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FAQs on Turtles and Other Animals for Ponds

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

my outdoor above ground turtle tank      5/23/16
-Dear WWM,
<Hiya – Darrel here>
I have 8 RES of various sizes and 1 pond turtle in a 700 gallon polyethylene tank (8ft. diameter, 2 ft. deep). I live in Pasadena, California.
<One of my sons lives in Pasadena, CA. Do the turtles seem snooty to you? Acting like they’re better than turtles that live in Highland Park or Covina?>
The turtles have been outside in a much larger and deeper pond but I had to move them. Does the tank need to be insulated or should I get a heater for the winter. I've read your information but couldn't find an example that fit my circumstances.
<no … and .. no>
<Our winters are more than mild enough for 2 feet of water. Assuming the pond gets sunlight during the day the water will pick up enough heat that the bottom is toasty (by turtle standards) all night long. I live approximately 30 miles due south of you and MY turtles spend the winter in an 8 foot wide pond 12 inches deep. The only caveat would be if the pond spent all winter in perpetual shade, but even then I’d rig a couple of basking lamps for daytime use, not a pond heater>
Also, you have a "turtle corral" picture on the first page of the turtle section. Can you give me any information about how it was made? It looks perfect for a better basking platform/nesting area for my girls. A male turtle came out of nowhere and has been busy, so I would like to better meet their needs.
<I’m not sure what picture you’re referencing but in my experience – every time I’ve ever tried to construct a nesting box the turtles have rejected it in favor of something they find on their own – and these are ordinary Torrance turtles, not fancy, shmancy Pasadena turtles. Perhaps get them a suite at the Sheraton?>
<Ahem. The best thing to do is expand the area around the pond to include some grass area and allow them to wander around? In the wild they’ll climb the banks of their swimming area, find a spot about the high water line and dig test holes, looking for some indescribable situation.>
<That said, Sliders are flexible little guys. When the female is gravid she’ll start acting fussy and hyperactive, never satisfied and always wanting more even when she’s not sure what she wants … in that way not at all unlike my ex-wife. This phase will last for a week or so (not my ex – THAT phase lasted 22 years) and toward the end of that she will either absorb the eggs and she will expel them wherever she happens to be. People who can recognize the behavior have been known to put the turtle in a big cardboard box for two days and one day come look and see the turtle with 6 small eggs just laying on the bottom of the box. Those eggs can be incubated just as if they’d been laid and buried>
Thanks for your generosity in helping the rest of us care for our turtles.
*-- Lou Anne*
Re: re my outdoor above ground turtle tank      5/23/16

Dear Darrel,
My turtles and I thank you for the quick response. They aren't snooty because they're all rescued turtles and are grateful they're not homeless.
How many turtles do you have?
The tank is sitting on concrete and they have no way to get out. They have a basking area in the pond. I was going to make a cover for the tank so raccoons, herons, and my dogs can't get them. That's why I was interested in the corral (see attached).
Would it be better to move them to a grass area where they can have an
enclosed fence with a top? Then how they get out of the tank onto the
ground to walk around or lay their eggs. Do your Torrance turtles have a
little stairway up and over, similar to the picture of the corral? Any
design suggestions would be appreciated. I've been pouring over the
internet for ideas but everything I've see is either too fancy or too
down-market for Pasadena turtles, not to mention the discussion of egg-bound
turtles who will die if I don't provide a proper nesting ground.
What do you suggest? What do you do with your turtles? Does Torrance have the same predators to worry about? I would appreciate hearing your thoughts.
Lou Anne

from aquarium to pond    6/27/13
<Hiya - Darrel here>
A little over a year ago, my mother brought home two painted turtles when one of my niece's classmates rescued turtles from their yard and gave them to classmates. We suspect them to be about 1 yr and 4 months now. They've been picky about their diets since they were little and now pretty much ignore everything except shrimp and krill.
<Neither of which would be part of their natural diet.  Both are fatty and not very nutritious>
While they normally get along, they are starting to nip and bite each other, one doing so more than the other. They are both also swimming with an arm or leg (and almost always tail) tucked.
<They may need some alone time>
They have both grown very quickly lately, seeming to have new chutes constantly and one always being slightly bigger than the other for a week before it switches. They are about 5 inches now. Both seem in well health. We are looking for local friends who would like to host a turtle permanently, but feel they might benefit more in a pond.
<I'm not sure I agree, Jennifer.  I'm not a fan of turtles in ponds mainly because Raccoons, Possums, Skunks, Herons, Crows, Owl and Hawks ARE a fan of turtles in ponds.   It can be done and they're wonderful when done right, but it's safer and easier for the turtles to be indoors - or at least in a controlled tank-like environment.>
Are their any steps to follow? I am worried because they are picky eaters and have only been in an aquarium setting.
<The biggest problem is their fixation on food.  Get some Koi Pellets or Repto-Min floating food sticks (same exact food, just more expensive).  Let the turtles go for 4 days with NO feeding. (Don't let them guilt you - they can go months without food!) and then offer about 5 pellets or sticks at feeding time.   If they ignore the food, scoop the food out and wait 3 more days and try again.  DON'T give in!  DON'T give up.  Trust me… when they are hungry enough, they WILL eat the pellets!>
We just don't have the space or resources for 2 large tanks and they need to be separated before this becomes a big issue.
<I suspect that the problem you're seeing is that one is a male and he has reached maturity.  If the other is female, she won't mature for another inch or so in size (turtles mature by SIZE, not age).  He's bothering her and at times behaves in kind.>
<They probably don't need separate tanks, just some time apart.  I'd take both of them out of the tank and "dry dock" them for a week or two… doing the food experiment every 3rd or 4th night as described here:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm
In other words, put them some place warm and dry.  Even together, they will likely not fight in the new surroundings.  They'll both rest and recuperate.   Give them daily baths so they can drink and poop - and every 3rd or 4th night offer a few pellets to each.  If they don't eat, don't worry - they will.>
<Now AFTER a week or two and AFTER they've started eating, you can move them bank to their tank.  In the man time, redecorate their tank: rearrange a few things, maybe add a rock or a brick or something that would allow them (from a turtles' perspective) to get out of each other's site.   That, by the way, is an invaluable trick for reptile AND fish keepers when dealing sign aggression.  A two step process:  1) rearrange things so that no one feels like they are on their "home turf" and also make places for one or another to hide.  You'd be amazed how just adding a brick… so that a turtle can swim away and go "around a corner and out of sight" of the other -- seems to calm them both down.>
Any advice in the matter is greatly appreciated!
<Yer welcome>

paint and goldfish? and what about turtles?    2/25/13
Hi, thanks for your website - I learned a lot reading through the closest posts to my question.
We have a small-ish pond, about 3 feet by 8 feet, in quite sunny Northern California.  We have a deep "refuge" right in the middle, surrounded by potted aquatic plants, that the 14 large goldfish can hide in when hawks, herons, and raccoons visit.
  The raccoons disappeared as soon as we set up an electric wire - they recognized it before we turned on the current, so we never needed to turn it on!   We have transparent fishing line and thin black netting spread over most of the pond, and so far it has stopped the hawks and herons.   But it gets tangled and comes away from the sides and looks unsightly.  
<Ahh, very good>
We have just come back from Asia where we liked the use of bamboo as supports in the garden.  Now we would like to create 4 bamboo frames for the fine black netting to cover both ends and both sides of the pond.   Then we could lift them up easily to clean, and they would look more deliberate and less messy.  
<Sounds good, and this material is quite pond and weather resistant, and non-toxic>
My question is:  can we use some handsome black-painted bamboo from China, or will the paint poison the fish?
<Depends on the paint. Epoxies (water-based) that are fully cured should be fine/safe>
   We could use regular bamboo, but the pond is dark gray with a dark-gray slate surround, and the black would be more attractive.
<Mmm, well, there are also some naturally dark bamboo varieties to consider, search for>
Second question:  Are there any minuses to getting 2 turtles from a reputable Vivarium store nearby?   Our goldfish are too big now to be eaten by the turtles.    We would build the turtles a raised flat rock to sun on, with a ramp into the water.   (They wouldn't be able to escape via the flat sides of the pond.) 
<Mmm, well, principally that turtles are very "dirty"; will add a good deal of waste to the system, water... they may also scratch your goldfish occasionally. Up to you to decide whether the enjoyment you'll derive from their company, display is worth the bit of extra care>
Thanks very much for your answers.
P.S. The photo is an old one, when the pond was new and not yet seasoned/dirty/algaed and the plants hadn't yet been moved all to the center
to protect the refuge.
<Ahh, a very nice formal basin. Your turtles may leave if there is no barrier to retain them here. Bob Fenner>

Re: question about red eared slider's living outside 14/10/11
Ya I see what you're saying...the 22 year old turtle used to hibernate every winter until we found out it isn't good for them about 5 years ago...
<I agree. The can survive cold winters and even sometimes their lakes actually freeze -- but that's not top say that every individual turtle survives. I never want to take the chance>
And yes we touch the turtles constantly and put our hands in our mouths... probably not the best idea.....I thought the risk of salmonella was with baby turtles?
<In reality, there's more risk of contracting salmonella from handling raw chicken or even rocks in your garden that perhaps an animal has defecated on. The issue with baby turtles is that they were give to children as pets - almost toys. Babies and small children don't have the immune systems to deal with it as easily as you and I do.>
Maybe that's a myth.
<More like an occasional event, but when it does happen it's HORRIBLE>
Anyway we have no way to heat the air just the water... so I don't know what we will decided to do yet.
<Well remember, you only need to heat the air over the basking rock, which is what a 150w or 250w heating lamp does. If you heat the water to 65f/19c and the basking platform is 90f/32c during the day, it should be fine.>
Thanks for your help and sarcastic [she means BRILLIANT] humor.
btw I agree they are creatures of habitat more...but my turtle beats the odds lol...she never leaves us alone...we have an ideal res SETUP DURING THE SUMMER AND SHE HAS FULL ACCESS TO BE IN HER HABITAT OR OURS,,,, AND MORE TIMES SHE CHOOSES TO BE WITH US...WEIRD? I KNOW
<Very little they do surprises me. I have a Galapagos tortoise that follows me around the yard to get her neck scratched. She'll even come up behind me and give me a gentle 'bump' if I'm not paying enough attention to her>
<Good luck!>

question about red eared slider's living outside -- 10/07/11
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have two red eared sliders. One is 22 years old that my husband has had since it was the size of a quarter. We have another that I believe to be 5 years old. We don't have the ideal setup for the 22 year old turtle. She was in a 55 gallon tank that we filled a little more than halfway and even with a filter used for 200 gallons of water didn't work.
<Compared to fish, turtles are poop machines. You'd need a biological filter the size of the Everglades to assimilate it all. Weekly siphoning of the bottom and replacement with fresh water is the best way to solve the waste problem>
We had to change the water every couple of days. Especially, in the summer because she has been laying eggs in the tank. We bought a huge tub/bin and put 50% sand and 50% dirt in hopes of her laying the unfertilized eggs so she wouldn't clog the filter and such. She would not lay the eggs unless she was in the tank. Anyway, we retired the 55 gallon tank and we just keep her in a large plastic tub filled with water and we dump the water out every couple days and refill it with warm water. We don't have the money to get her a good setup.
<That's not a BAD setup at all. If the tub is large enough for her to have a reasonable basking area - and you have a basking and UV-B lamp, a tub is just fine!>
I was wondering if we keep the turtles outside on our porch in the winter what kind of heating system could we use? Is it possible to keep them outside in the winter if the water is warm? It is a screened porch with roof.
<You'd need a heating lamp that heats the basking surface to around 80 degrees (in the winter) and a water heater that keeps the water at around 70 degrees. Any kind of water heater in a turtle environment is risky, because they can break the glass, bite the cord, etc. This CAN be done, but I suggest that you don't do it>
We keep the turtles inside 50% of the time and in the tank 50% of the time. They roam the house free and have been for years. They are super friendly and even come when you call them. They are trained well. The turtles even bang their shells on the door to let us know when they want to go back in the tank and eat or relieve themselves. I was wondering if it would be possible to heat a tank during a cold winter? We have a 2 year old and she climbs everything, I'm afraid of a large tank or tub of water to be in the house. I don't want any drowning accidents.
<The 2 year old complicates everything. Toddlers tend to pick up everything they can - and sample them by mouth '¦ which is bad for the toddle and no picnic for the turtles, either>
Like I said they pretty much tell us when they are hungry or need to relieve themselves otherwise they are free roaming the house. Any advice would help. Thank You
<Well, Tracy, the 2 year old complicates things. Based on personal experience with 2 of my own, I say 'keep the turtles and donate the 2 year old to a local animal shelter' but even money says you won't do that, so let's look at it from the other side :>
<The turtles are going to have to be separated from the two year old for at least 6 more years. An entire self-contained environment should be set up for this purpose. If it was me, I'd set up one for the kid and let the turtles roam free, but that gets into sticky areas with Child Welfare Dept and such '¦ so let's concentrate on the turtles.>
<The screened porch sounds like a good place to start. Think of a different kind of enclosure. Instead of starting with a tub of water and making a basking area, think of a 3 foot by 4 foot wooden fence, enclosing a garden of sorts - and as part of that garden, a tub of water for swimming. Start with a wooden base of plywood and 2 1x12 pine boards around the edge making a 24 inch high wall. Add 8 inches of sand, top soil and peat (that's a LOT of material, by the way, so plan on this project taking a while) and then burying a large, flat plastic tub in one end with a ramp of sorts. A cover of hardware cloth to protect the turtles and the kid - and you have a mini natural habitat on the porch and the house is a bit more child-safe. You STILL need a basking lamp and a UV-B bulb shining on the land portion, but as a plus, you could plant a tiny garden in there as well - anything that you and the turtles get along with that a 2 year old needs to be kept from.
Another way to accomplish the same thing would be to just fence off a portion of the porch "Turtles Only!" and place a tub of water in there with several ramps on the outside as well as one on the inside. Again, some place requires a heat lamp and a UV-B lamp (they won't get UV through the screens of the porch). In setups like this, I also include a heating pad (you have to search like crazy to find one WITHOUT an Auto-off feature) wrapped in a towel. I place that near, but not UNDER the basking lamp. One hint: don't make the turtle side SO big that they can wander away from the heat source and chill down too far before they get back to it. ALSO: every night, as part of your routine, is to check the turtle pen and see that neither turtle is off in a dark, cold corner. If so, pick them up and put them on the very edge of the heating pad area.>
<With some clever shopping and planning, a setup like this can be built for surprisingly little time, money and effort>
Re: question about red eared slider's living outside
how long is your oldest RES?
<I have some approaching 30 years>
is it domesticated in the extent ours is?
<Well, I don't let her eat dinner at the table, if that's what you mean. She used to live in an aquarium in the den and then moved outside to a dedicated turtle pond out by the pool.>
Just curious....My 22 year old turtle is devastated if she can't be in the house and getting attention from us. believe it or not.
<That doesn't surprise me '¦ but they are far more creatures of HABIT than of emotion>
she hasn't bitten anyone in over 15 years...
<Sounds like my ex-wife>
and my toddler can annoy her. But she is the perfect pet for a toddler she goes in her shell when she doesn't want to be bothered. More times than the toddler bothering the 22 year old turtle, the turtle bothers the toddler lol...she thinks my kid is fun to chase around the house.
<Except for communicable diseases and the possibility that the 2 year old could pick her up & then drop her.>
the 22 year old turtle loves my 2 year old. The turtle actually follows my 2 year old everywhere. you would think it would be vise versa. anyway..
my porch is small and cannot be dedicated to just the turtles. The turtles are like dogs to us. The 22 year old turtle climbs onto our laps and loves affection and attention.
<Yes, but I'll bet you that you don't handle the turtle and then put your hands in your mouth>
I'm not looking to covert my entire porch to the turtles. I want them in the house often. I was just wondering how I would go about heating the water properly during a cold winter season. thanks.
<Heating the water can be done with a stainless steel (not glass) submersible heater, perhaps a 300 watt model. More likely, if this is a small enough tub, the heating lamp that is on the basking rock (or platform or whatever) will also heat the water. The fundamental problem (beyond mixing babies and reptiles) is that once the turtle is exposed to winter conditions, it's likely to succumb to seasonal cycles - and tend to hibernate. What I mean is that reptiles thrive in summer and hibernate in winter. The SHOULDERS to those seasons (too warm to shut down digestion, but not warm enough to actually digest, etc.) are dangerous and sometimes deadly to them. Same with spring time: warm enough to be active and eat but not yet warm enough to digest and metabolize. As long as they are in the house, it's summer all the time. Once you put them on the porch in winter-cold air, but warmer water, etc. the results are unpredictable and the health aspects unfortunate.>
<Do what you can to keep their water in the mid 60's and their air in the mid 80's>
<And read up on salmonella>

Turtle pond pictures 9/7/11
Darrel, thanks for the great information.
<No charge!>
It was very helpful.
<Luck of the draw, Ken. The Law of Large Numbers says that I'll get a few right once in a while>
I am looking forward to having the turtles as life long pets. Let me know what you think of the pond.
<It's a GREAT Pond, Ken. Just two things: First, I'm not a fan of anything under the water that turtles can get under (like caves & such), they can and do get caught & drown>
<Thing TWO: Never underestimate a turtle's ability to climb. That material looks 'climbable' to me and depending on the turtle's size, I could see one deciding to go on a 'walkabout' one day>
<As a rule, I have smooth/slick non-climbable material for at least twice the height of the turtle's shell length and THEN an inward-hanging lip of 4 inches. It looks like the land area is particularly low. So what all that means is that I'd go back to work on the rock work and add a few more inches in height - then I'd lay a 4 inch inward lip of 1/2 hardware cloth around the perimeter and THEN a final layer of the rockwork to secure & hide the hardware cloth. That's what I would do>
<But kudos for style and aesthetics, Ken!>
Ken from NJ

New Turtle pond 9/2/11
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I recently built a 300 gallon turtle pond in my backyard.
The area around the pond has a sandy area and a mulched area that is about 3 times the size of the pond. The pond is kidney shaped and is enclosed by blue stone walls. There are plants and one small tree in the enclosed area as well. This is my first pond and I have about a years worth of experience caring for the turtles indoors. How often should I change the water in the pond? There is one male and one female red eared slider in the pond. Also, the filter/water fountain that I have, states that it moves about 150-200 gallons of water per hour. Is that enough?
<The filter rate SHOULD be 2 to 3 times time volume per hour '¦ BUT -- with only two turtles you have a very light biological load. As long as you have good water circulation and the water remains clear and odorless, I'd say that you could change 50 gallons once a week and be OK>
The pond gets good sunlight during the day, but I am concerned about the water temperature that fluctuates about ten degrees day to night. During the day the temperature warms to 78-80 degrees by 2 o'clock in the afternoon. During the late evening hours and early morning, the temperature is in the high 60's. Is this ok?
<Perfectly fine. Providing the pond is deep enough, the water at the deeper levels will be much cooler than 80 in the day and much warmer than 60 at night>
<The only concern I have so far is that a 300 gallon pond that gets strong sunlight is likely to have algae blooms '¦ algae on the sides and green water problems. You can treat this a number of ways. With just turtles in the water, you can use small amounts of chlorine bleach ( 1/2 cup per 300 gallons twice weekly), a UV sterilizer or more frequent water changes. Again, turtles are very forgiving here, so you don't have to do anything in a rush - just watch out for algae growth>
The turtles are doing well. They bask, eat and seem happy in their new home.
<They should be- you're doing a great job!>
I live in New Jersey and plan on taking them indoors during the cold months... At what water temperature should I bring the turtle indoors? The temperature probe is in the lowest part of the pond. The pond depth varies from about 14 inches to 28 inches. I do not have a pond heater installed yet. I do have a dedicated electrical GFI outlet installed for the pond. The filter is using one plug outlet, so I can accommodate one other turtle appliance. Do you recommend a pond heater? If so, what can you recommend?
<No Pond heater, Ken. Here's what I recommend :>
<It's not exactly the temperature, it's how fast it drops and how consistent it is. In the fall, when the daytime temperatures are in the high 60's add a Heat Lamp suspended over their primary land basking area. A 250 Watt Radiant Heat Lamp on an inexpensive appliance timer from Home Depot would do just fine. Set it to turn on at 7am, off at noon, then on again at 4 until 7pm>
<When the time has come that most daily temps are in the mid-low 60's, time to bring them indoors.>
<Now this is important: Very few turtles are ever lost to fall/winter cooling. In other words, you're unlikely to hurt them if you leave them out a little bit longer in the fall.>
<Some people over-winter their turtles by placing them in a cardboard box filled with shredded newspaper and place them in a garage or shed and allow the turtles to hibernate. Others bring them indoors into a tank or other enclosure, eliminating winter conditions completely. If you bring the turtles out too early they suffer through some wildly swinging temperatures.>
<One condition is a turtle coming out of torpor after winter in the garage gets a nice warm day and has a big meal, then two cooler days when he doesn't warm up enough to digest and the food sits in his belly and rots.>
<Another is a turtle coming out from indoors (where it's been summer-like all winter long) is subjected to his first cold day and he BEGINS to react to hibernation '¦ then a warm day whips him the other direction, etc.>
<So, when you bring them out in mid to late April, make sure that heat lamp is set up and available so that they can find the heat that Nature may not yet be giving them>
<No charge!>

Red Eared Slider Prefers pool to pond 6/5/2011
<Hi, Julia, Sue here with you.>
We have a Red Eared Slider, Dunk, who is 16 years old. We have had her since she was a tiny little hatchling and she has been with us through several sizes of aquariums, the kiddie pool, a hand-dug pond in the back garden next to the pool and now, she has her own custom made pond at the front of the house with a waterfall, rocks, a filter system, plants and goldfish (I know, we shouldn't have added goldfish but
they started as feeders and grew up )
<What a lucky girl! Isn't it amazing what a slippery slope it all becomes '¦ literally?!>
Our problem is that she keeps climbing out of her pond and going in to the pool.
<Which pond are you talking about, the new custom-made one that you made for her in your front yard, or the hand-dug one in the back?>
She prefers it - probably because she has so much more space and the water is clear and she really seems to enjoy it.
<What are the dimensions of the new custom pond you built for her?>
<It may also be just a matter of time rather than of size; turtles are creatures of habit. She may just need a few weeks to adjust to her new habitat. When turtles don't have a choice of where to go (as yours does right now), they often freak out for the first few weeks in their new home until they get used to it -- even if it IS bigger and better than their old home!>
But she needs to eat and to bask and she can't do either in the pool (and of course, she needs to poop and it's probably better that she doesn't do that in the pool.)
<Is there some reason why you can't just remove the kiddie pool? If it's because you have actual young (human) 'kiddies' using it, then you're definitely going to have to devise a way to keep Dunk out of it!>
There seems to be nothing we can do to stop her from escaping from the pond, we built rock barriers, but she climbs them, we built a fence, but she pushed through it, she seems really determined to spend time in the pool.
<Yes, as you found out, turtles are great climbers! However, equally important as preventing her from escaping is making sure the pond is 'predator-proof'. You also don't want anything getting at her!>
<Is there a way you can send us a picture of your whole set-up, especially that shows the fence you built that she pushed her way through?>
Another problem is that even if she wanted to get out of the pool she can't climb out. We tried creating a kind of bridge out of the pool but she avoided it and it was a temporary fix and kept floating away.
<There are things you can do, but given that you have just built a new custom pond for her, unless there is some reason why you still want/need the kiddie pool, I'd just remove it. Or make it so that she can't get at it -- see below.>
She does seem to enjoy her pond sometimes, has a favorite basking spot and has a routine for swimming over to us to receive her breakfast, but it does not seem to be enough. Sometimes she stays away for a week or more and then ends up back in the pool, or less frequently, will come back to her pond, we don't know where she lives when she's not in the pond or pool, but we worry about her roaming away. Is there anything we can do to encourage her to stay in her pond?
<That is a good sign that she is starting to find some enjoyment in her new pond, but even if she LOVED it, turtles still can and do wander off when they're left to their own devises. You really do want and need to build a sturdier and more secure outdoor enclosure for her so she won't escape or get harmed in any way. I'm sure you'd be heartbroken to lose her after having had her all these years! >
<Is your new custom pond 'in ground' or 'above ground'? If above ground, how high off the ground is it? The height of your pond will determine the height of your 'fencing'. The fencing should be at least 12' higher (ideally even more) than the top of the pond.>
<Generally speaking, there are many ways to go about building a 'fence'. One way is to staple hardware cloth (you want a minimum of ½' square holes in it to allow enough UVB to come in) to a 24-36' high picket fence (leaving no gaps for her to crawl through!) At least 6' of the fence should be buried into the ground, if not more (because sometimes they can also dig their way out!) At the top of the fence, add a lip bent inward about 4-5' at a 90 degree angle to prevent her from climbing out. Also, don't put any shrubs, rocks, etc. around the inside of the fence that she can try to use to try to climb her way up it.>
<If you don't care about seeing through the fence, or having her see out of it, you could also box in the enclosure rather than use picket fencing. You can do this using either wood, pavers, or even cheaper just cement cinder blocks as the 'fencing' though the latter aren't as attractive. If you stack stones though, you need to make sure they're secure and can't topple over.>
<Also, depending on how much area you have to cover, I'd also suggest putting a top over the enclosure to prevent predators from climbing IN! What I've done for mine is place poultry wire (has larger hole size to maximize UVB rays coming in) in a wood frame that comes down securely over the sides of the fence, about a couple of inches.>
<Best of luck with it! If you send us some photos and more details of your current pond(s), we might be able to help you even further.>
Re: Red Eared Slider Prefers pool to pond 6/7/11

Oh I see the fence we had was just wire wickets - I'll send photo of the pond. It is about 9' long and in the center is about 4' or 3 1/2 ' deep and maybe 6' wide at widest point and surrounded by plants we want it to look natural so an enclosure wont work for us she has two hiding rocks where she can hang out and when she hibernates in the winter, she just hunkers down in the deepest center part of the pond It is too deep there for predators to reach
Yes, there are raccoons that have tried and failed to reach her and I suppose that it part of her joy in the pool - big real human pool - no one can get her there. No one except me with the pool net, that is
<Hi Julia '¦ Thanks for sending along a photo of your turtle pond, and it DOES look really nice! However '¦ There are 3 BIG problems with it-
1) She's able to escape from it! If your #1 concern is keeping your pet, unfortunately you really do have no choice but to build some type of a more secure enclosure for her or she WILL stray, eventually maybe even permanently! I understand you want to create as natural a habitat as possible for her, but after keeping her as a pet for 16 years, she really shouldn't be left completely out in the wild.>
2) It leaves her exposed to predators '¦ fortunately she's been lucky so far and averted them!
3) She's getting into your family pool! I really suggest that you do everything you can to keep her out of it -- both for your family's health benefit as well as for hers! Even though it might be providing her with an added feeling of security against predators, a chlorine pool is not a healthy environment for her, and a pool with a turtle in it is not a healthy environment for you and your family! >
<The good news, though, is that I think you really CAN have the best of both worlds -- a natural looking pond AND a pet turtle! I'm from New England, and have seen many a beautiful (and completely natural looking) country stone wall built out of field stone, brown stone, etc. The only added consideration with a turtle is that you'll need to lay down large flat stones over the top so that they create at least a 4' lip inward to prevent her from scaling the wall and climbing out.>
<And if you prefer the 'plant' look over the 'stone wall' look, you can simply surround the stone on the outside with shrubs and other plants to conceal it -- but you still DO need some type of wall or fence with an inward bent lip on top.>
<However, if this is still not 'natural' enough of a look for you, unfortunately you're going to have to make a decision between having a completely natural looking pond and having a pet! Hope this helps. Sue >
Re: Red Eared Slider Prefers pool to pond 6/8/11

flat stones make sense and I can start building it now, to head off her next escape
<You're welcome, Julia. Good luck; let us know how it turns out! Sue>

indoor pond tank... filtration... for turtles, N. Am. native fishes 5/20/11
I work at the Ct Audubon society in Fairfield ct. We have a large tank that is in a wall that is:
Height: 40 inches
Length: 56 inches
Width: 25 inches
The tank holds 242.42 gallons of water. We currently have 3 small turtles in the tank, along with 2 catfish and 2 sunfish. It is a pond tank that we use for teaching purposes. However, it is UGLY. Algae grows everywhere you cannot see the back of the wall of the tank, we don't have a real filter in it, the filter is homemade.
<Mmm, these can work... but of what configuration, size?>
However the water is clear and ph is in great shape. It's just a real eye sore.
So I was wondering:
What filter would be best for this tank?
<Mmm, there are a few "routes to go", but if a very large (or two) canister filter (Eheim is my fave brand) is out of the budget, some form of reverse flow pond filter (read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/upflowfiltpds.htm
How can I make it look nice and professional, like in an aquarium? We have cinderblocks down at the bottom, and its gross looking.
Please help!!!! Thank youuuu!
<And read as much of the linked files above as you deem necessary. Bob Fenner>

SOS! YBS & SCRC MIA IN H2O!!!! -- 8/24/10
Hi WWM Crew!
<Hi there, Hey there, Ho there!! Darrel here>
I have a YBS--10" diameter
<That's a Yellow Bellied Slider for those of you that are acronymically challenged>
-- and a SC
<South Carolina?>
<USC (Trojan football)?>
River Cooter--5" in my outdoor pond. The pond is natural...water lettuce, hyacinth, snails, frogs, etc. Pretty much takes care of itself ecosystem-wise. It is 3000 gallons and 4.5 feet at deepest.
<I wish mine was like that>
I live on a waterway (River) which at high tides is also salty because it mixes with nearby harbor/ocean through a manmade shipping channel. I have not seen my YBS for nearly a week. Could she have decided to leave home and get in "the big river"???
<Absolutely, Ronda. Sliders are notorious for simply one day decide to go for a walk. I've had animals in a pond/enclosure seemingly happy for years '¦ and then one day they simply up & disappear, only to be found months later (in one case TWO YEARS later!!!) buried at the base of a bush or shrub in the yard. Why? No one knows. It happens in HUGE yards, where an argument can be made that it went for a walk and got lost, but it's also happened in yards so small that the turtle could never lose sight of the pond. Sometimes, we dig them up & put them back and it never happens again -- other times they seem happy & adapted, they eat, poop, bask & swim just like normal and then in a week they're gone again.>
<Oddly enough, I find more of them that have wandered down the sidewalk & up the driveway and climbed a 3 inch door sill and climbed into my garage than any other single place>
Where else could she be? (My entire back yard is fenced-in).
<Buried at the base of a bush or rock, dug under the fence and into the river itself .. any of these and all other possibilities>
I am worried about her.
<Well, now that you're thinking to look everywhere she could be, you might just find her. It's possible that she is in the big river, in which case she'll live happily J but you may not ever see her again L . The salt is not al issue for her, so don't worry about that.>
<All of my turtles kept outdoors are surrounded by a hardware cloth fence that is buried FIVE INCHES below ground level, at least FOURTEEN INCHES about ground level -- and this part is very important: and additional horizontal lip 4 inches wide bent inward at a 90 degree angle. Sliders are INCREDIBLE climbers.>
Appreciate your thoughts.....
<Those are my thoughts. Keep looking and don't give up hope!>

Outdoor Pond Questions -- 8/3/10
Hi Darrel,
Sorry to be adding to your recent barrage of queries! Wish I could be helping you out with more of them.
<You do - more than you think!>
I was wondering if you'd mind giving me some advice about some finishing touches for my outdoor turtle pond? In the spring I set up a 60 gallon preformed pond (surface area of pond is about 5' x 3') with two small attached waterfalls and some surrounding land area (about 12' x 6') for my 2 turtles Shelly and Shelby to enjoy this summer. I only keep them out there during the day because of all the wildlife that roams around the larger pond behind them at night. I attached a photo to give you some context for the questions.
<Nice pond - and - NICE POND!!!!>
* Protection overhead?: There is already fencing around the perimeter of it. However, do I need to be worrying about birds coming in from above and trying to get to the turtles when they're out walking around, etc.?
Besides all of the birds flying around, there is also a heron that occasionally walks across the backyard looking for his afternoon snack.
<Yep! The Heron will even dive into the water and try to get them there!>
If you think I should, then what material (i.e. hardware cloth, chicken wire or other) do you suggest I use to cover the area, and what diameter holes should it have that would allow for plenty of UVB to filter in but still offer enough protection for the turtles from any type of *flying predators*?
<The most inexpensive and longest lasting is simply poultry netting (Chicken Wire). Any size you come up with is fine for sunlight & UV -- the UV problem is for screens and cloths of various sizes. Once you get to quarter inch (which is the smallest hardware cloth There is) your concerns of blocking UV are over>
* Plants for the land area: I'd like to put a few plants in here and there around the pond (I know not near the fence) to provide Shelly and Shelby places to hide when they're out walking around. I read the WWM article about landscaping, but it only listed plants that are considered toxic to fish, not to turtles. Are there any specific plants you'd recommend in the land area around the pond that would be compatible with the turtles (i.e., not toxic to them) in case the leaves land up either blowing into the water or the turtles decide to try to take a bite out of
<This is a case where the warnings for fish will work just fine. Avoid the same things>
* Existing evergreens outside the perimeter: Some pine needles and rhododendron leaves are falling/blowing into the pond from nearby bushes.
Do you happen to know if the needles/leaves from these bushes are harmful/toxic to them in the event they try to eat any of them?
<Not at all>
* Land around pond: What top layer of substrate would you suggest I use to protect the plants that would also be safe/appropriate for the turtles?
(i.e. such as just plain topsoil, mulch, pea stone, etc.)
<Yep - I use plain old dirt>
* Weeds: Any safe suggestions other than yanking them? Are you aware of any weed control products that could be used safely with turtles?
<yep.. Salt. Salt water sprayed on the weed will usually kill it and the turtles couldn't care less>
Thanks, Darrel! Also - Would you like me to send you the notes/photos that I took during the different stages of making the pond for the eventual ; ) outdoor pond article you're thinking of putting together? It's kind of a "middle of the road" option (both price-wise and labor-wise) between a professionally installed in-ground pond and a simple kiddy pool that might work out well for some people.
<By all means send the pictures. Maybe you can help me out by letting Me help YOU write the article I've not be getting around to!!>

outdoor turtle pond heater....also red worm problem 2/28/10
Just discovered your site...hope you can help.
<We often wonder that ourselves>
We have 2 turtles (red slider and African side neck) in a fiberglass pond (with a small pond above with waterfall) We have had them for years and they have grown from 1" to dinner plate size. We live in central Florida (Tampa) and they have done well outside for years.
<Normally the turtles you describe will do fine over winter in the mild Central Florida climate>
Now I find with the weather changes that we need a better heater (rather than bringing them into the bathtub, which I have done for the past few weeks) The pond is apprx 100 gal. so what size heater should I buy?
<It's an interesting question, Mike. Unlike an indoor 100 gallon aquarium, where we'd need a 300 watt heater to raise the tank 8 degrees above room temperature, a pond should work WITH nature and not against it -- the
day/night cycles, cooler air all conspire to initiate a slowdown of their metabolism in a very natural way and oddly enough, having 70 degree water and 56 degree days is BAD for them.>
<So what I suggest is a low watt pond de-icer and a thing called a "Thermo-cube." The model I use senses air temperature and turns on the de-icer when the temp gets below 35 and turns off when it gets above 45.
Since water resists temperature change better than air, it just runs the heater during the coldest "snaps" that come from time to time. (Make sure you get the 45/35 degree model and not the 30/20 degree model)>
<The most important things are that they have been well fed and cared for during spring, summer and fall and that you slow the feeding down by November and nothing at all from December to March - then start slowly again in April until May.>
Also, there is a problem with small red worms in the water. I haven't been able to find out what kind of worms they are but it can't be good.
<read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdinvertfaqs.htm >
Any idea what they are and how to get rid of them? After cleaning the pond it only takes a couple of weeks for them to be a problem again. Our cats like to sip from the water's edge so I am concerned for their health as well.
<The pond professionals here usually recommend that you leave them be & accept them, but I can't do that either. The thing you have to do when you clean is sterilize as well. I clean and then I use 1 cup of chlorine bleach per 5 gallons of water, leaving the pump and filter running for 24 hours. (this is while the turtles are taking a vacation in the bathtub, of course). Draining the water into a proper drain, not the lawn, then filling a rinsing for 6 hours TWICE before a final fill and restocking.>
Please help. ....the sooner the better so I can take care of both problems.
<Hope it helps, Darrel>

Red worms in turtle pond/heater info needed 3/2/10
Have read your site and love that I found it....thanks for all the shared knowledge.
<Glad you're enjoying the site.>
We are in central Florida and have turtles in one of those fiberglass ponds with a lg one on the bottom and smaller on top to create a waterfall effect. The turtles were bought when they were quite small nearly 20 years ago. After outgrowing various sizes of aquariums; they were moved outdoors into this pond and have seemed happy. One of them is a red slider and the other an African sidenecked. The winters here in Florida are getting steadily colder and longer and the heater we had in the pond has broken and so I want your suggestion as to what to buy and what temperature the water should be kept. The two ponds together are a little over 100 gallons of water. Both ponds are set into the soil to the lip. I had the old heater in the top pond so the turtles wouldn't bother it. They are both the size of dinner plates and weighty. We hardly ever used the old heater before it broke.....but this year it has been cold for so long and colder than ever before that we brought them into the bathtub. Appreciate your help in this matter......
<Pond heaters don't (normally) heat ponds. Heating a pond during winter would be incredibly expensive! It would certainly be cheaper to keep turtles or fish indoors, if that was the aim. The point of a pond heater is to create a small ice-free area that allows gaseous exchange. In theory, Red-ear Sliders should survive a Floridian winter, but the African Side-neck turtle is an unknown quantity. Given the variety of tropical animals firmly established in southern Florida (from about Palm Beach southwards) it would probably do okay through most winters. However, unusually cold winters cause massive die-offs of these tropical animals, and that's something pet owners probably don't want put their pets in such a risky situation. In short, if you think water temperature is going to dip below 12 C (about 55 F) for any length of time, then these animals would be best brought indoors. 12 C happens to be the lethal temperature for a lot of tropical fish and reptiles across periods of more than a day or so.>
My other concern is that there are red worms in the pond water. After cleaning out the pond thoroughly they are back in a matter of days. I can't find any info as to what these worms are and don't know if they are dangerous to the turtles (but I can't imagine that worms can be anything but) My concern is not only for them (turtles) but our cats who like to drink from the pond. Help!! what are these worms? and how do I get rid of them? They are bright red, about 1/8th " long max. and there are a lot of them! If this sounds familiar to you, I did write on the 24th but didn't see an answer on the website and I had included my email address and didn't hear there either. This is a new for me and I am having some computer problems too, so wasn't sure if my post went thru. Thanks in advance for your help...and I will check this site often now that I know about you. The turtles are family members after all these years so we want what is best for them...and have been blessed that they have remained healthy all these years. thanks again...look forward to hearing from you.
<Red worms are likely one of two things. Chironomid larvae are what aquarists call bloodworms. These are midge larvae, and their name "bloodworms" is accurate because the red colour comes from haemoglobin.
These animals are segmented and tend to curl up in little comma-shapes. The other option is some type of freshwater oligochaete such as Tubifex or Lumbriculus. These are similar to earthworms, but are aquatic. They do tend to be commonest in places with a lot of organic matter, but in themselves aren't harmful. Nor, incidentally, are midge larvae. Cheers, Neale.>

Baby Red Eared Sliders, pond sys. 7/13/09
Hey guys. We just got two baby red eared sliders that are going to be living in the man-made pond in our backyard. The pond has two sections; an upper pond which is 5X3 feet and about 2 feet deep; a lower pond which is about 7X4 feet and about 3 feet deep; and a 1 foot wide, 3 inch deep stream connecting them both. The pond has plenty of plants, rocks, and logs for the turtles to hide under and bask on top
of; but are they too small to put in?
<No predators about? This time of year... they should be fine... They may "leave" if there is no surrounding fencing...>
They are babies, so they are pretty little.. but it seems like with the depth of the pond and with all of the shelter that it provides, they would be able to survive.
What do you think we should do? Thanks.
-Jesse & Amanda
<I'd place them. Bob Fenner>

Pond for turtle... 7/6/08 hi, <Hiya Juanita -- Darrel here> I'm planning to build a pond in my new home (when the house is done so it will be in a couple of months). I've had a little turtle that's about the size of my hand (not counting fingers) and the guy that sold it to me said that it would get as big as a plate. At the moment she's in a very very little aquarium and she doesn't fit in it anymore (she does fit in it but can't move a lot). So I've been looking around to see how this pond thing works because I really don't know much about ponds. I've got lots of questions. 1.) How big does the pond have to be? <It doesn't have to be all that big -- the trade-off is that that larger the body of water, the less it resists change (heating in summer, cooling in winter) and the larger the pond, the less likely one turtle will foul the water -- but then the filter needs to be bigger and when it does need service the job is that much larger. I've seen a single slider housed happily in a 67 gallon preformed plaster pond.> 2.) Should I buy a pond or build one? <Too many variables for here -- building a pond gives you many more options but costs more and takes longer. Buying a preformed pond lets you dig a hole and have a pond all in the same day> 3.) Do I put a fence around the pond so the turtle doesn't escape? (the back yard is going to be fenced) <YES! Turtles are remarkably good climbers. The fence should be twice as tall as his shell is long, PLUS another 5 inches bent INWARDS (like a flat lip) on the top.> 4.)Should I put fish in with the turtle? <Not for the turtle's benefit, no. Many of us have put in 'feeder goldfish' at some point, only to have them grow to be almost the size of small Koi and become pets themselves. The truth is that turtles are more opportunistic and scavenger eaters and rarely catch a healthy fish> 5.)Do I need a water fall? If yes how do I set one up? <Not unless you like the look and the sound, but they are pretty and they do help aerate the water. Give it some thought -- doesn't have to be complicated, either -- if you BUILD a pond, you can find many books at the local building supply store giving you all of the in's & out's and if you decide to BUY a pond, most of those same stores sell the kind where you can buy a small pond and have it drain into a bigger one -- presto! instant waterfall> 6.)Do I need to put sand or rocks around the pond so the turtle can go out of the water or can I put things in the water that stick out? <Yes, this is important. Turtles are more comfortable climbing out of the water on a rock or a log than they are climbing to shore. If you BUILD a pond, put in a couple of shallow-sided bays for him to crawl out. Preformed ponds are designed for water gardens and Koi and usually have steep sides, but they make them with a shallow shelf-tray on one side to hold plants -- you can place stones and large rocks there in "ramps" so that he can climb out & bask on the rock or easily make it to shore> 7.)How do you put a filter in? 8.)How do I choose a filter? <Again, more many variables than we can discuss here. External filters are a better bet for long term use because they require less care, but in pond filters are less expensive and easier to clean -- the major building supply chains that sell the preformed ponds sell a range of low end pumps and filters that should be just fine for a turtle or two in a pond> 9.)What kind of plants do I need? <none, really. Turtles just tear them up> 10.)Can I keep the turtle out year round? (I live in Florida so the cold weather is not a big deal) <You can from a temperature standpoint. In fact, winter isn't usually the problem -- it's summer. Remember when I said the larger the pond, the more resistant it is? Well beside the fact that a larger pond stays clearer longer, a larger pond stays cooler longer in summer and warmer in winter. For example, a 20 gallon pond in the Florida sun would get so hot so quickly that the turtle would suffer from over heating if not in fact dying from it. Same turtle in a 1,000 pond wouldn't even sense a temperature change. Assuming you will go bigger than 10 and not 1,000 an important criteria is placing your pond where it will get a good deal of shade in the hottest months.> 11.)Is the turtle going to get lonely? Should I buy another one? <You can, they seem to get along just fine, but there is no "need" to do that. 12.) How deep does the pond have to be? <Again, deep water stays cooler in summer and warmer in winter --- at least 18 inches at it's deepest point> 13.)What kind of plants can I put in or around the pond? <on the OUTSIDE of the fence, around the perimeter, would be a great place to plant some shrubs that would shade the afternoon sun (to the west side of the pond) but nothing INSIDE the fence or he'll use it to climb out.> 14.)Should I change the turtles feeding habits? Right now she's feeding on "REPTILE PREMIUM STICKS" and once in a while romaine lettuce or can she feed on plants in the pond. <Repto-Min is great stuff. Koi Pellets from your local fish/pond store is the SAME THING only a lot cheaper. Either one is fine & no, don't change. I raise hatchlings to breeders on that same food.> 15.)Are there any predators for her, like raccoons, snakes, or squirrels? If yes what can I do to keep them out? <Ah yes, a major down side to all outdoor life. They are all out there and they will all try for her if they can. The only SURE way is to make a fence with a tight fitting top and again this is a trade off -- easy to do for a small pond, not possible for a large one. Beyond that .. wide, deep water allows the turtle to rest on the bottom at night, more or less out of sight and reach of the common predators.> 16.)In what season or climate should I build the pond? <In Florida? Any time it's not too hot for you to be out there!> <Good luck to you> <Darrel>

Bad trees for pond/turtles -- 06/26/08 Hi, my name is Russell. I have asked several questions on this site and I have always gotten a very good response. But i have another question about my water turtles. I am wanting to put a tree across the turtles pond for them to bask on and hide in. My question is is there any types of trees that could possibly poison or harm my turtles? By the way I have three red eared sliders and one southern painted turtle. Also the tree that I was wanting to put in the pond is a walnut tree from my backyard. Thanks for your response in advance. <Yep... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/landpltspd.htm Same list as per fishes. Bob Fenner>

RES Hibernating - 05/17/2006 My sister has had a RES for years. She keeps hers in a tank. I just got one and put it in my pond. She keeps worrying about it going into hibernation. She says it will die if it does. Is this true? The coldest that it would get in the pond in the winter is the low 50s. < Hibernation is a normal process for many "Cold Blooded" animals to survive the winter. If you turtle is put out now it will slowly acclimate to being outside. As the fall comes and the air begins to chill your turtle will start to rely more on body fat than on actually eating. If your turtle has not accumulated enough body fat, then it will not make it through the winter. This year was a very difficult year for turtles being kept outside. Sporadic heat waves brought turtles out of hibernation. When the cold settled back in , many turtles could not find enough food to eat and got sick with respiratory infections and weak from hunger. Many turtle keepers resorted to bringing their turtles indoors until the outside air temps remained consistently warm.-Chuck>

Duck Pond - 11/26/05 Hello, One other thing - do white ducks with red faces eat fish? <<Muskovies, eh...yes, if they can catch them, along with crustaceans/insects, frogs, some plant material...>> Or does the duck poop kill them faster? <<If this is a large, natural pond, likely the fishes will be fine...else you will need adequate filtration to deal with the duck waste.>> Lyn and Gwen <<Regards, EricR>>

Turtles and Fish <Hi, MikeD here> Please help...I was given (by a pet store) a RES about 12" long<It took me a considerable amount of time to deduce what a RES was, aka Red-Eared Slider. That borders on cruelty to ME, you know! **grin**>. About a week later ALL of my Koi (15 large) died. I did not realize I needed to treat the water with antibiotic before I introduced the turtle<You don't. Who told you that?>. Anyway, I also think the turtle has a bit of ROT<OK, I'll bite, is this just rot, as in an infection or is it another acronym?>. About 2" long diamond shape, whit sot<White spot?> on the shell. Also, shell peeling around the area <I'd use either Iodine or Mercurochrome on the spot initially, drying it with a paper towel after it soaks in, then return the turtle to the pond. Also, make sure the turtle has plenty of room to get completely out of the water. If this basking spot is not in sunlight, then you'll need to get a full spectrum light bulb to train on this spot. Sunlight is Mother Nature's first line of defense>. My question...is this ROT toxic to fish?<NO> I am wanting to re-introduce Koi as I have treated the pond with medication for 10 days.<Introducing the turtle should have had no ill effect on the fish, and I've never heard of adding antibiotics for this purpose. I'd seriously have to re-think taking advice from them if this is what they are telling you.> Thank you!<You're very welcome>

Red- ear slider My Uncle works for the water dept and last year brought a turtle to me and asked to put it in my 500 gal pond. It appears to be a male, long tail short claws. He just found another one in the street and brought it over, I think it is a younger female, long claws, shorter tail, will they get along? I have several koi and about 6 smaller goldfish, my original turtle never bothered them and I'm hoping they will all get along. Any problems with this situation? <Shouldn't be - though you may want to feed them from time to time with prepared foods, or they may snack on your goldfish if they can catch them (which isn't too likely). M. Maddox>
Red- ear slider - part deux
Thanks for the quick response, but I went this morning and checked on everyone and my larger turtle has the little one cornered and is biting at its head, feet, tail whatever he can get a hold of...I got worried for the little ones safety and took her out. Is this a mating thing or is he that aggressive?? <Hmm, no luck with them together I guess...if he doesn't like her, I would wait until spring to re-introduce her and see how it goes. Good luck! M. Maddox>

Hiding Turtles I have a big pond and water fall. It is 15 feet by 16 feet 4.5 feet deep. A friend gave me two slider turtles for the pond one is a baby. Then I bought one. For the first day or so I could see them swimming on the top of the water. But when I open my sliding glass door to get a better view they went to the bottom. I have not seen any of them for a few days. How long can they hold their breath? < Up to a couple of hours depending on the water temp and their activity level. During the summer months it is up to about 20 minutes.> I have a bunch of feeder fish in there too. I have a UV sterilizer that I just add and it is clearing up the water. I still can't see them. I have rocks and gravel at the bottom of the pond. Do they dig in to hide? < They do some digging but not to the extent you are suggesting.> Do the walk away for the pond? < It is totally possible for your turtles top walk away.> It's in my back yard and there is really no where for them to go. My pond has not a lot of shade I am waiting for the trees to grow. How do I get them to come out if they are still there? < When turtles get hungry they leave the pond to find food. I would put one of the turtles in a small kiddy wadding pool with some water, a brick to create a basking spot and some cover over the pool for shade. Leave the turtle in there for a few days. Walk up once a day and throw a turtle food stick in right in front of his face. After awhile your turtle will not be afraid and will learn that you are the source of food and actually come out to see you and be fed. Once one turtle does it then the others catch on pretty quick and they will all be out wanting food.-Chuck>

Winter and Red Eared Slider I really need to know if I can leave my red eared sliders out side in the winter or not. I have a little pond outside that they can live in. I have a heater for the pond so it won't freeze. I keep gold fish in it and they stay alive. I have it all fenced in so they can't get hurt by any animals. They also have land to go onto so they can be on land if they need to. please help <It really depends on where you live. If it gets cold enough they should bury themselves at the bottom of your pond and go into hibernation. I personally would move them inside, I have never hibernated a turtle or tortoise and if I were going to try it I would like to be in control of the conditions. Check out the links below to help with your decision. Best Regards, Gage http://www.anapsid.org/hibernation.html http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/Refrigerator.htm >

Turtle Hibernation Regarding hibernation, we live in the Houston, TX area, where the temperature rarely drops in the 20's. the kiddie pool is only 9 inches high, so am I right in saying its not suitable for hibernation of my turtle? my family does not plan on bringing inside for the winter, so can I just hibernate it in a 14 inch high bucket that we have that's wide enough for her to fit in with an inch or so at least the whole way around extra? after all, she doesn't need any room for movement, just a deep hibernating spot, right? I just want to know if the bucket is deep enough for her to hibernate safely at 14 inches or if its too shallow. thank you <I have no experience hibernating turtles, I do not know if the bucket technique is a good idea, sounds like it will be hard to regulate the temperature. There is a good article at the link below on hibernating turtles in the refrigerator. I would get a good book that thoroughly covers hibernation before trying it. Best Regards, Gage. http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/Refrigerator.htm >

Duck Pond Hello I didn't find anything related to this question. I have a duck / goose pond approximately 2000 gallons, I have two filters hooked up one a regular sand filter for an in ground swimming pool ( I filled it with pea gravel ) and connected to this is a modern media filter ( in ground pool also ). I can't and really want to figure out a way to keep it relatively clean. I have not used or know of any chemicals available for use and or and other grander filter system. I do have a small zoo and good looking enclosures is a must for me. There are no fish in the pond and it house about 20 different ducks. I have the filters set up as a waterfall at the export side of the filters. THANKS BOB PILZ <There are actual "formulae" for figuring how many water fowl one can/should have per acres and acre-feet of ponds, lakes... a two k gallon system is just going to be a real mess, no matter how much filtration you can affix to it. I encourage you (if at all possible) to instead devise a system of flushing the basin with new water, either continuously or in a pulsed fashion... draining it from a/the bottom... about all the volume... daily. Bob Fenner, who knows what a stinky mess these birds make>

A duck and goose = dirty pond I initially got a 175 gallon flexible liner pond for water plants (lily's) and maybe small guppies. However in the meantime acquired a duck and a goose, both about two months old. Well guess who is in the pond everyday? <Bad visual> I have to replace the water every day or two. I want to keep duckweed in another receptacle to feed them because they'll eat it up before it can clear the pond. What other filtration system can I use on a pond this small-or do I have to build them a lake!? <More likely the latter. The 175 gallon volume is way too little to even try to filter, keep one waterfowl/foul... I would keep changing the water. Bob Fenner> Rita De Ferrary St. Thomas, VI

Red Eared Slider Feeding Hi there. Found your website and learning a lot! I have all the proper husbandry for my two RES, eight months old. My question is, I have been feeding them Anacharis and it is not digesting properly in their system. They have been pooping a lot of the leafy parts and stems out. Should I worry, or is it just too early of an age to feed them plants? Thanks a bunch, Kristen, TN <HI Kristen, I would not worry too much about this. Plant some of the Anacharis (or let it float, it will probably not stay planted long) they can munch on it if they feel the need, but they should be eating a variety of other foods with a floating turtle pellet or stick as a staple. crickets, mealworms, salad greens, earthworms, wax worms, Tubifex worms, snails, and a quality prepared turtle pellet are all good, I have never fed my turtles Anacharis, so I am not sure what it looks like on the way out. Best Regards, Gage>

Digestive Problems with RES Thank you for the response. I did some studying and found out that hatchlings to four years have a harder time digesting plant matter. I reduced their intake and they do get a good variety diet. Their poop has returned to normal. I wanted to post a follow up for anyone else that needs advice on this matter. Thank you so much! Kristen <Excellent Kristen, thank you for the info. All the best to you and your turtles. Gage>

Winter and Red Eared Slider I really need to know if I can leave my red eared sliders out side in the winter or not. I have a little pond outside that they can live in. I have a heater for the pond so it won't freeze. I keep gold fish in it and they stay alive. I have it all fenced in so they can't get hurt by any animals. They also have land to go onto so they can be on land if they need to. please help <It really depends on where you live. If it gets cold enough they should bury themselves at the bottom of your pond and go into hibernation. I personally would move them inside, I have never hibernated a turtle or tortoise and if I were going to try it I would like to be in control of the conditions. Check out the links below to help with your decision. Best Regards, Gage http://www.anapsid.org/hibernation.html http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/Refrigerator.htm >

Turtle Food Hi, I've got a couple of lovely Red Eared Slider Turtles and have come to enjoy the sport of giving them fish to chase around (and hunt and kill :o)). I have been sticking to Neon Tetras to date as they are quite quick and tend to survive a reasonable length of time. I have stumbled upon a large number of tuxedo sword tails and was just wanting to make sure that they're not going to harm my turtles in any way. I had this feeling that most fish are ok for a midnight snack, but I just wanted to double check. Thanks, Matt <Hey Matt, sounds a little expensive for turtle food. The link below is to a good article on the Red Eared Slider's Diet http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/aquaticdiet.htm Every once in a while feeder fish are ok, but I would not make it a regular part of their diet, the swords should not harm your turtle in any way. If you have a local bait shop near you, pick up some night crawlers, they love worms. -Gage>

Help...Red Segmented Wormy Looking Things! Hello, <Hi, Patricia! Sabrina here> I have a Koi pond, I was just starting to clean out my filter, but..."ICK!!!, all of the material is covered by red segmented "larvae/worms?" I saw a large one about a month ago when re-potting a plant from the pond. They are not worms, as I know them, They look more like red meal worms. They have a large mouth and six legs at the front, and a long tail with a pincer looking thing at the end. The mouth was moving and gaping. It was a horrendous looking creature. <Definitely some sort of insect larvae, *possibly* harmful to any tiny baby fish (if they happen to be dragonfly larvae or some such, they may prey upon fry), but not a concern with adult fish. Depending on what they are, exactly, they may actually be beneficial, or may be used by your fish as food. Since you're seeing them inside your filter on your filter media, I'd be far more inclined to think that they're actually not predatory at all, but eating little goodies that they find in your media. Might be a good thing to have around.> They are about 3/4", but I think they will get as big as the one I saw when re-potting, which was well over an inch. <Likely the same kind of critter, but could be different.> Help...How can I get rid of them? Will they harm my fish? Do you have the medication that will remove them? <As I said, I seriously doubt that they're a threat to your fish. If you must remove them, or they do become a serious threat, it might be done with a copper-based medication - but that will also completely wipe out any snails or other invertebrates in your pond, and will definitely wreck your biological filtration, requiring serious water changes during treatment. For now, if you feel you must remove them, perhaps just manually scrape them off your filter media, and try to keep their population in check. Personally, I don't think it's necessary, but then again, I'm not seeing them firsthand, either.> Thank you for any help you can give me, I have never seen anything like them in my life! I have searched other websites with no success. <Oh my.... You'd be surprised by some of the stuff I've found in my ponds.... My very first pond had me running around with a cup and a microscope for about a month - such incredible biodiversity, and some incredibly bizarre creatures!!> Again, Thank you, Patricia <Wishing you and your pond well, -Sabrina>

Turtle Tank Goodies Hi umm, <Gage here, but you can call me umm if you want to.> This is my first time ever owning a turtle. I got it from a friend, I'm not sure on the sex, or even what kind it is exactly. <I'd be willing to bet it is a red eared slider, but cannot say without a picture. Tons of info on turtles online - http://www.tortoisetrust.org is a good one> I've had this turtle for about 9 months, almost 10 now. I was cleaning out the filter and the tank today, and there were all these very tiny little seashells all over the place, and I have no idea where they're coming from. Do you have any idea where they could be forming from? They're sort of coned shape, and looks like there's something in them, but they're so small it's hard to tell. Well I hope you can help me...thanks -megs <Most likely they are snails. Snail eggs have sneaky way of getting into your tank, nothing to worry about. -Gage>

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

Red eared slider turtle I don't know if you can help me with this or not but I have a little red eared slider. (His shell is maybe the size of a .50 cent piece. <This is a small specimen!> We have only had him a week and today I watched him eat a little rock from the bottom of his aquarium. Latter on I saw him do it again and then he looked like he was hunting out small rocks. Is there something wrong with him? And will these rocks pass? <I do hope that they will... or that it just appeared that your little turtle was eating the rocks. You have instruction on what to feed this turtle? It does have a place to climb completely out of the water? Have you read about its general care? Bob Fenner>

Re: Red eared slider turtle We got him on our vacation to Myrtle Beach. My daughter who is three named them Puppie and Kittie and we have already got quite attached to them. Sadly the people selling the little guys knew nothing about them (although they thought that they did) and gave terrible instructions. He came with a pathetically small cage and food which they told us to only give him one little pellet a day. I live in Florida and found out that these guys aren't even legal to sell here until they are much bigger <Yes, a four inch minimum carapace length... over concern about salmonella bacteria... and children choking on them...> so information is very limited on how to take care of them. So we came home got him an aquarium, half for swimming and half out of the water with a ramp between with a full spectrum light over the dry side. The pet store gave me different food and said to give him as much as he wanted in 5 minutes and feed him in a separate container. <Much better> My mother (definitely not and expert on the subject) was wondering if he may have a mineral deficiency, if that would cause this. <Possibly... or maybe a vitamin D lack...> She was told by someone that they are suppose to have cuttlebone from a bird store for calcium, have you ever heard of this? <Hmm, this is a "new one"... mainly derive minerals from foods, ergosterol (D) from light exposure...> He is definitely eating them, I just saw him do it again, he seems to be digging for the right one to eat also. He is also doing something else odd. He has a friend in there (who doesn't eat rocks) and when he gets up close to the other turtle he scratches the others face a couple times then brings both front feet in front of him face and kind of flutters back and forth until the other one either snaps at him or swims away. I don't know the sex of either but they seem like they should be too young if this is some kind of weird mating thing. <Just "behavior" period> Is the all they can eat in 5 minutes thing true? Also do they need anything besides turtle food? <Hmm, likely yes... try offering some dinner salad and vegetable pieces (uncooked)... and do look about for a complete work on Sliders, aquatic turtles. There are excellent brochures by Turtle and Tortoise Societies: http://www.sdturtle.org/Mission.htm is our local one, and their care sheets> (anything except little gold fish, I have these in my pond and could never feed them to something as food) Any info that you have would be nice, I want them to be happy. Thanks <Then study and follow up my friend. Bob Fenner>

Aquatic Gardens

Ponds, Streams, Waterfalls & Fountains:
Volume 1. Design & Construction
Volume 2. Maintenance, Stocking, Examples

V. 1 Print and eBook on Amazon
V. 2 Print and eBook on Amazon 

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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