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Turtles are messy eaters and produce a good deal of waste, so a filter is an absolute necessity to keep the water clean. Without a filter, you'd have to do water changes almost daily, and proper filtration ensures that your turtle's habitat will stay as clean, safe, and sanitary as possible between water changes.
There are a number of filters that you can choose from. We happen to be among those professionals that believe there is no such thing as too much filtration. As long as the filter is not so powerful as to create strong currents or dangerous intake suctions, we recommend that you use a larger filter, such as a canister filter, that will not be easily clogged by your turtle's solid waste. While canister filters are more expensive, they are a worthwhile investment that will decrease the amount of work you have to do, keep your turtle's habitat cleaner, and keep your turtle healthier. Whether or not you opt to use a canister filter, remember that the bigger the filter, the more effective it will be, and the less you will have to clean. If you decide to use an internal filter instead, consider using two, rather than just one, for cleaner, healthier water. No matter what filter you choose, always remember to change the filter media regularly to optimize your filter's performance.
As a general rule, if the water is safe for you to drink, it is safe for your turtle. However, most city water contains some chemicals such as chlorine that is OK for us but can be irritating to your turtle’s eyes. We recommend adding a water conditioner available at most pet stores that removes the harmful chemicals.
The depth of the water and the ratio of water area to dry land area within the tank are important. Your tank should be divided into a swimming area and a dry land area for basking. We suggest you read up on your specific species requirements. Strong swimmers like Maps, Terrapins, Painteds, Cooters and Sliders love deep water they can zoom around in and explore. Weak swimmers like Muds, Musks, Softshells, Snappers etc. prefer shallow water with a lot of decoration they can use to pull themselves to the surface on. Also, you should know if your turtle is classified as aquatic, semi-aquatic or terrestial. Typically, aquatic tanks should be no more than 25% land. In our tanks, we do no land and just a floating dock or log for a basking area. Semi-aquatics require about 50/50 land and water and terrestials like Tortoises, Wood Turtles etc. need just enough water for drinking and soaking. The soaking area should be easy for the animal to get in and out of.
Turtle habitats can be of two types - indoor habitat or outdoor habitat. Indoor turtle habitats are quite similar to fish aquariums whereas the outdoor turtle habitats are similar to garden ponds. Both turtle habitats required certain things in order to make it a perfect place to live in for a turtle.
There are many different types of aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles that you can keep, such as Sliders, Painted Turtles, Mud Turtles, Musk Turtles, Cooters, Tortoises etc. In fact, there are over 300 known species and sub-species. While each species will have its own specific housing requirements that are necessary to promote proper health, there are basic guidelines that all aquatic and semi-aquatic turtle habitats adhere to, and the following tips will help you provide your aquatic turtle with a safe and comfortable habitat.
The most common indoor habitat for a turtle is an aquarium. There are several key requirements for the enclosure:
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The tank can be made of glass or acrylic. The size is dependent on the type and size of turtle you plan on keeping. It is important to remember that the turtle you bring home is not going to stay the same size no matter what the guy in the pet store told you! So, while a 20 gallon tank would be OK to keep a few baby turtles, it is not going to be healthy for an adult Cooter or Slider. These animals get quite large and will eventually be better off in an outdoor pond. The internet is full of hobbyists saying a rule of thumb is 10 gallons for each 1 inch of turtle. That would mean 100 gal for two 5 inch turtles. Experience has shown us that while that ratio would be ideal, a 55 gal tank would be sufficient. So, if you are limited in space but wish to keep multiple turtles, we would suggest you stay with the smaller species such as Muds, Musks, Southern Painteds, Reeves, Spotteds or Terrapins.