Aquarium Setup for Freshwater Turtles

What do I use to house my turtle?

Turtles may be kept in glass aquariums or, as they get larger, in outdoor ponds.

The turtle aquarium should include plenty of swimming space as well as a place for the turtle to get out of the water. A gravel-covered glass ledge is incorporated into specially designed turtle aquariums, although any area built up with pebbles can suffice. Because turtles spend virtually all of their time in the water, the land space does not need to be extremely vast. However, if newborn turtles are not supplied with a safe area to rest, they may get weaker and drown. It is also essential for shell growth for the turtle to spend some time out of the water.

An aquarium of 25 litres (16″) can be enough for newborn turtles, however, a turtle will outgrow this size tank in 12 to 18 months. Aquariums of 35 to 60l (18″, 24″) or larger are preferable since they may comfortably host a turtle for many years. Except for extremely short-term accommodation, bowls and very tiny aquariums are not acceptable.

What other equipment do I need?

There is very little more equipment required. The most critical factor to consider is filtration, since although turtles do not need highly oxygenated water, they may be pretty filthy. A tiny turtle tank may be kept without a filter, but it will need to be cleaned once every few days. If the water quality deteriorates, the turtle is far more prone to succumb to illnesses, notably fungus.

Internal power filters are the most effective filtration device for turtle tanks up to 100 litres. Canister filters are great for bigger aquariums and can readily handle the filth created by larger turtles. Large internal power filters may be employed as well, however, they may struggle to keep the tank clean. Turtles need largely mechanical filtration to keep their aquaria clean, and carbon may help improve water clarity and remove odours.

The other factor to consider is heating. It is required in certain situations but not in others. We suggest that you learn about turtle temperature needs below.

Proper aquarium lighting is really advantageous, although it is not required. Light aids in the manufacture of vitamin D in turtles, and although this is contained in most normal turtle diets, shortages may emerge in turtles who do not get enough light exposure. If lighting is not utilised, it is advised that the turtle tank be put in a sunny site for a few minutes at least twice a week, or that the turtle be placed in a sunny spot for a few minutes at least once a week.

What temperature is best?

Turtles thrive at temperatures ranging from 20°C to 28°C, with 22°C to 26°C being ideal. As a result, depending on the temperature in your home, heating the turtle tank may not be necessary, or may be required just during the winter months.

If you are unclear if heating is necessary, or as a precaution, in any event, use an aquarium thermometer to check the temperature of the turtle tank. (The floating or stick-on kind is appropriate.) Turtles of all sizes are at risk between 12 and 18°C. If the temperature falls below 20°C, the turtle may cease feeding, resulting in malnutrition, weakness, and a significant reduction in disease resistance. Alternatively, the turtle may consume food but be unable to digest it owing to a lack of temperature. This may lead to intestinal gangrene, which can be fatal. The turtle will hibernate if the temperature falls below 12°C on a regular basis (an extremely uncommon occurrence inside!). Baby turtles should not be permitted to hibernate since they do not have enough fat stores. Baby turtles should thus be housed at temperatures above 20°C.

Shell deterioration may occur at temperatures exceeding 28°C, resulting in fungal infections of the shell. Furthermore, the turtle’s metabolism rises with temperature, and a too-rapid metabolism may result in abrupt, seemingly unexplainable death. Turn off any lights and keep the tank out of direct sunlight in hot weather. Lowering the temperature of the tank may be accomplished by replacing part of the water with colder water, directing a wind over the water’s surface, or adding a few ice cubes. Although turtles are more resistant to temperature fluctuations than fish, sudden temperature shifts should be avoided.

What maintenance is required?

Partial water changes of 25 to 30% of the tank capacity should be performed every 2 to 3 weeks in a filtered aquarium. Simultaneously, any debris should be sucked out and the mechanical filter medium should be washed (although this probably need not be done as often where canister filtration is used).
Debris should be syphoned away as needed (possibly every few days) and roughly 25% of the water swapped once a week in unfiltered aquariums.

What water should I use?

In most regions, turtles can drink tap water. Turtles dwell in rather hard and alkaline waters in the wild. Because turtles are not affected by chlorine in the same way as fish are, it is not necessary to use a water conditioner. However, since most water conditioners remove heavy metals as well, they are still suggested if you are doubtful about the quality of your water. Rainwater is normally too soft and acidic for turtles, but it may be blended with bore water to produce acceptable water when tap water is unavailable or unsuitable.

What pH is best?

Turtles like a slightly alkaline pH (above 7). Regular water changes with slightly alkaline water (e.g., tap water) will keep the pH from falling too low (ie acidic). A low pH will damage the turtle’s shell and skin, allowing fungal diseases to flourish. A turtle neutraliser block may also be added to the aquarium as an additional defence against low pH.

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