Characteristics of aquaterrariums
The turtles that are frequently hosted in our homes are reptiles that live on land (land turtles) or belong to species more closely linked to humid environments (water turtles). For the latter, the ideal place in which to live and reproduce is represented by the aquaterrarium, a structure which – as the name suggests – has inside both free water in which the animal can move freely, and a solid substrate represented for example from rocks or pieces of wood. Although turtles are generally small animals, their needs in terms of living space should not be overlooked, especially if you intend to host more than one specimen in your aquaterrarium. In very general terms it may be useful to remember a simple rule: the more space available, the greater the animal's well-being. In fact, turtles, contrary to popular belief, are curious animals, they tend to swim and move, when necessary they walk and climb, and they love to lie in the sun. To avoid unpleasant "surprises", before purchasing a new turtle specimen it is essential to find out about the size that the animal is capable of reaching as an adult: and this to avoid that, in the future, the aquaterrarium is no longer suitable able to accommodate it easily. For example, species such as the widespread Trachemys or the Emydura subglobosa require large-volume aquaterrariums (at least 120 x 50 x 50 centimeters), while smaller species (such as the Sthernotherus odoratus) can also "make do" with smaller-sized aquaterrariums (80 x 40 x 40 centimeters can also be fine). Is an open or closed aquaterrarium better? In case of small dimensions, an aquaterrarium capable of being closed with a lid can be easily transported if necessary. However, if the aquaterrarium is large, an open type that allows easy air circulation and good lighting is undoubtedly preferable.
Water levels, temperature and lighting in the aquaterrarium
The optimal water depth inside the aquaterrarium must be evaluated based on the size and typical behavior of the animal: since turtles feed by hunting in the water, it is good that they have at least a depth available that allows them , resting the hind legs on the bottom, to be completely immersed except for the head. Although a sufficient volume of water can be provided in aquaterrariums to accommodate fish, we strongly advise against letting turtles and fish species coexist in the same spaces. The reason is simple: fish generally tend to dirty the water a lot, and the "coexistence" of two animals that are so different in habits, behavior and diet can sometimes be difficult. Since turtles intended for home aquaterrariums generally come from tropical or subtropical countries, the water temperature should not deviate too much from the optimal range between 24 and 27°C. Excessively hot or, on the contrary, particularly cold waters are equally harmful for small reptiles: in the case of suboptimal temperatures, turtles easily become prey to parasites and diseases, lose their appetite and can even die. In summer the aquaterrarium can be positioned near a window, thus allowing the sun's rays to illuminate the environment and improve the health of its little guests who, like all cold-blooded animals, love being in the sun. If possible, you can also place the aquaterrarium on a terrace or balcony, taking care not to leave it exposed during the hottest hours of the day and if the nights are particularly cool. Thermal shocks are in fact an extremely dangerous factor for turtles. In the absence or scarcity of natural light, you can also use special neon lamps for reptiles which are able to fix vitamin D, essentially performing the same function as the sun's rays. To maintain a good air temperature, it is sufficient to use special heating lamps.
Accessories for aquariums
At specialized shops it is possible to purchase different types of accessories capable of enriching and optimizing the turtle aquarium both in terms of habitability for the turtles and in terms of the aesthetic aspect. In any turtle aquaterrarium the indispensable element is undoubtedly represented by the support surfaces . In fact, water turtles, despite being closely linked to this element, still need dry surfaces in which to rest and expose themselves to light rays. There are many types of these accessories, to be chosen based on the animal's needs and personal taste: rock elements, wooden or cork trunks, plastic structures or, again, floating platforms equipped with suction cups for anchoring . Avoid "natural" wood, because it is prone to rotting: the wood must necessarily be treated. Another accessory of fundamental importance for the aquaterrarium is a good water heater which allows, thanks to an adjustable thermostat, to guarantee the water the optimal temperature for the turtles. This is generally a low-cost device, which is always worth purchasing because turtles (being cold-blooded animals) are defenseless against excessively high or low temperatures. In addition to the water heater, another useful accessory is the similar air heater : generally it is a simple light bulb which, by emitting infrared rays, allows the turtle to receive an adequate amount of heat. Since turtles are animals that tend to dirty the water a lot, the presence of a filter system is highly recommended, especially if the aquarium hosts several specimens. Non-essential, but certainly pleasant, accessories are represented by all those decorative accessories that give the aquarium an extra touch. These accessories, with essentially aesthetic purposes, can be for example small palm trees, colored pebbles, figurines or other objects of various shapes. The important thing is that these are produced in non-toxic materials, and that they are not too small in size: turtles, in fact, could ingest them by mistake.
Maintenance of the aquaterrarium
Correct and periodic maintenance of the aquaterrarium is essential to guarantee the well-being of its little guests. First of all, the water must always be kept clean and clear, not only because turtles do not like cloudy and dirty water, but also for purely hygienic reasons. Dirty water is certainly not the best thing to have in your home, as it gives off a decidedly unpleasant odor; for this reason, the water must be changed whenever necessary. During the hot months, turtles are very active animals, which tend to dirty the water quickly: in this period of the year, cleaning and changing the water may also be necessary two or three times a week, but even every day. . On the contrary, in colder periods turtles are much less lively and often hibernate: in this case it may therefore be sufficient to change the water every 10-15 days. Very useful are the aquarium filter pumps, which thanks to the presence of filtering elements allow you to keep the water clean; these devices are practically indispensable in large aquariums, for which it is not possible to carry out complete cleaning. The filter components (consisting of suction pump, activated carbon and sponge) must be regularly cleaned and freed from algae deposits and accumulated dirt. For cleaning operations, which should be carried out at least weekly, chemical products (which can be toxic to turtles) should not be used: generally hot water is more than sufficient. There are practical aquarium vacuum cleaners on the market, which allow you to empty larger tanks (which cannot be overturned) using the principle of communicating vessels. These aspirators consist of a small container attached to a rubber tube, and the movement of the water is activated by filling the tube completely and then bringing the end to a level lower than the surface of the water.
The best brands for aquariums
Numerous companies operate on the market that produce and market accessories and components for aquaterrariums. Here is a selection of the best: Exotic Project This activity was born from the passion of husband and wife, two reptile enthusiasts who decided to specialize in the sector. In addition to sections dedicated to animals (reptiles, amphibians and birds), their nutrition and the essential accessories for their care, the site also features an online shop. Here it is possible to purchase, in addition to components and feed, also live animals; however, it is necessary to specify that (obviously) shipping is not foreseen, but the collection of the specimens is carried out directly at the headquarters in Dalmine (Bg). Aquaplantarum Aquaplantarum is a company founded recently thanks to the passion of the founders and presents itself as a novel element in the world of aquarium keeping, especially freshwater. This shop is based in the province of Turin, in Beinasco, and it is also possible to make purchases through the convenient Aquaplantarum online shop which offers a vast selection of products with interesting special offers. Among the brands covered, you can find products from Aquarium System Sicce, Tetra, Sera, Forwater, Ocean Nutrition, Askoll, and many others. Aquariumshop At the well-stocked Aquariumshop you can purchase the best products from many brands specializing in aquariums. Shipping is free for expenses over 100 euros, and the possibility of making payments by credit card, bank transfer, PayPal or cash on delivery is offered. AcquarioMania This shop specializes in the construction and sale of custom-made aquariums, also dealing with the trade of reptiles, tropical fish (both freshwater and marine) and many other species, as well as food and accessories for furnishing and maintenance. In the well-stocked online shop it is possible to purchase quality products related to the world of aquatics, as well as publications, magazines and paper guides dedicated to animal care.
Where to buy
The purchase of an aquaterrarium intended to house turtles offers numerous possibilities on the market, and it is possible to make purchases either at a local point of sale or by relying on online solutions at company sites that offer this option. The choice of one or the other solution is clearly linked to personal preferences, the type of products you intend to purchase and the presence (or not) of specialized sales points in the surrounding area. There are numerous chains of "physical" shops that can be found, both managed by private companies and belonging to large chains of stores specializing in aquarium products. An option that can sometimes be useful is also represented by hypermarkets, supermarkets and large-scale retail outlets which generally have small sections dedicated to the care of turtles, fish and other small animals. The most advisable solution is undoubtedly to go to specialized shops, where it is possible to speak to competent and experienced staff who are able to answer any doubts and give advice regarding the purchase. As in other aspects related to consumption, the cheapest solution is not always the preferred one: often the least expensive products are also those of the lowest quality. It is therefore better to spend a few euros more but have the certainty of taking home a quality, safe and controlled product. A decidedly more practical solution, even if less predisposed to human contact, is undoubtedly represented by online purchases. In fact, there are many pet product shops that offer a similar purchase method, and that accept different forms of payment such as bank transfer, cash on delivery, PayPal, credit cards or Postepay. Using online purchases often allows you to buy products at lower prices than those charged in stores, with the further convenience of delivery directly to your home.
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