeder tank with a heater, filter, and a reptile light that gives off both UVA and UVB light.  She cleans the tank regularly.  Since we have had the slider, it eats well, defecates regularly, and is an active swimmer.  We have never seen it climb onto the basking rock.  It remains in the water all the time.  Is that okay?  Should it want to get out to the water daily? Additionally, it seems to have eaten the Dr. Turtle block that came in the starter kit. Since then, it seems to defecate a lot.  Could the turtle get diarrhea?  We removed the block.  Please advise. <Sounds like a great setup, I am not sure the ingredients in the Dr. Turtle block but I think removing it was a good idea.  The diarrhea should pass.  I recall having the same problem when I added one of these turtle blocks.  If the water is warm the turtle does not feel the need to leave the water to bask, you might try turning down the heater in the water if you have one to see if this encourages the turtle to bask.  Otherwise you can take him out from time to time to walk around outside, the sunlight is good for him and drying out helps to prevent shell fungus and rot and similar nasties.  Best Regards, Gage>  

Slider Care Continued 7.24.05 Thanks for replying. Yes, the water is deep enough so that the water covers his back. About 3 quarters of a inch above his back. So do you think that the temperature of the water in the day time(76-78F) is a good temp. for a young slider turtle? What about the night time temp. (about 72F). I have to turn the lamp off, so the temp. goes way down. Is that too low of a temp. to keep the tank at? <72 is hitting the lower end of the scale, when winter time rolls around this could definitely become a problem, I would add a small aquarium heater to keep the tank around 75-78.> I feed him Reptomin Baby pellets. He gets sun-dried shrimp 3 times a week, the Reptotreat brand (b/c it's too fatty to feed everyday.) I just started to feed him gold fish flakes (like 2) once a week. I noticed that on his plastron, he has pale pink lines (like where the shell seems to join in the middle). When I lightly touch it, it turns white for like a second and then it turns back to pink again. It's kind of like when you have a sunburn and touch your skin. I'm thinking it is because he's growing too fast. When I first got him, I fed him about 15 pellets 2 times a day. I know that was way too much now, so he only eats 7 pellets 2 times a day. I heard goldfish food was okay for turtles as a treat, am I right? <I have not heard that, I doubt it will hurt him, I like to stick to turtle food.> So you think in about another year, I'll have to invest in a 20 gallon tank? <I say the sooner the better for a few reasons, you will have improved water quality with a larger body of water, the temperature will be more stable, a warmer side and cooler side of a tank allows reptiles to thermo regulate as needed, more room to swim and exercise, and you can provide places for him to hide.  In a year I think he will definitely have outgrown his current tank.> Is it okay to feed him a blueberry once in a while? <Blueberries should be fine, you might also mix in some salad greens and freeze dried crickets from time to time.> He seems to enjoy munching on it throughout the day. Thanks for your help. Please respond ASAP. Thanks again! Is it too early of an age for him to be showing mating behaviors? Like wiggling his toes and puffing out his neck? I put a stuffed animal by the cage and he showed lots of interest in it. <He might be a little young yet, off the top of my head I cannot recall what age they become sexually mature.  Best Regards, Gage>

Ammonia Problems in a Turtle Tank 7/16/05 I have a yellow belly slider. We have had it for about 1 1/2 years. About six weeks ago we cleaned the filters and the water all in one day. since then  we have had trouble with the water. It has too much ammonia. We are doing 10% water changes daily. We have 2 canister filters in a 90 gallon tank. I also have put some Zeolite granules in the filter that I have been changing weekly. The water is mucky and a dirty brown. The water did have a smell to it but that is gone. We tested the water and it just shows that it has to much ammonia. Today I notice the area around the turtles mouth was yellow and his shell looked a little yellow. Any suggestions? < When you cleaned everything you removed the good bacteria that breaks down the waste from ammonia to nitrites and then nitrates. The ammonia is the worst. It gives off the smell and odor. Bio-Spira from Marineland will put it all back together in no time at all. To prevent this in the future I would recommend a 50% weekly water change and change each one of the filters every month two weeks apart. So clean one filter on the first of the month and the other on the 15th. Try this and see how it works out.-Chuck>

Aquatic Turtle Housing 7.21.05 I have a baby yellow-bellied slider turtle. I was just hoping that you'd be able to tell me if my turtle's tank setup is adequate. Well, his shell is about 2 1/2 inches long. I've had him since late last July. He has a 10 gallon tank. I've been told that that size tank is good for a baby turtle. <Yes> When should I consider buying him a larger tank and how many gallons? <The sooner the better, a nice size for another  year or so would be a 20gallon long, they make them for turtles with a cutaway on the side to hang a filter on, not the biggest tank, but a good option for a while.> I bought a Whisper 10i filter.  Will I have to get a larger one when I get a larger tank? <Probably, as your turtle grows it will get messier.> I bought aquarium pebbles for the bottom of the tank and for the land area. I put a brick inside the tank and piled rocks up on it so it would be easier for him to climb up on and bask. <Good, make sure it is under the light bulb.> The size of the land area is 3 in. by 7 in. Is that a big enough area for him to bask? <So long as he can fit on it comfortably without falling off.> The rest of the tank is filled with water. He has no hiding places. When he gets frightened he tends to hide by the filter and face the other side of the tank. So I figure he doesn't need any hiding places such as plants, because I'm afraid they would take up too much of his swimming room. <I would not do live plants, maybe some fake ones.  You could also build a cave type of thing with bricks, rock, slate, etc.  I've found animals that have places to retreat when they are scared are much better off.> The basking bulb is 50watts and it's the ZooMed brand. <You might also look into getting some full spectrum lighting.> The air temp in the tank is 75 degrees and the water temp is 77 degrees. Should the temps be higher or lower or are they fine the way they are? <That is within the correct range, no need to adjust it.> I turn the lamp on about 10am and turn it off about 11pm. <That is a long day, I might cut the light cycle down by an hour or 2, but its up to you.> I change the filter cartridge and clean the tank once a month. <Good, this may need to be changed more often as the turtle gets larger.> Everyday the water depth seems to go down, so I add more water. <Evaporation.> I have well water, so I don't treat the water, because it doesn't have chlorine or any type of chemicals in it. I'm so sorry about all of the questions, but I just want my turtle to have a long and healthy life. I included a picture of a turtle that looks like mine. <Sounds good, I would eventually look into getting the turtle into a 55gallon tank, but for now a 20gallon long would be good.  BTW, you did not mention what he eats?  Turtle pellets are good, the occasional treat of earth worms is always good.  Best Regards, Gage  In case we left anything out heres a link to an aquatic turtle article http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/redearsliders.htm>

Turtle in too Deep 7/20/05 Hi again, I'm so sorry to bug you again, but I forgot to ask you another question. I was just wondering if the depth of my turtles tank is too deep or too shallow. He's about 2 1/2 inches long an 2 1/2 inches wide. He's probably about 1 year old. I found him in an in ground pool. Well anyway, The depth of the water is 2 inches. There's a slope that leads up from the water onto the land, so he has like a shallow end and a deep end to swim. Is that fine, or should I make the water deeper or shallower?  Also, I'm not exactly sure if my turtle is a male or female. I'm thinking it's a male because, it's tale is quite long and kind of wide. Its front claws are pretty long also. So please, answer my questions as soon as you can. Thank you so much! Sincerely, Tiffany < I like to make sure that the water covers the turtles back by at least a couple inches of water so it doesn't dry out too much. Longer front claws and a long tail would indicate that you turtle is a male.-Chuck>

Help??? With Turtle System I came across you email address on the WetWebMedia information page. I don't know if you can help me or not, but I figure its worth a try??? <Yes> we've had 2 painted turtles and a snail in a tank for about 3 yrs now. a few months ago I noticed what appeared to be pieces of white lint. eventually the lint grew to the length of 1/4-3/8" and greatly increased in number. I've completely stripped down the tank and cleaned it a couple of times now. the lint seems to be gone, but later that same day, or the next they are back. the boy from the pet store said it was anchor worms, but from what I've seen on the internet, they are not the same thing.  <Not Anchor Worms (Lernaeid crustaceans) assuredly> I looked today with a magnifying glass and what I figure to be an egg sack, looks like a pearl. does this ring any bells? do you know what it is? how I got it? how to get rid of it? something else, maybe of no importance, but who knows?  <Don't know what this is... likely just an algae growth of some sort. I would try using Jungle (Brand) Pond Blocks (at the rate of one per ten gallons first... At most would lightly chlorine bleach the system, vacuum/siphon, rinse all contents... including the turtles but not the snail... Fill tank to highest mark, place about one ounce of bleach (laundry strength) per twenty gallons, leave five minutes, dump, rinse, re-fill, dump, rinse, re-fill.> we have ring neck doves and a couple of times they've messed in the tank. I clean it out as soon as I notice it. another thing is that I have had some seashells from the ocean, I've had in storage for years, that I put in the tank some time back. could that be what's going on? sorry to be so long winded. please advise. thank you. <The shells might be contributing to the re-occurrence, growth... but not likely a problem. The turtles will tend to make the water, system more acidic and the shells by "melting" aid in keeping pH about right. Bob Fenner>

Turtles Friends at Wet Web Media, <Howdy Gage> I just got my new turtle tank up and running about 10 min. ago and I needed to share my excitement with someone. I noticed your sites section on turtles was a little slim. Understandably so considering they are not fish. My new tank: <Actually... some of us are BIG chelonian fans... not to mislead anyone, we just haven't gotten about to any real coverage of this one of four living orders of reptiles (along with a few thousand other topics, make that tens of thousands...) just yet> 125gal (wish I could afford to make it a reef) Filstar XP3 [350ghp] Full spectrum lighting [not set up yet] some Plexi glass, some silicone, and a heater The stand is a classic design; 6 cinder blocks and a piece of plywood covered with a sheet (shh don't tell my mother). I did not have time to make a swanky webpage, but you can find some pics here: http://mexicanmusk.com/turttank/ the 10gal above houses my Mantis "Bug" http://mexicanmusk.com/bug.jpg <Nice> I was wondering... Once my site is up and finished and looking sassy with my 125gal turt tank, 55gal freshwater tank, 100gal pond, 29gal reef (which may soon be converted into a 50gal reef with a 29gal sump and a 20gal refugium [more reading to do :-)] and of course my red footed tortoise; what would I need to do to make it onto your links page? <Just send us the URL and a short description my friend... and any "write ups" you'd like presented to the public. Bob Fenner> Best Regards, Gage

Turtle Enclosure. Dear WWM Crew, I'm hoping that you could help me with some information on Eastern Painted Turtles and a suitable enclosure for them. I understand that this site is for fish related topics, but the categories are more diverse here and I'm sure that you could point me in the right direction. <I am sure we can be of assistance. I actually have two Yellow Bellied Sliders (pretty similar) that are native to Florida. They summer out in my 1500 gallon pond, but I have to bring them indoors once the water temperature hits 60*F. They are stinky if you do not clean their tank often and filter it hard.> I own an aquarium maintenance business in Southern N.H. <I own one in Pittsburgh, PA.> and usually deal with fish. <Me too!> I got a call from a construction company that is remodeling a Veterinary hospital that had over the course of the summer, somehow obtained some Painted Turtles that they rehabilitated. I'm not yet sure what was wrong with the animals. <Probably shell rot from poor captive care conditions.> Currently the Turtles are being kept in a small aquarium awaiting a new home. The Animal Hospital would like to make a large display tank for the Turtles as a focal point for the waiting room area. <Sounds like potential for a lovely indoor pond display.> I am not very familiar with Turtles and would like to learn more about the specific needs of these animals beyond the "Warm water, heat lamp, rock to climb on." basics that I've been able to find. From the limited information that I have found, it's apparent to me that a short and wide enclosure is more desirable and that to feed them properly is a water quality nightmare. <Yes, I just upgraded my 75 gallon turtle tank to a trickle filter.> I was thinking of a short hex shape with about a third of the area built into a land mass. <Mine rarely get out of the water except to "sun", either artificial or real. I use a small driftwood island in the pond and a piece of driftwood tied in place with plastic cable ties indoors.> What recommendations might you have in regards to a land to water ratio and Turtle "Furniture" I've also read that they do cut themselves easily and that sharp objects are not suitable. <I have not had any troubles with driftwood, but would also strongly consider the indoor pond idea with a small area for them to climb out of the water but not out of the enclosure.> Lighting seems to be a very important issue as well, would Metal Halide pendants be too much? <Probably more than they need but they would appreciate it. I would go for 6,500 K Iwasaki's, a 150 watt lamp. Otherwise, ceramic heat lamps with fluorescent lamps for vitamin production.> Would they not be of the right quality of light? <The full spectrum lights more geared towards live plants would be ok.> What type of lighting would you recommend, I would really like to recreate the environment as perfectly as I can. <Either of the above options.> From my reading I can't see any real consistency with the way "Turtle People" keep their water quality. <Massive and regular water changes> Is pH and water hardness a concern for Turtles? <I never measure either.> I assume that the same rules would apply for biological filtration. <Massive> And what is a suitable water temperature. to keep the Turtles from hibernating? <Room temperature should be more than adequate with the lighting for additional heat.> Do you recommend chemical filtration? <Activated carbon would help reduce odors.> Many of the articles that I've read mentioned that no substrate is best for the water portion of the enclosure, but I don't think that the client will go for that, is there any preferable substrate for Turtles? <They will dig and generally make a mess of any gravel you put in their. Strongly consider those black, hard plastic ponds. You should get a good deal on them this late in the season. Two would be great. One for them to swim in which drains down to a trickle filter, which then pumps up to the second smaller pond run as a bog filter, which lastly flows back to the turtle pond. Now that I think about the MH's would be best for the indoor pond and bog filter idea.> And, of course, I have to ask (as I'm sure the client will ask me) if there are any suitable tank-mates to keep with Turtles maintenance critters and/or display animals? <They will try to eat most other things. You maybe able to house a gold fish or two depending on the size of the turtles, size of the goldfish, and size of the enclosure.> Lastly, what type of skimmer do you recommend for this tank? Just kidding, been a long night of research! Although, I would be interested in any suggested reading. <Take a look at Bob's article here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdturtles+.htm the linked FAQ file and the bibliography at the bottom.> Thank you very much for your time and I appreciate your letting me bombard you with all of these questions, that is if you're still reading after all that! Again, thank you very much for your time. Sincerely, Michael P. Gillespie <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Thanks! (Turtle enclosure) Dear WWM Crew, I just wanted to say thank you for the help with the Turtle Enclosure! Seems to me like if it can be kept in an aquarium, you can find answers. We ended up going with a 5'x3' acrylic with a sectioned off dry section for the design, 2 metal halide pendants, and 2 sumps. Actually, one of the sumps will be a planted tank that will drain into the main sump. So I do have some more questions. I understand from your reply that Turtles will produce a lot of waste material, so we though that incorporating a planted tank would help to maintain water quality more consistently. <Yes, good nutrient export.> We will have room for a 20H with a power compact fixture. Is it possible to, in effect, make a sort of "Freshwater Refugium" out of this tank? <More so a plant scrubber than a refugium, but similar designs.> If so what type of plants can be used to consume waste efficiently and possibly what plants could be used to feed the turtles as they are cropped from time to time? <My turtles have eaten many of the pond type floating and bunch plants. You will have to experiment with what will grow under your conditions. Fast growth and nutrient uptake should be your priorities.> Are there any critters that can be maintained in this planted tank to benefit the system or also be used to feed with such as Crayfish? <The freshwater shrimp have some benefits when keeping plants.> Do you have any recommendations for a substrate for this plant tank? <I would use plain gravel for any bog type plants, excess nutrients will abound. Floating plants may work also.> And lastly, are there any of the above mentioned that should be avoided? <Nothing that comes to mind.> Thank you again for all of your help. M.P.Gillespie. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro> Turtle and fish Question Hello there Lovely site, easy to use and actually helpful and accurate, I just wanted to add some of my experiences and a question or two (smile). I have owned turtles since the 1980's, at the moment I own a 17yr old and 1yr old RES <Red Eared Slider> and a 1yr old snapping turtle (common), all housed separately and if there is one thing I have found is that each turtle, even same species, in same tank, develop very different personalities, likes and dislikes. Both of my RES are as opposite as night and day. I found that by giving my turtle his basic needs, for a week or two, while he adapted, allowed me to watch and learn, and set up a better, more personally suited tank. My 17yr old, likes to eat gravel and anything else that fits in his mouth, so he gets sand and large rocks (had I not watched and learned, it could have been disastrous) <Very common, usually most small rocks will pass, but who wants to take the risk, my turtles do not get gravel for that very reason, not to mention cleaning Ugh.> He is presently housed in a 90gallon open, sandy bottom tank, with some (hardy) submerged (oxygenating) plants, and some very hardy fish (they're my question). The oldest turtle also likes to keep one goldfish, after a "feeding frenzy", so it fattens up I think (smile), he also loves grapes, apples and cucumber. My other RES, prefers dying fish only (and I swear expensive ones), and won't touch a grape or apple. The older one is very outgoing and the other is very quiet, leave me be attitude, yet both are relatively docile. I've never performed a manicure on my boys (all 3 are males), I found rocks seem to keep it under control. My snapper is nothing like what you read about and eats like a bird <eats like a bird, or likes eating birds?> , but is fat and healthy and active. Even though they are only "turtles", they have very distinct personalities and attitudes, if he/she is a cankerous turtle at a young age, it always will be, they do not sweeten with age. <Do they splash in the morning to wake you up to feed them?> Turtles grow no matter what size tank you put them in, My 1yr old RES and Snapper are housed in a 35 gallon (tall) and a 40gallon (long wide), with lots of filtration, plants and driftwood. I personally would not dream of starting a turtle in anything less than a 30gallon. RES are active swimmers and the ones I have owned do more swimming than basking. On the topic of plants and turtles, they really do not mix well, so put your wallet away and walk away from the $25.00 plant (smile). The only plants I have any success with are the hardy submerged plants, like Hornwort, Anacharis, Java Moss, and Elodea. Don't expect them to stay planted (if you do plant them). They do just as well, just free floating around the tank. Another good plant (although only seasonal (I'm in Canada here :D> and needs lots of light) is the water hyacinth and water lettuce (which help remove harmful nutrients from the water - nitrates or nitrites), they are floating plants, usually found in places with ponds, some local nurseries etc.... Anyways that is some of my experiences, just please research before buying a turtle, and not only online, go get a book, talk to other turtle owners and have fun (smile). My first question is I feed my turtles (and a small mouth bass I have, as well as the unidentified fish) Rosy Reds and Feeder goldfish, I always inspect or look at closely, each fish, before putting it in the tanks (if it looks bad, it goes into quarantine), Anyway, one of my Rosy Reds that I brought home 3 weeks ago (the Rosy Red is actually grey and black) has developed, I'd say in about the course of three days, a tumor on its back, near the head, just off to one side has developed. The fish seems unaffected, no other fish have it (has isolated already), upon closer inspection of it, it is rock hard (like sticking your tongue in your cheek, hard but skin moves), its the size of a pinhead. What in the world is this? There's no puss, no squishy stuff, no fungus looking attachments. <It is hard to tell without seeing it, if you can get a picture feel free to send it along.  It sounds like maybe a parasite or tumor, but regardless, I think this is the least of the fishes worries considering where he is going to end up.> Question 2 - I have researched and researched and questioned people, but no one seems to know what my fish are, the ones housed with the older RES. Someone once told me they were (go by sound, not spelling) Coreyopsis or Koryopses, no common name, when you type this into a search engine and alt spellings, mostly you get info about a plant. They are light golden colour, mouth brooders (my largest almost 9" had what looked like Styrofoam balls in her mouth and then nothing, I was told they were eggs and she was protecting them) When in dark, or aggravated they get dark stripes like a tiger, and one going across, they also have a dark dot on end tip of gill?? Do you know what these are? I could email you a few pics of them, just let me know. <Pics would be excellent, or we could talk about Coreopsis tinctoria "A hardy, upright annual, native to the southern United States"> Thanks, enjoy your pets, and sorry for being so long winded (smile) <A fellow Chelonian lover, please write as often as you like.  Sorry I could not answer your questions more specifically, but get us some pics and we will get to the bottom of this.  Thank you for sharing your experiences with us, our turtle page could use few more FAQs.  I agree with you wholeheartedly, turtles need lots of water, lots of swimming room, and heavy duty filtration, and that is just to reduce the maintenance to weekly.  These are filthy creatures, I mean that in a  loving way, that require constant maintenance.  Do you ever feed night crawlers? Turtles love worms.  Careful with that snapper, our fingers tend to look like tasty treats. Best Regards, Gage> Laura

Algae control (Simazine use and turtles) To whom it may concern, I am inquiring on the toxicology effects of a product called algae destroyer (Simazine) liquid on a red ear slider turtle or if you know of a product that can be used. <I am not familiar with this particular product, but I would not recommend any of them (algaecides) except for extreme situations. The best thing is a little elbow grease. Scrub down the tank and drain it. Turtles are not like fish. You don't have to worry as much with changing water. I put my turtle's tank right beside a floor drain and sink and perform a 100% water change every other week. They are stinky, dirty buggers that need it.> Thanks, Jeff <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Turtles to fish Hello, I just discovered your site--maybe just in the nick of time. Here's what I'm doing: I kept two rather large Red-eared Sliders in a 90-gallon tank for several years. About a year ago, they were adopted by someone else. Since then, my system has been running with no livestock in it, no heater and no maintenance other than topping off the water. Last week I decided to set up the system for fish. In addition to the existing gravel in the tank, I dumped some dry gravel from a second tank (also formerly a turtle tank) into the 90-gallon tank. Then I vacuumed the bottom, cleaned the Fluval 304, filled the tank with all new water and turned on the heater. I haven't tested the water. Is this likely to be a safe environment for fish? <Should be> Is it possible that it is a still a "cycled" system? <I would certainly think so. Test the water and add fish slowly> What should I do now? <Start doing those weekly water changes and add some fishes...slowly> Thanks for your help. <No problem! David Dowless> Charlie Stricklen

Ninja Turtle Rocks! and other turtle banter. Hello, my name is William and I love the site, it rocks hardcore. <Sweet> I have recently purchased a red eared slider turtle for my girlfriend for valentine's day, what better way of telling a person you love them by purchasing a known carrier of disease, <She is a lucky lady.> that she promptly named Ninja.  Ever since the purchase of the feisty little guy I have turned into a turtle fanatic.  Ninja displays such a charismatic personality it makes me wish I was a turtle. After an unfortunate attempt with a laundry basket and a duct tape, I came to the conclusion that this dream will never come to be. <I have a hard time getting the webs between my fingers and toes to grow, once that is done I will work on growing a shell.> Anywho, let me get down to business.  I was curious as to what type of bottom we should use for the little guy.  She currently uses some glittery over-sized plastic shells purchased from a fish supply store.  While this makes Ninja appear less masculine, he seems to have fun running into a big bunch of them and watching them jump around the tank, almost like a big pile of autumn leaves. <As he matures he may want a more masculine substrate for fear that the rest of the ninja turtles will make fun of him.> Would it be better to use a sandy bottom for the little guy?  Also what type of feeder fish would be best for Ninja?  I breed guppies to feed my Oscars, would these be all right for Ninja or would goldfish be better?  Thank you.  And remember,  turtles rock ninja style! <You got that right, but honestly, I prefer bare bottoms.  You can use what ever substrate you like, I keep the bottom of my turtle tanks bare for easy cleanup.  I have also heard of sliders ingesting gravel (it usually passes).  A variety of food will be best, guppies, Jiminy crickets, earth worm Jim, super worms, prepared turtle pellets, salad greens, and the occasional snail.  Check out the link below for more chelonian fun http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/res.html Rock on Brother- Gage>

Aquarium cleaning Can an aquarium once used for a reptile be used for fish? <Sure, as long as it is an aquarium that was made to hold water, and not a reptile tank that looks like an aquarium, but will eventually blow up if filled with water.  Be sure to clean the tank well, 1cup bleach in 5gal of water is a good cleaning solution. -Gage>

Filtration Questions, stocking mixed "ponds" Hi, I inherited a 135 gallon aquarium from a friend about a year ago.   Originally, I had the tank separated in half with Plexiglas with one side being land and the other water - for two yellow belly turtles.  After a short while I got a number of other animals for the aquaterrarium like a clawed water frog and a small variety of fish.  At the time the center barrier was 8 inches high and contained roughly 20 gallons of water.  I bought a Fluval 2Plus filter for the tank which seemed to work well and I changed 50% of the water once a month.  However, as I've gotten a few more fish and raised the water level to 12 inches, I've had some problems.  The water isn't filtering well enough (obviously since it now exceeds the specifications for the Fluval 2plus by about 10 to 15 gallons) it is discolored (kind of green/brownish) and I have to change part of the water 3 or more times a month to keep it looking ok.  I've even added algae-eaters and snails to help, but with little avail.  I haven't lost any fish or turtles yet and don't want to so I'm looking for some answers. <These filters are rated using an accepted level of stocking to determine their "per gallon" capacity. IOW, it is very easy to overstock a given volume of water to the point that the water and filter are overwhelmed. You are there my friend. Fish and turtles together can be a tremendous mess, the algae is from overloaded wastes. Consuming the byproduct doesn't address the cause, overstocking, poor filtration, more as addressed below...> I did receive with the aquarium a Fluval 403 model canister filter containing a ceramic, foam, and charcoal for filter medias, but I do not have any instructions for setup or use (do you know where I might obtain some?) and I am not sure if that would be appropriate or not for my tank. <Go to the Fluval website to obtain this. I would use it in addition to the 2 plus.> I use tap water when I fill the tank, and have tried both Biosafe and Stresscoat water purifier/conditioners -- should I be worried about any toxins those may not take care of? If so, what might be a simple and inexpensive solution? <Yes, be concerned with chlorine, chloramine (both will kill your fish/bio-filter capacity/etc.) and possible wastes that contribute to algae (ammonia, phosphate, etc.) A complete water test at your Local Fish Store is a good idea.> I'm also curious whether you think my 100 watt heater is sufficient for my tank I believe it is about 30 to 35 gallons of water. <If this is the actual volume, it is okay.> I appreciate any help you can provide and any comments or suggestions above and beyond answering my questions. <Yes, please read the pond and freshwater questions at WetWebMedia.com esp. on filtration, the nitrogen cycle, stocking. I hope this gets you pointed in the right direction. Craig>

Aquatic Turtle Care I have 2 yellow bellied sliders.  I am contemplating putting them in an outdoor pond.  We live near the Virginia coast and I wonder How to set up this pond (supplies, plants, etc.).   Also, can they stay out there year around? <I do not keep my turtle outside because of the predators, but outdoors is definitely best for them if you can meet all of their requirements.  The link below is to an article on ponds for turtles, it should be a good place to start. http://www.tortoise.org/general/pondmak.html> What kind of plants do I have to have in order to make a outside pen for them? <most pond plants should be fine> And what kind of foods do they eat beside night crawlers and lettuces? And where do I find powder vitamins and calcium's to sprinkle on their foods? <Here is a good article on feeding aquatic turtles http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/aquaticdiet.htm If you have a local reptile shop you can get the vitamins from them, or from an etailer like our wonderful sponsor http://www.drsfostersmith.com/ Best Regards, Gage>   Thanks  Julia Rk

Winter and Red Eared Slider I really need to know if I can leave my red eared sliders out side in the winter or not. I have a little pond outside that they can live in. I have a heater for the pond so it won't freeze.   I keep gold fish in it and they stay alive.  I have it all fenced in so they can't get hurt by any animals. They also have land to go onto so they can be on land if they need to.  please help <It really depends on where you live.  If it gets cold enough they should bury themselves at the bottom of your pond and go into hibernation.  I personally would move them inside, I have never hibernated a turtle or tortoise and if I were going to try it I would like to be in control of the conditions.  Check out the links below to help with your decision.  Best Regards, Gage http://www.anapsid.org/hibernation.html http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/Refrigerator.htm  >

Turtle Hibernation Regarding hibernation, we live in the Houston, TX area, where the temperature rarely drops in the 20's. the kiddie pool is only 9 inches high, so am I right in saying its not suitable for hibernation of my turtle? my family does not plan on bringing inside for the winter, so can I just hibernate it in a 14 inch high bucket that we have that's wide enough for her to fit in with an inch or so at least the whole way around extra? after all, she doesn't need any room for movement, just a deep hibernating spot, right? I just want to know if the bucket is deep enough for her to hibernate safely at 14 inches or if its too shallow. thank you <I have no experience hibernating turtles,  I do not know if the bucket technique is a good idea, sounds like it will be hard to regulate the temperature.  There is a good article at the link below on hibernating turtles in the refrigerator.  I would get a good book that thoroughly covers hibernation before trying it.  Best Regards, Gage. http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/Refrigerator.htm   >

Water temp too warm on water change Hi, I need some answers quickly to this question? I have 2 red ear sliders that are about 1 year old. I was changing the water in their tank this evening.   I'm afraid that I may have killed them because the water may have been too warm or hot?   I can't tell because I forgot to test the water's temperature. when I had them in the water, they were both swimming around very frantically and I didn't think anything of it since that seemed normal whenever I moved them into the temp container while I washed the tank.   but, they both stopped moving suddenly and have not moved for at least an hour: Nothing seems to affect them right now. Their heads are shrunk in towards the shell but, still outside of the shell and visible.   The eyes are closed.   All four legs are pointing outwards but, no sign of movement at all Please advise?? Thank You!! <Hello, I am really sorry to hear this.  If the water was too hot it is possible that they were killed.  The best thing to do would be to restore the water to the temperature that they were used to and see if they come around.  If you pick them up you could try to see if you can hear them breathing, also a light poke behind the legs with your finger, or anywhere under the shell that they would normally defend should get some reaction out of them.  Best of luck, Gage>

Turtle Tank Basking Light  Thank for the info! Right now I am not sure whether I'm going to buy a 20gal or a 12gal.  <Go for the 20, preferable a 20gal long.>  The 12 gal has all the lighting and everything included, but I probably will get the 20gal. Do I need a basking light if I have a water heater and fluorescent lights?  <Yes, the turtle will need to climb out of the water to bask and dry off, this helps prevent infections and rot and other nasties. Best Regards, Gage>  I was going to get a basking light just in case but I want to be sure. Thanks again! -Sarah

Algae in Turtle Tank I have 2 aquariums with red eared slider turtles. I use a Fluval 204 canister filter for both aquariums. <Excellent choice, canisters are great for turtle tanks.> Within the last couple of months, there has been a lot of algae growing on the floating islands that they use to bask on. I have completely cleaned the aquariums and within 4 or 5 days, the algae is back. <Depending upon how complete your "completely cleaned" is, you may be working against yourself by getting rid of beneficial bacteria, large partial water changes are the way to go.> Is there anything that I can use to put in the water or media that can be put in the filter that won't harm the turtles? <I am just not a big believer in using products to adjust the conditions of my tank, especially if I am going to become dependent upon them, it is too expensive and unnecessary. If you are not using carbon in your filters, I would recommend adding this. It is best to get to the root of the problem.> I have had these aquariums for about a year and have just started having the problem. One aquarium is near a window, but the other one isn't, so I don't think that sunlight is a factor. Also, there is an oily film along the top of the water in one aquarium. I have started to feed them dehydrated shrimp, which they love. Please help. <The first question is, what changes have you made to your husbandry recently that may be causing the problem? A change in food? Maybe this food is adding more nutrients to help the algae grow? A change to your lighting, old bulbs? Turtles are messy, especially as they get older, water quality will definitely play a role in algae blooms. You could try algae eating fish, but they may end up as expensive turtle food. You could try changing their diet, or your feeding regime, making sure that all food is being consumed. There are all kinds of algae destroying products on the market, but personally I would not use any of them. You may find that a little scrub down of the tank decorations is just part of your weekly maintenance. I actually like a little algae, it gives the tank that "lived in" look. Check out the link below for more info on battling algae. Best Regards, Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm >

Small turtle my cat brought home hi<Hi, MikeD here> I was wondering if you could help? First my cat brought home a very small turtle slightly bigger than a quarter amazingly it was and is still alive. I have tried to find out it's type. we are in Maine, the small critter has an almost rounded dark shell, with an orangey/yellow bottom shell. the back legs have red stripes and the front legs as well as the throat area has yellow stripes and nothing on top but two small yellow dots on either side of its head.< Most likely it's an Eastern Painted turtle (Chrysemys picta>there are several ponds miles down the dirt road. I am sure the bass one of which I caught (4lbs) would enjoy this little critter as a snack.<They would!>I have decided to try and keep it as I love turtles and am willing to spend what it needs for its care. The way I see it I already have 18 pets what's one more! Do you have an idea as to what kind it could be?<See above, Eastern Painted turtle>any special care tips?<To do it right you need a small aquarium,50%water/50% land and a good herp light. Herp vitamins/calcium help too> thank you for your help my e-mail address is XXXX@aol.com if you would be kind enough to respond there. thanks again<You're welcome. Hope it helps a little> Marcee

Baby Turtle Questions <Hi, MikeD here> We bought two little turtles at a flea market about a week ago.  Their shells are about 1" - 1½" in diameter.<It's that time of year>  The guy who sold them to us had them in a tiny little plastic aquarium with barely any water.  Anyway, when we got home I searched the internet to find out how to take care of them, and found out it's illegal to sell them that small.<Yes and no. As pets yes, with many using the loophole "for educational purposes only>  We think they are red eared sliders, because of the spot behind their eyes. It's not really red though, more like peach.  Does the shade indicate their health, or does it get more red as they get older?<The amount of red varies, actually being pink or yellow in some cases, with there being several closely related sliders>  We got them a glass aquarium, filter, heat lamp, floating island, and turtle food from the pet store.  The aquarium is like a regular sized fish tank, 20 gallons I guess.  How long will it be before they need a bigger tank?<That depends on how much you feed them, what you feed them, etc.>  Also, I have only seen one of the turtles eat, and am worried that the other is not eating.<It may not be feeding. They often get "soft shell" from not being able to get out of the water enough, as well as fungus and other ailments as well>  I've read the long lists on the internet of foods you are supposed to get for your turtle, are the instructions/recommendations any different for turtles this small? <Just make sure they can easily get out of the water and that you have a full spectrum "daylight" herp bulb. Feeding meaty foods can be helpful as well, but use caution as this is why it's technically illegal to sell them, as salmonella bacteria flourish in the water>  The turtle that I saw eat seems a lot more active and even smarter than the other one.  Do turtles have different "personalities" or is the second turtle not as healthy?<This could be either or both. If #2 isn't eating, it's likely ill>  Should we report the guy who sold them to us?  Who would we report him too? You can file a complaint with your local state's fish and wildlife dept. and/or the better business bureau if you wish> Thank you, Rebekah

First turtle questions 8/2/04 Tomorrow morning I'm going to go pick up my very first turtle (red eared slider).   The guy at the pet store told me all I need was a little water and something for the little guy to crawl up out  of the water on to.  This sounded far too simple to me.  One would think he'd me more apt to try to sell me  several things I don't need rather than what I can scrape by with.  I've been online all day looking up information to ease my anxieties and make sure I can make my little turtle happy.  He's about the size of a half dollar right now, so I bought a 10gal. tank, figuring that should do for now.  My question arises in the lighting and heating deportment.   What is better, a heating lamp or a submersible water heater? < Always use a lamp and never a heater. When you heat the water it dive up the humidity in the tank and has been suspected to cause respiratory problems in turtles.> Also, will a heating lamp take care of his lighting needs, or do I need a separate light? < You need at least a incandescent light with a plant light bulb. This bulb most closely resembles sunlight>   I plan on getting a thermometer to keep track of the temperature.  Should I place that in the water or  near the heating lamp? < Place it in the water as far away as possible from the lamp.> And just one more question.  Is it alright to turn off the lighting/heating at night? < Absolutely. Turtles need to sleep too. Make sure you thoroughly wash your hands after handling your  turtle so you don't get sick. They have been known to carry diseases when they are kept in dirty water.-Chuck> Thanks for your time in easing me "new mommy syndrome" anxieties.  ~Lynsey~

A Turtle Tank? <Hi, Mike D here> hey my name is Shawn and I was thinking of getting a turtle or two. I was wondering if a 30 gallon tank would be big enough for two red ear sliders.<If gotten very young, it will suffice for 2-3 years before they'll need a larger tank. For good success you'll need a good full spectrum basking light and somewhere that they can get completely out of the water.>                                                  thanks

Green water in turtle tank <Hi, Mike D here> I am sorry if you have had to answer this question already, but I am still a little lost.<no problem> I have one red eared slider that is 5-6 inches. I keep him in a 10 gallon tank.<This is too small. Does he have someplace to bask where he can get completely out of the water?> I use a Duetto 100 submersible power filter. The filter has a carbon container that I have long since disposed of and have not been able to buy another because the fish stores seem to never restock.<OK, you've moving water, but not filtering it. Without floss and carbon, all you have is water movement.> I have a sucker fish (I don't know if this is the correct name of the fish but it is what I have heard it to be called.<Probably one of the Plecostomus catfish> Either way it eats algae.) I feed my RES zoo med's aquatic turtle food once or twice every 2 weeks (is this too little?<You bet it's too little. WAY too little.> I don't want to feed it too much and have it grow too quickly.<How'd you like it if you were allowed to eat once a week so as to not get fat. My money says you would not be a happy camper, and neiotheris your turtle. That borders on cruelty, and I may be going easy on you.>) And I also sometimes give it zoo med's turtle treat (dried ocean krill)<Not a great food as it contains salt, which Slider's can't excrete.>. I have a basking light that is on for 7 hours and a UV light that is on for 8 hours. Not much direct sunlight hits the tank since I keep my blinds closed. Every time I completely change the water in the tank (every 2-3 weeks due to the greenness of it) the water will be green again within a week. Use filter floss and activated carbon and your water quality should improve. As it is, it's just stagnant and should be cleaned MUCH more often.> I read in the fish forums that the nitrate levels and stuff should be checked for this kind of question but I am not sure if this applies to turtles.<Turtles, no, fish yes.> My main questions aside from how to keep my tank water turning green are if I need the carbon stuff in my filter<Definitely>, do I need to buy algae pellets for my sucker fish so that it won't starve<The fish would be VERY appreciative, I'm sure.>, and do I need to cut back on lighting?<NO, the lighting is fine.> Thank you for whatever help you can give me.<Someone has given you really bad advice on animal care and I truly feel sorry for both the Plecostomus and the turtle. One thing animals of all types respond to is an owner that tries to treat them the way they'd like to be treated.> ~Wendy

Turtle Habitat and Pool <Hi, Mike D here>    I was wondering if I could bring my yellow bellied slider in the pool which has chlorine in it.<If you're asking if you can take it into your swimming pool with you, occasionally, for short periods probably wouldn't do any harm, but long term exposure to higher amounts of chlorine will eventually do eye damage and possibly cause intestinal problems as well.> I was also wondering if it was ok to have the fish rocks that are at the bottom of the fish tank in the cage with the turtle and I have one last question will my turtle be ok without having another turtle in the cage with it- can it be alone??<Regular aquarium gravel would probably be alright, with sand being a better choice, and as to keeping it alone, that often the best way for the animal to stay the healthiest, as it can't fight with other turtles over food.> Thanks!! please reply soon!!!! and how am I going to get your reply can you email it back to me thanks so much !!!! PS. How deep should the water be and what should I feed him?<The depth of the water isn't overly important as long as there is a good basking space where it can easily get out to sun itself. You'll also need to invest in a good broad spectrum reptile light, aimed at the basking area only> I found him in lake Travis-- is it ok to feed him store bought food<Yes and no...there are some commercial turtle foods that are satisfactory, with the old fashioned dried insect type completely useless. Adding occasional pieces of lean fish or chicken will help, and even better, try to dust it with a good reptile calcium supplement.> and how big does the tank need to be?<That depends upon the size of the turtle. A small juvenile can be housed in a 2-5 gal. tank, with an adult animal needing an enclosure large enough to allow plenty of movement.>  Is it ok for the tank to be bare with just gravel and water or does it need something else? If using a regular aquarium, it will need a float or piece of wood large enough to allow it to get completely out of the water, thus the basking light. Keep in mind as well that reptiles need to be kept warm, with a minimum of 72 degrees f and never allowed to exceed the high 80's.> please please reply soooonnnn!!!!!!!! thanks soo much <Michaela>

Box Turtle Care & Feeding  11/21/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> This may be normal behavior, or I may have been misinformed on care.  I have a box turtle-about 1.5 years old.  She is in a 10 gallon aquarium w/sand or aquarium gravel on the bottom, about 2 inches of water and about 10 1 inch-ish rocks scattered about for basking.  There is also a fake plant and a decorative rock in there with her.  My problem is that she seems almost sad.  She always hides under the plant, doesn't eat very well-refuses to eat the pellets they gave me at the stores and is partial to iceberg lettuce and any fruit.  She has done really well today, but I'm worried she may be lonely.  (A friend found the baby nest in a river behind his house, gave some away when old enough and returned the rest where they were found).  My brother got her, or I would have asked for 2 lol.  I was wondering a few things 1) Am I caring for her properly 2) Would it be a good idea to get her a "buddy" 3) If so, what kind of turtles get along well with box turtles? Any advice would be wonderful, and I apologize if I re-asked a question, I'm not a good skimmer. <1st thing, I must ask you to please use proper capitalization in your letters.  These go to our FAQs & I have to fix them myself, before sending it.  That takes away from time I could be answering other questions.  If you do really have a box turtle (high arched shell, brown in color, locally caught ones usually have 3 back toes), then it is a land animal, not water.  It will need a container large enough to soak in for water, but mostly a dry area to hang out in.  I use cypress mulch about 3" thick, so it can bury itself, if they wish.  It will need a 20g long tank, so you can have one cool end (with the water bowl) & a warm end (with a reflector lamp above).  You need to change the water as soon as it gets dirty, as this will also be it's drinking water.  It will also like a cave to hide in (a large shoebox with one side cut out will do).  There is prepared box turtle foods made, but it can get expensive.  When wild box turtles have been dissected, they found mostly earthworms in their stomach, so that should be #1 on their list.  Usually I mix up some frozen mixed veggies, & diced fruit, mushrooms & canned dog food.  If you haunt your local grocery, you can sometimes see them taking old, soft fruit off the shelves.  Ask them if you can have it.  Iceberg lettuce has no nutritional value, as  it is mostly water.  The greener the better.  You can make up larger amounts & put into small 1/2 cup portions & freeze, to feed later.  Also, find a good reptile vitamin to "salt" it's food with.  If you want more turtles, you will need 20g/turtle.  I'd stick with only box turtles as companions, but they really don't care if they live alone.   Here are some good sites on turtles: http://www.turtletimes.com/   http://www.turtletimes.com/market/index_store.htm   Good luck & enjoy your turtle--it will live for around 30 years if you take good care of it!  ~PP (My name is Jeni too!)> Thanks again, Jenni

Steps Too Tall for Turtle? Hello, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I am the overly anxious new owner of a red eared slider.  I am concerned about the basking area.  I set it up using different sized bricks.  The first one is about 3 and 1/2 inches off the bottom and completely covered with water, the next is about 2 inches, and the top is another 2 inches up.  My question is- is that first step too high up for him?  I have only had him less than a day but he doesn't go up there unless I put him up there.  Should that first step be lower?  I saw him get down okay, just not up. <It would help to know how large the turtle is.  I would give him a longer platform, instead of the extra step.>   Thanks for your help Julie

JAPANESE RED EAR SLIDER Dear Sir; I am not sure if this is correct place to go. We live in Tokyo, Japan and have found a red slider walking in our front yard and need some questions answered. Getting information here is difficult due to the language barrier we have. We do not speak or read Japanese. Getting information about something this detailed is difficult because even when we find some one that speaks some English they are not able to explain or answer enough of our questions. Do you know of a book that we may purchase? < Go to ZooMed.com for a small informative book you can buy along with essentials you may need to keep your new turtle healthy.> I have read a great deal about feeding them mealworms, earthworms and other types. I have no idea where in Tokyo to get such things. I have Tetra Turtle Min food and of course fresh fruits and vegetable (which she does not eat) She only wants the stick food, shrimp or fish..  Your help would be greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Lea Ann Carley Sattler < You are on the right track with the food. But you need to get a basking light for him too or his shell will soon turn soft and he will die. I am pretty sure you can find some ZooMed products in Japan. Print out the pictures from the web site and take them to some local pet shops of fish stores and show them what you need. I am certain that someone there can help you. -Chuck>

Turtles Need Light Hi, I have 2 red-ear sliders, and I wasn't aware they needed UVB lights until a few days ago. I have a tank outside, and have been taking them out there during the day to get sunlight and bringing them in at night. Will that work the same as having the UV light? (please email me back the answer) Thanks, Melissa < Natural sunlight is the best thing for them. When I was a young boy we set up a plastic kiddie wadding pool outside. We covered one half of the pool with a piece of plywood and left the other half exposed and placed a brick out in the open for her to bask on. In Southern Calif we left her out for 17 years and never brought her indoors. We changed the water in the pool once a week and scrapped the algae off her shell with a soft brush every once in awhile.-Chuck>

Turtle Questions Hi, My name is Ben I am 12 years old and I have some questions that I would please like you to help me with. I got two yellow bellied turtles for Christmas. They are now nearly 5 months old and already are showing signs of mating. The male is maneuvering in front of the female and flapping his front legs franticly. No biting occurred so maybe they were just playing. I don't know. Could you please help me? < Five months is pretty early for mating behavior in turtle. If they are really older and you have had them for only five months then it could be a mating behavior. Females are usually larger and have shorted tails. Males are usually smaller and have longer claws and a much longer tail.> Also I have a large enough tank to last them a while but when they grow I know you're supposed to move them out side into a pond (which I have the resources for) but I live in cold and wet Ireland and even in the summer it's not great so what should I do when the problem arises? < There a number of things you could do. For long term housing you could get a very big aquarium, large plastic tub or any other large clean vessel that would hold water. You then need to set up and area where they can get out of the water to bask themselves. This could be a log a pile of bricks or anything else. Over the basking spot you need to give them a light source that provides heat, UVA and UVB light for up to 12 hours a day. The water can be heated to 65 degrees F using a titanium submersible aquarium heater. You really should go with the metal heater so the turtles don't break like they would a glass one. A large siphon hose could be used to change the water in the tub. Look at pond filters to keep the water clean. Basically you are making an indoor pond. Natural sunlight through a window will help but I would still recommend these other things to be sure.-Chuck> Yours sincerely Ben P.S. I think your site

Conversion with a Turtle?  4.26.05 Dear Ryan, <Toni!  Nice to hear from you again...> I'm the woman in Texas, proud but befuddled owner of a superior Hologymnosus doliatus.  M. T. is doing well, growing and showing off, as usual.  I'm scouting out foster homes with BIG, well-kept aquariums for his future. <Fantastic> Since you helped me before, I'm back with a question about something unrelated to fish  but having to do with a hapless young turtle.  The other day a friend and I were attempting a workout at a local high school track.  Just next door is a field (creek included) that is being developed -- being cleared with tractors and generally upsetting the natural activity that's been going on there for gosh-knows-how-long. As we rounded the track we came upon a very small (I'd say about 2 inches in diameter) snapping turtle.  I feel pretty sure he was high-tailing it away from his formerly happy home because of all the disturbance in his environment.  Well, he wasn't making very good time around the track, so I put him in a bucket and brought him home.  My plan was to take him to a creek somewhere away from civilization and turn him loose.   My friend, who has two salt-water aquariums, thinks the small turtle should be kept for a while until he has a little more size on him and volunteered to "transition" him to a salt water way of life (with a platform in the aquarium so that he can rest and take breaths of fresh air at his will, of course.)  I'm not so sure about that "transitioning" idea, so I've still got the little rascal in a bucket on my porch.   My question is this:  can a fresh water animal be slowly transitioned into a salt water lifestyle?  My friend has done this with mollies and says yes, but I'm skeptical. <I have seen this done with African Cichlids as well...I can honestly say that there are logistical problems here.  An animal like your turtle has natural biology to be able to fight disease and freshwater borne bacteria- He is completely helpless against saltwater disease.  The chances of him living a full and healthy life are far-fetched.  I'd stick him in a freshwater tank until he's about 4 inches, and he'll have a better chance of being able to make it.  Sorry this reply is tardy- I was on vacation!  Hope this helps, Ry> Guarding the homeless little reptile with my life until you reply, Toni A.

Trouble with New turtles I was recently searching the web for some information on the turtles that I purchased and came across your sight, in which you had a lot of helpful advice. Well I'm new at this so here goes, about 2 weeks ago I purchased 3 baby  red ear sliders about an inch long from a local flea-market. I got the home and purchased a 20 long gallon tank, a basking light, and a dock for them. I was feeding them Tetra ReptoMin Baby and Zoo Meds Turtle Treat. After having them for a week 1 of them died, then 2 days later another died. I was wondering if it would be safe to buy more and put them in there with the 1 remaining baby turtle because he really looks lonely. Or should I wait in case there is an infection in  the tank from the 2 dead turtles? < Don't add any more turtles until you have figured out why two out of the three turtle have died. Don't worry about the last turtle getting lonely. He probably prefers to be alone.> And also can you please tell me if I have everything that I need for my baby turtle (as far as the tank, the basking light  and the dock)? Please respond back a.s.a.p. Thanks and have a great  day! < Your turtles are very young. I would get a water filter and maybe a heater to keep the turtles warm for awhile. Look into getting a good book that may give you some insight on why the first two turtles died.-Chuck.>

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