Freshwater Turtle Care Guide

Captive Husbandry
Freshwater Turtles

Emydura Macquarii – Murray River Turtle
Chelodina Lonlicollis – Eastern Longneck Turtle


Adult Size: Longneck Turtle  21-26cm     Murray  Shortneck Turtle  26-29cm
Housing:    Turtle Eco 60  (60x45cm) –  2 small turtles for up to 2 years
Turtle Eco 90 (90x45cm) – 2 juvenile turtles for up to 6 years
Turtle Eco 120 (12x60cm) or Larger – 2 Adult Turtles for Life.
Lifespan: 10-25 years
Lighting: Heat, Uvb, Broad Spectrum.
Temperatures: Hot Spot on Basking Dock 33-36C
Water Temperature 22-26C
Diet: Omnivorous, variety of insects as well as fish, crustaceans, aquatic plants, frozen foods and pellets.
Ease of Care: Easy-Medium                                                                                             


The Murray River Short-necked turtle and the Eastern Snake-necked Turtle are the two most common turtles in the Australian Pet Trade. Due to their ability to adapt well to a captive environment, ease of care and playful personalities. They are native to freshwater rivers and lakes down the east coast of Australia, the Murray River and surrounds is of course home to Murray River Short-neck among others and the Eastern Long neck is a local species to Sydney Residents.

The first thing to keep in mind when purchasing your turtle, is that he won’t stay this small forever. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a Penny Turtle. All Australian species of freshwater turtle have a minimum adult size of 16-20cm. Both of these species grow as large as your dinner plate with a shell length measuring 21-29cm. Keep in mind this varies between individual and species. Adult size can be reached with short-necked turtles within a few short years, whereas Long-necked turtles tend to grow at a much slower rate. In the right conditions without overfeeding it should take your turtles 7-9 years to reach adult size. These turtles have the ability to live a very long time, upwards of 15 years, possibly over 35. It’s almost a given that their excitable personalities will win you over a new friend for life.


It is common practice to house juvenile turtles together, the interaction with tank mates is stimulating for them and they do have social attributes to their behaviour. Care must be given when feeding as a misguided attempt to catch prey may result in injury. Generally company is trouble free. However, nearing adult size and once reaching sexual maturity Adults may act aggressively or territorial towards one another, or fights may breakout over food or breeding partners.  Although this is not the case for everyone’s turtles, a larger aquarium or spacious pond generally settles this behaviour. For Adults, a larger aquarium or Pond allows the animals the ability to retreat and have their own space. Mix species co-habitation is generally not an issue.  We recommend a watchful eye and aggressors to be segregated.

Juveniles (under 10cm or so) can be housed in a glass mesh top Aquarium measuring 60x30cm or larger. The bigger the better! A larger aquarium actually makes for less maintenance. Adults should be housed in a mesh top Aquarium measuring 120x60cm or larger, ideally a pond holding 1000 Litres or more. Ensure your Aquarium is placed in a room that is well lit, away from direct sunlight, and has a stable temperature no higher than 25C.  You can find a set of regulations for enclosure sizes and setup for keeping Turtles at


Substrate for young turtles is a debatable issue, the biggest issue being fear of ingestion leading to impaction, as of course gravel is indigestible. We feel that the benefits of a natural gravel outweigh the possibility of accidental ingestion, we recommend a mix of natural gravel (under 3mm in size) or crushed limestone or shell grit. The reason we recommend this, is that a natural gravel allows a porous medium for good bacterial growth which aids in the breakdown of your turtles waste. For similar reasons limestone, or shell grit make great options as well, slowly dissolves over time when exposed to water, this mineral is leeched into the water column and helps keep the pH stable and above 7.6, as well as raising the mineral content. If you wish to choose a natural looking quarts gravel or sand, we suggest using Turtle Filter Media; which is a calcium based coral bone and Limestone mix (available at Hi-Tek Aquariums), which has similar effects and can be kept out of sight in your filter. Both of these benefits (high pH and high mineral) lead to comfortable water parameters for your turtle. On top of this, a particle substrate allows natural behaviour like digging, and allows grip for freedom of movement when exploring the aquarium. Fine quarts substrate if ingested has a better chance of passing safely than course or abrasive gravels, as quarts is a smooth stone. Mentioned in our feeding section, we recommend reptile dishes submerged under water to feed in, preventing accidental ingestion by feeding on a gravel free surface.


Your Turtle will need a platform to haul itself out of the water, this is essential for good health. We recommend docks that are secured with suction cup frames or magnets such as Zoo Med Turtle Docks and Exo Terra Turtle Banks, these float up and down with the water level which makes sure your turtle always has access even after a fortnights worth of evaporation. The dock should be able to hold the entirety of your turtle/s out of the water and ideally a little space to find the right spot. Install your heat lamp to one side, allowing a temperature gradient with a warm side and cool side, your UvB light should also be within a suitable distance from bulb to turtle (usually within 20cm without glass or Perspex blocking the light waves).

Hides and Decorations

Your turtle will be best without hides, or hollow logs (they tend to get stuck in them, and can drown easily). Instead, provide coverage with live and artificial plants. You can also use sturdy driftwoods and ornaments that aren’t going to fall over when kicked around by your turtles. Very small turtles like to perch on driftwood and plant leaves near the surface. Have a chat to our staff about how you would like your Aquarium to look, and we will do our best to Aqua-scape something of a display piece.

Ideal Water Conditions

It is always important to understand and be aware of your water parameters, particularly in a new aquarium while the aquarium cycles in the first few weeks. Be aware of how your aquarium is functioning and dealing with waste, to ensure your turtle is living in a stable, healthy, and clean environment. We use and recommend API Test kits, the Freshwater master Kit is complete with all of your essential tests- a must have for any Turtle Keeper!

Your set up guide will recommend that you see use in store weekly for the first month of your new aquarium to monitor your new aquarium as it establishes. A water test in store has a small fee.

Water Treatment
Water conditioners are essential for the health of your aquarium, gone are the days where the chemical in tap water would evaporate in sunlight over 48 hours, these days; unfortunately there are chemicals added that will not evaporate and chemical de-chlorination is necessary. Conditioning your water is essential for turtle health, almost more importantly; for the safety of your beneficial bacteria. Always de-chlorinate your tap water. Sydney’s water is treated with chlorines, chloramine, ammonia, fluoride as well as a list of other chemicals which are harmful to your turtles, fish and live bacteria. We carry a range of products which bind to these chemicals and render them harmless.  Talk to our staff to choose which one is right for you and your aquarium.

The pH value is the measure of hydrogen in relation to the level of hydroxyl concentration in water (too confusing?). Essentially, it is a measure of how acidic or alkaline the water is. The scale runs from 0-14 with 7.0 being neutral. The scale is logarithmic, with each step being ten times greater than the step before. Eg: a reading of 8.0 is ten times more alkaline then 7.0, and 9.0 is 100 times more alkaline than 7.0 Generally speaking the spectrum between 7.0 and 8.0 is ideal for most Australian freshwater turtle species, with a pH of 8.0-8.4 being used as a preventative and cure to some fungal infections. To make it easy, we recommend coral bones or turtle filter media to make sure your pH stays stable at 7.8

Carbonate Hardness
Ideally the level of carbonate hardness in your turtle aquarium should be kept at 80ppm. Carbonate Hardness is the level of Carbonate and Bicarbonate in the water. Carbon dioxide dissolved in water reacts with calcium and magnesium to form carbonates. Acids from waste breakdown and carbon dioxide will reduce carbonate hardness value in water, altering Ph. Adding Coral bones, Shell grit or Limestone will help raise the carbonate hardness, keeping your pH stable.

General Hardness
Best described as ‘trace’ elements, Calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, sulphates and chlorides. These are essential for sustaining life in an ecosystem. These too are effected by acids in the breakdown of biological waste and when lowers, can alter the Ph. Another reason that shell grit, limestone or coral bones are helpful. The ideal reading for general hardness in your turtle aquarium is between 180ppm and 200ppm.

Although these two species are considered ‘freshwater’ turtles, trace amounts of salt are still found in their natural environments. We recommend adding up to 50 grams of (aquarium grade) salt to every 10 litres of water (0.5%). Salt will also help fight infectious bacteria and fungus (although if treating for such. Salt should NOT be added to aquariums holding turtles that predominantly cloaca-breath such as Fitz-roy river turtles (Rheodytes Leukops) or the Mary River Turtle (Elusor Macrurus.)

Waste Levels
Because cycling an aquarium can initially be unstable and occasionally toxic, we recommend using live bio culture or products like Quick Start and Stress Zyme (or Stability), this allows improved good bacterial growth that will breaking down your turtles waste. The other option is cycling with fish for a number of weeks prior to adding your turtle to establish your aquarium.

Fish waste forms Ammonia, which very quickly becomes toxic at high levels. An ideal level is 0-0.25 ppm.

As Nitrite forming bacteria (Nitrosomas) develop, ammonia will be converted into Nitrite, while this is a relief that the ammonia levels will begin to decrease, the waste produced from these bacterium will produce Nitrite, which at high levels can also be toxic. An ideal level is 0 ppm.

As Nitrate-forming bacteria (Nitrobactors) develop, nitrite levels will decrease and nitrate levels will increase. When ammonia and nitrite levels are absent and nitrate levels are slowly rising, your aquarium is cycled and is home to billions of small bacteria that will help keep your turtle aquarium clean and stable. Keep in mind, that over time Nitrate will build up (as in an aquariums environment, nitrate absorbing bacterium is near impossible to sustain) that nitrate too, at high levels, will become toxic. Partial water changes of 40-50% every fortnight will help dilute these levels. An ideal level is below 20ppm. Gravel siphoning is always recommended at least every second water change.

Present in all aquariums, phosphate can come from organic or inorganic forms, decaying fish, plants or waste, as well as introduced through chemical, foods, and buffers. Not only can phosphates stress your turtles and fish and lower their immune systems, but it can also cause algae blooms. Be sure not to use buffers or pH regulators that contain phosphates, and if feeding frozen foods, be sure to rinse thoroughly and try to tub feed (See Feeding section). Water changes dilute phosphate build up, a safe level is below 0.5 ppm.



In the wild, the sun provides these Turtles with heat, light and UV radiation. In captivity it is vital that we replicate this to the best of our ability for the health of your animals. Without sufficient heat, light or UV radiation, the health of your Turtle is at great risk.


Turtles, like all reptiles are ectomorphs (they rely on their environment to give them heat and cannot produce heat themselves). The habitat you create for your Turtle must provide adequate heat and a temperature gradient that allows proper thermo-regulation. The Basking area should have a heat spot light in conjunction with a Uv source. This allows the turtle to dry, and raise his body temperature above that of the aquarium water. It is vital that you heat the aquarium water with an aquarium heater between 22 and 24 Degrees Celsius. We recommend a heat lamp (generally 25-50 watt depending on the enclosure size) placed on the metal mesh top in a heat resistant dome lamp. Place a basking spot (log, rock, or Turtle dock) below the lamp at an appropriate distance that allows a basking temperature of 33-36C. If you are using a ReptileOne Turtle Eco Aquarium, we recommend mounting a 40Watt (or equivalent) Lamp to one side of the dock.  Use a digital thermometer with probe (as glass thermometers break easily with boisterous turtles) or an infrared thermometer temp gun (to make sure you’re being accurate with your temperature readings.) Keep in mind that while your turtle is young, it may be a rare occasion to see him out of the water. He’ll likely bask when you’re not around, and scatter into the water the moment you enter the room.


The lighting you choose must provide enough visible brightness in UvA and Colour Spectrums (in wavelengths that seem bright to your Turtle) in order to make your Turtles pupils retract sufficiently under artificial lighting. The reason this is important, is that artificial lighting also creates small amounts of UVC wavelengths that can be damaging to the eye. Proper retraction of the pupil protects the eye from damage and the common photo-kerato-conjunctivitis (infection from light damage.) This is actually quite easy to do, Regular sunlight aquarium lighting and low output Uv (2.0) tubes produce broad spectrum and visible light (ExoTerra Reptile Vision and Natural Light Compact lighting are also great choices). This bright natural broad spectrum light is enough to provide suitable day night cycles and pupil retraction. Reptiles also see a much broader spectrum of light, into ultraviolet wavelengths (which aren’t visible to humans) UvA and Broad spectrum Visible Light is incredibly beneficial in terms of visual spectrums and natural behaviour- even recognising their own species and tank mates through ultraviolet species specific markings.


Ultra violet radiation is 100% essential for the health and longevity of your Turtle. Without this, your Turtle is incapable of performing the synthesis of vitamin D3 (which allows the absorption of calcium- essential for proper bone formation and overall health). Turtles are designed to synthesis (create) their own vitamin D3 within the layers of their skin when exposed to UV radiation. Without a healthy amount of exposure to UVB, Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) will take place, bones will fracture and break easily and bone deformities will begin (soft shell, deformed carapace structure, curves in the spine and bones are common). Calcium is necessary for bone development and maintenance, the mineral is also present and essential for normal bodily function, muscle development, brain development, heart and kidney function, hormone regulation; the list is endless; we begin to see why lighting and supplements are so important. Natural sunlight emits around 250uwcm^2 of UVB on your standard full sun day. Generally speaking, your standard UVB tube emits around 20-60uwcm^2. That’s pretty pathetic especially considering your Turtle needs to be within 20cm of the UVB tube to be receiving these wavelengths. The choice you make when choosing your source of UV, could make the difference between living and thriving. Keep in mind that exposure to 8 hours daily of Uvb lighting at 20-40uwcm^2 is the minimum requirement.

The only UVB source that gets anywhere close to the amount of UVB the sun is emitting, is called a mercury vapour bulb (MVB) or SunRay Remote Ballast Halide. These products emit between 175-360uwcm^2. It is vital that you have a tall enclosure or the ability to hang your globe from a lamp stand when using an MVB as the safety precautions state that your animal only ever be 35cm from the bulbs surface (no closer,) Don’t be scared, these bulbs are our number one recommendation. We find our reptiles are far more active, healthy and vivacious under these lamps. Our second choice is the good old-fashioned UVB tube. We recommend the Reptisun and ReptiGlo 10.0 (60uwcm^2 when 20cm from tube.) or a Reptisun and ReptiGlo 5.0 once they are fully grown. Allow your Turtle a basking area or Turtle Dock to get within 20cm from the tubes surface and a basking spot nice and high. Tube form UVB should span the entire length of the Aquarium and be replaced at least every 6 months. The amount of usable UV radiation very quickly depletes within the first 6 months or 2,000 hours of use. We urge you to consider using a twin tube reflector, using a tube form UVB tube in conjunction with a regular fluorescent encourages correct pupil retraction, and the brightness encourages natural daytime behaviour. Artificial UVB tubes are incredibly dull through the eyes of a reptile and the regular fluorescent helps counteract this.

The third option on the market is the compact form UVB. This form of UV radiation is generally unreliable long-term, however the brands we carry in store are reputable and tend to be much more stable throughout their usable lifespan. Some bulbs have the potential to have their wavelengths can vary into the dangerous UVC (which is the cause of photo-kerato-conjunctivitis) and tend to have a very low reading and short lifespan of useable UVB. If you choose to use these bulbs, it is vital that you burn out the bulb for at least 24 hours (leave it on, away from your Turtle) and replace them at least every 6 months, as well as providing a lot of bright visible light in the form of a basking lamp and standard ultraviolet lighting in tube form. When using this form of UV radiation it is very important which brand you choose. One of the most important things to do before taking home your new Turtle, is to educate yourself. All artificial florescent bulbs are going to emit varying amounts of wavelengths within the visible and ultra violet light spectrums. It is important to note exactly which wavelengths you’re exposing your reptile to.

The spectrum of ultra violet is divided into three sections.
-UVA- long wave ultraviolet, ranges from 320-400nm and is essential for reptile vision, wellbeing and pupil retraction.
-UVB Medium wave ultraviolet B, ranges from 290-32 nm and it essential for synthesis of vitamin D3 metabolically.
-UVC- Short wave ultraviolet C (the bad guy) ranges from 180-290 nm and is dangerous and a health hazard. Your choice of artificial UV source should emit very little ideally, and be heavily outweighed by UVB and UVA and other visible light wavelengths (sometimes via the support of additional lighting).


Australian Freshwater Turtles are omnivorous, meaning their diet consists both animal product and vegetation.  Short-neck turtles will have a larger portion of their diet contain plant matter than their mostly carnivorous cousins the snake-necked turtle. Live plants should be offered to your turtles occasionally as this is a great way to keep their digestive tracts regular and supplement the diet with fresh vegetation. We suggest true aquatics and ideally natives, Native Vallisneria, and Pogostemon Stellatus. We also suggest fast growing and safe plants like Mayaca, Ambulia, Milfoil, Wisteria, Green and Red Myro as well as floating duck weeds. Besides having live plants accessible for grazing frequently, your Turtles diet should be split into three categories evenly.

LIVE FOODS; consisting of insects like crickets, wood-roaches, silkworms, fly larvae, and mealworms, earthworms, fish, yabbies, glass shrimp, black worm. Feeder insects should be dusted in a Calcium with D3 and Multivitamin Supplement.
FROZEN FOODS; Turtle mixes, turtle dinners, squid, mussel, gammarus, bloodworm, brine shrimp and prawn.
PELLET FOODS; A good quality premium turtle pellet.

Variety should be given as not one single food item provides complete nutrition. Food items should never be larger than the space between their eyes as choking is a hazard and their stomachs are not as big as their eyes. Juveniles should be offered a meal the size of their heads, 4-5 days a week.  Adults should be offered a meal the size of their heads 3-4 times a week. There’s not a more exciting time for a Turtle then when there is fish to chase or a meal on the way. We recommend using the ‘feeding dish’ method. Use a deep sided reptile feeding dish to place the meal in, at the bottom of the tank. This provides a small hunting ground, a safe consumption zone (free from substrate) and enables the keeper to see just how much food is being consumed. Uneaten prey should be removed after feeding, as they can be a hazard by increasing waste levels.


Feeder insects should always be fed for at least two days before being fed to your Turtles. You are what you eat, and so is their food. If you are able to feed your insects a diet that is high in vitamins and minerals, the benefit will pass on to your Turtle. Offer a specialised ‘Gut load’ or make your own with Reptile pellet feed, always offer your live feed fresh carrot, rocket or endive. Your juvenile insects should be dusted before feeding, every live food meal with calcium with D3 and Multivitamin. We trust and recommend Rep-cal supplements.

Health & Hygiene

Turtles are capable of biting, especially when being handled as they get frightened, often associating your hands or finger as food. They do not have teeth, however a beak. Bites are generally not too painful, particularly when small.  Ask us in store about safe handling techniques. If a bite does occur, wash site, use an alcohol swab to clean area and apply a Band-Aid. Turtles do carry salmonella, it is always a good idea to wash your hands before and after handling. Particularly with young children. The heat and lighting involved in a Turtles setup do get quite hot, be sure to turn all lamps off and let cool before handling fittings or bulbs. For the safety and longevity of your lighting and heating equipment, always run heating and lighting through a surge protected power board

Common health issues

Fungal and Bacterial Infections;  This is usually seen as white fluffy patches on the shell of skin, ulcer like indentations, malformations of the shell scutes  or areas that seem to be ‘rotting’, also commonly called ‘shell rot’. The cause of these infections is commonly poor water quality, acidic waters, or excessively high levels of Nitrate and Phosphate. Other causes may be excessively high temperatures, excessive stress, aggression from others or long term poor diet. Early onset infection can be treated with water changes, ideal parameters and dry docking. Severe or aggressive onset infections should be treated by an exotics Veterinarian as medication may be required to aid the

Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD); Calcium and D3 Deficiency, caused by a lack of adequate ultraviolet radiation, dietary imbalance or lack of supplementation. Signs include lethargy, muscle twitches and spasms, broken or soft bones, shell deformations, commonly seen in turtles who fail to have hardened shells by the time they are 10cm or so in length.  Ideal environmental conditions, setup and diet are the best prevention.  Treatment for these issues will need a consultation with your vet.

Dysecdysis; Abnormal or incomplete shedding. Turtles naturally shed scales and scutes individually, and these may flake off and settle on the bottom of the aquarium. Sometimes, scutes do not shed completely and can develop build up and possibly infections underneath. This is commonly caused by poor water quality, and an inability to bask under adequate heat and lighting, or completely dry on the dock. Assistance may be required but never force a shed to lift as the skin below may not be ready and may tear.

Respiratory Infections; Often caused by stress, low temperatures and high humidity, respiratory infections give symptoms similar to the flu. Symptoms include Coughing, wheezing, mucus from mouth or nostrils, continual gaping, heavy breathing and lethargy. A vet visit is required for prescription medication to cure a respiratory infection.

Eye infections; closed, irritated, swollen, or mucus covered eyes, often caused by scratches, or poor water quality. Eye infections can turn sour quickly without treatment from a vet.

Hypervitaminosis: Commonly an over supplementation of Vitamin A. In most cases this is only possible when using vitamin supplements containing Vit A (Herptivite multivitamin does not contain Vitamin A, rather the building blocks for the animal to create it as required). Signs will be swelling around the eyes, limbs, throat and body. Contact your local exotics veterinarian for an appointment.

A correct setup, temperature gradient, lighting, water quality and diet is the best prevention for most common issues. Abnormal behaviours should be looked over by a Reptile Veterinarian.


In essence, turtles are not a pet that you would handle regularly. Particularly when young, excessive handling can lead to unnecessary amounts of stress.  In the event you do need to handle your turtle, always support from the bottom and top and be careful of the legs and sharp end when handling, using two hands. Turtles are strong and can often push themselves out of your grip. If they are panicked by being held, they may bite.

Environmental enrichment

All too often a captive life for a reptile can be over simplified and never changing. Your animals will appreciate stimulation. Reptiles are intelligent, high functioning and have incredibly tunes senses and instincts, behaviours that stimulate hunting or searching for food can stimulate your animals quite easily. Turtles will burst into excitement in the hunt for live fish, insects or shrimp, and the Aquariums lay out with natural rock, pebble and driftwood can stimulate foraging behaviours. This can be as simple as fresh plants, a change of scenery, river pebbles to investigate around and twisting driftwood to swim through, and a varied diet with a high portion of live prey.


Turtles, like all reptiles and amphibians in NSW are protected species, by law a Permit is required to keep one. A Companion animal will allow you to keep just one Reptile, where as a Basic Class One Licence will allow you to keep multiples, and different species. Applying for your permit is easy to do online at applicants must be over the age of 16. A valid, in date Reptile keepers licence must be visually cited in store to purchase an animal, accompanied by the licence holder.


Best of luck!
If you have any further queries or questions, please don’t be afraid to ask one of our helpful staff members in store, on the phone or by email.



Starting Up a NEW Turtle Tank

Turtle Check List
  • Turtle Eco Aquarium
  • Pump
  • Filter Media
  • Heater
  • Basking Dock
  • Turtle Filter Media
  • Gravel suitable for Turtles
  • Turtle Water Conditioner
  • Turtle Aquarium Salt
  • Heat Lamp
  • UvB and UvA Lighting
  • Digital Thermometer with Probe
  • Plants/Driftwood/Rocks
  • Gravel Syphon
  • Turtle Health Block


  1. Place your Turtle Eco Aquarium on your Roc Cabinet, ensuring that it is level, on even flooring, and centred (all four corners are evenly supported).
  2. Wash your gravel thoroughly in a bucket with a hose. It is often a good idea to separate the bag in portions of 1/5that a time. Rinse until water runs clear and gravel is free of dust and debris. Gently place Gravel into Aquarium and spread evenly across the bottom.
  3. Wash your filter media (noodles and turtle media) under the tap to clean it from dust. This is the ONLY time you will rinse any filter media under the tap, from this point forward it is only cleaned in old aquarium water, never under the tap. It’s a good idea to remove a handful or two of the noodles and pour the Turtle media into the same bag. This just means that the mesh bag is easy to remove for cleaning. Alternatively you can use a separate mesh media bag for the turtle media and use both separately.
  4. Attach hosing and joints to the pump. Looking at your aquarium, the pump sits in the far left of the back filter section and connects to a hose and angle through the first dividing wall. This water then passes through a black sponge in the second section, the third section is where your Bio-noodles sit, and the fourth is where the Turtle Media is kept (or in the same bag in either section. The last Section is where your aquarium heater is installed. Use the suction cups and brace provided to keep this in place, low enough that it is always fully submerged. Note: we recommend turning the heater to face the far right hand side, this way, when the light is ON in heating mode, you can see it functioning. Set to 24C. (Do not turn on until aquarium is filled)
  5. Fill your aquarium (slowly) with tap water, making sure not to disturb the gravel. Fill the Turtle Eco to about 2-3cm below the waterfall outlet line. At this point, you will add your De-chlorinator Water Conditioner and Turtle Aquarium Salt as per directions.
  6. Plant your plants and place your driftwood and ornaments where desired.
  7. Turn on Lighting (to make sure they work) and test the temperature on the basking dock under the lamp. We usually recommend placing the basking lamp to one side of the dock, rather than directly in the centre. A 40w globe should offer you a basking spot of 33-38C. Check this with your probe thermometer (it may take up to an hour to heat up to desired temp). After you’re sure the basking temperature is adequate, place the probe in the water to monitor the aquarium water temperature. Periodically through the year (seasonally) it is a good idea to check the basking temperature is adequate (as winter can bring ambient temperatures down very low).
  8. Turn on Heater and Pump, check that heater is keeping a stable water temperature of 24C. This may take a few hours from initial fill.
  9. Run the Aquarium for one whole week, heater and filter stay ON 24/7. Lights run ON for 8 hours a day during day light hours (we recommend a timer).
  10. Be patient. J

Shopping List

  • Reptile Licence
  • Turtles
  • Bio Culture Live Bacteria
  • Food
    – Pellets
    – Frozen Foods
    – Live Foods
  • Freshwater Master Test Kit
  • Rep-Cal and Herptivite (calcium and multivitamin supplement
  1. Bring your Licence IN STORE with you (either a paper copy, a photograph, or the PDF confirmation in your email on your smart phone). We need to see your licence, and the licence holder needs to be present. You can apply for a Class 1 Basic Reptile Keepers Licence You will be applying for a Class One or Basic Reptile Keepers Licence. If you have trouble or get confused, come IN STORE on the day and we will assist the process.
  2. Bring in a Water Sample. AT LEAST 250ml. This first test is FREE, we just want to make sure your Turtle Aquarium is safe and ready for Baby Turtles. We recommend coming in at least fortnightly in the beginning for Water Tests to monitor your new Aquarium (Because baby turtles are quite sensitive). A Full water Test like this is normally $5. We suggest purchasing the Freshwater Master Test Kit yourself, although we would like to run through it and teach you first.
  3. Pick out your Turtles.
  4. Traveling home, we want you to keep your new Turtles out of direct Sunlight and covered. When you get home, just place them on the dock and let them scurry into the water themselves. We suggest you don’t handle them for at least the first week.
  5. Your Bio Culture needs to be kept in the fridge when not being used, we suggest dosing on Day 1, Day 3 and Day 6. At this point we suggest testing your water, as at this stage we may need our first water change, and possibly more doses of Bio-culture. Come in for a Water Test after one week.
  6. Do not feed us the day we come home. Your new turtles have already had breakfast at the store, and will probably be too overwhelmed to think about eating. You can try crickets on day two (these are our favourite).


Your turtles have been home with you for one week, your turtles have been eating and making a mess. We’d like to see you and a 250ml sample of your aquarium water for a water test, to see how well your Aquarium is dealing with waste.

  1. Come in store for a Water Test
  2. When you get home, do a 50% Water Change. You can keep the filter and heater turned on and running and your turtles in the Aquarium for this. Use your Gravel Syphon to drain water into a bucket or drain. Lower and raise (vertically, do not stir) the syphon into your gravel. When you raise the syphon gravel will fall back down (gravity) and water and waste will continue to siphon. This first time, you may not see much waste draining out, although this is practice for future water changes.  Because your Turtle Eco Aquarium has an overflow sump filter section, a 50% water change will mean draining the tank to about half an inch above the pump. Leaving about 20cm of water in your aquarium.
  3. Dechlorinate your 50% empty aquarium with your water conditioner, add a dose of salt for the water removed, and begin filling with tap water. Fill to 2cm below the outlet waterfall cut out.
  4. Wait 2 hours before dosing bio-culture after a recent water change.


50% Water changes should occur once a fortnight.

We’d like to see you fortnightly with a water test at least four times in the beginning. After this, your aquarium should be well established, and you should test yourself (or with us instore) at least once every month or two, or when issues occur.

At any sign of illness or odd behaviour, please feel free to phone us, or come in store with a water sample and photos of your setup so we can do our best at resolving the issue. Serious health issues, illness or infection should be treated by a Specialist Exotics Veterinarian



Turtle Check List


  • Turtle Eco Aquarium (Minimum: 60x45cm for young turtles)
  • Heat Lamp; Aim for low wattage, but enough to heat to get one area (basking spot) to 40-44C.
  • UvB Light; Choose the best Uv source for your budget, chat to us about your options.
  • Visual Light; The brighter the better! A Visual light heightens natural behaviour.
  • Pump/Filter; A heavy duty filter, because turtles are messy!
  • Aquarium Heater; set to 24C
  • Thermometer; A dual probe is ideal, water temp 22-24C and basking spot 33-36C.
  • Water Conditioner; This makes tap water safe.
  • Turtle Aquarium Salt; this makes the water hardness ideal.
  • Turtle Filter Media; To raise the pH of the water consistently.
  • Turtle Health Block; To add calcium to the water.


  • Substrate; we recommend Turtle sand, Turtle stones, or small grain quarts gravel.
  • Turtle Dock; Platform to get your turtle within 20cm of heat and Uv.
  • Driftwood, plants, ornaments and rock
  • Artificial Plants; These enable your young turtle to hide and feel secure.
  • Food Dish; This makes frozen feed time mess free


  • Live food; Crickets, Roaches, or glass shrimp are great starters
  • Pellet Food
  • Frozen Food
  • Supplements; Essential! A good quality Calcium with D3 and Multivitamin.
  • Cricket Keeper; helpful in deterring escapes and making cricket keeping easy.


  • Bio culture; To rapidly add good bacteria to cycle your aquarium.
  • Gravel Siphon ; To assist with water changes


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