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Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11071
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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Like the question I'm reading here, my red ear slider

Customer Question

Like the question I'm reading here, my red ear slider stopped eating about for or five days ago. She's bout 10" long, we've had her for over 10 years. Same food for last several months, but I'm not sure about water temperature, I'm going to check it right now.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. What is the slider's name?
Customer: Her name is Sponge.
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Sponge?
Customer: Her activity level seems about the same, she has been moving her bubble disk and stick a little more than usual, but not much.
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Veterinarian about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Reptile
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Water temp is 76 degrees.
Expert:  Anna replied 5 months ago.
Hello and welcome. I apologize that no one responded sooner. Different experts come online at various times. I just logged on and saw your question. My name is ***** ***** I'm a biologist with a special interest in reptiles. I'm sorry to hear that Sponge is having some problems. Some additional information will help me figure out the best steps for you to take.What is the temperature under the basking light?What brand and size of UVB light do you have? How old is the bulb?What are all the foods you give her? Any supplements?If you are asked to rate my service, please don't do that just yet because we are just beginning. Thank you.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Temp under the basking light is only 77 degrees. I've always used just a regular 60 watt incandescent as a basking light and no UVB light. Several months ago I had to switch to a 75 watt indoor spot, it recently burned out (maybe a month or three weeks ago) and I bought a halogen replacement for a 60 watt bulb; I didn't realize it wasn't nearly as warm. Today I went to the pet store and bought 2 bulbs by ExoTerra, a 75 watt Swamp Basking Spot and a 26 watt Reptile UVB 100 Tropical UVB. Should I install them?
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
I feed her Tetra Repto Min floating sticks, no supplements.
Expert:  Anna replied 5 months ago.
Thank you for getting back to me. I suspect you got your original information on care from a pet store. Most people do. While we should be able to rely on such information, unfortunately, it is often wrong. They sell people the wrong lighting, advise the wrong foods, and often don't know the correct temperatures for the various reptiles. After months or years of things not being quite right, the animal becomes ill. Some of what you have been told is wrong, and I suspect that is why Sponge is having some trouble. Even though you have been trying so hard to keep her healthy, when you didn't have correct information to begin with, things are going wrong. Yes, you should install the new lights. You want the basking area to be 85*F to 90*F. The water should be 78*F to 82*F. The low temps may account for the appetite loss. However, with no UVB light throughout her life, Sponge very likely has Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD), too. You need to to do two things about it. She must have UVB light with an output of 10%. If your new light doesn't have that, exchange it for one that does. I recommend the Reptisun 10.0 in the straight tube style. The tubes are more reliable than the compact coil/spiral types. The lights should be on for 12 to 14 hours per day. Sponge also needs a source of calcium. Put a cuttlebone in her tank. Cuttlebones are sold in the bird departments of pet stores. She will eat what she needs. Once everything is set up properly and she has been warm for several hours, try feeding her. Something different may pique her appetite. Try an earthworm or a bite of cooked chicken or beef heart. If she still won't eat, it would be best to schedule a vet appointment as soon as you can. This link will take you to a directory of reptile vets: Because there is so much misinformation available both online and from pet stores, I’m also including a care sheet I’ve written for slider turtles.Some of the information above comes from it. It takes months to years before incorrect conditions result in health problems, so even a turtle that has seemed to do well, will eventually become ill. You can use the care sheet as a checklist to make sure everything is right. If you have more questions, let me know I hope Sponge will be fine.AnnaMy goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Please remember to rate my service after you have all the information you need. I will greatly appreciate a positive rating as that is the only way I am compensated. Thank you!SLIDER TURTLE CARE SHEETWell-cared for sliders can live 30 years or more.The TankIt's recommended that a baby slider have at least a 15 gallon tank. By the time the turtle is 3-4 years old, it will need a 60 gallon tank, so it's best to get the biggest you can in the beginning. You can also use a large RubberMaid tote. That's not as pretty as a tank, but costs a lot less. Set up the tank so there's a land area and a water area. Put the basking light at one end so the whole tank doesn’t get too hot. You want the water to be about twice as deep as the turtle is long. If the turtle is two inches long, you'll want four inches of water.Temperatures and Basking AreaTurtles need certain types of lighting and need to be warm. Air and water that are not warm enough can lead to fungal and respiratory infections and unhealthy shells. Turtles must have a basking area where they can get out of the water, dry off, and bask in very warm light. The ambient air temperature in the tank should be around 75 *F (24*C) , with the basking area warmer still. Over the basking area there should be some sort of lamp that will take a 40-60 watt incandescent bulb (or you can buy a ceramic light fixture made just for reptiles). If you live in an area that has farm stores, you can buy a metal light fixture made to keep baby chicks warm for just a few dollars. Don't buy the accompanying bulb, however. You need an ordinary incandescent bulb in the basking light. Hardware stores sell similar fixtures as work lights. The basking area should be kept at 85-90*F (29 to 32*C). Use a digital probe thermometer to be sure. You can adjust the temperature by raising or lowering the light fixture.The lights that come with the covers on aquariums are not suitable for turtles. You'll also need a submersible aquarium heater that will keep the water 78-82*F (26 to 28*C).UVB LightIt's extremely important that you buy an additional light that produces UVB rays. A Reptisun 10.0 is a good brand that does. If you choose another brand be absolutely certain it provides UVB rays. Don't take the word of pet store personnel, but read it for yourself. Full-spectrum, DayGlo, SunGlo, UV, or UVA are not the same thing. I'm putting a lot of emphasis on this because it's crucial to your turtle's health. Without this light, Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) will develop because your turtle won't be able to produce vitamin D. Vitamin supplements are not a good replacement for the proper lighting. MBD causes a very slow and painful death.UVB bulbs must be replaced every six months as they lose their effectiveness after that, even though they may still look fine. Light that comes through a window isn't sufficient because the glass filters out most of the rays turtles need to stay healthy. To prevent MBD, turtles also need calcium. The easiest way to provide it is to place a cuttlebone in the tank. Cuttlebones are sold in bird departments of pet stores.FiltrationTurtles are very sensitive to water quality. Even if you change the water every day, it can still contain harmful chemicals. A good filtration system is essential. Water changes are also needed even with a filter. If the tank is too small, no filter can keep up with the amount of waste that turtles produce.FeedingFeeding is an area where pet stores often give out bad information. Commercial food should make up only 1/4 of the diet. Animal products (cooked meat, earthworms, canned cat food) should make up another 1/4. The remaining half should be plant foods (dark lettuce like romaine, bits of strawberry or melon, etc.). Hatchlings should be fed every day. Older turtles should be fed 3 times per week. Overfeeding can lead to gout and kidney failure.For Further ReadingThis is among the most reputable sites on turtles.