Australian fresh water turtles are kept much more commonly as pets than most people realize. They will survive with much less perfect conditions as far as water quality is concerned than most fish, but still require regular water maintenance.

The easiest way to keep them healthy is to have only a few large river stones on the bottom of the tank, this allows easier cleaning of the tank. Water should be changed on a regular basis, not just topped up to allow for evaporation. The standard rule for water dwelling pets is 20% water change per week-but this amount will increase if high numbers of turtles are kept together.

Feeding in a small container of water outside the tank will also reduce water contamination and this water should be discarded.

The best feeding regime for turtles is to look at their natural diet and then try to closely mimic this with easily obtained commercial foods.

In the wild they eat mainly baby fish, river shrimp and insects so the best substitute is whitebait from the bait shop and the whole fish is chopped into mouth sized pieces. Dried river shrimp can be bought from the local Aquarium outlet as well as turtle pellets. Feed turtles under 2 years old twice daily. Older turtles are fed 2-3 times a week. Don’t allow the turtle to hibernate so the temperature should be held between 20-24 degrees. The pH should be above seven, the regular water changes and a turtle water conditioning block will help maintain the pH level.

Young turtles spend the majority of their time in the water, if they are desperately trying to get out of the water check the water conditions, they will often be unsuitable. Poor water quality can cause ulceration of the skin, burning of the eyelids and even deep infection of the shell or pneumonia.

Turtles are best kept alone in a tank, they tend to bully each other when kept in higher numbers.

Some brief sun exposure once a week for 10-15 minutes is useful to activate Vitamin D, but don’t leave the turtle unsupervised in the sun.

As they get older and larger they can be moved into an outside pond in warmer weather then bring them back inside during winter.

Enjoy your turtle keeping!