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Get Rid Of the Gravel!!!!! ~ Really

PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 11:04 pm
by penelope
I’d bet there are a lot of conscientious turtle owners who continue to keep gravel in the tank in spite of all the danger warnings. I was one of them.

I thought, “Hey, I’d know if my turtle was eating and pooping rocks…” That was a few weeks ago. I was wrong. They are very easy to miss!!!

I saw Penelope chomping on gravel, but dragged my feet a week or so before replacing it with large river rocks (being sure to meticulously remove all gravel).

Up to that point, I fed her in a separate tank and didn’t see her passing any rocks, so I assumed everything must be fine. Well...
A few days after the tank transformation, I found several pieces of gravel at the bottom of her tank.

There is only one way they could have gotten there ~
Yep! Penelope pooped them out.
I’ve posted a picture just to add that bit of realism to the words we all read (no, I didn’t dig around in poop; they were already clean by the time I found them).

Notice the size? I wonder how many got past me when I was so "certain" she was ‘gravel-free’ It’s pretty scary.
I was lucky, and so was Penelope. My ignorance could have really caused some damage. Had I kept the gravel who knows how many times it may have been "recycled" without me knowing it.

Now, look at the "Sticky" at the top of this forum page (Anatomy of a Turtle) and picture where all the little gravel travels. Remember, just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Get rid of that gravel!!!!!

[admin-added some additional info]
From: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=35857

ljapa wrote:In looking for some information on the toxicity levels of nitrite and nitrate for turtles, I've bee deep down the rabbit hole of scholarly articles on RES. I didn't find what I was looking for, but did find some cool stuff, including a 2004 dissertation trying to examine the dietary change from carnivore to herbivore in yellow bellied sliders.

However, I did find a short veterinary article describing the case of a 2.5 year old RES who went in because of eating too much aquarium gravel.

I know some RES don't do this, but if I hadn't switched to sand, this would convince me: ... 2-0057.pdf

PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 7:21 am
by industrial_girl_2000
Thanks for this post, Penelope. It's a keeper!

PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 12:57 am
by SpotsMama
It's very thoughtful of you to post this info. I'd say that Penelope is a pretty lucky turtle because you got the gravel out in time. What happens when the gravel stays on the bottom is that the turtle eats more and more of it until it totally clogs up his/her system.

I've heard that turtles can keep pooping rocks literally for months, so you'll have to keep your eyes peeled for awhile and keep removing it when it shows up.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 11:06 pm
by penelope
SpotsMama, what you heard seems to be true. I posted my original message what? 5 months ago.
And guess what?
Penelope pooped out another peice 2 months ago and yet another one today...we moved her to a new tank in late November, so there is *no way* they are wayward left-overs from the gravel I initially put in.
Where do they hide them all this time? (a rhetorical question)

Anyway, I just wanted to send an update to those who still keep gravel in their tank.

The ol' "it-won't-happen-to-me" mindset won't keep your baby from eating rocks; An "I-better-get-those-out-now" mindset is the only way.

The pic at the top goes to show that a small turtle (she was about 5" at the time) can eat a bigger rock than one might imagine...the two that came out recently were as big as the largest one shown above.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 11:56 pm
by Chrisbarnett
How about making this a sticky for all the new turtle owners who come here with gravel in their tanks?

I think seeing results like that would give them the incentive to remove the pebbles really quick.

PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 4:37 pm
by Nettle
I second the sticky.

PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2008 7:41 pm
by jenaero


PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:15 pm
by 1981camaroz28
so what is the best thing for the bottom of the tank? I don't have gravel but I do have aquarium sand should I remove this? if so what should I do leave nothing but glass on the bottom under the large rocks.

PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 7:38 am
by Vtolds
your avatar is WAY to big 1981camaroz28.

The best thing for the bottom on the tank is nothing, but if you have to have something then large river rock that are to big to eat or aquarium ornaments. I have a fake log in the bottom of mine and Rexi likes to push it around.

PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 6:38 pm
by 1981camaroz28
So the aquarium gravel is no good? It's turtle safe. Everyone here has nothing on the bottom of there tank? I have 2 over size filters on my 120gal they are both for a 120 so it's like 240gal filter the water is perfect but with nothing on the bottom there waste would be everywhere and my large female has big stool. I dont want to hurt them so I think I will get it out and see how it works out.

PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 7:21 pm
by SpotsMama
A few large river rocks are nice. Regular aquarium decorations can add interest both for you and for your turtle. I've seen some people put aquarium backings on the bottom of their tanks, which looks pretty good.

If you've got gravel on the bottom, the turtle waste is still there - you just don't see it. It's harder to keep the water quality where you want it with gravel on the bottom, and more trouble to clean. What a lot of us do is keep a little net or turkey baster or battery powered gravel vac by the tank and pick up what we can see on the bottom every day. It just takes a second and does keep the tank nicer.

PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 7:45 pm
by 1981camaroz28
I don't have gravel I have aquarium sand which unlike gravel nothing gets under it. I have this in all of my tanks for that reason 20 years now and I think the reason my water is so good is because nothing gets under like waste which causes ammonia and nitrate issues and I keep my PH at around 7.5-8.0

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2008 12:34 am
by blackforce247
i was thinking of getting some gravel from my teacher in school, but when i found outt hat turtles ate gravel i decided not to put it inside the tank since it actually harms them

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2008 2:14 pm
by JessieBabe
I had taken my gravel out a couple of days ago because I noticed she was eatting them, and I went to the pet store and some of the employees were telling me that turtles didnt eat the gravel and they woluld just spit them back out and I laughed because I knew my girl ate the ones I had so good by gravel, hello shiny marble looking rocks, they make it nice on the eyes, and they are big enough not to eat.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2008 5:40 pm
by Nettle
@blackforce - Nice catch!

@JessieBabe - Ya those pet store guys don't know enough.