1. AFT is Celebrating its 16th Consecutive Year of Helping Freshwater Turtles & Turtle Keepers Online and 22nd Year providing the AFT Care Guide. AFT is a not-for-profit charity administered 100% by voluntary staff only.

Items in tank

Discussion in 'Turtle Supplies & Equipment' started by atory, Sep 15, 2017.

  1. atory

    atory Hatchling Turtle

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    2
    Hello,
    I was just wondering how everyone keeps their plants and heaters in their tank?
    I have a large tank and several bunches of elodea, thin val etc but my turtle constantly rips up anything I put in there. It's fine when she eats them but she claws and digs them out so there are about 10-15 bunches of plants floating around the tank. She rips the heater off it's base, plants out of the sand etc etc. I can silicone the base to the tank but that doesn't stop her from being able to pull the heater off it. She did the same thing with the dock until we siliconed it in.
    Any ideas?
    Thank you!
     
  2. smoyle

    smoyle Adult Turtle
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2016
    Messages:
    517
    Likes Received:
    72
    Hey, how big is your tank and your turtle? What else is in the tank? Sounds like she's not happy, or bored.
     
  3. atory

    atory Hatchling Turtle

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    2
    The tank is 6x2x2. Upgrading to a 6x2.5x2 over the weekend. Her shell is about 20-25cm long. There is just a dock and plants at the moment and I put in live food every 2 weeks as she eats everything I put in there within half an hour. The reptile vet advised not to keep putting in live food as she will just overeat. I intend on placing some driftwood in the new tank. Is there anything else I can put in to keep her happy?
     
  4. Aussiepride83

    Aussiepride83 Administrator
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2012
    Messages:
    8,079
    Likes Received:
    837
    An actual photo of your setup would be most helpful. I've had up to 7 sub-adult turtles in my 4X3X2 (the same volume as a 6X2X2) at one time for 24 months with no signs of displacement/destructive behaviour at all.
     
  5. atory

    atory Hatchling Turtle

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    2
    I'm not sure if there's much point putting up her current setup as I know it's not ideal hence the reason for the upgrade but I'll put a picture anyway. This is a picture from the most recent water change. (I know the water level isn't high enough). The heater will also be upright in the new tank, it's a new heater and too long to stand upright in that tank without being submerged adequately). There are more plants in there also but just floating around as she digs them out. Only other changes with the new tank are new double T5 reflectors, new large dock (same as the current one) and driftwood.
    I definitely agree that she appears bored (she digs little holes and mounds in the sand also), I just don't know what to put in there to entertain her. I put in 30 tetra's or guppies which gives her entertainment for a while but she will chase them constantly until she eats them all (usually around 30 mins or so).
    --- Double Post Merged, Sep 16, 2017, Original Post Date: Sep 16, 2017 ---
    Also, ignore the file name. 'new' is for new photo. I'll upload a photo of the new tank once it's up and running.

    dilbnew.jpg
     
  6. Aussiepride83

    Aussiepride83 Administrator
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2012
    Messages:
    8,079
    Likes Received:
    837
    There's always a reason to put a photo of your current setup up if you're having problems, this is how we diagnose the reasons behind your turtle's behaviour. :)

    Turtles by nature are exploratory and highly inquisitive and when placed in captivity, they need a lot of stimulation to keep them mentally busy/occupied.... Basically, a captive turtle needs not to be reminded daily that it's stuck in a glass box half filled with water, (if that's what it thinks, that's how it'll act.) I can see by looking at your photo why your turtle is bored and why it catches all your live feeders in a short time. You've got no decor/obstacles for them to escape from your turtle. This issue can be simply rectified.

    Get yourself 2 decent sized raw terracotta pots (that your turtle could easily fit inside without getting stuck) from Bunnings or your local hardware store and soak them for 24 hours by completely submerging them in a bucket of water. Then you need to have them sawn in half. You will then have 4 half terracotta pots which you then place in your aquarium to form caves.
    4306-1474355858-cd2942dea492e2d9ebe9fcf538f29376.jpg
    Like all animals, turtles need a place to call home too and somewhere they can just hunker down and feel safe and secure. Turtles that will feel safe and secure are not stressed.
    4063-1456912798-46308fa36658608820685af829e7e31a.jpg
    4618-1503090618-548d4de737e37f5a94eb047cbd8f260a.jpg
    4619-1503090641-c960b47afa89a1f0271402c7d0c26aed.jpg
    Get several assorted pieces of driftwood. I personally use Golden Vine from Petbarn or my local Aquabird fish store. Golden Vine just has that real naturalistic look to it. When you first acquire it, it's very orange/golden in colour, hence the name but it soon takes on that great natural weathered look.
    868-1357958853-b1bacc6e7803b0ad8f71bffa8b500aaf.jpg

    Turtles require driftwood for several reasons. They will constantly poke around and investigate it searching for critters to eat, they will push it around while investigating it and they'll use it to wedge themselves under and rub against to initiate the shedding of scutes. All this is NORMAL turtle behaviour and keeps them stimulated.

    Juvenile Macleays investigating a piece of driftwood. They're no different to kids at the park playing on a jungle gym
    3307-1413003288-c29b04e56a8dfce7c93c245742669e6f.jpg
    Manning River Turtle having a rub by covering her carapace with sand and rubbing against the driftwood. This is how turtles exfoliate themselves.
    4378-1481314671-2676fb83a428f2fd47d9000ed939dc2d.png
    Having driftwood, terracotta pot turtle caves and some plants will allow any live feeders you put in the tank to disperse and hide making your turtle have to hunt them down rather than just annihilate them all in short order. Use shrimp, yabbies (claws removed) and feeder fish.
    3553-1420950400-7620c5fc57602669da9d113bf625102d.jpg
    3780-1433713025-67e06899bc630c3569c64c43a0bff227.jpg
    3781-1433713035-984f46b8639fd15a6143f563fcc8fbeb.jpg

    Take your turtle out of the tank, add the feeders, give them half an hour to 45 minutes to settle then put your turtle back in the tank. This will give the feeders a fighting chance.
    3908-1445503762-e2174d14e87035748b13f53f3a427e71.jpg
    3909-1445503772-1f93f12820b5928edc0bb2bb29b9f313.jpg

    ELN hunting feeder fish. Because of the naturalistic environment I've created, she has to work hard to stalk/hunt them, she can't just simply corner them and eat them all. This is what you need to create for your turtle.
    3459-1419746491-e7fd32c84148b2eb5b31cc30d9c065ea.jpg
    3472-1420013553-a5e4b5c258bb600bfaea862c7b59c169.jpg

    Even something as simple as empty Golden Apple (Mystery snail) shells or EMPTY freshwater mussel shells... Turtles will spend a lot of time poking around a shell investigating it, making sure there's no food inside. Excellent NATURAL stimulation.

    Macleay investigating Mystery Snail shells.
    3081-1400389115-cd6ec7be8cead84f5ccd4ce8483ecae5.jpg
    Manning River turtle exploring a snail shell.
    20160303_150629-1.jpg
    Even a cuttlebone, turtles will investigate and chew on. Great stimulation and extra source of calcium.
    3480-1420099204-fd3aa8daa204aaed1475e7dc4572af84.jpg

    As for your plants being ripped up, really, the only way I managed to avoid this was by planting my tank out with thin Val an entire month before adding my baby turtles to the tank. In this time the val grew rapidly and established a huge root base that was 12 square feet of runners and roots that was so well anchored my turtles simply couldn't pull it out. When I first set my tank up, it looked like this... Terracotta pot caves, feeder fish and driftwood went in first.
    865-1357958853-6670baab9fc46912e735792789754ce9.jpg
    Then some live plants with some fake ones.
    4114-1461494141-7f6a65fb1049ad320799d4aa2898865b.jpg
    Plants need time to establish, it's very easy for a turtle to remove an entire clump of plants that were just pushed into the substrate by you 5 minutes earlier.

    You could distract your turtle by using a heap of fake plastic or silk plants from the pet store that are weighted down at the bottom. She will constantly move them around the tank and it doesn't matter, they'll stay standing upright regardless and will still offer a barrier between her and any fleeing food item she may be chasing.... All this equals stimulation and a diversion from her ripping your heaters and docks off the tank. Turtles can't act naturally in an environment that's not natural.

    Stimulated turtles don't have time to be bored and destructive as they're too busy being turtles. There's honestly been times that I've gone to check on my turtles and I've not been able to find one or two individuals for 10 minutes or more because they've been tucked away so well hiding or busy in the back of the tank exploring a piece of driftwood or deep in the plants hunting. That's what you want to aim for. Turtles that don't know they're in a glass box. :)

    Hope this helps you to alleviate your turtle's destructive behaviour.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  7. atory

    atory Hatchling Turtle

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Messages:
    13
    Likes Received:
    2
    Thank you heaps! I will try all of those.
     
  8. Aussiepride83

    Aussiepride83 Administrator
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2012
    Messages:
    8,079
    Likes Received:
    837
    You're most welcome.