Having some trouble with my african sideneck

caseyerin

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Hi! I have an African Sideneck Turtle and have had him for about 3 years now. When I first got him, I had him in a 20 gallon tank and now he is currently in a 60 gallon tank and has been for about a year.

I just bought him a new filter, because the old one was a small filter and a rock formation that took up too much room without letting the turtle climb. I added new water to the tank today, cleaned all the rocks at the bottom of the tank and removed the old filter and added the new filter. I added water at a higher level then usual to allow him some more swimming room (still with access to a basking dock) but it seemed he couldn't swim up to the top of the water. I left him unattended for about 10 minutes and came back to find the turtle on his back at the bottom of the tank. I immediately pulled him out of the tank and put him in a plastic container (his temporary storage while I clean the tank). He did move and is currently trying to escape his container, as usual.

I did remove a lot of water and left the new filter in, it is still working very well. The water is colder than usual, at 68, as it was still warming to the appropriate temperature but should be between 70-75 within the hour.

I should also add that I am a teacher and this turtle is in my classroom, so usually I leave him for the weekend. It is Friday afternoon and I am nervous to put the turtle back in the tank and leave. Any advice would be appreciated!
 

Moozillion

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Hi! I have an African Sideneck Turtle and have had him for about 3 years now. When I first got him, I had him in a 20 gallon tank and now he is currently in a 60 gallon tank and has been for about a year.

I just bought him a new filter, because the old one was a small filter and a rock formation that took up too much room without letting the turtle climb. I added new water to the tank today, cleaned all the rocks at the bottom of the tank and removed the old filter and added the new filter. I added water at a higher level then usual to allow him some more swimming room (still with access to a basking dock) but it seemed he couldn't swim up to the top of the water. I left him unattended for about 10 minutes and came back to find the turtle on his back at the bottom of the tank. I immediately pulled him out of the tank and put him in a plastic container (his temporary storage while I clean the tank). He did move and is currently trying to escape his container, as usual.

I did remove a lot of water and left the new filter in, it is still working very well. The water is colder than usual, at 68, as it was still warming to the appropriate temperature but should be between 70-75 within the hour.

I should also add that I am a teacher and this turtle is in my classroom, so usually I leave him for the weekend. It is Friday afternoon and I am nervous to put the turtle back in the tank and leave. Any advice would be appreciated!

I wish I knew what to tell you, but I have zero experience with African sidenecks.
The only thing I can think of, was that the water might have been a little too cool for him. Colder temperatures slow down EVERYTHING in reptiles- including muscles and reflexes, which would be the ability to right himself.
Watch out for adding more water than they expect after a water change: that’s when my mud turtle has her near-drowning event in ‘17.

If your turtle is acting ok and the tank parameters are at usual levels, I should think he’d be ok.
Again, guessing here.
 

Toddrickfl1

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If @theTurtleRoom is on the forum, I think there's a wealth of expertise there, too.
Not to go off topic but if you haven't seen the recent podcast from the turtle room featuring Tortstork check it out, very interesting.

@caseyerin I don't have any advice. Hopefully it was just a fluke and your turtle is fine.
 

HermanniChris

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Pelusios and Pelomedusa species are often poor swimmers similar to our American mud turtles. When the water depth increases but the temperature is low and they don’t have a very large, gradual incline to effortlessly walk up, they drown in a short amount of time.
Usually they come back just fine if you catch it in time.
I would keep the water at what he used to and possibly install a submersible heater to keep the temperature in the 70s.
 

mark1

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i'd keep the water temp closer to 80 than 70 ….. make sure they can climb to the water surface , make sure they can't get trapped , at 70 degree body temp a weak swimmer will be a weaker swimmer ......……. cleaning the filter and rocks can be detrimental to fatal for the bacteria necessary for the nitrogen cycle , depending on how good you clean it . I wouldn't attribute that to your recent problem .......... personally I've always been and remain suspicious of the reason behind a turtle that's not trapped drowning ........ I've spent my entire life fishing rivers looking under rocks and logs , I've never run across a drowned turtle , it seems fairly common in the hobby , but it appears obviously very rare in wild turtles ......
 

caseyerin

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I just want to thank everyone for their responses! I ended up bringing my turtle home for the weekend so I didn't worry about him. He was in a smaller tank but at least I could warm up the water quicker and watch him without driving to school over the weekend. The water in his regular tank is warmer now (he does have a submersible heater) and he's back in it. He seems completely fine! I don't do a full cleaning too often and I always try to leave some of that good bacteria in the tank. I don't have the bottom set as an incline, I just have a larger basking area that has an incline into the water so hopefully with the lower water level again there shouldn't be too much problem. I'll think about adding an incline to the bottom of the tank with rocks to further support him but all seems well now. Hopefully the new filter is not a problem since I was trying to find something to take up less room so he could walk and swim more, haha. Meanwhile, of course he's currently just hiding in the corner of the tank.
 
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