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Black spots on turtle's carapace

Discussion in 'Common Health Problems, Injuries and Treatments' started by Grant Johnson, Oct 3, 2017.

  1. Grant Johnson

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    Hi all,

    I have 2 Northern long-necked turtles, they are 11 months old and their carapace lengths are both about 7cm. In the last 3 months I have noticed some black spots appear on one turtle which are now on both turtles, I have added photos of both turtles while dry docking with their shells covered in Betadine and also them in their tank.

    Their tank is 4x2x2
    Water chemistry;
    pH - 8.0
    Ammonia - 0
    Nitrite - 0
    Nitrate - 0
    KH - 80-100
    GH - 200
    Pure sea salt - 3-4ppt

    I use a mercury vapour 120W for their basking light, a 4ft NEC black light and 2X 2ft Exo-Terra 10.0 UVA/UVB fluoros.
    The long-necks don't use their dock to bask as the water temperature is at 30° and sometimes climbing to 32° which I cannot lower as I live in Darwin. I want to aim for 26°C. I currently have them outside and try to do this 4 days a week at least, to dry out and catch extra UVB.

    They are fed 3 times per week a small amount.
    Their diet is as varied as possible and consists of shrimp, small fish, small snails, crickets, woodies, flies, occasional pellets (Exo-Terra), and I make cubes of insects blended up with Wombaroo and gelatin to make a solid cube which I freeze and use when needed. They are taken out of the tank and put in a separate feeding container to feed as to not leave any leftovers in tank.

    As I'm worried this could turn into shell rot from the inside, I need to find the quickest way to fix this problem and also prevent future cases.

    Thanks,
    Grant.
    IMG_3023.JPG IMG_3024.JPG IMG_3025.JPG IMG_3026.JPG IMG_3027.JPG
     
  2. smoyle

    smoyle Adult Turtle
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    Hey Grant and welcome to AFT.

    I'll leave Craig or Kev to diagnose your turtles, but is that internal filter your only filtration? I suspect it won't be adequate to turn over your entire tank volume at least 7x per hour.
     
  3. Craig

    Craig Owner/Administrator/Public Officer
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    Hi Grant and welcome to AFT.

    I'm a bit surprised about your nitrate reading of 0 as there should be some kind of reading if your tank was properly cycled and the filtration process was working successfully.

    The black areas appear to be where a layer of old scutes that haven't shed properly are suggesting that there may be something sinister happening under them.

    As already mentioned by Simon, an internal filter would not be able to cope with the bio-load of two small turtles in a 4ft X 2ft X 2ft tank and would not be helping the situation. You need to change this to a large external canister filter as soon as you can.
    Can you please remove the turtles from your tank and let them thoroughly dry out then take some macro (close-up) in focus photos of the black areas areas to allow us to make a better diagnosis of what is happening under the old scutes where the darker areas are?

    Are you using Calgrit in your turtle tank?

    When was the last time you replaced your 4ft NEC black lights and 2X 2ft Exo-Terra 10.0 UVA/UVB fluoros?
     
  4. Grant Johnson

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    Hi guys,

    Thanks for your quick reply,

    I also have an external filter (Aqua pro canister filter) that does up to 1200L/hr or so it says. The internal filter was more to just get some water movement for water circulation within the tank.
    The nitrate levels do climb to around 20ppm over a 2 week period or so.
    Also the NEC T10 globe is about a month old and the other 2 Exo Terra globes are about 4 months old. The mercury vapour heat lamp is less than 2 months old.

    I will post some more up close photos ASAP, to show the affected scutes.
    My substrate is coral sand as I don't have calgrit. I was wondering if it would be as beneficial as Calgrit as it's still calcium carbonate and keeps the water really hard but not sure how digestible it is.
     
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  5. Aussiepride83

    Aussiepride83 Administrator
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    Hi mate, using coral sand with freshwater turtles is quite detrimental to their well being. It's far too abrasive and will wear the sensory barbels off their chins and destroy the fine filamentous bursae in the cloaca with are used for extracting oxygen from the water much like a fish's gills.
    proxy.jpg
    It's also too abrasive for them do dig into and bury themselves (which turtles normally do.)
    18922824_1519455774753026_3378772685750787412_o-1.jpg
     
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  6. Grant Johnson

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    Hi Again,

    I have taken some close up photos of both turtles today while they have been taken outside to dry.

    Also I have used the AFT Volume Calculator for calgrit and river sand as I'm going to replace all the substrate.

    I've looked on Amazing Amazon and am wondering if the river sand they supply is a special turtle sand or would it be the same as what any normal pet shop would supply or is it a different kind of digestible sand? I will still order calgrit from them as I cannot find anywhere up here that supplies it.

    Any help on how I can get my substrate sorted out as freighting 23kg of river sand to Darwin is extremely expensive.

    Thanks again for the help.
    IMG_2415.JPG IMG_2417.JPG IMG_2419.JPG IMG_2422.JPG IMG_2423.JPG IMG_2424.JPG
     
  7. Craig

    Craig Owner/Administrator/Public Officer
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    Hi Grant, thank you for the great photos.

    OK, as suspected the only black areas are under the old, dead, unshed scutes that need to come off so that you can nip this in the bud before any significant shell rot develops.

    The best way to do this is to slow their growth down by feeding them less as well as feeding them every 2nd or 3rd day and to give them more 'dry-time' under natural sunlight. That's all that can be done at this stage as the scutes should not be removed by you.
    The condition is known as dysecdysis, which is the inability to have a full and proper shed of old scutes, scales and laminae.

    In regards to the river sand. Get yourself a 3mm sand sieve and go to your local creek or river. Sieve it down to 3mm then thoroughly wash it a couple of times using the tall bucket and hose method.
     
  8. Grant Johnson

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    Hi,

    Thanks for the diagnosis..
    In regards to 'dry time' because they won't come out of the water at all I have them outside for about an hour per day, monitoring them so they don't overheat. Is this enough dry time or should I being keeping them dry for extended periods of time?
    Also I have Calgrit (8kg) on the way from amazing amazon and will source river sand this weekend as you suggested, although how can I be 100% sure that a local creek will be safe and proper river sand and not anything harmful for example different kind of elemental properties etc?
    I will you keep you updated with there progress and am hoping I can see some improvement very soon.

    Thanks again,
    Grant
     
  9. Craig

    Craig Owner/Administrator/Public Officer
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    Hi Grant,
    Yes that's enough 'dry-time' for them.

    You should be able to gauge the health of the creek or river by looking at it. If the water looks clean with no pollution and plenty of life in it including fish and crustaceans, then the sand will be perfectly fine to use once it is sieved and thoroughly washed with fresh water.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. Grant Johnson

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    G'day everyone,

    I've added some close up photos of the plastron of both my Northern long-necks, I thought I had added them with the others.
    Just wanted expert advice as to how healthy they are looking, they do seem to have a reddish look around the outsides of the plastron but am a little unsure if this is normal or not.

    Thanks.

    IMG_2421.JPG IMG_2427.JPG
     
  11. Craig

    Craig Owner/Administrator/Public Officer
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    G'day Grant, the plastron on both turtles are normal and looking good.

    A pinkish tinge or darker tinge on the plastron is just indicative of a good blood supply.

    When the plastron has very dark red or purple areas they are indicative of septicaemia and where blood vessels have haemorrhaged like in the first photo below.
    4667-1507273148-450d5a900a2620189baa1b07b7ed4065.jpg
    Non-uniform red lines in the plastron are also indicators of septicaemia. As the connecting blood vessels in the plastron are slowly being poisoned they haemorrhage (rupture) and appear red and larger than they used to be. I have placed a few small red arrows pointing to these blood vessels.
    4672-1507274124-8ef573dd82f5d44876ab7ed83c68a982.jpg
    4670-1507273426-b42be9d4e92d047d0b6b97f098168b8b.jpg
    The above photo also demonstrates a turtle with septicaemia on its plastron. If you look closely you can see small red lines of blood poisoning in the ruptured blood vessels.


    Below is a normal, healthy plastron.
    4666-1507273110-f599a2ae149dbacb71b5661fd18d2c19.jpg

    Below are two more healthy turtles with normal plastrons
    4673-1507274841-91892f8822e0faa22ab6d04b7e27a77d.jpg
     
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  12. Craig

    Craig Owner/Administrator/Public Officer
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    Hi again Grant, can you tell me if there are cuts or anything else going on in the areas that I have circled?
    oblonga cut maybe.JPG
     
  13. Aussiepride83

    Aussiepride83 Administrator
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    These turtles are carrying plenty of weight and certainly don't need feeding every day. I agree with Craig's comment to reduce their feeding regime to every 2nd - 3rd day to slow their growth.
     
  14. Grant Johnson

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    Hey guys,

    I've had the turtles outside again to dry and sun themselves today, once they were dry I took a photo of each underside again. I see what you mean but it definitely isn't a scratch or any kind of cut, it looks more like a vein but today was not red like the first photo. Looks normal to me today.

    Also I feed them every 3rd day but may need to give them smaller portions.

    Thanks a lot for your help
    --- Double Post Merged, Oct 19, 2017 at 8:09 PM, Original Post Date: Oct 7, 2017 ---
    Hey again,

    I've received the river sand and calgrit and have spent the afternoon removing the old with new 23kg river sand and 6kg calgrit. I washed the sand but as specified to not wash the calgrit have added it and has made the tank absolutely milky coloured. Am I on the right path? And are my northern long necks ok to go back in like this?

    Thanks again AFT

    Also how can I donate to your site..

    Thanks as always
    Grant
    --- Double Post Merged, Oct 19, 2017 at 8:11 PM ---
    Also would be great to hear from the experts 0407801949..


    --- Double Post Merged, Oct 19, 2017 at 8:12 PM ---
    Sorry about the typo it's 0407801940
     

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  15. Craig

    Craig Owner/Administrator/Public Officer
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    Hi Grant,

    Yes your turtles are fine to go back into the tank whilst it is milky from the Calgrit. The water will eventually clear, but that depends on how efficient your filter is.

    If you would like to make a donation to AFT please have a look at the post in the following link.
    https://www.australianfreshwaterturtles.com.au/pages/donate/

    You will receive a tax deductible receipt as well as a 12 month 10% discount online or in store from Amazing Amazon.