FAQs About Red Ear Slider Turtle Systems
The Care and Keeping of the
Red Eared Slider, Trachemys scripta
elegans by Darrel Barton,
Red Ear Sliders,
Eared Slider Care, Shell Rot in
Related FAQs: RES Systems
Systems 2, RES Systems 3,
RES Systems 5, &
Turtle Systems 1,
Turtle Systems 2,
2, Red Eared Slider
Identification, RES Behavior,
Feeding, RES Disease,
RES Reproduction, Turtles in General:
Turtle Disease 2,
turtle tank water 8/24/17
<Hiya, Darrel here>
We have had Mr. and Mrs. T red eared sliders for 15 years. Currently Mrs. T has a
swollen tail and our tank is filled with wispy white slime. In the past she has
laid eggs that have gotten scrambled before we could get to them.
<The white slime is usually the remains of an egg that broke while in the
oviduct and leaked out the cloaca.>
She acts very lethargic possible can't pass the eggs this time and now her eyes
are closed and she doesn't swim around much at all. Any thoughts?
<This is tough. Once the eggs have shelled (formed the outer skin) they can’t be
reabsorbed and must eventually be expelled. To manually extract the eggs is
delicate work and not something an untrained person can easily do.>
<For the first round, give Mrs. T a warm bath once a day. Fill a bowl or
container of water that is warm to the touch that would be say, up to her
shoulders. Stir in 2 Tablespoons of salt (table salt is fine) and leave her in
the bath for about a half hour. You may want to pour in a bit more heated water
as it cools.> Do this once a day for a week and see if this stimulates her to
expel the eggs>
Can RES eat sea shells?
<Hiya, Darrel here>
I have a question.
<Unlike Radio Shack, we have answers!>
Ever since i got some small sea shells from the beach my turtles have been
biting them and chewing on them. I've come to see the shells chewed on and
bitten. I want to know if it is at least ok for them to eat it or should I
take them out of the tank. Some of the shells in the picture are chewed up.
<Yes, it's OK. The shells are mainly calcium, which is good for them, and
for the most part anything they can bite small enough to swallow can be
digested. Some turtles will go after them as a delight, others not at all,
so it could be that one is in need of calcium ... or maybe the shells just
<As a General Rule: I don't put sharp things like sea shells in the tank any
more than I would put chips of glass --- the sharp edges of the remaining
shell can become a source of cuts or scrapes as the turtles go about their
Albino red eared sliders in the sun
<Hiya Darrel here>
first of all, my compliments, you people do awesome work, i red a lot on
the turtles part of the website and it is very informative!
<thanks. When you hit the lottery, please donate some>
I was however searching for an answer to a question i have which i did
not find on this site nor anywhere else.
Here it is; albino red eared sliders like to bask in the sun , but most
animals that have albinism are experiencing all sorts of troubles with
Is an albino turtle able to sunbathe like every other turtle?
<In the wild they'd be picked off by predators not long after they've
Are their eyes and skin not in danger of sun damage?
<yes they are>
In advance i want to thank you for the answer already!
<Albinos of all species are usually kept in much more controlled
enclosures. In your case invest in a good UV-B lamp and a basking lamp
and keep the albinos out of the sun>
English is not my native languages, i hope there aren't too much
mistakes in my writing .
<you are doing well!>
I am waiting for your answer,
Have a very nice day.
Hi,I found this site. Emydid sys.
My name is Tera, I see you know a lot about red ear slider, my question
is my daughter has two red ear slider and one painted turtles, how do I
make or get a tank at a reasonable price. Plus I don't know if I'm
taking car of them right. help me please
<Here Tera. They are easy (and cheap!) to care for. Rather than a pet
store, a home improvement store will have everything you need except for
one special light. here:
Can Red Eared Sliders winter outdoors in Los Angeles?
<Hiya again, Sara!!>
We have a thousand gallon pond. The main area is 2-1/5 feet deep, a waterfall
from a shallow pool keeps the water continuously circulating.
Last year, we had three turtles living out there. One, Miss Kitty, we wrote to
you about. We thought she was gravid, but it turned out that she was spending
all her time out of the pond in the sun because she had a respiratory infection.
We took her to the vet and that was cleared up in six weeks. The other, smaller
turtles had no health issues at all. So, our question is: Is it alright to keep
the turtles in the pond all winter--or should we set up a smaller, heated tank
<Your pond is fine for turtles to over-winter in Southern California.
There are two issues, one you can control and the other you can't. Water loses
temperature at the surface, so the larger the surface area, the faster it will
lose what little heat it gets from the winter sun. 2 1/2 feet deep is enough
that the deeper water will retain some of the day's heat.>
<The second problem is more complex. In winter in North Carolina, Sliders can
literally freeze in a block of ice during the winter and then thaw out and be
fine in the spring. (Note to Carolinians with turtles - this happens but not
EVERY turtle that freezes lives through it, so never let it happen if you can
avoid it). The point is that they, for all intents a purposes, truly hibernate.>
<In Southern California it never gets that cold for that long, so the turtles
enter a state of torpor ... a general slow-down, glassy-eyed zombie-like state
... sorta like WE get after listening to more that 10 seconds of a politician
speaking ... their metabolism slows down and digestion stops. Now this is fine
in your pond for over wintering. Stop feeding them by Thanksgiving. The problem
comes only if we have a MILD winter. Hot spells and cold spells, etc. If we have
a terribly warm January ... the turtles become active again ... but not active
ENOUGH for the digestion to start again, etc. Think of it like this: Say it was
cold enough for you to feel chilly but NOT cold enough for you to put on a
sweater -- you'd spend the day on the verge of being chilled and how much more
detrimental to your health than if it either stayed hot or stayed cold... same
<So what I'm saying is that if we have a COLD winter, they can over-winter just
fine (as long as they are healthy to start with) and if we have a HOT winter
that's fine, too. If we cycle between almost cold and almost warm, I take mine
out and put them in a box in the garage -- on a layer of newspaper with the box
flaps folded (but not taped) shut... and take them
out again when the weather makes up it's mind.>
Sara and Jenn
RES confusion 10/31/15
<Hiya – Darrel here>
We got a RES a while ago that once belonged to my younger cousin who had it
since it was a baby. It's been in those small carrying tanks for more than 6
month and is now about 2-3 inches. We bought a 30 gallon tank for her with a
floating dock type thing for her to rest on. We are about to get the basking
light for her and we've already installed a filter and small stones have
blanketed the bottom.
<Make sure you have UV light for her as well – read THIS from beginning to end:
We filled it and decided to put her in to make sure she would be able to swim.
She's swimming really energetically and understanding how to since it's actually
been her first time in deeper waters. We understand that she is confused but are
very concerned that she may not know how to get on to the floating land piece
and how to eat the food we give because she's been growing with the floating
pellets for most her life and she's had them be right in front of her the whole
<She’ll get used to it>
My brother and I are extremely concerned because she's been raised in such
terrible conditions and want to know if she'll be able to adapt to these new
surroundings and if there's something we could do to help her adapt faster.
(Tank is filled half way)
<When I acclimate a new turtle I usually tilt the tank so that there is a
shallow end and a deep end, so that the turtle can swim to the shallow end and
just sit there with her head out of water. After a day or two I fill the tank
<But really, they adapt very easily. Your turtle will figure out the floating
dock as long as she can get a toe-hold to climb on. As far as the food goes,
when she’s hungry, she’ll notice and eat the food>
<Thanks for taking good care of her! (read the link I gave you!!)>
Established Red-Eared Slider Refuses New Basking Area
<Hiya – Darrel here>
Your site has been very helpful to me over the years and I did email you for
help a few years ago about this same turtle, "Lucy," after she ingested lots of
plastic aquarium plants. Thank you, we fixed the problem with a lot of Metamucil
and the passage of time (and other stuff).
<It’s a miracle medicine. I had an Iguana just swallow a piece of a ZipLock bag
and used the same treatment>
Fast forward to now. Lucy (who is roughly 8-9" long and who I've owned for about
5 years) has a 90-gallon tank and has been a perfect (though feisty) turtle
<She’s a big girl>
She has a double-dome lighting fixture with a 75 watt Repti-Tuff heat bulb and a
13 watt UVB bulb which sits about 11" above the floor of her basking area. Three
weeks ago I replaced the old, crappy turtle ramp (the kind that affixes to the
tank with suction cups) with a gorgeous redwood and Plexiglas "house." The
basking area is 18" x 18" and has a large hole at the top for the lamp (her
previous set-up was using a 90 watt heat bulb that was about 13-14" from the
bottom of her basking area before). The reason I made the change was to give her
more swimming room. I was able to add roughly 12-15 gallons of water to her
tank, which is kept pretty darn clean if I do say so myself. Anyway, she will
not bask. She will not go up to her basking area. It is roughly 85-95 degrees
inside, depending upon where I point the laser temperature reader thingy (not
quite as warm as her previous basking area, which was at 100+ in places). She
will however, go up there if I lure her with salmon. So she CAN go up there--she
just chooses not to. I read here that turtles can be persnickety about change
but it's going on three weeks and I'm concerned that she is not getting the UVB
lighting she needs.
<They can be, often are - and it’s no big deal>
The tank is NOT heated and nothing else has been changed. She hangs out on the
ramp most of the time. But she won't go up into the basking area! I probably
didn't help matters by trying to lock her in there last weekend when I went out
of town (she escaped the basking house, going back into her tank).
<Yeah – a good intentioned bad idea>
How worried should I be?
<Not very at all>
At what point does the lack of UVB become really harmful?
<6 months, perhaps a year or two if she’s otherwise healthy>
I assume she is getting some small amount of UVB rays when she sits on the ramp,
even though she's a good 18+ inches away from being below the bulb (it protrudes
slightly from the fixture and I assume the rays distribute). What can I do?
Should I change the set-up to use the 90 watt heat bulb 13-14" above the area
like before, to make it warmer? (I should note that I wanted to switch to the 75
watters because the danged 90 watters tended to burn out after about six weeks.)
Please help me help Lucy.
<First thing – no more changes. It is what it is – let her deal with that.>
<Here’s my first guess – sometimes a LITTLE change is not ENOUGH of a change>
<Here’s a trick fish & reptile keepers use when adding a new animal to a
collection – especially a male, but can apply to any: Rearrange EVERYTHING at
the same time you introduce the new guy. That way the “old guys” no longer have
“their” territory to defend and they are so busy exploring their new setup they
have no time to mess with the new guy.>
<For Lucy … change might help. Put her outside during the day (in a climb-proof
container that has both water and shade). This time of year, here in Torrance,
is PERFECT outdoor weather for her. At night, bring her inside and into the
bathtub (at least here where I live we have raccoons and outside overnight isn’t
a good idea) and repeat this for a week. THEN put her back in her “home” and
it’s likely that she’ll be so happy to get back to “her” home she won’t even
notice the changes>
Re: Established Red-Eared Slider Refuses New Basking Area
Apparently Lucy is working through her issues and is now basking on the
semi-regular. I read somewhere that one turt was basking only when "alone" and
would slide into the tank when her owner came in. Well, that is apparently Lucy.
And based upon how well I "know" her, it makes sense.
<For whatever reason, Lucy feels exposed and nervous while basking. That will
change over time - certainly nothing for us to worry about>
Either way, I've been seeing her up there from time to time, without even having
to prod her with food. Thanks so much for all your help. I made a small donation
to WWW the other day.
<THANK YOU SO MUCH !!!!!>
Your site is invaluable. My phone isn't smart and it shows when I take pics.
This one is crappy but you get the idea of Lucy's new "house."
<The pictures are fine!! Although I think it' interesting that not ALL that long
ago our phones all had cords ... and if you were travelling and wanted to make a
phone call you have to find a phone booth ... and now we can take pictures
without having to drop them off at Fotomat.>
<keep us posted on Lucy>
Red ear slider turtle mechanical filter system.
I just got a red eared slider and I am trying to find a decent filter without
spending a small fortune. Will the Marineland Penguin 200B filter system
work for 20gallon tank with one RES in it?
<Mmm; will be hard to have sufficient dry room with having to fill the aquarium
so high to fit this filter... but can be done for a while. You realize this
animal will get much larger I hope/trust. Please read here re all:
We are exactly sure what we are doing. We are new to all of this! �� Any help
would be greatly appreciated!!!!!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Red ear slider turtle mechanical filter system.
Okay. Let me ask this as a temp set up until I can get a bigger set up would a
basking light and the florescent reptile light with water and a basking area in
the 20 gallon tank be alright and I would need to completely change out the
water 2 or 3 times a week since I don't have a filter system correct?
<Mmm; better for all (you included) to have one. READ where you were referred>
Thank you so much. I just want to have the baby as happy as possible until I can
get him a bigger environment. He is just so sweet and beautiful.
Red Eared Sliders; sys., fdg. 11/7/14
<Hiya - Darrel here.
I have a young RES (maybe 6 months to 1 year old? his shell is about
2inches long.) I keep him in a 50 gallon aquarium with gravel on the
bottom, and a rock to bask on. He has a lamp that provides UV light for
12 hours during the day, and one that provides heat during the other 12
<No need for that. In the wild they have no heat at night. Heating and
cooling cycles are healthy for them>
I've been feeding him some small, brown pellets that were provided when
I got him, but I have no idea exactly what they are. I feed him a small
pinch ,maybe 10-15 of these daily, along with 2-3 Tetra Reptomin Food
Sticks, and sometimes a small piece of sliced chicken as a treat.
<Repto-min is good, but I feed my water turtles Koi Pellets (usually the
Kay-Tee brand) because it's a fully balanced diet and inexpensive.>
<Meat-wise, I'd not give chicken for a variety of reasons. Once every 6
weeks or so go to a fishing supply/bait shop and get a container of
earthworms (night crawlers) and feed him one or two -- then you can dump
the rest in a garden or flower box. Failing that would be a very small
piece of beef or chicken liver … but be sure to feed him liver in a
separate bowl because the oils will foul your tank in a hurry>
He has a pool inside the aquarium, maybe 1/2 gallon, that he spends all
of his time in. I've never seen him come out of the water to bask. I've
had him for about 2 1/2months. I change the water in his pool weekly,
and I clean it and the rocks in it. The water temperature stays between
70-80 degrees, depending how I position the lamps, and the basking area
is generally between 80-85degrees. I noticed about 2 weeks ago he had
some dark green spots on his shell, and when I changed the water, I took
a wet washcloth and cleaned his shell and put him and the pool back in
place. It cleaned off easily enough so I thought that it was a type of
mold. It came back the next week, and I repeated the cleaning process,
but I'm in the 3rd week now and I can see it coming back already. Is
this mold or something else, and what can I do to stop this and prevent
it from happening again?
<Well, let's start at the beginning. This setup is great for a land
tortoise, but not a water turtle. Read here and set up his habitat to an
aquatic one rather than a land-based one.
Water quality for overpopulated tank of Red Eared Sliders
Thank you for your web site and resources. I have searched your site and others
and can't get exactly what I'm looking for. I'm hoping you can help me with a
First, let me explain that these turtles are not mine, they belong to a nearby
university , and I'm trying to improve their miserable situation.
There are four (2 adult, 2 younger) Red Eared Sliders in a 65 gallon tank which
is half full.
It's a bad situation.
<Doesn't sound ideal, no.>
I'm in the process of building a wet/dry filter, and combining it with a carbon
filter and a chemical filter.
<I wouldn't bother with carbon or zeolite. Both need to be replaced very
frequently (couple of weeks?) otherwise they don't do anything, so you may as
well focus on mechanical and biological filtration. I'd aim for a roughly 50/50
mix of coarse media (to filter out solid waste like faeces and decaying food)
and finer media (to process ammonia, positioned downstream of the mechanical
media). Do bear in mind you're unlikely to get zero levels of ammonia or nitrite
in a turtle aquarium, and often the best approach is to focus on water changes
rather than relying solely on biological filtration. For sure high ammonia
levels can irritate the eyes and skin, but unlike fish, turtles can clamber out
on the land when they need to, and swim only to cool down and to feed (at least,
if we're talking about Sliders; some more aquatic turtles are indeed more
Also, I'm getting some starter bacteria and to get the filter media started and
some bacteria to help with the high volume of waste.
<Assuming this aquarium isn't sterile (!) then it's probably very well supplied
with bacteria to start the filter maturing. Do remember the "good" bacteria live
on any solid surface with a good flow of water and oxygen, including rocks,
plastic plants, top 1 cm of gravel.>
What is the correct water chemistry for RES? pH, GH, and KH.
<Water chemistry isn't critical; the old "avoid extremes" mantra works here;
2-20 degrees dH, pH 6-8. So provided your water isn't strongly peaty and acidic,
or conversely, isn't brackish/saline, it's probably fine. The ideal is probably
slightly hard and alkaline primarily because this favours the best biological
bacteria growth (the "good" bacteria we want don't do well in soft/acid
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
<Hope this helps.>
I need to make a good attempt at helping them, because I'm not sure the politics
will stay friendly to me for long.
<Sounds like you're making a valiant effort here; good luck! Neale.>
filter questions; for RES
hi I was talking to the owner of heathers pet store and he sent me to
I have a red ear slider turtle and I bought a Fluval filter system but
it didn't come with anything in the media trays so I'm just trying to
find out whats the best things to use with my turtle.
<The standard mechanical filter media (coarse pads) will work; and you
might want to buy and use some large grade carbon... to reduce the
amount of smell. Do read here please:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Red slider turtle gone after pond cleaning.
<Hiya Tammy - Darrel here>
We recently acquired a large red slider turtle last year. It was
crossing a busy intersection near our home.
We have an outside pond that we put the turtle near until we could
figure out what to do with her.
<Turtles and ponds go together like peas and carrots>
Before we knew the turtle had gone into the pond. She wintered well and
in the early spring could be watched swimming and basking in the rocks.
The problem is that the pond was being overrun by algae, so we decided
to drain the pond and refill it with clean water. Didn't see the turtle
throughout this process.
<That's because she climbed out>
It has been over a week since the pond was drained and we can't locate
the turtle anywhere.
<Turtles, for unexplained reasons, go for 'walk abouts' -- which is
exactly why you saw her crossing a road.>
The algae is back, but that's another issue. My fear is that we scared
the turtle to death and its decomposing in the pond and that's why the
water is so murky. Or that the turtle left our pond... Help, I feel
horrible and very worried for the turtle.
<No worries. Assuming she can't get out of your yard, she's buried
herself at the base of a bush, under/next to a rock, behind that pile of
wood your husband PROMISED to clear out 5 years ago ... somewhere hard
<I've lost some that way only to find them back in the pond 2 years
later ... looking at me as if to say "yeah, so?">
<But that said, do look for her - she's there. And remember they can
climb surprisingly well, so don't NOT look everywhere>
Thanks for any advice.
Red Eared Slider Turtle Lighting Question
Hi again, I have a question about turtle lighting. I have an
aquarium hood that can hold 2 bulbs. Is it ok to use a GE 6500K
daylight spectrum bulb for UVB light (assuming the wattage is the same)
along with a generic incandescent bulb for UVA light/basking heat?
<UV-B is the 100% essential thing for turtles. So yes, you do need one
of those for turtles kept indoors, and absolutely do not economise on
buying a UV-B bulb. Any trivial saving you might make in this regard
will be massively overwhelmed by the problems (including expense)
accrued by issues such as Metabolic Bone Disease caused directly by
insufficient UV-B. Do not, Do Not, DO NOT confuse sunshine-mimicking
"daylight" bulbs sold for artists and other household uses with
bulbs/tubes designed for reptiles.
While some "daylight" bulbs produce UV-B as part of their spectrum, they
do not produce very much of it, and are far inferior to properly
designed ones intended for reptiles. UV-A is somewhat less essential,
though I would direct you to this excellent summary of heating/lighting
as to why you don't want to ignore it completely when keeping day-active
Some UV-B bulbs will produce adequate UV-A as well, so check, and
purchase accordingly. In the second fitting you could install a plain
vanilla incandescent bulb (which produce more heat than light) if you
wanted -- but do remember that while cheap to buy, they're extremely
expensive to run, so hardly worth using if you're only saving a few
The ReptiSun bulbs are twice as expensive and I wanted to know if its
possible to use these other bulbs instead.
<The Reptisun UV-B ones you mention are excellent and highly
Over the months, years you own your turtle, good quality tubes/lights
will more than pay for themselves in healthcare savings. Your local
reptile retailer may well be able to suggest less expensive equivalents,
but certainly look for ones designed expressly for reptile enclosures
and offering substantial UV-B (and at least some UV-A) for long-term
Skip anything sold for artists, black lighting, households, fish tanks,
Thanks for your response!
<Hope this helps. Have bcc'ed Darrel, who'll surely jump in if I've
missed something. Cheers, Neale.>
Help with turtle, sys. and env. hlth. 4/8/13
<Hi Mike, Sue here with you.>
I have a red eared slider who is about 10 years old. It
lives in a 40 gallon tank with a floating rock to rest on
<Is the rock large enough for him to be able to get completely dried
bask under the lamp light.
<What kind(s) of lights? Heat AND UVB I hope? >
The tank also has some small rocks throughout it and a large filter that
is big enough for the tank.
There also is a heater in the tank. I'm not positive how warm the water
is, but I'm almost positive that it feels above 80 degrees.
<Too warm; you should yank the heater. The water should be on the cooler
side, around 68-70 degrees F (what amounts to room temperature for most
people). Since turtles have to rely on their external environment to
regulate their internal body temperature, this allows him to decide
whether he wants cool/wet or warm/dry at any given time.>
Because the tank is so large and heavy, instead of changing the water I
just add water to the tank after some has evaporated.
<Leaving it up to evaporation is not enough, even with a filter.
You need to also be doing at least a 50% water change at least once a
week or more often if necessary. This is easily accomplished without
lifting the tank. All you need is a siphon tube and a bucket of water
(placed below the water level in the tank). You plug up one end with
your thumb, fill the tube with water, plug the other end with your other
thumb and place that end in the water. You then release both thumbs and
start “vacuuming” the waste and water into the bucket.>
I also change the filter regularly.
<Given he’s an adult in a 40 gallon tank, “regular” should mean at least
every 2-4 weeks, determined by the water quality.>
However, lately my RES has been sleeping throughout the day and hardly
moving, and each day is getting worse. I fear it may be dying. It also
hasn't been eating because it sleeps all day.
<Unfortunately, those aren’t good signs.>
However, many times in the past, especially during the winter, my turtle
doesn't eat very often, so that's nothing new.
<While an indoor turtle’s appetite can diminish somewhat in the colder
months, they don’t get affected in the same way that an outdoor turtle
would. He should still be hungry/eating every few days otherwise you
should be starting to suspect that he might be ill.>
The sleeping all day is new though in the past month. It looks limp in
the tank, but wakes up from time to time.
<If he does survive this, the next time you want to take action much
sooner – after only a few days. This is because turtles are very stoic
by nature. By the time they’re showing actual physical signs of illness,
they’re likely very sick and have been sick a long time. And
unfortunately once they do show signs like this, they often go downhill
Also, in the past couple of months the tank has accumulated more waste
and has not been cleaned.
<I’m sure you know that you can’t keep a turtle this way (or any living
creature) and expect them to stay healthy. Even the best filter on the
market can’t keep up with turtle waste. And weekly water changes also
aren’t enough, especially if you’re feeding him in his tank vs. in a
separate container. You need to remove any waste you see each day, or
after feeding him, with a net and not allow it to break down in the
<Assuming he makes it through this, if your schedule doesn’t allow you
time to properly take care of him, the most humane thing you can do for
him is try to find someone who can and would be willing to adopt him.
And at the least, never leave him in dirty water. Better to take him and
keep him in a dry enclosure with heat lamp, UVB light, and access to
clean drinking water (see more about this below) until you can get
around to cleaning his enclosure. Just make sure if you do this that you
allow him to completely dunk in some cool clean water for a while each
I'm fearing the worst for my turtle, please help me.
<Will try, but if you want to save him, you need more than us right now.
First, take him out of the tank immediately and dry-dock him until his
appetite and behavior is back to normal. See the linked article here for
how to do that; look under the section entitled, “Isolation and
Dry-Dock” (and I’d also suggest reading the whole article) --
(Note: You didn’t mention specifics of your lighting but when you
dry dock him, in addition to a heat lamp or heating pad (see the article
for how to use the heating pad if that’s what you choose), you MUST have
a UVB light over him. If you don’t have a UVB, get one now. And if it’s
warm where you are, I’d also suggest taking him outside and letting him
get some sun (real UVB) each day.) >
<Next – you need to get him to a vet – ASAP. Given how ill he is, and
also how long he’s been ill, dry docking alone won’t be enough. And
nothing we can suggest here will replace what a vet can and should be
doing for him right now, including:
• Get some basic blood work on him, in particular to check for a
systemic infection. Once a turtle’s body gets run down from not
eating or from poor conditions such as poor water quality, they become
much more susceptible to opportunistic pathogens and infectious
• Prescribe injectable antibiotics if he does have an infection.
This will be the quickest and most effective method.
• Give him injectable forms of Vitamin A and Vitamin D. Given
what you’ve said about his eating, it’s likely he’s deficient in both.
As with the antibiotics, the injectable form of these vitamins is what
you want at this point, so a vet visit pronto is in order.
<You’re welcome Mike; write back if you have questions on any of this. I
do hope you can have him in to see a vet right away, and that he starts
to come around. Also, while you have him in dry-dock, read our basic
care link here and make whatever changes necessary in his care:
Red ear slider turtle. Sys., feeding them. GF... 1/17/13
<Hiya, Darrel here>
I have two red ear slider turtle that I got at the end of October. One
is a female and one male they are about 2-3 inches long. I recently
changed them to a bigger tank which is 25 gallons and up graded the
filter and basking dock. Well the question I had four goldfish in there
with them in a smaller 10 gallon tank and when I changed them to the
bigger tank three days later after all the upgrades I notice a gold fish
die and then a few hours later another one died.
<Almost certainly from Chlorine or Chloramine in the water>
The goldfishes had a red blood clot above its mouth and so do the other
fish. I am worried that my turtle might catch something and die. There
are two goldfish that are still alive with the red mark as well and they
never had it before. I cleaned out the tank half ways and put some fresh
water in it but I am really concerned for my turtles. I need to know
what I should do. I took the fish out as soon as I noticed them but seen
that the turtles had ate a little bit of one. Should I be concerned?
<No. Turtles, especially the Sliders, are quite tolerant of water
conditions. The fact that your goldfish died so quickly is a sure
sign that it was a toxin in the water. The fact that 2 survived is
a sign that the condition is mild, or that it improved.>
<Either way the turtles are not going to be affected>
<If the goldfish are decorative (pets) you'll need to pay more attention
to water quality - and be prepared for the eventuality of a turtle
biting a live one. If the goldfish were intended to be food,
remember that life fish are not part of a turtle's diet and not even
that good for them.
Turtles will thrive happily on koi pellets from the time they are
babies and into adulthood>
Re: Turtle Help, RES 1/17/13
Thanks for all the help you have giving me with buddy.
We haven't got moved to Texas yet but are very soon, Buddy's appetite
did get better
He is eating more than he was. I'm thinking it might have been the
change in the season that slowed down his appetite
<The length of daylight has that effect as well as lower daytime
temperatures. Remember, if it's not warm enough, digestion stops.
If they keep eating they can get sick. Better to under feed than
to over feed>
I'm glad he is back eating. I didn't like it to much when he didn't want
to eat I can't stand to see any animals or reptiles starving
<OK - but remember - animals RARELY die from lack of nutrition - as far
as food goes, they usually die from too much food - or the wrong kind of
<If you feed Buddy all the koi pellets he can eat in 5 minutes … just 3
times per week, he'll have proper nutrition>
just want to let y'all know he is doing good he is almost 5 inches long
now, he was about the size of a fifty cent piece when we first found him
<Good for Buddy! And for you!>
He loves it when I walk over to his tank. He likes fluttering when I put
my finger against his tank. He goes nuts when I move my finger off the
tank and when I put it back he flutters again. Is that his way of
telling me hi?
<That all have individual personalities. He may be happy for the
attention, or it may be excitement that food is coming … not much
different than my son>
Light For RES Turtle -
Hi! Vyushti here! I just got a light for my turtle Pluto. It's not a
UVB/UVA light but it gives off heat. The company is called Roxin,
all over the country. Its 30cm and 6W. Is this sufficient enough? And
how long should I keep it on?
<By itself, no, it isn't adequate. You do need a source of UV-B.
Assuming your turtle lives indoors, it will need a UV-B light. These are
inexpensive and widely sold. Lack of UV-B is a very, VERY common reason
for deformities and premature deaths. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Light For RES Turtle -
Hi Neale! So how long should I keep this light on? By the way we take
Pluto in the sun for around an hour everyday and provide him with boiled
and crushed vitamin D.
<Boiling vitamin D (or any other vitamin) will destroy it, so that's not
a good idea. If your turtle can have 2-3 hours of sunshine most days of
the year, he should be okay without the UV-B light. Do bear in mind
day-active reptiles like turtles will bask for many hours per day. Glass
stops UV-B from the Sun, which is why putting the vivarium next to a
window won't work. You do need a UV-B light if the turtle mostly lives
indoors. In any case, have a read of this excellent page over at
There's no real magic to providing the right lighting. You can
combination UV-B and heat lamps, and these are really useful if you want
to minimise on expense and hardware. See here, in the section about
"UV-B Heat Lamps (Self-Ballasted Mercury Vapor)" about two-thirds the
Heat and UV-B lamps should be on about 12 hours per day. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Light For RES Turtle 12/24/12
Thanks Neale, though I still haven't gotten my real question answered.
The light is a 6 Watt bulb which is 30 cm long. How long should I keep
it on and should it be on at night?
<UV-B lights should be kept on for about the same time as the heat lamp;
i.ee., around 12 hours per day. Cheers, Neale.>
A few questions regarding Ted Eared Sliders
I have two RES turtles and they are around 5 years old. I feel bad
because I can't provide them with a proper place to live. I currently
have them in my old bathtub witch I don't use, but I don't think they
are happy. I have some big rocks for them to climb on (which they do)
but I'm not sure if they should live like that. In my garden I have a
big pond (3.5m x 2m) filled with Koi fish
<Mixing turtles with fish is a bad idea. So don't do that. As for basic
care, have a read:
You can provide water, warmth, UV-B lighting, and a healthy diet for
relatively little money. But you do need all of these things (the UV-B
aspect especially is tempting to overlook but without it disease will
ALWAYS follow). Cheers, Neale.>
Red Ear Slider, sys. hlth. 11/13/12
<Hi Jenn; Sue here.>
I hope you can help me.
<We'll see what we can do!>
I have a 4 year old RES that is approximately 6 inches long. We have it
in a 10 gallon tank for now until we can afford a larger tank.
<At this size he really should be in a much larger enclosure. It doesn't
need to be expensive or even glass. For example, here's a 110 qt clear
plastic storage bin at Target for only $14.99. You can use something
like this either permanently or temporarily until you can afford
something else -
110 qt >
Over the past 3 or 4 days it has not been eating, has been closing its
eyes more often and having difficulty opening them at times. I also
noticed that the margins on the shell seem to be turning a shade of dark
pink. It has been fed dry turtle pellets since it was a baby and I have
never noticed any problems before now. Do you have any idea what could
possibly be wrong and what I can do to correct the problem?
<Without knowing more details, it sounds like at the very least he might
have a Vitamin A deficiency. Here's a link that talks more about this -
<Regardless of what it is, though, the first thing you should do when
you suspect any type of illness is to remove him from a watery
environment and place him in a dry enclosure with heat AND UVB (must
have both). This will give his immune system a boost. Here's a link with
instructions for how to set this up a��� look under the section a Isolation
and Dry-Dock. There's also another section in it that also talks about
Vitamin A deficiency -
<I realize you don't have a lot of money, but if you see his condition
deteriorate despite dry-docking him and giving him the home remedies for
Vitamin A deficiency mentioned in the above two links, then you really
should take him to a vet. Nothing can replace a hands-on examination. A
vet can look over his shell, skin, overall condition, and determine if
he has any sort of systemic infection. They'd also be able to give him a
Vitamin A injection, which is the best and quickest remedy. >
<You're welcome, Jenn. I'd also suggest that you re-examine the care and
set-up you've been giving him to make sure you have everything covered.
You didn't provide many details about it, but nearly all turtle
illnesses stem from either one, or a combination of, dietary and
environmental issues. It's critical that your turtle have a warm, dry
spot to completely haul out and bask every day (is he able to do that
effectively in a 10 gallon given his size?); heat, UVB, cool and clean
water (which also becomes more challenging in a smaller aquarium the
larger they get), proper water and heat temperatures, and a complete
diet. This care guide gets into all the details -
r.e.s turtle indoor enclosure 9/30/12
Hello WWM crew I am very new to this site and owning a turtle. I am a
college student and my pet turtle TAUnic was a gift. Although I didn’t
have time to read up turtle care before I got him he seems to be growing
fine. This site has enlightened me a lot! As of now TAUnic is living in
a shoe box sized plastic container (that sits by the window) with a rock
(which I learned here is useful for basking), from this site I’ve
learned that a UV light and other items are needed for him to continue
to live well (any additional advice on better living conditions are
welcomed). I was feeding him floating pellets but I decided to try dried
shrimp and he will not even look at the pellets. I know he can’t just
eat dried shrimp forever so any advice on what I should feed him and how
I can get him to eat something other than dried shrimp to ensure a
healthier diet would be greatly appreciated. I’ve also been told that he
is to green so I was wondering if maybe I clean him to much, I usually
clean his tank every 3-4 days or whenever I see fit (if you have any
tips on what to clean him with and how to clean him please let me know).
I’ve attached a couple of pictures in collage format for better
<Hello! Do have a read here:
Pretty much everything you want to know is there. Yes, there are good
cheap foods (pondweed, Koi pellets) and don't be afraid to let him
starve a few days if he doesn't eat them at once. Remove uneaten food of
course, wait until the next day, then offer some more! He'll get the
message soon enough. UV-B is important for Sliders kept indoors
(outdoors, even a couple hours sunshine gives them all the UV-B they
need). It's best to clean the water at least once a week, and the more
often, the better because Sliders are very messy, and potentially very
smelly, animals. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: r.e.s turtle indoor enclosure 10/4/12
Thank you so much for the information, the help, and just the overall
I love love TAUnic so much I only want the best for him. I have made
some changes to his home. He has a UV light and a basking light (I was
told to leave both of the lights on 24/7),
<No need to leave these lights on all day. 12-14 hours will be ample.>
swimming area, and a filter (also some water conditioner).
I couldn't find any pond weed but the people at the pet store told me
that the turtle pellets I had were similar to Koi pellets.
<Hmm… no, turtle pellets are not usually the same thing. By all means
use the turtle pellets you have for now. But when they are finished,
find Koi pellets. Cheaper, better, safer! Pondweed is the green weed
people put in goldfish tanks; sometimes called Elodea or Egeria. Again,
cheap and widely sold.>
I still would like to try to incorporate more fruits and veggies into
his diet so if you have any more suggestions I welcome them.
<Lettuce, spinach, cooked peas, cucumber all worth trying.>
I have a picture here of his new place, please let me know what changes
should be made. Thank you! Thank you!
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: r.e.s turtle indoor enclosure - 10/04/12
One last question do I drop the cucumber, spinach and stuff in the water
or take him out and feed him that?
<You can put small bits of green foods in his aquarium and see what he
does. It may take a day or two for such food to soften up, and remember,
if he's used to pellets, it may take a few days starvation to get him
wanting to eat green foods. Hmm… do read here:
Some people do feed in one aquarium, then have them living in another.
But if that's too much fuss, then just remember [a] not to overfeed and
[b] to remove uneaten green food once it gets slimy and messy. Cheers,
Red eared sliders in the garage over winter 9/1/12
Thank you in advance for your time. Long story short, I inherited
4 baby Red eared sliders. I put them in one of my old 20 gal tanks and
put it in my garage. They have been doing great. Next summer, I hope to
be able to put them in my 2000 gal Koi pond. However, this winter is the
problem. I already have two saltwater aquariums, 70gal and 180 gal. My
wife said hell will freeze over before another tank is set up in the
house. I live in southern Indiana. Even though last year was pretty
mild, it can get quite cold. My plan is to either keep them in the 20
gal or purchase a larger stock tub and keep them in my garage this
winter. The garage is insulated but not heated. I've already have UVB
bulbs and heat lamps. I can also add some heaters to the water to keep
it warm. Will this work? Even if I heat the water, the air will
obviously not be as warm as it should be, especially at night when the
heat light goes off or when I open the door to get the cars out. Or, am
I thinking completely wrong here and shouldn't provide heat and let them
hibernate? Any help with this matter would be greatly appreciated.
<Hello Brian. You are quite right not to let them hibernate. Red-Ear
Sliders do not hibernate, and in fact getting any kind of reptile to
hibernate is very difficult to do properly and needs careful
understanding of the balance of size and weight (the Jackson Ratio) for
that species before they go to sleep. Red-Ear Sliders have only moderate
tolerance for cold, and winters in their natural habitat, the southern
United States, tend to be mild and any really cold periods are brief. So
while they do become inactive when it's cold, they don't need to do so
for very long, and physiologically can't tolerate extended periods of
inactivity brought on by a long, cold winter. Even here in England where
they have become established, they only live in relatively warm
microclimates, primarily cities, and when it does get really cold these
populations die back considerably -- only to be topped up again when
unthinking pet-owners dump unwanted specimens back in the city ponds!
Anyway, basic care for this species is summarised at the link below, and
particularly for overwintering, the system used can be very basic.
So long as you have a heating lamp (which works through infrared) the
air temperature in the garage won't matter overmuch, but if you can
stick an aquarium heater protected with a heater guard in the water,
that could be used to make sure the water doesn't get too cold (turn the
heater down to its lowest setting). Insulating the aquarium or tub would
be useful too.
correct turtle setup?
<Hiya Miike. Darrel here>
Just want to say your site is awesome!!!
<Thank you for your kind words>
Very informational, but I have included pictures of my turtles and
setup to make sure it's correct.
I have a RES just given to us is 8in in length and a painted turtle 4in
in length that we have had almost a year. They are in a 55 gal tank
probably a little undersized according to 10 gal. per in. but as you
can see they have a completely separate basking area 18 in wide by 16
in long inside
<It's a little small, yes, but not a lot. A 55 gallon
"show" tank is only 12 inches wide, so an 8 inch turtle may
feel a little cramped. Make sure that no internal
decorations might wedge her tight some place>
The tank has a power head pump for circulation w/medium Repto filter
next to it and on the other side of the tank is a whisper 30-60 double
filter. I wash them once a week all three and change 50% of water and
add flukers (eco clean) all natural waste remover.
<That's all great!>
There is a marimo moss ball, another bulb plant and a few fake ones.
There are two snails
<Turtles will happily eat snails if they get hungry>
and two preset heaters for 76 degrees.
<That's a little warm. The water should be room
temperature (68 -73
A 18in 10,000k daylight Coralife fluorescent and a zoo med ReptiSun 5.0
uvb in a dome fixture next to it above the water.
<Both good - make sure they aren't so close that they can burn
We're looking for a basking temperature of around 88-92
Then here is the new basking area I built with a 50w infrared heat glo
lamp from Exo terra and two standard 25w aquarium bulbs.
<Again - sounds good AS LONG as the heat from those bulbs
doesn't burn or even over-heat things>
Trying to be specific as possible. Lol.
<You're doing fine.>
Now when we got the big RES he had what looked like green algae on his
shell washed it off and it hasn't come back but he seems to shed
nonstop skin and shell.
<That's a good sign. It means she's growing!>
Used some vitashell a few times .
<I don't use any of that stuff. Clean water, basking and
UV-B lamps keep the skin and shell in great shape>
Wondering what you think?
<I think you're doing fine. The pictures you sent
convey a tank that is well set up, but it looks cluttered - like there
is no open space. Make sure they have room to turn around and
that there is nothing they could get caught on or under.
Also, remember that they are incredible CLIMBERS -- if they can reach
the lip of the lamp by leaning up on the glass, they could get
Thank you mike
tolerance to salt water systems 1/18/12
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have two freshwater sliders (20 years old and 11 years old). They
live in my swimming pool (approx 25 gal).
<You have a 25 gallon swimming pool?>
I'm thinking of switching to a salt system which they say has a
salt level of 1 tsp/gallon. Do you think that would be too much salt
exposure for these turtles?
<No - the salt is not the problem. 1 tsp per gallon is often added
to fish and turtle and Koi tanks just to ease the parasite
<The PROBLEM is the electrolysis used. The salt to chlorine method
puts salt in the water and then the chlorinator passes a small electric
current across two plates (and into the water) that causes the salt
(sodium chloride) to release part of it's chloride into the water
(which is why salt systems are still using chlorine to sterilize the
<In any case, the amount of electrical current in the water is
nothing to people our size & body mass - but the effects on turtles
has never been studied. My guess is that it will have almost
imperceptible negative long term consequences.>
<SO I think this is the perfect time to consider making them a home
of their own!>
Red Ear Slider... sys. 1/13/12
<Hi, Sue here with you.>
I just bought two Red Ear Sliders today from a man who had a bunch in
his pond. All the turtles were of various sizes and I picked out the
two smallest. I went looking online to find out how to build them a
good habitat and was a little disappointed. I had wanted to give them
something more "pond" like and I'm not able to find any
pictures or articles for that matter surrounding my idea.
<I remember having that same frustration when I was trying to get
ideas for building a turtle pond! There wasn't much written
specifically written about them on the web, and little to nothing in
the way of photos. There ARE some things out there but you do have to
do quite a bit of *digging* (no pun intended!) to find them.>
All the pictures I see are fish tanks filled with water and have
filters, all with some type of basking item such as a rock or log or
whatever. Since mine came from the wild I wanted something more
"pond" like as to not, pardon the pun, shell shock them. I
was thinking of a tank separated to have an earthy side and a pond
side.....any ideas on how to achieve this "pond"-like
<Yes, another crew member and I both have outdoor and indoor ponds,
but it would be helpful first to know which one you're planning to
put in. I assume it's indoor because you mentioned the word
'tank' but let us know for sure. It would also be helpful to
know how large an enclosure you're thinking of, and how much
overall space you have to work with. We're also planning to publish
an article on our site about turtle ponds (hopefully in time for
spring!) that should also have a few photos (and/or links to some
photos) of indoor and outdoor ponds.>
Does it HAVE to have a filter? I realize that's to help keep it
clean but I'm not needing that to do the job for me...
<You say that now. In time you'll be looking for ANYTHING or
ANYONE to help you do that job for you! >
<Water in a pond or larger body of water will stay cleaner longer
than a small tank because there's more water to dilute the turtle
waste. However, I still use filters for my ponds and it DOES make a
difference vs. not having one at all. But it's important to know
what a filter in a turtle tank CAN and CANNOT do. Will it ever be able
to keep up with turtle waste? NO. However, the filter media such as
carbon will help with odor and water clarity. It won't eliminate
the need for cleaning (water changes, periodic thorough clean-ups and
netting up waste in *dead spots*). But it will help to cut down on the
frequency of cleaning!>
<Additionally, besides a filter, it also helps to have a circulator
(depending on how large the body of water is) as well as either a
bubbler, spitter or waterfall to keep the water moving so it
doesn't get that *stagnant* look after it sits a few days (which
makes it appear more dirty). A waterfall in particular will also give
your pond a more *natural* feel to it as well as add to your OWN
<If you write back and give us some more specifics about the size of
your space and where you plan to have the pond, we'll be happy to
give you some ideas.>
Re: Question on Red Eared Slider, sys. 1/18/12
Thanks for the reply,
<That's what we're here for! That and the free food!>
My comment on "sort of happy" was in regards to Tio not being
a female but in the long run I won't have to worry about this
aspect of his care and well being. I have seen your comments on the
UGF, what indicators would manifest themselves should my UGH start to
produce bad results? Cloudy water, foul smell, high ammonia, etc.?
<Not in a turtle environment, really. What happens is that detritus
gets trapped under the filter plate and no amount of siphoning will
ever clear it up. So no matter how thorough a job you do, a really
brisk stirring of the substrate will generate particulates in the
<BECAUSE Tio is a turtle, he's not overly susceptible to high
amounts of Ammonia, etc. but over time you'll get a slight foul
smell and need to change water even MORE frequently>
One option that I do have is to connect the Magnum 350 to one of the
up-tubes of the UGF and with the flow rate of the filter, it may remove
most of this. I had an UGF on a 30 gallon tank with about 30-40
different barbs and tetras, no other filter and I went around 7 years
without having to touch the tank, just add water.
<Right!!! But now consider Tio to be the waste output of 350 Barbs.
The UGF in a 30 gallon tank could not possibly keep up with that much
<That's all I'm saying, Joe. Trust me when I tell you Tio
doesn't care what his bottom substrate looks like, so do what you
find esthetic and convenient.>
This is what I am trying to achieve with Tio's habitat; may not be
possible but will keep trying. I will spread the word on your site,
best response of any site of any kind I have used in the past.
Joe & Tio
Question on Red Eared Slider
<Hiya, Darrel here>
I have a Red Eared Slider which I believe is around 4- years old and I
am trying to determine the sex. She,( I assume
it's a female ) has short claws and one day as she was floating in
front of the glass, a black object came out of the rear of the turtle
and opened up into what can best be described as a flowery
shaped object with a small hole in the center.
<Ummm .. well .... er ... ah ....>
At first I thought this would be a male part but when it opened up I
was really confused.
<That's what we call his ... um .... Party Animal ... if you get
No doubt he's a male.>
Any help would be appreciated.
<How'd I do?>
Do you reply directly to emails or through the forum?
<We try to do both. You get your answer directly and then we post it
and file it for posterity.>
Thanks for any help you can provide
<Yer welcome! But some day, when you hit it big in the Lottery,
remember us via the DONATE button on the FAQ page>
Re: Question on Red Eared Slider 1/12/12
Thanks for the quick reply, I am sort of happy with your evaluation
<Sort of happy? Or goal is 100% satisfaction - or we'll refund
double your questions!>
as I was getting worried that if it was a female, and it may not be
able to drop it's eggs and suffer a terrible fate! One last
question, I had tropical fish for around 30 years
and had great success with under gravel filters which I have on Tio
Dosio's ( named after my Granddaughter's Uncle ) tank along
with a Magnum 350 deluxe canister filter. Seems to be conflicting
reports on the use of these with turtle tanks. It has been up and
running for almost 2 weeks, water is crystal clear, ammonia .25 PPM,
still to test for nitrites, etc. Any comments?
<Sure. Undergravel filters are not actually EVIL, Joe. The problem
is that, by their very design, the waste product that does not break
down biologically (called detritus) is trapped UNDER the filter where
you can never get to it. The mot thorough vacuuming of the bottom
gravel still leaves organic matter under the plate, laying there, being
organic waste. So - while they are an efficient biological filter, they
are made LESS efficient by this trapped waste matter.>
<NOW '¦ it all comes down to load. A 55 Gallon tank with 26
guppies would have a very efficient biological filter. Virtually all
the organic waster would be trapped in the sand and broken down - and
it would be 30 years (again) before the detritus would build up to
significant levels. But Turtles are eating, swimming and pooping
MACHINES. That same 55 gallon tank, containing say, 3 adult turtles -
would need a biological filter the size of the Everglades to 100%
process that much waste. So we normally advise turtle people the filter
system should be geared toward keeping the water CLEAR (as opposed to
clean) and usually holds large quantities of charcoal to keep the odors
at bay. And then siphon the bottom weekly and change the water
<As Tio grows, his waste output will overwhelm the biological filter
in the gravel-bed and you will be hard pressed to vacuum it all out --
BUT '¦ as long as it works for you, it works!>
<Lastly, turtles are, compared to fish, incredibly tolerate of water
quality. Any water that you'd drink out of your tap is just fine
with them, so don't sweat the actual nitrogen-cycle
Again, thanks for the help
Joe and Tio!