If you’re looking to keep an aquarium pet but you’re bored with the idea of more fish then you might like to consider turtles as pets. There are a number of turtle species that can be easily and cheaply purchased and will make ideal, if someone exotic, pets to keep in the home aquarium.
As a side note, before we go any further it is important to mention that turtles are carnivorous on the whole – that is they eat meat. As a result there are no cases where turtles can be safely kept with aquarium fish. Even if the fish themselves are as big or even bigger than the turtle, turtles are predators and may try to bite of chunks of fin etc. that can lead to a slow and painful death for your fish. In other words never try to keep fish and turtles together in the same aquarium.
That said, what aquarium supplies will you need to successfully keep turtles as pets?
Housing Turtles As Pets
By their very nature turtles are mainly aquatic – though most will come out of the water from time to time if given the chance so that they can dry off and bask in the sun’s rays. Doing so not only helps to aid their metabolism but also helps to reduce the chances of skin problems and/or parasites attacking constantly damp skin. As a result of their mainly aquatic way of life an aquarium is the ideal home for them.
While different species of turtle attain different eventual sizes it goes without saying that the larger the aquarium the better. Typically a tank of at least 4 feet long will be required for an adult pair though youngsters may be kept in smaller aquariums.
Like most pet reptiles turtles as pets require heating and artificial lighting if they are to stay fit and healthy. This means an aquarium heater will be need to keep the water warm. For turtles there are really two kinds of lights that are necessary and so it is important to install both.
The first kind of lighting is a heat lamp which will simulate the warmth of the suns rays when your turtles come out of the water to bask and the second is a bulb that gives out UV light to enable your turtle to properly use vitamin D3. Without this artificial UV light a turtle kept indoors can quickly find itself suffering from bone and joint problems which at their most extreme can lead to turtles being unable to move around their vivarium. These two lamps may use separate bulbs or in some cases bulbs can be purchased that give out both UV light and heat which saves on money and electrical fittings.
Be sure to provide an area for your turtles to leave the water either in the form of an area of dry land or some floating wood (cork bark is ideal) onto which your turtles can haul themselves out.
As stated, most turtles are carnivores and furthermore they tend to eat in the water rather than in their basking area which means the water in their aquarium can quickly become an unpleasant soup of rotting dead meat if care is not taken. In light of this turtles as pets require a very strong filtration
system to keep all the waste in check and regular maintenance by the owner to keep everything smelling clean and fresh.
Feeding Turtles As Pets
As with any other pet, when it comes to the diet of a pet turtle variety is key. By offering a range of foods you maximize the chances of your pet turtles getting all the nutrients they need. Examples of suitable foods for turtles kept as pets include mealworms, crickets, commercial fish flakes and pellets, raw beef, small amounts of tinned pet food and of course not forgetting the pre-made commercial turtle foods available from most exotic pet stores.
Because this food can quickly rot and turn the water sour it is a smart idea to only feed your turtles small amounts at any one time. Ideally you want all the food provided to be consumed within a few minutes. If one provides more food than a turtle needs then this is when the food will sink to the bottom of the aquarium and start to rot. In this way try to only feed your turtles as much as they eat in a few minutes and feed them once or twice a day rather than trying to leave food in the tank at all times.