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Home Page / Habitat Directory / Indoor Enclosures (Pt. 2)

Glass and Acrylic Aquariums

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Glass aquariums are by far the most common choice based on their attractiveness and availability. They are usually more expensive but have a wider assortment of accessories. Glass aquariums are generally built for fish, not for an active, foot long RES. You should not place anything in your tank that either weakens its design or can be accidentally used to break or crack the glass. Glass is heavy and should be very smooth - any cracks that may appear need immediate attention and repair. Well-maintained glass aquariums should last a long time and can be a worthwhile investment.

Glass Aquarium There are standard aquariums and ones described as breeder, long, wide, tall and turtle-specific tanks. Standard aquariums 40 gallons and larger are usually 18" wide. “Wide tanks” normally have a greater width but a reduced height. “Long tanks” usually sacrifice height for length. Either is fine as long as they provide enough width for your turtle. “Breeder tanks” offer a wider and longer area and a reduced height. It may be difficult to find breeder, long and wide tanks above a 40-gallon capacity.

There are certain tanks that you should avoid. Turtle-specific tanks are a poor option. They are inadequately designed and marketed for easier maintenance. While one side of the tank is partially cut away to allow for access to the water filter, it also reduces the structural strength and limits the water level. Aquariums described as “tall tanks” are not suitable since they offer less horizontal movement. Specialty aquariums, like those that come in an octagon shape, are not suitable for turtles unless they have significantly greater width and length than height.

The descriptions of acrylic aquariums are very similar to glass aquariums as they come in similar sizes and use the same accessories. Acrylic is a lighter and a slightly flexible material but is easier to scratch compared to glass. Acrylic materials are popular for custom-made tanks and basking areas.

Plastic Storage Containers

Storage Box A very economical and popular type of enclosure is the Rubbermaid and Sterlite storage containers. There is a wide range of shapes and sizes that are readily available at prices very low prices compared to an aquarium, however many new keepers are not initially interested based on their appearance. These containers are very lightweight and durable but are not designed to hold water. Make sure the water level is carefully monitored and that the container is inspected for cracks and bowing. Without providing additional support, they should not be completely filled with water. Support to prevent bowing can be in the form of wooden or PVC braces, though these will not prevent any potential cracking and leakage. A power filter can also be used in this kind of setup and since they hang to the side of a tank but they would need to have their bottom supported. Another nice aspect about these types of containers is that they are either translucent or solid in color. This is particularly beneficial with new and young turtles as it provides a bit of privacy and fewer outside distractions. Avoid using brightly colored containers and look for dark-colored ones. You may cover the sides of a translucent container. Clamp-style lighting fixtures also work well in this setting.

Stock Tanks (Plastic)

Stock Tank A highly durable indoor or outdoor enclosure to use is a plastic stock tank. These tanks are moderately inexpensive and can be bought at farm and tractor supply stores. They have been designed with the primary function of holding water. They are solid black or grey, and thus, do not offer "underwater viewing" but will outlast any other type of enclosure.

Concentrating on indoor usage, these enclosures offer similar options available to aquariums and are still able to use most standard filters and heaters. Like with storage containers, clamp-style lighting fixtures should fit as well. These can also be used outdoors and some models can be fitted with a drain for easier cleaning.

Custom and Preformed Ponds

Preformed Pond A fairly durable and highly customizable type of enclosure is a custom and a preformed pond. Although these enclosures are inexpensive, they will require more creativity and effort to build a correct environment. Since preformed ponds are intended to be outdoors and at ground level, they will need additional and appropriate support for indoor usage.

A custom indoor enclosure built with pond liner will prove an even greater challenge since you will have to establish the shape and support form. The surrounding area can accommodate a variety of materials as well as a basking area and a nesting area. This is no doubt a labor-intensive process, but the result will be a very unique habitat.

Miscellaneous Enclosures

Any enclosure that is designed to hold a large volume of water has the potential to become part of a RES habitat. For instance, children's pools are often used to temporarily keep RES outdoors. Any enclosure you choose should be in good condition, clean, well supported and have the appropriate basking, cover, heating, filtration and lighting requirements.

Canopies, Covers, Hoods and Screens

Hood Manufactured hoods and aquarium covers are not a necessary piece of equipment but may complement a standard aquarium and stand. A traditional hood will provide standard lighting fixtures though they will not be able to offer you an option to use a heat lamp. They will be able to retain more heat and reduce drafts. There are also a variety of tank covers that do not completely occupy the top the tank. This would make the addition of a heat lamp possible and can offer you quicker access to the inside of the tank. When used with a UVB bulb, any protective glass or plastic partition should be removed because they will block passing UVB rays. Unobstructed UVB rays should be directed towards the basking area so it would be able to provide maximum benefit for your turtle.

Screen A preferred tank cover is a screen top. They are available commercially and can also be homemade. The necessary concerns are, as with any other type of hood, that it is securely in place and that it will prevent a turtle from escaping or another pet from going in. Screens with tight grids will obstruct some of UVB rays and it should have at least a 1/2" space between the grids. A grid of 1/4” could obstruct as much as 30% of passing UVB rays. These will not prevent drafts from reaching inside the tank or keep heat from escaping, though placing the tank in an appropriate area of your home will eliminate those concerns. The screen should be metal and not plastic or have any sort of vinyl coating if there is lighting equipment resting on it. Hardware cloth and chicken wire are examples of good materials to use.

It is absolutely necessary to make sure your RES cannot climb out or get stuck on anything while trying. They are exceptional climbers, regardless if they have not exhibited any past behavior or interest in climbing or escaping. More than often, they will receive an additional boost climbing on a tank mate's back. Obviously, a fall can cause a serious injury here and safety should always be a top priority. They may also knock over lighting fixtures while attempting to climb out.
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This page updated: 2011/01/28 Copyright © 2005-2011 Red Ear Slider. All rights reserved.