General Care Discussion :: Funky Shell Appearance: Welcome Any Input

Taking care of your turtle's overall health.

Post Posted: Tue Aug 22, 2023 4:30 pm   Funky Shell Appearance: Welcome Any Input

My 17 y/o male Red Ear Slider's shell has changed in appearance in the past several weeks on one side of his carapace (see attached pics). I don't recall him ever having any serious shell condition in the past. A couple years back his shell had changed appearance which alarmed me and advice I received was most likely algae sort of growth and I deep cleaned it with Chlorhexidine Gluconate which took care of things.

In the past few weeks he's been shedding a lot of scutes and eating a lot (this week I reduced his food volume in half worried I was eating too much). His behavior is normal. He basks, eats, swims, and is in good spirits.

He endured some habitat issues beginning 2.5 months ago.

Based on the shell's appearance any one have any suggestions as to what's going on and what I can do?

Thanks a bunch!


TLDR:
Basically due to equipment failures there was reduced water volume & quality for 2 weeks); no access to heat lamp or basking and in turtle in water most of the time for 7 weeks).

[read below for more details]
-------


Recent Habitat History & Issues

Overview:
-Filter failure 3 months ago resulted in a 1-2 weeks of reduced water quality.
-Tank leak resulted in 7 weeks of reduced water volume, no access to basking, heat lamp, and diminished UVB exposure.
-The past 10 weeks he's had a new filter (along with water changes) so excellent water quality.
-The past 5 weeks he's had a new tank, full water capacity, access to basking/heat lamp/UVB (I also replaced his UVB bulb with a new one).


Details:

Water Volume
-On May 29th the tank sprung a leak. Bit of a catastrophe as it took me 7 weeks to source a replacement tank the same size. (The tank is an uncommon size 39 gallon tall, the only size made that fits in a 'nook' and maximize water volume [filling it to the brim it's still too small for the turtle's size but the best I can do in the limited space in the apt.]. So for 7 weeks the tank's water level was kept at only 8" high (higher and the tank would leak water).


Water Quality & Filtration
-On the day the tank leaked, the filter started acting up and also developed a leak - a 17 year old Rena/Filstar XP3 which has served me well - at the quick disconnect so everything was failing at once! So not only much less water in the tank, but for a week or so no filter and just water changes every other day or so.
-June 14th - two weeks after the tank and filter failure - I installed a new canister filter, an Oase Biomaster Thermo 600 (this version includes a built in heater). This was an upgrade from the Rena XP3 as I was able to triple the biological media volume (I also switched to Seachem Matrix) in the new filter. So far the filter is performing very well and I'd recommend it: it seems to be robust, well made, clips for the lid are better designed than the XP3 (clip hinge design was a weak link) and it has a built in pre-filter (5 stacking cylindrical sponges which can be removed and cleaned without opening the canister ... I use an in-tank prefilter so we'll see how useful this additional prefilter is, but so far so good and it may provide an additional level of crud filtering to keep the canister sponges/biomedia from clogging).

Basking/Heat/UVB
-During that 7 weeks due to the low water level Mr. T could not really bask as there was no way to reach the ATBA which needs a full tank w/ramp to access.
I never imagined it would take that long to replace the tank ... searched every day looking everywhere (local stores plus sites online looking for a used tank) but NOTHING. I was told this size tank stopped being produced during the pandemic and production never resumed so that might be the end of the line. Gulp. Finally I located a used tank and got it set up on July 17th, about 5 weeks ago.
-During that 7 weeks Mr. T spent most of his time in the water and virtually no basking (I took him out occasionally to dry off and walk around), no heat lamp access, and likely significantly reduced UVB (I lowered the UVB bulb as much as possible but it was about 15" from him). Again, I expected this tank issue to only last a week or and had no idea replacing it would be near impossible.
Attachments
IMG_20230810_182029784_HDR copy 2.jpg
IMG_20230810_182033762_HDR copy.jpg
IMG_20230810_182027088_HDR copy.jpg
IMG_20230810_182014797 copy.jpg
Last edited by Lovegasoline on Wed Aug 23, 2023 2:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2023 9:26 am   Re: Funky Shell Appearance: Welcome Any Input

The only time I had to directly deal with something similar was when my RES had some retained scutes (due to dreaded fungus) and those shed slowly which gave time for water and gunk to collect under and never truly dry off. Bacteria or whatever began to eat away but after it was cleaned up and with proper basking, has healed up. I would use something like betadine or hibiclens (chlorhexidine) to disinfect the areas and dry dock. If the tissue in those pits scar up then it should be fine, if a bit unsightly. If it spreads, then you might need to see a vet for help. Either a more potent medication or debriding would be necessary.
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Post Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2023 2:35 pm   Re: Funky Shell Appearance: Welcome Any Input

Thanks Steve.
Am I correctly understanding your guess at a diagnosis that it's a fungus/bacteria based? And to disinfect the basking/dry dock areas? Last week as part of my tank rehab I removed the ATBA (large plexiglass enclosure) and scrubbed it with Dawn dishwashing soap. I've only used Chlorhexidine Gluconate once and it was to clean my turtle's shell, I wasn't aware it was also used to disinfect tank objects.
Is it suggested to use Chlorhexidine Gluconate to treat/clean Mr. T's shell, or is that not a good idea?
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Post Posted: Wed Aug 23, 2023 10:25 pm   Re: Funky Shell Appearance: Welcome Any Input

My initial guess is that it was a bacterial infection. And I'm referring to gently scrubbing those areas with Hibiclens (chlorhexidine) or Betadine. I was not referring to chlorhexidine gluconate. Are the areas in and around the pitting sensitive or soft?
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steve
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Post Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2023 2:37 am   Re: Funky Shell Appearance: Welcome Any Input

Aha ... I incorrectly read your statement "I would use something like betadine or hibiclens (chlorhexidine) to disinfect the areas and dry dock" to mean cleaning the ATBA and dry dock area, not the turtle's shell.

I was not referring to chlorhexidine gluconate. Are the areas in and around the pitting sensitive or soft?


I haven't tested his shell for softness or sensitivity, I'll do that tomorrow.

I thought chlorhexidine was the same as chlorhexidine gluconate? I have some of the latter I purchased a couple years ago to clean my turtle's shell as described in my last post in this thread:
viewtopic.php?f=5&t=40487

I'm confused.
The product I used a couple years back for Mr. T's shell cleaning is this Walgreens' product (https://www.walgreens.com/store/c/walgr ... 51-product):
"Dye-Free Antiseptic Skin Cleaner (chlorhexidine gluconate 4% solution) "Compare to Hibiclens® active ingredient' "

Did I use the wrong stuff?
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Post Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2023 1:57 pm   Re: Funky Shell Appearance: Welcome Any Input

Update: the shell doesn't feel soft and I scratched his back (which he always loves!) and he didn't recoil or try to get away. SO I assume it's not sensitive or painful.
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Post Posted: Fri Aug 25, 2023 10:56 pm   Re: Funky Shell Appearance: Welcome Any Input

It looks like the stuff you used is fine. As for the update, good to hear it!
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