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Housing the Red Eared Slider...


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#1 paul112

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Posted 25 May 2006 - 10:34 AM

Hello :)
Since this community has helped me so much, I wanted to give you something back, so here is my summary, to housing the Red Eared Slider.

TANK

The Guideline
Now, lets start with the guideline for turtle tank size:
10 US Gallons (40 liters) for every Inch of turtle
This is not only to allow adequate swimming space. Remember that turtles produce a lot more waste than fish, and they have to drink the water they go to the toilet in. 10G per inch will allow the waste to be safely diluted until the water is changed.

As a side note, although the 10G per inch rule would mean two adult Sliders could be kept in a 240G tank, it is not advised to house turtles together. Unlike some species of Cooters, Sliders are not social. There are no benefits of housing Sliders together, but there are many disadvantages:
-Aggression. Yeah, you are prepared or it, set up another tank, and what have you. But are you prepared to fork out a lot of money in vets bills, or have 'Twurtle' die because his 'Buddy' took a chunk out of him?

-RES are solitary. At most, a Slider will tolerate another turtle, but he will never be ‘friends’ with it. The tank is your Slider's territory, and he may allow another turtle to occupy it, but it will increase stress and territorial behaviour.

-Feeding. Sure you can feed the turtles in a separate container, but it takes time and effort, and even the time period around feeding time could cause hype and feeding aggression between Sliders.

-Growth. If one Slider grows faster than the other, you're going to have trouble. Sliders are opportunistic feeders, and will see smaller turtles as prey.

-Tank size. Twice the turtles, twice the tank volume, and also twice the equipment. You could potentially require a filter for a 600G tank, which will be no where near cheap.

Choosing a tank

As a general tip when choosing a tank, bear in mind that RES (Red Eared Sliders) grow to 12" long if female, and although males grow slightly smaller, a tank of 100 Gallons (400 litres) is recommended for a single adult. It is best to purchase a tank larger than you will need to allow for room to grow, unless you want to be buying a new enclosure every year.

Remember that the footprint of the tank (length and width) is more important than the height, so when choosing a tank, it is better to buy a ‘long’ tank rather than a ‘high’ tank.

Just for the record, the tank in my photos is a 50 gallon (100x40x50cm) but my RES is only 4.5". You may notice that I still have some water in my tank. This is because of the biological cycle in aquariums. Although turtles are not as sensitive to ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels as fish, I had fish in the tank at the time also. To read about biological cycling, and why it is important in aquariums, click this link:
Basic Tank Cycling

So, you've got an appropriately sized tank

TANK EQUIPMENT

Heater

Sliders need to be kept in heated water. A water temp. of 24-29 degrees Celsius is recommended. Some lucky people live in zones where no equipment is needed to sustain such a temperature, but as I'm from sunny 'ole England, I need one of these:

Heater Picture
This is an aquarium heater. Choose one with a wattage recommended for the size of the tank you have. It would be 50W for every 10G. Mine is a 250W. The temperature can be changed by adjusting the thermostat. The heating element should be kept protected from the turtles as they can cause nasty burns or the turtle can break them. They can even cause electric shocks if damaged. Pet stores usually sell heater guards made from plastic coated wire which are not too expensive, but you can make your own from PVC tubing, with one end capped off, and several holes drilled in to allow water flow. My tank has an inbuilt box to hide the filter and the heater, so it is already protected. Heaters cost from about $10-$30.

Filter
Now, your turtle's water is going to get dirty real quick if you don't have a filter. The general rule for filters is to get one recommended for at least a tank twice the size of the one you haveeven more is recommended, as turtles are extremely messy. Filters are made up of 2 parts, the powerhead, and the media.
Powerhead
This is my filter with a detachable powerhead, but some are moulded to the filter case. Water is drawn in from underneath by propeller, and is passed out to form a current at the top. This can be used to make a nice waterfall effect. Filters can cost between $15 and $100+ depending on the size and the quality. Mine costs about $60

There are several types of filter available, but not all work well with turtles.
Internal Filters – These are good for tanks up to 50G. Mine is an internal. They are placed inside the tank and have a chamber that holds the media. The downside of these filters is that they take up a fair amount of room inside the tank, and also can’t hold as much media as other filters, but they are easy to clean.
External Filters – These work on the same idea as Internals. They consist of a powerhead, and filter media, but the main difference is that they can hold more media, as they are placed outside the tank. The only things that are in the tank are the intake/outtake hoses. This type of filter is much better for larger tanks.
Under-Gravel Filter Systems – These are made for use with fish tanks, and do not work at all with turtle tanks. They try to colonise good bacteria under the filter plate to break down the waste, but turtles make far too much waste for this to be effective.

Now for the media. Filter media comes in several types. I use a selection of media in my filter.
Filter Media Picture
I added brief descriptions of the filter media in the picture. It is important to wash the media off in dechlorinated water otherwise you will kill of the good bacteria. I wash my sponges every week or so during a water change to remove the waste.
In place of my Bio Sponge, you can try other mediums, such as Lava Rock or Bio Rings to help colonize good bacteria.

Cleaning the tank is a weekly occurrence. Doing a 30-50% water change once a week is a good idea, but it’s even easier if you have one of these:
Siphon Picture
This is a siphon. They are found at pet stores, and try to get one with an automatic pump. This piece of equipment allows you to suck dirt from in between tank decor easily. I bought this for $6.

Lighting
For a heat source, you can use a normal household bulb, but measure the temperature after half an hour of installation to try and get it around 88 Fahrenheit. If it isn't right, move the light around.

Bulb Picture
A 40W household spotlight. Cost about $1 but heats the basking area up nicely.


RES need a UVB (Ultraviolet B) lamp to absorb calcium. A recommended UVB level of 5% is sufficient. The lamp must have UVB, not just UVA. I use an arcadia compact lamp made for reptiles. The bulb in the picture isn't UVB, but the basking area was just set up. UVA rays are also important, but UVB lamps will contain them by default. They cost about $25+.


DECOR
Tank decoration is up to the owner really, but here are some things to avoid:

Small substrates (gravel, sand, anything that can fit in the turtles mouth)
This is because Turtles are known to eat things like this. Gravel and sand can get stuck in the digestive tract, causing impaction and death. This happened to my turtle, and she only survived after costly vet treatment.
Decor up the side of the tank
Turtles are excellent climbers. If it tempts them, they'll climb it. Don't take the risk only to find your turtle dehydrated or dead
Sharp Decor
Enough said really - don't put anything in the tank that will cut or damage the turtles
Plants
Nothing wrong with water plants really, as long as you’re sure they're non-toxic, except that the turtle will likely rip them to shreds (and probably not even eat them)
I’ve tried a variety, including Duckweed, but that was all eaten within 3 days.


Here is some examples of the decor in my tank:
Driftwood Picture

Driftwood. Get it from the pet store, the stuff used in aquariums, not the stuff for reptiles which may have chemicals on it. Collecting locally is not recommended as parasite and toxins could be in it. The downsides of this stuff are:
a. Its expensive.
b. It makes the water turn brown. This is not harmful, it’s just a substance called tannin which discolours the water. Using a carbon sponge in your filter can help reduce this.

Driftwood in Tank Picture

Slate Rock Picture
Slate chunks. This stuff is also quite expensive, and has a rough texture, but I file down any sharp bits before putting it in the tank to avoid any injury. Looks very ornamental, just make sure that all rock is firmly in place as turtles are stronger than they look. You can use aquarium silicone to stick rocks to each other.

SUBSTRATE
This is a heavily debated topic in turtle keeping. Some people keep their turtles on a bare bottom tank, which is easier to maintain. Others use large pebbles, or river rock, which is too large for the turtle to eat.
I use a half and half method:
River Rock Picture
this is River rock. It’s available at DIY stores and Home Depot. Usually comes polished, just make sure you wash it before putting it in the tank.
Single River Rock Picture
A close up of a single rock. They come in their natural colours, such as brown, black and white

TANK MATES
There are also a lot of post around here about what can survive a RES. The answer is simply not much :D
However, I have had luck with a few things:
Danio Picture
Zebra Danios, very fast and cheap :P fish to get. However, one will disappear occasionally.

Snail Picture
Apple Snails. They survived in my tank for 3 weeks, until my RES realised they weren’t rocks and ate them

I have also tried Tiger Barbs, which lasted over a month, but were eventually picked off.


BASKING AREA
This is a very important part of a turtle tank. A RES needs an area where they can get completely out of the water under a heat source and a ultra-violet lamp. I made an over-tank basking area once, and my RES appreciates it a lot.

Basking Area Picture
A shot of the basking area itself, showing how it was made. The base was plywood, and the walls are cork placemats from Wal-Mart. Just make sure any silicone you use is 100% silicone, not mould or mildew resistant. The ramp into the water is made of an under gravel filter plate I had spare. Fancier basking areas and ramps can be made from Plexiglas and river rock siliconed on, but I was on a budget :P

I also tried Corkbark, which I must say proved brilliantly successful. Here is a picture of my basking area with corkbark:

Posted Image

Okay, I hope that was educational! Here's a final shot of the tank, and a very happy turtle :P
Tank Picture
Posted Image

Paul

Edited by paul112, 03 April 2007 - 11:21 AM.


#2 CLAWS

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 11:00 AM

Paul....excellent presentation. I like the way you go through each step in the process of putting the tank and equip together and coming up with the finished product that is usable and well thought out. Great job.

May I ask what type of filter you are using in your setup. The reason I ask is that a sponge IMO is not my first choice to grow the friendly bacteria on. A sponge is for collecting waste and that waste produces decomposing bacteria that grow much faster than the friendly bacteria. So what you wind up with is bio-media that is full of waste and decomposing bacteria which also robs the friendly bacteria of it's needed oxygen. Furthermore, when you wash the sponges in tank water you are actually preserving the bad bacteria as well which jump starting the sponges with this bacteria.

If at all possibly I would suggest using bio-rings or lava rock etc. for your bio-media. Bio-rings are open ended cylinders that don't collect waste as do sponges. Furthermore, I would also suggest washing all the sponges in chlorinated water to kill all the bacteria, the sponges are mostly filled with bad bacteria which actually grow 9-times faster than the friendly bacteria do. Only rinse the bio-rings very lightly in tank or dechlorinated water. This process will also reduce the frequency of water change because you won't be producing as much nitrate. Sorry for the lecture but I firmly believe that this is the only way to go if at all possible.

I liked where you suggested the cycling web site that refered to the NEW species of friendly bacteria, which Dr. Tim (marineland.com) mentions in his reports.

Thanks again for the presentation, you have compiled alot of valuable information that will help many in the process of setting up their own tanks. ;)

Edited by CLAWS, 27 May 2006 - 11:05 AM.


#3 paul112

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 01:36 PM

Thanks for the tip CLAWS, i'm looking into lava rock ;)
Im not quite sure of the brand of the filter, but it is rated for 400litre tanks (mines about 200litre) The sponge actually came with it, and the documentation said that its where the good bacteria grow, and it doesn't collect the debris really, as it is sandwiched inbetween other sponges and filter floss.
Paul

#4 sliderkid

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 04:56 PM

That should be fine, as long as your not relying on one sponge for both mechanical and biological. You wanna rinse out the mechanical sponge as often as possible, in chlorinated water alot. That will kill the bacteria on it, so thats why you should have a seperate sponge JUST for biological.

#5 CLAWS

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 09:27 PM

Lava-Rock is a good choice. My point with the bio-sponge is that it is alot harder to clean them then rings or lava rock and not wash away the friendly bacteria in the process causing an imbalance between the friendly bacteria and the bio-load.

I would really like to know the company who sells the bio-sponge(filter). Let me ask you if the green bio-sponge has larger pores than the black mech large pore sponge. I am doing extensive research on mech media. I am looking for a very large pore sponge that is somewhat finer then pre-filter rings. Oh, did you buy the filter locally or is it sold online? Thanks :)

#6 sliderkid

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Posted 28 May 2006 - 06:48 AM

Could it be the zoomed turtle clean? The smaller version of that filter comes with two sponges.

#7 paul112

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Posted 28 May 2006 - 02:37 PM

No, it's not the zoomed turtle clean, i found it at my local pet shop, and it was a make i hadn't heard of, but i needed a filter quick. I might opt for a fluval 4+ soon when i get some more money.
Paul

#8 Matt S.

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Posted 28 May 2006 - 03:00 PM

Paul,
You did a nice job, I am sure it will be of help to new RES keepers.

#9 CLAWS

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Posted 28 May 2006 - 04:21 PM

Hey Paul.....Congrats, you did an excellent job.

You have a female RES and in time she will get like 10", requiring a canister filter. I know your money is scarse right now, but if you can pull it off I would get a canister which you will need down the road anyway. I have 5 fluval-4's just sitting in the box. They only have two small sponges inside, 8cm X 22cm and inside the tank they admit sonic vibrations that I don't like and I would think the turtles feel the same way. Your present filter has 6-filter media which would seem to be more efficient them a fluval internal.

Paul, I still need your help. Could you give me the name of the FILTER and the SIZE of the Bio-Sponge. If it's in operation an approx. size will be fine. I'm looking for a very course sponge that I can use in my Filstar xP3 canister filter. The sponge size is, 16cm X 16cm. Although, I can us two side by side. Thanks for your help. ;)

#10 paul112

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 12:25 AM

Hey Paul.....Congrats, you did an excellent job.

Why Thankyou!

You have a female RES and in time she will get like 10", requiring a canister filter. I know your money is scarse right now, but if you can pull it off I would get a canister which you will need down the road anyway. I have 5 fluval-4's just sitting in the box. They only have two small sponges inside, 8cm X 22cm and inside the tank they admit sonic vibrations that I don't like and I would think the turtles feel the same way. Your present filter has 6-filter media which would seem to be more efficient them a fluval internal.

Hmm, how much do these canister filters cost approx.? Money isn't that scarce anymore as i do have a paper-round, but it was scarce at the time because i was buying the tank. I never knew that the fluval was that poor.

Paul, I still need your help. Could you give me the name of the FILTER and the SIZE of the Bio-Sponge. If it's in operation an approx. size will be fine. I'm looking for a very course sponge that I can use in my Filstar xP3 canister filter. The sponge size is, 16cm X 16cm. Although, I can us two side by side. Thanks for your help. ;)

The filter is made by a German company Juwel. MY LFS had a larger one that someone had traded in. To my understanding, the filters are sold with the Juwel tanks. There is a one for a 50 gallon, but I bought the 100 gallon filter second hand (someone had ripped it out).
The media sponge is actually a nitrate removal sponge according to the website, but the documentation that came in the box called it a bio-sponge so I am puzzled :blink: The largest I have seen, and apparantly the largest they sell of the Nitrate Removal sponge is 14.8x14.8cm. Hope this helps.

The links to the products are:
Filter Model
Nitrate Removal Sponge

Paul

Edited by paul112, 29 May 2006 - 12:26 AM.


#11 CLAWS

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 04:56 PM

A pretty good canister filter like the Filstar xP3 is around $100.00 (online)plus shipping. If purchased at a local store it's about $180.00. Some good sites are http://www.bigalsonline.com and http://www.drsfostersmith.com Due to the fact that you live in the UK it would be wise to purchase online more local, I suspect the International shipping charges will be much higher.

From the web site you provided your filter looks to be better than the Fluval-4 internal, which has only two sponge. Both filters have an out-flow of 1000 liter/hr.

I am not sure how efficient the Nitrate removal sponge is. The operation of denitification is sometimes difficult at best to have it function efficiently. The denitrification is a anaerobic process of bacteria converting nitrate to other substances. It occurs in an environment without oxygen, that's why its very difficult to maintain.

I read through the maint. of the filter media and they suggest the replacement of the sponge every so often, which hinder the control of the friendly bacteria colonies. Most instructions you read are designed for the fish in mind NOT turtles which have a much greater waste load. Check into the CANISTER filters they are better designed to handle larger waste loads. Bottom line you wont need to do water changes as often. Right now i'm in my 4th week without any adjustments, although I am still cycling my tank the Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are under control and the water is clear...Plus I feed my snapper inside her tank twice a week.

Paul, thanks for all the info, it was a big help. B)

Edited by CLAWS, 29 May 2006 - 05:00 PM.


#12 paul112

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 11:56 AM

Thanks for the XP3 recommendation. I found one on ebay.co.uk for 90, which i should be able to afford soon.
Paul

#13 MarkyMark

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Posted 26 June 2006 - 07:37 PM

Does your basking area just sit there or is it anchored down somehow?

#14 paul112

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 09:49 AM

It sits on the tank and the wooden plank wwith the light goes lower than the basking platform to keep it from sliding forward.
Paul

#15 BarbReader

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Posted 08 July 2006 - 12:34 PM

OK, so I'm slow.

I've just added a link to this discussion from the Water Turtle Care topic.

#16 RESGuy

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 10:09 AM

That sucks Paul, well Ill talk to you on MSN when on the 24th then lol I have a lot to talk about now!

#17 paul112

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 08:15 AM

Good news folks, tiscali sent me my package early.
I'm back and running at 2MB/s :D
Paul

#18 knobs turtles

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 01:15 PM

No, it's not the zoomed turtle clean, i found it at my local pet shop, and it was a make i hadn't heard of, but i needed a filter quick. I might opt for a fluval 4+ soon when i get some more money.
Paul





Hi paul, I have not had my turtles that long but i did find out that the biggest hange on fitlter is still not good enough to clean the tank water!!! So after i got my last turtle tub from waterland the small 55"x25"Wx12" thats 2/3 water 1/3 dry land ,sand and now rocks are on top now {thanks paul} . I but the extrenal fluval 404 canister filter en it working out real good so far !!!!



P.S well worth the money so far !!

KONBS TURTLES

#19 Turtlenoob

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 05:03 PM

so you have 2 different lightbulbs?

#20 paul112

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Posted 30 August 2006 - 05:29 AM

Yes, you need a UVB strip light or bulb that produces 5% or more UVB, and a regular household spot light for heat. If the UV light packaging doesn't mention UVB, then it likely doesn't have it.
Paul




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