Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

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jayder85
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Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by jayder85 » April 9th, 2013, 6:35 pm

I have been working all winter on our museum updates to get it ready to open by April 1st. Well we are open but the displays still aren't done :) However we are getting them finished. My question is this. I am working on a river display and am hoping to get a Softshell Turtle in it. I know that they do best on sand. Where can I find sand that will allow them burrowing opportunities as well as good water clarity? I am also hoping to get some native fish from the river in their as well so the sand would have to be fish friendly. Any info would be great!

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by Kelly Mc » April 9th, 2013, 10:05 pm

If you have the time - and dont mind the extra work - processing it out in bioactive aquaria soil substrate will function alot better and be worth it in the long run. Especially if the biome is Large Capacity, and you Underpopulate it.

Because of the very thing they like to do as they move in a silty bottom if the environment isnt large it will never stabilize and with sand if you put any depth to it (the sand) you can get anaerobic blooms. If you must use sand try to finesse the feeding - forcep or a station to keep it neat. Its not so much impaction worries but the fact that its the uneaten food, fish blood, and viscera that putrify uncycled in a sand biome that can screw up the work.

Establishing a bioactive sub in an aquatic environment takes time and wastes alot of water as you must siphon the tds till you get clarity - but the same has to be done with sand , and the sand doesnt manage as well.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by Kelly Mc » April 9th, 2013, 10:32 pm

The easiest way to do it would be to collect some soil from a good looking natural water source - moving stream not a still creek - and "cook" it. Not in hot water but a simple tap water cook - water with chloramines and chlorine intact. In a 55 gallon preferably new garbage can and change the water every day for a week. This will provide some antisepsis to the soil while you flush and pull out leaves and other matter as diligently as you personally want to be, its no golden seal of sterilization but its up to you to weigh the risks which really are not great, to the benefit of a more stable system and an inherently more realistic teaching tool. It will then begin its own nitrogen cycle after set up if not inundated by too much too soon.

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jayder85
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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by jayder85 » April 10th, 2013, 4:14 am

I had thought about something similar. The river system that I am trying to emulate runs through the park. It is all sand and small pebble river bottom. Is that what you are talking about? Or is sand even from that not what I want?

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by Kelly Mc » April 10th, 2013, 6:27 am

Its probably finer and better than bagged silica. You are lucky you live somewhere with sweet recources.

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Don Becker
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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by Don Becker » April 13th, 2013, 6:09 pm

how big of a display are we talking about, and can you mldify the filtration? if you can, you can try to return water to the setup under the sand via an under gravel plate. i did a similar setup with larger gravel in my slider tank, and it helped ti keep debris out of the gravel. i imagine it would help prevent anerobic blooms from forming in the sand.

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by Joseph S. » April 13th, 2013, 8:43 pm

I think the undergravel plate would eventually clog with sand unless care was taken to ensure that the sand put in is something relatively coarse. You probably want to go with fairly coarse sand anyway. Pool filter sand is a good bet as it is precleaned. If you have the time to get a bag of playsand and rinse and rinse and rinse go for it.


A system using "spray bars"(holes pointed downward) hooded over with something additional like another half of a pvc pipe could work. I've seen plenty of vids of people sending jets of water through the sand in planted aquariums-look it up and see how they do it and take that advice above mine. You are still going to have to vacuum the sand frequently.
I would disagree about wanting fine sand or a bioactive soil substrate(all aquarium substrate is bioactive anyway-to what extent does differ). Anything super fine is going to get kicked all over the placed every time the turtle burrows, and their will be no way to clean it without siphoning significant amounts of it out and clouding the tank.

I should also add that you may be replacing the fish stock frequently with a softshell turtle. Sounds like you either need two different exhibits or a divider in one tank.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by Kelly Mc » April 13th, 2013, 10:58 pm

Coarse sand is contraindicated with softshelled turtles. Its use almost always results in ulcers on paws and other points of regular contact.

They are a high management species of sensitivites to abrasions, ammonia burns, and do not heal well. They are difficult to treat because of their own adamant proclivites.

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by Kelly Mc » April 13th, 2013, 11:15 pm

Nitrobacter and nitrosomonas do establish themselves more readily in soil inclusive aquatic media.

The larger the water capacity - the faster subs of any type re set. Because of gravity. Or more accurately - pressure.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by Kelly Mc » April 13th, 2013, 11:53 pm

Also Im pretty sure Jayder knows softshelled turtles eat fish.

Loss of specimens in communal museum and zoological exhibits is realistically assessed as a given. Even in scenarios where what we might consider fairly costlier animals are involved. They are not pets. Environment strategies are used and wise use of space but, eating happens.

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Don Becker
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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by Don Becker » April 14th, 2013, 4:28 am

Kelly Mc wrote: Its use almost always results in ulcers on paws and other points of regular contact.
What are you basing this on? I ask, because I find spiny softshells in the wild in fine sand, course sand, and even gravel mixtures.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by Kelly Mc » April 14th, 2013, 6:24 am

psyon wrote:
Kelly Mc wrote: Its use almost always results in ulcers on paws and other points of regular contact.
What are you basing this on? I ask, because I find spiny softshells in the wild in fine sand, course sand, and even gravel mixtures.

Many, many individuals I have encountered and /or recieved that were kept in course mesh grade sands and common aquarium gravels. Often the substate was right there in the bottom of the bucket they came in. Alot of times owners of turtles dont speak english even, but if one has patched up turtles all of their life - the peices come together.

Commercial gravels and industry silicas can have a different impact on animals then tumbled natural media. This is especially true with the exaccerbating factors of restricted space ie; being kept in a 20 gallon tank.

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by Don Becker » April 14th, 2013, 6:39 am

Why are these animals coming to you? Were they improperly cared for in other ways, and possibly not kept in clean water which added to the issues? I will give you that sharp industrial grade sands are probably not a good idea, but much of the sand and gravel available to purchase around me is dug out of deposits along the river. There are at least 3 active sand/gravel pits in operation within 20 minutes of my house, and a 4th that was just turned over to the city and made into a fishing park.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by Kelly Mc » April 14th, 2013, 6:50 am

I dont think most of the media that is sold here come from by your house, and the river or tumbled media that is available is actually quite expensive. Most people use the standard dolomite and granite types that are used for aquariums.

Im also pretty familiar with other husbandry impacts, disorders and diseases that happen to turtles and how they present themselves.

You dont have to believe me if you dont want to, I dont mind.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by Kelly Mc » April 14th, 2013, 7:48 am

In confinement unavoidable repeated contact with adverse surfaces will have a different consequence than those surfaces encountered in an animals open habitat. Other factors that set up physical fragilities ( bad husbandry) will enhance their occurrance.

So deleting as many potential factors as one can in a restricted environment is a simple way of reducing negative consequences.

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by Don Becker » April 14th, 2013, 11:26 am

Kelly Mc wrote:I dont think most of the media that is sold here come from by your house, and the river or tumbled media that is available is actually quite expensive. Most people use the standard dolomite and granite types that are used for aquariums.
My point was that the sands/gravels you are familiar with in your are arr not the same as what other people have available to him. The issues you are describing may be due to the course sands you are familiar with, but the course sands used by people in my area are taken from river deposits, and are worn smooth. river sand and gravel is the cheapest in my area.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by Kelly Mc » April 14th, 2013, 5:16 pm

Point taken. If I lived in your area, or in Jayders - I dont think I would buy any kind of commercial substrate for dry or wet again. Except maybe aspen.

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gbin
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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by gbin » April 15th, 2013, 6:54 am

I think the idea of establishing an actual soil (as opposed to some other kind of substrate, which I agree can all be made bioactive) is very interesting, but it's outside my personal experience. From my position of ignorance I would worry about water clarity issues due to the turtles interacting a lot with the substrate, though.

In keeping fish, many people use stuff such as pool filter sand or some other kind of sand which is cheap and readily available. Folks keeping species that spend a lot of time interacting with the substrate (e.g. sifters, burrowers), though, or that are known to take injury easily from an inappropriate substrate for some other reason, will spend a bit more on a manufactured product. One that I absolutely loved but is no longer made is 3M Colorquartz. (There are similar products available that are made by other companies, I just have no personal knowledge of how those products compare). These are ceramic-coated quartz crystals. The coating is put on the crystals to enable them to be colored (and a wide variety of colors are available) in a way that is inert and durable, as their intended use is in swimming pool construction, but in the process it also gives the crystals a smooth, rounded exterior (smoother than river sand or any other natural sand, in my experience) rather than a sharp, angular one. This stuff has a couple of big advantages for the aquatic animal keeper: 1) No abrasions inside (i.e. if some is ingested) or out due to smooth coating! 2) Better water flow-through due to resistance to compaction (you'd still have to occasionally stir and siphon or in some other way remove accumulated detritus, though). 3) The streamlined ceramic coating (which also adds density) makes the particles fall faster through the water column than does regular sand, so they are somewhat less likely to be moved by current, settle much quicker after disturbance and are also much less likely to end up in the filter (where regular sand can chew up components). 4) The wide variety of colors (many in natural tones) allows one to mix up a "recipe" (some of these that best simulate natural sand beds are even published) and thereby to achieve just the look one is after. 3M's product even came in two size grades for still more versatility. (3M Colorquartz products might still be around in your area, by the way, if you look for them.) This stuff isn't really all that expensive given that it's construction material, but it does cost more than plain, old sand. I suppose the viability of this idea depends on how big your enclosure is and what kind of money you have for setting it up.

Just an idea I thought I'd toss out there.

Gerry

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by jayder85 » April 15th, 2013, 7:24 am

Both things mentioned seems to have its pros and cons. My thought process is two fold. What is a way that I am provide exactly what that animal needs and would enjoy, while at the same time offering an enclosure that visitors to the museum can have good visibility via water clarity, etc.

To answer an above question, I fully expect the animal to consume some of the fish in the aquarium. That is why it will be common species that can easily be replenished.

Don, the aquarium is starting out as a 55 gallon long, and will be upgraded accordingly depending on sizes of captives, etc. The filtration system will pull water and re-dispense via waterfall.

Before starting this thread I had been considering the use of pool filter sand.

And I am still open to any ideas or possibilities offered.

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by Don Becker » April 15th, 2013, 9:30 am

jayder85 wrote:Don, the aquarium is starting out as a 55 gallon long, and will be upgraded accordingly depending on sizes of captives, etc. The filtration system will pull water and re-dispense via waterfall.
By waterfall, do you mean a hang on style aquarium filter? With a light substrate, your turtle and fish will kick up sand which will get sucked into the filter, and eventually wear away the impellers. You could wrap the intake with a fine cloth or mesh, and clean it often to avoid it clogging. Another option is to silicon in a pipe or plexiglass wall that spans from below the intake to just under the surface of the water to allow the water to overflow into it and then have the filter intake draw it up.

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by gbin » April 15th, 2013, 9:46 am

jayder85 wrote:... the aquarium is starting out as a 55 gallon long, and will be upgraded accordingly depending on sizes of captives, etc. The filtration system will pull water and re-dispense via waterfall.
In that size class (and I would recommend bigger as fast as you can reasonably get there - turtles are messy creatures, and softshells get some size to them) and with that kind of filtration (and again, pretty much the more filtration the better in your situation), I would definitely look into the 3M Colorquartz/equivalent product idea. And even still, use some kind of mesh/sponge intake prefilter as Don mentioned to protect the impellers from getting ground away; you'll have to stay on top of cleaning that prefilter, but it'll cut down (at least a bit) on how often you have to clean the filter itself as well as keep you from having to replace it.

Gerry

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by jayder85 » April 15th, 2013, 11:25 am

Don. that is correct with the filter. I have one going just like you said with another on the way. I used panty hose and zip ties over the intake.

Gerry, I will definately be upsizing ASAP. I am also shortly going to be working on an outdoor enclosure to house large native turtles.

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by Kelly Mc » April 16th, 2013, 4:37 pm

There is a way of setting up SSTs in substrateless env. I have done it for ones with sores. It consists of creating shallow shelf like areas close to the bottom with silicone and slate. There are wireless "silk" aquarium plants that are also siliconed that will hold up for a while and create tactile security value. Clouds of java moss took their place when i had it.

Although the description seems controversial it worked and was especially useful in rehabing but what is equally important to me is that it worked in giving them what they needed in the absence of loose sub. The reduction of unecessary stress is vital and especially as a component in healing. It is common for people to assume incessant scrambling/swimming is normal for soft shelled turtles but its not really. They are active but periods of repose in their shelter or sub, and coming out on to a basking area reflects the composure of their env.

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by skippy108 » March 22nd, 2015, 4:54 pm

Kelly Mc wrote:Coarse sand is contraindicated with softshelled turtles. Its use almost always results in ulcers on paws and other points of regular contact.

They are a high management species of sensitivites to abrasions, ammonia burns, and do not heal well. They are difficult to treat because of their own adamant proclivites.
BTW, are you a professor of herpetology or what? You should try to use words that all us laymen can understand instead of trying to be KOOL!!! I just hate that. BTW,,how old are you anyway?

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by skippy108 » March 22nd, 2015, 5:02 pm

skippy108 wrote:
Kelly Mc wrote:Coarse sand is contraindicated with softshelled turtles. Its use almost always results in ulcers on paws and other points of regular contact.

They are a high management species of sensitivites to abrasions, ammonia burns, and do not heal well. They are difficult to treat because of their own adamant proclivites.
BTW, are you a professor of herpetology or what? You should try to use words that all us laymen can understand instead of trying to be KOOL!!! I just hate that. BTW,,how old are you anyway?
I consider myself an expert in softshell turtles especially Gulf Coast Smooth Softshells. Have you ever been to Euphappee Creek in Franklin Alabama? Didn't think so. I have field collected over 15 GCSS in my lifetime and successfully bred them in captivity. I'm not trying to brag about this, I just hate people who think they "know it all about everything".....

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by VICtort » March 22nd, 2015, 7:45 pm

Dear Skippy,

who are you to judge Kelly for using vocabulary that you apparently are unfamiliar with? Why do you think you speak for laymen? You have great options, just skip it and move on to those you are more comfortable with or possibly make an effort to educate yourself, consult a dictionary and available literature and perhaps learn something new... Kelly has no obligation to speak to your level, and there are indeed some well educated Veterinary professionals and others who appreciate using specific and perhaps esoteric language germane to the topic.

Kellys' age is likely irrelevant to the discussion. Should we inquire about your age, I.Q. score, education? In the quote, her choice of words are fairly precise and specific, they effectively convey information to those who have an interest in the subject.

Curiously, some folks find our discussions too elementary and they have moved on, perhaps that is an option you should consider? This world is tough and you can not always control what others say or write, and since you "...just hate people..." and it frustrates you when people "trying to be KOOL(sic)" come your way, exercise your freedom of choice and move to an environment or media where you are more comfortable.

I am glad to finally find an expert on soft-shell turtles, as most of the professional zoo keepers and hobbyists I know regard them challenging and problematic, we often have to consult others. Curiously, some of them are regarded as experts in their disciplines, but most of them say the more they learn the more they realize they do not know...

By the way Kelly, I think you are cool...you have helped me a few times with husbandry issues of a very esoteric nature.

Vic

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by simus343 » March 22nd, 2015, 10:58 pm

Second to what VICtort said.

Skippy, The more detailed, specific, and "educated" a word is, rather than vague terms or long synonymous statements, the easier it is to convey a message or idea in an academic or mature environment. When trying to explain a large piece of information, the use of direct and specific words helps to keep thoughts organised and easy to follow. Using words correctly isn't "trying to be cool,", spelling cool with a K is trying to be "cool."

Kelly is cool, always maintains a level head, and is full of useful information and great ideas for herpetoculture.

I would also be more inclined to take your word that you are an expert with Apalone calvata if you had conducted yourself in a more civilized manner, and just left your statement to your experience. Instead of telling Kelly essentially that "you are wrong," you would have been better off saying "here is what could be done better/differently and here is why, based on my own experience with this/these species of Apalone." Yet due to a lack of etiquette in your post, I wander how many years you have been working with those 15 GCSS for?

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by Kelly Mc » March 23rd, 2015, 8:04 pm

Thanks guys, for the kindness.

All I can say is I actually would love to take in the set up of someone who was habitat savvy and passionate about these special turtles. Especially if it was outdoor feature with real sun.

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by skippy108 » April 17th, 2015, 8:21 am

OK! This message goes out to KellyMc, VICtort, and Simus343. First of all, I would hope all three of you would accept my apology for being such a dick! I have this problem of getting on the computer after having one too many adult beverages. To be truthful, I really don't remember even reading or writing the above posts. I saw an entry on my "favorites" list this morning and was actually surprised when I opened up the forum.

I can't figure out what it was that set me off about Kelly's post. All I can do is say that I am sorry. I have no business whatsoever claiming to be an expert on Softshell turtles. I have no formal herp training nor do I have any college degree. I am just a 61 year old ex-Rock star hippie who drinks too much and has an extreme passion for Softshell turtles along with Gila Monsters and Honduran Milk snakes.

Yes, I'm really sorry you guys for acting like such an ass on this forum. I am getting ready for a trip to Euphappee creek in the first week of May. I hope that I have some luck this time. There has been an influx of ATV's running through the creek which only means more injured Softshell's than in the past. To my surprise I found out on the last trip that the locals like to catch and EAT the Softshell's! My plans are to collect a nice juvenile trio if possible. I have all the equipment ready to set up a nice tank to be ready when I return home. Don't know if you guys have any experience with the Fluval G3 filter system. It seemed to be one of the best filters on the market at this time. I just wanted to make sure everything was as perfect as it could be for keeping these guys.

So, again I hope you accept my apology. I hope to be sharing pics and videos of my trip when I return to Maryland at the end of May.

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by Kelly Mc » April 17th, 2015, 10:10 am

No problem at all here,

Welcome to the forum!

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by Kelly Mc » April 17th, 2015, 10:13 am

I'm at work so I can't really post but I'm really happy to meet you.

I'm on a quest to find the perfect turtle filter too!

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by VICtort » April 17th, 2015, 3:18 pm

Your humble apology accepted, we are moving on...I wish I had a dime for every time I said something silly and impulsive. Vic

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by simus343 » April 17th, 2015, 5:02 pm

No worries. I have had my own share of internet postings that I end up regretting and cannot remember ever posting as well. Good luck and best of wishes on your trip :beer: !

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by Kelly Mc » April 17th, 2015, 6:51 pm

There are rhesus monkeys with more impulse control than me sometimes.

Skippy your candor is safe and honored.

And there isn't any requirement for formal accreditation for sharing your input here. I don't think any exists besides getting your hands wet, dirty and willing and actually doing the work with passion.

Looking forward to you here, we don't have enough turtle guys.

You should get to know Berkeley Boone. A busy guy but when he comes on its always good stuff.

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by skippy108 » April 18th, 2015, 9:12 am

Thanx you guys! I really felt like crap for a bit.

So,,,,I'm getting ready to set up this softshell tank in hopes I bring back some nice specimens from Alabama. Don't know, Kelly, if I mentioned this Fluval G3 filter. I have already modified the out-take hose to accommodate the low water level. I may have to do the same for the intake portion (maybe even some nylon sock material around the opening to prevent sand from damaging the impeller)

One thing I could use some help with is Ph levels. I haven't checked yet but, have you guys ever heard of a Ph adjustment kit? This time I want to make everything is spot-on because I'm not sure when I will make it to Alabama again anytime soon.

@Kelly, I think you said you were still looking for the perfect turtle filter. I'll let you know how this G3 works out for me.

It's such a nice day here in Maryland. I think I'll take a ride and try to see some Spotted Turtles (if I'm real lucky)'

Later guys.

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Re: Sand for mixed habitat for softshell turtles?

Post by jayder85 » July 8th, 2015, 8:26 am

Wow! Been away too long! I had an exciting five minutes there but very glad it has all been worked out.

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