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Red-Ear-Slider. By: RES World. General Information. "What is the difference between a turtle, a tortoise and a terrapin?"

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red ear slider

Red-Ear-Slider

By: RES World

general information
General Information
  • "What is the difference between a turtle, a tortoise and a terrapin?"
  • A turtle is any reptile that lives in a shell. A tortoise is a turtle that lives on the land but can enter the water for a drink, to cool off or to escape and evade predators. A terrapin is a turtle that lives primarily in water, generally leaving only to lay eggs or to bask in the sun.
  • "Do turtles bite?"
  • Yes. One key thing to keep in mind: If it has a mouth, it can bite! If you would like to feed your by hand, I would recommend doing so with tongs, as some turtles may not have as good of aim as you hope they do.
  • "Are turtles mean?"
  • Turtles, for the most part, are not aggressive to people. Most turtles are like people or any other pet you have. They have their own personalities and temperaments. Some of ours are aggressive if you pull them out of the water, yet docile in the water and do not attempt to bite. Some of the others are quite different. They will try to run if you remove them from the tank, yet if you place your hand inside the water...well, look out. They think your fingers are chicken tenders! Turtles have a tendency to bite each other accidentally, especially when trying to grab a hold of the same piece of food. Even the supposedly "ferocious" Alligator Snapping Turtle. The Alligator in the name came from its appearance, not its temperament.
  • A little anatomy here
  • Ok. The top of the shell is called the carapace whereas the bottom portion is called the plastron. The part of the shell that connects these two is called the bridge. Pretty simple, eh? Ok. Now, the carapace does not have scales as we know scales to be. They have large sections that are called scutes. Scutes are made of kertain, much like our fingernails. The cloaca is an opening in the body located under the tail. Through this opening, the turtle performs fecal, urinary and reproductive functions. Turtles CAN feel things that come in contact with their shells because they have nerve endings there, but they can not feel pain as they do not have those types of nerve endings. Why is this? I haven\'t the slightest of clues but have seen it in most research material so I\'m guessing it\'s true. Kinda hard to ask the turtle if something hurts.

  Continuing on with the anatomy portion of this little block of info, we go to the lungs. If you have ever heard a turtle hiss and wonder if it means that they are mad...rest assured, they aren\'t mad. They are frightened. When we breathe, our chest expands and then contracts, pulling in air and then releasing it. Well, a turtle\'s chest can\'t do this because of the hard plastron. Instead, their lungs inflate and take up room inside their shell. So when they are frightened, and they need to pull their head and legs into their shell, they won\'t quite fit in because of full inflated lungs.

more information
More Information

What they do is expel the air within their lungs out as fast as they can so that they will have room for their appendages to fit into the security of their hard shells. With this rush of air leaving their bodies, it makes a hissing noise and leads one to believe the turtle is ticked off and warning them to stay away.

  • And, just a note for the record, no turtle (land or otherwise) can leave their shell and still be alive. If you see a turtle shell and there is no turtle to be found, the poor creature is dead. They are attached to their shell as it is actually a part of their rib cage. The shell grows at the same rate the rest of the turtle, so there is hardly a need of concern of the turtle getting too fat for its shell. When the shell begins to look as if it is coming apart, it is merely growing; discarding portions of the old with incoming segments of new. If the scutes come off in large layers or there are red and / or raw areas in shed areas, then there is a problem. Go see a vet.
  • As the turtle grows, you will see a separation of the scutes and a lighter colored area between them on the plastron. Again, this is normal. This area will also be softer than the surrounding scutes.
  • "Is my Turtle a Boy or a Girl?"
  • This is difficult to tell is most turtles, until they are older. The males of all turtles will have a longer, thicker tail, with the cloaca located closer to the tip of the tail, whereas females with have a smaller, thinner tail with the vent closer to the main part of the body. In some of the more commonly kept turtles (Sliders, some Maps, Painteds, Cooters), males will also have exceptionally long foreclaws; the females having smaller ones. Males in some species will also display a concave or dented-in plastron. This is to allow the male to better mount the female when mating. Adult females which have laid a clutch of eggs will have a semi-pliable anal section of the plastron.
  • The females, however, in most species of turtles, will be larger...sometimes 4 x larger...than the males. And just be on the look-out - if you have a male, he might just prove it to you one day. This is called Fanning. This is completely normal, however, sometimes this fanning can lead to health issues - especially if tankmates believe it to be something edible and bite it.
  • "How do you measure a Turtle?"
  • The measurement of a turtle is done as a straight line from the front of the carapace to the back. This is called Straight Carapace Length (SCL). This is accomplished by using an imaginary line that goes through or above the turtle. You do not want to go along the ridge of the carapace, because in some species this is highly domed and wil give you an inaccurate measurement. Picture it as though you were placing bookends and the front and back of the turtle, and then measuring the distance between bookends.
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"Does my turtle have Salmonella?"

  • Could be. But before you go off the deep end and think your turtle is going to kill you or infect you with this bacteria, let\'s look at a few things. ALL animals can carry salmonella. Yes. ALL of them. This includes dogs, cats, people, lizards and snakes. Even your cute little puppy Rover might have it. It\'s not going to jump out of the turtle and get you. The reason why turtles have received a bad reputation in reference to salmonella poisoning, is because of ignorance combined with a lack of personal hygiene. Keepers back in the 60\'s and 70\'s (when this was a problem thus creating the 4-inch law), were not keeping their turtles in very sanitary conditions and they were not keeping themselves safe by washing their hands.
  • Turtles were commonly kept in Turtle Bowls which have come to be dubbed "Death Bowls" by hobbyists. The water was not filtered and was usually changed once a week or when the keeper got tired of smelling the foul water. The turtles were left to live in, swim in and eat in the same water that they used the bathroom in. Then people would go about their day and not wash their hands - no wonder people were getting sick. That\'s the equivalent to having a dog and keeping it in a single room inside your house all the time and making it eat off the floor where it uses the bathroom...and then you clean it once a week. That\'s just begging for all kinds of health issues. The turtle\'s water is no different. Even with the water being filtrated and caring for your turtles properly, it is always a good idea to wash your hands after interacting with them or their habitat. You wash your hands after brushing your dog or horse, so why not wash them after testing your turtle\'s water or after putting your hands in the aquarium to adjust something?
  • I would also encourage washing your hands with a strong, anti-bacterial soap before touching them as well. You don\'t want them to give you anything that they might have and you don\'t want to give them anything you might have. Play it safe and play it smart. Children should not be allowed to touch the turtles and if they are permitted, please only do so under strict adult supervision and wash the child\'s hands IMMEDIATELY after touching them. Kids are quick to put hands in their mouths and that is an excellent way for the transfer of bacteria to happen. Their immune systems are still relatively weak and they can pick up germs easily - not just salmonella. Elderly people and those with compromised immune systems (such as AIDS and other afflictions of the immune system) are also encouraged not to interact with reptiles.
  • "Why 4 inches and is it illegal for me to own my baby turtle?"
  • There are a few reasons for the law stating that the turtle needs to be 4 inches or larger for sale as a pet. Some of the reasons are far-fetched, but they were believed at te time. All of which were based on salmonella poisoning. Children of those days were allowed to play with the little hatchling turtles. Kids are kids and they do what kids do - they put whatever they are playing with in their mouths. Not the best idea, but again, kids are kids. So these little turtles fit nicely in the mouths of young kids and thus assisted in the spreading of germs and bacteria. It seems the parents would rather blame the turtle for their child being sick, when in fact, they should have been paying closer attention to their kids and their turtles. Another reason is that before we understood that salmonella was an important part of their gut bacteria, it was believed that if turtles lived to be 4 inches, then they had survived salmonella and were thus salmonella-free. We now know this to be false.
  • It is not illegal to OWN a turtle under 4" in length; it is illegal to SELL a turtle less than 4" as a PET. Key word..."pet". This is why it is legal to purchase them from breeders and dealers on the internet who support the "hobby" as opposed to pet stores which sell the turtles as "pets". There is a great debate in the courts and hobby of turtle keeping, and one that will probably continue for years down the road.
basic turtle care
Basic Turtle Care
  •   Over the years, the captive care of Turtles has undergone many changes. As more people enter the hobby, more research is being demanded on the care and keeping of our shelled companions. The hopes are that one day the understanding of their needs and husbandry of turtles in captivity will be as commonplace as those of dogs and cats of today. Information is changing, but with resources such as the internet and web forums which allow experienced keepers to communicate and share information in an entirely new dimension. Good things are happening. With that said, please continue forward and learn the latest on captive care of Aquatic and Semi-Aquatic Turtles!
  • “The Basics”
  • Caring for you turtle is relatively easy once the basics have been established. Dispel the thoughts of getting a turtle and putting it in a bowl of water with a rock. Those little "Turtle Ponds" that you can still find in some pet stores, are completely inadequate and have even been dubbed by experienced keepers as "Death Bowls". Turtles require more than a small, simple container to ensure proper health and longevity. Heating, lighting, temperature control, filtration - all of these play an important role in the health and happiness of your turtle. Even a large aquarium, filled to the top with water in not meeting their needs, as they need an area to get out of the water and be able to get completely dry.
  •        Also toss out the ideas that turtles can survive on hot dogs, cat food and shrimp treats. Their diets are a highly evolved science, of which we are only beginning to unlock and understand. Various species have specific feeding needs, so the exact dietary requirement of your turtle will need to be researched (Care Sheets are a great assistance in determining what is needed). There are numerous prepared foods on the market, but not all are quality. You don\'t need to be a nutritionist to understand what is required, but you do need to understand what to look for. Sounds sophisticated, but it\'s all simple once you understand the reasons why and why not to put things on the menu.
  •         The lamp on the desk or the overhead light in the room is not going to meet the requirements of your turtle. They need special lighting which will allow them to perform bodily functions that regular lighting does not do. Room temperature ok? Guess again. Turtles are ectothermic, what used to be called "cold blooded". This means that they do not generate their own body heat. They rely on the sun to get warm and the water to cool down. You will need to ensure that their air temps, basking temps and water temps are within the acceptable guidelines. This will not only ensure their health, but will give them a more natural feeling about their habitat and allow them to act naturally.
  •          Turtles are not like dogs and cats - they do NOT enjoy going for walks and being handled. It is key to remember this as some keepers allow their turtles to walk around on their floors, they take them outside for walks or they hold them and carry them around and some even take them to the pet stores as they would their dog. This is not something your turtle will enjoy, nor is it good for them. This causes unnecessary stress and could will eventually lead to health problems. Leave them in their habitat and watch them swim, eat, bask and move about in their home which you have provided. They will be much happier and so will you.
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Food
  • The food factor. Turtles are usually opportunistic feeders. In other words, they grab it when they can because they really aren\'t sure when they might get the chance to eat again. Do not be fooled---turtles will learn to recognize you and any food containers you have. They will quickly have you trained! Overfeeding is one of the most common mistakes in captive care. Keep in mind that they are not always hungry...but they are always looking for a meal because it\'s how they survive in the wild. They don\'t know that you are going to feed them routinely, so keep a regular schedule and try not to veer from it.
  • As far as a diet goes, you want something high in calcium. Stay away from fatty foods and those with a high carbohydrate and protein content unless the turtle is a strict carnivore. Don\'t over-feed or under-feed anything; even if it is good for their diet. Not enough is dangerous and too much isn\'t much better.
  • Feeding
  • This is a topic of high debate amongst collectors. It ranges from anywhere between 1 food stick per day, every other day all the way to feeding them as much as they will eat in a 30 minute time period every day. I will only comment on what has worked for us and has worked extremely well. We feed our hatchlings as much as they will eat in a 15-20 minute time period, every day. After roughly 1 year, we feed them as much as they will eat in the same amount of time but every other day. Adults and sub-adults, we feed twice weekly, as much as they will eat in a 15-20 minute time period. 
  • It is recommended that you feed in a separate container. This not only greatly helps with maintaining water quality, but it also allows you to be gage how much your turtle is eating and, in some cases, if they are eating at all. It can also allow you to see if your turtle is passing waste properly, as most times they will use the bathroom in this feeding container. This also makes for easy clean up. A feeding container should be large enough for the turtle to comfortably move around in and the water depth only needs to be deep enough to cover the top of the shell.
housing
Housing
  • This is where the initial set-up of your turtle gets expensive. Filtration, lighting and temperature are a huge part of this, but also something that most people don\'t plan ahead for and that is the adult size of their turtle. Contrary to the myth, turtles do NOT grow to meet the size of their enclosures, so keeping your hatchling in a 10 gallon aquarium will not keep him small. It will only serve to make him/her very uncomfortable and eventually very sick.
  •         Some believe it is easier to upgrade their aquariums as the need permits. This not only gets costly over time, but you tend to stock up on unused aquariums. Most people with 1 or 2 small turtles start out with a 20 gallon aquarium, then upgrade later to a 55 gallon, then alter still to a 75 gallon and so on. This might be financially easier as there are a lot of things to buy at once and a large habitat might not be in the confines of the checkbook. It won\'t be until later, looking back, that you see the excess money that was spent. Not only upgrading the tank, but also upgrading the lighting and filters because the small lights and filters that work on a 20 gallon, won\'t even begin to meet the needs of a larger tank like a 55, 75 or even 125 gallon aquarium. If at all financially possible, think adult size and buy for that. And don\'t let the size of the turtle fool you. Aquatic hatchlings can do just fine in a 200 gallon aquarium filled almost to the top. The only concern with "buying adult size for hatchlings", is the filter. The intake might be too powerful and suck the baby up to it and drown him/her. The opposite applies for the return flow of the filter - it might make it so rough that your turtle can not function properly in the water due to the force of the outlet end of the large, powerful filter. I would still recommend using these items, however, read through the Hatchling Care section of this site for information on how to better baby-proof your set up.
  •         There are several aspects of housing which are important in keeping your turtles. They are listed below, and you can click the link to be taken to the area of interest.
their home
Their Home
  •      One of the key things to remember here in making your friends\' new home, is to try your best to replicate what they would have in the wild. Granted, there are some things that you won\'t be able to reproduce, but you can modify things to meet your needs as far as getting it as close as possible. Other times, you may just have to be creative if an exact duplicate is not feasible.
  •         You are going to need plenty of water for them. They spend most of their time in the water. The only time they are out of the water is to bask. Some like to lie in shallow water and bask that way, so plan accordingly and be watchful of what they tend to prefer. You will have to provide them a dry basking spot, but they might appreciate an area that is partially covered with an inch or two of water. 
  •         There are 2 commonly used items for creating their habitat. The first and most popular are glass or acrylic aquariums, such as are used for fish. These are an attractive addition to the home and the turtle can be viewed from all areas. RubberMaid containers are also very popular as they are sizable, easy to clean, unbreakable and VERY inexpensive, especially when pitting them against their costly glass counterparts.
substrate
Substrate
  • Substrate is whatever you use to line the bottom of the aquarium (ie;  gravel, rocks, sand, nothing, etc). What is best? Well, there are several angles on this. Yet again there is a wide variety, ranging from nothing all the way to large river rocks and even further to complex and sometimes expensive tiles, as well as everything and every size in between.
  • Nothing - This is by far the easiest to go with. It allows for easy cleaning and there is no chance of the turtle eating the substrate and developing health issues. The bad parts of this are that it shows how dirty the tank is that turtles are messy and with a bare bottom, it is easily seen. There is also nowhere to develop beneficial bacteria other than inside the filter. Some keepers such as myself do not like this way of doing things simply because it loses that natural appearance. If keeping softshells, this is definitely not the way to go as it can cause stress to the turtle since it has nothing to burrow in. Some keepers that go with this method litter the bottom of the tank with plastic plants. This is a great "fix" for the bare bottom appearance, but this unfortunately will not work with larger turtles as they will simply move the artificial plants around.
  • Sand - A highly sought substrate. It is tricky to clean with a siphon but is very attractive, causes no health risk and very easy on the shells of turtles when they dive in and happen to strike the substrate. The problem is that sand is light and gets easily kicked up and get sucked into the filter. Sand and filter motors do not mix well. A sandy bottom can make short work of a filter in only a few days. Some keepers that have had success with using sand place a sponge pre-filter before the main intake. The problem with this is that you must clean it often and it prevents the filter from cleaning out the larger items. Sand is so-so for having a planted tank, with both artificial and live plants, as they are easily dug up. If you can swing it, this is the ideal substrate for all turtles, especially softshells.
  • Fine Gravel - This is gravel that is smaller than a BB. This is a great sub for all turtles, including softshells. This type of gravel does well with live plants, too, and it poses no health risk. This gravel is a bit easier to clean than sand, but still has potential problems when using a siphon, as it can easily suck up this small, light-weight gravel.
  • Standard Gravel - This is the gravel that you see in fish tanks and is most common in pet stores. Gravel of this kind is very attractive, every natural looking and is easily cleaning using a siphon. It is somewhat difficult for small softshells to burrow in, but larger softys don\'t appear to have an issue. Gravel of this size, however, has the potential for health problems. Gut impaction and especially prolapses are possibly. Although these situations are indeed rare, the potential is there and some keepers choose some of the other substrate options to play things on the safe side, as turtles do have the tendency to eat gravel.
  • River Rock - These are smooth stones that range in from golf ball size to tennis ball size. They are natural looking and have no potential health risks. This type of bottom, however, is extremely difficult the do a good cleaning on with a siphon. These types of rocks can easily - and cheaply - be found at places like Home Depot and Lowe\'s. Another downside of using the large rocks is plastron injury. When the turtles dive into the water, they sometimes strike the bottom with their plastrons and this CAN cause trauma to the shell, possibly opening the turtle up for medical problems.
  • Tile - Yet some keepers still continue to be creative! Attractive and sometimes natural looking ceramic or plastic tiles can be used. No health risk and is aesthetically pleasing. It appears to be easy to clean, although oftentimes some of the waste gathers beneath the tiles.
basking area
Basking Area
  • Contrary to some beliefs, turtles do need a place to get out of the water and get completely dry, including Soft Shell Turtles. Without this opportunity, they may develop a fungus and that could prove fatal. It also has psychological benefits as well. As turtles are ectothermic, they use the basking to warm themselves and, in doing so, raise their metabolisms to a proficient level. Two of these bodily functions that run at optimum while basking are the processing of nutrients and the immune system. Basking is also a way to register your turtle\'s health. A turtle that basks frequently with its head up high and most times has the legs kicked out is the #1 sign of good health. Basking has several health benefits and besides, they seem to love it!
  •         So what do you do for it? Well, use your imagination. Trial and error works good too. Experiment and go with what you think looks good and makes the turtles feel at home. You can go with something simple. Or you can go with something elaborate. Totally up to you.
  • Most pet stores sell floating islands or plastic stands with platforms that you place in the aquarium with suction cups. This works great for smaller turtles. But once they get larger, this is not only too small, but does not allow you to put the depth of the water that is needed.
heating
Heating

Here\'s a double concern. Turtles are going to need a heat lamp for basking and they are also going to need a heater for their water. Cold turtles  =  big trouble. There are a number of avenues to go with here. A floating thermometer is recommended or one that you can stick on the glass. This allows you to be certain of the temperature at glance.

  • For heating the water, a submersible heating element is preferred, but anything you use to safely heat the water is acceptable. Do not make the water temperature too hot as turtles need the cooler water to regulate their body temperature from basking. Water that is too warm will also discourage the turtle from getting out to bask and can also lead to excessive shedding. A submersible heater with a temperature setting is preferred. Once the the turtles get hot enough from basking, they cool off by taking a dip in the water. A good water temperature is anywhere between 72 and 80 degrees, depending on the species of turtle you have. It is always a good idea to check the regions from which your turtles live and try to duplicate the temperatures there as best as you can.
  • Currently, in a poll with a few experienced turtle keepers, the 2 top water heaters were Tronic and Ebo-Jager. We used Tronic for years, and have changed over to Ebo-Jagers. Both are quality heaters. A safety item to watch for is that sometimes the turtles will rest on or under the heaters and get burned. Heater guards are a great idea and no heater should be without it. The guards are sold for Tronic Heaters, but they also work for Ebo-Jager Heaters.
lighting
Lighting
  • Lighting is not only important to turtles for a daytime photoperiod. They need certain aspects of the sun for certain bodily functions to take place. This is chiefly the synthesizing of calcium into Vitamin D3. As humans, our bodies automatically process the calcium we take in from food items and convert it to Vita D3, thus supplying needed nutrition to our bones. Turtles do not possess this ability. They require UVB rays to interact with elements in their skin to allow them to conduct this process. Without it, the turtle\'s bones do not grow properly and they become weak and disfigured. This is commonly known as MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease) and is most times fatal if not caught early. Usually when signs of MBD show up, it is too late. This also goes back to ensuring that turtles have a proper diet and are supplied with the much needed calcium. The combination of proper diet and proper lighting is an important aspect of their growth and health.
  • UV stands for Ultra Violet, this light you can\'t see. There are three different types, all explained below.
  • UVA . This is the visible wavelength. It is responsible for inducing normal behavior in reptiles such as feeding, climbing, mating etc. In other words, UVA helps with the mental well-being of animals. Zoos have been using UVA bulbs such as the BLB blacklights and have found that exposure to high levels of UVA lighting for 2 hours daily induced mating in many species.UVB . One of the two non-visible wavelengths of light. This is what gives humans suntans. In reptiles, UVB allows for the synthesis of vitamin D3 which allows reptiles to process calcium in their system, thus preventing or reversing metabolic bone disease.UVC . This is the wavelength used in ultraviolet sterilizers which kill harmful bacteria. This wavelength is extremely dangerous and can actually damage DNA.
  •         The absolute best way to ensure your turtles are getting their fair share of needed UVB rays, if possible, is to place them outside in natural sunlight. It is also proven that direct, unfiltered, natural sunlight is also key in not only maintaining good health, but also in the healing process. It is believed that 15 minutes in real sunlight is better than 5 hours under the best artificial UVB source.
  •         There are numerous manufacturers of UVB lighting. ZooMed is by far the top choice. They offer 3 different types of bulbs: The ReptiSun 2.0, Reptisun 5.0 and the PowerSun. We won\'t discuss the ReptiSun 2.0 as it does not supply enough UVB for turtles. Full spectrum lighting DOES NOT meet the requirements for use with turtles.
cleaning
Cleaning
  • This is where it gets difficult and where the RubberMaid users have the largest advantage. Cleaning the aquarium, especially with gravel, is a chore at times, depending on the frequency which you change the water. The tool of choice is the siphon. Namely, the Python System. This is a hose that attaches to your sink with the same type of connectors as waterbeds. The valve allows for filling as well as siphoning. This is a blessing for those who have large tanks!
  •         A small net is also a great idea. It makes scooping out left over food (if you feed in the tank) easier as well as pulling out other debris and poop.
  •         Every 2-3 weeks, it is a good idea to do a 20-30% water change. I use this time to vacuum the gravel substrate.
water quality
Water Quality
  • This is of as great of a concern to keepers of aquatic turtles as is the quality of the diet which they feed them. Poorwater quality could mean hassles, health problems and can cause death if not detected. Below, I will go over, in simple terms, a little about the 4 aspects which are pH, ammonia, nitrates and nitrites.
  • PH is how acidic or alkaline your water is. It\'s a scale with 7 being what is called Neutral...neither acidic nor alkaline. Anything below 7 is considered acidic and anything above 7 is called alkaline.
  • Why is pH so important?
  • The first major concern for pH with turtles is that some turtles require a certain pH setting. For example, Diamondback Terrapins require a pH rating of around 7.5, whereas Mata Matas require a pH setting of about 5.. For a happy, healthy turtle, the proper pH is a must. Without the proper pH, there could be complications that occur.
  • Secondly, a more acidic pH is desired because of its ability to prevent certain strains of bacteria and fungal outbreaks. The lower the pH, the less likely certain types of these nasty intruders will have in surviving. The higher the pH rating, the more these nasty things can develop and thrive in the turtles\' habitat.
  • Most people\'s tap water has a rating of about 7.5 - 8.5. This will work for most North American species, but when get into the more exotic species, then you will have to pay close attention to the pH levels. With the North American species, you can get by with lowering the pH levels to about 6.2 to assist in preventing shell infections, but if you own a softshell, I would not go any lower than 6.5 for fear of burning the softy.
  • How do I test my turtle\'s pH level?
  • There are a number of test kits that you can buy and they are great for fast, easy and accurate results.
  • How do you raise or lower the pH?
  • Again, most pet stores carry pH chemicals. Once you get the pH to where you want it, a good idea is to buy a product that will maintain the pH for you. We use Sodium Biphosphate to lower the pH to where we want it, usually in the 6 - 6.5 area. Once there, we use Proper pH 6.5 or Proper pH 6.0 to maintain it where we like it to be. Another major, huge, immense benefit of a low pH, is that ammonia is less and less toxic to your turtles.
  • Another excellent product, for those that prefer to go more of the natural route, is "Blackwater Extract".
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  • Bad stuff. Ammonia can cause you more problems that you think. This comes from the turtles\' bathroom habits as well as any decaying food in the aquarium water. Bad stuff indeed. Get yourself a test kit and test this regularly.
  • Some things to fight the ammonia are, again, at your local pet store. Ask them about it and they can hook you right on up with the proper products to combat this yucky stuff as this is also a major concern with fish. If a high Ammonia level is a problem, there is nothing better than a good, old fashioned water change.
  • A little something to aid in your struggle with water quality, is adding some fresh water aquarium salt to your tank. This also helps fight fungus and is over all beneficial to your turtles. Just don\'t over do it.
  • Some turtles will need a brackish habitat, which means that their water isn\'t freshwater, but it isn\'t salt water....rather, in between. These are turtles that are found along coastal areas. There are several brands to choose from, and pay attention to their directions, as some may differ.
  • Nitrates are the result of Nitrites being broken down by beneficial bacteria creates Nitrates.
  • Nitrites are the result of Ammonia being broken down by beneficial bacteria creates Nitrites.
filtration
Filtration
  • There is no such thing as too much filtration. When determining water kind of filter to get, think big. You can\'t overdo it, so rest assured. Turtles release more waste in one day than a fish does in over a week, so make sure you go with something that will accommodate your little friends\' bathroom habits. A charcoal insert into any filter system will help fight the smell that comes with having our friends.
  • There are 3 types of filtration: Biological, Mechanical and Chemical
  • Biological Filtration is the process by which aerobic (nitrifying) bacteria oxide the toxic ammonia through nitrite, (which is only slightly less toxic than ammonia) to the relatively harmless nitrate. This process is known as nitrification, and in nature takes place in aquatic habitats and soils where ammonia and sufficient oxygen are present.
  • Mechanical Filtration is the physical removal of particulate matter from the water. This is achieved by introducing a mechanical barrier in the water flow that traps particles of a certain size according to filter material used. A mechanical filter is only effective when it is cleaned regularly, otherwise bacteria will settle in and start breaking down the collected dirt, thus setting minerals free into the water as well as becoming a bio-filter resulting in increased nitrate levels. The nitrifying bacteria develop naturally in an aquatic environment and will colonize any suitable filter media. Once a biological filter media has been established it should be disturbed as little as possible since the bacteria colony maintains its level of activity according to the bio-load present in the system.
  • Chemical Filtration uses chemicals, in particular Active Carbon, to absorb organic material such as oxidation products of proteins, remains of fish medications and organic toxicants. It is also effective in removing oxidation products that are formed by ozonating seawater (slight amounts of chlorine and bromine). Active Carbon should be replaced regularly, since it gets saturated and as bacteria settle on it, it will eventually work like an ordinary biological filter.  
  • We currently use AquaClear, Filstar and Fluval brand filters in our various tanks, ranging anywhere from 20 gallons to 240 gallons.
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