Baby Soft Shell Turtle Aquarium Setup
There are different creative ways of setting up an aquarium for a baby softshell turtle. Here are the basic needs that must be included.
Adequate space (at least a 20 gallon tank)
Good filtration system
A shallow place for the turtle to rest
A place for the turtle to dry its shell
Sand or at least smooth, light gravel
Unfortunately, there are some pet owners that are more concerned about the display of the aquarium rather than the necessities of the animals that live in it. The first idea that comes to my mind are those who want to clutter up the aquarium with lots of decorative plants and colorful accessories that fill up a third of the space. Of course it depends on the size of the aquarium and the size of the animal. It is possible to have a large variety of plants, corals, and treasure chests and still have enough room for a turtle to swim freely. If we are talking about a 20 gallon tank and your turtle is four inches wide, then space would have to be high priority when designing your aquarium. You want your turtle to be able to swim for a few seconds without bumping into something.
There is the opposite side of the spectrum by having the aquarium too bland. With no caves, crevasses, sand, or plants, it would be a boring world, especially without guppies or other smaller animals that can serve as meals and entertainment. You want your turtle to explore every once in a while for the sake of exercise and enjoyment.
For a baby softshell turtle, I used Tupperware filled with sand as his shallow area. I placed this “sand box” on top of a cave and a slab of rock, so the top of the Tupperware is just a little under the surface while not robbing the turtle space below. It’s perfect because he is able to bury himself and breathe while having the option to go into deeper water to explore. The key to a good setup is providing the turtle options. My turtle can be under the UVB light or he can go into the shade. He also has the option of getting out of the water by climbing up a reptile hammock (meant for lizards) that is stationed by suction cups. My turtle also has guppies to catch.
To control the temperature, I placed a heating pad up against one side of the tank. I also have a thermometer stuck to the aquarium so I always know the temperature at a glance.
It’s good every once in a while to add freshwater aquarium salt in the water if there are no live plants in your tank, because these animals typically live in brackish water. My turtle always dug plants up and they’d either die or they got in his way while hunting, so I gave up on plants (at least in this setup). A calcium sulfa block is something to place in the water to provide additional nutrition also.
Make sure to clean the water regularly, especially if you have a ton of guppies and ghost shrimp. All aquarium water has that “fish” smell, but it should never smell like eggs or waste. The water should never be cloudy or alter in color.
Also be careful putting any object in the aquarium that is sharp or rough in texture. These turtles can die due to scratches on their shells.
When setting up your turtle tank, think of practicality above all else. Your turtle is the one who has to live in there, so make it interesting and roomy.