Constructing the perfect turtle or terrapin tank

Turtle Care GuideMaking the perfect habitat for your turtle depends on the breed of turtle, the size of the turtle and the quantity of turtles that you are keeping.There are many types of containers that you can keep your turtles in ranging from glass to plastic to pond liners for your outdoor habitat.If keeping them outside you will need to provide some shade for them to escape to. A habitat should not be less than 25% of the total surface area of the shells of the turtles being housed.


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Do not use gravel or substrate or create any areas that are not accessible. Remember that if you are using a more elaborate system and substrate you need to use a filtration system complete with bottom drainage and low stocking density.


Providing the right environment for turtles

Turtles need plenty of clean water in order to remain healthy and to avoid you having to clean it all the time. The smaller the enclosure the more you have to change the water. If you have three or fewer small turtles (with a length of 4 inches or less) in a 10 gallon tank you should change the water up to four times a week, once if a 50 gallon tank. The more turtles you have the more times you’ll have to change the water. The type of food you give your turtles also determines water cleanliness as some foods muck it up faster.

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Turtle Book with GuaranteeUse separate containers for food to help this problem. When your turtles are out to roam in the sun is a good time to change the water and to scrub the sides of the enclosure of all potential bacterial growth. Water should not be any deeper than the width of the widest turtle’s shell. Add filtration in order to decrease the need to change water. Just because the water appears clean doesn’t mean that it is. The best filter to use is an external one rated for small animals. Canister or power lifting filters are the best but remember if you have a bag type the filter must be changed often. Do not use under gravel filters.


Water quality for turtles is of the highest importance!

The water in the terrapin tank must remain warm so a heater is required and the water should be between 75 and 82 degrees. You should be using a submersible heater with a liquid crystal display outside the tank.


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Include a dry bed area for the turtles to crawl out of the water and bask under the UV lights. These areas can as simple as a rock under a light but should be big enough for all of the turtles. You can get elaborate with the design of these areas but make sure they’re secure, accessible and at the water-surface level.

The habitat should have a thermal gradient so that the turtles can reach their preferred body temperatures. A 50 to 100 watt bulb with a reflector will create a great basking area. UV lights may be needed if the diet of the turtles includes mice.


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