Missouri, United States
Posted Oct 05, 2015
I got my Yellow-Bellied Slider from a friend who didn't want him anymore. I had no knowledge of aquatic turtles at the time, but the friend absolutely could not keep him anymore. He was in really bad shape, and his tank was a mess. A team of friends helped me transport him to my home, and we all pitched in and cleaned up his aquarium. He quickly adapted to his clean, happy home, and he constantly provides me with content company and a satisfying view.
Yellow-Bellied Sliders are relatively simple pets, but I would recommend only getting an Aquatic Turtle if you've already had experience in basic aquarium maintenance.
Aquatic Turtles can only eat in the water. They make formulated turtle food in pellet form that is very inexpensive, Turtles love the pellets, and it keeps them very happy and healthy. Sometimes you can feed them frozen Brine Shrimp, but that's intended to be just an occasional treat. So feeding the Yellow-Bellied Slider is a very simple process. Any food that's left over an hour after feeding time should be removed promptly! Leftover pellet food has the potential to break down and create more ammonia build up.
Aquatic turtles in general are very hardy animals. Health problems can be easily avoided with proper husbandry. 99% of Turtle problems happen due to an issue in the environment. Once you fix the issue they usually recover quickly.
Husbandry can be difficult for someone not experienced in aquarium maintenance. The first problem I personally faced, was Mosquito Larvae in the tank. The problem was easily remedied by purchasing some Comet Gold Fish that were already bigger then the turtle. They live in harmony since the fish are bigger then what the Turtle can eat. If you get fish that are smaller than the Turtle, you run the risk of buying expensive treats for your Aquatic Reptile. Yellow-bellied Sliders are messy eaters, and defecate frequently. This behavior leads to a high ammonia concentration quickly, so frequent water changes and good filtration is a must. I would recommend 2 filters and an under gravel filter. Water change frequency depends entirely on your tank size. Water temperature needs to be around 72–80 °F (22–27 °C) all year long. So I would recommend multiple water heaters spread throughout the tank. Yellow-Bellied Sliders bask on a floating platform called a dock, the basking temperature needs to be 89–95 °F (32–35 °C), so they will need UVB and UVA lighting suspending above the basking side of the tank. The other side of the tank should have no UVA, or heated lighting, and it's recommended to have an ornament that the turtle can hide under, for when it's feeling reclusive or too hot. Be sure to have a thermometer in the water, and a digital thermometer for the air in the basking area. You will want to make sure the water level is high enough that the turtle is comfortable, however leave around 6-8 inches of space in the tank so the Turtle cannot escape. The lighting and heat results in lots of Algae growth, so it's recommended to purchase either a scrubbing tool, or a large Plecostomus or other fish that feeds on Algae. Just make sure the fish is larger than what the Turtle can eat.
Yellow-Bellied Sliders are very striking turtles; they sport a unique exotic pattern that makes them seem very wild and alien to look at. They're very active as well, making them satisfying pets to watch. They're almost always swimming up to the glass to say "Hello", or basking happily on they're platform. Another pro, is the cute expression these turtles almost always have. Yellow-Bellied Sliders have big, googly eyes, and mouths that are permanently in the shape of a smile. They're also almost always opening and closing they're mouths, these Turtles looks as if they're always happy to see you, and they're trying to say "Hi! How're you?".
It's not essential, but it is good for them to have a Beak Stone, as well as some Turtle vitamins in the water with them. These items will greatly benefit your turtles mood and health.
You should not house your Yellow-Bellied Slider with other Turtles. I've personally never tried it, but I hear they will fight over territory disputes.
You can handle these small Turtles briefly, however they don't seem to really enjoy it. My Yellow-Bellied Slider will usually quickly crawl back into the water. Sometimes if you put your hand in the tank, the Turtle may decide to attempt to "dock" itself on you like a platform. There is really only a danger in baby Turtles caring Salmonella, however you should still wash your hands before and after handling any animal. Always handle these Turtles over water.
Treat your turtle well, and keep its home clean and maintenanced, and the Yellow-Bellied Slider will be a wonderful, beautiful exotic pet!