Water: How Can I Keep It Clean? (Film on Water)
Many turtle keeper's concern is the condition of the water after just a few
days. "Within the last week I have replaced the water three times because
of the clarity and stench. The Vet said we should provide food as often
as possible, which I'm sure is a contributing factor, but is this
normal? What type of tank do you recommend? How often should the water
be changed? "
This question is answered in other places, but since I get it so often, here
is an answer. Refer to the "See Also" section for links.
a) Get a bigger filter. As recommended on the Setup Page, the filter must
be much bigger than what is recommended for a fishtank of the same size.
b) Do NOT provide food all the time. It soils the water terribly, especially
the dry food. Overfeeding turtles is common. Refer to the feeding guidelines
c) Don't leave decomposing food in the tank.
For baby turtles, feed small portions once a day.
d) Feed the turtles in separate container once a day.
e) If you want food available all the time, drop in some zucchini or
spinach and take it out when it starts to decompose. It soils the
water a lot less than dry food.
f) Keep some fish (feeder goldfish) in the tank with the turtles.
They serve as food (but don't spoil), as entertainment and
exercise, and they eat food leftovers. (Of course, this does not
reduce the need for a filter; it just changes how decomposing food
is dealt with.)
g) Make sure your tank is big enough and has enough water for the number
and size of turtles you keep.
h) Do not feed food that falls apart, like canned dog food, in the tank.
i) Use a scoop to remove poop as soon as it happens. (A fishy net does
fine for that.)
Film covering water
If you find a layer of film covering the water, it is probably some fats
or proteins. This is caused by food in the tank as it is decomposed by
bacteria. If the film is thin and transparent, it is pretty much harmless,
though ugly. If you use a filter, set it up so that the surface of the
water gets perturbed. This usually breaks up the filter.
If the filter is slimy and whitish, change the water. If the film returns,
take a look at your water management and your filter. You may also want
to give your tank a thorough cleaning.
To avoid films, don't overfeed your turtles, clean the tank frequently,
consider feeding in a separate container if your tank is small, or add
some goldfish to the tank to eat leftovers.
(Contributed by Lori from Turtle Homes)
What you are getting is called new tank syndrome. It happens when the
beneficial bacteria begin to develop and are free floating. If you ride it
out and put up with it within a few weeks it will clear. The beneficial
bacteria will take up root in the biological filter, sides of the tank and
any substrate you have. Do a 10-20% water change no more often than 1 time
per week until the water clears.
Scoop out any solid waste. You may choose to put your turtle in another
contain and do daily water changes. Add a few fish to the tank and let them
produce the waste the bacteria needs to feed on. This way the ammonia spikes
a cycling tank creates do not bother the turtle. Unfortunately during a first
cycling it is common to lose a fish or too due to the increased ammonia. I
suggest a test kit. You will be able to monitor the level and do water a
water change if it get to a dangerous level.
An experienced fish person can always tell by the gills that there is ammonia
in the tank.