Aquatic turtle owners need to do a thorough cleaning of the aquarium approximately once a month. Cleaning the water that the reptile drinks and in which it spends so much time submerged is essential for its health. The process has a few steps: removing all objects from the aquarium, scrubbing and rinsing both these objects and the aquarium itself, returning everything to its proper place, and then adjusting the temperature and chemical balance of the water. Once you understand how aquarium maintenance works, you will notice that it takes very little work to clean your pet's home, which will live much healthier and happier.
Method 1 of 3: Preparing the Aquarium for Cleaning
Step 1. Transfer the turtle to a bucket, bowl, or shipping crate you brought it home from the pet store
Gently pick her up and transfer her to a temporary container with enough water for her to swim in and a dry portion (made of peat or rocks) for when she wants to get out of the water. For sanitary reasons, do not give this container any job other than as a temporary home for your turtle on cleaning days.
The container should be spacious enough for the turtle to turn around when in the water part, and it is preferable that it be transparent
Step 2. Uninstall filters and heaters
Turn off and remove all electrical devices and place them in a bucket for cleaning. Memorize the location of each item so that you can reinstall them as they were before, which prevents your turtle from feeling disoriented.
Step 3. Remove large objects one by one
Plants (live or artificial), large stones and pieces of wood should be left in a separate bucket which, for reasons of hygiene, should be used exclusively for this purpose. If, on the other hand, you are going to wash the aquarium in the bathtub, you can arrange all these items in a corner of the bathtub.
Step 4. Take the aquarium to the place where the cleaning will take place
Depending on the distance to a good place for cleaning (a lawn or a bathtub, for example), the aquarium can be loaded. Don't do it alone, however: ask someone, preferably an adult, to help you. With each person holding one end of the aquarium, it should be gently dragged off the bench. Both people should support it from the bottom with both hands.
Step 5. Discard the water
Tilt the aquarium, with the help of someone, if it is too heavy, until all the water is thrown out. Never catch the aquarium by bending over it, which forces your arms and back. Pick him up in a crouch to lift him with leg strength.
Particulate substrates (such as gravel) can be left in the aquarium. Organic substrates (such as peat and nut shells) must be discarded and replaced with each cleaning
Method 2 of 3: Cleaning the aquarium and its contents
Step 1. Rinse the substrate
Use a hose or bathtub faucet to fill about ¼ of the aquarium with water, then empty it. Repeat the procedure about five times, until the water comes out of the aquarium more crystal clear than at the beginning.
- When emptying the aquarium, instead of leaning over it and lifting it with the strength of your back and arms, squat down so that you can lift it with the strength of your legs. Leave it almost vertical so that all the water can drain out.
- If the tank is too heavy, ask someone, preferably an adult, to help empty it.
Step 2. Prepare cleaning solution
Mix 100 mL of chlorine bleach to every 3.8 L of water. As an alternative, a solution of 50 mL of white vinegar can be used for every 3.8 L of water.
- If cleaning will be done in a grassy or overgrown area, do not use the solutions mentioned above, which would kill the plants. Buy a biodegradable and plant-friendly aquarium cleaner at a pet store.
- Do not use chemical cleaners, detergents, soaps or disinfectants in cleaning, which leave residues that are toxic to the reptile.
- Those who are repelled by the odor of chlorine or vinegar can buy a solution for cleaning turtle aquariums at the pet store. Remember: the product has to be biodegradable and harmless to plants if you are going to clean in the garden.
Step 3. Scrub the aquarium
Dip a sponge or rough cloth into the cleaning solution. Scrub all sides and bottom of object, with special care on corners and seams, which tend to accumulate impurities and debris.
To clean under the substrate, let the aquarium tip to one side and scrub all sides except the one where the substrate is now. Return the aquarium to its normal position and clean the rest. Finally, rub the substrate
Step 4. Clean machinery and decoration items
Disassemble the filter according to the instruction manual and scrub each part of it with the cleaning solution. Clean the filter carefully and place it under the tap or hose. Scrub the outside of the heater, as well as decorative items, stones, pieces of wood and artificial plants. Rinse them all at once in the bucket or bathtub and set them to dry.
- If there is a cut or wound on your hand, ask someone with uninjured hands to wash the filter instead, as impurities pose a risk of contamination.
- Replace filter screen monthly.
Step 5. Rinse the aquarium
Pour water over the object with a hose or bathtub faucet, trying to remove all debris and traces of the cleaning solution. Rinse the sides until there is no odor of chlorine or vinegar. Dry the exterior with a dry towel.
Method 3 of 3: Replacing the Aquarium Water
Step 1. Carefully return the aquarium to its usual place
Remember to load it with someone's help. Return objects to their proper places and properly reinstall electrical devices. Try to reproduce the best possible arrangement of objects before cleaning, which prevents the turtle from feeling apprehensive or disoriented when it returns home.
Don't forget to dry the outside of the aquarium well with a dry towel before loading it. This will make it less slippery, preventing accidents
Step 2. Dechlorinate the new water
The chlorine content of tap water is harmful to reptiles, which can be worked around with a chlorine neutralizer, sold in pet stores. Precaution is important especially if the aquarium has been cleaned with a chlorine solution, whose residues would make the pond even more unhealthy.
Use a clean bucket to transport water from the nearest tap to the aquarium
Step 3. Check the water temperature, which should be between 21°C and 27°C
As this range usually coincides with the ambient temperature, just wait approximately half an hour for the water to reach the right temperature, if it is too hot or too cold. With the temperature below this range, the aquarium will need a heater.
Step 4. Check if the aquarium is chemically balanced
It is important that the pH and levels of ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are harmless to chelonium. Tests for pH and substances listed above are sold in pet stores. The test usually consists of combining a sample of aquarium water with a solution provided by the manufacturer. The test result is indicated by the color of the mixture.
- A pH between 6 and 7 is the safest for most turtles, although certain specimens require more acidic or more basic water. Discuss with a pet store attendant the appropriate pH level for the species you have.
- If the levels are not within what is indicated, the water can be balanced with additives.
Step 5. Add some salt
There should be 1 teaspoon of non-iodized salt for every 3.8 L of water, which reduces the number of harmful bacteria in the aquarium, as well as protecting the turtle from shell or skin diseases.
Step 6. Return the turtle to the aquarium
Gently place her in her favorite spot, and reward her for the inconveniences of the past few hours with a treat (a caterpillar, a piece of lettuce, or other food she likes).
When everything is finished, wash your hands with a good antibacterial soap
- Try to leave the water level in the same place as before washing.
- Clean the aquarium every few weeks - or even less if the water gets dirty before then.
- Pay attention to the turtle's safety while it is out of the aquarium, in the temporary container.
- When returning the reptile to the aquarium, give it a treat so that it does not create negative associations with the cleaning day.
- The turtle may change its skin after changing the water.
- The ideal nursery for terrestrial turtles, such as the tortoise and the tortoise, is a wooden box. Glass aquariums heat up very quickly, which can be fatal to this reptile.