Caring for a Red-Eared Slider Turtle


Turtle Care: I use a Fluval 305 filter to keep my 19-year-old red-eared slider turtle, Psycho’s 50 gallon tank clean. I clean the filter less than once a month and don’t always change out the media inside. Media is really expensive to replace so I simply just rinse it out thoroughly and put it back. Often I will change out the four sponges as I find that replacing those sponges allows me to skip a complete overhaul of the filter more often.

I have had to replace the Fluval 305 several times because of leaks that come from the meeting place of the cover and the base. I have solved this problem in two ways – one, I use Vaseline to coat the o-ring that sits on the bottom of the cover and two, I sit the filter in a sink plastic water basin at all times. I have found that even if the filter initially leaks when restarting after cleaning, it usually stops within a few minutes.

I have also found that the Fluval 305 often takes a long time to prime – in addition to a lot of banging my fingers and tiring out my arms. I have made the process easier by filling the base with water in the sink, putting the cover on and then filling the filter to the tippy top after placing it in the basin under the aquarium. I use a long-nosed measuring cup to make it easier to get the water in the female hose holes on the cover. Then I attach the hoses and prime for a bit – I don’t go crazy with the priming. I simply turn on the filter and see how harsh the motor sounds. Usually it sounds like it is only struggling a little bit and only a small amount of water leaks out the sides of the filter, so I am able to leave it alone and it works itself into suction without harming the motor. If I hear a harsh sound when I plug in the filter, I prime for a bit longer and then try again.

The best tip for a turtle I can give is to use a sump pump to empty out the water and refill it again. I bought it from Amazon:    For 15 years I had used a pitcher and bucket back and forth to the toilet to empty the tank (it’s filled with about 30 gallons of water). This was hard on my back and arms; it was also very time consuming. Finally I had a brainstorm. Use a sump pump and a regular garden hose. BAM! The whole tank is emptied into the bathtub in just a few minutes. I fill the tank by placing the sump pump in a bucket under the bathtub faucet and run the water at a flow that keeps the water level pretty steady so that it has a constant flow back into the tank. I cannot tell you how much easier this has made my life. Psycho is also much happier because I can easily use this method for a partial water replacement more often because the whole process only takes about 15 minutes to give him a pretty clean tank.

To clean the hoses, I use a flexible plastic rod that I jam in there and shove it around. It’s absolutely disgusting to see the junk that comes out of there. I recently have set up a second set of hoses that I can swap out on occasion so that I can thoroughly clean the used hoses under running water in the sink or tub. I was able to do this after I broke my last Fluval by having to use a screwdriver to get the cover and base separated for cleaning – I completely broke the seal. Oops!

One of the big issues I had many years ago for Psycho was that his floating rock just didn’t hold him up. When I first won Psycho at the San Gennaro Festival in NYC back in the 90’s, he was the size of a quarter or half-dollar. He has grown to be huge! (Approximately 8″ x 5″ by 2″) Over the years, he outgrew the rocks and bricks I placed in his tank. I tried several floating logs and everything else from the regular pet store. Finally I found a huge floating cork that had suction cups to stick to the glass – well those didn’t hold him up either. To solve this problem, I have two bungee cords holding up the cork and it works perfectly. I also was able to cut the cork in half so that I can swap them out when cleaning. Power washing is really the only way I have found to clean these things. Since I live in an apartment, I have to bring it to my dad’s house so he can do it. Having two cork floaters makes this task much easier.

Having a turtle is a lot of work at times, but overall they are low maintenance. Psycho is a funny animal – We don’t actually know if he’s a girl or boy. We have taken him to the vet and to pet stores and he seems to have the markings of both sexes and the shell shape is also kind of in the middle. Sometimes I call him/her Psycho-ette, just in case, he/she’s a girl. Also he likes to chase his tail around in a circle like a dog does.

Watch the video of my turtle-dog here!

If you have any questions on raising a red-eared slider turtle, please feel free to ask. 🙂


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