Advice on building a turtle tank
June 25, 2010 11:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm planning on building a turtle tank. How do I go about it?

I own a pair of red-eared sliders. They are three months old. I want to build a terrarium sort of thing. I want to know things like if acrylic is better, what sort of adhesive to use, construction, design etc.
posted by caboose to Pets & Animals (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What I have seen a lot of people really succeed at is taking a pond liner and building a frame for it so they can have it inside. The benefits of pond liners include drains for easier cleaning, watertightness, and a big range of shapes and sizes. You probably want to get a 75-100 gallon pond liner for two sliders when they are full grown, although if you can manage a little bigger that would be best. I am posting from my phone so I will shoot you a message later on with some more build ideas I've seen in my pet store years.
posted by d13t_p3ps1 at 5:26 AM on June 26, 2010

my turtle tank is a 55 gallon aquarium that i keep filled half way, and have a floating dock under a broad spectrum heat lamp. probably not big enough for 2 sliders, though.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 6:09 AM on June 26, 2010

also, if you haven't found it yet-- happy turtle has a lot of good advice
posted by lester's sock puppet at 6:10 AM on June 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Right now (at 3 mos) they are probably pretty tiny, correct? You might want to think in terms of a series of tanks; something for the first couple of years, then when they're getting full-size, you'll need a much larger tank (or outdoor pond if you can swing it). For the smaller tanks, using old fishtanks (you can often find these really cheap on Craigslist, garage sales, etc) might be your best bet; it can be tricky making something watertight and safe to hold back the weight of water.
posted by The otter lady at 7:51 AM on June 26, 2010

definitely get the biggest plastic pond liner you can fit in your situation. our pond sliders are 6 years old. the red ear is about 10" front to back on his shell and the little one (same age but had some health problems) is about 6". we have a 165 gallon pond from the orange store and a 160 GPH pump going through a 5 gallon bucket filter. it's not enough. they eat a lot, poop a lot, and are beloved pets. and a lot of work. we do a full water change every 2 months, and skim poop daily with a fine net. it's still not enough. our fish have all died off from the toxins in the water, so it's just turtles now. our back porch is dedicated to 7 litter boxes and the pond, so our stinkies are nice and seperate from the rest of the house, but turtles live long and prosper. and poop a lot. so plan ahead if you want to be a worthy turtle keeper.
posted by Redhush at 10:06 PM on June 26, 2010

Response by poster: Pond liners seem to be the way to go, but I don't have space for it.

@the otter lady: They are around two inches in length now. A large fish tank is a good idea. And probably a floating deck or some sort of attachment for them to bask.
Like you mentioned, making a tank is too tedious, so i'll look around for a tank.

@redhush: You're right about the eating and pooping stuff. The water's just so stinky and murky, I change it every three days. But they are just so cute and curious and they let me pet them. I was wondering what kind of a diet your turtles are on. Do you give them guppies? Do they eat vegetables? My turtles don't even touch carrots and fruits. I give them turtle food (pellets) and occasionally blood worms and dried shrimp as treat.

@lester sock puppet: Thank you for the happy turtle site. I didn't come across it before.

@ d13t_p3ps1: Thank you for your message. I just responded.
posted by caboose at 1:59 AM on July 1, 2010

till recently, all I could get them to eat was turtle pellets, and never showed interest in veggies, but thanks to mefi, now they also eat soft kitten food and soft cat treats. In spite of their size, our turtle still eat from our hands and let us pet them too. I am on the verge of trying out a small pool filter for sanitation. just because our filter is big, doesn't make it good, but more water handles the bio load better, so go as big as space allows
posted by Redhush at 4:02 PM on July 3, 2010

i use a 55 gallon aquarium with a cannister filter that's made to handle the volume of a 55 gallon tank--so since the tank is only half filled, i have more power then i need. that helps keep the water much cleaner.

i have a floating dock that i've affixed to the side with suction cups, and i have a reptile light shining on it for half the day. that's my favorite place for my red eared slider to sit. i have a few large rocks on the bottom to make it look interesting and give the fish a place to hide.

when my turtle was smaller it was fun to feed her blackworms. i had a gravel bottomed aquarium then and the worms would get into the gravel. turtles really like hunting them down. it also was a good lesson on how fast turtles can be. they're basically snakes with shells.

my tank has about 4-5 really smart guppies right now. they've lived for quite some time. one piece of advice about fish: get really small ones. when you get big ones you get chunks of floating fish that didn't quite get eaten.

i've had success with apple, and occasionally lettuce. earthworms are a treat. i've also found that my turtle will devour any aquatic plant i get.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 4:24 PM on July 7, 2010

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