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Ask Anna Your Own Question
Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11507
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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my turtle is not eating and is staying at the bottom of his

Customer Question

my turtle is not eating and is staying at the bottom of his tank he has energy as i am putting vitamins in his water but he will not eat anything and i have tried all his food types that he normaly eats and new foods, is he sick please help
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Anna replied 8 years ago.

Some additional information will help me to answer your question.

What temperatures do you maintain in the water, the basking area, and the ambient air of the tank?

What types of lighting do you use?

What does the turtle normally eat?

Do you see any bubbles from his nose or mouth?

Does he open his mouth repeatedly, as if yawning?

Does the shell appear normal? Does it have any soft spots?

Thank you.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

hello there i keep the water at usually 25 but now its at 21 c


lighting? i have no idea whcih ever came with the tank its the 40 litre arc tank.


normally eats frozen bllood worm and dried food


no bubbles form his nose or mouth


not opening his mouth repeatedly


shell seems normaly




Expert:  Anna replied 8 years ago.
Thank you for getting back to me. I can tell that you care about your turtle, and want to take good care of him, but someone has given you bad information on how to do that. If you want your turtle to be healthy and live a long life, there are some important changes you'll need to make. I suspect that the lack of the correct conditions, especially proper temperatures, account for your turtle's lethargy and appetite loss.

In order to be active and have healthy skin and shells, turtles need certain types of lighting and need to be warm. Air and water that are not warm enough can lead to infections, lethargy, and appetite loss. 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 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. The basking area should be kept at 29 to 32*C. Use a thermometer to be sure. You can adjust the temperature by raising or lowering the light fixture.Set up the basking area at one end - you don't want the entire tank to become too warm. The lights that come with the covers on aquariums are inadequate for turtles. You'll also need a submersible aquarium heater that will keep the water 26 to 28*C.

It's extremely important that you buy an additional light that produces UVB rays. A Reptisun 10 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 or plain UV is 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 turtles 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, often over a period of years. 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.

Turtles 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.

Feeding is another area where pet stores often give out bad information. Commercial food should make up 1/4 of the diet. Animal products (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.). The food should be dusted with plain calcium powder several times a week.

You may want to look at these sites for additional information on care and feeding. I especially recommend that you check out the lists of appropriate foods.

I would recommend that you provide the conditions your turtle needs as soon as possible. Without those conditions, turtles are likely to die, no matter what pet store personnel may have told you. It's likely that within a few days of improving the conditions, your turtle will return to normal. If he doesn't, an infection may have already set in. In that case, you'll need to see a reptile vet. If you have more questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope your turtle will be fine.


The spots on your turtle's shell are probably the result of a condition called shell rot. There may also be a fungal infection present. Providing proper lighting and temperature may help with the unhealthy shell, but it would be best to have the turtle examined by a reptile vet, who can diagnose the problem with certainty and prescribe proper treatment. Here is a link to a directory of vets:

If you have further questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope you enjoy many years with turtles.


(If you find my answer helpful, please click on ACCEPT. Thank you.)