Turtles are reptiles, they live both in water and on land. Setting up a fish and turtle aquarium will have a lot of things in common and also will differ in some requirements.
Turtles in their natural habitat leave the water to spend hours on land, basking in the sun when they need heat and return to the water when they are comfortable.
Nothing changes for turtles living in aquariums. They still need to leave the water for some hours during the day and also require a source of heat.
If you’ve had experience setting up a fish tank and would also like taking in a turtle as a pet or maybe you fancy getting a turtle pet then this article is for you.
As we explore what setting up an aquarium for turtles is like, how it differs from fish tanks and what you should expect from your pet turtle.
Note we will focus on turtle aquariums against turtle ponds used by some families.
Remember, turtle aquarium should be totally prepared before bringing your turtle home.
1) Dry Space: In aquariums meant for turtles, there must be a dry area otherwise called “basking area”. This is where your pet moves to when he leaves the water. The dry area is mostly made with stones. The stones should be smooth and without rough edges so that they don’t injure your turtle.
The stones could be placed at one side of the aquarium or at any point in the tank. However, it should be big enough that the turtle is totally out of water when he steps on it.
Fish tanks do not need dry areas since fishes never leave water all their lives. Though they could be stones placed on the bottom of the tanks to make it feel as natural as possible.
They could also be decorations for both fish and turtle tanks, this is just o beautify the environment.
2) Temperature Change: Turtle is a reptile and reptiles are cold-blooded animals, they rely on the environment to supply heat to maintain their body temperature.
The temperature in the tank should range between 75-86 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is where you need a submersible heater. Also, be careful that the turtle does not have direct contact with the heater. One way you can do this is by putting it behind a stone or rock, this could be the stone used as the basking area.
You need a thermometer to control the temperature. If the tank is too cold, the turtle will remain immobile and may not eat; this will have an adverse effect on the turtle’s health.
3) Water Level: For the fish aquarium, the water can be filled way over the half the aquarium’s height but in turtle aquarium, the water is only half-filled the aquarium’s height.
This allows the turtle to leave the water when they want to. Remember that turtles live both in water and on land. In their natural habitat, they spend hours on land and later return to the water.
The amount of water in the tank will depend on the size of the tank. It will also decide the size of stones for the dry area and also the size of the “turtle dock”. Remember the stones must be big enough to give the turtle a basking area.
4) Type of Water: I should start by emphasizing on getting a tank designed to hold water as some tanks are designed to house terrestrial pets.
Turtles require fresh water depending on your source of water you may need to get rid of chloramine and chlorine in the water. Especially tap water supplied by the city water system.
A drop of conditioner drops to every gallon of water can dechlorinate it.
Another important part of the turtle’s aquarium is the filtration system. Since turtles can really get the water dirty quickly when they defecate, it is important to put a filtration system in place. The size of your tank is going to help you decide on which type of filtration system to buy.
The health of your turtle will largely depend on how clean the environment is, on how the water is. If the water gets really messy without being changed, it could really make the turtle sick and may result in death.
5) Choice of tank: An infant turtle can grow to 3 times his infant size. This calls for making sure that the tank is big enough to contain your pet in the future.
The tank too must be spacious enough for your to pet to be able to swim. Some species of turtle spend more than 70% of their time in the water. So, not making enough space for your pet turtle to swim is going to make him an unhappy turtle.
The minimum aquarium size for turtles is 35-gallon, this is for the smallest species of turtles. Depending on which species your turtle is, you may need to 130-gallon size aquarium.
Some species of turtles can grow really big that you will require a large tank that does not just fit into a normal house pet arrangement. You may not want to house species like these ones. Example of such species is the snapping turtle.
It could be a bit challenging when setting up a turtle’s aquarium but maintaining your turtle’s tank will require far less time and energy. You may only need 30 minutes to 1 hour weekly to take care of your pet.
About setting up the environment, the most costly item you will buy is the tank and every other thing is not going to cost that much.