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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just wondering what the cichlid forum community knows about requirements for a turtle tank. I'm at constant battle with my wife about my tanks, and any foothold I can get with her I will leverage to my advantage :D. A pet store down the street had one of these guys for sale for like $20. My wife likes them and would support me getting one. Right now the stipulation is I would have to use one of the tanks I already own but I'm working on that.

Anyways, I read a little bit about them. Adult males are smaller than adult females. One source recommends a 75g tank for a single adult male and a 125g tank for a single adult female. They require the capability to get out of the water for basking. They require a heat lamp and some type of UV lighting I can't remember right now.

My question is, suppose I could get ahold of somethink like a 4' 90g tank or bigger (taller and/or longer), and built a basking ledge a few inches down from the rim of the tank, are there any cichlids I could incorporate into this type of setup with say a male western painted turtle? I imagine it would have to be something large enough enough the turtle won't try to eat, but yet won't harass or try to take chunks out of the turtle.

Also, if anyone can direct me to a community where I might be able to find more information, I'd appreciate that as well.
 

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Rhinox -if the turtle you are referring to is the Troost Turtle (I think my spelling is right - I don't recall their scientific name) they are predetory ambushers and carion eaters. There are several species differentiated partly by the color of a small patch on either side of their necks. They remain motionless for a really long time under water consuming very little oxygen while waiting for fish to come within striking distance. Then they grab the fish in a quick strike. They have very sharp jaws (beak-like) that are very strong and will cut a vee shaped chunk out of their prey. If it is fatal, they will feed on the carcus which may be shared with other turtles. If not they will wait for another "big bite" of fish meat from another fish to come along.

I've kept them as a kid and as long as the death of a nightcrawler doesn't bother you (I fish) it is fascinating watching two painted shell turtles devour a nightcrawler with each starting at opposite ends. You can fool them with a piece of cooked spaghetti.

If you value both the fish and turtle, they should not be kept together in an aquarium.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the input Lestango! Here's a couple images I found through google of the turtle I saw:





The genus/species is Chrysemys picta, with westerns being classified as C. p. bellii, but there are also easterns (C. p. picta), midlands (C. p. marginata), and southern (C. p. dorsalis). Westerns are the biggest, and IMO the most attractively colored. Probably why thats the species I saw at my pet store.

I searched for Troost turtle and it appears to be something different. I found something known as a Red eared slider, formerly known as as Troost's turtle in honor of an American herpetologist; Trachemys scripta troostii is now the scientific name for another subspecies, the Cumberland turtle. This has genus/species /subspecies Trachemys scripta elegans, so is something different. Also, seems to get a few inches bigger than the western painteds.

I'm basically getting my information from wikipedia at this point... :?

Here is a section on the painted turtles' diets:

The eastern painted turtle's diet is the least studied. It prefers to eat in the water, but has been observed eating on land. The fish it consumes are typically dead or injured.[110]

The midland painted turtle eats mostly aquatic insects and both vascular and non-vascular plants.[111]

The southern painted turtle's diet changes with age. Juveniles have a 13% vegetarian diet, adults 88%. This perhaps shows the turtle prefers meat, but can only obtain the amounts desired (by eating small larvae and such) while young.[112] The reversal of feeding habits with age has also been seen in the false map turtle, which inhabits some of the same range. The most common plants eaten by adult southern painted turtles are duckweed and algae, and the most common prey items are dragonfly larvae and crayfish.[113]

The western painted turtle's consumption of plants and animals changes seasonally. In early summer, 60% of its diet comprises insects. In late summer, 55% includes plants.[114] Of note, the western painted turtle also eats many white water-lily seeds. Because the hard-coated seeds remain viable after passing through the turtle, they are dispersed by it.[114]
Of course, they will be opportunistic feeders in captivity just like fish, etc.

I did find one webpage dedicated to the turtles: http://www.austinsturtlepage.com/Care/c ... ainted.htm

This is what the page says regarding their diet:

CAPTIVE DIET

Throughout their lives, Western Painteds are omnivorous with the strong preference for being carnivores. This creates the opportunity for keepers to offer too much in the way of proteins. It is important to keep a check on the turtle's diet and ensure that it is getting a well-rounded feeding. In captivity, they do well on Mazuri and ReptoMin, Reptile/Pond 10, Cichlid Sticks, feeder fish, occasional ghost shrimp, aquatic plants (such as Water Lilies, Water Hyacinth, Duckweed, Anachris, Water Lettuce, Water Fern, Pondweed, Water starwort, Hornwort, Water milfoil, and Frogbit), veggies (such as Zucchini, Squash, Collard Greens, Beet Leaves, Endive, Romaine, Red Leaf Lettuce, Kale, Escarole, Mustard Greens & Dandelions) and some fruits, crickets, meal worms and blood worms.
says feeder fish and ghost shrimp, but nothing about whether they would go after larger fish. It does say this though: "Sliders have powerful jaws and can easily kill smaller turtles, so only turtles of comparable size are recommended." So seems they may be similar to the Troost turtle in this regard - they are referred to as sliders on this page.

All this info, just didn't see anything about whether it were possible to keep this turtle with larger fish. I certainly wouldn't want to intentionally cause harm to fish or turtle, just seeking information at this point.
 

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I would not recommend it. My brother had a tank set up with a juvenile painted turtle and a small sunfish. They lived together in harmony for a couple years, both of them eating turtle pellets. Then he came home one day and the sunfish had been attacked and partially eaten. I think the turtles are pretty opportunistic, if they get the right mood the fish will be eaten.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
hmmm... just seems like such a waste to have so much water and no fish. :? The turtle won't even be utilizing the water the whole time, and when it does, I'm sure its not swimming around like a fish. Probably just laying on the bottom or swimming up to get some air. I suppose I could get some hardy disposable fish like convicts, maybe they'll produce enough fry often enough to keep the turtle satisfied on fry and leaving the adult convicts alone? wishful thinking?
 

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I believe western painted turtle are what is native around my area. In the summer you can see them all over the lakes, basking on logs. They are pretty large. I have kept a red eared slider and an african helmeted turtle with cichlids. Both always ignored any fish over 4 inches or so.
 

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I was at my local aquarium club meeting and this subject was discussed briefly, according to a guy who is an expert on ponds, and keeping tropical fish in ponds, any turtle will take a shot at pretty much any fish, if it has the opportunity. I assume you would have the same result in a tank, it is at your own risk for the fish. I think if you want the turtle, go for it, just don't get too attached to any fish you put in there and remember, when your wife starts finding fish heads floating around, it stops being cute.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
netrippa said:
check out this tank,you wont be disappointed
Wow :eek: that tank is amazing!

Thanks for the info everyone. Still don't know what I'm going to do. Think a single turtle could work in a 40br with no fish?
 

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I looked at turtle tanks at Petco and the footprint of the 40br is good. But the turtle tanks are a lot cheaper because you only use low water levels and the glass is thinner.

Thanks for the info on the turtles. I never really researched it. The Troost's have to be very closely related, but I have seen hundreds of the painted turtles basking on logs and rocks when I have been fishing (eating fish on my stringer too) :p and since you mentioned it they didn't have the red or yellow neck patches. My bad! Otherwise they sure look similar.

If I ever loose my desire to learn something, would someone please find me and shoot me? :D
Les
 

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I know that I will most likely be the minority on this one, but I say "go for it". I have 3 different tanks and all 3 are community type tanks with different types of fish and TURTLES. No problems with the turtles chasing or eating any of the fish. Of course, every turtle and tank is different, but it can be done and it makes for a VERY interesting and dynamic tanks. Everyone that comes over to my house is always surprised that the turtles don't eat the fish.

It is best to introduce the turtle to fish right off the bat when they are hatchlings. They usually try to take a bite of them, but the turtle quickly relizes that the fish are too fast for him to catch. And, no it is not really stressful for the fish other than the first week or so. My yellow labs breed like crazy in my 90 gallon tank with 2 Diamondback Terrapins (which are basicly canrnivores) and DO eat fish in the wild, but everything is A-OK. Also, all my turtles are captive bred, so that will certainly make a difference as well.

Believe it or not, but I actually had to trade in a couple of my Yellow Labs because they were chasing the turtles out of their territory..............it got to the point that they wouldn't let the turtles hang around down at the bottom of the tank and the Labs started "biting" their rear legs and even on their necks, so it was just the opposite of what most people would think. The turtles were afraid of the fish............NOT the other way around!!!!

Austin's Turtle Page and turtleforum.com is one of the best "turtle sites" out there, so you should be able to learn everything you need to know over there. Good luck to you, Jimbo
 

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I have a yellow bellied slider & red eared slider in a 75 gallon tank. (They wont let me post pictures since there's no cichlids in it :( )

I keep about 12 gourami of various sizes and silver dollars (man they're getting big).

We've tried other fish in there and they get chased/eaten, etc. I had 6 flame dwarf gouramis and a few months later noticed I only had 2.... oops.

These guys (yellow bellied & red eared) are fully aquatic; but need a small place to bask (dry out) / get UV rays (for vitamin/calcium processing).

Definitely a fun tank - but the fish are hit & miss on what you can have. I think a 40Br would be too small personally - my 2 are pretty big and LOVE swimming around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the ideas everyone keep 'em coming i'm about getting full on DIY in this project now can't hold me back :lol:

So I'm thinking anything worth doing is worth doing right, as always. I couldn't settle for a 55g mbuna tank, I had to upgrade to the 125 and then I had to get the 33 and the 40 (and the 10) for fry and quarentine and isoloation...

So, I think I'm going to go the small, indoor pond route. Well, it has to fly with the wife but I mentioned it once already and it didn't immediately get shot down, so theres hope. I'm thinking something like 6'x3', but only 12"-18" of water deep. It'll go in my basement. I'd go bigger, but I have to keep all the costs low, from building to operation. If running it noticeable adds to the electric bill, thats where my wife will complain. Also, it either has to be easy to move, or disposeable once we move out of the house we're renting in the next year or 2.

So I've been researching all day and I think I'll put a solid, overbuilt frame together out of 2x3's, cover it with some plywood, and then seal it with drylok/pond armor/wetsuit/etc - something quick and easy (and inexpensive!!). It should at least last a couple years and by that point I'll decide if its worth moving or ditching when we move out.

I'll finish the setup with some cichlids that look good viewed from above. Right now, I can't think of anything better than lots of yellow labs and being ok with the idea that some might get eaten from time to time. Also, gives me an incentive to keep raising mbuna fry from my other species and growing them out a bit, as whatever I can't sell/give to other area hobbiests by the time I need the tank space can get dumped in the turtle tank where some may survive and some may end up food.

It'll be between 135-200gallons of water but shhhh don't tell my wife she's gonna think its MUCH smaller than my 125 because its so shallow and she won't bother to measure and check :p. I'd like to build it up off the floor both for better viewing and to keep the cats and dog out of it but thats $$$ for building a pretty good sized stand so it'll most likely just sit on the floor and I'll come up with something to cover enough to keep my other interested pets at bay. Maybe a recliner or sofa down there and a little TV and have myself a little mancave next to my pond :p

I may try an in-tank poret HMF for filtration it'll take away a little floor space but I can hide it under the basking platform which will be removeable for filter maintenance.

The last question becomes what turtle(s) do I stock it with? Do I make it a paradise for a single western painted like I saw or do I try out a couple different species? Maybe there's a different species I'd really like besides the western painted? idk, but now I'm so into I've got to research that aspect as well. I've certainly caught the (another) itch.

Keep comin' with the ideas and try to talk me out of it before my wife kicks me out.
 

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I don't know how these turtles will do with high pH, but otherwise they're good with whatever water.


You don't really get a good look at how much they love the deep water since I just fed them and turtles are voracious eaters. But like someone else said, once they realize they can't catch the fish, they give up until you put in new fish - then they're like... WHOA! FISH!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Nice turtles :)

Any suggestions for cichlids (any kind, not just africans) that would look good when viewed from above, besides yellow labs? Actually, my red zebras look pretty good from above but again, more mbuna. What can I say, I know what I know :fish: . I'm open to new species though, if they're either A) tough enough for the turtle, or B) many, cheap, and expendable :p.

What about like a bigger tough central american, like a jag or a dovii? Wonder how they'd look from above. I'd like an oscar, but probably not very attractive from above. Hey I wonder if my LFS would give me a good deal on their 2' Emperor, I'll bet its big enough and tough enough to last with a turtle :p. I'll probably have a sand bottom so the fish would have to stand out against a beige backdrop when viewed from above.

Maybe just a Koi or 2, but... meh, not a cichlid, and boring IMO. I was thinking about a medium sized catfish (12"-18"), but not sure how it would work out if the turtle would bite at it while it was resting on the bottom.

Completely aside, in turtle only setups, how important are the water parameters? Do they care how much ammonia, nitrite, nitrate? I imagine swimming around in ammonia wouldn't be pleasant even if they don't breathe the water, but would the nitrates matter as much? Just curious.

By the way, I officially asked the wife if I could build a turtle tank in the basement. I didn't get a full endorsement, but it wasn't a no. I believe it went something like "Do we really need another animal in the house to take care of?" She went to the obvious "If its in the basement you'll never see it", so I laid out my plans for finding a free recliner or sofa and setting up the TV and making the basement useful for something other than storage. She then said something about needed to get a cable box for the basement then. In other words, I think its pretty much the soft "go ahead if you must". :D
 

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Obviously your tank needs to be cycled, ammonia & Nitrite are still bad for anything.
I have a 305 on my turtle tank (rated for 70, that's about what I have in it).

As for Nitrates, I was under-doing the water changes and the Nitrates probably got up to around 160-200ppm. The turtles don't seem to care. They're NASTY buggers when it comes to waste. That being said, they're great tank starters since they are less susceptible to water conditions (from my limited learning experience).

re: cichlids & turtles... I don't know about pH and turtles, how it may affect their skin or shell long term, etc.

turtle will eat koi, we got some long finned goldfish cause they were awesome looking - yeah, goldfish don't have much in the self preservation department. Koi and turtles can both outlive us - but not together :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Cool thanks for the info. Yeah I was just thinking if I went turtle only, if that meant I didn't need to do water changes for nitrates as much/often. That could work as a selling point with my better half. Obviously if I have fish, I'll be doing the >50% weekly water changes I'm used to already. Since the "pond" will be at floor level, I'll configure my plumbing so that I can turn a couple valves and use my filtration pump to drain the tank into the floor drain or utility sink in the basement.

Regarding pH: well I know you're a bit more concerned about it than I am. I'm only planning on using my tap pH (7.4-7.6) unadjusted, its just fine for my mbuna. I don't plan on stocking any pH sensitive fish (ie no discuss or tanganykans or WC). So any fish I would put in there will pretty much be fine to adapt to the water conditions. The turtle on the other hand, I'll look into pH requirements and if I find out it matters I'll either adjust my tank water or find a species compatible with my tap. I suspect my water will be just fine though.

I got the Koi idea from a thread at MFK someone built a huge plywood above ground outdor pond for a turtle and koi I guess they were getting along fine as long as the koi were healthy but I guess the guy lost most of his koi during a mishap during a water change and the turtle would snack on the weak koi. I don't think my little indoor pond will be big enough for koi anyways, and hey, this is CICHLIDforum, I want cichlids :)
 

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A turtle will produce FAR more waste than any fish same weight.

Dear lord, the size of the detrius from a turtle...
 
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