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Thermometer Thermometers are easy to use, inexpensive and having them are absolutely necessary. It is recommended that you use one to monitor water temperature and another to monitor the temperature of the basking area. Infrared temperature guns have good accuracy and the stick on type (liquid crystal) are reliable. Please note that their accuracy might be off a couple of degrees since they are affixed the exterior tank surface and subjected to the room’s air temperature. For example, a water temperature of 78 degrees may read as 76 in a room that is 70 degrees. Current digital probe thermometers seem to have more accuracy issues, it is recommened to double check with an alternative type of thermometer.

Submersible Heating

Water needs to be temperature controlled and the preferred range is 78-80 degrees F for hatchlings and 75-78 degrees F for adults. Water that is too cold can cause a turtle to become inactive and less responsive. A loss of appetite may also occur and your turtle may think it will be going into hibernation. A situation where it is too cool for normal behavior and not cold enough for actual hibernation is referred to as a “death zone”. If the conditions are not correct your RES will become more susceptible to illness and may need medical attention.

Heater A simple fully submersible water heater is required to prevent temperatures from declining to dangerous levels. If you live anywhere where temperatures may drop below 75 degrees, whether indoors or outdoors, then it is recommended that you add a heater to your tank or pond. It is a worthwhile investment to safeguard your turtle’s environment. Monitoring water temperatures is still required since many heaters are not very accurate at gauging temperatures. Avoid pre-set heaters and regularly check the water temperature. The heater's packaging will help you determine how strong a heater to purchase. In general, the wattage should be roughly between 3-5 watts per gallon of water.

Always follow the manufacturers' instructions to prevent injuries and electrical hazards. Heaters are usually marketed towards fish keepers and they may not be as rugged as you think. Consider using a heater guard to prevent potential burns and breakage. A homemade guard could be created with PVC pipe that has holes drilled in. Heaters made of unbreakable Pyrex and thermal plastic are also available. Reputable brands include VisiTherm, Ebo Jager and Tronic.

In general, heaters should not be plugged in for 10 minutes after insertion and should not be taken out for 10 minutes after being unplugged. Sunlight, a basking lamp or a heating pad is not the proper way to maintain water temperatures and can be extremely dangerous or ineffective.

Cooling Water

Water that is too warm will cause excessive shedding and will increase the potential of bacterial illnesses. This is something to consider if you live in a warm climate and are unable to control your ambient temperature. Aquarium chillers are available, but most are quite expensive for keepers. The most practical solution may be to keep the aquarium in an air-conditioned room but out of direct flow with the cool air. Other options may be a canister filter encased in a Styrofoam cooler or ice encased in plastic bags or bottles although these ideas may only be effective for small tanks.

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