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As much as you can possibly afford.  There really is no such thing as too much filtration in a turtle tank.  They are sloppy eaters, heavy poopers, with high nitrogenous waste levels in their poop.  They can handle practically any current as long as they have an appropriate pull out to bask and rest.  They need a LOT of UV, by the way, and best is a combo UVA and UVB with a fresh bulb at least every 6 months even if the bulb still works, they tend to lose intensity in their UV spectrum.  Even better is an outdoor pond.

There is a good write up on Tom Boyer’s website:  www.pethospitalpq.com and look under “Pet Resources”, drop down the menu and click on “Aquatic Turtles”.  There aren’t many times I need help on reptiles, but he’s one of the very few people I would call if I needed help for a patient.  Tom has written most of the chapters on nutrition in many of the reptile medical textbooks.  He’s a world-renowned expert.

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On 7/7/2021 at 10:20 PM, Streetwise said:

I help out with a turtle in a 55 gallon tank at our middle school. I am willing to spend my own money if I can find a canister filter that can self-prime in a half-full 55 gallon.

Can you drill the bottom of the tank the. You won’t have to worry about priming issues.  Not sure if the bottom is tempered on the 55

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On 7/7/2021 at 11:37 PM, Streetwise said:

@ARMYVET, this is the tank. I have four MF10s in there now, but dealing with turtle waste is a lot of work. I'm not really responsible for this tank, but I seem to have a thing for aquariums.

 

Yeah I know the feeling…my daughter has 1 in a 10 gallon and I am the one who takes care of it🙄

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@Streetwise  So, glad you linked the previous thread about your RES, I feel caught up now.

@Lisa S.  You can combine powerheads (with prefilters) and send the water up the intake into HOB’s if you’re struggling with getting canisters to work.

Feeding in a tub partway filled with water does help a lot with keeping waste out of the tank, but it usually takes some training to convince the turtle to eat that way.

You do not have to dechlorinate water for turtles.  They do not have gills to be burned like fish do, and the small traces of chlorine in the water actually help a little with keeping the water cleaner.  Unless you have very excessive amounts of chlorine in your tap water, there’s no need to dechlorinate.  It can help reduce their risk of shell and skin infections by *not* dechlorinating.

Bigger is definitely better as far as tank size.  Solution to pollution is dilution, after all. Outdoor pond is best.  The best way to keep these guys healthy is getting them outside as much as possible.  I know that may not be possible, so fresh UV bulbs at least every 6 months.  I recommend using a permanent marker and writing the date put in service onto the bulb and the date to take out of service.  Second the screen top to prevent the bulb falling in the water.

There is also no need for a heater as long as the basking site is warm enough.  Painted turtles range clear up into Canada.  They are not going to be the least bothered by room temp water as long as they can bask and dry out.

That’s all I can think of right now.

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@Odd DuckThanks for the info. I have been using a feeding container for my turtle and he does great with it. We are also on a shared well so we have no chlorine in our water. I live in Wisconsin so our summers are pretty short. I put him outside sometimes in a pool to let him get some natural sun but otherwise he is doing great with his lighting and yes I do change the bulb every 6 months. I recently changed it as he just turned 6 months old in June. I hate canister filters so thinking of doing HOB. I currently have a Tidal 110 on a 55 gallon goldfish tank that I may wind up putting the turtle in and moving the goldfish to another tank. I figure if I need it I could add another 110. 

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@Joe L.  Since turtles are not breathing the water, there truly is no need for dechlorinator unless the water absolutely reeks of chlorine.  It truly does keep the water cleaner and decreases risks of skin and shell infections - one of the most common problems we see behind malnutrition.  Because turtles are so dirty, there is enough organic waste in their water that the minor amount of chlorine present in most tap water is quickly bound and nullified anyway.

If someone is especially worried about excesses in their water source, it doesn’t hurt to use dechlorinator, but it just isn’t necessary.  If you want another opinion from another veterinarian, you can go to Dr. Thomas Boyer’s website, www.pethospitalpq.com, select “Pet Resources”, drop down the menu and select the “Aquatic Turtles” caresheet.

Tom is one of the few people I would reach out to if I was having difficulty on a case.  He has literally written most of the chapters on reptile nutrition in most of the veterinary textbooks on reptiles.  He truly is a world renowned expert on reptiles.  I trust his advice implicitly.

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@Joe L. many vets will advocate no dechlorinator as the salt that dechlorinates can be really harsh on their lungs.

I have a "mini-pond" with phytoremediation plants and snails to dechlorinate water for the pond in my ornate ornata's pond in its enclosure. The ~10 gallon turtle pond is also the grow out tank for feeder guppies for my LFS (essentially my guppy culls)... so it has to be dechlorinated for the fish. 

I have a UG filter, and a Tetra turtle waterfall that I took out the carbon filters and packed it with hydroballs. Ammonia and nitrites stay non-existent, nitrates takes a month to get over 100, and then turtle pond water goes to phytoremediation pond, and phytoremediation pond water fills up the turtle pond.

No white residue on the turtle shell from dechlorinator, no shell rot, no more lung issues, and the guppies are thriving. Of course, only the fast, smart guppies survive. 😎

 

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