I have owned a Red Eared Slider turtle for 15 years now, and I get a lot of questions from people looking to own their first turtle. While it’s easy enough to find a wealth of information on the internet these days, sometimes too much information can be overwhelming. For this reason, I have decided to share my top five tips for turtle owners. These tips will help make sure both you and your turtle are happy and healthy.
Get a big fish tank for your turtle
It’s easy to buy a tank that is only the size you need, especially when you are just starting out and see the big difference in price tags between one tank size and the other. This is something that you want to avoid doing because while your turtle might be small now it will grow rather quickly. My turtle to this day continues to grow and he double in size in just over a year and a half. If you’re worried about your budget you can invest in a plastic tube that is equivalent to the size or pick up a fish tank at a yard sale. You can also have your fish tank custom built for you online at a far cheaper price then you will ever see in stores.
Purchase a good care guide
The internet is great and has a wealth of information, but when your turtle is sick or is exhibiting strange signs it is hard to pinpoint and find what you need. To help reduce your stress level and make taking care of your turtle easy you will want to invest in a good care guide. All care guides are different and you will want to buy one for your specific turtle species as different species are affected in different ways. Ask the pet store about which guides they have to offer and ask them which ones they would suggest.
Invest in a good fish tank pump
Turtles can dirty up a fish tank fast and that’s why you need to invest in the best possible fish tank pump. When thinking of what kind of pump to buy, focus on one that has at least two cycle filtration and one that is made specifically for turtles. There are a lot of different types of bacteria that don’t affect normal fish in a tank, but they will affect a turtle and so it is important that your pump and filter are made to clear out these harmful bacteria. Change your pump filters as directed and keep an eye on them. Regardless of what the suggested replacement time is, you will want to monitor your water and your filters and change them as necessary.
Clean your fish tank every four to six weeks
In dealing with a turtle you will have to give extra care to make sure that their home remains clean. They do not have the ability to self-clean a fish tank as fish do and so this requires a complete cleaning of the fish tank every four to six weeks. In my experience there can be longer periods in between cleanings, but that all depends on your particular turtle and your filter system in place. When I clean my tank I first filter out all of the water. After that I transfer the gravel to gallon buckets and clean out the inside of the tank. I then repeatedly rinse the gravel and sift it until the water is completely clear. Once you have clear water free of dirt you know your gravel is clean. Don’t use soap or any other cleaning agent as these could harm your turtle and any other inhabitants in your fish tank.
Invest in a UV Heat lamp
A great tip for all turtle owners is to invest in a UV heat lamp. While regular lighting tends to be present in most turtle housing, this is not sufficient for making sure that your turtle stays healthy. Your turtle, just like humans, needs the UV rays from the sun in order to maintain overall health and body temperature. If your turtle is inside it is unable to get the needed UV ray exposure during the day and so it is up to you to make sure that happens. Once you get a UV lamp you will want to construct a basking platform from rocks. This entices your turtle to get up onto the rocks and sit underneath the UV light. One mistake that can be made however is over exposure to UV light. Your turtle should not be exposed to more than eight hours a day of UV light. Additionally, make sure that you turn off all lights in the area at typical sundown hours as lights that are left on will fool the turtle into thinking it’s still daytime and they will not sleep properly.
-Interact with your turtle: Turtles can get very lonely and stress can lead to illness. Interacting will your turtle a few times a day will help lower its stress level.
-Let your turtle walk around: While turtles spend most of their time in the water letting them walk around will help with their overall health and strength.
-Clean your turtle’s shell regularly.
-Buy a heater for when temperatures go below your turtle’s optimal body heat.