General Care Discussion :: Newbie Questions: Id, Habitat, Diet, Etc.

Taking care of your turtle's overall health.

Post Posted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:02 pm   Newbie Questions: Id, Habitat, Diet, Etc.

Hi Everyone!

I'm new to turtles, but not to reptiles (iguanas) or exotics (chinchillas). My father either has a painted turtle or a red ear slider which he is no longer able to care for. He's over 20 years old, about 5 inches from head to tail, active, eats well, but has some concerning marks on his plastron, needs a full habitat upgrade and vegetables added to his diet. I'm helping him out weekly, and will ultimately end up taking him sometime next year. After scouring the boards on here, I think I've figured out a plan of attack, but have reached the point where any input would be greatly appreciated.

So obviously step one is identifying whether he's a Painted or a RES. I was so overwhelmed by everything else that I forgot to check last weekend. However, I think he's an Eastern Painted, and I did get pics, so maybe you can help with that a bit! If not, I'll check for the red stripe behind the eyes when I visit on Sunday.

Existing Setup:
-20 gallon aquarium
-Submersible Fluval filter (that's failing miserably)
-ZooMed dock
-Basking lamp
-Reptomin pellets
-Turtle shaped calcium mineral block (I'm told this is given weekly)

Additions for this weekend:
-Red Leaf Lettuce, Green Leaf Lettuce, and Dandelion Greens
-Switching pellets to every other day (He's definitely overweight)
-Fluval 406 / Media Setup: Tray 1 (Bottom): Bio Foam, Tray 2: Polyester Batting, Tray 3: Carbon, Tray 4 (Top): Bio Media
-Mercury Vapor Bulb and the appropriate lamp
-Water testing
-A few large river rocks for entertainment

Additions in 2 weeks:
-IR thermometer
-Submersible Water heater
-Possible Air Stone

Longer Term:
-Separate Aquatic Garden with a different plant given weekly
-Upgrade to 50-60 gallon aquarium
-New dock

My questions:
1. Is this a Painted turtle or a RES?
2. If it's a Painted, is there a good source for dietary info, or is it the same as the RES diet?
3. The prominent "cracks" on his plastron seriously concern me... should they? None of them were soft, and I don't know enough about turtles to know whether they were healed or a current issue.
4. If I should be concerned, will the previously mentioned novel of changes help the situation, or should I get him into a vet?

Thank you in advance for any insight!!! It, and the time you took to read this lengthy post are greatly appreciated! :)

Pics:
Note: Plastron color is light yellow, not pink. Bad lighting.
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B4ViWmpEiHmYVnJid3RLMXdialE
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B4ViWmpEiHmYU3ZMWVJPVjB0WjA
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B4ViWmpEiHmYd0VMdFZEMWMxbHM
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B4ViWmpEiHmYMXJWaVY2Wnp1Wlk
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B4ViWmpEiHmYN0p4eGE3VUdnWTQ
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Post Posted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:46 pm   Re: Newbie Questions: Id, Habitat, Diet, Etc.

Hi, looks to be an eastern painted turtle to me too. Their care is pretty much in line with RES, here is a basic caresheet: http://www.austinsturtlepage.com/Care/c ... ainted.htm The plastron looks normal to me in the pics, was there any specific part that concerned you? Your plan sounds good, though I would probably wait on a mercury vapor bulb and filter upgrade until you get the tank sorted out first. If your town has a good water source, and you're not keeping plants/fish/or anything else living in the tank, you can probably skip the water tests. You might also want to add some substrate... sand is a good choice and looks great. A canister will agitate the water surface, so no need for an air stone (unless for decoration or entertainment).
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Post Posted: Sat Aug 26, 2017 10:47 am   Re: Newbie Questions: Id, Habitat, Diet, Etc.

Great! Thank you very much! The water quality is beyond cloudy and smells terrible after a week, so we actually already purchased the filter, the MVB and the water testing kit. Of course, Amazon screwed up part of my order, so I'm still waiting on the lamp fixture itself. My primary concern there is that he doesn't have any UVB source, but that should be a quick fix. I'm hoping to be able to upgrade the tank by the end of the year, so it shouldn't be too long of a wait for him. I'll definitely add some sand as substrate and check out the dietary requirements.

The darker "lines" between the scutes on the plastron didn't look like any pictures that I've found online, so I just wasn't sure if that was normal or not. I'm definitely happy to be wrong in this case!

Thanks again for the feedback and the suggestions! I really appreciate it!
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Post Posted: Sat Aug 26, 2017 3:39 pm   Re: Newbie Questions: Id, Habitat, Diet, Etc.

Hi Welcome!
Since you have such a small tank for this guy, AND filter problems, I would ditch the substrate plan altogether for now. Makes tank bare, but easier to keep clean. Austin's turtle page is one of the best resources you can find for care and info. They have several herpetologists on board there. With the solid yellow Plastron, I was wondering Yellow bellied River Cooter at first until I noticed the tint on the Carapace. I would drop down to twice a week on pellets and then ONLY the amount that would fit inside his head. I would also lose the mineral block. They only foul the water. Give chunks of cuttle bone instead with the hard backing peeled off. Good Luck!!
Scooter (10") & B.C.(11") both female.
150 gal with 2 Pondmaster 1500s
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Post Posted: Sat Aug 26, 2017 6:55 pm   Re: Newbie Questions: Id, Habitat, Diet, Etc.

Awesome! Thank you as well! I'll hold off on substrate until we have a larger tank for him. He's had a bare tank for years now, so that'll be easy. I'll also pick up some cuttlebone next week for him. I can definitely recommend pellets twice a week, but my parents tend to be a bit change resistant, so I'm not sure how well they'll listen. I'll definitely give it a shot! I was going to suggest every other day for starters, as I suspect they've been feeding him 2x/day. I have no doubt the turtle would be fine. It's the humans that I worry about. :) Thanks for your advice!
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Post Posted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 11:03 am   Re: Newbie Questions: Id, Habitat, Diet, Etc.

A MVB provides UVA, UVB, and heat. They are pretty powerful and need to be used carefully. Do you have a link to the one you ordered?
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Post Posted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:01 pm   Re: Newbie Questions: Id, Habitat, Diet, Etc.

I ordered this one, along with an adjustable lamp stand, and an IR thermometer so that I can adjust as needed with this tank and the next. I planned on starting pretty high up over the basking area initially, but am definitely open to suggestions. I had iguanas for 15 years, but that was before MVBs were an option.

MVB: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TQG6DRI/re ... spQw9PB3UM

Lamp Stand: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000255OUO/re ... OzbADYKK9A
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Post Posted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:08 pm   Re: Newbie Questions: Id, Habitat, Diet, Etc.

Mega Rays are good, probably the best option for MVBs now. You might want to order direct from them and they have a discount code on their facebook page (though shipping cost might cancel that out).

Seems like you're well prepared :)
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Post Posted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:32 pm   Re: Newbie Questions: Id, Habitat, Diet, Etc.

Thanks for the tip and the vote of confidence! I'll check their site for the next one. Amazon was just easy. :)
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Post Posted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 4:38 pm   Re: Newbie Questions: Id, Habitat, Diet, Etc.

Agreed, you seem well prepared! A selling point on feeding less is, instead of less feeding, it's more varied.. Pellets every other day (small amount) or 2x weekly, as suggested above, to get him used to more veggies. Plus, you save on pricey turtle food by feeding less frequently :)
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Post Posted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 5:03 pm   Re: Newbie Questions: Id, Habitat, Diet, Etc.

Thank you very much! I did try the variety logic and even repeated myself over the course of 3 hours yesterday while I was over there to try to hammer the point in. I also created and bagged "turtle salad" for each day of the week, and left a note on the universal dry erase board with the days the turtle was to receive pellets. Unfortunately, my methods have already failed. So today, I went over and taped a note in front of the tank itself, and in front of the pellets. This will likely anger my mother (the feeder), however I'm banking on emotional resonance to get her to check the dry erase board. Family dynamics are fun!

On a more positive note, I set-up the filter yesterday and the water is officially crystal clear! He's definitely a happy turtle, though he still doesn't quite understand that lettuce is edible. I figured that may take some time. :)
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Post Posted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 5:23 pm   Re: Newbie Questions: Id, Habitat, Diet, Etc.

Ah yes, difficult to change people's minds, or even just convincing them to try something out, seeing things from a different point of view. It'll take time; after all, the turtle is pretty old. That's good to hear! A new filter can make such a big difference, it's pretty cool to see. Satisfying feeling when you get it all down. Try shredding the lettuce, or even putting an appetizing smell on the pieces of lettuce, like turtle food or tuna juice.
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Post Posted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 10:52 pm   Re: Newbie Questions: Id, Habitat, Diet, Etc.

I had a problem with other people overfeeding my turtles, so I had an idea to use a (new) pillbox and sort out how much and when they get their pellets. You will need to hid the rest of the food though.
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Post Posted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 3:14 pm   Re: Newbie Questions: Id, Habitat, Diet, Etc.

Tuna juice?? I didn't realize tuna was appealing to them, but that does make sense... fish. I just figured he'd eventually get hungry, start biting things and realize that the lettuce was actually food. I put a few large river stones in there and he chomped on them immediately. Go figure!

I think he's so used to my mom feeding him that he's just going to starve himself with the hope that she'll cave. As of last night, we were on the same page, but I LOVE the pillbox idea! Since I'm not taking him until I move sometime next year, that just might work.

Great ideas! Thank you both!

I have more good news... We're getting the new tank this weekend! It's 60 gallons, complete with stand, hood, and an unidentified filter which will be re-purposed... all for $130. If you haven't used Facebook Marketplace, I'd highly recommend checking it out.

I'll post some more pics once we have everything set-up, but I took these right after the installation of the new filter:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B4ViW ... XZBS0thSFk
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B4ViW ... mRDMThPMzg
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Post Posted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 4:08 pm   Re: Newbie Questions: Id, Habitat, Diet, Etc.

Nice! That water looks WAY better. I love the FB marketplace.. the only thing that does stink sometimes is that some people put very vague descriptions and/or pictures of what they are selling.. it's inconvenient to have to ask several people to give you more pictures of what they are selling, or just a better explanation. I've shown up a few times to agreed upon meeting places, only to find what they have for sale is damaged, not working as intended, or just flat out junk that they just want to hand off to somebody else. Kind of like Craigslist, although here you get to at least see who you are going to meet before you do.
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