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How To Care For Your New Baby Turtle

Updated: Oct 10

How To Care For Your New Baby Turtle

Congratulations on purchasing your turtle. When you take your turtle home there are a few things you will need to do in order o keep him/her happy and healthy. When filling and cleaning your turtle aquarium always use tap water and add WATER AGER every time you add new water. If you have to use rainwater then you must use RAINWATER CONDITIONER, as rainwater is too soft and has no salts and minerals that tap water has and your turtle requires for his/her health.

You MUST check the Ph level of the aquarium every 5-7 days. Follow the directions on the back of the test kit and always make sure the Ph level is ALKALINE (BLUE). 7.0-7.5 is perfect. When the Ph is 6.8 (GREEN/YELLOW) or lower, a 50% water change needs to be completed immediately.

In order to water change the aquarium correctly you should use a gravel cleaner. Only ever remove half of the water wen performing a water change. NEVER REMOVE ALL WATER as any more than 50% will upset the water quality dramatically and the turtle will become stressed and this may cause disease and more severely, death. When refilling the aquarium be sure to add WATER AGER again. If you do not have time to do a water change straight away and the Ph is acidic, PH UP POWDER can be used to increase the alkalinity, but this must only be used as a temporary measure, a water change must be performed as soon as possible.

Aquarium filtration is essential with turtles because they can be very messy little creatures. Only ever clean the power filter when the flow rate has slowed right down and almost stopped. Never clean the filter at the same time as doing a water change. They should be cleaned at least 7 days apart so as to not upset the bacterial balance of the aquarium.

Your aquarium should be HEATED for the turtle for the first 3 years otherwise in winter he/she will hibernate. If hibernation occurs at a young age there is risk of your turtle dying due to insufficient food storage because their bellies are so little it is impossible for them to store enough food away to live off of during hibernation. Heating the aquarium to 24 - 26 degrees will prevent your tortoise from hibernating, so he/she will remain active during winter, feed well, grow fast ready to be an adult to then be able to handle hibernation if placed outdoors in a pond.

DO NOT OVER FEED your turtle as this will pollute your aquarium. When feeding your turtle the food must be frozen and should be eaten within 10 minutes of being place in the aquarium. When the turtle is young he/she should be fed 2 times a day preferably with FROZEN BABY TURTLE FOOD as this has all the vitamins and minerals the tortoise requires at a young age for healthy growth and development. There are other frozen foods such as BLOODWORMS, BRINESHRIMP VEGGIE MIX and a large range of dry foods available as treats. It is advisable to feed them a variety of different food.

A baby turtle requires land as he/she does not have enough energy to swim all of the time. Also when he/she comes out on dry land it helps to dry out his/her shell and prevent soft shell. The land area can be a fixed turtle shelf, removeable or floating so as when he/she out grows the current aquarium they can be used in the new one.

A CALCIUM BLOCK must be kept in the aquarium at all times and replaced as it dissolves. This block assists in the hardening of the shell, which also helps prevent soft shell and also releases calcium carbonate to harden up the water quality and to assist in Ph. They should be used until the turtle becomes an adult approx. 2-3 years.

Your baby turtle can be handled after a few weeks of purchase when it is feeding and eating well and a little bit of growth has occurred, this way then the little umbilical chord would have sealed over properly and they won't be subject to any infection and they will be a bit stronger and find it less stressful to be handled. Don't ever leave your turtle unattended when you take them out of the aquarium and place him/her on the floor, as you will be very surprised as to how quickly they can run under home appliances etc. and sometimes makes it impossible to get them. Also be aware of other pets such as dogs and cats when you take them out and let them walk around outside on the lawn.

If there is ever any sign of SICKNESS or DISEASE on your turtle please act immediately. If you notice your turtle spending a lot of time on its dock out of water or sitting at the bottom of your aquarium and not active and swimming then they are telling you there is something wrong. Telephone us or bring him/her in for us to look at with a sample of your aquarium water and we will then advise you of the best treatment.

Your turtle can live up to 120 YEARS of age if cared for correctly. An adult tortoise can grow up to 45cm in size. The size of the aquarium has no bearing whatsoever on how large your turtle will grow. You will need to buy a larger aquarium at some stage as he/she outgrows its aquarium. Either this or if your turtle has been cared for and well-fed, you can place him/her in a pond outside. We can advise you of this when the time comes, just bring your turtle in for a free health check and we will assess if he/she will be ok to be placed outside.

Here in South Australia there are two common species of turtle mainly sold, the SHORTNECKED RIVER MURRAY TURTLE and the LONGNECKED TURTLE. The longneck turtles are harder to obtain than the short necks, they also grow to adult size at a much slower rate than the short neck turtle and people find them to be more timid.

Thank you to Fish Haven for helping us put together this turtle care blog.

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