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Posted by Jenskot1 on May 12, 2003 at 11:27:36:
In Reply to: Turtles Living in Cramped Quarters posted by laurenk on May 12, 2003 at 01:49:31:
If these turtles have made it this far and are OK, giving them a larger, more suitable habitat really won't require that much more effort. Many people build beautiful, if elaborate set-ups, so check around for some ideas if you're feeling creative. But your sister seems more the low-maintenance type, so I'll just mention the essentials necessary for healthy turtles:
1) Space is important, so I'd definitely encourage her to buy *at the very least* a 20-30g for 2 turtles. If she fears the size will keep it underfoot, put it on a stable TV cart in a low-traffic area of the room (just don't stick the turtles in a corner and forget to play with them!). More water-filled tank space gives them more area to swim (something you definitely don't see in pet stores), and RES like to swim, so...
2) If she hates cleaning, invest in a snazzy filter. There are plenty of less expensive filters out there, but I hate messing with the things, so I finally bought an Eheim a few years ago. It keeps the water crystal clear with media changes every 2 months or so (plus water changes every other week), and its really easy to prime. I usually scrub down the tubing and tank when i change the media as well (2 hours every 2 months, not a big deal). It's easier to clean if you keep your tank pretty utilitarian (no gravel and stuff), although turtles may be happier with a more realistic environment.
3) Basking and lighting - I only have one adult turtle in the tank I'm describing, and while he really enjoys his floating island, this may not work for 2 RES so I'll let others suggest basking areas. But the most important thing is that they have a stable area they can easily climb onto to dry out (It doesn't have to be a fancy, homemade external plywood attachment or anything - floating islands, bricks with a rampway, are OK - just no styrofoam!). Proper lighting is really easy to provide - I just hang a UVB fluorescent over the tank, and replace it every 6 months (or when it says to replace it). For warmth, I also clipped a desk-lamp (with a 75-watt bulb) onto the tank over the basking area, and plugged both UVB and normal lamps into a timer, so they go on and off in sync of their own accord. Also, I'm from New England, and I keep the tank in a heated room (not the garage), so they've never really needed a submersible water heater either.
These suggestions are for a really basic tank - many in this forum may have prettier suggestions, and if your sister gets more involved in turtle-keeping you should definitely explore them. But it sounds like the priority right now is getting the turtles into a safe environment, and for busy people a simpler set-up is easier to maintain as a healthy habitat. So my tank may not win any awards, but the vet always says that my turtles are among the brightest (colorwise), healthiest turtles he's seen in practice, and as long as my turtles are happy and healthy, that's OK for me. BTW, do the turtles have a vet yet? That's another important thing to have handy, even if they only go for annual check-ups. Good luck!