Habitat - Indoor :: Getting Started: recommendations appreciated!

Turtle tank setups and other indoor configurations.

Post Posted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 1:39 pm   Getting Started: recommendations appreciated!

I'm new here and I'll be taking over the care of my brother's turtle soon but before I even cross state lines to get it I want to have the basics set up and ready.

I have a lot of questions before I can really get started with purchasing stuff so please bare with me.

I am on a tight budget and have limited space to work with. I can always go bigger and more expensive later on down the line but would prefer if I can at least get a good filter right off the bat that's under $120

Following litefoot's advice I will probably not get the Zoo Med tank kit since the one I looked at in-store may not be big enough or have an adequate filter (36x18x18 tank, holds up to 50 gal if I go with a separate ATBA, with a ZM 511 canister filter) and am in need of some help with figuring out the best supplies for lighting, heat, and filtration that preferably won't run me a fortune. I can always upgrade to higher quality stuff later when I can afford it but this turtle is in desperate need of being relocated and literally anything is better than what it has right now. Poor Mr Turtle has been living in 4"-deep water with no filters, lights, dry area, or heaters for the past 4 years or so and I'm willing to sacrifice quality to start out with just to get it out of those conditions. Possibility of shell rot, will be speaking to my local vets on recs for a good, knowledgeable reptile vet experienced with aquatic turtles before Mr Turtle makes the move so I can already have an appointment lined up.

I'm currently unsure of the turtle's sex and age, and don't have an exact measurement on it right now but am guessing at possibly female, 5-6" until somebody sends me its exact size, and an estimated 7-9 years old since he's had it for at least 7. I am making tentative plans for a swimming area of 50-60 gallons (70 at max, I really don't have space for a tank bigger than that right now but hope to continue upgrading several years down the line.)

There's so much information on different brands and sizes that I'm a little overwhelmed and frazzled right now so good recommendations on mid-price-range lights, heaters, and filters to start out with are greatly appreciated!! Links to where I can get them are even more helpful. I plan to slowly buy up all the supplies over the next month or so, starting with stand and tank. I've been browsing the thread on pictures of your basking areas and tank setups and that's been supremely helpful since I may have to go with a above-tank area just to save space.

Side note: recommendations on sturdy tank stands, or similar furniture that can be used as a tank stand like a good solid cabinet, are also greatly appreciated. I was looking at a bunch last night and stability is something I always worry about. The person helping me out at PetSmart yesterday while I was asking about tank sizes mentioned I could probably get something cheaper at a place like Home Sept but I'm unsure of what to really be looking for since I doubt most tv stands are sturdy enough to handle all that weight. If you're using a non-standard setup that wasn't built from scratch I'd love to know where you got it or what kind of specifications I should be looking for!

I'll be browsing through as many of the stickied threads on care and setup as I possibly can over the next several weeks so I can be as prepared as possible!!!!


Additional question: is a large plastic "critter keeper" adequate to use when transporting the turtle and do you recommend I add any water to it , or make it a dry move? The drive is a little over 2 hours from my brothers place to mine and from that it'll be getting a good scrub-down to remove the gross algae and other junk off the shell and then going straight to the basking area.
Sam_Wolfe
 
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Post Posted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 3:52 pm   Re: Getting Started: recommendations appreciated!

Update: I have confirmation that Mr Turtle is almost exactly 7" so I will be trying to get her a 75-gallon tank. If I can fond a good deal AMD have the space I may attempt a 90-gallon.
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Post Posted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 3:41 am   Re: Getting Started: recommendations appreciated!

Buy the biggest filter you can afford. Ideally an fx6 or eheim equivalent. Turtles are messy and at 7 inches, even without it growing, its going to be a waste factory. The goal is to have crystal clear and clean water by doing weekly water changes of about 25% and monthly or longer between filter cleanings before it gets clogged. The media that comes with the filter will be good enough to start with, but when budget permits, look into more or different media options.

A quick and easy option for basking is to buy cork. Cork is natural, it floats and can be cut easily, so you can buy a big piece and cut it so you can wedge it into place. Zoo med has all kinds of cork for aquariums/terariums and its sold in most aquarium shops or online.

For lights, you'll need at least 1 for uvb and most likely a second for heat. What type depends on your budget and how you want to setup your tank. Personally, I use 2 T5HO bulbs for uvb and a regular shatter proof bulb for heat all under a canopy. You could however use the dome combos (zoo med i think) with corresponding lights and just hang them above the tank or clip them to something leaving your tank open.

Jager water heaters seem to be the most popular. Size it according to your tank size.

A timer for the lights is also a good investment as is a gfi power bar and at least 1 thermometer for the water, and an optional one for the basking area. Turtles like to be warm, about 25c for the water and about 32/35c to bask.

For food, fresh vegetables is what you should feed your turtle, you can find the list of whats good on this site. Another option, which is considered just as good is Mazuri turtle diet or Hikari turtle sticks. They are considered to be the best store bought turtle food but can be pricy and hard to find. Omega one adult, zoo med maintenance, and zoo med gourmet are also really good. If you can (if your turtle allows it) dont just stick to one type of food, try to mix thing up.

As to where to buy this stuff, if not at your local petshop, I hear drsfostersmith or bigals are good places to shop even amazon will have most if not everything you need.

For the aquarium, if your local shops dont have any deals, like 90g for $90 or whatever, check craigslist for deals. People are always moving, upgrading or just getting rid of their stuff. If you do go used, see it in person first and make sure there are no cracks in the glass/acrylic. Also check the silicone, if the edges are frayed or it looks like its breaking apart along the seams, dont buy it (unless you know how to re-seam it.) If possible ask if it can be filled at least part way before you show up so you can look for leaks. Cleaning a used aquarium isnt that hard, use white vinegar and water. For hard water stains on glass, soak it in vinegar and use a razor blade, for acrylic use a credit card or buy acrylic safe aquarium scrapers.

The stand is important in the sense that it needs to hold alot of weight. For 90g, even half full of water, its going to be a few hundred pounds. I believe a 100g tank filled 90% is about 8-900 pounds. If you cant find a deal on craigslist or build one yourself out of 2x4's you wont really find anything that'll be much cheaper then a store bought aquarium stand. Tv stands that can hold the weight will be about the same price. If you need something quick and real cheap, 6 concrete blocks at HD is about $12 and I guess $35 or so for a sheet of plywood.
Inmate1024
 
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Post Posted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:47 am   Re: Getting Started: recommendations appreciated!

I pretty much agree with Inmate, lots of good advice in his reply.

Solid wood furniture should be able to hold up a tank, but it would probably ruin it from the moisture plus you lose any storage space (the FX6 is a beast). Some things you don't want to skimp on since you will want to upgrade later. The only difference between a standard 75 gallon and 90 gallon is that it is 3" taller.

Regarding the "critter keeper", how long is the ride?
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Post Posted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 6:07 pm   Re: Getting Started: recommendations appreciated!

Updates and good news: I will definitely be getting to Fx6 since my local pet store has it for basically half price (according to what I saw online). I had a local lady contact me about an old tank she's selling so I'm going to be checking that out later in the week and I'll see about asking to have it partly filled to check for leaks.

We figured that if we shuffle some furniture around and get rid of one of the spare beds and can afford the extra price we should theoretically be able to get up to a 90 gallon tank so fingers crossed on that. More good news is that my aunt gave me the names of 3 small pet stores that she normally goes to for her big tanks and if a used tank can't be found in probably going to check there.

The car ride is a little over 2 hours depending on traffic. Should I do the transport dry or add a half-inch or so of water to the critter keeper to keep her moist?

For heaters, I came across some Marineland and Aqueon Pro ones that both had adjustable dials for a low price at the local store and was wondering if those will be good to start out with? I do have plans to buy digital thermometers to make sure the water temp is right; should I place them as far from the heater as possible to ensure the heat is spreading properly? Is it a good idea to buy a heater rated for slightly more water than what's in the tank? (Like if I get an 75-gal tank but use a heater rated for 80-gal)

How far/close should my lamps be from the basking area, and if I do go for an above-tank setup how do I secure everything to the top of the tank? Heavy duty velcro for easy removal and cleaning? Aquarium-safe silicone for something permanent? I really liked the idea of an old smaller tank laid on its side across the width of the tank with milk crate/acrylic guards put up but have questions on how people are securing those setups and how their lights are being set up if UVB rays can't penetrate glass or screen tops and am worried about making permanent alterations in the event that something might need replacing. I also own cats and a dog and don't want them knocking things over by accident.

If I can find a solid wood dresser at a thrift store that's the right size then I won't mind if it gets damaged and could take out the drawers to modify it for storage underneath for the filter and a bin for it to sit in in case it leaks or splashes but I do worry about normal furnitures ability to hold 900+ lbs of weight. I sometimes jokingly worry about the ability of my floors to even hold that weight with how everything rattles and slightly bounces while just normally walking around Lol. Sometimes I really miss living in a steel-framed building.

I do plan to have the wall outlet changed to GFCI and may get the Zoo Med power strip with the 4 timed outlets and 4 regular outlets since that seemed like the most convenient option. So that's about 2 lights on timers, the filter and heater on the continuous power, and that leaves me room for 4 extra things like a bubbler or whatever. I know the bubbler isn't necessary but she used to love her bubble stone and I saw a nice bubble curtain thing yesterday that she might have fun with.
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Post Posted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 8:30 pm   Re: Getting Started: recommendations appreciated!

Ever look into stock tanks ? Can save you a lot of money , shop around supply houses , tractor store , horse supplies or Rubbermaid for sales. Can do a lot more with them to. Can go directly on floor and save money on the stand to.

Just a little look at Piggley's stock tank : https://youtu.be/HdkcG4ECD1g
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Post Posted: Sun Jul 02, 2017 11:08 am   Re: Getting Started: recommendations appreciated!

I also wouldn't just rely on a leak test. If the silicone is in bad shape but still holding water, you will want to reseal it anyway. Always transport your RES dry.

For heaters, I would get the Aqueon Pro. For a thermometer, get one of the lcd strips you stick on the glass, but also get an infrared temp gun (about $12 and sold at hardware stores).

Above tank setups usually sit in the rim of the tank and rely on it's weight to held it down. Your lamps distance partially depends on the wattage you get. See if the person has a metal stand too, I'm you can get both cheaply.
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