If you are considering keeping freshwater turtles as pets, it is important to understand that like any reptile, they require special care. Painted turtles, red sliders, and reef turtles are among the most popular freshwater turtles chosen for pets. While habitat and nutrition are important factors to consider when it comes to caring for your freshwater turtle, keep in mind that captive turtles also require preventive healthcare. Handling your pet’s freshwater turtle is also a matter of concern, since captive strains can still spread disease.
Provide your freshwater turtle with a comfortable stay. Size matters here, and for one or two freshwater turtles, a 75-gallon tank is the minimum. For two years or more, you will need a 100-gallon tank.
Fill the tank 1/3 full with water and attach the biological filter to the tank. The biological filter will remove waste materials and bacteria from the tank, keeping the water healthy for freshwater turtles. Keep in mind that even though a filter is running, the water will still need to be changed about once a week.
Attach a heater and heat lamp to the tank to keep the freshwater turtle warm. The heating lamp acts like the sun, warming the freshwater turtle from above, while the heater maintains a constant water temperature. Adjust the dial on the heater to the turtle’s preferred temperature — between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place some logs or large stones in the tank. Choose logs or rocks large enough to peek above the water to give the turtle a rest area to dry off. The heat lamp will heat the resting area, keeping your freshwater pet comfortable.
Feed freshwater turtles a well-rounded diet. Offer your cylindrical turtle reptiles and feed worms according to package directions. A sprinkling of leafy green vegetables also helps bulk up their diet. Add live feeder fish, such as guppies and goldfish, to the turtle’s tank as well. This gives freshwater turtles a chance to forage for lunch. Young turtles require their daily needs and adults prefer to eat every other day.
Re-lighting with natural light by adding UVA/UVB lamps to your tank. A combination of each type of lighting is essential to the health of your freshwater turtle. In fact, without a UV weapon, your turtles would not be able to synthesize Vitamin D in their bodies. Turtles need at least 10 to 14 hours of light a day. Turn out new lights, every six months.
Wash your hands after handling turtles. The tank environment is a breeding ground for salmonella. When you touch freshwater turtles, bacteria can be transferred from their bodies to you. Clean your hands with hot, soapy water every time you touch freshwater turtles, water accessories, or the tank to prevent infection.