Setting up the ideal home for aquatic turtles (with images)

Marshall

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Once you decide you like turtles and want to have one or more as pets here is a general guide to making their home compatible and enjoyable for them as well as ensuring their health so you get the full 15 to 30 years of life expectancy from your new buddies:

1. Tanks size: tank should be at least 4o gallons no matter how small the turtles are. For a 5" up to 7-8" use about 70 gallons and for full grown (9" -12") use a cube shaped 120+ gallons. The depth should be somewhere in the range of 18 - 28 inches because you need both a water area as well as an equal amount of air space above for basking etc.

2. Basking: The basking island/dock should be large enough for all of the turtles to sit on at the same time while still having room to make a full circle. The area should also be easily accessible with solid surfaces to help the get leverage to climb on. Make sure your heat lamps are close enough to provide enough heat but not so close that they get splashed by water or that a turtle can touch them and get burnt.

3. Hideouts and cover for sleeping: They need to have a place to hide from perceived danger and I personally use underwater tunnels that also serve as a step to help them get onto the basking area (see images)

4. Filtration & Moving water: The filtration is the area where most people mess up because they are used to fish and assume the filtration needs are similar. I only recommend Fluval canister filters to my clients in the 300 series based on your tank size. If your tank is 40 gallons get a Fluval 302 and for 70 a 304. They also need moving water and a waterfall filter (see image) is a great way to do this while also providing extra filtration.

5. Hot/Cold variance: Basically you want a water temp of 75 - 80 F but one side will be hotter due to the basking lamp so make sure the other end only has a regular water heater and no extra lamp.

6.Aeration: Although they do not breath underwater you still want to have a small air-stone to oxygenate the water to help keep the natural water chemistry right.

7. Exploration: The easiest way to do this is with the tunnel I mentioned that also provides hideouts and leverage points to climb out onto bask areas. They like to go through this and also the plants at the cool end provide another place to "rummage" around in.

8. UV-B: It is crucial that you have a UV-B lamp installed preferably over the basking area as they need this for healthy carapace and vitamin intake.

9. Feeding: Feeding should be done in the most open area of the tank so they dont hurt themselves when striking at the food or chasing it around. Feed them a small amount until they lose interest in it because always feeding a fixed amount means they will sometimes still be hungry or will not eat it all and this will wreak havoc on your filter.

If you have questions or comments please feel free to share them here or contact me by email @ (e-mail address removed) or if you have a turtle emergency you can text me at 706-957-2900 24/7 and if you dont get a reply within 30 minutes you can text to 706-416-8288.


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Marshall

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nice set up :)
Thank you. And it is actually quite easy to setup a habitat like this once you have all the materials and equipment. It is a bit more expensive than fish aquarium setups as well as not as common to find but this particular tank including everything you see plus the Fluval bio-filter and the mechanical filtration will set you back about $550 - $650 or you can opt for a cheaper filter system and it will be about $400 - $500 give or take. That includes the cost of the large tank itself which is a significant portion of the overall cost but also an area you dont want to skip on quality ;)
 
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Before too long I will have talked you into getting you a couple of the little guys LOL :D

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haha no no go away ;)

I actually thought I'd do half fish half turtle already. Where i fill only half the tank and have hanging rock for the turtle to hang in the upper half. BUT I've been using my indoor tank as a nursery to my goldfish fry so I dont think I can do that anytime soon.
 

Marshall

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haha no no go away ;)

I actually thought I'd do half fish half turtle already. Where i fill only half the tank and have hanging rock for the turtle to hang in the upper half. BUT I've been using my indoor tank as a nursery to my goldfish fry so I dont think I can do that anytime soon.
The turtles I have are called red eared sliders and they can live in the same tank with fish as long as they are not too small. They spend about 60% of their time underwater and your goldfish fry would be gone in a heartbeat as that is a natural food for turtles but I have three living with my adult goldfish and koi and they get along fine although the koi do like to mess with the turtles and will startle them in order to get inside the turtle caves during the day when the sun gets too hot lol :D
 

Mmathis

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You might want to address outdoor care & keeping for people who want to keep aquatic turtles outside, like in a pond. And brumation is an issue that I'm sure not many are familiar with (I'm a nervous wreck every spring until all the babies are out and I know they're OK).

People will occasionally post asking what to do with their turtles during winter. And some will post wanting to know how to make their ponds escape proof...... Etc.
 

Marshall

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You might want to address outdoor care & keeping for people who want to keep aquatic turtles outside, like in a pond. And brumation is an issue that I'm sure not many are familiar with (I'm a nervous wreck every spring until all the babies are out and I know they're OK).
.

That is one of the more serious notes I try and make with people at the rescue and I personally will not adopt a captive bred turtle to a pond home if it is in an area that will require a full brumation or even periods of torpor due to the fact it is almost impossible to create the right conditions in a lined pond for this. I have several wild turtles that I will adopt to a pond given I have inspected the bottom and do a "torpor test" As far as people wanting info only, that is on the website and my brocure but most people use my text and call in service and I am very persistent with that very subject and if they do want to adopt then I will educate and inform them to the third degree before they ever get to the home/habitat inspection stage lol These turtles are like my children so I care very much about their well being to the point where I have a pair I adopted out to a lady about 4 years ago that I still go visit once every fall during my web-design and server business down time :D
 
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The turtles I have are called red eared sliders and they can live in the same tank with fish as long as they are not too small. They spend about 60% of their time underwater and your goldfish fry would be gone in a heartbeat as that is a natural food for turtles but I have three living with my adult goldfish and koi and they get along fine although the koi do like to mess with the turtles and will startle them in order to get inside the turtle caves during the day when the sun gets too hot lol :D
ahh I have enough critters in my tank ;) I have tropical fish and also blue crayfish in there.. so I think they will become turtle food! ;)


what is Torpor?
 

Marshall

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ahh I have enough critters in my tank ;) I have tropical fish and also blue crayfish in there.. so I think they will become turtle food! ;)


what is Torpor?
Torpor is like hibernation except only for short periods (few hours a day) to conserve energy. Basically a catnap for cold blooded critters
 

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