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Joan, Veterinary Technician
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 18525
Experience:  35+ years experience as veterinary tech and 40+ years experience doing reptile rescues.
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my baby painted turtle was eating really good a month ago then

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my baby painted turtle was eating really good a month ago then he just stopped. I have tried everything. I had 2 goldfish in with him for several weeks. I came home one day and the bellies were ate out of them. I took them out and he hasn't ate since. I have tried putting him in warm water 2 times a day for 20 min. each time. thought maybe it was constipation. hasn't helped. he is just laying on the rock all stretched out. not moving a lot anymore. really scared he is starving and going to die. cant find a vet around here that knows anything about baby turtles. PLEASE HELP!!!!!


My name is XXXXX XXXXX I am a Vet Tech with special interest in Reptiles and reptile rescue. I will be happy to help you and Barney, but I do need to ask some questions.

Can you tell me about the set up?

Normal diet?


Size of tank?

UVB light? Florescent tube or compact coil, strength, age of bulb, brand of bulb?

Basking light?

Temps in water and basking area?


State to locate a Herp Vet for you.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

it is a 20 gal. tank with big rocks on the bottom. it has a very large rock for barney to bask on. I have an out of tank filtration system and an underwater heater. the water temp. is kept at 78 degrees. before he stopped eating his diet was dried shrimp, dried and live meal worms, dry and live crickets. of course all the live stuff was small cause barney is only 2 inches from side to side. it has been really warm hot here and I have the tank in a west facing window with the shades open so I don't have a basking light. the room he is in stays between 75 and 80 degrees. I live in council bluffs, Iowa.


Do you have a UVB bulb which is different than a basking bulb?

Do you feed any supplements?


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

no bulbs of any kind. I figured he was in the sun all day so he would be ok. I also thought since I was giving him such a variety of food that supplements would not be needed.


I suspect that your information must have come from the Pet shop. Unfortunately there are quite a few issues we need to correct to help Barney. Reptiles require two types of light. One is the basking light that supplies guided heat for a turtle to use to thermoregulate. The other is a UVB light that supplies artificial sunlight which works in conjunction with a calcium supplement to metabolize into Vitamin D3 in the body. The UVB prevents Metabolic Bone Disease and also helps build the immune system. UVB cannot penetrate glass or plastic, so by keeping the tank by a window, all you are doing is warming the water, but not giving a satisfatory basking area, or the UVB needed to help keep Barney healthy. I suggest a reptisun 10.0 UVB bulb that runs the length of the tank. This would work with a daily calcium supplement 5 days a week and a vitamin supplement 2 days a week. This link will explain lighting: I also want to give you some information on UVB rays and MBD:

It is very important to get the lighting, supplements and diet corrected. I am going to give you a care sheet courtesy of Anna, who I work with that covers the care of the Painted turtle which is in the slider family. I would like you to review it and see you you have any questions on it. I am also going to give you some first aid for Barney.

Please give him a soak in a 50/50 warm water and Pedialyte soak for 20 mins twice a day. This is an eletrolyte bath. I would like you to add some calcium powder into the soak. Reptiles can absorb fluids through the vent area. I would also like you to get him out for some sunlight 1o mins, two to three times a day until you get the UVB set up, which should be asap. After going over the care sheet please let me know if you have further questions. Joan

Well-cared for sliders can live 30 years or more.

The Tank

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

Temperatures and Basking Area

Turtles 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

UVB Light

It'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.


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. If the tank is too small, no filter can keep up with
the amount of waste that turtles produce.


Feeding 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

This is among the most reputable sites on

Herp Vets in IA:

Joan and other Reptile Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

this is jeb and my little painted turtle barney. you helped me last week. i am happy to say that after i got all the things you suggested and FINALLY barney is eating, however, i cannot get him to eat anything but freeze dried shrimp and a little cooked meat. he will not eat any greens or fruits. he acts scared to death when i put a little worm in there too. will he be ok with freeze dried food and a little cookex meat?


For naw we can go with what he is eating, but as he grows and gets older we will need to start adding the veggies to the diet. You can try getting some aquatic plants for greens as they will pick at them. Make sure that he has a cuttle bone or a good calcium supplement. That too is very important. Joan

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

i got a cuddle bone and now i put fluker's calcium powder with vitamin

d3. it is phosphorous free.


That is great! I prefer without D3, but that will work until you can find the plain type without D3. Flukers makes some. Joan

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

thank you so much.


You are very welcome. You can always ask for me if you need help with any pets.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

hello joan. this is jeb and barney AGAIN!! everything has been going great until today. i noticed some discoloration on barney's front shoulder area and on the back of his neck. when i looked closer it appears that the shoulder area has some white bumps. it looks like it has been rubbing on something and looks very sore. the back of his neck looks like it is peeling.


I am sorry to hear Barny is having problems. It sounds like he may have a funal infection that has popped up. You can try picking up a Sulfa Dip at the Pet shop and give him a Dip and then dry dock hip for a few hours before returning him into the tank. Make sure he still gets his UVB light and backing light while Dry docked. You can also try a little Female cream for yeast infections like Clotrimazole or Miconozole and mix with Neosporin for any infection. The Cream is found in the femine hygiene isle of most stores and the Neosporin in first aid Just use a little on the areas very sparingly. If it is a fungal infection the Sulfa Dip and the Cream should help. He will need to return to his tank for feeding and swimming, but you can do this a couple of times a day to try and help clear this up. Please let me know if you have further questions. Joan

Hi Jeb,

Sorry I had some typos. My keyboard is acting up. If you need clarification on my answer, please let me know. Joan

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

no i understand. thank you so much. im going to the pet store in the morning. i triex to send you pictures but i couldnt figure out how.


The easiest way is to post them on and post a link to them here. I am hoping that this will help. Joan

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

im so frustrated. none of the pet stores around here have a sulfa dip. i found a vet that has a lime sulfer dip. not sure if it will wrk for barney though. im a little nervous to use a cream from the lady store. i would rather buy something that is made for turtles. do you know a website that i can order it from.


The Miconazole or Chlorotrimezole is safe to use. If you feel uncertain, then you can try a little salt water dip using some aquarium salt 1 teaspoon full per gallon of water. Then just use enough of the mixture to dip im in, rise with plain water and use some Neosporin on the areas.

Sulfa Dip:



I just received the pictures, and could very well be fungal. It seems localized, which is good. Please let me know if you were able to get the Sulfa dip and if you have tried the antifungal cream. Joan

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

i used the antifungal cream and neosporin you sugested. it seemed better after one use. but his shell is cloudy now. i think it is just leftover neosporin. will keep you updated. you have been spot on about everything. thank you so so much.


I am glad that it seems better. Keep me updated on how things are going. Joan