keeping turtles in indoor ponds
Aquatic & Semi-Aquatic Turtle Habitats, How to Create
courtesy to : www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?articleid=2230
Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
There are many different types of aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles that you can keep, such as red-eared sliders, painted turtles, mud turtles, musk turtles, and Florida cooters. Each species will have its own specific housing requirements that are necessary to promote proper health. However, 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.
E. Real or Artificial Plants
Aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles should be housed in long, low aquariums that allow them plenty of room to swim, bask, and move around. The size of the aquarium will be dependent on the size of the turtle, and you should always purchase with consideration to how big the turtle will be when it is full grown. Turtles must have a carapace length of 4" to be sold in pet stores, but some can grow as big as 12" in diameter. One to two small turtles can fit in a 20 gallon aquarium, but a turtle that has a carapace length of 8" will need at least a 20 gallon aquarium to itself, and most adults will need an aquarium that is larger than 20 gallons. If you own multiple turtles, each additional turtle will require, at the least, an additional 10 gallons worth of space. Use a wide-spaced mesh lid to provide proper ventilation and allow UVB light through.
The aquarium should be divided into a land area and a water area. The ratio of water to land will depend on the species. The majority of semi-aquatic turtles will need no more than 50% of the aquarium dedicated to a water area. Most aquatic turtles will need the majority of the aquarium devoted to a water area, with no more than 25% of the aquarium dedicated to a land area. The water should be deeper than the turtle's shell is wide, so that the turtle can be completely submerged and swim freely. You will need to use a filter to keep the water clean.
The land area will be used for basking, and it can be made from aquarium gravel, soil, or sand. Again, which substrate is best will depend on the specific needs of the species that you are keeping. Land areas can also be created using a large dock or rampor some smooth rocks, slate, or driftwood that stick out of the water. The basking area should slope gently down into the water to ensure that the turtles are easily able to climb out of the water and onto land.
The size of the basking area will depend on the size of the turtle, the species, and how many turtles are in the terrarium. Larger turtles will need a larger basking area, and aquariums housing multiple turtles must have a basking area large enough to accommodate all the turtles at once. Additionally, some semi-aquatic turtles, like red-eared sliders, are more terrestrial than others, and they will need a larger land area to move around on.
Substrate such as gravel or sand can be used in the water area, but it is not recommended as it will make it more difficult to clean the enclosure and maintain cleanliness. If you wish to use a substrate, select a substrate that won't be easily ingested by your turtle, to help prevent possible impaction.
Semi-aquatic and aquatic turtles generally do not need many landscaping items in their aquarium, but such items can be used to make them feel safe when they are on land and to make the environment more natural. You can use logs and terrestrial plants to provide them with a sense of security. Aquatic plants can also be used in the water areas to provide hiding places and improve or sustain the quality of the water. Worn driftwood or smooth flat rocks can be placed in the basking area. You can also place a wooden enclosure in the basking area if it is large enough to provide your turtle with a hide spot.
It is important to note that many turtles will eat plants, so we recommend that you use a combination of real and artificial plants to cut down on excess waste. Using only real plants works best if you have a very large habitat for your turtles. Using only artificial plants or a combination of real and artificial is better for smaller habitats. If you see that your turtles are frequently nibbling on the artificial plants, remove them from the habitat and replace them with real plants. When using real plants, choose carefully - by researching the plant or consulting a veterinarian - as some plants can be toxic to turtles.
There are two temperatures that are important in a semi-aquatic or aquatic turtle's habitat: the temperature of the water and the temperature of the basking area. The water temperature should be approximately 78°F, though it can vary slightly by species. You can maintain this temperature by using submersible aquarium heaters.
The temperature of the basking area should be approximately 80° to 85°F. This can be achieved with the use of overhead basking lamps with heat bulbs.
Use a thermometer to monitor temperatures to avoid over- or under-heating your turtle's habitat. Improper temperatures can result in a lack of appetite, illness, and even premature death.
Semi-aquatic and aquatic turtles need full spectrum light, so you must use both UVA and UVB bulbs in the tank. UVA light encourages proper activity levels, appetite, and breeding. UVB light contributes to Vitamin D3 production and simulates their natural environment, decreasing stress. UVB heat lamps should provide the main lighting, and basking heat lamps should be used in the basking area.
We recommend the use of a timer to achieve natural light cycles. Most semi-aquatic and aquatic turtles need a natural light cycle of 12 to 14 hours of light followed by 10 to 12 hours of darkness. The length of the light period should be longer in the summer and shorter in the winter.
Humidity needs vary widely by species. The more terrestrial turtles will need a lower humidity, while those who spend more time in the water will need a higher humidity. Speak with your veterinarian about what the proper humidity levels are for your turtle, and monitor levels with a hygrometer.
The substrate you use in the basking area will contribute to the humidity levels, so turtles that require less humidity should have drier substrate such as sand and dry mulch in their habitats, while turtles that need more humidity can use moister substrates such as damp mulch, soil, sphagnum moss, or peat moss.
Cleaning & Filtration
Turtles 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 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.
How often you will have to clean the water in your aquatic turtle's tank will depend on a number of considerations. These include how big the tank is, how effective your filtration system is, and the number and size of the turtles in the tank. Another factor that you may not have considered is how you feed your turtle. Be careful not to overfeed your turtle, as this will create excess waste, and always remove uneaten food to prevent it from fouling the water.
We recommend performing large water changes at least every two weeks, replacing with water of the same temperature. The exact water change schedule should be based on the above factors. If you are unsure of when you should clean the aquarium, consult your veterinarian.
Always wash your hands thoroughly after washing the tank or handling any of the accessories to prevent possible transmission of salmonella.
Housing Multiple Turtles
You can house more than one turtle if you choose to. However, always remember that the 4" turtles you are bringing home can grow to have a carapace length of 8", 10", or even 12", and the size of the enclosure will need to be large enough to accommodate their adult size. One large semi-aquatic or aquatic turtle can require a 30 or 40 gallon aquarium, and multiple turtles will need an aquarium larger than that. Increased size will also entail higher setup and maintenance costs. Carefully consider whether or not you have the room or the finances for a multiple turtle aquarium before purchasing additional turtles.
DIY Project : How to Build an Indoor Aquatic Turtle Pond
courtesy to : www.wikihow.com/Build-an-Indoor-Aquatic-Turtle-Pond
Turtles are becoming increasingly popular, but housing them can be difficult. Fish tanks do not provide them with the dry space they need and outdoor ponds expose them to threats from potential predators. If you have the space and the skills, building an indoor pond could be a great option for your turtle. Keep in mind the rule of thumb for the size is 10 gallons (37.9 L) per inch of shell. An indoor pond can be a decorative addition to your home and consists of a pre-formed pond that you can purchase in a variety of shapes and sizes, a basking area, and a frame.
PART ONE : Preparing for Construction
1- Find an appropriate location in your home. You will need to find a large space in the house to fit the tank. Measure it out to determine how much space you have available.
Try to find a place that will suffer less damage if there is any sort of leak, that is easy to clean, and where the turtle can reside for a long time. If possible, you should also pick a site that will allow your turtle to get some natural light.
2- Determine the size of the pond. Keep in mind the amount of space for the location chosen in the house and that there will be a frame built for the pond to sit in, which will also serve as a basking/land area.
3- Find a surface mount pond. Surface mount ponds cost $30-$90 and are available for purchase online. You will want to purchase one slightly smaller than the space you have allotted for the pond, because you will also want to build a frame and basking area so that your turtle can leave the water occasionally..
4- Purchase a liner. If you prefer not to get a pond, you can also purchase a large, water resistant liner. There is, however, a slightly greater possibility that a turtle could use its claws to puncture a liner.
PART TWO : Building the Pond
1- Cut two-by-fours. Purchase several two-by-fours verifying that they are all of the same dimensions. Use a miter gauge to cut the wood into the dimensions that you measured out. Set up a gauge block to the appropriate length so that all of your boards will be cut to the same length.
You will need a large work space with proper tools for this work. A large garage is appropriate.
2- Build the frame. Nail together beams to form two rectangles, one for the bottom and one for the top of the frame. Connect the two rectangles with support beams. Install one support beam for every foot of the perimeter of the rectangular frame.
To bind the planks together, put wood glue on the edge and press together. Hold them together with bar clamps. Then nail several nails into the corner to hold them into place.
3- Measure the pond. You will want to see how much wood is necessary to hold the lip and the bottom of the pond in place. Cut wood appropriately and nail into place along the rectangular frame.
4- Place pond in the frame. Fill with water to check for leaks and see how the pond fits in the frame. The pond may fit differently with water in it and adjustments may need to be made. Do not wait to fill pond with water until it is in the home. You can empty this water out before moving the pond into position. It is just to check for leaks.
5-Add a barrier around the basking area. The basking area can be of any size or shape. You will want to ensure that the turtle does not fall off the landing. Nail in a wooden enclosure around the perimeter of the basking area. Hardware stores sell small fences that could be nailed into the edge of the landing. Be sure that the barrier is significantly taller than your turtle.
Providing an area for your turtles to bask is important. Turtles regulate their temperatures, elevate their metabolism and increase the efficiency for their immune and digestive systems by basking.
PART THREE : Making the Pond a Home
1-Fill the pond with substrate. Sand and fine gravel are generally considered the best substrates. Standard gravel can be dangerous because turtles are known to eat it.
A deeper coral sand substrate can be substituted for soft-shell turtles.
2- Build a ramp. You should provide some way for your turtle to walk up onto the basking area. Consider cutting a couple of two-by-fours and nailing them in to serve as a ramp.
Alternatively hardware cloth or poultry netting can be attached to the pond, providing a ladder.
Nailing shingles to the ramp can make it easier for your turtle to climb up.
3- Install a basking lamp. In the outdoors, turtles leave the water to get into the warm sun. The lighting you provide serves as a substitute. You will want to make sure that the lighting is positioned correctly above the basking site.
A UVB 2.5 lamp is usually 12 inches (30.5 cm) above the basking site and a UVB 5 lamp is usually about 18 inches (46 cm) above the basking site.
The basking area should only be 10 °F (−12 °C) warmer than the water temperature to encourage basking. Areas that are too hot may discourage the turtle from basking or risk exposing the turtle to hyperthermia. Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the basking area and adjust the placement of the lamp accordingly.
4- Add plants and other decorations. To make the aquatic pond more homey, you can add artificial or live plants such as water lettuce, water hyacinth or duckweed. Decorations such as wooden logs or artificial rocks also provide a personal touch.
Be mindful not to include any plants that turtles are allergic to. Some common plants that are toxic to turtles are: azalea, christmas rose, daffodil, iris, ivy, jimson weed, mistletoe, morning glory, nightshade, and tobacco.
Turtles love shaded spaces so you might consider getting some small caves from a pet store.
Space can be made for dirt in case female turtles need to lay eggs.
If your turtle is going to lay eggs, make a nice room full of loose dirt.
Pictures for consideration and imagination :
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