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Yellow bellied slider turtles. Any tips on keeping them?

(64 Posts)
Tortoise Tue 30-Aug-11 16:58:31

Been offered 2 slider turtles but I know nothing about keeping turtles.
Does anyone on here have them or can anyone give me tips on caring for them or books to get for info.
I'm really excited about getting them. Since I was a child I have wanted a turtle or a tortoise! grin

lazydog Tue 30-Aug-11 22:42:05

Well, for starters, do you have lots and lots of space? Turtles need huge tanks with powerful filtration systems to keep their water clean...and their setup need provision for a dry basking area (with UV lighting and heat - can be in a combined form such as a mercury vapour bulb, or separate UVB and incandescent bulb heat lamp) as well as a swimming area. You'd be looking at around a 6' long tank for 2 adults...

If you want the ultimate environment for adult turtles, forget tanks and look at this article: smile

If you have them in too small an environment, not only is it cruel, it also makes keeping the water clean enough a very difficult and labour intensive task, with frequent complete water changes necessary. If you don't keep it clean you end up with at best stinky and at worst sick turtles (increases risk of respiratory infections, shell rot and ear abscesses.)

What size are the sliders now? And what sex? A mature female should be expected to grow to around dinner plate size...males slightly smaller.

2 females would be fine together long term, assuming enough space, but 2 males will fight and injure each other, and one of each is far from ideal as the male will harass the female to the point of serious distress and potentially damage her (biting) during their mating rituals.

Tortoise Tue 30-Aug-11 23:04:56

Thanks for your reply.
They are in a 3ft tank which is being given with them. If not big enough I will have to look into getting a bigger one as soon as I can. Also comes with heater and filter.
They are around 4 yrs old. Forgot to ask sex of them.
She will tell me more about looking after them when I collect them tomorrow. But I want to find out as much as I can to care for them properly.

lazydog Tue 30-Aug-11 23:08:28

Why is she getting rid?

Tortoise Tue 30-Aug-11 23:12:22

I don't know tbh. I got over excited about having them and forgot to ask important questions like that. Will ask tomorrow.

lazydog Tue 30-Aug-11 23:17:59

Usually people get rid of them when their current set up is proving to be inadequate and they cannot afford to upgrade, so watch that you don't end up taking on a very expensive commitment. She may try to say that the tank and filter is fine for them, and you quickly discover that is far from the truth! Might not be so in this particular situation, but in my years of rescue/rehab., that's more often than not been the case...or they're sick and the vets bills don't appeal... sad

Not trying to put you off, but equally don't want you being mislead that they're easy pets!

Tortoise Tue 30-Aug-11 23:24:14

She said she has 2 filters, one is a bit dodgy and could do with replacing.
So do you think the tank is too small? 3ft x 1 and a bit ft.
Look fine in the photos I saw but I'm no expert!
Really grateful for all advice.
Not 100% what food they need although I have been googling info its all a bit confusing so far!

lazydog Tue 30-Aug-11 23:40:32

Sounds too small to me - it would have been ok for a couple of hatchlings, but not 4 year olds. And the two filters thing is a bit of a red flag, as one (decent one) would be enough if the turtles weren't producing too much waste for the tank volume.

Re: Feeding - can I be lazy and direct you to the Tortoise Trust site again, as I have to rush out now (only 3:30pm here!)

Will check back in when I settle down for my nightly MN session and see if you've any further questions, but I guess you'll be turning in soon! smile

Tortoise Tue 30-Aug-11 23:47:52

Thanks. Will have a look at that in the morning (well, morning for me!)
I will get a new filter 1st (any tips on a good but not over expensive one?) and keep an eye on ebay for a bigger tank.
Could hopefully sell the tank they are in after I get a bigger one to replace some of the money spent on new tank!
I'm sure I will have other questions to ask at some point.
I should get to sleep really! I'm like a kid on Christmas eve! Lol

lazydog Wed 31-Aug-11 07:01:00

You'll want a canister filter - I'll have a Google to see what brands are readily available in the UK nowadays. Ehiem are great and European (German) made, so I'm sure you can still get them there.

You'll want to get one that's rated for a bigger tank capacity than you actually have (or expect to get) as they need to work harder when you use them for terrapins than when they're used for fish.

From what you described, their current tank is a 24 or 30 gallon (imperial) but personally I'd not keep 2 adult sliders (not that these are adults yet - but you probably don't want to pay out twice?) in anything under a 60x24x24", which is a 109 gallon and preferably in a 72x24x24 (131 gallon).

Once you're looking at those size tanks, the indoor pond option becomes much more appealing as an alternative because glass tanks of those dimensions are very expensive, even second hand, whereas pre-formed ponds aren't!

I've had a look and you can get the Eheim Classic canister filters on loads of UK sites, by the looks of things...

I'd suggest the 2217 model, which is overkill for a 30 gal, but not for if/when you upsize.

Here's one supplier, but there are probably more/cheaper if you shop around:

Tortoise Wed 31-Aug-11 09:05:55

Thanks, that's great info and a lot to think about.
So I need about a 6ft tank? (trying to covert into feet so I can look up tanks!) Don't think I have room for much bigger than that.
Filters are confusing lol. Wondering if an aquatic shop could help. I know one fairly local to me.
Really appreciate all the help, thanks.

lazydog Wed 31-Aug-11 18:40:11

They might be able to, yes, but be very aware of the usual shop assistant tactic of never admitting that they don't actually know anything about a subject (since turtle keeping is hugely removed from fish keeping!) and watch that you don't end up with totally the wrong kit.

Much better (in my experience) that you go into one of those sorts of places already knowing what you need and why, i.e. just to buy...

However, yes, they probably would be able to advise you how best to set up a canister filter - after trying to advise you to buy a totally different type, first...grin

A 6 foot tank would be ideal but will definitely cost a bomb because they're so rarely needed - perhaps only for really large marine setups, or maybe in restaurant/shop displays - so not likely to come available second hand all that often. Although maybe you'll see them more often now that people are generally hard up and may decide to get rid because the upkeep is too much expense?

Like I keep saying, I wouldn't use a tank at all, personally... smile

lazydog Wed 31-Aug-11 18:56:49

Although.... Wow - I've just looked at eBay UK and I'm surprised at how many big tanks are actually up for sale! Guess it's just the luck of the draw whether any of the reasonable priced ones are near you.

Tortoise Wed 31-Aug-11 19:17:49

Yes there are tanks on ebay. All just a bit far from me at the moment.
I can't see me having room for any indoor pond type thing. Plus wouldn't they go wandering around with no lid? Lol.
I know the aquatic place had turtles in last time I bought a fish so they may be able to help. But, yes, would be better if I have an idea what I need first.
Hopefully picking them up soon then I can tell u the sex if them and why getting rid.

lazydog Wed 31-Aug-11 22:32:02

Cool! Glad you're taking them, even after being warned about their requirements, as I think that proves that you're going to make a really good owner smile Many people take them on with all the best intentions but are mislead by the pet store they got them from, telling them all the old BS about them only growing "to the size of the tank" or being fine with no UV lighting, or "thriving" (aka barely surviving) on nothing but commercial turtle food. I'd so love to have sliders here but half the house is already taken over by our tortoises, so DH would have a fit if I got anything else - especially something needing so much space! grin

Tortoise Wed 31-Aug-11 22:42:16

Well they are here and tank all set up. In my opinion they don't have a big enough basking area. There is a heater. Light in the lid but don't think iv light. Tiny crap filter plus bigger one which seems to be doing nothing at all! There were a few flakes of shell in the stones. Is that normal? Can u get on pets at home website? Wondering if they do a suitable filter, can go there tomorrow. Have a tub of aquatic turtle food. Think they male but she didn't know!
I put fresh water in and its floating with bits already. I washed all the gravel too. Do they have light on all the time or off at night?
Thanks again for all your advice.

Tortoise Wed 31-Aug-11 23:22:59

Does this platform look ok? Could get a couple of them?
This looks like the filter that is in it but pretty sure it isn't doing anything! She did say it was about £25. They do different sizes but im not sure if or what will be best.

Tortoise Wed 31-Aug-11 23:23:47

Just noticed i put iv lamp instead of uv!

Tortoise Wed 31-Aug-11 23:28:42

This is the platform they have I would say in small size and it just sinks when they try to get on it!

lazydog Thu 01-Sep-11 00:28:37

Hi there - sorry - been outside.

Shedding of the scutes in turtles is normal, as long is the shell looks good and hard and healthy underneath - not soft and spongey.

When you say that there is a heater, do you just mean a water heater, or do they have a heat lamp over the basking area too, as that's probably more important! They can cope just fine with room temp water temps (70f ish) as long as they can thermoregulate adequately out of the water.

Ideally you want the water a bit warmer than 70f, but its not essential, by any means (with the exception of if they're on meds that are generally metabolised better at higher temps., when you'd want to keep the water warmer than you otherwise would...)

The filter you already have is of the same type that I've found inadequate for a few large goldfish, when we used to keep them, nevermind turtles, I'm afraid. sad

This filter is the only one on the PAH website that would be worth having, and you'd need the 405 one, not the 105 that that landing page displays first...

It's not necessary to have gravel on the bottom of a turtle tank. If it's the tiny bits of fish tank gravel I'd definitely get rid - they could ingest it and that can cause impaction. If the stones are bigger so that they can't be swallowed, then that's much better (nice smooth "river rock" type pebbles are preferable) but it just makes it far harder to keep the tank clean... They do look better than a bare tank bottom though, for sure!

The platform you linked to is very small. Probably ok at their age, but useless for adults. Not sure if you can get them in the UK (will Google later tonight) but this is the ideal sort of basking area (in large if for adults.)

Lights should be off at night but air/water temp not allowed to drop too cold.

Got to go into town again now but will check back later smile

Tortoise Thu 01-Sep-11 00:44:30

It's a water heater. It says its at 26c at the moment. So, as i thought, i need some sort of heat lamp?
shock at the price of the filter. I was hoping the bigger size one like the one already in the tank would be ok. TBH i guess anything has to be better for now than the tiny filter that's working.

The stones/gravel are a mixture. Some bigger than fish tank ones and some fish tank size.

Feeling sorry for them because the seem to want to get out of the water a bit but can't get onto the platform!

Wondering how they have survived the last 3 yrs! The person who had them before that got rid of them becuase her daughter kept putting washing up liquid in the water hmm!

Tortoise Thu 01-Sep-11 01:33:52

Hopefully added 2 photos. On my phone it looks like it worked!
Should really go to sleep

lazydog Thu 01-Sep-11 02:33:41

Thank goodness that you've saved them.

Absolutely essential that you provide them with a basking platform of some description ASAP and also a heat lamp so that they get a basking spot temperature of about 30C. (The UV lighting can wait if you provide them with oral D3 supplementation instead.) If they're unable to ever get warm and completely dry - especially with dirty, poorly filtered water - you'll have shell rot to deal with for sure...

You can certainly get the same type of in tank filter as you've been given but it'll be useless against the amount of ammonia and solid waste these two will produce, so you'll be doing water changes on a near daily basis...not my idea of fun! wink

If you want to email me some clearer pics ( to: la-zy-do-ga-cr-es without hyphens AT gmail DOT com ) that show their tails and also ones that show their forelimbs (especially their claws) I should hopefully be able to sex them for you at that size.

Tortoise Thu 01-Sep-11 07:00:50

Ok, heat lamp or uv. Will look them up, don't want to get the wrong thing. Might take a week before that would get here though. I don't know anywhere locally I could get one.
Will definitely get some sort of basking area today.
Still not sure what to do about the filter. I don't have enough money today for the one you linked too. Have 2 pairs school shoes to buy!

Will send photos later. Thanks.

Tortoise Thu 01-Sep-11 18:07:34

I got the Fluval U3 filter from pets at home. Hoping that will be enough for a few weeks until i can get something else if it isn't good enough.
Got a wooden platform on legs for them to bask on. Not convinced wood is a good idea but chap i spoke to in small pet shop seemed to know what he was talking about unlike chap at pets at home!
Have discovered, thanks to chap at pet shop, that the light in the top of the tank is in fact a UVB light/bulb. Is that going to be sufficient? He was very helpful going through what rating needed etc.
The food has D3 supplement in it.
Think i will have to do a water change tomorrow, the water looks a bit cloudy already. Probably due to lack of filter yesterday and today!

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