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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Care Guides > Aquatic Turtle Setup Steps

Aquatic Turtle

Experience Level: Beginner

Aquatic Turtles

Step 1Choosing an Aquarium

Aquatic Turtles can be kept with other turtles or in a habitat/pond with large fish (turtles may eat small fish). Larger habitats are required for multiple turtles.

Aquarium
(A) Use a 55-gallon, or larger aquarium.
(B) Screened lid, if not included with aquarium.
(C) Use an underwater or canister filter for water area.

Step 2Heating and Lighting

Adequate temperature and humidity levels are imperative to your turtle’s health.

Heating
(D) Habitats should be equipped with two thermometers (one aquarium thermometer to monitor water temperature and one to monitor the temperature near the basking site).
• Supplemental heat should be provided by placing a (E) heat bulb over one side of the habitat. The heat should be provided on the same side of the habitat as the land. Heat bulbs can be turned off at night to provide cooler nighttime temperatures if the temperature does not drop below 70°.

(F) Use an underwater heater as needed to maintain the temperatures in the water.

• Use a night-specific heat lamp as needed to maintain nighttime temperatures.

Temperature Target Range
Day  
Cool Side 75 - 85° F (24-29° C)
Basking Spot 90 - 95° F (32-35° C)
Water 72 - 77° F (22-25° C)
Night 65-75° F (18-24° C)

Lighting
• Aquatic Turtles are diurnal meaning they are most active during the day. Aquatic Turtles require 12 hours of (G) ultraviolet light per day.

 • For night viewing, use a night-specific bulb to minimize visible light provided to your turtle.
 

Step 3Substrate and Decor

Substrate
• Aquarium gravel may be used to create a sloped area for land.

• Vacuum gravel in the habitat to remove debris with each water change.

Decor
(H) Provide floating turtle landing dock if not providing land space by sloping the gravel.
(I) Provide branches for decor.

HEALTH
New surroundings and environments can be stressful for reptiles. Prior to handling your pet, give him 3-4 days to adjust to his new surroundings while monitoring his behavior for any signs of stress or illness. Shortly after purchase, ask a veterinarian familiar with reptiles to examine your pet.

THINGS TO WATCH FOR
• Runny droppings for more than two days

• Eating or drinking less; weight loss

• Swollen joints

• Discharge from the eyes, nose or mouth

• Shedding problems; discolored skin

• Avoidance of the basking area; more time spent hiding

If you notice any of the above signs, speak with a PetSmart store associate or reptile veterinarian with questions about the health of your pet.

PETSMART CARES
Pets purchased at PetSmart are part of our exclusive Vet Assured™ program; a program designed by PetSmart veterinarians to help improve the health and well-being of our pets.

The program includes:
• Specific standards our vendors agree to meet in caring for and observing pets for common illnesses.

• Specific standards for in-store pet care.

• The PetSmart Promise: If your pet becomes ill during the initial 14-day period, or if you’re not satisfied for any reason, PetSmart will gladly replace the pet or refund the purchase price.

Other Reminders

Use caution when handling reptiles. All pets may bite or scratch especially when stressed. Always handle your turtle by the mid section and not by the limbs. Supervise children around pets.

Pets may transmit disease to humans; be sure to wash your hands before and after handling your pet, the aquarium water or cleaning its home.