Turtles are a life long commitment and with proper care can live for 30 – 75 years. Most Turtles appear to be shy and timid at first, but within time and maturity they lose their fears and will become accustomed to the one that feeds them.  A True Friend for Life

Species of turtle most commonly kept

There are two main species of turtles that are most commonly sold throughout South Australia, they are the Short Neck Turtle and the Common Long Neck Turtle. Both species are found throughout SA and along the River Murray. The Short Neck turtle is the most commonly sold and is the largest, they will grow to a shell size of 30 cm, whereas the Long Neck is slightly smaller with a shell diameter of 25 cm.

Turtle can grow quickly, sometimes quicker than most people expect and a suitable size tank is needed. Turtles will grow to full maturity and can outgrow a small tank. The most appropriate sized tank for a juvenile is an 80-90cm tank, which may last 1-2 years.  A fully matured turtle would need a 120cm tank or larger. Most adult turtles would prefer to be in an outside landscaped pond.  Each tank needs to be equipped with a platform or ledge as turtles do not breathe underwater, they merely hold their breath. Platforms also allow the turtle to comfortably dry out their shell and eliminate the possibility of getting fungus related illnesses.

Other Tank equipment needed would include

  1. Filters are a must for all turtle tanks. Turtles can be rather messy so a good quality filter system is required. Ask our Friendly staff on the most appropriate filter for your turtle enclosure. The filter should have a minimum flow rate of four times to the capacity of water
  2. Heaters are essential for the survival of all young turtles. They should be kept at a consistent 24-26 C as a juvenile, and should be kept in warm water for the first 3 years of life.
  3. Gravel size is also important to consider. The gravel must not be smaller enough to be eaten. As turtles will forage amongst the gravel, in search of food it should not be smaller enough to be accidentally eaten.  
  4. Fresh Plants add beneficial oxygen to the water and help age the tank. Turtles also love to eat fresh plants which is recommended in their diet.
  5. Turtle Neutralizer block will allow the turtle to absorb calcium and help maintain a healthy shell.
  6. UV5% Globe is needed in order the absorb Vitamin D. Without daily exposure to Vitamin D the turtle will be unable to absorb any calcium. UV Disorder is sadly common in turtles and will result in soft shell, deformities and eventually death.
  7. Basking Globe allows the turtle to comfortably bask under the light, allowing their shell to dry and stay nice and warm. Constantly having a soft shell may result in fungal related diseases.

UV Lighting and Basking Lighting

Turtles need exposure to UV lighting every day. They need a minimum of 8-12 hours each day to help maintain a healthy shell. The two types of lighting that is required to be used for the turtle tanks are UV-A and UV-B lights. The UV-B wavelengths help stimulate their appetite and provide energy for the formation of vitamin D necessary for the metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. The levels of calcium that are absorbed by the turtle then help reduce the risk of soft shell and metabolic bone disease. It is a MUST for all turtles. UVB globes need to be replaced at least every 6-8 months as the UV diminishes with age.


There is a variety of fresh and frozen foods that are appropriate for all turtles. Foods may include:

  1. Frozen Foods e.g. Turtle dinner, beef heart and prawns, Turtle Veg, Blood worms

  2. Appropriate Pellet foods

  3. Live Fish

  4. Fresh Plants

  5. Freeze Dried Shrimp and Prawns

  6. Meal worms (adults only)

Baby Turtles should be fed mainly Frozen Baby Dinner and Blood worms. Blood worms are an appetite stimulate and should only be used as a treat, not a main meal. Turtles ideally are fed outside the enclosure to avoid the tank from becoming dirty and messy from uneaten pieces of meat. The Turtle should be placed inside a container with 1-2 inches of water, as their head should be submersed underwater to eat.  After ten minutes the dirty water can be disguarded.

Keeping the Tank Healthy

Regular water changes are needed to keep a healthy tank for your turtle. Turtle also drink the water they are in so it is essential for optimal health. Weekly water changes should be routine. Use a gravel syphon to gently remove ¼ of the dirty water from the tank, fresh water should then be added, followed with your water treatments. Water conditioner and bio actives are essential for optimum water quality. Turtles prefer slightly harder water, which means they prefer more alkaline water, PH adjusters should also be used to maintain this.  

Keeping More than One

While turtles are generally a solitary animal they can be kept in pairs. Careful husbandry needs to be considered when keeping more than one. Turtle’s growth depends greatly on the amount of food being consumed. There will always be one turtle that is slightly more dominant than the other turtle. Feeding the same amounts and feeding separately should eliminate completion over food. If there is a size difference among the turtles the bigger dominate turtle will pick on the smaller one.