Habitat Sweet Habitat: Aquatic Turtles

Setting up a habitat for your new aquatic turtle? Here’s what you need to know.

Choosing a Habitat

  • Aquatic turtles can be housed with other turtles.
  • Adult aquatic turtles require a 55-gallon aquarium or larger. A smaller aquarium may be used for juveniles under a year old.
  • Ensure the habitat is fitted with a secure screened top.
  • Use of an underwater or canister filter will help maintain water cleanliness.

Heating & Lighting

  • Your turtle’s habitat should be equipped with two thermometers; one to measure the water temperature and one to measure the air temperature by their basking site.
  • Supplemental heat should be provided by putting a heat bulb over one side of the habitat.
  • During the daytime, the air temperature should be 85°F (29°C), the basking temperature 85-90°F (29-32°C), and the water temperature 75-85°F (24-29°C).
  • Nighttime temperature should be 65- 75°F (18-24°C).
  • An under-tank heater can be used to maintain the water temperature if needed.
  • Aquatic turtles are diurnal (most active during the day).
  • Aquatic turtles require ultraviolet light for 12 hours per day.
  • It is important that UV-producing lights be directed through the screen top as glass can block the UVB rays.
  • A consistent light-dark cycle (12 hours of light) must be provided.

Décor & Substrate

  • A floating turtle dock can be used for small turtles to get out of the water. Larger turtles will require large rocks or gravel for land.
  • Gravel can be cleaned with an aquarium vacuum.

Shopping List

❏ Habitat (20 gal for juveniles, 55 gal for adults)
❏ Secure screen lid
❏ Turtle dock, rocks or gravel for basking
❏ Underwater or canister filter
❏ UVA/UVB bulb and fixture
❏ Basking spot bulb and fixture
❏ Two thermometers
❏ Reptile calcium supplement with vitamin D
❏ Commercial diet
❏ Insects
❏ Dark leafy greens
❏ Water de-chlorinator

How to Clean Your Terrarium

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