Species-appropriate nutrition for water turtles

Water turtles eat pretty much everything they can find in their habitat. They rarely catch live fish, but they do manage to eat sick and dead fish! The natural food spectrum is therefore very diverse: aquatic insects, worms, snails, plants, shrimps and - theoretically - fish are on their menu. We at JBL have taken all this into account in our food range for water and pond turtles.

Ideally, you can alternate the four types of food and supplement them with fresh aquatic plants and live food or even defrosted shrimps or fish morsels.

JBL PROTERRA TURTLE Menu: Set with all 4 water turtle foods (3 + 1 FREE)

JBL PROTERRA CRUSTARUS: complete food mix of crustaceans, fish, shrimps and sticks
JBL PROTERRA MOLLUSCUS: whole snails, gammarus and fish sticks
JBL PROTERRA PESCARUS: whole fish with shrimps as a treat
JBL PROTERRA GAMMARUS: treats made from gammarus

Tip: The higher the water temperature, the more plants get eaten! If you want to limit the plant eating, try keeping the water temperature at around 24-25 °C. Young water and pond turtles are predominantly carnivorous (meat-eating), adult animals are more herbivorous (plant-eating).

Water and pond turtles are greedy eaters that can actually overeat. It is therefore up to the keeper to dose the right amount of food. As a rule of thumb, the turtles should eat the food provided within 2-3 minutes. If there is still food floating around afterwards, it was too much!

Feed young animals daily, but adult animals every two days. If the animals stop eating greedily, stop feeding immediately. You’re either overfeeding, or the animals are not doing well and need to be monitored closely.

Tip: When the turtles are tame, they can be taken out of the terrarium for feeding. As they often defecate while eating, this keeps the terrarium water clean for longer! Just make sure it doesn't stress them.

How much time do you need for water and pond turtles?

Water and pond turtles need slightly more maintenance than tortoises, but are still manageable. Caring for the water section is the most important thing here. The connected filter needs to be cleaned weekly (for smaller turtles) or every fortnight (for larger turtles), depending on its size. This takes about 10-15 minutes.

The front pane can become covered in algae and if so will need to be cleaned with a glass cleaner. Use a substrate cleaner (JBL AquaEx) when carrying out a partial water change and this will clean the substrate at the same time. This takes about 10-20 minutes. You may occasionally need to clean the above-water part, but that’s about all it needs. Just like on the panes, algae will settle on the wood or cork that protrudes into the water and these can simply be scrubbed off with a clean sponge (JBL Spongi).

There is also an effective labour-saving method that allows you to completely remove all organic deposits, such as algae, from an object: JBL ProClean Power is a chlorine compound that removes all organic soiling overnight.

Do not use around the animals, but outside the terrarium

Cleaning for water and pond turtles

In addition to the filter, we recommend you clean the substrate every fortnight. With the help of a substrate cleaner (from aquarists also called gravel cleaner) such as the JBL PROCLEAN AQUA EX, the dirt is sucked out of the bottom and part of the water is sucked out and refilled with fresh water. JBL substrate cleaners are available for high and low water levels.

As tap water can contain chlorine (problematic for the turtles' eyes) and heavy metals (toxic) from the pipe system, a water conditioner such as JBL Biotopol should be added after the partial water change to neutralise these problematic substances.

Algae will grow on the front pane over time. It does not bother the turtles but it makes it difficult for us to see them. It is easy to remove algae from the front pane with the help of various pane cleaners, the most convenient of which is a magnetic glass cleaner. Its inner part floats up when it loses contact with the outer part.

Tip: Be careful with gravel! If a small stone gets between the pane cleaner and the pane, it can scratch the pane badly!

Turtles in the garden pond

The American water turtle species are especially cold-resistant and can stay in your pond all winter. For this they need a shallow area with a shallow water depth. During their resting phase, the turtles can lie in this area and only need to stretch their necks to breathe at the surface of the water. They have to be able to do this without expending too much energy.

As the turtles may want to leave the water to lay their eggs, a sandy area that is well above the water level is very important. They avoid sandy areas that are too close to the water level, as they can become flooded in the wild. Some kind of boundary around the pond area can be useful, as some turtles like to wander and then unfortunately get lost.

Green water, now what?

Green water is caused by floating algae. The floating algae are non-toxic and do not bother the turtles. We just find them unsightly and they stop us observing our turtle properly.

With the help of an anti-algae agent (JBL AlgoPond Green), these mini algae clump together and then can be captured by the filter. Alternatively, UV-C water clarifiers, such as JBL PROCRISTAL UV-C Compact plus, are ideal for killing floating algae quickly and efficiently without side effects. If the pump output of the external filter is not too high, you can simply integrate a UV-C water clarifier into the filter hose. Otherwise, the UV-C water clarifier can be operated with its own small pump.

Water values such as general hardness, carbonate hardness, nitrogen compounds, phosphates and the iron content are not really important for aquatic turtles. But this is not the case if fish are also kept in the same water section. The quickest way to check the water is with JBL PROSCAN, where the analysis can be done with your mobile phone in a minute and all measurements can be saved in the app.

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