5 Basic Things to Know Before Buying an Aquatic Turtle

Ok, so fairly recently I visited someone that had a baby slider turtle, and I was devastated to find that it was living in a tiny (two gallons tops) Critter Keeper container and the turtle was living entirely off of pellets. Not trying to hate on them, they simply bought the turtle for their daughter and she didn’t research. So I’m writing this to spread awareness on the false beliefs of the necessary living standard of aquatic turtles, and I hope to continue this series with other animals later. Without further ado, I present 5 things you should know before you buy an aquatic turtle.

  1. The tank.

First of all, the standard measurement of size for turtles is 10 gallons of tank per 1 inch of turtle (shell). Also, the tank MUST have a filter and the water has to be dechlorinated. Canister filters are common, fairly cheap, and preferable. Don’t use under gravel or sponge filters. Aquatic turtles require a basking area that is out of the water and has a UVB light, as well as several plants and hiding places. This allows them to regulate their temperature and prevents shell rot.

2. The diet.

Commercial food diets are necessary, but your turtle’s diet should not be composed of them entirely. Feeder fish (usually guppies or minnows- no goldfish) provide nutrition and exercise for your turtle, and mimics their natural environment.  Therefore, they are a must. Your turtle should also be fed treats like romaine lettuce, apples, bananas, melons, earthworms, and crumbled- up hard-boiled egg yolk. However, DO NOT feed your turtle the entire thing- instead, cut them up in tiny pieces. Also, your turtle may nibble on some of the live plants in your tank, so make sure they are safe!

3. Sharing tanks.

First off, DO NOT house different turtle species together. Most turtles love hanging out with their same kind, however. If you want to house crustaceans and turtles together, be warned that your turtle will most likely eat them. The same goes for small fish. I would recommend housing aquatic snails and turtles together, as the snails will eat the waste secreted by your turtle, but depending on the snail’s size it may or may not get eaten as well. Some larger fish, such as cichlids, do well with turtles.

4. Handling.

Please don’t handle your turtle often- they get stressed and may bite.

5. How to tell if your turtle is healthy.

If your turtle IS healthy, he/she will:

  • Be active and alert
  • Eat regularly
  • Have a healthy, hard shell with no lesions
  • Have clear, bright eyes with no swelling
  • Have healthy skin with no sores
  • Have a clear nose and vent

If your turtle IS NOT healthy, he/she will:

  • Have eye, nose or mouth discharge
  • Have discoloration, bumps or spots on shell or skin
  • Be lethargic (lazy)
  • Frantically swim
  • Have abnormal feces
  • Sneeze, have a runny nose
  • Have an overgrown beak
  • Swell behind the tympanum


I hope this post was helpful and informative! Lastly, I would like to urge you not to let your small child be responsible for the life of an animal unless they have thoroughly researched it, proven their responsibility, and maybe even bought their own supplies. I am 13 years old and already have many pets, but I purchased EVERYTHING, researched my butt off, and proved that I was responsible first by starting small. I’m not saying you should automatically assume your child is incapable, but make sure he/she is responsible before you intrust the life and well being of an animal into their hands. Sorry for being so harsh, but as you can see this is something I’m very passionate about! Thanks for reading this!

P.S I will be starting a YouTube channel soon, and I will post when I do but make sure to check that out too!

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