Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs About Yellow Bellied Slider Turtles Systems

Related Articles: Turtles, Shell Rot in Turtles, Amphibians, Red Eared Slider Care,

FAQs on: Yellow Bellied Sliders/YBS/Cooters 1, YBS 2, YBS 3, YBS 4,
FAQs on: YBS ID, YBS Behavior, YBS Compatibility, YBS Selection, YBS Feeding, YBS Disease, YBS Reproduction/Young,

Related FAQs: Yellow Bellied Sliders/YBS/Cooters 1, YBS 2, YBS 3, YBS 4, & Painted Turtles, ( Other Aquatic Emydids (Bog, Pond, Painted...),Turtles 1, Turtles 2, Red Ear Sliders, Turtle Identification, Turtle Behavior, Turtle Compatibility, Turtle Selection, Turtle Systems, Turtle Feeding, Turtle Disease, Shell Rot, Turtle Reproduction, & by Species: Musk/Mud Turtles, Softshells, Snapping Turtles, Mata Matas, Tortoises, & Amphibians, Other Reptiles,

Terrapin enclosure, a matter of ethics.       1/17/16
Hello all,
Some thoughts below!
Cheers, Neale
Subject: Terrapin enclosure, a matter of ethics.
This probably isn't a typical string of questions and i will say outright for the sake of you prioritising your workload that this is not a critical medical query. Nonetheless i think these are important questions. I would very much appreciate your feedback and educated opinion on these considerations. After all, i am but a self opinionated nobody on the internet. Ethics in pet keeping has always been important to me, but i think it is equally important to consider a stance objectively before holding true to it. I am unsure if i am being objective and fully considering level of activity and true needs. The bulk of this relates to RES/YBS terrapins, although the general principle extends to many species of aquatic life in captivity.
<Agreed. In the UK at least, ‘Sliders’ seem to be the standard species in the trade, and certainly the ones kept by the less experienced hobbyists.>
A couple of years back i stumbled on a child who had rescued a yellow belly slider from a life in a small plastic tub. As keen as he was to keep it, after explaining their needs to him, he asked if i would care for his now beloved friend. I obliged knowing i could give it a better life than it had in store, but knowing i myself would run into problems down the line regarding enclosure should it turn out to be female. Turns out that is the case, it is now showing it's gender, female. No doubt a common story arc.
So off i went to the drawing board. I had always pipelined a bigger tank once it was needed, only now it needs to be for a terrapin of up to 11-12” opposed to 8-9" (i suspected it to be male). We hear these rules banded around across the web, such as 'you need at least 2-3 times body length in tank width', 'x gallons per inch of terrapin' and the likes. It seems to be generally accepted that a deep 125 USGAL tank is about right for a female. I am not sure i agree this is ethical, i think the commonly stated sizes are akin to a prison cell and more emphasis needs to be put on the word minimum on certain websites. Some don't even make any logical sense, such as the gallon per inch nonsense not mandating footprint, those types of guidelines need to die a death in my mind; they have no relevance aside from filtration needs.
<An animal behaviour scientist at university introduced a class by describing the care of lions versus tigers. Lions don’t do much until they get hungry or see rivals, so while it might seem unfair to keep them in small enclosures, provided they’re well fed and kept apart from social threats, they would mostly sit about sleeping anyway. On the other hand tigers actively patrol their territories leaving scent markings and so on. They are much more active and interact with their environment much more frequently. For them, the circus situation might actually be more humane, in the sense that they’d be doing something rather than sitting about all day. In other words, one has to be careful about applying human standards to animal situations. I’d argue that turtles don’t do much until they’re hungry or need to regular their body temperature. They aren’t, for example, patrolling territories. So provided they’re given access to food, somewhere to bask, and somewhere to cool down, simply being able to move between those three parts of the tank will satisfy their basic psychological needs. Of course giving them space to be able to do more exercise is always a plus, and a decent water current that provides something to swim into could help to tick that box quite nicely too.>
For a 12" terrapin, it seems to me that the bare minimum that should be desired, once accounting for substrate and background items is around a 4'x3'x20" body of water. That meets, in fact exceeds a wide range of care sheet recommendations and in my mind has a much better footprint than the common 6' 125GAL tanks often used. I still consider it minimal. Even if i built to 5'x4'x20" - the biggest my floor could support - i would consider this to be at best a compromise or borderline acceptable.
<And a good deal better than that experienced by most ‘Sliders’ in the aquarium hobby, I’m sure!>
I priced up making a tank of the smaller size from 12mm acrylic, i doubt 10mm would suffice. Works out around £750 +/- depending on the exact method i use, which i will pay readily. The larger tank needs thicker acrylic IMO, probably 15mm, the price jumps up significantly and i would still consider it a compromise. This begs the question, how many owners could afford to build that, or even know how to? Keep in mind that tanks like that don't come off the shelf and custom tanks are huge money. I doubt the percentile of owners than can is above single digits. I further doubt there is any realistic hope of the majority of buyers ever providing a good home. The way i see it right now is people are making do with the bare minimum to survive and kidding themselves. In my current frame of mind a 6' 125GAL is in no way acceptable as a permanent living space for an adult female, unless you happen to be trying to make the best of a bad situation and acknowledge it as such. Yet according to many, this is ideal, i have even seen the word perfect used. Do you agree with me on these points?
<Do see above. Your goal is admirable, and to be recommended for sure. Zoo-quality situations are always better than those at the bottom end of the cheap pet trade. On the other hand, I think there’s some diminishing returns here. 90% of what’s needed for a happy, healthy ‘Slider’ will be provided by the right food, a heat lamp, a UV-B lamp, room temperature water, and basic filtration. Such a system could work in, say, a 40 or 50 gallon tank. Might not be pretty, but the turtle would be basically happy, if not basking in luxury. Such a shopping list could be priced at under £100, which is doable for anyone even half serious about keeping these animals properly. Spending many hundreds of pounds will of course provide a better environment, but I’m not sure the turtle will be 5, 6, or 7 times happier or healthier.>
So i thought about building a pond. I live in the UK. The instant thought process is: 'warm water+cold air=evaporation=humidity=respiratory problems' 'cold air+wind=a whole host of problems, including improper basking temps and potential pneumonia / hypothermia' Cats... Birds…
<Quite so; while there are some Red Ear Sliders living feral in the UK, I’m sure their mortality is high and reproductive success close to zero… basically, such populations are topped up by more specimens dumped in such city ponds by people who no longer want to care for these animals at home.>
There is far more potential for freedom of movement in an outdoor pond but it is arguably a bad choice here. Would you agree?
<It is possible to keep these and other chelonians outdoors in the UK during summer… there’s a solid body of experience with regard to thinks like Spur-Thigh Tortoises. Perhaps of interest, and likely to be similar so far as protection against cats, escapes, and so on goes. I agree though, you’d want to bring them in when it gets colder.>
Ultimately, i have concluded not only is it not possible for me to ever provide a GOOD home for her, but since most owners no doubt have more restrictions than me (im a single home owner with disposable income), few ever could. Would you agree? It seems to me they are destined to a life of compromise, especially in the UK where it is cold outside and houses are typically small.
The only peace of mind i have is that at least she doesn't live in a tub and is going to get a better tank than most could ever hope for. Right now i am feeling rather appalled that it is legal to keep these without licence and that the RSPCA seem to not want to enforce, or even stipulate enclosure sizes for aquatic animals. They claim at the local rescue they are inundated, yet when asked said they don't legislate to control sales or enclosures. We have natural ponds full of them that kids have dumped locally, it's appalling, but i can understand why this is happening.
<Animal cruelty to release any domestic pet into the wild. No discussion. Anyone who does so is, frankly, behaving no better than those people who let their horses starve to death or use dogs for fighting. Most pets dumped in the wild die a miserable death, in the case of reptiles, usually from exposure to the cold and subsequent infection, assuming they don’t get eaten by a fox, run over by a car, or whatever else might happen.>
Ultimately the main point is this: I don't think they should be sold without licence and i think legislation is needed on enclosures. Enclosure requirements need to be advertised on stock tanks and vocally stated to potential buyers by law (for all animals tbh). Do you agree?
<It’s a tricky one. In a sense, yes, pet animals operate in a weird situation where the government assumes potential pet owners will do their research and treat their pets properly. Quite obviously a big number of such pet owners don’t do that, and one way or another allow “lower” animals especially (fish, reptiles, frogs) to die for no other reason than the pet owner can’t be bothered to feed or house them correctly, let alone provide (often expensive) veterinarian care. There’s a strong case to make that wild reptile and frog collecting is extremely harmful to wild populations, and that wild-caught lizards, snakes and so on simply shouldn’t be traded. But the flip side to that is that those species that have become established in the hobby and bred by hobbyists have a bulwark against extinction that wouldn’t otherwise be there. Garter Snakes, Bearded Dragons, and Red Ear Sliders are all likely to be around for as long as humans are, and that’s a good thing. The unpleasant reality though is that before species can become established as breedable at home they have to be collected from the wild, and before someone has the skills to breed reptiles, fish or frogs, there has to be a time during which they’re learning those skills. If governments wanted to regulate the hobby, they’d have to find a way to balance things such that new species could be imported, albeit sustainably, and that potential hobbyists weren’t priced out of the hobby before they got started or blocked by too much paperwork.>
Ultimately i feel not only am i unable to provide the animal with the space it deserves, but realistically it never even had a chance, that this is common and this needs to change. I sincerely hope for the sake of many terrapins out there, including this one, that i am mistaken. Thanks for taking the time to read this and for any information and criticism that may follow.
Kind regards
Stuart, Cumbria.
<And thanks for the thoughtful email. Regards, Neale.>

Turtle And Her Dock     12/15/14
Hi Crew!
<Hiya - Darrel here>
Recently (literally yesterday), I got my 3-inch yellow-bellied turtle a basking dock. She adapted to it right away. The entire day she sat on it, that's it. She never moved off the dock as soon as she learned how to get on.
Is this normal?
<It's not AB-normal>
I heard of turtles not wanting to get on their dock, but my turtle doesn't want to get off. This morning, I nudged her a little to get her to swim in the water and she did for two minutes.
As of now, she has found her way back up the dock. I'm worried, is she supposed to act that inactively? Or am I just a typical worrying pet caregiver?
<Tut, tut, tut don't worry so much. LOL HA HA HAH -- see how I made a joke? "tut tut tut" is an old way of minimizing someone's concern, sorta like "pfft" is today … but since your turtle is named Tut ….. LOL sometimes I crack myself up!>
<Ahem. If Tut is on a basking dock, she either wants to be out of the water or she wants to be warmer than the water. Your water should be room temperature (69-73 degrees or so) and your basking dock should be under a heat lamp (88-93 degrees or so) and so Tut gets to choose to warm up or to cool down. If you aren't offering her that heat gradient then he may just stay wherever she is>
<another possibility is she doesn't like the water. If it's too hot? Sometimes a heater will 'leak' electricity and they feel a little tingle when they are in the water. She shouldn’t have a heater if she's indoors>
<The most important thing is this: Is Tut bright and alert? Her eyes follow you when you come into the room? She eats well? If this is the case, don't worry too much. Also, read this: >
Thank you,
Kat and her turtle, Tut

Yellow Bellied Slider; sys.      11/23/14
Hello friend,
Yesterday, I found a Yellow Bellied Slider hatchling. It is very small. Since it is very nice, I’ve decided to take it home with me.
<Almost never a good idea. The BEST thing when you observe wild reptiles is to leave them where they are. If they're in immediate danger (e.g., from dogs, cats or motor vehicles) then coaxing them (or even carrying them) somewhere safer is also a good idea -- provided it is safe for you to do so (manhandling snakes or snapping turtles isn't recommended!). If you aren't an expert reptile keeper, or don't have reptile care equipment ready, then LEAVE THE REPTILE ALONE. No good will come from adopting a wild reptile. They are quite difficult to care for, and most "spur of the moment" pet reptiles end up dead.>
I don’t have any food for her/him yesterday, so i waited until the next morning and buy Floating Turtle Pellet. When I give it to her/ him, her/ him did not eat any. And has been staying the shell quite awhile. What should I do?
<Let's recap the basics. You're going to need, at minimum:
(1) A large aquarium or similar container
(2) A filter
(3) A heat lamp
(4) A UV-B lamp
None of these are negotiable. None of them. You must have all four. Feeding pet turtles is the least difficult aspect. Turtle Pellets are okay as treats, but must not used as a staple. Koi Pellets plus various green foods and very occasional seafood treats will work nicely. Do read Darrel's excellent article here:
If this all seems too complicated or too expensive, contact your local Fish & Wildlife Service office, and ask them where would be the best place to rehome/resettle your turtle. Please trust me on this -- keeping a wild turtle if you can't provide for their needs will end after a few miserable weeks or months with a dead turtle. Have cc'ed Darrel Barton, our resident turtle expert, in case I've missed anything. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Yellow Bellied Slider    11/23/14

My mistake. Can you explain more on the heat lamp and UVB lamp?
<The easiest approach is to buy a combination heat-UVB lamp fitting that can be positioned over the vivarium. Here's an example on Amazon.com for $40:
It even comes with the lamps! The heat lamp warms the reptile up (essential for it to digest its food, among other things) and the UVB is used by the reptile to make its bones. Without heat reptiles starve, get sick and then die, and without UVB, they become deformed and then die. You can also visit your local reptile pet store to buy vivaria specially tailored to the needs of reptiles such as turtles. These should include sockets for a heat lamp and a UVB bulb (but check first, not all do). But as Darrell explains in the article I linked to before, you can improvise your own lamp fittings.
Make no mistake though, except for a very short term (maybe a week or two) you can't avoid using heat and UVB sources. So while you do have time to go online to buy the right sort of lamps for your needs/budget, don't hang about. Note also the lamps need replacing periodically, typically once or twice a year. So they're an ongoing cost. Turtles are much, much cheaper pets than, say, cats and dogs, but they still have some expenses you need to budget for. Cheers, Neale.>

College YBS turtle; sys.    3/10/14
I am a college student and have a yellow bellied slider that a friend gave me a couple years ago because "I needed a turtle".
<As a general rule, I don't favor the idea of pets as gifts … but hey, when you need a turtle, you NEED a turtle!>
I have had her set-up in a 10 gallon tank (largest size I can have, I was lucky enough to get permission to even have her in the dorm) with a floating dock, canister filter, UV light and heat lamp. She has been doing well, but she is now 4" long and I'm pretty sure she needs to be in a bigger tank.
<Nice, but not critical>
Next year, I'll be in a different living situation on campus and I should be able to get away with a 20 gallon tank.
<She'll like that!>
Will this be ok for her?
I would love to be able to keep her with me for my last year, especially since college has been her home since she was about a month old, but I would rather do right by her.
<Well I sure don't want her to drop out of college at THIS point - not after all she's accomplished!!  Too many turtles barely make it through High School and just try to get by - which is why we call them SLIDERS!!!!!>
I already have access to a 20 gallon tank and I have access to a  55 gallon tank that I can use after I graduate.
Thank you for any helpful hints you have!!
<Keep her clean, make sure she doesn't over eat.   Let her walk around the dorm room every once in a while for exercise and interaction/stimulation>
<But most importantly…. And I can't stress this enough …
DO NOT let her hook up with some loser-turtle, OK?   Turtles come home from college with boyfriends that have so many piercings that they look like they fell head first into a tackle box.  Usually the male turtle has his ears stretched so far that they're RED EARED and they have a dragon tattoo on their neck… and yet can't for the life of them figure out why no one will hire them!>
<She's a good turtle who worked hard to get where she is - and it's your responsibility to see that she doesn't throw that away!>

My Yellow Bellied Slider, sys./beh.      4/29/12
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a yellow bellied slider that is about 9-10month old. I'm not sure of the sex yet but I know Sheldon as he so :).
<It doesn't seem to matter to them, either.  They show no signs of distress if given a name of the opposite sex.   Dressing them up in clothing of the wrong sex is touchy … but hey, that's a different story.>
Anyway, he's been fine up till recently, a few days ago I was going to sleep when I heard a banging noise and got up to investigate and he was trying to climb out of his tank, for the next 3 hours we played his nice fun game where he doesn't do anything when I'm watching him then tries to do it again when I want to go to sleep.
Anyway, so he stopped doing it for two days so I thought it was just a phase, about an hour ago I heard it again and jumped up and he was upside down on his ramp because he'd tried it again.
I don't want to take the ramp out because I want him to be able to rest but I don't want to leave it in and not be able to sleep because I'm scared he will turn upside down again or get out, what do you suggest I do and why do you think he's doing this?
<I'm not sure what goes on in their tiny brains, Katie.   You have to remember that their average brain size is just a tiny bit more than your average town Mayor's brain.>
<Two things come to mind.  Are there any sort of filters, pumps, fans or anything near Sheldon's tank that could be giving off a strange vibration?  They are very sensitive to such things and something that you or I may not even be able to notice may seem like an earthquake to him.>
<This could also be seasonal.  I often find that, at the seasonal transitions (longer days, shorter days) that some turtles seem to feel "antsy" and stir-crazy for a few weeks.>
And also one last thing after he did thing he went to the bottom of his tank and starting trying to eat his own arm? I think it was just the skin of his arm but he was acting like I never feed him, when in actual fact I think I feed him a little over his recommended amount, why do you think he did that?
<He's not hungry.   He's likely stressed - OR - perhaps he has the beginning of a fungal infection. Think of how you’d feel if you suddenly developed a rash or something that wouldn't go away.>
<Here's my two suggestions for you:
1) Read this article and treat Sheldon for a fungal infection.   I'm reasonably certain he doesn't have one … but it can't hurt.   Keeping him warm and dry for a week or two with lots of exposure to UV-B lighting will be a therapeutic thing for him just in general. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm >
<Meanwhile, examine his tank and setup for anything that might be causing his distress and then  ... change things around.   Make it seem different when he gets back after his two week vacation>
<Lastly, when you do 'dry-dock' him, he'll also try to get out, climb out, etc. because it will be a new and unfamiliar environment for him … don't let that worry you.>
Sorry for the long message,
<If was fine!>
please help Shelly :).
<I hope we did!>

yellow slider basking issue   4/14/12
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I recently acquired a small yellow slider from a co-worker that didn't want it any more and only minimally took care of it.
<Thank you!!>
I think it is still young as it is only about 3 inches long. The turtle was never provided sunlight access or any type of basking.  I have it in a 10 gallon aquarium for now with a filter. The tank sits directly in front of a south window and gets tons of sunlight, plus I take it out and put it in a small container with a basking rock and a little water for cooling off for about 15-20 minutes a day in the direct sunlight. It doesn't seem to have any interest in basking.
<Well, if it's had improper care, any number of physical and environmental factors may be at work.  The first thing is that sunlight through glass - or even through window screen is basically just a heat source, not a source of proper UV lighting.  Also it tends to heat the water -- and if the water is warm the turtle will not seek a basking area in which to warm up.>
In the tank, although it does swim in the sunlit water while feeding and tentatively exploring (it's very shy), it seems to prefer to hide in the shadowy rocks. When taken outside to bask, it doesn't get on the rock and only seems interested in getting out. As it's never had the opportunity to do so, does it just need time to figure it all out and realize it might actually like it? It was only fed bites of lunch meat, but I've got it on the ReptoMin sticks and some fresh veggie bites.
It doesn't eat the veggies yet, but I let them float around for a while hoping it will get curious enough to try them.
<Switch to Koi pellets.  They're cheap - they're a COMPLETELY balanced diet, too>
It loves the earthworms & grubs I dig from the flowerbed for treats.
<Great treats.  But just once a month or so>
As I've only had it less than a week, do I just need to be patient and let it learn to be a proper turtle? Thanks!
<Sheila - as soon as you learn to be a proper Turtle Mom, little Specky will shape right up.>
<First, read here:  This is ALL the basics:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm  >
<Note especially that you don't have to waste money on dechlorinators or water treatments or sulfa blocks …. Water filtration is optional since you'll be changing water every so often anyway.>
<Give Specky cool water to swim in and a warm basking area and let him CHOOSE what he needs.   All the food he can eat in five minutes, 3 times a week.   OK 4 times a week if he tugs on your heart strings>
<I'd rather he NOT be near natural sunshine if it comes through any form of glass or screen because the benefits are small and the heat is great.  A plain old ordinary 75 watt incandescent bulb right next to a Repti-sub UVB CFL bulb for the basking area would be the best way to go.   The water should be 63-73(f) and the basking area 88-93(f)>

Questions regarding YBS, sys. 10/4/11
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have spent a long time looking online to see if I could find the answer to my question but haven't thus far.
<Well, let's see what we can do>
My brother and I recently got a Yellow Bellied Slider and we are constantly arguing about the lighting.
<I have found that they look best under a soft-light, red filter back-light from an overhead light-box and filmed without a filter>
I have done a lot of research and have found that the UVA/UVB lamp needs to be on for 10 -14 hours a day (like a typical natural day).
<Oh, wait '¦ you're not taking about shooting a turtle movie '¦ let me read on>
My brother claims that because he is by the window he only needs it rarely.
<You're right & your brother is wrong. Now '¦ go lord that over him>
Now, our YBS gets less than an hour of pure sunlight and then because of the building around us the light never hits the basking area. I have read that glass block UVB rays which worries me for my YBS.
<Not only does glass filter it out, but so does ordinary wind screen>
My question is, is it alright to have the heat lamp and the UVA/UVB light on even though the tank is by the window? We've had this argument for the last 2 weeks so any clarification would be greatly appreciated it...
<The Slider requires HEAT from a basking lamp or a basking light. For this purpose I often just use an ordinary incandescent light bulb '¦ like a floodlight sold for home lighting. The other requirement is UV-B lighting. UV-A, which is essentially black light, is only important if the turtle is throwing a party where glow sticks and slam dancing are occurring. Natural sunlight is best, because it carries both heat AND UV light '¦ but it's hard to control. If the sunlight from the window doesn't cause the tank water to heat up too much, then it isn't a factor.>
<Many companies offer UV-B bulbs, some long tube florescent and some are typical screw-in bulbs. This is the one thing that we really can't come up with an inexpensive solution. They need the UV-B. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
Thanks in advance,
<Yer welcome!>

HELP! Yellow Bellied Slider Turtle 7/3/2011
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a full grown male yellow bellied slider turtle in a 55 gallon fish tank with a couple of med. sized goldfish.
<Did the goldfish start out as feeders that the turtle never ate? And now they're additional pets to worry about & care for?>
I put some driftwood I bought from the fish section at Petco into the tank about a week ago. Ever since then I've been having to do small water changes every couple days cause the water would turn a light caramel color. Well I noticed both today and yesterday my turtle wasn't eating and had red streaks in the bottom of his shell. He has also been basking out of the water a lot. At the times he IS in the water, he sometimes has his legs spread out and acts as if he's going to throw up. I ended up taking the wood out this morning, and it smelled bad and had white moldy spots on it (the wood not the turtle). I threw it away, cleaned out the filter, did a big water change, like 40%.. and put the turtle out to bask in the sun for a good 45 minutes. He's acting a bit better but still not good. What's wrong with him and how can I help??
<He may simply improve with time. At the very least do another water change, but what I'd REALLY recommend doing is to sterilize the entire setup. Put the goldfish in a temporary tank, take the turtle out and put him somewhere warm and dry for the. Fill the water to the regular "full" level and maybe even an inch more. Add 1 cup of chlorine bleach per approximate gallon of water. Even a bit more is OK as long as you can ventilate the room so no one breathes the fumes. It's important that you leave the filters on and running during this process. What we want to do is kill the mold & fungus everywhere -- inside the tubes, down in the impeller -- all the places you'd never reach with even the most thorough cleaning. After 2 or 3 hours, you can drain the water, break the system down and clean everything. Rinse, use soap and water, rinse again & then set it back up.>

Turtle in a Fish Tank? 6/22/11
Hello, my name is Reba
--Reba, I'm Darrel
and I went to a pet store today and got a baby yellow bellied slider.
-- it's pretty
I also bought a mini size floating dock. The lady in the store said it would be fine for the turtle until it got bigger. I have a 30 gallon tank.
I also have two algae eaters. My turtle isn't going on the floating dock (the basking platform) I put a picture of the turtle in the bowl that she came in. As soon as I got home I put her in the tank.
-- tropical fish tanks are usually not good for turtles, Reba. The water for a turtle should be 68 to 73 degrees (no heater) while tropical fish like it warmer.
-- the turtle will not bask on a floating log unless it wants to get warmer and there is a heat source above the log.
-- read the article. Read and understand all of it, then write back if you have more questions:
Re summat to do w/ chelonians recently... 6/23/11

The lady at the pet store said I didn't need a lamp? Just water, a basking platform, and food.
-- I'm sorry, the lady at the pet store is wrong. Reptiles, which include turtles, regulate their body temperature by swimming in cool water and then basking in the warm sun, or the heat of a basking lamp. It is absolutely NECESSARY that the turtle have a place to haul out, dry off and get warm - otherwise all kinds of health problems will crop up. The lady at the pet store is not giving you correct information. EVERYTHING that I gave you in that link to the article on basic care is ABSOLUTELY necessary.

Yellow Bellied Slider, sys., fdg... 6/8/11
Dear WWM crew;
<Hi Carla, Sue here with you.>
Two months ago a small Yellow Bellied Slider was walking on my drive way and I took her in. She is about the size of a silver dollar.
<They're pretty hard to resist, aren't they? That's exactly the same way I first became a 'turtle mom'!>
I fully believe that I have provided all the needed requirements including: UV light, a Heat lamp, basking stone, a plastic plant and a live plant, Turtle calcium bone, moss ball, and filter system, and she seems to be otherwise healthy.
<The most critical of what you mentioned are UV (though has to be UVB specifically, double check to make sure), heat lamp, basking area and good filtration system. The latter becomes increasingly important the bigger she gets, and no matter what type of filter you get, you'll always need to do frequent water changes!>
I think she is shedding her shell plates because of lighter spaces that seem to be growing in between them, however, I recently noticed that the top of the shell seems to be growing upwards in a pyramid style, am I feeding her too much?
<If you've already seen this much of a noticeable difference in her appearance after only 2 months, it's likely you are. How much and how often are you feeding her?>
<Over-feeding is one of the most common mistakes people make with turtles, and it can lead to a whole host of medical problems including, but not limited to, shell deformities. Turtles (like people!) often don't know when to stop eating, but unlike people they have the added disadvantage of not being able to expand their bodies to accommodate the excess food because of their shell. >
When I originally found her the only thing she would eat were trout worms and a small amount of organic carrots. I fully cleaned her tank this morning and fed her another worm at noon like I do everyday. I'm worried about her because she has not yet eaten her worm except for biting it a few times, she usually gets very excited about her worms and will play with it and eat the entire worm in about an hour. She has eaten about five floating turtle pellets. I'm wondering if she tired of eating worms, and should I start feeding her mostly pellets?
<The pellets, not the worms, should be her staple, so it's good she's starting to become more interested in them. Also, I'd feed her earthworms instead of trout worms, and ONLY as a treat; just one or two a month.>
<I think the problem is that you're over-feeding her. 5 floating pellets (without worms!) every 2-3 days is more than plenty for her! You should be feeding her only as many pellets as she can eat in 5 minutes, 3 times a week.>
<Besides the health benefit to her of feeding her less, a side benefit for you is that you hopefully won't have so much clean-up to do! I'd also suggest waiting until AFTER she's done eating and pooping to clean her tank, rather than cleaning it beforehand like you're doing now. It will make your life easier, and will be much healthier for her. Any uneaten food (and poop!) should be removed right away, filter or no filter. Don't let it sit and break apart in the water.>
The pellets are a mix of vegetable pellets and shrimp pellets, but she seems to hate the shrimp ones.
<I'd leave out the shrimp pellets. She will get all the protein she needs in a good quality pellet like ReptoMin. Koi pellets are also fine. They have the same nutritional value and are much less expensive.>
<Also, if there are days she seems ravenous and you're feeling guilty about not feeding her pellets, you can try offering her some greens like red or green leaf lettuce or dandelion leaves (some grocery stores do sell this). If she truly is hungry enough, she'll nibble at some greens. The fiber they contain will help her feel full and you won't have the worry about overfeeding as you would with pellets and worms.>
I have also been worried that she might be bored or lonely; is there anything that I can provide for her to keep her busy or to have fun?
<Though turtles should be getting all the calcium they need from their normal diet, for my turtles (purely for their entertainment and also for a little exercise!), I'll occasionally cut off a couple of small chunks of the turtle calcium bone (that you have), and toss them in the water. They love to chase the blocks all around the tank and peck at them! However, the fun only lasts for them while they're floating; once they eventually sink, the game is over!>
She is also spending a great deal of time on her basking stone but she seems to be tired as her head keeps drooping, she is usually very active and will follow my finger along the glass.
<If in fact she has been eating too much, she might be feeling like all of us do when we are over-stuffed from a meal - tired! One of the main reasons turtles need to bask is to get enough heat and UVB to digest their food. They typically bask for several hours each day, so that's normal behavior (and they often do fall asleep!) However, the one important thing to check is her basking temperature. Get a suction thermometer from the pet store and place it above the basking area. It should be at least 88-90 degrees F in order for her to digest her food properly; otherwise it will sit and eventually rot in her stomach. Particularly if you're concerned that you've been over-feeding her, this is one thing I'd check first. It's possible she's got a lot of food stored up in her stomach. Also -- don't forget to make sure your UV bulb specifically SAYS it's UVB; UVB is also essential for digestion!>
Thank you.
<Carla, I'd suggest you check out the link below. It was written by a crew member who has kept all kinds of turtles his whole life. It covers feeding and all the important aspects of general care:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<Good luck with her! Keep us posted on how she's doing, and don't hesitate to write us back if you have any more concerns. Sue>

Re: Yellow Bellied Slider 6/9/11
Hello Sue thank you for helping me so much.
<You're welcome, Carla (and Lil!); glad I was able to help.>
I fully know now that I was in fact feeding her way too much. Today I broke up her calcium bone and didn't feed her anything. She will finish 5 pellets in about two minutes, should I feed her more until the 5 minute mark?
<Sure, that's fine; just toss in a few pellets and remove whatever she hasn't eaten after 5 minutes.>
She also relaxed under her basking light most of the morning and was much move lively the entire afternoon.
<That's great to hear that her energy level is back!>
I left her alone for a few hours and she tore apart her plant though. I don't believe she ate any of it, most of it was floating in the tank but, she did pull it out of the gravel.
<It's possible she took a few pecks at it. She'll become more and more of a 'vegetarian' as time goes on! It's fine to start exposing her to some plants now, though.>
I did find out that both of her lights are UVA and the basking light is extremely too hot. I will be buying a new one tomorrow.
<That's good you discovered her light was not UVB. Not having UVB would have definitely caused her to become ill.>
<No need to get a 'specialty' basking light as the heat bulb. Your basic light bulb will work just fine. Just experiment with different wattages until you get the basking temperature in range.>
<Also, on the topic of temperature -- you want to keep her water temperature on the cool side; around 68-70 degrees F. If the water is too warm, that will also make her hungrier, speed up her growth and metabolism, increase shedding, etc. The cooler water temperature is also what will encourage her to get out of the water to bask.>
Thank you again for all your help, we will use the worms to go fishing instead.
<Actually, an earthworm or two every month or so is a nutritious treat, and she'll appreciate it; just toss whatever are left into your garden!>
Thank you,
Carla and Lil

Yellow belly female 15 months old... hlth., sys... 3/23/11
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have two female yellow belly which I have had for around 15months. Both are kept in a large tank with uv lamp heater etc and have regular water changes. There on a mixed diet of fish, meal worms and peas.
<Right here we have some problems - but I'll talk about them later>
One of my terrapins had a growth spout around a month ago and almost doubled in size then two weeks ago started to refuse to eat.
I have taken both of them to the vets and he can see any problem with either of them. But l have treated them with antibiotics which has made no difference.
<You should never treat with antibiotics unless a specific bacteria has been confirmed.> My vet also told me to put the temp up by degrees and put the tank in the window as sunlight is a different type of uv, to my uv lamp which I have also done.
<OK - let's stop right here and discuss a few things.>
<First, a turtle tank doesn't need a heater. If the tank is indoors, the water should be no higher than room temperature!! What we're trying to do is offer the turtle nice, cool water to swim in and a nice hot basking area to warm up in. If the water is warm enough the turtle will not choose to bask very often and without the basking, they don't dry off and they don't get exposed to the UV. So -- no heater please. Water temp should be 68-73(f) and the basking area should be 88-93(f)>
<Second - Fish is, believe it or not, not part of a turtle's typical diet and meal worms are the junk food of the feeding world - very little nutrition. So right here, you have nutritional problems. Start with Repto-min food sticks or a quality brand of Koi pellets (which is exactly the same thing for less money) and then supplement with an occasional earthworm. Like perhaps one worm one or two worms per month per turtle.>
<Third - UV light does not pass thru ordinary glass. In fact, even WINDOW SCREEN can filter out certain beneficial wave lengths. The UV from the sun must reach the shell directly. UV-B from a bulb doesn't travel very far, so the bulb must be of the right type AND usually no more than 6 inches above the basking area. Sometimes it's quite a fight to get the basking (for heat) lamp shining on the same spot as the UV-B lamp. So first, forget the window or through glass. All that will do is heat up the entire tank, including the water, which is a bad idea. Then make sure the UV is the proper kind. UV-B for reptiles, not a plant-Gro or aquarium bulb>
<Please read this article that covers the basics of turtle care and make sure that you understand it and that you measure everything in your setup against the instructions and correct anything that needs improvement http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
I asked the vet for a calcium injection but he said they don't do this as its not very effective but l have noticed the terrapin that is refusing to eat is starting to get a soft shell.
<A calcium injection can be some help if the turtle is able to metabolize the calcium.>
It doesn't matter what l try and tempt her with she still wont eat.
<NOW let's talk about treatment>
<For openers, since both turtles are subject to the same care, let's treat them both. What we're going to do is beneficial for them anyway>
<Try to get them some actual sunshine. Take them outside for 15 minutes twice a day if you can. Place them outside on the grass and let them wander - if you can watch them non-stop (don't leave them alone even for a second). If not, place them in a container - like an ordinary cardboard box - make sure there's plenty of direct sunlight but also some shade too.
Direct sun can cook them if they can't cool down. Natural sunlight is the best source of Vitamin-D which is necessary for them to metabolize the calcium>
<For the next two weeks, keep them warm and dry. When a turtle is sick or debilitated, the wet, warm natural environment that is good for them becomes their enemy. Here is an article that explains basic care and describes the warm, dry isolation:
<While in this new, warm & dry environment, you should take the UV bulb from your tank setup and arrange it so that it shines on them in this new setup.>
<As part of this new arrangement, you soak them for just a few minutes each day (it's all in the article) and as part of that you offer them a tiny bit of food. After a few days even the most stubborn turtle will at least
take a nibble or two>
<Zoe - read BOTH the articles completely and you'll find the resources you need to treat them, stimulate their appetites, correct their diets and their environment>

yellow bellied slider, sys., 3/6/11
Hello Crew
<Hiya! Darrel here>
I have a question about a 2" female yellow bellied slider. I recently set up a turtle tank on the advice of pet store personnel who seemed to have extensive knowledge on turtles. First I will tell you of my set up, I have a 55 gal. tank with a Exo turtle island Lg, Exo turtle cliff filter and rock Lg, Hair Grass, Gravel cleaner, MOSS BALL, 26W UVB lamp, river bed sand, a dissolving calcium thing, and a Day Glo Basking lamp 100 W.
<Sounds basically good. I have no idea what a moss ball is, but it sounds fun. The dissolving calcium thing is the only thing that's a waste of time & money. Turtles don't eat them and they don't absorb calcium through the skin. To concentrate enough calcium in the water to get any via drinking, it would be a thick soup. So when that one dissolves, don't bother replacing it>
In the tank are two 4" Red eared sliders and two 2" yellow bellied sliders, the one female has been very lethargic and has not eaten in a week (how long I've had the tank) she has gone swimming twice but mostly just sits under the UVB light with her eyes closed (she is still alive as I check to make sure every day.). when we bought her she was swimming and seemed full of life at the pet store.
<That tank is none too big for that many turtles. When the Yellow Bellies grow few inches you'll be a bit crowded.>
She has no visible external injuries and the pet store said she needs a few days to adjust but beyond that have no answers, and I am extremely worried that she wont make it another week. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
<It may simply be stress. At the moment there aren't enough symptoms to go on. So here's what I suggest you do. Even though the process itself is stressful, take her OUT of the tank and keep her separated. Someplace warm and dry. (Don't go loading yourself up with expensive stuff - this can be as simply as a plastic storage container from the building supply store and a cheap heating pad from a drug store - if you can find one without that evil 'auto-off' feature.) Give her a week alone, being placed in water for just 15 minutes daily - a shallow bowl with water just up to her shoulders. Let her drink, poop and maybe eat (offer her just one of two Repto-min sticks or Koi pellets) and then back in her box. Read here for more detail

yellow slider terrapin, beh., sys. 8/5/10
hi, sorry to bother you - I had a read through the other questions and couldn't find anything quite right.
<Fire away!>
basically we have a yellow slider terrapin, a black knobbed sawback and a dwarf musk terrapin in a very large tank.
<An interesting collection.>
(not quite sure of the gallon amount but its over three feet long, two foot deep (water level) and nearly three feet wide)
<Sounds fine.>
we have a large fake rock thing attached to the one of the long sides which is about eight inches directly under the lamp for basking. as well as a floating bit of driftwood so that they can climb out if they don't want to be under the light.
there are lots of rocks, caves and bits and pieces under the water since the little one likes to explore.
<Yes they do.>
obviously we have a heater, two filters (one hang-on - very powerful, one smaller one on the other side) and clean the tank out every week or so.
okay the yellow slider has started acting out of character, he's sitting on the basking rock pretty much all the time, he's not lethargic in himself but he doesn't instantly dive into the water like he used to.
<I see. Well, not really a problem in itself.>
I've checked him over and he's eyes, tail, arms, legs and shell are fine.
<Good. Also check he isn't "wheezy" at all, and that he feels a good weight. Have a smell too, to check that there's nothing "foul" about the shell or skin. If you can, examine his faeces to check they're normal.>
he's eating okay and there are no problems with the other terrapins - they all seem quite friendly with each other.
also he seems to be sleeping out of the water more than he used to - he used to sleep hanging in the water with his claw on the wood.
<To a degree, turtle behaviour changes with age, so again, I wouldn't worry too much unless the turtle stops feeding or otherwise exhibits aberrant behaviour.>
another thing is that he lets us stroke his head without retracting it - not all the time but quite a lot, he doesn't bite or seem in any kind of pain and he's swimming fine but I don't know why he's doing this - I was wondering if its a maturity thing?
<Could well be.>
like now he's big enough to defend himself from predators maybe so he's enjoying the rock more?
<Certainly possible. Juvenile turtles are food for all sorts of animals, but as they mature they become less and less vulnerable, so react nervously only to things likely to harm them.>
or if its just that he's more tame than he used to be?
sorry, you probably think I'm worrying unnecessarily but he's quite grumpy by nature and this is slightly odd.
<Indeed. There's a difference between lethargy through disease and simple changes in personality. If he's sick, he'd likely be eating less and when he swims, he'd be weaker at it. The eyes and nose are usually give-aways when turtles are sick. But if he overall seems completely normal and happily eats his dinner, then I'd not worry overmuch.>
if I thought there was anything seriously wrong with him then I'd take him to the vet but I'm thinking that it'll be extremely stressful for him if I'm worrying about nothing y'know?
<I don't think there's a problem here.>
anyway thank you for reading this.
<No problem. Cheers, Neale.>

questions re-my yellow bellied slider. Fdg., sys. 5/6/10
I came about upon your page and found the information quite helpful but I still have a few questions:
<Fire away.>
First, about my yellow bellied: - Jude (not sure if male or female) is still a baby,
<Males have longer claws and longer tails, relative to body size.
Furthermore, the vent, or "cloaca", will be about one-third the distance along the tail from the base in the case of females, whereas on males the vent will be about two-thirds of the way from the base of the tail.>
got her about 2 weeks ago so my guess is that she is about 6 or 8 weeks old. - She is 1-3/4" shell length - For what I can tell; healthy and happy, for now she is in a small tank (about 6 gallons) with basking area, a plant friend she hangs around often, a mother of all filters and UV light.
<Good. Do read though to make sure you've covered all the bases:
Questions: - First of all re-feeding, we have been giving her the Repto-min floating baby food (smaller than the adult version) we started the first week with about 5 pellets, but she seems hungrier each day, today I gave her 9 in the morning and she gobbled them in less than 5 minutes.
<Do augment this with much plant material, or else something for herbivorous fish; Koi pellets appear to work well. The fibre will make the turtle feel more "full". Pellets alone tend to be nutritional in terms of
vitamins and minerals, but lacking fibre, and do seem related to constipation and other problems. Feeding these turtles isn't really difficult, and needn't be expensive either, since much greenery in your salad bowl is good for them. Cheap aquarium plants such as Elodea are also good.
Fed this way, leave pellets for use a couple times a week.>
In the late afternoon we give her a second feeding but much smaller, perhaps 3 pellets. Is this too much food?
<See above, and linked article/s.>
she seems hungry, the first week she would shy away from our fingers but now she stares at them and even yesterday bit our fingers a couple of times. - Second, I read in your page to not give yellow bellied sliders chicken,
<Correct. Never, ever give a pet reptile meat from "warm blooded" animals unless you know such food forms part of its natural diet. Pythons for example can, do eat mice, and have evolved the enzymes to deal with the fats in warm blooded animals. Your terrapin naturally eats mostly plant
material and small invertebrates, and cannot digest fats from warm blooded animals. End result is the fats that are oils when warm inside a chicken or whatever become congealed in the colder bodies of your pet terrapin. Obviously, that's bad.>
I have a couple of days given her instead of pellets in the afternoon, 2 or 3 tiny pieces of kielbasa sausage about the same size of the pellets, is this not good for her either?
<Very, very bad. I'm sure he/she will eat all sorts of stuff, but mammal/bird meat is bad to begin with, and the spices, additives and who-knows-what they add to processed foods will make things even worse.
Want to give your turtle a treat? Add a clump of Elodea/Canadian Pond Weed.
Don't feed him for a few days, and let him graze away healthily at that.
Alternatively, small morsels of seafood or white fish fillet would be good, since these don't contain the sorts of fats that would set solid inside a reptile. Humans eat all sorts of garbage, which is why we in Europe and the US tend to be fat and suffering from diabetes and all kinds of other problems caused by bad diet. Pet animals can't make sensible choices, they eat what's in front of them, so you have to be much more disciplined about feeding them than you might be with yourself.>
I did it more as a treat than as actual food, in the morning I give her nothing but the pellets and she has not refused to receive those. - At the pet shop they sold us a calcium stone that is meant to dissolve slowly into the water, but reading your site I found that it is not good to add those, does that apply to yellow bellied sliders as well?
<Correct; calcium isn't taken up through the water, and needs to be part of the turtle's diet. Something called metabolic bone disease (MBD) is very common when these reptiles don't get enough calcium in their diet. If you give them a balanced diet, including a good quality calcium-enriched turtle pellets such as ReptoMin, this shouldn't be a problem. By all means break off a bite size piece of calcium-rich cuttlebone and let it float about the tank: the turtles will crunch on this if they feel the need.>
or was that specific to that other turtle? should I remove the calcium stone?
<It is pointless, doing no harm or good, so do what you want.>
- Is my tank the appropriate size? it is about 16" long x 8" deep x 10" high, my guess is about 6 gallons or so, she is small and has swimming room but when should I get a new tank? or do I have to do that immediately?
<Will need a bigger tank within a year, most likely; do read above linked articles.>
- Lastly, she was quite bitey yesterday, snapped 2 or 3 times at our fingers even stared and chased them as if they were preys, I thought maybe because I had added the kielbasa sausage to the diet? :( will their behavior change upon a diet change? what "meat" food other than the processed stuff is safe to feed her?
<All terrapins can become "snappy", but there is some variation between them. Regular, gentle handling can minimise this, but this needs to be done carefully so the turtle feels secure. If it's flailing its arms and legs about, it's not feeling secure! Handle for short periods initially. Reward the turtle afterwards with food. Understand that stressed turtles common defecate when handled, and all turtles -- indeed, all reptiles -- can carry Salmonella so appropriate washing/hygiene is essential.>
Thank you very much in advance LaVRA
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Turtle AND husband in some hot water? 07/13/09
Dear Crew,
<Hiya Kelly -- Darrel here>
I have a yellow belly slider that is not doing well. It is a female in a 65 gallon tank with another female yellow belly slider. Its shell is about the size of a small woman's palm. I was gone for two weeks while my husband watched them.
<uh oh - make him pay for that!>
The water got pretty dirty so I emptied all the water out, cleaned the entire cage, including the filters and added new water.
<That's a good idea. Also, you should sterilize the entire setup as well.
Here's a link I've written in the past:
The temp is currently set at 82 degrees.
<WAAAAAAAAAY too hot!>
<WAY too hot>
<The water temp should be between 65 and 73 -- usually it will take on the temp of the room it's in, but we NEVER heat a turtles water! The whole idea is they choose between the heat of their basking area and the cool of their water. Do whatever you need to do to get that temperature down>
They have a large basking spot with turtle lighting.
<that would be both a heat generating lamp making the basking area 85-93 degrees and also a UV lamp?>
I have two in tank filters and an under gravel filter. Since changing the entire water it seems as if the tank might be recycling so I added some stress zyme. The parameters are all zero (nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia),
with the pH being 6.6 to 6.8. Normally the pH of my tap water is 7.6 so that is why I am thinking it is recycling.
<In normal circumstances it's not really possible for a turtle tank to reach a balanced biological filter cycle like a fish-type tank. There is simply too much waste and too RAW a waste for any reasonable biocycle to
achieve stability. Rather than additives and Ph tests, etc. you're far better off to invest your energy in frequent water changes and your money in activated carbon for your filters. The Ph, chlorine and ammonia/chloramines from any normal tap water is well within their tolerance and it's really not worth your time and money to try to correct something that is already just fine for them>
Anyway, to the turtle. She is not swimming and when I put her in the water she is leaning towards one side. When she is basking she is putting her front legs turned in like she is resting on her knuckles (if that makes sense). She has some reddish brown spots under her shell by her back legs and a little bit by her head. She is very lethargic and won't go in the water to eat, but if I put her in a bucket with some ReptoMin she goes after it right away and eats it. She has trouble getting all the way out of the water to bask but if I lift her up and set her down to bask she will stay there. She does seem to move her front legs when in the water but obviously with the leaning she is having trouble controlling her movement.
My other turtle seems fine as she is very active and alert.
<I agree she's sick and likely has a skin fungus. It's good that she's eating well>
What do you suggest I do? If you think she needs to go to a vet, can you suggest the best way for me to find a qualified one? I live in Racine WI which is in the southeast of WI.
<We're not there yet, we can treat this at home>
Any advise would be greatly appreciated!
<Here it comes>
<I recently wrote someone with essentially the same problems and gave them the same advice. So I'm enclosing a link to what I wrote. NATURALLY you should hang on my EVERY word from EVERY letter I answer, but the first letter in this link contains all the advice I would be giving to you here if I weren't too lazy to copy & paste the entire letter rather than just the link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/resdisf4.htm>
<Now that's the advice for treating the turtle. By the way, take them BOTH out and treat them BOTH for the possible fungus. Meanwhile, here's a link to a BRILLIANT article that covers all the basics of their regular housing and care should be. Check your care against these standards and correct whatever is not in line.>
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>
Re: Turtle and husband in hot water? 07/13/09

Thanks for answering
<Happy to do it!>
My main concern was that she was listing to one side when swimming and very lethargic to the point of barely moving (and sitting with her front legs curled so her knuckles are towards the ground, if that makes sense). The only time I see her move is when the other turtle knocks her off the basking area or if she is going for food. She still has an appetite, so that is a positive. The person I talked to said that based on the listing and lethargy it is probably a respiratory infection. Do you agree that this could be the case?
<Not necessarily. Lethargy comes from almost any kind of illness that is debilitating and respiratory infections are usually accompanied by bubbles from the nose AND loss of appetite. So far I'm betting fungal based on the reddish brown spots>
If so is there anything else I should be doing?
<read below>
I haven't noticed any sneezing or coughing or discharge from her nose.
<A contra-indication of respiratory infection>
Interestingly enough I received some advice and already started a similar regimen. I have her in a spare tank with a basking lamp on her 24/7. I also treated the reddish brown areas with Povidone/iodine and it already looks better after two treatments.
<Again. Get her out of the water and keep her out except for feeding & drinking time -- just like in the link I sent you. What we're trying to do here is give her a break ... make her life EASY, no swimming, no hauling out, no WARM, MOIST ENVIRONMENT THAT FAVORS FUNGAL GROWTH, ETC... Whatever she has ... will heal better if you follow my advice and keep her warm and DRY for the next two months while her immune system kicks this>
Every person I talked to at a pet store and everything I have read on the internet said the tank should be heated.
<Unless you live in the Arctic circle ... everything you read on the Internet or heard in the pet stores is wrong. Period. The turtle will enjoy room temperature water -- any room temperature that YOU would feel comfortable in ... and then CHOOSE the warmth of the basking lamp when SHE decides to warm up.>
I normally have it at 75 degrees but turned it up when she got sick. I have since turned it back down to 70 degrees.
<You have to HEAT the tank water to 70 degrees? In Wisconsin in July??????>
Do you think I should take the heater out all together?
<YES!!! Unlike fish, turtles have a habit of accidentally breaking heaters (assuming it's a glass heater) and then cutting themselves on the shards of glass (or biting the electrical wires). They don't need it, it's not good for them, so yes, please remove it>
Also, ever since I totally cleaned out the tank (siphoned all the water out, cleaned the filters, cleaned the inside of the glass, and added more water the water kind of smells (sort of like my fish tank did when it was recycling). Is this normal?
<No it's not normal. But fungus is very often smelly ... so there ya go>
<Please sterilize the tank & equipment as I described in the first link, keep BOTH the turtles warm and dry (watered & fed once daily) for a minimum of two weeks before you put the asymptomatic one back in her normal tank ... and the one with the known problem ..... around 6-8 weeks: AT LEAST 3 weeks after you see NO skin discoloration, NO lethargy and NO other symptoms. At least.>
Re: Turtle and husband in hot water? 7/14/2009

A couple of questions regarding the treatment regimen:
On your link you posted the following, "After her daily bath, let her dry completely and then clean the affected area(s) with hydrogen peroxide on a cotton swab, then soak or dribble some Povidone (any kind of iodine) on the affected area. Do this for a week and note the healing." After I dribble the Povidone on the area do I rinse it off or let it dry on there? When I have been doing it I have been leaving it on for a few minutes then rinsing the turtle. Please advise.
<Nah -- let it stay on and dry. The thin film covering the affected area helps it just a tiny bit>
Also, with the healthy turtle there aren't any affected areas so where should I put the Povidone?
<The healthier turtle doesn't need to have the peroxide/Povodine treatment ... just to be out of the warm/moist world for a few weeks to nip any fungus or infection before it has a chance to catch hold>
With the sick turtle she has some reddish brown spots under her shell by her head. How do I treat with hydrogen peroxide and Povidone without getting it on her face or in her eyes?
<A Q-tip swab might help. Hold her upright and let a drop fall off the end of a spoon. I always keep a box of insulin syringes around to be able to specifically place drops in tight places.>
Finally, the sick turtle's front legs are very limp. When I lifted one to try and straighten it out (very gently) I noticed some yellowish spots. I am assuming some kind of fungi like you suspected. I am going to treat
these spots along with the reddish brown spots directly. Is this correct?
Thanks again for your help. I hope she gets better and doesn't die!
<We hope so, too!>

Yellow Bellied Slider, sys, fdg. 10/6/08
Hi Crew,
<Hiya Cherie, Darrel here this afternoon>
I have a young (5 months) yellow bellied slider that I house indoors, in a 15 gal. tank. Recently he has been acting very restless. He has always been an active little guy, he loves to climb anything as high as he can, and because of this I made him a long ladder/hill with a basking site on top, so that he can see out the window that his tank sits next too. I have been searching online for possible reasons for his sudden restless behavior (scratching at the tank, pacing back and forth), and have found that if turtles are not getting enough UV light, they sometimes try to go looking for it. I don't have a lot of money, (although I am willing to spend whatever I can to make sure my turtle is healthy), and when I was buying supplies for him I was told by the pet store owner that a plant light from home depot would provide the right amount of UV light, and is a lot cheaper than the expensive lights sold at places like Petco. So, I bought the plant light, and have been using it for 3 months, do turtles require more intense UV light as they are growing?
<Not higher intensity as they grow. Remember UV A & B comes naturally from the sun and (hopefully) the sun doesn't get more intense as they grow. What's important is that they need the right kind of UV and most Plant-Gro bulbs don't have the right spectrum. While I appreciate the Pet Store guy's logic .. and yes I'm going to say this -- It's better than NO UV light, it's not optimum for him and I urge you to save up if you have to and buy a more specific light for him. Normally I don't endorse products by brand in this column because there are many good products out there, Google is your friend, and I want people to do their research and learn. That said I'll tell you that back when I started, I used Vita-Lite by Duro Test because they were the only UV Bulb supplier that actually published their scientific research rather than just "trust me it's a reptile bulb." I did a quick search online and found an 18" Vita-lite fluorescent for around $15 that fit's in a $9 fixture from Home Depot or Lowes.>
I have been feeding him Gammarus (aquatic shrimp), along with water plants, and lettuce, and he has been eating more, but I assume that is because he is growing. I try feeding him when he is restless, but it only calms him down about 1/2 the time. I also tried giving him toys, but he doesn't show much interest in them. Is he sick, bored, or other? Does a plant light really supply enough UVB light?
<If he's eating and active ... swims and basks, we'll assume he's not sick. Please read the attached link and check your care against the article.>
<The next thing is diet. The pet store will have Repto-Min sticks. They're good but a bit expensive. HOWEVER ... on the same shelf at the bottom will be commercial Koi pellets that contain the exact same food for mush less money. Plants are good, lettuce & shrimp ... no. Actually ... NO! Switch him to the Koi pellets as the staple and a weekly or every other week treat of an night crawler earthworm (also available at the pet store.)>
Thanks so much for your help!
<Make these changes over the next month and then please write back, OK?>

Yellow bellied scum does not HAVE to be fightin' words! Turtle... sys. 9/13/07 Hi, <Hi Lois! -- There's a joke there for those of us that are very old> My daughters each have a yellow bellied slider, about 2 years old. They seem to be doing fine. Last summer we got a baby pool and started putting them out there filled with well water (sulfa water). They seem to enjoy being together and more swimming room. Recently I noticed their shells have green on them. I scrubbed them with tooth brushes to get it off but it doesn't seem to get it all. Their tanks are kept clean and there are no green algae in them. How do I get the green off of their shells and will it hurt them? <It's algae. While the turtle shell looks smooth to you and I .. it has lots of micro pores that certain filament-algae can really sink their roots into. It's not harmful too them at all, Lois and the solution, beyond simply keeping the tank clean and the water cool -- is to increase their basking time. The more they can haul out & dry off in the warm UV rays ... the more that pesky stuff will just fade away. But if it stays, it's merely a nuisance.> Thank you <You're welcome -- Darrel> <http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>

Yellow bellied turtle, UK... Sys. -- 07/26/07 Hi <Hi right back! -- Darrel here> We have 2 yellow bellied turtles and they have started to get white patches on the top of their shell. The water temp is 27 degrees and the basking light temp when on is 30 degrees. <Well, it's a good thing that your email address tells us that you're across the pond (as we say) in Britain, otherwise you'd be having frozen turtles.> <Come to think of it, Across THE POND is a pretty good pun for a fish & water web site, huh?> <For us yanks, as they call us, who don't read Celsius, their water temp is 80.6 and their air/basking temp is 86 degrees> We also have 2 fluorescent strip lights which we keep on all the time, we feed them in a different tank to keep the water clean in the main tank, we have a floating basking area we have a Fluval 2 plus water filter in the tank, we feed them on dry shrimp and occasionally blood worms and live worms as a treat. Could you tell me why and how they are getting these white patches and what we can do to prevent this happening? <For one thing, you're certainly making a good effort! Feeding in a separate tank is a neat way, but very laborious one .. so congratulations on your efforts. The white patches sound like fungus and my guess would be that with the water being HOT (should be around 73f) and the air being COOL (should be around 92f) you've accidentally set up a perfect growing environment for shell fungus. Not to worry, easy to fix! Search this web site (see the search bar below on the main page and put in "Darrel" and "fungus") and you can see what I've written before. www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/turtlefdgfaqs.htm www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/turtshelrotfaq2.htm www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/rescompfaqs.htm There are just three -- and there's more. In fact, I'm now a bit depressed that I talk about fungus as much as I apparently do.> Could you also tell me anything else we can do to keep them happy, and how long should we keep the basking light on for and how long can we keep the UVA and UVB fluorescent strip lights on for? <Sounds like you're doing very well. I'd have both lights on for around 12 hours a day, but turtles are VERY forgiving about that: If the light sources are shorter, they'll just bask more during the "on" hours. The only thing I'd do is increase the temperature difference between water and land.> They both feed ok and swim about without any probs. <Here's a link with all MY basics: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm Other than THAT .... I think you're doing GREAT!> thanks tink <Hmm, yesterday I was called Putzakitty .. and today Tink. Hmmmm>

Basking Light For Turtle - 4/8/07 Hi, I have a 1 and a half inch long yellow bellied slider. We have a 60 watt basking spot lamp. I don't know if it's UVA or UVB. Anyway, how long do I keep it on? How does he sleep if it's on all night? Please get back to me ASAP. Thank-you, Emily < You should have a lamp for heat. It should heat the basking site up to at least 85 F. The other lamp should provide both UVB and UVA. Check the writing on the lamp and look it up on the internet to see what you got. They should both be on during normal daylight hours, about 10-12 hours every day.-Chuck>

Hibernating Turtles - 10/11/06 Dear Turtle Expert, I have a Yellow-bellied Slider that last year I hibernated in my unheated garage. I was told that I was lucky she survived. Should this species not be hibernated? A heat lamp was applied during the very cold months so the water didn't freeze. If it can be, what would be the optimal temperature. Thanks! Brian < Last year was a very difficult year for hibernating turtles. Early warm spring temperatures brought turtles out of hibernation early. Then cold spells left them out in the open with nothing to eat any many got sick and died. Make sure that your turtle is in good health and has good body fat to carry him over the winter. Place him in an aquarium with a heater set at 45 to 50 F. Don't feed him for awhile so the gut is empty and will not foul the water. When the nighttime lows are in this range you can bring him out of hibernation.-Chuck>

Useful turtle care info. A personal odyssey 11/21/05 Dear Bob, I wanted to comment on the request you had on your website for help with the pond slider. <Thank you for this> A few years ago, my husband spotted a newly hatched Peninsular slider crossing the road. It was only about the size of a silver dollar. It had likely come from a clutch of eggs deposited in the soft mud in a ditch months before when we had experienced torrential rains. The little thing would have had to travel at least 1/2 mile before finding any water so we took it home. I didn't intend to keep it but for just long enough to make sure it was healthy and eating. I had a 5 gal. aquarium that I set up for it. I put some nice flat rocks in one end and water deep enough for him to swim about in. I used a small wattage light bulb in a clamp-on reflector over the rocks. I tested the amount of heat generated by the lamp with my hand on the rocks to make sure I didn't have it too hot. I wasn't sure what to feed him and at the time we didn't have a computer (the window to all information). But I figured that in the wild he would likely eat green plants, snails and small fish. So I chose the next best thing, tuna. I took canned tuna, rinsed it and drained it. I took him out of the tank and placed him in a small dishpan filled with water. I pinched off small pieces of tuna and hand fed him. He ate vigorously. He also ate bits of raw spinach, lettuce, green beans and grapes. After a few days I figured he was doing well. But in the mean time I had found several books on turtle keeping and one of them said that once a wild turtle is handled it should never be released in the wild. He would be contaminated with bacteria that if he was released in the lake down the street, might compromise the health of other turtles in the lake. It sounds rational to me so my husband & I decided to keep "Cooter". We continued with the same care, the only draw back to such a small tank was the fact that even though I fed him in a separate container (every other day). I had to change the water in the tank every other day as well. So I built a large tank, designed with a "Cooter" in mind. Wide and long and fairly deep. I also constructed a filtration system. Using a large plastic jar that I perforated around the bottom with rows of holes about halfway up the sides of the jar. I filled it with activated charcoal and filter material. I drilled a hole in the lid and took the end of a hose from a small water pump located at the other end of the tank and stuck thru the hole. I had to add more holes in the sides of the jar to make sure that the water filtered thru and out the holes as fast as it went it but once I had accomplished that it worked extremely well. (Only once did Cooter in his active swimming dislodge the hose and shoot water out of the tank onto the floor!! LOL) At one year old he was nearly 6" in length. Here is a photo of him at about 1 year. <Outstanding. Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Aquatic Turtle Housing 7.21.05 I have a baby yellow-bellied slider turtle. I was just hoping that you'd be able to tell me if my turtle's tank setup is adequate. Well, his shell is about 2 1/2 inches long. I've had him since late last July. He has a 10 gallon tank. I've been told that that size tank is good for a baby turtle. <Yes> When should I consider buying him a larger tank and how many gallons? <The sooner the better, a nice size for another year or so would be a 20gallon long, they make them for turtles with a cutaway on the side to hang a filter on, not the biggest tank, but a good option for a while.> I bought a Whisper 10i filter. Will I have to get a larger one when I get a larger tank? <Probably, as your turtle grows it will get messier.> I bought aquarium pebbles for the bottom of the tank and for the land area. I put a brick inside the tank and piled rocks up on it so it would be easier for him to climb up on and bask. <Good, make sure it is under the light bulb.> The size of the land area is 3 in. by 7 in. Is that a big enough area for him to bask? <So long as he can fit on it comfortably without falling off.> The rest of the tank is filled with water. He has no hiding places. When he gets frightened he tends to hide by the filter and face the other side of the tank. So I figure he doesn't need any hiding places such as plants, because I'm afraid they would take up too much of his swimming room. <I would not do live plants, maybe some fake ones. You could also build a cave type of thing with bricks, rock, slate, etc. I've found animals that have places to retreat when they are scared are much better off.> The basking bulb is 50watts and it's the ZooMed brand. <You might also look into getting some full spectrum lighting.> The air temp in the tank is 75 degrees and the water temp is 77 degrees. Should the temps be higher or lower or are they fine the way they are? <That is within the correct range, no need to adjust it.> I turn the lamp on about 10am and turn it off about 11pm. <That is a long day, I might cut the light cycle down by an hour or 2, but its up to you.> I change the filter cartridge and clean the tank once a month. <Good, this may need to be changed more often as the turtle gets larger.> Everyday the water depth seems to go down, so I add more water. <Evaporation.> I have well water, so I don't treat the water, because it doesn't have chlorine or any type of chemicals in it. I'm so sorry about all of the questions, but I just want my turtle to have a long and healthy life. I included a picture of a turtle that looks like mine. <Sounds good, I would eventually look into getting the turtle into a 55gallon tank, but for now a 20gallon long would be good. BTW, you did not mention what he eats? Turtle pellets are good, the occasional treat of earth worms is always good. Best Regards, Gage In case we left anything out here's a link to an aquatic turtle article http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/redearsliders.htm>

Ammonia Problems in a Turtle Tank 7/16/05 I have a yellow belly slider. We have had it for about 1 1/2 years. About six weeks ago we cleaned the filters and the water all in one day. since then we have had trouble with the water. It has too much ammonia. We are doing 10% water changes daily. We have 2 canister filters in a 90 gallon tank. I also have put some Zeolite granules in the filter that I have been changing weekly. The water is mucky and a dirty brown. The water did have a smell to it but that is gone. We tested the water and it just shows that it has to much ammonia. Today I notice the area around the turtles mouth was yellow and his shell looked a little yellow. Any suggestions? < When you cleaned everything you removed the good bacteria that breaks down the waste from ammonia to nitrites and then nitrates. The ammonia is the worst. It gives off the smell and odor. Bio-Spira from Marineland will put it all back together in no time at all. To prevent this in the future I would recommend a 50% weekly water change and change each one of the filters every month two weeks apart. So clean one filter on the first of the month and the other on the 15th. Try this and see how it works out.-Chuck>

Turtles and Plants Hello! I just wanted to ask you if you knew what kind of plants I could put in my turtles tank. <None, turtles enjoy eating or otherwise wrecking everything. I have two Yellow Bellied Sliders and have resorted to leaving their tank bare bottom.> I wanted to put bamboo in but my Mom said to ask someone who knew first. And I wanted to ask you something else, if I could put some of the fishes that keep clean the tanks the ones that are always sucking in everything. <It is better for the turtles if you just keep the tank clean with regular water changes versus trying to use fish. Turtles are known to eat fish, so anything you put in there may become lunch. I have my turtle tank located near the laundry room so I can drain the tank water using a Python water changer into the floor drain and so I can fill it right back up using the faucet on the laundry tub. It works extremely well and keeps the tank clean and smelling fresh.> Hope you answer me fast. <I hope this was fast enough.> California P.S. I know a lot about turtles but I don't know what plants I can put in their tank that are not toxic for them. They are only hatchlings, and they are red-eared sliders. I am 13 years old so I am not an expert that's why I am asking you. <We have archived a bunch of other turtle Q&A's. These may be of interest to you. They can be found here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/turtlefaqs.htm> Thank you! <You are welcome, my young friend. -Steven Pro>

Aquatic Turtle Care I have 2 yellow bellied sliders. I am contemplating putting them in an outdoor pond. We live near the Virginia coast and I wonder How to set up this pond (supplies, plants, etc.). Also, can they stay out there year around? <I do not keep my turtle outside because of the predators, but outdoors is definitely best for them if you can meet all of their requirements. The link below is to an article on ponds for turtles, it should be a good place to start. http://www.tortoise.org/general/pondmak.html> What kind of plants do I have to have in order to make a outside pen for them? <most pond plants should be fine> And what kind of foods do they eat beside night crawlers and lettuces? And where do I find powder vitamins and calcium's to sprinkle on their foods? <Here is a good article on feeding aquatic turtles http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/aquaticdiet.htm If you have a local reptile shop you can get the vitamins from them, or from an etailer like our wonderful sponsor http://www.drsfostersmith.com/ Best Regards, Gage> Thanks Julia Rk

Turtle Habitat and Pool <Hi, Mike D here> I was wondering if I could bring my yellow bellied slider in the pool which has chlorine in it.<If you're asking if you can take it into your swimming pool with you, occasionally, for short periods probably wouldn't do any harm, but long term exposure to higher amounts of chlorine will eventually do eye damage and possibly cause intestinal problems as well.> I was also wondering if it was ok to have the fish rocks that are at the bottom of the fish tank in the cage with the turtle and I have one last question will my turtle be ok without having another turtle in the cage with it- can it be alone??<Regular aquarium gravel would probably be alright, with sand being a better choice, and as to keeping it alone, that often the best way for the animal to stay the healthiest, as it can't fight with other turtles over food.> Thanks!! please reply soon!!!! and how am I going to get your reply can you email it back to me thanks so much !!! PS. How deep should the water be and what should I feed him?<The depth of the water isn't overly important as long as there is a good basking space where it can easily get out to sun itself. You'll also need to invest in a good broad spectrum reptile light, aimed at the basking area only> I found him in lake Travis-- is it ok to feed him store bought food<Yes and no...there are some commercial turtle foods that are satisfactory, with the old fashioned dried insect type completely useless. Adding occasional pieces of lean fish or chicken will help, and even better, try to dust it with a good reptile calcium supplement.> and how big does the tank need to be?<That depends upon the size of the turtle. A small juvenile can be housed in a 2-5 gal. tank, with an adult animal needing an enclosure large enough to allow plenty of movement.> Is it ok for the tank to be bare with just gravel and water or does it need something else? If using a regular aquarium, it will need a float or piece of wood large enough to allow it to get completely out of the water, thus the basking light. Keep in mind as well that reptiles need to be kept warm, with a minimum of 72 degrees f and never allowed to exceed the high 80's.> please please reply soooonnnn!!!!!! thanks soo much <Michaela>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: