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Ask Joan Your Own Question
Joan, Veterinary Technician
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 18360
Experience:  35+ years experience as veterinary tech and 40+ years experience doing reptile rescues.
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I have a baby red eared slider that has swollen eyes and

Customer Question

i have a baby red eared slider that has swollen eyes and hasnt eaten much yesterday or today. also seems to be strughling swimming. i think hes around 4-5 months old
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. The Veterinarian will know if the baby will be able to digest that. What is the baby's name?
Customer: turtles name is munchie
JA: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about munchie?
Customer: i dont know, this is our first turtle or pet of any kind
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Joan replied 10 months ago.


My name is ***** ***** I have been a Vet tech for 30+ years with special interest in reptiles and reptile rescue.

Can you tell me about the tank set up?

UVB light? Is it a linear tube or compact coil, strength and brand?

Basking light?




Any bubbles from nose or mouth?

State to locate a Herp Vet?

Did you buy the turtle locally or order it by mail?


Customer: replied 10 months ago.
20 gal tank, about 50-60% filled with water. there is a filter in it. he has a basking log and a uvb light that is on for 12 hours. (not sure of brand, but the lady at the pet store directed me to it). i feed him dried shrimp and bloodworms, he usually eats 3-6 of each in the evening and occasionally i will feed him 2-4 of one of those in the mid morning. i live in the fort worth, texas area. i have seen bubbles from him today. my husband bought him roadside a few months ago for the kids. i had moss growing on some river rocks a few weeks ago and tje water got pretty dirty. i cleaned the tank completely 2 weeks ago and now have moss growing again on the rocks, not sure if thats contributing or not. we never take him out to play with jim. he just bask and swims in his tank
Expert:  Joan replied 10 months ago.

Thank-you. The eyes and the bubles lead me to two possible issues . The eye swelling could be one of two problems. If you are using a coil UVB bulb, that can cause swelling in the eyes called Photo Kerato Conjunctivitis. The other possibility with the eye could be a Vitamin A deficiency, which is common in Reptiles. The Bubbles and swimmig funny sound like he has a respiratory infections. When ill the do not swim normally and the bubbles from nose or mouth is also a sign. I urge a Herp Vet visit. when these guys strat showing symptoms they can go down rapidly. This is a link for Herp Vets in TX: These are Turtle Vets:

I am going to give you a complete care sheet because the diet needs some improvement and this will help you along the way with Munchie.


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

The Tank

It'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 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 28*C).

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 Reading

This is among the most reputable sites on turtles.

Please hit reply for any questions you may have. My goal is to give you excellent service. I strive to earn a 5 star rating from you so I can be compensated by the site for my time and answers.


Expert:  Joan replied 10 months ago.

Checking in to see if you found the information helpfuii. If you have any concerns, I did not addresses please hit reply.