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Old 02-03-2014, 04:43 PM
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Default A few beginner's questions

Hello, first post here, and a newbie at keeping shelled pets, so please forgive any stupid questions!

We got two yellow bellied sliders last week (having read up about their care, printed out the fact sheet and read it carefully, and being fairly sure we knew what we were letting ourselves in for), and are very happy with them so far. My wife and I have a soft spot for them, as when we were engaged, we used to go to what is now Tropical World in Roundhay Park in Leeds (used to be known as the old Victorian greenhouse in those days, and was much smaller, but if you look at the 3rd picture down on that web page, you'll some of the red eared sliders that we used to visit) and sit by the terrapin pond. We got very fond of them (as well as each other!), and have long had the idea of having some of our own. It just took us a long time to get around to it!

As we are hugely unimaginative, we called them Yertle and Mack, mainly because their characters really suited the two characters. Just on the offchance there is anyone reading who doesn't know who they were, read the story of Yertle The Turtle by Dr Seuss (which is much better with the pictures), and you'll see

They are each about 1.5" from the front of the shell to the back of it, housed in a 54l tank, with a sand substrate, half full of water, loads of rocks around the back and left (protecting the filter and heater, as well as supplying basking areas) and a couple of plastic plants...



If you look closely, you can just see Mack's head poking up above the water to the left of the leftmost rock. Just so Yertle doesn't feel left out, here is a picture of him/her...



(I'm not sure if they have fixed up their wireless connection yet, so they may not be able to read this post. Don't want to upset them if they do though!) (yes, we are bonkers!)

The rocks in the back right-hand corner are built in front of the filter, and there is another rock on top of it, hiding the actual filter, but allowing the water to flow through a gap underneath, which looks quite natural...



I set the heater temperature to 24degs, although the thermometer tends to show around 25-26degs.

So, after that ramble, I guess the first question is, does anyone have any comments on what we've done so far? We want to give them the best home we can, so if you have any suggestions, please feel free.

Next thing is feeding. When we got them, we bought some frozen reptile food, which contains bloodworms, lettuce, fish, beefheart, gammasomething (all looks positively revolting), and were told that we should also get some pellets, which they had run out of, but are getting more in this week.

A lot of people seem to recommend feeding them in a separate container, which we do. We put the food in it, add about 1" of tank water, then gently lift the two of them out of the tank and put them in the container. We usually put this on the table so we can watch them eating. We feed them at breakfast and lunch time, which amuses the children no end!

When we first tried feeding them, the only thing they would eat were bloodworms, and ignored anything else in the mix. They seem to be less fussy now, and will eat all the frozen bugs we've tried, which (apart from the mix) are plain bloodworms and also mysis (we have a separate tropical fish tank, and had these in already as treats for the fish). We give them a quarter of a cube per meal, so they end up with about half a cube each per day. This fits with the general rule of giving them a volume roughly equal to their head. Now they've settled down, they tend to eat pretty much the lot. Sometimes leave a little, but not much.

We tried them on vegetables, but so far haven't found anything they will touch. We tried the soft inside bits of cucumber, but that was ignored. We tried a dandelion leaf from the garden (carefully washed), but they ignored that too. Should they be eating their greens? I told them they wouldn't get afters if they didn't eat their greens, but they didn't listen!

Is this a good feeding regime? We want them to grow and be healthy, so again, any tips would be welcome.

One of the reason given for feeding them in a separate container was to reduce the pollution in the tank. We read that they tend to do their business within around 15 minutes of feeding. I can't say we've ever noticed this, as the water is usually pretty clear when we take them out. Not only that, but when they were in the feeding container yesterday, I tried moving the plants, and found loads of turtle poo under the big one (which is where they like to hang out a lot of the time). Looks like they wait until they get back into the tank before doing anything. Can't say I blame them, I wouldn't like a giggling audience when I went to be excused!

Is there anything we can do to encourage them to do their mess in the container? Given that we take out tank water twice a day when we feed them, I'm not too worried about the water quality, as it's being changed regularly enough, but the sand isn't as easy to clean as gravel (which we have in the fish tank), and it shows the muck much more clearly.

Finally (you'll be glad to know!), I was wondering if there is a way to keep the glass clear above the waterline. I wiped it down before taking the pictures above, so you can see in without problem, but normally, the glass is fairly heavily covered with condensed water. This isn't surprising, as the air inside is quite warm (you can feel the warm damp air when you open the flap on the tank lid), but it makes it hard to see the upper half of the tank.

Any suggestions?

Sorry for such a long post, but we're really happy with out new friends, and want to make sure we're doing the best for them. I also got carried away typing!

Anyway, any comments or suggestions would be very welcome. If there's anything I forgot to include, feel free to ask.

Thanks
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Old 05-03-2014, 10:15 PM
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Your post appeared!
I have no idea about turtles but I think the set up looks very nice
Best of luck
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Old 05-03-2014, 10:19 PM
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For the condensation problem, remove the lid, you shouldn't have a lid anyway.

You didn't mention your basking temperatures?
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Old 06-03-2014, 12:43 PM
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Isn't the tank far too small? The rule of thumb is 10gallons per inch of turtle shell with an increase of 25% volume for each additional turtle added as far as I'm aware.
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Old 06-03-2014, 01:13 PM
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the tank will only last a short while, these are fast growing and will end up the size of a dinner plate so will eventually need an outside pond as there are few tanks big enough for an adult. You will also need an external filter at some point and may have to do away with the sand as its near impossible to keep clean, as an alternative you could look at slate chippings or small stones not gravel, whatever you use needs to be able to be moved around to 'hoover' the floor. Food wise seems fine and get some pellets or a complete food when its in as it contains the extra vits/mins that they need, you could try a little duck weed if you can get some thats usually eaten as its tiny leaves, maybe you know someone with a pond and occasionally you might find some in a aquarium/fish shop and many of the tank weeds are also ok to plant in there although they might not last long. But the main thing is to think ahead, these do get big which is why many are simply 'dumped' into streams/ponds etc and building a pond isn't something done over night. Depending on how fast they grow you could be looking at them spending time outside as the summer after this, they do love to go out and will happily bask on a rock for ages when the sun comes out. They will have to come inside for winter though untill they get a good size, you can see the duckweed on the surface. These were a couple of years old when we had them and on their 2nd pond as the first was to small and open.

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Last edited by annsimpson1; 06-03-2014 at 01:18 PM..
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Old 06-03-2014, 03:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zekee View Post
For the condensation problem, remove the lid, you shouldn't have a lid anyway.
I took the feeding flap off, so there is now a space of around 6" x 3" open at the top of the tank, and the glass is now clear. The air feels pleasantly warm inside, but not hot and sweaty like it did before.

Haven't noticed any change in the amount of time they spend in or out of the water. Don't know if that's good or bad!

Quote:
Originally Posted by zekee View Post
You didn't mention your basking temperatures?
Probably because I never thought of it! I'll have to pull the thermometer out of the water and place it in the air space for a while.

Thanks for the reply.
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Old 06-03-2014, 03:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annsimpson1 View Post
the tank will only last a short while, these are fast growing and will end up the size of a dinner plate so will eventually need an outside pond as there are few tanks big enough for an adult.
I didn't think they'd grow quite that fast. I got the impression that it would take a few years before they got so big. I know the tank is going to be too small eventually, but I thought we would be OK for a year or two. After that, we were thinking of either swapping them for some smaller ones (highly unlikely now, as we've grown very fond of them in the last 9 days!) or getting a bigger tank.

Quote:
Originally Posted by annsimpson1 View Post
You will also need an external filter at some point and may have to do away with the sand as its near impossible to keep clean, as an alternative you could look at slate chippings or small stones not gravel, whatever you use needs to be able to be moved around to 'hoover' the floor.
If we moved to a bigger tank, we would do that. We have an external filter on the fish tank, and I can see the use for Yurtle and Mack.

Quote:
Originally Posted by annsimpson1 View Post
Food wise seems fine and get some pellets or a complete food when its in as it contains the extra vits/mins that they need,
I ordered some Haiku reptile sticks, which were dispatched yesterday, so should be here in the next day or so. I was going to use those at lunchtime, so they'd have the frozen stuff for breakfast and reptile sticks for lunch.

Just tried them on some thinly sliced carrot, which seems to be going down well. I didn't think they'd be able to bite it, but they are having a jolly good go!

Quote:
Originally Posted by annsimpson1 View Post
you could try a little duck weed if you can get some thats usually eaten as its tiny leaves, maybe you know someone with a pond and occasionally you might find some in a aquarium/fish shop and many of the tank weeds are also ok to plant in there although they might not last long.
I looked at duck weed, but I saw too many people complaining of how it takes over. I don't want to take the risk, because once you've got it, it looks very hard to remove. I might try some real plants, as they look nice anyway. If they grow, they'll be decoration, if they get eaten, they'll be food. Either way they will be doing something useful.

I've got some twisted vallis in the fish tank, so I might pull a few f those out and plant them in the turt tank, see what happens.

Quote:
Originally Posted by annsimpson1 View Post
But the main thing is to think ahead, these do get big which is why many are simply 'dumped' into streams/ponds etc and building a pond isn't something done over night. Depending on how fast they grow you could be looking at them spending time outside as the summer after this, they do love to go out and will happily bask on a rock for ages when the sun comes out. They will have to come inside for winter though untill they get a good size, you can see the duckweed on the surface. These were a couple of years old when we had them and on their 2nd pond as the first was to small and open
Hmm, not sure we could manage a pond. We have the garden space, but we live in a very friendly courtyard, where all the children play in each other's gardens, and I wouldn't like to guarantee the safety of either the turts or the children!

If/when they get to that size, we'd have to think of finding them a good home.

Thanks for the reply, and the great pictures! How big/old are those two?
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Old 06-03-2014, 03:46 PM
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sadly you'll have a job to rehome them, there are many 'big' turts out there looking for just that, they have no monetary value and people just don't want them. Please don't take this the wrong way but many of us think they shouldn't be sold in the shops they are very cute as babies but very soon become something that needs a good size pond outside. Do some research as to finding homes for adults or even ones a few years old and you'll see the problem people have, steven p will soon tell you about that. We ourselves had to move when hubby lost his job, our house came with the job, and couldn't take the turts with us, Steph very kindly took them for us, but we had already built two ponds for them by them and they were only a couple of years old. They had a 9x6ft preformed pond in the conservatory for winter months and spent the summer in the outdoor pond, space wasn't an issue for us. They were a couple of years old in the picture and measured around 5-6inch maybe a bit more.
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Old 06-03-2014, 05:46 PM
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As above - yes, we have taken in several turtles where people have had to rehome for a variety of reasons.

You can't just buy them and then say you'll swop them when/if they get big and/or rehome when they reach a certain size.

You said you used to sit and watch them with your future wife so surely you could see the size they reach?

If they are female then they will get to 12"+. Even if males they will soon outgrow that tank. If you have one male and female then they may well need to be separated as he will make her life miserable. Two males should get on without any females around.

Don't feed them carrot - they wouldn't find it thinly sliced or not in the wild! As mentioned, duckweed, pondweed, clean dandelion leaves, Romaine lettuce, wheatgerm pellets, Reptomin, ZooMed Reptisticks all make for good foods.

We don't move ours for feeding as it adds undue stress for them. If one seems to be getting more food than the other then yes s/he can be removed. Fortunately, Sliders seem to be more passive and co-habit well until at least sexually mature, and no they won't poo on demand but if you're lucky they may well eat one another's so keeping the tank cleaner!
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Old 06-03-2014, 06:09 PM
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There are a few smaller species that are suited to life in an aquarium. Sliders sadly are not one of them. Their low price point is what really frustrates me.

You will be lucky to find a good home for them when they reach a tank busting size and you will not find anyone who will swap them for smaller ones as they can be problematic to house because of their size. I hope that you keep them as you have said.

You could perhaps build an indoor pond if an outdoor one is out of the question?
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