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Water Turtle Hatchling: Water Level and Substrate?

AllieKat1997

Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2018
Messages
87
Location (City and/or State)
Missouri
Hello and thanks for reading my post!
I decided to get a stinkpot musk turtle; I don’t have him just yet. I’m in the “researching phase”. I was thinking of a bare bottom tank with a few river rocks for climbing scattered around. Someone said they’d get enrichment from sand.

Is bare bottom and river rocks okay? Or should I try a thin layer of sand and river rocks? The river rocks I found are 2-3 inches in size. The only person looking at the little guy is gonna be me and I’m way more interested in his welfare than how pretty his tank looks. (I decided against gravel on the off chance he could eat it.)

Also how much water should I give him? He’s gonna be a hatchling. Some people toss theirs into a full tank... Which research I did said for a stinkpot this isn’t okay. Others give enough water they can tip toe on the bottom on the tank and breath. Is a few inches okay? It’d be over his head but he’s going to have the river rocks stacked around in various places to rest above water and in the water plus a fake log I already bought for him.

Thanks so much!
(NOT MY PHOTO! Just thought he was cute!)
 

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mark1

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Dec 31, 2015
Messages
1,043
Location (City and/or State)
ohio
hatchling like that would be found in shallow water , choked with weeds where getting to the surface is easy , usually able to to reach the surface without leaving their hiding spot ……..
 

AllieKat1997

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Joined
Aug 30, 2018
Messages
87
Location (City and/or State)
Missouri
hatchling like that would be found in shallow water , choked with weeds where getting to the surface is easy , usually able to to reach the surface without leaving their hiding spot ……..
Thanks for the response... I was curious what others with stinkpots did for their tanks.
 

Markw84

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Sacramento, CA (Central Valley)
I start hatchlings in the shallower water with no substrate to get them eating well and see how they are starting. But within a few weeks they are eating aggressively and moving around well and I move them into a deeper tank that is more natural.

People often comment that they are not good swimmers. That is not true. They are excellent, strong swimmers. Look at the large paddles their webbed feet make as opposed to the smaller feet of mud and spotted turtles who are much less adept swimmers. It is just that they prefer to maintain a negative buoyancy under water as they prefer to walk about the bottom, instead of swimming around with neutral buoyancy. So they must work a bit harder and paddle aggressively to get to the surface occasionally to breathe. When resting in floating plants (their chosen resting/hiding spots) they do maintain a neutral buoyancy and move about easily at will. I also do prefer a gravel or 1/2" - 1" rock bottom. I will feed live tubifex (blood) worms and they can get established in the substrate. The turtles love to constantly pick around and move the substrate looking for food items. Good exercise.

Here's the tank I use for babies. Right now with 6 mo old spotted turtles who are the least capable aquatic turtle at swimming, but do just fine in the deeper water with plenty of fake plants to climb to the surface if needed. I use garlands of plastic fake plants I get at Michaels and also keep water lettuce which I constantly have to thin out weekly.

IMG_1184.jpg
 

AllieKat1997

Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2018
Messages
87
Location (City and/or State)
Missouri
I start hatchlings in the shallower water with no substrate to get them eating well and see how they are starting. But within a few weeks they are eating aggressively and moving around well and I move them into a deeper tank that is more natural.

People often comment that they are not good swimmers. That is not true. They are excellent, strong swimmers. Look at the large paddles their webbed feet make as opposed to the smaller feet of mud and spotted turtles who are much less adept swimmers. It is just that they prefer to maintain a negative buoyancy under water as they prefer to walk about the bottom, instead of swimming around with neutral buoyancy. So they must work a bit harder and paddle aggressively to get to the surface occasionally to breathe. When resting in floating plants (their chosen resting/hiding spots) they do maintain a neutral buoyancy and move about easily at will. I also do prefer a gravel or 1/2" - 1" rock bottom. I will feed live tubifex (blood) worms and they can get established in the substrate. The turtles love to constantly pick around and move the substrate looking for food items. Good exercise.

Here's the tank I use for babies. Right now with 6 mo old spotted turtles who are the least capable aquatic turtle at swimming, but do just fine in the deeper water with plenty of fake plants to climb to the surface if needed. I use garlands of plastic fake plants I get at Michaels and also keep water lettuce which I constantly have to thin out weekly.

View attachment 284962
Thank you! All the conflicting information gets so confusing so I was curious what others did who had them/bred them. I’ll look into bigger gravel, I just don’t want the little guy to eat some of it.
 

AllieKat1997

Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2018
Messages
87
Location (City and/or State)
Missouri
When I kept little H2O turtles I took them out to feed them in a shallow hand washing basin. You might want an under gravel filter to help keep the tank clean.
It seems controversial to remove turtles from their tanks to feed but I’ve already decided I’m 100% doing this! I saw how absolutely filthy their tanks can get if you fed them in their tanks and I want to help avoid this. Thanks so much for your advice!
 

mark1

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Dec 31, 2015
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Location (City and/or State)
ohio
the only time I wouldn't do it , is if the turtle was not acclimated to it's environment and wouldn't eat when put in an even stranger place …….on timid turtles you need to put a not to large container in a not wide open spot , provide cover in or over the container and leave them in there long enough to settle down , could be an hour or more …. once they get used to it , I couldn't understand what would be controversial about it …….
 

Markw84

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5 Year Member
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Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
3,577
Location (City and/or State)
Sacramento, CA (Central Valley)
I keep more turtles than generally "recommended" in my tanks as I hatch quite a few turtles each year. I have never had a problem with tanks getting too dirty and always feed the turtles in their tank. To me the main problem I see is most people do not provide adequate filtration. You need to oversize filters when keeping turtles. On my 40 gallon tank that is 1/2 filled, pictured above, I use an external canister filter rated for 50 gallons. The external canister filters are the only way I will go with turtle tanks. They are easy to clean, as you simply shut the valve and disconnect the hose manifold, then take the canister to clean. I only need to do this about once a month. I vacuum the bottom substrate about one every 2 months with a tank siphon. The water stays perfectly clean. I keep 2 small plecostomus in the tank and they do a great job of k eeping the algae clean from the glass. A group of 8-10 mosquito fish also help pick up left over food scraps. The large amount of water lettuce also helps with keeping algae growth down. Since the UV lights we use dramatically encourages algae growth, this much be accounted for.

I have a 75 gallon tank I keep 80% full set up the exact same way with a Fluval 406 filter. I keep about 15 2" - 3" turtles in that tank. Another tank I built myself out of PVC with an acrylic front that has a 5ft x 2 ft footprint and 8" of water is in my tortoise room and set up identically.

All require only 10 minutes of maintenance once a month max.

Tank in tortoise room this morning. Nothing done but feeding and topping off water that evaporates - no maintenance in last 7 weeks now!

IMG_0005.jpg

Here's the 75 gal tank in my office this morning. I haven't done anything maintenance wise in at least 7 weeks to this thank either.

IMG_0004.jpg
 

Moozillion

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5 Year Member
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Joined
Apr 26, 2012
Messages
10,307
Location (City and/or State)
Louisiana, USA
I keep more turtles than generally "recommended" in my tanks as I hatch quite a few turtles each year. I have never had a problem with tanks getting too dirty and always feed the turtles in their tank. To me the main problem I see is most people do not provide adequate filtration. You need to oversize filters when keeping turtles. On my 40 gallon tank that is 1/2 filled, pictured above, I use an external canister filter rated for 50 gallons. The external canister filters are the only way I will go with turtle tanks. They are easy to clean, as you simply shut the valve and disconnect the hose manifold, then take the canister to clean. I only need to do this about once a month. I vacuum the bottom substrate about one every 2 months with a tank siphon. The water stays perfectly clean. I keep 2 small plecostomus in the tank and they do a great job of k eeping the algae clean from the glass. A group of 8-10 mosquito fish also help pick up left over food scraps. The large amount of water lettuce also helps with keeping algae growth down. Since the UV lights we use dramatically encourages algae growth, this much be accounted for.

I have a 75 gallon tank I keep 80% full set up the exact same way with a Fluval 406 filter. I keep about 15 2" - 3" turtles in that tank. Another tank I built myself out of PVC with an acrylic front that has a 5ft x 2 ft footprint and 8" of water is in my tortoise room and set up identically.

All require only 10 minutes of maintenance once a month max.

Tank in tortoise room this morning. Nothing done but feeding and topping off water that evaporates - no maintenance in last 7 weeks now!

View attachment 285136

Here's the 75 gal tank in my office this morning. I haven't done anything maintenance wise in at least 7 weeks to this thank either.

View attachment 285135
LOVE THIS TANK!!!!:):<3::<3::<3:

Is this in a HOME office or a place of business???
 

Markw84

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
3,577
Location (City and/or State)
Sacramento, CA (Central Valley)
LOVE THIS TANK!!!!:):<3::<3::<3:

Is this in a HOME office or a place of business???
That is my home office. I'm lucky enough to have a room devoted solely to my computer/research space. I also keep 2 aquatic turtle tanks set up there and my incubators as there is a quite stable room temperature and I can then control incubation and diapause temps quite accurately with almost no variation over what I want.
 

AllieKat1997

Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2018
Messages
87
Location (City and/or State)
Missouri
I keep more turtles than generally "recommended" in my tanks as I hatch quite a few turtles each year. I have never had a problem with tanks getting too dirty and always feed the turtles in their tank. To me the main problem I see is most people do not provide adequate filtration. You need to oversize filters when keeping turtles. On my 40 gallon tank that is 1/2 filled, pictured above, I use an external canister filter rated for 50 gallons. The external canister filters are the only way I will go with turtle tanks. They are easy to clean, as you simply shut the valve and disconnect the hose manifold, then take the canister to clean. I only need to do this about once a month. I vacuum the bottom substrate about one every 2 months with a tank siphon. The water stays perfectly clean. I keep 2 small plecostomus in the tank and they do a great job of k eeping the algae clean from the glass. A group of 8-10 mosquito fish also help pick up left over food scraps. The large amount of water lettuce also helps with keeping algae growth down. Since the UV lights we use dramatically encourages algae growth, this much be accounted for.

I have a 75 gallon tank I keep 80% full set up the exact same way with a Fluval 406 filter. I keep about 15 2" - 3" turtles in that tank. Another tank I built myself out of PVC with an acrylic front that has a 5ft x 2 ft footprint and 8" of water is in my tortoise room and set up identically.

All require only 10 minutes of maintenance once a month max.

Tank in tortoise room this morning. Nothing done but feeding and topping off water that evaporates - no maintenance in last 7 weeks now!

View attachment 285136

Here's the 75 gal tank in my office this morning. I haven't done anything maintenance wise in at least 7 weeks to this thank either.

View attachment 285135
Thank you for the advice! I’ll definitely look for a larger filter and look into the external ones. I’ve only used the small kind inside my betta tank.
 

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