Need help in filter for red-ear slider turtle

Discussion in 'Tortoises' started by Leti, Jun 7, 2012.

  1. Leti

    Leti Embryo

    I inherited a red ear slider turtle. I have a 20 gallon tank and need a new filter. I have him in a 10 for right now till I get the 20 gl set up. I 'd like to do this tomorrow or by this weekend. I've been cleaning this turtle's tank every other day and just realized that's a big no no. What fliter would anyone recommend (who owns an aquatic or has owned one)? What experience do you have in cleaning? Is it weekly, bi-weekly or monthly? And, I'm a little finicky about seeing a tank dirty. Please advise.

    FYI: I have the abrasives, gravel, light and dock ready. I will also be putting a couple of minnow in the tank 1 x weekly. I have a busy life with small children, 3 dogs, 1 cat and now a turtle. I am constantly cleaning up excrements and am hoping that I could get a good filter along with moss to assist in having this tank clean for the turtle and for my eyes. I want to give this turtle a good aquatic home and hopefully I'll do right by him. So any help is appreciated.
     
  2. Cammy

    Cammy Administrator Staff Member

    With aquatic turtles, the most important thing is not necessarily brand, but power of the filter. You could have a top quality 20 gallon filter in a 20 gallon tank, but you'll still have messy water unless you do an excessive number of water changes per week. With turtles, aim for triple or more filtration. Let's say you're going to fill your 20 gallon about 3/4 of the way full. You'll have about 15 gallons of water, so aim for a filter that is made for a 45 gallon or larger.

    Right now I'm working with an African sideneck turtle in a 20 gallon tank with 15 gallons of water in it. The filter we are using is a Repto Filter 125gph by Tetrafauna. (This filter is essentially the same thing as the Whisper filters for fish, so when you have to replace the fiber cartridge, you can get the Bio Bag large size for aquariums instead of the Repto Filter large size. They are the same thing but usually a little cheaper.) This filter is made for up to 55 gallons of water. It's running very quietly and keeps the water very clean.

    I do a 30% water change once a week and the water is staying nice and clear and free of debris. At each water change, I also take the filter cartridges out and rinse them off in dechlorinated water to remove some of the particulate debris. Make sure the water you are using to rinse off the filter media is dechlorinated or you will kill the "good bacteria" in your filter; this "good bacteria" works as a biological filtration system and is vital to the cleanliness of your water.

    Another filter I've had good experiences with are the Fluval internal filters. We have the U1 in a firebelly toad tank at work and a U2 in a turtle tank. Both tanks are staying very clear and free of debris despite having rather low water levels and being very heavily stocked. In fact, the water is clean enough in the toad tank that we are on our second set of thriving tadpoles, despite there being way too many toads in only about 4-5 gallons of water. (That's a lot of concentrated waste, and tadpoles are picky about water quality, hence the uber filtration.) Again, we only change the water one or two times a week (although I do 50-75% changes since they are heavily stocked) and rinse the filters in dechlorinated water. For your 20 gallon, again assuming there will be about 15 gallons of water in it, you should get the Fluval U4.

    Adding moss (such as java or christmas moss) or any live plant for that matter is a great idea to help keep your water quality well maintained. Keep in mind that your turtle will probably pick at any plants you put in the tank though. It's good for his diet to eat some plant matter (In fact he should be eating mostly greens when he is an adult, so starting him on plants and vegetables early will make the adjustment easier later on.) so it won't hurt him; just don't get too attached to your plants. =P

    Another thing you can do to cut down on the amount of waste in your water is feed in a separate container. Just take a small tub of water that is the same temperature as the water in the tank so as not to shock your turtle. Put the turtle in the container for feeding and return him to his tank when you are done. If you do feed in the tank still, make sure you are netting out any excess food after about 10 minutes, and be careful not to overfeed--it's very easy to do, since turtles tend to beg for food like dogs, haha.

    Finally, keep in mind that a 20 gallon tank is not going to last a RES very long. It's fine for hatchlings, but they will need upgraded within a year to a year and a half if they are growing properly. Be on the lookout for anyone selling very large tanks for cheap on craigslist, because you'll eventually need a 100-125 gallon for when he is an adult. You can keep a sub-adult in a 40-75 gallon for a few years, but it's cheaper to just get the largest tank right off the bat as soon as he is past his juvenile phase.

    I hope this has helped with the filter and cleanliness issues, and if you have any more questions about care for your slider, feel free to ask! Oh, and welcome to the boards!
     

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