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How to Check the Water Quality in Your Turtle Tank

Image via iStock.com/sergeyryzhov

By John Virata

Aquatic turtles are one of the most popular reptiles in the hobby today. Watching them in their turtle tank setup can be a calming and enjoyable experience. However, aquatic turtles are messy animals, and if you don’t properly maintain and monitor your turtle’s water, your turtle can become sick and prone to disease. Check and change the water often for a healthy and happy turtle.

How to Achieve Good Water Quality

The most important aspects of achieving good water quality are making frequent water changes and using and maintaining a good quality turtle tank filter. It is really that simple.

Let’s get to the facts. Aquatic turtles are messy and do all of their business in the water. That is, your aquatic turtle lives in the water, eats in the water and goes to the bathroom in the water. Therefore, it is imperative for your turtle’s health that you maintain high-quality water in your turtle’s tank at all times. And this is achieved via regularly scheduled water changes coupled with a high-quality water filter, such as the Zoo Med Turtle Clean 30 external canister filter, to help keep the water clean in between water changes.

Proper feeding is also important in your quest for ideal water parameters for your aquatic turtle. When feeding your turtle, make sure that he eats everything that you put in his turtle tank. Any turtle food that is uneaten should be removed to prevent the build-up of ammonia in the tank water. A good way to test for ammonia is via strips used by aquarium fishkeepers such as the Tetra EasyStrips 6-in-1 freshwater & saltwater aquarium test strips. These handy strips enable you to just wet them in the tank water to get a reading. 

Signs That You Need to Change the Water

You will know that your turtle’s water needs to be changed by looking at it and by the smell. If your turtle’s tank smells dirty, it is past time to change the water. Ideally, you want to change the water in the tank before the smell reveals itself.

This is why it is important to use a good quality water filter (either an internal unit or an external canister filter) to help maintain high-quality water for your aquatic turtle. You can also use a beneficial bacteria solution such as the Exo Terra biological turtle habitat cleaner conditioner that will help break down solid organic wastes so they are more easily filtered out.

An ideal way to perform a water change, especially if you keep substrate in your tank, is via a suction hose device, such as the Python No Spill Clean and Fill aquarium maintenance system, which is a popular solution for aquarium keepers.

This device enables you to suction any detritus that lay in the substrate, removing the dirtiest portion of water first. When you remove the old water, don’t forget to condition the new water with a water conditioner such as API turtle water conditioner or any aquarium water conditioner that removes chlorine and chloramines.

Good water quality is essential for the health and well-being of your aquatic turtle. Set a maintenance schedule for your turtle’s tank and stick to it.

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