*By Shahu Sardar

Red eared sliders also known as the red eared terrapin are one of the most well known turtle pets among matured hobbyists as well as beginners. The cute hatchlings you see for sale are easily prone to diseases and therefore they require higher maintenance than other aquatic pets. Make sure you are ready for a real commitment if deciding to keep these cute pets.

The points of focus will be the space they need as well as cleaning and maintenance.

 Species profile.

Adult size: 11-12+ inches.

Life expectancy: 20-35 years

Care level: easy to intermediate

Diet: Omnivores.

Temperament: Peaceful.

Fresh water.

Appearance.

Red eared sliders have a darkish or lighter green body with yellow markings with the special red markings behind their eyes which look like their ears. Their legs have a combination of green and yellow stripes. And shells have a lighter green colour with some patterns on it.

Personal experience.

Many of my friends had a red eared slider out of which many died when they were just hatchlings. So I was not so ready for getting one for myself.  But then talking to people who had successfully kept them for years I came to know keeping red-eared sliders is really easy once you make a perfect setup and take proper care of them. So now I have a pair of red eared sliders about 3 years old. I bought them as tiny hatchlings, which have now have grown almost to the size of my palm.

Tank setup

 Being semi aquatic red-eared sliders need water as well as a place to bask in its tank. So you will have to provide lots of water for swimming as well as a good dry place for basking. So go for minimum of 20 gallon tank for hatchlings. However, your red-eared sliders can grow huge…so it’s likely that you will need a new tank after some years.

The best alternative to tanks is plastic containers which work great especially in the long run. After changing 3 tanks at last I ended up getting a huge container. Make sure the container is deep as well as broad.

Then you need some rocks to make a basking area for the turtles to bask. It can be a platform made of rocks or a floating basking platform available in pet stores. Also it should not be too high from the water surface as red-eared sliders have a habit of jumping into the water. Finally you will need a heat light that you can install above the basking area and then a good aquarium filter.

Avoid any types of live plants (your turtles will eat them), small sized gravel (they may swallow it), and sharp edged toys in the tank.

Tank cleaning.

Red-eared sliders can be a bit messy and produce a lot of waste. So their tank requires good filtration system. The best filter to use in a turtle tank is a sponge filter. Because turtle waste is always at the bottom, sponge filters work great. Also a great way to reduce stress on your filter is to arrange a feed tank where you keep your turtles only for feeding and then place them back once they are done with their meal.

Diet and feeding.

Commercially available turtle sticks work best for them as they have almost right proportions of nutrients required. Still turtle sticks alone won’t keep your red-eared sliders healthy. They need a varied omnivore’s diet. Everyday diet should include turtle sticks 2 times a day accompanied with leafy vegetables like spinach. Treats should include some bloodworms or commercially available treats. Occasionally feed carrots, berries, mangoes. All this varied diet will cater a complete nutritional need of your sliders. Just make sure you buy only good quality food and never over feed leafy vegetables, carrots and fruits. 

 *Author is one of the youngest Fish keeping hobbyists and enthusiasts from Pune, Maharashtra. He has been in this hobby from the age of 10 and has really learnt a lot about freshwater fish keeping. He also runs his own fish keeping blog named AquaNation (www.aquanationURL.blogspot.com), where you can find all fish tank maintenance related articles. Also, soon he is going to start a You Tube channel of his own.

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