Switch to full site
For general fish and aquarium topics. Including catfish, aquatic plants, ponds, photography, etc.
Post a reply

Any experience with soft shell turtles?

Thu Jun 19, 2008 6:01 pm

Hi there,

I know turtle are not cichlids... or even fish for that mater... but I'm hoping that someone might have some experience or wisdom on this matter as I have found this site to be very helpful with my other aquatic interests.

My girlfriend and I have taken on a 12 year old soft shell turtle that has not been properly cared for practically it's entire life.

We have set him up in a nice tank with a sandy bottom, rock water fall/filter, and piece of driftwood for basking... when before he spent his entire life in a bowl of water with a couple of larger pebbles...

Anyways... my question is... the driftwood has stained the water a whole lot more than I thought it would. It does not seem to be affecting him, but... do any of you know if tannins are harmful to soft-shells?


Thu Jun 19, 2008 6:21 pm

My suggestion is to remove the wood as softshells are fully aquatic. How big is he?

Thu Jun 19, 2008 7:22 pm

It doesn't hurt fish, so I would imagine it wouldn't hurt a turtle. Just guessing though.

Fri Jun 20, 2008 10:41 am


I have read in several places that soft shells do in fact bask in dry areas... i.e.



Also, I used to live by a lake that was loaded with softshells and I would see them occasionally basking...

Not to mention, we like the look of the driftwood... that is until the water ends up looking like tea...

All of that being said, I am yet to see him actually bask himself. But... I have a feeling it's because he has never had the opportunity, and maybe he doesn't really understand that he can? idk...

It's been fun... first turtle I have ever kept... we put in some zebra danios with him... and the predator instinct came back right away! He hasn't caught one yet... but he's come close!

oh... and... I'm guessing 4" from front of shell to back.

Fri Jun 20, 2008 6:55 pm

the tea look will subside after a few water changes. I've had mopani wood in my aquarium since december and it is now almost completely clear. Mopani leeches alot, and I have alot of it in my tank so it might take less time for yours to finish. Boiling the wood takes most of it out, too.

Sun Jun 22, 2008 6:19 pm

The tannins won't hurt the turtle at all. Here is a good site with info on their care requirements....


Mon Jun 23, 2008 9:45 am


thanks for the article!!

and thank you to everyone for the responses! my girlfriend and I are both appreciative!

Mon Jun 23, 2008 6:58 pm

Soft shells are awesome to keep. I used to have one a long time ago but had to sell it after I moved a few times. They are actually quite personable. Just remember to do water changes often because turtles are dirty critters! :P Basking areas are a good idea but also make sure that the turtle has somewhere where it can get its head out of the water withough being completely dry.

Good luck and enjoy!
Post a reply