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Water quality overview: Since your slider will be spending most of its time in water, there should be a concentrated effort in maintaining the best possible water conditions. RES eat, sleep and leave waste in their water so it is essential that this water is filtered, and, if necessary, treated and tested. Unclean water is a major source of discomfort, illness and infection to aquatic turtles.

Maintaining a minimum water level is required to ensure safety from drowning. To avoid a potential drowning, the water level should be greater than your turtle's straight carapace length. A turtle with a SCL of 4" should be in water at least as deep ensuring that the turtle has a chance to turn itself over if it is upside down. There is also a greater chance of injury due to more confined swimming areas and equipment proximity. Low water levels will quickly build up harmful elements regardless of filter efficiency. This minimum amount of water is not considered to be adequate for any aquatic turtle and is only listed as a basic safety margin.

Ideally, you should use as much water as your tank can safely hold. A tank that is roughly 10 gallons per inch of the turtles SCL is recommended. Therefore, a 4” turtle should be in at least a 40 gallon tank. Waste has a better opportunity to dilute and break down (with the correct filter media) in a greater amount of water. Adding as much water as your tank can hold may require you to elevate the basking area to the point where a RES might be able to climb out. There will be other unsuspecting exit points as well. Objects such as heaters, thermometers, plants or another turtle can be temporarily used to give a determined RES a means of freedom. While escapes and the ensuing hard falls happen often and unexpectedly, they are completely preventable. The top of the tank and basking area should be absolutely inescapable and secure. Refer to Canopies, covers, hoods and screens for information on securing the tank.

Water temperature must be accurately monitored and controlled. A submersible water heater is necessary to maintain the preferred water temperature range of 78-80 degrees F for hatchlings and 75-78 degrees F for adults. To help monitor these temperatures, there are a variety of inexpensive thermometers available made specifically to be used for water. They are all easy to use, inexpensive and having one is absolutely necessary. Do not guess or estimate what the temperature is because it cannot be done consistently or reliably.

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This page updated: 2011/01/28 Copyright © 2005-2011 Red Ear Slider. All rights reserved.