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FAQs About Turtle Systems: Basking Areas

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

Related FAQs:  Turtle Systems 1, Turtle Systems 2, & Further Subdivided FAQs on Turtle Systems: Turtle Enclosures, Turtle System Filtration, Turtles & Light (UV plus), Turtle System Heating, Turtle Substrates & Decor, 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

Albino red eared sliders in the sun     6/26/16
<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 sunlight.
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 hatched>
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.
Patrick Hempe

Asking question about res      9/14/15
How do I ask a question?
<You just did! Hiya - Darrel here.>
My red eared slider stopped basking about two weeks ago and I can't get any information anywhere on this topic except in the cases of new turtles. I have had her for a year. Can I get some direction please?
<Yes. First don't worry. Remember to look at it from her perspective:
She hauls out and basks in order to warm up when she feel's it's safe.
Water turtles feel vulnerable when basking and safe in water and if they are nervous they'll stay in the water so let's start from the inside and work our way outside. What is the water temperature? If the temp is over 80 degrees it's very possible she just doesn't want to bask. Was the lamp moved or the basking area changed? Any changes in the room? Dogs, kids,
Air Conditioners or fans that would make frightening distractions or weird vibrations?>
<Has she been injured lately? A fall, a scrape, anything like that? Is she otherwise active? Moves around, swims to the glass when she sees you? Is she eating well?>
<If all these seem to be in line (active, alert, eating, no threats) just let her be herself for a month or so and then as the season starts to change we'll see what she does>

Established Red-Eared Slider Refuses New Basking Area        9/10/15
Hi there.
<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 until lately.
<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>
Torrance, CA

Re: Established Red-Eared Slider Refuses New Basking Area       9/25/15
Hi Darrel,
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.
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>
Take care,

she basks!

Red infrared basking light for turtles       4/30/15
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I was here before when my African side neck turtle was acting strange, and she is doing great thanks to your advice!
<Happy to hear that>
I now have a question about lighting. I recently upgraded my tank to a 75 gallon, and so I needed a new basking bulb because the one on my 40 gallon wasn't keeping the basking area at the desired temperature. By recommendation from the staff at my local pet store, I bought an Exo Terra Infrared basking spot bulb which also produces red light. I've been using
for a week, and my turtle seems fine with it. However, I lot of people have told me that red infrared will injure their eyes, and they can become blind. Is this true?
<nope. He sun produces plenty of that wavelength and the world is not filled with blind turtles or frogs or anything else.>
<That said, the purpose for infrared is to produce heat using a light that doesn't disturb the animals at night. In other words we use red bulbs when we're trying to heat the animals while they sleep. A bulb that goes on in the morning and out in the evening doesn't need to be red.>
Should I go buy a new bulb immediately? I definitely do not want to hurt my little buddy.
Also, she does have a uvb light as well. I keep both on on a 12 hour cycle.
I attached a picture of the bulb I purchased. Thank you for your help! I love your website, you give great advice!
<Thank you - we try. The Pay Off to Bob and the rest of us crew members is people like you who TAKE the advice and make better lives for our wet friends. Keep up the good work

RES; beh. basking       1/25/15
We have a 1 year old RES and just recently upgraded his tank. He now refuses to bask or even come out of the water. He is still eating and swimming well.
<Good. Turtles are prey animals, despite their shells, and tend to go into the water when alarmed. If you changed his tank in the last couple days, he may feel threatened. Staying in the water is one way for him to avoid going out into what seems like a strange new world. Time may be all that's required.>
Other than lighting and size of the tank, nothing has changed. I have an in water heater as well as a heating light above the basking rock.
<There's no need to heat the water. Turtles warm up under the heat lamp (and soak up UV-B under the UV-B lamp) and then dip into the water to cool down. That's how they thermoregulate. Unless the room is unusually cold, it'll be fine for them at room temperature. In fact if the water was a bit cooler, he'd have to come out onto his rock to bask.>
Any ideas?
<Does he have UV-B lighting? Lack of UV-B is a common cause of problems; indeed, alongside lack of calcium, it is probably the most common cause of problems. Since you haven't mentioned UV-B, that's would be my first question for you, and the first thing we'd want to "tick off" our list of possible problems. Lack of UV-B leads to all sorts of problems, including skeletal and neurological ones, either of which can explain strange movements and behaviours.>
Thank you,
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Red Ear Sliders; overwintering         1/5/15
Hi there,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have two red eared sliders that I got as babies 8 years ago. They lived in an inside aquarium up until last year as they got too big. They now live outside on my balcony in a prefab pond. I have a filter, basking area and a heater. I live in Southern California where it's generally warm.
<Yes. Generally they don't need a heater at all.>

However, we've had some really cold nights and I'm frightened that the turtles are suffering...daytime highs are mid sixties. Nighttime lows are low forties/high thirties. I know sliders are supposed to hibernate at temps below 50, but I'm afraid it's not cold enough....or that it's cold enough at night, but not during the day. I've heard that this "middle ground" can be very stressful for the turtles.
<That is right, it can be>
Should I bring the turtles in for the season?
<You certainly can.>
Perhaps just in at night?
<Some people do that as well>

I would appreciate any guidance you can give me. I've spent hours reading about hibernation, but haven't found any real information on what to do in this "middle-ish" climate.
<OK - here's the deal. It depends on your pond. The deeper the pond the more heat it will retain during the night, especially if you have a heater. My adult Sliders, also here in Southern California, live all year long in an un-heated outdoor pond that is two and a half feet deep. During the month or so that it gets chilly here, they tend to settle to the bottom when there's no sunshine to soak up and they get along just fine.>
<Other people take their sliders in for the winter by placing them in a closed cardboard box in a corner in the garage.>
<In your case, if the water is heated to at least 60 degrees during the day, all I'd add is a 125 watt heat lamp over the basking area. If they are otherwise healthy they'll be fine. I wouldn't feed them again until it warms up … but they act so needy and beg so well that I'll even break that rule once in a while myself>
Thank you so much for your help.
Re: Red Ear Sliders        1/5/15

Thank you SO much for getting back to me! This is just the info I needed!!! I appreciate your help! Happy New Year!! :-)

Turtle And Her Dock     12/15/14
Hi Crew!
<Hiya - Darrel here>
Recently (literally yesterday), I got my 3-inch yellow-bellied turtle a basking dock. She adapted to it right away. The entire day she sat on it, that's it. She never moved off the dock as soon as she learned how to get on.
Is this normal?
<It's not AB-normal>
I heard of turtles not wanting to get on their dock, but my turtle doesn't want to get off. This morning, I nudged her a little to get her to swim in the water and she did for two minutes.
As of now, she has found her way back up the dock. I'm worried, is she supposed to act that inactively? Or am I just a typical worrying pet caregiver?
<Tut, tut, tut don't worry so much. LOL HA HA HAH -- see how I made a joke? "tut tut tut" is an old way of minimizing someone's concern, sorta like "pfft" is today … but since your turtle is named Tut ….. LOL sometimes I crack myself up!>
<Ahem. If Tut is on a basking dock, she either wants to be out of the water or she wants to be warmer than the water. Your water should be room temperature (69-73 degrees or so) and your basking dock should be under a heat lamp (88-93 degrees or so) and so Tut gets to choose to warm up or to cool down. If you aren't offering her that heat gradient then he may just stay wherever she is>
<another possibility is she doesn't like the water. If it's too hot? Sometimes a heater will 'leak' electricity and they feel a little tingle when they are in the water. She shouldn’t have a heater if she's indoors>
<The most important thing is this: Is Tut bright and alert? Her eyes follow you when you come into the room? She eats well? If this is the case, don't worry too much. Also, read this: >
Thank you,
Kat and her turtle, Tut
Re: Turtle And Her Dock     12/26/14

I like the joke!
<Thanks! I'll be here all week… be sure to tip your server>
I got her to eat a little after noticing she started tearing up the dock and (trying) biting the fish. When I put her back into the big tank, she swam quickly and is now swimming around.
The water temp is about 76.4 degrees Fahrenheit because she lives with goldfish. Her basking is about 73-ish. I don't have a lamp because the tank has an built-in light on the top.
I don't think that the heater is leaking I put my fingers in there and I didn't feel anything.
<The built-in light at the top isn't a heat lamp - it's just a viewing lamp. It doesn't have to be an expensive built-in heat lamp… an ordinary incandescent bulb on a clamp-lamp from a home improvement store would do just fine … but the temperature needs to be higher that 73.>
<In fact, goldfish are not really "tropical fish" and do best in temperature from 60-70 or so --
what I'm saying is that for turtles and for goldfish, your water temp is too hot -- and your backing temp is too low. I also suspect that your built-in hood lamp doesn't provide UV-B while Tut is basking>
<Read the link I sent you last time and remember - what little care Tut needs … she NEEDS.>

Red Ear Slider       9/15/14
I own two red ear slider(Swimmi and Hippi) and they're around 20/25 years old and I've been taking care of them for 9 years now. While I was cleaning the aquarium yesterday I found some really, and I do mean like extremely, small, around 1mm perhaps, black insects crawling on the surface of their basking area and also on the bottom of the tank (I don't have any gravels).
They're so small and I can't identify them through photos and I can't even take photos of them cause they're so small. I checked my turtles thoroughly and there's no insects on them nor do their skin look affected. How do I get rid of them and are they dangerous?
<The ones above the waterline -- or crawling about on top of the water -- are likely collembolans (springtails) or some other sort of primitive
hexapod. No risk to your turtles at all, but do thrive where there is (a) humidity and (b) lots of organic matter to eat, so could be an indication
your vivarium needs more frequent cleaning. Removal is trivial (brush or rinse affected stones/ornaments outdoors) but these creatures will quickly return if conditions favour them. Impact on your vivarium is nil though, so possibly not worth worrying about. Small organisms under the waterline also unlikely to be an issue. If insect-like, they're probably tiny crustaceans or some sort of larval stage to an insect. Again, physical removal is an option, though not worthwhile if conditions favour their prompt return, i.e., an abundance of organic detritus for them to eat. Cheers, Neale.>

Quick Basking question     2/16/13
I have two female 4 year old sliders in excellent health. On nice days I let them go outside in a raised bed that is impossible to escape from. In the sun it can reach 80-85 degrees F and in the shade it says 68-70 F. They always have access to shade if needed.
Is there any harm in letting them be outside for a couple of hours at a time.
<No harm at all likely. Please read here as well:
<Welcome. Bob Fenner> 


floating dock (turtles)    10/3/12
<Hi Charlene, Sue here with you.>
i have 4 yellow slider turtles.....my problem is the floating rock is constantly growing algae and i can’t get it cleaned... it is real heavy now....is there a safe way to clean it...or should i buy another one...
<Yes, there is a way to clean it safely -- but -- I think your primary focus should be to address what’s causing such excessive algae growth in the 1st place, and try to prevent it from occurring. Generally speaking, excessive algae growth is caused by an imbalance/overload of organic material (excess food, waste, etc. ) in comparison to the amount of water there is in your aquarium. >
<You say you have 4 yellow slider turtles – how big are they and how big is their enclosure?  Depending on those answers, it could be that you need a bigger system.>
<What temperature are you keeping your water at?  Water that is too warm will encourage algae growth. Water temperature for turtles should be kept on the cool side, around 68-70 degrees F.>
<How are you positioning your heat and UVB lamp?  My guess is that if you have a free floating basking rock, that a good amount of light might be hitting the water instead of on the basking rock. Both types of lights will encourage algae growth. You might want to consider a stationary basking area/platform with the lights placed directly above it.>
<What are you doing to keep the water clean? Do you have a powerful filter? For turtles - especially 4 of them - you need a filter that's rated many times more than the amount of water that's in the system. Also, how often are you changing the water?>
or is there a way to make them ??
<Either way is fine.  Hard to say in your case because you don’t mention the size of your turtles. If they’re all adult size it’s going to be hard to find a pre-made one that's capable of fitting all of them on it at the same time, so you may have to consider making a custom size one.>
PetSmart adv i could bleach them safely .....just wasn’t sure ...
<Yes, you can take the floating rock out of the water, wash it with a diluted bleach solution, and then rinse it off several times THOROUGHLY before putting it back in the water. Again though, try to address/fix the CAUSE for the algae, not just the symptom. Here's a link to our basic care guide – read it all through, especially the areas in question I mentioned above, and make whatever changes are necessary to get the water more in balance.  You want to avoid chronic excessive algae growth as that leads to decay in the water and eventually can cause various shell diseases.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<You’re welcome, Charlene; hope this helps!>

Red Eared Slider won't stay in the Water     7/6/12
We have a Red Eared Slider that is about the size of your palm (3-3 1/2").  Unfortunately we went on vacation and left someone to care for him (we think it's a male).  Before we left he was always active and lived mostly in the water, yet would bask appropriately under his UV or Heat Lamp.  His eating habits were better when he was younger...he would take food from out hands...but prior to our leaving his eating wasn't what it used to be.
<Often decreased appetite is the first sign that they’re not feeling well.>
Unfortunately when we returned his water was TERRIBLE...cloudy, algae, old food, etc....I usually change it every two weeks..with proper additives and filter change. 
<What do you mean by additives? As long as your water is safe for you to drink, no sort of additive is needed.>
He is in a 20 Gallon Tank with about 11 Gallons of water has a 50 Gal/hr filter and was fine before we left.  When we returned home he was on his basking rock and not in the water...I figured it was because it was so dirty...I immediately cleaned his tank, replaced the water with clean treated water.
<Re: treating water – as above.>
He won't get in the water...I put him in the tank and he stays on his basking rock with head  legs and tail out like normal. When I try and place him in the water he floats, then swims back to his basking Rock.
Is he sick?...
<Could be – turtles will often spend more time basking when they’re not feeling well. It’s also possible he’s feeling stressed from all the changes that happened over a short period of time. Turtles are creatures of habit and often don’t like ANY change in their care or environment - whether it’s for the better or for the worse!>
<However, you also mentioned his appetite wasn’t the same even before you went away. So it could also be that he’s starting to show some ill effects from a problem either in his care and/or habitat that’s existed for a long time. Because of their slow metabolism, it can often take turtles months, sometimes even longer, before they actually start showing signs of illness. So my first recommendation is to carefully read over our basic care article in this link,
to compare the care you’ve been providing to what’s recommended in the article, and to make whatever changes necessary. In particular, compare your lighting (must specifically be UVB), check your water quality (do some water testing just before you clean the tank), and also make sure that the land and water temperatures are both in the recommended ranges. Also compare the diet you’re feeding him (not only the ‘what’ but also ‘how much’ and ‘how often’) to the recommendations in the article.>
Should I take him to a Vet?......When I put him in a smaller container, with water, to feed him, he is active eats some....but moves around like normal.
It's been 3 days since I cleaned his tank and replaced the water, but he won't stay in the water.
<We’ll try! The fact that he’s still active and eating at least a little are both good signs. What I’d suggest is to err on the side of caution and respond as though he’s not feeling well. Remove him from the water completely for a week or two and place him in a warm dry environment except for a few minutes each day. This link below tells you exactly how to do this – read under ‘Isolation’:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind2.htm >
<The ‘isolation’ treatment won’t hurt him at all if he’s not sick; in fact it will even help by giving his body a rest and his immune system a little boost. And he may not mind the warm and dry since that’s what he seems to be seeking out right now anyway. Having said that though, don’t be alarmed if HE’S not crazy about his new temporary quarters! >
<Good luck! Give this a try, read over both links, and write back if you need any clarifications or any new concerns come up. ~ Sue>
Re: Red Eared Slider won't stay in the Water

Sorry – I just noticed the 2nd link I gave you with the instructions for ‘Isolation’ is wrong; here’s the correct link!
Re: Red Eared Slider won't stay in the Water     7/8/12

 Thank you for your response......the additives are to control Algae, his Waste and a Clarifier that has been recommended by Vets and other people with more knowledge than I have all are to try and keep his water clearer. 
<Understood, but … you also have a turtle that’s sick right now (and was showing signs of illness before you went away) despite the advice you’ve been given.  I understand it’s tempting to use these products, but unfortunately when it comes to turtles and water quality, there are no good substitutions, quick fixes, or short cuts for clean, clear water – water additives and filters included.  Once every two week water changes is likely not cutting it for you given that you’ve got him in only 11 gallons of water (the smaller the tank, the quicker the water becomes dirty and the more it needs to be changed).  I’d suggest upping the water changes to at least once a week (if not more).>
<Also water in smaller tanks tends to be more vulnerable to the heat given off by the lamps – which makes the water even more hospitable to algae growth, especially when food and organic matter is left in the water.  Any waste or uneaten food should be promptly removed (netted up or siphoned); don’t allow it to sit and decompose in the water.  Or better yet - feed him in a separate container (plastic bin is fine) filled with a couple of inches of water, and then simply dump it when he’s done.  I’d also try to position your lamps away from the water and directly on the basking area as best you can.>
<All these additional things should be done regardless of additives and filters to maintain good water quality.  And if you’re doing them properly the water WILL be clean and clear -- then you can use the money you would have spent on additives to buy something else - maybe save up for a larger enclosure and more powerful filter which he’ll eventually need anyway.>
I have spent hours trying to make sure he is well taken care of, before we went on vacation he was acting normal eating and active.  There has only once been an issue, and of course he went to the Vet and acted normal.
<Unfortunately smaller tanks are often more, rather than less, work when it comes to turtles.>
I've tried extra heat, but as of today he hasn't eaten in over 5 days.  He has his head out, but he is very slow to move.  He was in the water, but it was probably by accident, because he wasn't swimming, just floating.
<It’s not just extra heat he needs; he needs the Isolation (warm and dry OUT of the aquarium) method that I recommended to you in my 1st reply (refer to the link I sent you in that reply).  It was likely he was in the water not by accident but to try and cool off from the added basking heat you gave him. This is what you want to happen when he’s healthy but NOT when he’s sick. A humid environment where water is present 24/7 (regardless of whether he’s actually in the water or not) can be harmful when a turtle is sick as this is the very environment that bacteria and fungi thrive in – and they’re more than happy to seize the opportunity to take advantage of a debilitated turtle.>
<Once he’s all better, then yes, make whatever necessary changes in your care according to the recommendations  in our Basic Care guide that I linked you to in my 1st reply, including his water and basking temperatures if they’re different than what’s recommended in our guide.  HEALTHY turtles need cool water (68-70 degrees) and warm (88-90 degree), dry land with a heat bulb and a UVB bulb (strip UVB lighting preferable as distribution of UVB rays is better).>
When I add heat if he's hot he will move toward his UV Light
<Again -- check to make sure the bulb is specifically a UVB bulb. He needs UVB now while he's in Isolation and also later when he's feeling better and back in his aquarium.>
.....but eyes are closed, legs out, tail out....will move them slowly if I pick him up, or put him in a smaller container.
<It definitely sounds like he’s gotten worse since you last wrote.  He not only needs the Isolation but additional treatment.  Eyes closed are almost always due to a Vitamin A deficiency.  If he's really moving this little, I'd suggest bringing him to the vet ASAP for vitamin injections (and have her assess if he also needs injectable antibiotics), but in the meantime read here for how to treat Vitamin A deficiency at home:
The only caveat to this link is that we now recommend Isolation and not putting turtles back in the aquarium again until they’re well. >
<Also, the link I sent you in my 1st reply for Isolation has a section on Vitamin A deficiencies and recommends some additional treatments. >
Could he be fighting going into Hibernation......he has never been colder than 74-75 degrees, and has lived in the same habitat for over a year.
<No – he’s sick.>
If he's ill...what could it be...there are no bubbles...according to the Vet that would be a respiratory issue.....he's just not active, eating or acting normal.
I think it's getting worse.
<I agree; he needs proper treatment NOW before he gets any worse:
•  As I recommended in my original note, remove him from the aquarium and follow the Isolation instructions in the prior link I sent you for how to keep him that way.  The enclosure can be as simple as a 12” deep or so plastic storage bin or even a cardboard box.  He WILL need access to water every day to drink and poop, but ONLY for a few minutes.
•  Again, make sure his light is UVB. He needs this now while he’s sick and also when he’s healthy. UVB is what helps turtles properly digest/convert food into the vitamins they need, and is also important for their immune system/functioning.
•  Read and follow the recommendations for treating Vitamin A deficiency that I sent you in this reply, and also in the Isolation link I sent you in my original reply.
•  Consider taking him to a vet for a Vitamin A injection, and possibly also a Vitamin D as well (preferably one who specializes in turtles or at least herps, even birds). While treating orally (by mouth, not eyes – he needs to ingest it) is OK, the most optimum and quickest treatment is by injection (after the injections, though, you should still continue to treat him orally until he’s all better).
•  Once he’s better and eating again, make whatever changes are necessary in his diet (including not only what, but also how much and how often you’re feeding him), and also to his environment (all the things I already mentioned and that are in our basic care guide).  >
<If you read and follow these recommendations promptly, you should start to see him improving in a couple of days.  However, if instead you see him becoming worse during this time, you’ll need to take him back to the vet again, because at that point it’s likely he developed a systemic infection and will require injectable antibiotics. >
<Good luck; let us know how things go. If you do write again, though, please give us more specifics about how you were taking care of him before he got sick. This is because nearly every turtle illness boils down to a problem in their diet or environment.  ~ Sue>
Re: Red Eared Slider won't stay in the Water     7/9/12

Thank you for everything ...unfortunately Mr. T went last night!!!!!
<I’m very sorry for your loss, as I know the rest of our crew is too. Turtles are very stoic when they’re sick which helps protect them in the wild from predators, but that strategy unfortunately doesn’t serve them well as pets. By the time they show symptoms they’ve often been ill for a long time.  Should you ever decide to get another one, hopefully you’ll find the information I sent you useful. Our crew has had years’ of experience keeping turtles, so if you ever come across any advice that conflicts with something you’ve seen on our website, do write us before acting on it, and we’ll be happy to clarify for you. Best wishes to you, Sue >

Won't bask     7/1/12
<Hi Lisa, Sue here with you.>
Our family was given a wild RES recently & we pretty much bought him the Mercedes model tank (tank, lights, filter, landing, etc.).
<Sounds great! Just make sure one of the lights is specifically UVB; UVA alone is not enough.>
Problem is he won't stop swimming.  Is this normal?  Shouldn't he get up on the landing to bask under the light?  We are concerned he is getting too tired.  Any help would be most appreciated! 
<It’s very common for them to become anxious when they’re placed in a new environment. He should start to calm down in a few days.  You also want to make sure that there is enough of a temperature gradient between the water and his basking spot so that he’s encouraged to get out of the water to warm up and completely dry off.  Many sites unfortunately recommend too warm of a water temperature. Water temp should only be around 68-70 degrees F; basking temperature in the 88-90 degree F range.>
<You’re welcome, Lisa.  Sounds like you’ve already done your research, but since you’re a new turtle mom, I’m also going to give you a link to our basic care guide so you can make sure you have all the bases covered as far as his care needs.  Read it over and feel free to write us back if you have any more questions!

Red Eared Slider Not Basking (UNCLASSIFIED)  1/3/12
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE
<She obviously doesn't know me very well, or she's have PLENTY of caveats>
<Hiya - Darrel here>
Hoping you guys can help me,
<I often hope that, too>
I have a Female 4 yr old Red Eared Slider.
<Is her name Slookie, by any chance?>
Have had her since she was like 2in. Here's what happened - She used to be in a nice bright room in a 55 gal tank. We decided to upgrade so I bought a used 125gal tank. The tank is so big we had to set it up in my basement, which has very little natural light, unless we are down there to open the door and such. We are down there quite a bit just to check on her and keep her company. About 2 months after we had her in the new tank I noticed she wasn't herself, and I started to see pitting on her shell. Like small indents. She also stopped basking. We checked everything and discovered she didn't have a UVB light over the tank area.
<They really only need that over he basking area.  While natural sunlight does penetrate water, the effective UV radiation is absorbed in the first few inches.>
But does / did have one in the basking area.
<Is the bulb still good? They have only so many hours effective life - and they burn bright long AFTER the UV-B is gone - check the manufacturer's specs.>
Never dawned on me to change out the bulbs over the tank. I thought the bulbs that came with the tank were UVB.
<No.  Plant-Gro bulbs are not at all the right wave length>
So this was a few weeks back. She still isn't basking, My husband has been dry docking her during the day for a few hours with the UVB in hopes to get her back on track.
<She can stay there at night, as well.   I'd dry-dock her 24/7 and try to get her a few minutes of natural sunlight whenever possible>
She is eating. On top of all this, my husband has also made her a new basking "house" that sits above the tank, which is awesome and big but she will not check it out. We scoot her up the ramp, and place her in there, and she turns right around and leaves.  Seems like a lot has happened to her over the last few months and I am sure she is stressed out over it.
<I agree - you're spot-on with your observations>
But tank set up details - water temp is at 75-78, basking area is at 90-95, I bought new bulbs for her basking area as well.
<I'd cool the water just a bit.   68-72 degrees.  Any warmer and she'll tend to not feel the NEED to bask>
Basking -Her heat lamp is 150 watts, and her UVB is 10./ 23 watts. We have a power filter, and 2 big other filters. I have a 10.0 UVB light by ZooMed over her tank. Also a "natural light" bulb over the tank. Everything is on timers. On at 7am off at 10pm.
<I'd go 12 hours during the summer and 8 hours in winter.  But if the room gets no natural light at all, then fell free to adjust the starting & ending times to fit with your viewing & visiting schedule>
Her tank is crystal clear. We don't feed her in the new tank. Another change, not feeding her in the tank. Which we used to do until the move. So with all this...She is eating, we feed her every other day, romaine, pellets, shrimp, meal worms, carrots, and other stuff.. but she still won't bask on her own. I am getting concerned, the pitting doesn't seem to be getting worse. but I am lost at what to do to get her to bask on her own again.
Thank you,
<Melissa, I think you guys are providing great care, but maybe time to relax a bit.  Drop the water temp to around 72 (try to keep it at normal, human-comfortable room temp)  and set the heat lamp away JUST a bit - try to get 88 to 92 degrees basking surface temp.   Just tiny changes.  Now look for OTHER reasons why she may feel safer in the water than up higher.   They tend not to bask when stressed, which takes nothing but TIME to change but they also see things and feel vibrations differently.>
<This is my first & best guess:   Is it possible that one of the filters is vibrating the basking area?  Or making some sort of noise that she is sensing as ominous?  Those are big changes from the other tank, aren't they?  Maybe she just doesn't like the material in the basking area.  Could you try a rock or a brick just jutting out of the water instead?>
<And finally this is strange, but it does happen maybe she doesn't like the basement?   Maybe she'd rather be "home" in a 55 gallon take upstairs in the natural light than in the basement?  I know that sounds strange, but they can have very personable, individual and persnickety personalities:  I have a Red Eared Slider that spends all day, every day in the grass with the Box turtles.  She visits the water to poop, drink and eat and otherwise acts like a land tortoise.  As soon as discovered (through a few years of trial and error) that she wasn't afraid of anything, it's just how she is I found it easier to do things on her terms.>
<If I were you, I'd slow things down and relax a bit.  No more than one of the above changes each week: Make a change, see how she reacts, plan your next move, etc.  Let her walk around the house, take her for a walk in the sun, maybe a movie.>
<OK - that last one was a joke - Sliders don't have the attention span for a movie.  But maybe you guys could watch TV together one night?>
Re: Red Ear Slider Basking question   6/12/12

Hello Sue,
<Hi Richard!>
Long time no talk, (which I think is a good thing.)
<I’m very sorry it’s taken me SO long to get back to you!  I’ve had lots of ‘end of school year’ stuff going on, and I also wanted to pass your photo along to another crew member to get his take on it.>
Still have two RES - both about 6" and both appear to be female.
<Sounds good!  In my experience anyway, the females usually get along better with each other .. though your mileage can vary on that one :) >
Just noticed one of them has what appears to be fungal growth on both her hind legs. I've enclosed pictures. She still basks, eats fine and seems to be acting normally.
Should I get her into a vet? Any home treatments I should try?
<Richard, first I only received one picture; not any more. If what you’re referring to in the photo is the brown spot on her foot, that appeared to me to be more of an injury in the healing process than fungus. Fungus has a more whitish looking appearance to it. Darrel, our other crew member, agreed that this looked more like an injury or possibly a burn. Injuries can sometimes happen if they scrape their skin while trying to climb onto basking areas or when there are rough surfaces or edges in their environment, etc. >
<As far as any treatment is concerned, if it looks like it’s still in the active healing process it’s best to keep him out of the water and warm and dry (with UVB) except for a few minutes each day to eat and drink. Here’s a link that talks more about how to handle abrasions and other injuries (look under the section called ‘Cuts, bruises and bites’ --
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm  >
<Besides what’s listed in that section of the article, you might also consider trying a white topical cream called ‘Silver Sulfadiazine’, which I was told by a vet offers a little bit of pain relief as well (in case he has any). You should be able to get that from almost any vet, and you just apply a little bit of it to the affected area(s) with a Q-tip. I’ll also give you a link with some other information regarding wounds (see under ‘Bites, Bruises, Burns, Cuts and Scratches’) -
http://www.redearslider.com/physical_conditions.html  >
<I’d also keep an eye on it until it’s completely all healed and gone, just to make sure there are no signs of an infection. Usually this tends to happen more when they remain in wet environments instead of warm and dry which is why we recommend the isolation. However, use your judgment as to whether or not you think this is still necessary.>
<Finally, as that section mentions, I’d look closely at their environment to make sure there are no sharp objects, surfaces or edges that could cause injury. In particular, I noticed some chipped wood fragments and stone in your photo. If that’s part of her regular environment, either one of them could potentially cause a cut or abrasion.>
<Hope this helps (and let us know if this wasn’t the affected area you were referencing). Good luck and sorry again for my late reply!! ~ Sue > 
Re: Red Ear Slider Basking question    6/16/12

Hi Sue,
Thanks for the reply. I kept her dry docked with a 100w UVB bulb and applied Benedyne twice a day. Her leg seemed to be healing but I ended up taking her to the turtle vet anyway. He said she had nitrate burns - I wasn't keeping the water clean enough. I'm now changing their water 1/3 out every 3-4 days, plus testing the water.
I'm also applying Chlorhexdine once a day to both their shells. Buster also got a vit. B shot. So far so good.
<Well the good news is that you at least seem to have found a vet who’s knowledgeable about turtle husbandry! I’m glad everything’s working out well so far.>
<You’re welcome Rich. Feel free to write again if any more concerns come up. Things are finally starting to calm down a bit for me school wise so if you do write back I should be able to get back to you sooner.>

RES Turtle, heat lamp
<Hi Josefina, Sue here with you.>
Does the heat lamp need to be turned on all the time in order for the turtle to be comfortable?
<No, not at all. Essentially were trying to mimic nature with warm days and cool nights. As long as your turtle isnt exposed to cold drafts, hell be fine. I would go with a 12 hours ON, 12 hours OFF schedule. Hook it up to a timer if you have one, so it will come on and off automatically.>
<You didnt mention UVB, but your turtle must have this type of light also along with the heat lamp. Hope this helps! Sue>

Re: Hiya... turtle
ugh, he wont bask!    9/26/11

<Dear readers - this is an extract from a much longer chain of emails in which a few salient details were not brought forward. While you will not see it in this extract, rest assured that the "he" in question - the one that will not bask and is eating his own poop - is in fact a Turtle, a Red Eared Slider.>
I don't know why, I tried making the water colder but it wont work. I try to repeatedly place him on the rocks, but he goes back.
<A lot of times that is simply because they don't feel secure when they are exposed and out of the water. Is there a chance that he basks when you're not there and jumps back in the water and the first sense of vibration?>
<Another possibility is room conditions. A ceiling fan's movement can sometimes scare them. Vibrations from air conditioners or even TV's sometimes.>
<Change things around. Remove the floating dock and put in a brick that he can climb on (even if you have to lower the water level for a while) or maybe a branch or stick - I've even used a piece of 2x4 lumber placed in at an angle. You may find it's just something we'd never notice about the setup that is spooking him>
I'm afraid he's going to get too soft. In between his scutes is this brownish stuff that I can scrape off and I dunno what it is. He poops and stuff so I think he's digesting fine, but I don't know what to do about him not basking.
<Well, let's approach this from a different angle. Sometimes, I place my turtles in a plastic storage tub and then put that in the back yard. I arrange it so that a portion of the bottom is under the sun a portion is shaded by the sides (keep in mind that as the sun moves, so does the shade)>
<You can also artificially bask him by placing him indoors in some form of container (I've even used cardboard boxes with high sides) and use the basking and UV lamps from his tank to make him a sauna, so to speak. With the basking lamp shining to one side more than the other, he can select between moderately warm and really warm but in either case he'll dry out and receive UV rays. Once you know that they lights are set so he can get out of the baking-hot area and that the lamps don't cause a fire hazard, you can leave him there all day you can put him there all evening while you watch TV, etc. and get him to accept the conditions.>
<If he's a nervous turtle (some just ARE more than others) this may be a bit stressful on him, but the hope is that if can do this twice a week, it will be enough for now and that eventually he'll seek out the warmth of the basking area>
Re: Hiya, RES basking and shell concerns
okay, thanks sue!
<Youre very welcome, but actually the thanks goes to Darrel! Ill pass this along to him!>
I was also wandering, can I just put him in a container with no water and put him under the uv light for a few hours?
<Absolutely! Not just UVB though. You also need either the heat lamp as Darrel suggested or a heating pad (LOW setting) wrapped in a towel. If you go with the heating pad, you need to find one without the 2 hour automatic shut-off. Fortunately, the ones with NO automatic shut-off are the cheapest ones that you can find most of the big chain drug stores.>
or does he need to have water?
<You should place him in water for a few minutes a day so he can drink, eat if he wants, and poop. The exact instructions for how to do all this are in the attached link under the section called, Immediate Treatment Isolation
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm  >
is the softness/soft stuff between his scutes normal?
<No, his shell should be hard. But try drying him out a couple of days a week as Darrel suggested, and see if his shell improves. If not, adjust accordingly, and give him more days in the dry container. As long as you give him access to water for several minutes a day, he can go for weeks or more like this. Fungi and bacteria LOVE wet environments which is the reason why the DRY treatment usually does the trick. Hopefully as Darrel says this will also have the added benefit of getting him to get out of the water to completely dry off and bask under the lights when he IS in his aquarium.>

Red Ear Slider Basking question   6/7/11
<Hi Rich, Sue here.>
Thanks for providing this site. I have two Sliders, both approximately 1 year old. They live in a 40 gallon tank and appear very healthy and happy. (We got them from our daughter)
<Glad to hear theyre doing well!>
We have provided a floating basking ledge that attaches to the side of the tank using suction cups.
<Sounds like the kind I use. Ive tried many different ones, but this is the one that my turtles seem to like best.>
We also have a UV warming light.
<Make sure the UV is UVB specifically. Thats what they need. Also a heat source; a regular light bulb is fine.>
Here's my question: Our turtles very seldom use the basking ledge; in fact I've only seen one of them on it one time. They will use their front legs to hang on it, but very rarely get completely out of the water. Is this a problem?
<Yes, it is a problem; turtles need to haul out of the water every day to warm up and completely dry off. They should be basking for several hours each day under heat and UVB. Besides drying off their shell every day, they need an external heat source to digest their food properly (unlike us whose bodies do it for us). Besides the heat lamp, they also need UVB to metabolize the necessary vitamins to maintain their bone health. But the good news is, you wrote us now before they became ill!>
If so, what should we do?
<Well, first, if your basking ledge is the kind I think it is, then I dont think thats the problem at all; just make sure its large enough for both your turtles. I know they do come in different sizes.>
<My guess is that its the temperatures youre keeping the water and the basking spot. Do you know what temperatures either are? Its likely that theres not enough temperature gradient between the two. Contrary to what you may read on so many websites, you DO NOT need, and should not have, a water heater! In fact, turtles actually need COOL water (68-70 degrees F); and WARM, dry land (88-90 degrees F). The cool water is what entices them to get out and warm up! It may be that your water temperature is too warm so theyre just hanging out in the water instead of getting out of it which they need to do. If you dont already have them, Id suggest getting 2 thermometers one to keep in the water, and a suction thermometer to be placed right above the basking spot under the heat lamp, so you can monitor it each day. Also, summer heat and humidity levels can make things tricky. Even if you have air conditioning, the water can become a bit warmer than other times of the year at least where Im from anyway! Depending on how things are where you live, you may need to make adjustments in the wattage of the bulb, distance of the bulb from the basking area, etc. until you get it just right.>
<Youre welcome! Try this out and let us know what happens. Also, read over this basic care guide to make sure you have everything else in place that they need:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
Re: Red Ear Slider Basking question   6/9/11
Thank you for your reply. While I have the UV/UVB bulb, I do not have an additional heat source. I'll set up a 100w bulb to warm up their basking ledge.
<You may need to experiment with different wattages to get the basking temperature "in range".>
Thanks again.
<You're welcome!>
Re: Red Ear Slider Basking question     6/12/11

<Hi Rich (and also Buster and Dwight!)>
<Thanks for letting us know! Most people never write back, so were only left to ASSUME our advice worked!>
I got a reptile warming light, set it up over the basking ledge, turned the water heater off and.... both turtles are now climbing completely out of the water and "sunning" themselves.
<Isnt it funny how programmable they can be? Their behavior is nearly completely driven by their body temperature!>
<Also, the other funny thing is that your question was actually the same way I first encountered this website, before I landed up eventually responding to queries! I had the same problem you did because literally everything Id ever read in a book or on a website said to keep the water warm! So ... I was pretty sure in this case anyway, that at least this piece of advice would work!>
They're still skittish whenever anyone enters the room, but they both seem to really enjoy the new set up.
<Theyll eventually get more comfortable with it, but to some extent theyll always be a bit skittish, especially with any fast or sudden moves until they see your face and know its you (they do eventually learn to recognize faces).>
Thanks! (from Buster and Dwight also)
<Youre welcome! Glad to hear it worked out. Feel free to write us again if any more questions or concerns pop up with your little guys.>
Re: Red Ear Slider Basking question    6/27/11

Hi Sue,
<Hi, Rich>
Hope all is well. Turtles are doing great - loving the cooler water and warm basking ledge.
<Glad to hear; thats over half the battle!>
Cut down on their feeding, which leads me to one final (I hope) question:
<Please dont worry about asking us too many questions. Its the people who dont ask us questions until its too late that we worry about!>
How do I know if I am underfeeding them? They are ALWAYS hungry!!!
<Well actually ... a good appetite is another positive sign that theyre healthy!! As far as actually giving into them though, thats a whole other thing. The risk of over-feeding them is far worse than under-feeding them and it takes surprisingly little to over-feed them. Healthy turtles will always GLADLY eat all you can give them and still continue to beg for more until they have YOU fully trained! However, overfeeding will cause them as many health problems as not getting the proper heat and UVB, so you dont want to give in to that temptation, hard as that may be.>
<Having said that, though, if you cant get past your guilt and/or your turtles are acting particularly restless on some of the off days, here is what Id suggest:
1) Continue to keep feeding them their staple diet which is hopefully a good quality Koi (yes, Koi!) pellet or turtle pellet (such as ReptoMin) no more than they can eat in no more than 5-10 minutes, 3 times a week.
2) Give them an earthworm or two as a healthy treat once a month.
3) Then, on the off days, if you find they are so ravenous and restless that theyre not even able to focus on basking, you can try putting in some greens. If they truly are hungry enough, they will nibble at them; if not then they were probably never hungry to begin with, and most likely either bored or just testing you!
4) While the pellets do provide them the correct balance of nutrients, the (right) greens (i.e., not iceberg lettuce) will provide some extra fiber that will help to fill them up without the added worry of overfeeding them. Some greens you can try include red leaf lettuce (many especially seem to like that), curly green leaf lettuce, or dandelion greens (available in some grocery stores). Even less frequently you can also try some occasional shredded sweet potato or carrots. Those are a good Vitamin A source as well, but again, a good pellet as their staple, and an occasional earthworm or two now and then should supply them with all the vitamins they need from just a nutritional standpoint.
5) One thing to keep in mind, though, if you do decide to add some greens now and then is the added time and maintenance it will take. You should scoop/net up any leftover pieces of uneaten food fragments sitting in the tank after theyre done nibbling, otherwise they will foul up the water quickly.
6) Another thing you can try once in a while (again more for their entertainment when they are acting especially restless and not basking than for nutritional purposes), is to break off a couple of small chunks of Zoo Meds turtle (calcium) bone (or another brand) and throw them in. They seem to enjoy pecking at it, and even more so, chasing the floating blocks around the tank (so they get some exercise in as well!) >
Thanks in advance.
<Youre welcome, Rich. Try some of these suggestions and see if that does the trick. If not, then you may have to resort to tough love! Just remember that its much healthier for them to be a little hungry, than it is to over-feed them!!>
Re: Red Ear Slider Basking question    7/26/11

Hello Sue,
It's me again.
<Hi Rich; its me again, too!>
OK, I have one final question. I am keeping our two RES in a 55 gal indoor tank. We are currently using a side mounted Aqueon filter that is rated for a 60 gal tank. It does not seem to do an adequate job keeping the water clear - the water clouds up in about 3-4 days after replacement.
<Yes, Rich, I agree that it probably isnt. Filtration requirements for turtles follow a completely different set of rules than for fish because of all the waste they produce! Turtles need a filter rated for AT LEAST 3 times more than the amount of water in their aquarium (and preferably more). And this is assuming just ONE turtle. In your case with two turtles, the filter you get should be even more powerful than that. You can, however, continue to use the filter you have in addition to buying a new one. No harm in having two!>
<A couple of additional things to consider, though, when it comes to turtles and water quality:
1) No matter how good a quality filter you purchase, youll still need to supplement with frequent, partial water changes as well as netting/suctioning up any debris you see collecting that the filter hasnt picked up (dont allow it to sit). How often you need to do that will depend on the power of the filter, how well the water is circulating back to the filter, how much waste your turtles produce, the amount of leftover food, etc.
2) No amount of biological filtration will EVER be able to keep up with their waste! Neither will a mechanical filter; however, the better quality filter you get and the better the circulation, the less time and effort youll need to spend on cleaning.>
<Another thing that can temporarily cause the water to cloud up is if you have a new set-up and filter. It typically takes about 4-6 weeks to for a new tank/filter to cycle. During this time, youll need to do more frequent, partial water changes until the cycle completes. (Google Nitrogen Cycle for more information on this.) And though turtles arent AS susceptible to water quality issues during this time as fish, Id still recommend regularly checking ammonia and nitrite levels while its cycling through just to make sure the water isnt getting too toxic.>
(Note - we do feed the turtles in their tank)
<Feeding them in a separate enclosure would help you cut back on your maintenance efforts. It doesnt have to be an aquarium. A plastic bin will work fine. Just allow them time to eat and poop (which they often do shortly after they eat); then put them back in their regular tank. I would suggest feeding them separately, though, so theyre not competing with each other for food.>
<Also only feed them once every other day and only as much as they can eat in 5 minutes or so. Feeding them less will also cut back on your clean-up effort and its healthier for the turtles to eat less, too!>
After searching many online forums, it seems a larger canister filter may be a better choice.
<Canister filters are a good choice for turtles; thats what I use for mine. Theyre more expensive, but given that maintaining good water quality is one of the most important (as well as labor intensive) part of owning turtles; Ive at least found that the amount theyve saved me in time and effort was well worth the added expense!>
Do you have an opinion on a make and model?
<There are a couple of good brands out there. For aquariums in your size range, Ive personally had very good results with the Fluval 405. Its known for good mechanical filtration (which is the main feature to look for in a filter for turtles). Another nice aspect to this size filter is that you can continue to use it when the time comes for a larger enclosure (because of its high rating). If you Google it, you should be able to find no shortage of reviews and opinions about it! There are other good makes and models out there, too. The best thing to do is decide what features will best meet your needs in a filter (effectiveness, reliability, availability of parts, cost, ease of maintenance, etc.), find the filter(s) that meet most of those needs, then look through all the reviews to see what different people's experiences have been with each of them.>
<One additional pointer is that whatever filter you ultimately decide on, you don't want to automatically follow the manufacturers recommendations regarding type of media and frequency of cleaning; their instructions typically assume you have fish. Youll instead want to customize the media you put in it to the needs of turtles. Youll also likely need to clean and rinse the media more often than what they recommend.>
<Hope this helps, Rich!>
Re: Red Ear Slider Basking question  7/28/11

Thanks Sue,
<Youre welcome, Rich, hope it helped.>
I am currently doing about 1/2 water change once a week.
<Because the water in your system is clouding up so often right now, you may want to do more frequent partial (but smaller) water changes until it becomes more stabilized.>
I'll look into adding another canister filter also.
<Sounds, good, Rich. Youre being a great turtle dad!>
Best to you -
<You also. If any more questions arise, please dont hesitate to write us.>

Basking concerns, RES  10/17/09
Dear Crew
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I am a fairly new owner of two red eared sliders. They are active, seem to eat well and generally seem to be doing well. I'm concerned that I do not see them out basking and know this is essential to their health. They are in a 55 gallon aquarium set up where they have both water and land, as well as several other areas they can get out of the water to bask. I do have a calcium bone in the water that I can see they are using. I have pellets that I feed them, as well as some dried shrimp occasionally and some soft meaty food. I have tried to give them some romaine lettuce, but they do not eat it.
<Nor should they. Koi pellets or Repto-min turtle sticks (either one) are a completely balanced diet for Red Eared Sliders. That and an occasional earth worm as a treat (maybe one or two a month) is all they need.>
They also will only eat food if I put it in the water, they will not come out to get anything from the dish in the dry area.
<Sliders are water feeders, which is to say that they primarily eat what they find in the water. The will, from time to time, climb up on a bank and snatch something and then drag it back into the water in order to eat it. You should hand feed them>
I have a basking lamp over the dry land area and a UV light over the water area. It's possible they could be out basking when I am not around, as they are still pretty skittish when there's movement around the tank.
Should I be concerned and/or is there something else I should be doing to encourage them to come out of the water? Also, I have the basking lamp on a timer and do not use the night heating lamp, is that night lamp necessary?
<You should always be concerned .. just not worried. The first thing to do is make sure you have a temperature gradient. If the water is warm enough they won't feel the need to bask even though they need it. The water should never be above room temperature and the basking area around 85-90 degrees. This way they have clear choices..>
<No lights or heat at night ... let everything cool naturally and then it will all cycle again in the morning. Here's a care guide we have -- check your conditions against the guide and correct anything that's not quite in order: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>

Turtle basking. Sys.  10/11/09
I live in Lahore, Pakistan and I have a Kachuga smithii turtle as a pet. I keep it in a tub and it is a healthy turtle.
<A tub? With a filter? You can't just keep it in a plastic tub of water. It will eventually get sick. Do read here:
Kachuga smithii is similar in size and dietary requirements, so everything that holds for Red-ear Sliders holds for Kachuga smithii. It is reported that Kachuga smithii is a very widely sold pet turtle in Pakistan, but the vast majority end up dead because the owners do not know how to look after them! This is not very different to how it was with Red-ear Sliders when they were sold as cheap pets in England. The problem is that just because something is cheap to buy, it doesn't mean it is cheap to keep alive. All turtles -- repeat ALL TURTLES -- are demanding pets. You need a big vivarium, a filter, regular water changes, a balanced diet, and a source of heat and UV-B light. Since you live in Pakistan, room temperature (unless your home is air conditioned) should be warm enough for the turtle, so a heater isn't required.>
I want to know that here in Pakistan, there is a lot of sunlight so I let it bask for fifteen minutes. Is that enough?
<No. Needs a couple of hours per day, at least six hours per week, at least nine months of the year. On the other hand, if you put a water turtle outside without providing it with a place to swim, it can easily overheat and die. So, if you wanted to use sunlight, you would need a safe outdoor CAGE (to keep predators out as well as the turtle in). Put a basin of water inside the cage for the turtle to swim in, and a rock upon which it could bask. Change the water daily, and clean the cage as required.>
I also want to ask that the common tube lights we have in our homes and offices are fluorescent lights. Do they produce UV-B light?
<No, they don't. Must be a very specific UV-B (not UV-A) light. Note than some people might try to sell you a UV-A light, sometimes called an ultraviolet or "black" light. These are the ones that make white fabrics glow purple. UV-A is not what reptiles need. Buy a specific UV-B lamp designed for reptiles. Any decent pet shop specialising in reptiles should sell these. Cheers, 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>

Turtle care question (RES): basking problem  10/23/07 I have two turtles living in a 55 gal. tank. I have a problem with the basking space though. I've gotten the floating dock/platforms (like R-Zilla or Zoo-Med) and I've also tried cork. The problem is that one of the turtles bites the platform, so I end up with bitten pieces messing the tank as well as clogging the filters, and platforms getting smaller and smaller for turtles that keep getting bigger and bigger =D Both turtles are in good health and well fed. I've had them for a couple of years and they are about 5" now (when I got the first one is was smaller than 1"), but I just 'adopted' the one that chews the platforms a few months ago. What can be causing this behavior? Any other ideas on materials or designs I can use to create a new basking area? Thanks in advance. Yenelli <Greetings. To be honest, the floating cork idea sounds a bit of a non-runner. Possibly viable for delicate things like frogs, but inadequate for turtles. So I'd get rid of that. Floating platforms really aren't going to work for adult turtles. Fine for fingerlings, but an adult Red Ear Slider is the size of a dinner plate with a weight to match, and that's simply not going to balance on any floating object much smaller than the Queen Mary! Instead, you need to create a rigid platform above the waterline. There are lots of ways to create a safe and stable basking area like this. The classic approach is to create a rock or sand bank at one end of the tank. This might involved safely securing some rocks in a heap, and then filling the gaps with sand or gravel to stop things from rolling down accidentally. Using silicone sealant is always a good idea when creating such structures. Three or four squarish boulders with a big slate on top can also make a nice table-like structure. Sliders really aren't that fussy. The most important thing is that whatever you make is [a] stable and [b] easy to clean. Cheers, Neale.>

Turtle Dock - 02/09/2007 I am making a turtle dock out of PVC and Plexi-glass. What glues do your recommend? Would PVC cement ( Oatey's brand) be ok? <I would use this between the PVC pipe itself and some Silastic ("Silicone") to adhere the Plexi to the top> Also, what is the difference between silicone adhesive and silicone sealant? <These are identical> I have heard many different things, and I do not want to kill the turtles. Thanks for your help, Katherine <Just look for, buy one that states it is 100% Silicone... no additives (some have mildewcides for tub, window applications). Bob Fenner>

New Birthday Turtle Questions   5/9/06 Hi! My friends just recently bought me a turtle for my birthday and I had a couple of questions. First: They set up the tank for me and automatically put the turtle in the water is this bad? < No; turtles are used to being put directly into water.> Should they have let the water settle? < No, not needed as with fish.> Second: The heater is lying on its side in the water.  I have read that heating rocks are not good for turtles. I was wondering if the turtle is able to climb on it, will he burn himself? <Pull the heating rock and replace it with a good basking with a proper light bulb that will heat the area up at least 85 F and provide the required UVA and UVB radiation.> Should I rig it up differently? < Yes as described above.> Third: I have read through your website and wanted to know if when changing the water, how exactly should I do this? Should I let that settle for a couple of days before putting it in? What is the best way to go about this? < Siphon or pour the water out of the tank. Fill a 5 gallon bucket with a good water conditioner and fill up the bucket and then pour it in the tank.> I want to do this the safest way possible for my turtle please help! A seriously concerned turtle parent! < Turtles are not as touchy about their water as fish are. Just add the water conditioner and pour it in.-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>>

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>

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

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