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FAQs About Turtle Systems: Enclosures, Tanks

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

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>

Red-Eared Sliders attacking a tank thermometer    9/2/12
Hello WWM Crew,
<Hi Brittney, Sue here with you.>
I have two red-eared sliders, aged 5 for the larger male who is roughly 5 inches and 4 for the younger male who is roughly 3 inches, give or take a few quarter inches on each. They are in a 20 gallon tank, which I do realize is small for the two but at the time I got them in which they were both the size of quarters and the space was plenty adequate for what research I had done. Recently I have hit money troubles and while I can afford the proper nutrition, I have not been able to upsize their tank.  However, every day while I am home I let them swim in the bath tub in luke warm, about 74 degree water to allow them to really stretch their legs.>
<No need to do this. You don’t need to buy an expensive glass aquarium. Clear plastic storage bins work just fine and are much cheaper. For example, Sterilite makes a 110 quart size one that’s around 35” long, 19” wide and 12+ inches deep. I’ve seen them at Target for only around $13.00.>
The diet consists of this:
10(per turtle) ZooMed Natural Aquatic Turtle Pellets. It is the Formula for turtles 2-6" and the pellets are 3/16".
<The Zoo Med pellets are OK to use.  I’d personally start switching them over to the Maintenance pellets that have a higher vegetarian content. You can also try alternating them with Koi pellets which are almost all vegetarian based.>
4-5(per turtle) ReptoTreat suprema Krill Enriched Food Sticks with Beta-Carotene and Canthaxanthin to enrich color. 4-5(per turtle) Freeze Dried Mealworms. I occasionally treat them to Dried River Shrimp or Krill in place of the Meal worms.
<Wouldn’t give them any of these at all for a treat. Instead I’d feed them a couple of LIVE earthworms each every few weeks. Live earthworms are a much more nutritious treat.>
They get greens about once a week that includes Kale, baby spinach and Parsley. (the same greens we feed our rabbit)
<That’s great. Mine also enjoy eating red leaf lettuce, carrot top greens and some bits of shredded up sweet potato.>
 The staple diet is fed 3-4 times a week while the treats are fed 1-2 times a week. 
<Would limit the treats (earthworms) to only once every few weeks, not 1-2 times a week. You don’t want to over feed them.>
The water stays at roughly 70 degrees and they have a large basking platform that while not heated itself is heated by the two UV bulbs, which are about 40 watts a piece.
<First of all, double check to make sure the UV bulbs are specifically UVB bulbs. They must have UVB. Next is that their basking temperature should be in the 88-90 degree range.  They need this amount of heat to be able to properly digest their food. If the UV bulbs aren't giving off enough heat to get the temperature into this range, you may need to add a heat bulb as well.>
The bottom of the tank is covered by river pebbles and large smooth pieces of rose quartz. It is filtrated by two canister filters.
<That’s great!>
Both are active and shed occasionally, have hard shells and clear eyes.
<All good.>
But my question stems from something totally different, the first paragraph was also to ensure that my turtles are indeed healthy and whether or not the thermometer attacking could be a result of hunger. They have never had any strange health issues, but recently a strange behavior has started occurring. I installed a tank thermometer a few months back. They were fine with its presence up until about two weeks ago. They have been fed as normal, and I even tried increasing the diet to 15 pellets a piece, which they still ate in the amount of time recommended.
<That's fine; just feed them as much as they can in 5 or so minutes, then remove whatever food is remaining. My guess, though, is that their attack on the thermometer is more due to a lack of space to move around in than it is an issue of hunger.>
Recently though, both males have begun to attack the thermometer. At the size the older male is, he can get his mouth around the tip of the thermometer and I'm afraid he will break it and hurt himself with the glass shards. I have tried moving the thermometer, removing it and hiding it behind the basking area but they still attack it. Any suggestions on how to remedy the situation? I have found no information searching Goggle and the FAQ on your site for the answer.
<Actually I do have a suggestion – simply remove the thermometer!  There's no need for one, and turtles shouldn't have glass thermometers at all in their tank for precisely the reason you mention!  As long as you keep your room temperature around 68-70 degrees or so the water should reflect this. Having said that, though, sometimes the water in smaller tanks can be more susceptible to heating up from filters running and/or heat/light bulbs.  If you feel this is happening and want to monitor it, then what I’d suggest instead of a glass thermometer is one of those thermometers that’s kept on the outside but has a (plastic) sensor you drop in the water. That will eliminate your concern about them breaking it and injuring themselves.>
Thanks so much for your help and I am sorry if provided too much information or if I am rambling. I wanted to ensure that my reptiles are indeed healthy because I really do love them.
<You’re welcome Brittney.  It’s always better for us to have as much information as possible about your care and set-up so you did great! It sounds like you’ve already done a lot of research, but I’m also going to give you a link to our basic care guide just to make sure you have everything covered!
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
Brittney Kurr

Peninsula Cooter Turtle, keeping/sys.     8/27/12
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
In May I acquired a Peninsula Cooter.  It is about 8" now.
<It's a She then.  Much bigger than a male.>
I live in Sacramento California and the turtle is in one of our outside ponds which is about 4 ft by 6 ft and 3 ft deep.  The pond has lots of vegetation in it as well as gold fish and frogs.  The turtle basks allot and seems to be doing fine.
<As long as he can't get too far from the pond … you do have fences around the pond or around the yard?>
Do I need to bring this turtle in for the winter?  Is it possible for it to hibernate in the pond?
<It's possible to keep her outside, Janeen - the problem with middle California winters is that often they aren't warm enough to keep him active and not cold enough to keep her bruminated (like hibernation) so it can be really rough on her.>
<I suggest that when it starts getting colder around the end of November, you either bring her inside to some tub with water & a basking light, etc.  Or put her in a dry, high sided tub with towels on the bottom and then put her in a dark corner of the garage and let her bury herself in the towels until the middle of April.>
Your web site is great by the way!

hi. I've got another question for y'all. how many turtles can I put in a 55 gallon tank?    4/21/12
thanks. Heidi
<Depends on the species, what sex/sexes, how much work you want to do. By default, keep just the one. Terrapins/turtles aren't social and are easiest to keep properly on their own. Given they're smaller and don't lay eggs so aren't going to become egg bound, a single Red-Ear Slider is perhaps the easiest, especially in a tank as small as 55 (I assume US) gallons. Cheers,

How to determine correct aquarium size for multiple turtles 03/20/10
Hi Darrel,
<Hiya & howdy!>
Sorry to bother you about this issue below again...I have a question that I couldn't find an answer for anywhere on WWM or the web. Unfortunately the situation is still unchanged at the local pet store chain (filthy water, no working UVB bulb, shell issues, etc.), so I'm going to pursue. But before I do, I have a couple of questions about overcrowding before I also present that as another concern -
Do you happen to know what the "industry standard" is (if there is one) for how to determine what the minimum aquarium size should be for MULTIPLE turtles? By "size" I mean the TOTAL # of gallons (assuming aquarium is only half filled), the aquarium length and width, and the water depth?
<Some states have animal care regulations regarding pet stores. Here's a beginning link to the health and safety codes here in California:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate?WAISdocID=096324216+0+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve >
<The problem will be that they are often very forgiving for the pet trade because, it can be argued, that the overcrowding is a temporary condition.>
I've read the average guidelines for just ONE turtle should be about 10 gallons of aquarium per inch of shell length (SCL) with an aquarium length that's 3-4x SCL; width that's 2x SCL; and water height that's 1.5 - 2x SCL.
According to these guidelines, a turtle with a shell length of 5" should be in a minimum 50 gallon aquarium (filled with 25 gallons of water), that's at least 15-20" long and 10" wide (which it likely would be anyway if it was a 50 gallon aquarium!); with a water depth of at least 8-10" deep.
<That would be about right. Certainly better than many if not most pet turtles get>
Assuming these guidelines are correct, would these same formulas apply when determining minimum dimensions in situations where there are multiple turtles? i.e. Does it automatically double to a 100 gallon tank for a 2nd 5" long turtle, along with the length, width and water depth doubling as well?
<It's more complex than that, Sue. It depends on the layout, the basking space, access to heat and UV, etc. Even in the wild, it's quite common to see turtles on top of other turtles on a log in a river, so applying an arbitrary standard in hard to do.>
<I'd put 4 or 4 turtles in the tank you specified -- as long as they could all easily bask and swim) and then add an additional 20% for the next 4>
<In your case, the conditions are the key factor -- it's time to contact the store's actual general manager and suggest that if he can arrange to take immediate action that it won't be necessary to lodge any complaints with his company's headquarters. Even though the local health, safety and even Fish & Wildlife agencies could all assist you, the truth is that the most direct way to get a manager to take action is the specter of hearing a complaint from his regional or national headquarters. Just remember, as I said before, make sure you contact the store's actual GM and just not whatever kid was left in charge that afternoon!>
Thanks (again!) for your help with this,
<good luck!>

New Terrariums from Penn-Plax  8/25/09
Hey Bob and Crew,
Just thought I'd let all your loyal readers know about 3 new lines of terrariums that Penn-Plax is introducing under the Reptology name. Some very exciting products for all your readers that are also into reptiles
and amphibians, please check out the video -
<Nice units.... lots of good features. Neat video>
Thank you as always.
Paul Demas
Project Manager
Penn Plax, Inc
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Destructive Slider. (Trachemys scripta troostii; destroying plastic habitat) 07/28/09
I've been searching the web to find anything about destructive behavior and I haven't found anything that fits the scenario of my turtle.
<As someone who, the hard way, learned not to mix glass heaters with either Red-ear Sliders and your species, Trachemys scripta troostii, your message doesn't surprise me in the least. They are both clumsy and destructive, end of story.>
I have a Cumberland Slider and have had him/her for about 2 years. Recently a new floating dock was put into his/her tank and he has been ripping / biting it apart. He/she does not eat it, but just tares it apart.
<Guess he doesn't like it.>
I was wondering if this destructive behavior is a sign of needing more room, doesn't like the floating dock or wanting a more varied diet?
<It is true that these are omnivores, and their diet should be varied: plant matter like Elodea should be balanced with things like unshelled shrimp, aquatic snails, frozen lancefish (smelt) and even bits of fruit. A
monotonous diet of pellets will make for an unhappy reptile, that's for certain. So yes, review diet, and act accordingly. Do also consider whether your pet has sufficient swimming and basking space, and if not, upgrade the tank. An adult of this species is fairly big, so you're going to be looking at something around the 50 gallon mark, I'd have thought.>
Thanks for you time. Jessica.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Pond for turtle...  7/6/08 hi, <Hiya Juanita -- Darrel here> I'm planning to build a pond in my new home (when the house is done so it will be in a couple of months). I've had a little turtle that's about the size of my hand (not counting fingers) and the guy that sold it to me said that it would get as big as a plate. At the moment she's in a very very little aquarium and she doesn't fit in it anymore (she does fit in it but can't move a lot). So I've been looking around to see how this pond thing works because I really don't know much about ponds. I've got lots of questions. 1.) How big does the pond have to be? <It doesn't have to be all that big -- the trade-off is that that larger the body of water, the less it resists change (heating in summer, cooling in winter) and the larger the pond, the less likely one turtle will foul the water -- but then the filter needs to be bigger and when it does need service the job is that much larger. I've seen a single slider housed happily in a 67 gallon preformed plaster pond.> 2.) Should I buy a pond or build one? <Too many variables for here -- building a pond gives you many more options but costs more and takes longer. Buying a preformed pond lets you dig a hole and have a pond all in the same day> 3.) Do I put a fence around the pond so the turtle doesn't escape? (the back yard is going to be fenced) <YES! Turtles are remarkably good climbers. The fence should be twice as tall as his shell is long, PLUS another 5 inches bent INWARDS (like a flat lip) on the top.> 4.)Should I put fish in with the turtle? <Not for the turtle's benefit, no. Many of us have put in 'feeder goldfish' at some point, only to have them grow to be almost the size of small Koi and become pets themselves. The truth is that turtles are more opportunistic and scavenger eaters and rarely catch a healthy fish> 5.)Do I need a water fall? If yes how do I set one up? <Not unless you like the look and the sound, but they are pretty and they do help aerate the water. Give it some thought -- doesn't have to be complicated, either -- if you BUILD a pond, you can find many books at the local building supply store giving you all of the in's & out's and if you decide to BUY a pond, most of those same stores sell the kind where you can buy a small pond and have it drain into a bigger one -- presto! instant waterfall> 6.)Do I need to put sand or rocks around the pond so the turtle can go out of the water or can I put things in the water that stick out? <Yes, this is important. Turtles are more comfortable climbing out of the water on a rock or a log than they are climbing to shore. If you BUILD a pond, put in a couple of shallow-sided bays for him to crawl out. Preformed ponds are designed for water gardens and Koi and usually have steep sides, but they make them with a shallow shelf-tray on one side to hold plants -- you can place stones and large rocks there in "ramps" so that he can climb out & bask on the rock or easily make it to shore> 7.)How do you put a filter in? 8.)How do I choose a filter? <Again, more many variables than we can discuss here. External filters are a better bet for long term use because they require less care, but in pond filters are less expensive and easier to clean -- the major building supply chains that sell the preformed ponds sell a range of low end pumps and filters that should be just fine for a turtle or two in a pond> 9.)What kind of plants do I need? <none, really. Turtles just tear them up> 10.)Can I keep the turtle out year round? (I live in Florida so the cold weather is not a big deal) <You can from a temperature standpoint. In fact, winter isn't usually the problem -- it's summer. Remember when I said the larger the pond, the more resistant it is? Well beside the fact that a larger pond stays clearer longer, a larger pond stays cooler longer in summer and warmer in winter. For example, a 20 gallon pond in the Florida sun would get so hot so quickly that the turtle would suffer from over heating if not in fact dying from it. Same turtle in a 1,000 pond wouldn't even sense a temperature change. Assuming you will go bigger than 10 and not 1,000 an important criteria is placing your pond where it will get a good deal of shade in the hottest months.> 11.)Is the turtle going to get lonely? Should I buy another one? <You can, they seem to get along just fine, but there is no "need" to do that. 12.) How deep does the pond have to be? <Again, deep water stays cooler in summer and warmer in winter --- at least 18 inches at it's deepest point> 13.)What kind of plants can I put in or around the pond? <on the OUTSIDE of the fence, around the perimeter, would be a great place to plant some shrubs that would shade the afternoon sun (to the west side of the pond) but nothing INSIDE the fence or he'll use it to climb out.> 14.)Should I change the turtles feeding habits? Right now shes feeding on "REPTILE PREMIUM STICKS" and once in a while romaine lettuce or can she feed on plants in the pond. <Repto-Min is great stuff. Koi Pellets from your local fish/pond store is the SAME THING only a lot cheaper. Either one is fine & no, don't change. I raise hatchlings to breeders on that same food.> 15.)Are there any predators for her, like raccoons, snakes, or squirrels? If yes what can I do to keep them out? <Ah yes, a major down side to all outdoor life. They are all out there and they will all try for her if they can. The only SURE way is to make a fence with a tight fitting top and again this is a trade off -- easy to do for a small pond, not possible for a large one. Beyond that .. wide, deep water allows the turtle to rest on the bottom at night, more or less out of sight and reach of the common predators.> 16.)In what season or climate should I build the pond? <In Florida? Any time it's not too hot for you to be out there!> <Good luck to you> <Darrel>

Please help us! 5/16/09
<Hiya, Darrel here>
We have two small turtles. They are about the size of a half dollar and have yellow belly's with beautiful markings.
<Regardless of the species, they sound like water turtles of the genus Emydid (most of the hard shelled water turtles) of which the most common is the Red Eared Slider. Do a web search on "red eared slider" and "yellow belly turtle" and see what images pop up.>
One of them keeps throwing him/her self on it's back. Then when I turn it over the right way he/she sticks it's head out of the water and opens it's mouth really wide. Then it climbs back on the side of the rocks..and pushes it's self back onto it's back and looks like it's dead but it's not... The second turtle seems to be scared or something as it swims around back and forth in the tank...I have no clue of what's going on. Could you please help me?
<It sounds like they don't have quite the right environment, Teresa. I'm getting the idea that he's in water shallow enough that he can press his head against the bottom and flip over while in the water. If that's the
case, that's too shallow. At the same time I'm going to guess that they don't have a basking areas that is dry enough and warm enough. I'm enclosing a link on the basic care of this kind of turtle and it's important to know that they don't need very much, but they do NEED what they need. Please give it a solid read and compare your keeping to the instructions in the guide -- then do what you need to do to correct things.>
<Meanwhile, There is a possibility that I'm just not understanding you very well. It's been said that I have a mind like a steel trap ...>
[Editor's note: He does actually have a mind like a Steel Trap: everything that goes in, comes out mangled]
<.... but sometimes my mind picture isn't what you really meant, so please don't hesitate to write back with more explanation. In the mean time, fix things up for them and let's see what happens next.>
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >

Turtle Tank Molded Background 11/19/07 Hi Crew <Hiya Alex> Do you guys know of where one can purchase one of the molded backgrounds for a turtle tank? I've seen them before where they look like a rock wall, and sometimes I'll see where someone has worked a waterfall into the mold, etc. I'm not sure what they're made of, but I know there is a place in the UK that sells them. Just wondering if there is anywhere stateside that offers them for a 55 gal. tank? <Nothing comes to mind, Alex, beyond the Google searching that you're already doing -- but here's an idea you might consider: Make one yourself! It doesn't have to be a molded plastic to be effective. Start with a piece of cardboard painted to a background color and then attach anything that interests you in various places. It has the advantage of being very cheap and easily changed. Currently, my son has one behind is 55 gallon marine aquarium that has fake plastic plants and hidden around them is a crushed coke can, three pop-tops (that's an old age memory), an obviously crashed Hot wheels car and an empty can of Star-Kist Tuna (that last one may be a cry for help!) and he changes them on a regular basis. Just a thought> <Regards - Darrel>

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

Wise Parent Needs Turtle Knowledge   12/17/06 I want to buy a turtle for my daughter. However I want one that will stay fairly small. Are there any breeds that make fairly good pets and stay under 6 inches at full growth? Also what supplies will I need to purchase up front to provide good care for a turtle? Thanks Abby Michl < First let me compliment you on checking in BEFORE you buy the turtle. Too many times we get questions on turtle after they buy them. Check out painted turtles. They don't get as big as red eared sliders, and only get about 7 inches long. Red eared turtles get aggressive too. A painted turtle will go well in a 40 gallon aquarium that is half filled with water. They need to come out of the water and bask to get the proper lighting and warmth to digest their food and develop vitamins. They do well on a diet of commercial aquatic turtle pellets, insects ,worms and green vegetables. Here is the check list: 1) 40 gallon aquarium for one adult turtle 2) Hood/Top with fluorescent fixture to keep critters out. 3) Porcelain Clamp light fixture to provide a heated basking spot 4) UVB fluorescent light to light up the aquarium and provide the right light wave lengths 5) Basking Spot Lamp to provide heat for the basking site. Needs to be at least 85 F. 6) Water conditioner to remove chlorine from the water. 7) Water filter to keep the aquarium water clean 8) Basking site 9) Thermometer 10) Aquatic turtle food 11) Hand sanitizers Turtles can carry bacteria that is harmful to humans. It is very important to wash your hands and or sanitize them after handling turtles or cleaning the cage. If this sounds like a lot of money and equipment just think that this turtle may live for another 20 to 30 years! There is a very good book on water turtles titled " The Proper Care and Maintenance of Water Turtles" by Phillipe De Vosjoli. ZooMed distributes this book along with almost all of the items you will need.-Chuck>

46G Bowfront for Turtle?  11/23/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Is there such a thing in all the world as a 46 gal bowfront  screen mesh top for a turtle tank?? <No, you would have to custom make something like that.  I don't think a bowfront is the best tank for a turtle.  It needs a longer footprint for swimming room, not taller.  A 55g would be much  better & you can find screen tops for them.  ~PP>

River Tank  10-27-06 Hi Kathy, It's Pufferpunk (not Pufferpink but that does sound kinda funny...) Thanks so much for the reply.  I'm a new turtle owner (just a few months), she is an adult painted turtle.  Can you explain about or send a link about the river-tank system you mention?  I have a huge canister filter but it does, eventually, clog with plant bits. <Here are a couple of pics of the 55g river tank kit I have: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/Pufferpunk/TurtleRiverTank.jpg http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v345/Pufferpunk/DwarfAfricanBullfrogHome.jpg I'm sorry I don't have better pics.  I think if you really search, these are still being sold somewhere...  There's a powerhead under the water fall, that draws all the water through the gravel that's built up on the land side.  It goes over a water fall & through a river, back into the water 1/2 of the tank.  It's pretty cool.  ~PP> Thanks again, Kathy Thanks so much for the reply.  I'm a new turtle owner (just a few months), she is an adult painted turtle.  Can you explain about or send a link about the river-tank system you mention?  I have a huge canister filter but it does, eventually, clog with plant bits. Thanks again, Kathy

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

Turtles Survival In Pond  8/19/06 Thanks. I have one more  question. My friend has a pond at his home and its in the woods a bit and its a  natural pond with leaves, mud, fish, and a few other sliders and other species  of turtle. This pond is not heated and is over 6 feet deep in places. Could my  turtles live in this pond year round with out being fed by people and having to  get fish and bugs themselves? I have released a red eared slider in this pond a  few years ago before I had any info about if I could release or not  without it dying. Also one of my turtles is a 6" red eared slider and the  other is a small other species of turtle that looks like the slider but has no red on its neck. What kind of turtle is it and can this kind of turtle be  released into this pond? Thanks for your time and your help is very  appreciated. < Depending on where you live in the U.S., the red eared slider could be found there naturally. I would not release any turtle into an area once it has been established in captivity. In this friend's pond the turtle is subject to attack by predators like raccoons. If your turtle is sick then it could make other turtles sick too. This turtle could possibly cross breed with other turtles. If you no longer want your turtle then offer it to a friend, school or pet shop instead of turning it loose on the environment. There is a big problem with red eared sliders competing with native turtles. Send a photo of the other turtle for a species ID.-Chuck>

Re: Tank Space For Turtles  - 04/04/2006 Just a quick follow up question (the original should be included, so I hope there is no confusion there). About what size tank would you recommend for these two turtles (Mississippi map about four inches)?  And for about how long would a bigger tank be ok for them (in other words, should I just break down and buy a huge tank now)?  Thanks so much for all your help. < A rule of thumb that Zoo Med Labs recommends is the tank should be at least 5 times the length of the turtle. One four inch turtle needs 20 inches or approximately a twenty gallon tank. Two turtles should have a 40 gallon tank. Keep in mind that a female will get up to 10 inches while a male will get about half that size. Two adult females need a 100 gallon tank while two males would need a 50 gallon. Consider placing them outdoors during the summer.-Chuck>

Poor Painted Turtles  - 03/22/06 I have 2 red eared sliders that I've been raising for about a year now and their doing awesome but now my sister brought to me her 2 painted turtles she got this summer and they have not grown at all! They're probably the size of a quarter still. She never had a light or warm water or anything for them and now I have to take care of them. I have no clue what to do with them and I feel bad for them! All I have right now is one cage, so I put them in with my red eared sliders. They're probably 3-4 inches and their a male and female but I don't think their even one yet? Can they reproduce? < Probably not until next year.> Is it okay for the baby painted turtles to be in the tank with them? < No, red eared sliders are very aggressive turtles and will hog all the food and intimidate the smaller turtles to the point to they will not eat.> What should I do to help them grow? < Start treating them like you RES's when they were small and give them the TLC they deserve.> When I pick them up I can actually feel their legs moving through the center of their shell on the bottom in the center. I think their not in good shape? What can I do? Help me please! < Start by giving them their own tank. Set up a basking site that gets at least 85 to 90 F. Start to give them ZooMed Aquatic Turtle food for hatchlings along with some small washed earthworms. Basking and proper diet with start to harden the shell and get them back on track.-Chuck>

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

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

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

Filters for a Turtle Tank  9/20/05 What type of filter should I get for my turtles tank?  It is a 10 gallon tank and it has sand and aquarium rocks on the bottom and about 6 to 7 inches of water.  I want to get a really good one to help with the smell.  Do I get one that goes under the gravel or a floating one?  PetSmart recommended the one for under the gravel but I wasn't sure if that would clean it enough.  I just know I am really tired of cleaning her tank and having to replace the water when I change it every other day because it smells so bad. I know nothing about the filters so I am totally lost.  Thanks again, Debbie < The undergravel filter probably would not work because the turtle would expose the filters plates as it plows through the gravel looking for food. Go to your local fish store and get an internal power filter that will actually sit in the water at the bottom of the tank. Get one that will pump at least 15 gallons per hour. It should also have a carbon cartridge or be capable of adding activated carbon to it.-Chuck>

New Turtle Tank Stinks  9/17/05 I have so many questions and I hope you guys can help.  My daughter bought a baby yellow belly turtle.  She is a little over quarter size, when will she really start getting an appetite? < At that size your turtle should already be getting an appetite.> I was giving her lettuce, carrots, grapes and watermelon and Krill.  She has eaten a little.  Also, I bought her an aquarium and the water was staying at about 70 so we were told to put this small heater in it but the water had to be at a certain point.  She probably has about 6 inches or so of water.  Is that too much? <Turtles actually like to be in deep water. Try feeding small earthworms and insects to get your turtle to eat.> How do I keep her aquarium clean? < There are numerous filters at the local fish store that will help, but you will need to change the water too.> It smells in her room, is there something that I should be putting in the aquarium to keep the smell away? < The smell is from rotting turtle food. Get a siphon from the fish store and a 5 gallon bucket from the hardware store. Siphon out the big stuff everyday. A filter will help catch the small particles. Activated carbon in the filter will help with the odor in the water.> How often do I have to change the water in there? < You have a little turtle with a little belly. Put a little food in there. If it is not eaten in a half hour then siphon it out and replace the water. Earthworms and mealworms will be a big help.> I really hope you can help me out.  I am totally stuck.  If you can't help can you forward this to someone that can.  I really need the input.  Thank you, Debbie < There is an inexpensive book by ZooMed on Water turtles. I would recommend it.-Chuck>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks! (Turtle enclosure) Dear WWM Crew, I just wanted to say thank you for the help with the Turtle Enclosure! Seems to me like if it can be kept in an aquarium, you can find answers. We ended up going with a 5'x3' acrylic with a sectioned off dry section for the design, 2 metal halide pendants, and 2 sumps. Actually, one of the sumps will be a planted tank that will drain into the main sump. So I do have some more questions. I understand from your reply that Turtles will produce a lot of waste material, so we though that incorporating a planted tank would help to maintain water quality more consistently. <Yes, good nutrient export.> We will have room for a 20H with a power compact fixture. Is it possible to, in effect, make a sort of "Freshwater Refugium" out of this tank? <More so a plant scrubber than a refugium, but similar designs.> If so what type of plants can be used to consume waste efficiently and possibly what plants could be used to feed the turtles as they are cropped from time to time? <My turtles have eaten many of the pond type floating and bunch plants. You will have to experiment with what will grow under your conditions. Fast growth and nutrient uptake should be your priorities.> Are there any critters that can be maintained in this planted tank to benefit the system or also be used to feed with such as Crayfish? <The freshwater shrimp have some benefits when keeping plants.> Do you have any recommendations for a substrate for this plant tank? <I would use plain gravel for any bog type plants, excess nutrients will abound. Floating plants may work also.> And lastly, are there any of the above mentioned that should be avoided? <Nothing that comes to mind.> Thank you again for all of your help. M.P.Gillespie. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

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

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

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

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

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