ShellRot Problems in Diamondback Terrapin


5 Year Member
Oct 7, 2012
Location (City and/or State)
Eugene, Oregon
Hi all. I have a 5 yr old DBT... that ended up with shell rot. I spent all last year treating her for it..I thought it was due to a bad basking ramp...her butt never got out of water, and the rot started at hind scute. Fixed the ramp problem, had her in daily dry tanks(recommended by vet), her rotten scutes fell off, fungus healed, put her back into regular enclosure with new ramp...only for the shell rot to show up again. This time the problem is she NEVER leaves the water. She can get onto the ramp, there is NO heater in water to make her warm up under good. Not sure what is going on with her.

I was told, by a good turtle resource, it was because I am not using salt.. But the breeder I got her from, never used salt and told me she did not need it. But I am willing to try anything.

If this problem is due to the salt, what is the salt/water ratio for a 20 pond? If not, what else can I try? :(:(:(


Active Member
5 Year Member
Aug 9, 2013
Location (City and/or State)
No, salt would not be the problem just about all cb dbts are raised in fresh water now including myself. If you want to add salt but keep so water is safe to drink you would ad a quarter cup of salt to a 20gallon and thats only if take is close to full.

Id buy a heater, it helps the body fight fight infections and heal areas shell rot would be.

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jan 23, 2008
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
...but in the meantime, you'll need to dry dock the turtle again while you treat the fungus. I normally go 23 hours dry, 1 hour in the water to eat and drink. During the dry docking you put the medicine on the fungus. I continue the dry docking until the fungus has completely healed up. A very knowledgeable turtle person, Mary at the Turtle Puddle, says that being out of the water for 23 hours a day is too hard on a water turtle's system...and I've only ever done it on RES, not DBT, so you can take my info with a grain of salt.

Redfoot NERD

Well-Known Member
10 Year Member!
Dec 5, 2007
Location (City and/or State)
First of all I'd like to see what you are calling "ShellRot" - can you post a good clear pic please? And when you said 5 years old.. was that how long you have had her or you were told she is?

Second.. [ I've only raised any since '09 - whatever that means ].. I've seen ALL of those started or kept in FRESH water develop "imperfect" carapace conditions.... eventually.

Recently a friend sent me a few that were started in FRESH and then converted back to very BRACKISH [ while acclimating an adult WC he truly rescued! - ACCLIMATING A WC IS NEVER RECCOMENDED - he has 20+ years of "Reef" experience with all the testing equipment, etc.. and it still took 6 months to acclimate/heal the WC ] and they are pristine in appearence. But one - that is a 2011 hatchling raised in FRESH.. is developing that look - while the others haven't. This group has never seen cooler water temps - except the adult WC of course.

The only thing I can see is that the "winter" water temps for the adults are lower in the ones I've raised/kept.. for brumation ( hibernation ).

When I said ALL.. I mean by the second year ( some sooner ) they started developing a DRY look to their rear scutes! And some of these were raised/kept for years in FRESH water.

I suspect basically 2 things for yours -

1) She is most likely stressed because of the small space she is in.. is why she doesn't bask. They (must) do bask daily when ambient temps.
are above high 60's...

2) And water quality(?).. not temp. These are "northern" turtles that endure months of low temps will little or no light [ during natural brumation period ].

Once again --- "There are always exceptions and extremes"!

I can show comparison pics if you like.

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