HOW TO CARE FOR AUSTRALIAN FRESHWATER TORTOISES
LIVING QUARTERS (continued)
Indoor Tanks: The Filter:
Tortoises make their water dirty quite quickly, and as it
is a time-consuming job to clean an aquarium, it is wise
to buy a filter and pump to keep the tank clean. Plastic
filters are very cheap; pumps a little more expensive, but
worth it, as you will find as your tortoises grow and eat
Don't buy an undergravel filter for tortoise tanks. Put
marbles in the bottom of the filter to stop it floating.
On top of these goes filter wool, then a layer of activated
carbon (available from aquarium shops), then a thinner layer
of filter, wool to keep the charcoal from floating, then
a small space for dirt to collect.
Filters are now available which have "stabilizer platforms"
attached to their bases. As well as making them heavier
and better-balanced, this platform can be covered with gravel
to anchor the filter to the floor of the tank. This eliminates
the need for using marbles in the filter.
As the tortoises
grow, it may be necessary to buy a motorised filter for
their tank. These efficient little machines,
if cleaned once a week, do such a good job that you may
only have to clean out the tank 3 or 4 times a year. Because
the water level in a tortoise tank is low, you will require
a fully immersible filter if you buy one. Motorised filters
clean all the water in the tank every few hours, and circulate
the water as well.
It is important to ensure that there is no uneaten food
left rotting in the tank as this leads to the presence of
bacteria in the water - an unhealthy situation.
Indoor Tanks: Water plants:
Keep water plants in the tanks with the tortoises because
now and then they like to chew on them, they seem to help
keep odours down, and tortoises like the shelter they afford.
Tortoises seem to like a plant called "Water Sprite".
It is impossible to keep the plants stuck in the gravel
as the tortoises always scratch around and dig them up.
Leave the plants floating in the water; they do well. If
you want to decorate your tank use some plastic plants;
they can look quite effective.
The activated carbon is highly efficient in removing odours
from the tanks, and this is important with tortoises.
Indoor Tanks: The Heater:
Heat the water in the tank by using a. special heater from
aquarium shops, which sticks to the inside of the tank and
is thermostatically controlled. If you have a heater you
must have a water thermometer too as the heaters don't show
the temperature. Heaters are important for another
reason as you will see when you read about hibernation.
Keep the water temperature between 75oF and 85oF (24oC-29oC).
Heated water makes tortoises more lively; and if they are
not warm enough the tropical ones can go into premature
hibernation, which can cause problems.
You may wish to turn the heater off during Summer. In the
latitude of Melbourne, Victoria, this should not be done
before January 1st, when the warmer weather is presumably
'here to stay'. In more northerly latitudes, heaters may
be turned off in December. Turn them on again in March.
Indoor Tanks: Covers:
Cover your tank with glass, to keep out dust and household
pets. A cover also keeps in warm moist air, which tortoises
like. Two corners of the cover must be cut off to allow
filter tubes and beater cords into the tank. Don't leave
sharp edges which may cut your hands.
Respite from the indoor tank:
Because tortoises need sunlight to keep them healthy, put
the animals outside whenever convenient, in a shallow container
with rocks and water and especially some shade where they
can escape if they get too hot. Make sure they can't climb
out, as they will always try to return to their natural
PAGE 1 PAGE 2
Indoor Living Quarters: PAGE
4 PAGE 5 PAGE
6 PAGE 7 PAGE
8 PAGE 9
Outdoor Living Quarters: PAGE
Feeding: PAGE 11
Ailments: PAGE 13
Behaviour and Intelligence: PAGE
How Old is the Tortoise? PAGE
Dangers: PAGE 15
Reproduction and Sexual Differences PAGE
References: PAGE 16