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Do Turtles Need A Filter System?

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Turtles are often confused with tortoises. They aren’t related, but they both live in water and eat bugs. So what makes turtles unique from tortoises?

Turtles are cold-blooded animals, which means they don’t have internal body heat. This makes them vulnerable to overheating during hot weather. In addition, they cannot regulate their temperature through sweating.

Small turtle swimming in an aquarium

Turtle shells are made of calcium carbonate, also found in seashells. This helps to protect the turtles’ soft bodies from predators. Without a shell, turtles would drown if they lost their balance when swimming.

To compensate for this problem, turtles use flippers on their front feet called paddles. These give them an extra surface area.

Turtles need a lot of oxygen to survive. They must keep their heads out of the water, where air bubbles can be created naturally by breathing.

If a turtle lies down in the water for too long, its gills will stop working. This causes the animal to suffocate and die.

Because turtles do not have teeth, most of their food needs to be digested before being absorbed into their system. Unlike other reptiles, turtles do not chew their prey.

Instead, they swallow chunks of meat whole. Turtles feed mainly on crabs, mollusks, worms, insects, fish, and even small mammals such as frogs and mice.

To digest their meals, turtles produce powerful enzymes in their stomachs. These acids break down protein and fat, so they can be absorbed by the rest of the body.

What To Consider Before Buying A Pet Turtle

If you want to buy a pet turtle, there are several things you should know about them before bringing home your new friend.

First, you should find out what type of turtle you are buying. Some are active aquatic creatures, while others prefer to remain land dwellers. Some types of freshwater turtles will tolerate saltwater. Others won’t.

You should also decide how much space your turtle will need to roam around inside his enclosure.

Most turtles need plenty of room to exercise correctly. Too little space may cause the animal to develop problems like arthritis or respiratory infections.

It is essential to check the health of your prospective turtle before you bring him home. Make sure he has good vision and claws that look sharp and strong.

Also, examine his tail, legs, and back carefully. Check for any missing parts or wounds.

Where Can You Find Turtles?

A few species of freshwater turtles live in ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers. Many turtles breed at night, but others choose to mate during the day.

Freshwater turtles need a large amount of fresh water to thrive. They can survive for long periods without food. However, they need daily access to clean drinking water.

Most freshwater turtles live in North America, Europe, and Asia. There are many kinds of them, including terrapins, box turtles, and tortoises.

Terrapin turtles come from Africa. They are primarily herbivores, feeding mainly on leaves, grasses, and roots.

Box turtles belong to the order Testudines. Their name comes from testudo’s Latin words, meaning “tortoise,” and carinae, meaning “nipple.”

Some scientists think the shape of the shell resembles the breastplate of an armored beast. The common side-necked turtle belongs to the order Chelonii. Its scientific name means “little neck” in Greek.

How To Install A Filter For Turtles

Aquarium with filter on top

To install a filter, open up the aquarium’s top compartment. Next, find some plastic tubing and cut off one end with scissors.

Next, insert the tube through the tank’s upper opening, ensuring it doesn’t touch anything else inside the tank. Then fasten the end to the aquarium’s lid with tape.

Finally, fill the tube with water and attach the other end to the aquarium’s lower opening.

Now the filter can remove impurities from the water. As the water passes through the filter’s elements, the dirt particles settle onto the bottom of the tank. The waste products build up there until you empty the tank.

When using a filter, remember to replace the water in the tubes every week. This prevents ammonia levels from becoming too high. If your turtle gets sick because of high amounts of ammonia in its system, it could die.

Turtle Health Care

When caring for a turtle, follow these tips:

  • Keep the tank away from direct sunlight. Freshwater turtles require lots of light to help them grow. However, direct sunlight can make their skin turn yellowish, indicating liver damage. Your turtle might also become lethargic if it spends too much time under the sun.
  • Avoid using medications unless your veterinarian tells you it’s okay. Medicines aren’t safe for all pets, especially those who have sensitive stomachs.
  • Give your turtle enough room to move around within the cage.
  • Don’t let your turtle swim near objects such as sticks or rocks. These items may accidentally injure it or cause internal trauma.
  • Don’t feed your pet any type of fish food. Instead, give your turtle foods like crickets, worms, earthworms, and snails. It will be healthier for him.
  • Use a UV lamp to sterilize your tank’s water. This helps prevent bacteria growth in the tank. You’ll find UV lamps sold at most hardware stores and online.
  • Clean the outside of the tank regularly. Dirt attracts mosquitoes and fleas, so keep them out of the tank by removing leaf piles, rotting logs, etc. If any sludge starts to form in the tank, you can use a cleaner to remove it such as this, available at
  • Never keep more than two turtles together. When kept separately, they won’t fight over territory.
  • If your turtle is eating well, he’ll probably be happy. But if he isn’t thriving, talk to your vet about what’s causing his condition. He can conduct tests that will tell you what’s wrong.

How To Clean A Turtle Tank

To clean a turtle tank:

  1. Start by rinsing everything out, including the filter.
  2. Check the entire tank area, including the sides and the floor for debris.
  3. Don’t forget to rinse everything out of the hood.
  4. After cleaning, wipe down the tank walls with a damp towel.

Use a sponge to wash the gravel in the tank. First, put the wet sponge into the tank, then sprinkle some dry sand on the sponge. Next, move the sponge back and forth across the gravel.

After this step, you should only need to do the above steps once per month.

What Are Turtles Water Requirements, And How Often Should I Change The Water In My Aquarium?

2 turtles in an aquarium

Most freshwater turtles drink 2 quarts (1.9 liters) of water per day.

Some species of reptiles are known to drink even more! They may take longer between drinks during hot weather, but it’s best to allow them plenty of time between meals.

Your aquarium should contain one-half inch (.5 cm) of gravel. However, some people recommend adding some extra grit to the aquarium. This keeps the gravel cleaner and provides a surface on which your reptile can crawl.

The temperature of the aquarium should stay between 75 °F (24 °C) and 80 °F (27 °C). Although some turtles prefer warmer temperatures, others do better when the water is cooler.

Tip: Read our article “The Best Filter For Turtle Tank

Aquarium Maintenance Tips For Pet Turtles

You can use plain tap water for aquariums, but distilled water is usually recommended because it contains fewer impurities. In addition, distilled water has been through several processes to remove harmful chemicals.

How Long Does It Take For A Turtle To Grow If They’re Given Enough Food?

It depends on how giant your turtle is and how much food he eats. Turtles don’t grow very fast. Turtles are excellent swimmers. They know exactly where they want to go, so they just wiggle.

Once they learn how to maintain their stamina, they can swim long distances without getting tired.

Is There Anything That Can Hurt A Baby Turtle?

Some types of plants and stones are poisonous to turtles. Look carefully at new objects before placing them in your turtle’s aquarium. Here are some things you shouldn’t put in your pet’s tank:

  • Insecticides
  • Brine shrimp
  • Stones
  • Fish
  • Nematodes
  • Mites
  • Other small animals like snails and slugs
  • Plants with thorns or spines

Keep your turtle safe from the dangers around him by knowing what to look for. Here are some other things to watch out for:

  • Leaves
  • Small sticks
  • Debris floating near the top of the water
  • Ticks
  • Snakes
  • Eels
  • Beach litter
  • Pellets
  • Spiders

Other animals that could be dangerous to your turtle include rats, seagulls, and cats. Your veterinarian can help you determine if your home is infested with these pests.

You might also consider hiring someone specializing in taking care of reptiles to ensure your pets are being properly cared for.

What Is The Best Way To Clean A Tank Of Living Fish?

Hand cleaning an aquarium

There are many methods for cleaning live fish tanks. Most involve vacuuming them first and then spraying them with water. Another option is using a pressure washer to blast away the dirt.

Are Turtles Injured Easier Than Other Types Of Reptiles?

They actually can endure less physical trauma than other kinds of reptiles. Because turtles have limited movement, they tend to be relatively easy to handle.

Turtle Habitats

When you purchase your turtle, you will need to provide a suitable habitat. You can keep the turtle in its own enclosure or place it inside your aquarium.

Provide plenty of places for the turtle to hide and sleep. Make sure there’s enough room for him to move freely and turn around.

Researching Before You Buy

If you buy a turtle online, you should thoroughly research the seller before making any purchases. Some people are not knowledgeable about keeping turtles safely and may sell you something inappropriate.

You may also have problems buying turtles over the internet because you do not see them in person.

How Much Sunlight Do Turtles Need?

Turtles need lots of sunlight to stay healthy. If they don’t get enough sun, they may develop albinism, making their eyes light brown instead of dark green.

Turtles also need UV rays to produce vitamin D. It helps maintain normal calcium levels. A lack of exposure to UV rays causes poor bone health, including weak bones and brittle nails.

Where Should I Keep My Aquatic Animals During Winter Time?

Many aquatic animals spend winters in warmer climates, but some species, such as turtles, prefer cooler temperatures. Turtles need to hibernate during this time.

When you bring these creatures back into your house, give them a chance to acclimate to the new temperature before putting them into an aquarium.

Also, make sure you clean their enclosures thoroughly before returning them to the tank.

To Recap: An Essential Guide For Keeping Freshwater Turtles Safely And Healthily At Home

Turtles are trendy pets. Most people like owning them because they are cute. And, they can live long lives if given proper care.

The following are basic guidelines for maintaining a healthy freshwater turtle:

  1. Provide adequate space in your home for your pet to explore and exercise. This way, he won’t feel cramped and stressed out.
  2. Give him or her toys to play with. They’ll enjoy playing with them.
  3. Clean up spills promptly. For example, don’t let the turtle drink anything on the floor.
  4. Prevent your pet’s enclosure from getting too hot. Avoid placing heat lamps near the tank.
  5. Give your pet fresh water at least once every two days. Fills the turtle’s tank with warm water up to the rim the rest of the time.
  6. Make sure there is plenty of air circulating around his tank.
  7. Have your pet inspected yearly by a veterinarian specializing in reptiles.
  8. Be sure to read your pet’s manual carefully. You must follow its instructions strictly, or else your pet could become ill.
  9. Always keep your pet under supervision when they’re out of their enclosure. Never leave the turtle unattended.
  10. If your pet gets injured, immediately take him to a vet.
  11. Do not try to treat an injury yourself. Your pet will be more comfortable and healthier with professional help.
  12. Remember to always provide a safe and secure environment for your pet where he feels free to roam.


To conclude, thank you for reading my post today. To add to this post, please share your experiences about keeping freshwater turtles at home.

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.