Keeping your turtle’s home a happy one

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Pets can be a welcome addition to any home, but they are living creatures that need care specific to their species and environment. An aquatic turtle has few needs beyond a fresh tank of water and food, but even these minimal requirements will have to be satisfied on a regular basis to keep it healthy for a long lifespan. There are a few things that can help to make the turtle’s new home a happy one, but they will need to be done on a regular basis.

Food is important for any creature, and aquatic turtles are no exception. While it is easy enough to drop their food into the tank, being observant and proactive will help maintain their environment in a clean manner. When the turtle is done eating, removing excess food needs to be done immediately. If it is left in the water, it will break down and create ammonia. This is a contaminant that can make the turtle ill, and it does not smell good at all.

It is important to remember that an aquatic turtle spends its entire life in the water, so eating and pooping are done in the same environment. Much of what comes out of the turtle will float down to the substrate at the bottom of the tank, and it will eventually break down. A good interior or exterior tank filter will help take those particles out of the water, but some will stay in the small rocks below.

Changing the water on a regular schedule is the best way to keep contaminants from becoming an issue, and it will keep the entire tank system from smelling bad. It can take a bit of time before a keeper knows how often the water needs to be changed, so using an ammonia testing strip for water is a good way to know when the time has come to clean. It can be dipped into the water and read immediately to find out if ammonia buildup has become an issue.

There are a few simple steps to cleaning out the tank, and they begin before emptying it. The replacement water will need to be conditioned, so reading the label on a water conditioner approved for aquatic tanks will be a good way to know how long the water needs to sit before use. Once this process has made the water ready, it is time to get rid of the water in the tank.

Taking the little rocks that make up the substrate out of the tank every time can become an issue, but using a vacuum device designed for tank cleaning will do just as well. Use it on the substrate to get any unnecessary organic materials out before refilling the tank.

It may take a while to create a schedule for cleaning the tank on a regular basis, and those who have a baby turtle will need to remember that growth will accelerate the amount of cleaning needed to keep the environment healthy. An adult turtle will have a more stable routine, but check on a regular basis to ensure the water is changed whenever necessary.