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Macleay River Turtle - Shell issue

Discussion in 'Urgent Help Required' started by dylandrog_, Mar 17, 2017.

  1. dylandrog_

    dylandrog_ Hatchling Turtle

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    Hello,

    I have had two Macleay River Turtles for over one month now, and I found something on one turtle's shell. A few days later I noticed the same problem initiating on my other turtle. I then immedediately called my aquarium and was told to apply betadine on their shells every two days when dried (after I described the issue). It has been one week now and the issue has gone down slightly, but not entirely. I change 50% of my water twice a week, and only recently had the readings:
    Ammonia - 0
    Nitrite - 0
    Nitrate - 10
    pH - 8.0
    I have been feeding them a range of foods every day. This includes frozen food such as brine shrimp, to live foods such as crickets and mealworms. They have a dozen feeder fish in the tank, however are still too small to eat them (few months old). They are both very active, always eager to eat and bask on their dock everyday.

    What is the problem, and how do I resolve it?

    Kind regards, Dylan.

    IMG_9342.JPG IMG_9344.JPG IMG_9339.JPG IMG_9340.JPG IMG_9341.JPG IMG_9338.JPG
     
  2. smoyle

    smoyle Sub-Adult Turtle
    Staff Member Silver Level Supporter

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    Hi Dylan - welcome to AFT. Thanks for the info you've already provided - could you also tell us please how much salt you have in your tank, your lighting setup and filtration setup. Also how big is your tank, and how much water is in it? It would help if you can provide photos of your whole setup - tank, lighting, filtration, etc.

    The photos you've provided are good size wise, but are not focussed enough to see properly. Could you take some photos of the problem spots in focus please? Thanks, that'll help identify the issue.

    You should never do more than 25% water changes, and usually once a week should be enough. Was your tank completely cycled before putting your turtles in? How long has it all been operating?

    And please also have a read of the AFT care guide, linked to in my signature below. Craig and Kev will be along to help you more soon, but in the meantime if you can provide the details I asked for, it will help them work it out for you. :) Welcome again!
     
  3. dylandrog_

    dylandrog_ Hatchling Turtle

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    IMG_9356.JPG Hey,

    Thanks for the advice regarding the water change. I currently have a 4ft tank with an internal Aquatopia 600 filter model: IF-06 (filters a minimum of 600L/H). The tank has approximately 85L in it. I have a proper source of UVB lighting that was recommended, and I also have a basking lamp (50W globe) above my dock. My tank was fully cycled and tested multiple times before the turtles were put in (took about 5 weeks for cycle to complete), and it has been operating for just over two months.
    Please note that I had to crop the images. The basking lamp and the full dock did not fit in the image as the image itself was too large.
    Thanks, Dylan

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  4. smoyle

    smoyle Sub-Adult Turtle
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    Hey Dylan, thanks mate, that's helpful info.

    There are a few things with your set up that will need to change. One of the most common things that happens when people first come to AFT is they learn that the advice they got from the pet shop was no good. It happened to me, and it's always a shock, and a great annoyance, but in the long run it's best for your turtles to give them the best shot at a long life.

    * Two turtles together, and particularly two Macleay, is the worst number possible. Best having either one, or four or more. Macleays are quite aggressive, and will attack each other. Mine (I only have one) has only three toes on its back foot from another hatchling biting it off in the aquarium. It may not happen immediately with yours, but it will happen. Macleays are also, I understand, one of the top 5 most finicky and difficult species to keep, as they don't tolerate variations in water quality as well as some others do.
    * What are the dimensions of your tank - 4ft x ? x ? I only ask because yours looks like more than half full, which should be more than 85 litres (depending on the other dimensions). You'll need to upgrade your filter fairly soon, and you're best off going for a canister rather than internal, which just aren't enough for turtles which make a huge amount of mess.
    * Do you have T5 or T8 lighting? Looks like T8, which means it will need to be AT MOST 15cm away from the water surface (otherwise it won't be intense enough to have the necessary effect). What brand UVB fluoro did you end up getting? Not all brands actually do what they claim, so only a few are recommended here.
    * Your substrate will need to be replaced with a combination of river sand (not beach sand) and calgrit (do you have calgrit already?). The calgrit buffers your pH, KH and GH. Pebbles will scratch your turtle's shell, causing shell issues, and hurt its skin, as they can't dig in it (which is a natural turtle behaviour).
    * Are you using salt in your tank? If so how much?
    * How much are you feeding them daily?
    * Did you rinse the betadine off thoroughly before returning your turtle to the tank?
    * One more important question: how often are you giving them natural sunlight, and for how long?

    Hope that's not too disheartening, it's best to get things set up right from early on, as it will prevent problems developing. The elodea and val are great for Macleays, they'll love them.
     
  5. dylandrog_

    dylandrog_ Hatchling Turtle

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    Thank you so much,

    I apologise I have 105L in my tank currently. I will change my substrate for river sand today, and add some more calgrit, (I previously had calgrit). I will also change the filter shortly. I am feeding them based approximately on their head size which was recommended and there would be leftover food most times. I did rinse the betadine off before placing them into the tank also.

    The salt recommended per 10L was also added (5g). I am giving them approximately 30 minutes of direct sunlight twice a week.
    I was wondering if I could also directly change my T8 light bulb into T5 without buying a new light holder and only a new T5 bulb. Is that possible?
    I was also wondering if having 1-4+ macleays are ESSENTIAL?

    Thank you so much again.
     
    #5 dylandrog_, Mar 18, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 18, 2017
  6. dylandrog_

    dylandrog_ Hatchling Turtle

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    Sorry, should I be putting a small amount of water when I give them direct exposure to sunlight? I was told to fully dry their shells out to prevent shell disease?
     
    #6 dylandrog_, Mar 18, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 18, 2017
  7. Aussiepride83

    Aussiepride83 Super Moderator
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    G'day mate and :aftwelcome:

    Your turtles are suffering from insufficient calcium and D3. They're not able to properly metabolise the calcium available to them because of your lighting setup, (No a T5 tube will not fit into a T8 reflector) and because they should be outside for a MINIMUM of 3-5 times/week for 20 minutes DRY time in the early morning or evening sun only. NEVER in the hottest part of the day. Always provide shade and closely monitor turtles for signs of heat distress.

    [​IMG]

    Please stop feeding your turtles crickets and mealworms. Crickets contain far too much phosphorous, (a turtle's diet should have a calcium to phosphorous ratio of 2:1). Mealworms are far too chitinous and will cause gut impaction. They are also high in complex proteins. Please offer your turtle earthworms or silkworms instead.

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    Wood roaches are a better alternative to crickets.
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    It is definitely advisable to keep 1 Macleay on its own or a group of 4 or more in a large tank that can comfortable accommodate them. As mentioned previously, 2 is the worst combination possible. They are highly aggressive.
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    A Macleay's diet consists of up to 75% aquatic plant material. This is why they have a sharp parrot-like beak, they're grazers, like all short-necks. Their natural diet consists of aquatic plants, aquatic weeds and filamentous algae. In captivity, we replicate a Macleays diet by offering them Elodea, Valisneria, Azolla and native duckweed.

    The best UVB 10.0 T8 or T5 lighting tubes available for freshwater turtles are Zoo-med Reptisun and Exo-Terra Reptiglo.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A mercury vapour lamp is also great for a basking lamp.
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    [​IMG]

    A basking temperature of 30-34 degrees C is optimal. Use a laser thermometer to accurately measure this.

    A Macleay's tank should be heavily planted and well filtered.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Juvenile Macleay eating native Duckweed.
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    Other natural food items include Whole live crayfish (appropriately sized) with the claws removed.
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    Freshwater shrimps/prawns.
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    Whole live feeder fish like Gambusia holbrooki are easily trapped in a local creek or waterway in the summer months.
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    Commercial dry foods like Exo-Terra Aquatic Turtle Pellets and Hikari Cichlid Gold can be offered sparingly as a dietary supplement.
    [​IMG]

    Macleays are highly susceptible to skin infections brought on by poor water quality. It is highly advisable to use sea salt in their aquarium at the rate of 4-5g/litre (0.4% - 0.5% salinity.) The ONLY way to measure this accurately is by weighing the salt with digital scales and using a digital salinity meter. If your tank holds 105 litres of water, you need to be using anywhere between 420g - 525g of salt to be within the recommended range.

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    Within recommended salinity range.
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    A 25KG bag of pool salt can be bought from Bunnings Warehouse for as little as $7.
    [​IMG]

    Calgrit mixed with natural river sand is also highly recommended to buffer pH, KH and GH to prevent such common captive conditions as calcium deficiency syndrome, soft shell, shell rot and metabolic bone disease.

    Calgrit can be bought online here.
    https://www.petandgarden.com.au/pou...algrit-poultry-supplement-20-kg-cal-grit.html

    Hope this helps.
     
  8. dylandrog_

    dylandrog_ Hatchling Turtle

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    Thank you both so much for this great advice that I never received at multiple aquariums. I am going to get a T5 light for my tank, as well as change my substrate for river sand and calgrit mixed up. I will also give both my turtles direct exposure to sunlight 5 times a week (half shade). In addition to this, I will plant my tank with lots more native duckweed.

    I was just wondering if you could please provide me with a list of possible foods (and the best brands) that I could purchase for my Macleays. I will no longer feed them crickets and mealworms, or a majority of the foods that were recommended for that matter. I have tried to feed them earthworms but they simply took one bite and ignored them.

    Would these measurements resolve the issue?
     
  9. Craig

    Craig Administrator
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    Hi, you do realise that a T5 High Output UVB tube must be at least 30cm from the height of the top of your turtle's shell on the basking dock don't you? Also, T5 High Output UVB tubes only need to be replaced every 12 months, not 6 monthly like T8 UVB tubes.

    They should, yes.
     
  10. Craig

    Craig Administrator
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    Below are some of the standard posts and threads we ask new members to have a look at: The Care Guide has a list of recommended foods in the Diet section. Please read through the Care Guide thoroughly.

    Please read the 'AFT Turtle Care Guide' :arrowright: AFT Freshwater Turtle Care Guide

    Why you Shouldn't Keep Two Turtles Together :arrowright: Keeping Two Turtles Together

    To understand why we make the recommendations that we do in the Care Guide
    please read this informative post :arrowright: Why we make the recommendations that we do here on AFT Part 1

    Also, it would be best to familiarise yourself with the skin infections care sheet located here :arrowright: Skin Infections

    After that, you can read the Most Common Mistakes made by novice keepers thread here :arrowright: Common Mistakes

    If your turtle is sick or injured and needs dry-docking :arrowright: Important Tips for Dry-Docking Sick Turtles

    If you have any questions about why we recommend Calgrit/Turtle Grit and River Sand instead of pebbles and small rocks,
    please read this thread as well :arrowright: Gravel Blockage-Very sick turtle!

    How to measure the
    Straight Carapace Length (SCL) of a Turtle's Shell :arrowright: Measuring the Straight Carapace Length of a turtles shell

    If you have any specific questions after that, please go ahead and ask. If you want to search a particular subject, look at the top of the page for the Advanced Search link and type in the word or topic you wish to learn about.
     
  11. dylandrog_

    dylandrog_ Hatchling Turtle

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    Thank you so so much,

    After taking into account all the recommended foods, I am going to buy:
    -Small whole fish + Fresh water Prawns, Raw Salt water prawns (soaked in fresh water - no spikes or claws)
    - Fresh water mussels + Silk worms and small Yabbies
    - Hikari Cichlid Gold, Exo Terra turtle pellets or plant based

    Also planting a lot more:
    - Ribbon weed/Thin Val, Native Duckwead, Azolla + Elodea
    - Clover + Cat's Ears

    I will give different foods everyday without giving the same one twice consecutively.
    Should I entirely throw out all of my frozen foods? This encludes various types of shrimp (such as brine shrimp) and blood worms on occasion as a treat.
    Also, rather than buying a T5 light as it must be at least 30cm away, should I rise the water level? Or would you recommend a T5 light elevated to at least 30cm?

    Thanks again
     
  12. Craig

    Craig Administrator
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    The Hikari Cichlid Gold and the Exo Terra pellets have the right Calcium to Phosphorous ratio for turtles. I've always stuck with them.

    Very good!


    Yes I would. Blood worms are just to help your turtle start feeding on non-live foods and only whilst they are very young. Blood worms and Brine shrimp do not have many nutritional benefits other than protein.

    If you can raise the water level so that the basking dock is between 10 and 15cm from the 10.0 T8 light tube then that would be OK and would save you from having to buy a new T5 fluorescent tube reflector. You just need to replace a T8 light tube every 6 months. It's a good idea to write the date that you start using your light tubes on the tube with a marking pen near an end.
     
  13. dylandrog_

    dylandrog_ Hatchling Turtle

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    IMG_9362.JPG

    Thanks so much. I have planted a load of Elodea and put some native duckweed just on the top. The UVB lighting is now 12-13cm from the dock with direct exposure (no glass). The substrate has been removed entirely and replaced with white river sand (unfortunately will have to add calgrit when the local aquarium has it in stock). I also picked up some calcium and anti fungus blocks to leach into the water.
    I will be planting more thin val, but none are in stock at the moment.
    I made significant changes to their diet, ridding the frozen brine shrimp and blood worms etc.. and replacing them with Exo-Terra pellets, silkworms, earthworms (that were previously purchased), mealworms (that I will be finely cutting to prevent problems) and woodroaches. They still have the dozen rosy barbs inside the tank.
    Today I began dry-docking them in the sun, and will be doing so 5 times a week.
    Thanks so much. Is there anything I'm missing? Anything with their diet or tank? I will take photos of the tank once the cloudy water has cleared up. :)
     
    #13 dylandrog_, Mar 18, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 18, 2017
  14. Aussiepride83

    Aussiepride83 Super Moderator
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    G'day mate. Just remember that aquatic plants require separate lighting to stay alive and grow. UVB lighting alone won't sustain plants. These tubes are the easiest and cheapest to source.
    4435-1484428412-b919b4877fd5084b879dd3014e907cb7.jpg

    4436-1484428417-33b8f9e35673b891e396d116ed1cc926.jpg

    Be sure that your substrate doesn't exceed 3cm in depth.

    Discard the mealworms entirely. Feed them to some local birds. That's all they're good for.
     
  15. dylandrog_

    dylandrog_ Hatchling Turtle

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    Thanks heaps everybody, best advice so far and will definitely recommend to anybody interested in turtles. I'm planning on getting that separate light tomorrow for the plants. I will discard the mealworms :) Are there any other foods you would recommend other than woodroaches, earthworms, silkworms, pellets and the plants and whole fish in the tank? Should I feed them whole fish in their feeding tub?
    --- Double Post Merged, Mar 18, 2017, Original Post Date: Mar 18, 2017 ---
    (I feed them separately in a tub).
     
  16. Aussiepride83

    Aussiepride83 Super Moderator
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    Small yabbies and freshwater shrimps.

    Yes it's recommended to feed your turtles is a separate tub rather than in their tank so you can better monitor their food intake and make sure they're getting equal portions.

    Hatchling broad shells eating whole fish.
    20150220_171859(0).jpg

    Juvenile Macleays eating pellets.
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  17. dylandrog_

    dylandrog_ Hatchling Turtle

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    I hope the pellets aren't too big for my little turtles.
    How big is your tank? How many litres does it hold for all four of your Macleays? I must seriously consider getting another two after all problems have been resolved.
     
    #17 dylandrog_, Mar 18, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 18, 2017
  18. Aussiepride83

    Aussiepride83 Super Moderator
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    My tank is 4×3×2 and holds almost 600 litres.
    I highly recommend that you don't get any more Macleays. They are not beginner's turtles, they're one of the hardest species to keep successfully in captivity. Getting another 2 later on would create more problems as you'd be introducing new turtles to one's that are already established. I would suggest separating the 2 you have into their own individual setups in the future or re-homing one of them and just keeping the one.
     
  19. dylandrog_

    dylandrog_ Hatchling Turtle

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    Yes, will do. As a temporary solution to the two staying together, I will feed them and dry dock them separately.