Some, no maybe A LOT of questions about musk turtles

Narnia3737

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First and foremost hello!
I currently have a 29 Gallon aquarium which I plan to fill with black sand.
Get ready for the list of questions (Thank you in advance)
If you don't know the answer or have any personal experience feel free to just completely not answer it

1. I have a 29-gallon aquarium and I'm going to get a juvenile common musk turtle. Is the Whisper Internal Filter 40 good enough? Do I need to modify it? (I've seen people not use the cartridge or the "Bio-scrubber" and just stuff it with sponge, filter-floss, bio balls and carbon.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0002DHYH2/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

2. I want to keep a juvenile musk turtle, what should the water depth be? I was thinking about 10-11 inches of water.

3. From the website, I am going to order from (Turtles and Tortoises) they offer juvenile common musk, C.B. 2019 common musk turtles (I believe these are still classified as large hatchlings? Idk) and C.B. 2019 Razorback musk turtles. For a beginner like me would the juvenile be the best option? I want the one with the most personality who won't shy away too often. (All 20-25 dollar range)

4. Is the site Turtles and tortoises good? It's owned by Jay Frewer in Florida and it's had a good reputation but just want to make sure.

5. Is a 100-watt heater sufficient for a 29-gallon tank?

6. I want to use the Petco brand black sand (Imagitarium), is it any good for these turtles? The grain particles are bigger (That's why I want it, for ease of siphon). I want to grow plants though so would eco-complete be better? I could also put root tabs or fertilizer let me know!

6. What plants are good for these turtles? I was thinking of floating plants but I really don't know. I've been reading and apparently Vallisneria is pretty good.

7.(Last question I swear, for the basking platform is this any good? I wanted a floating platform but I liked the idea of suction cups on the bottom of the tank, not the side. (Makes sure they don't fall down)
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004PBCFG2/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

Once again, I give you the biggest thanks for answering these questions since I can't find anyone who actually can answer my questions with knowledge on these types of turtles. If you want to I can keep you posted on the turtle.

Thank you!
-Narnia
 

Narnia3737

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And how many times do I feed them? Every other day? I just called Jay Frewer (Turtles and Tortoises company) and he said they were 1 1/2 years old to 2 years old.
 

Yvonne G

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@Moozillion might be able to help you with these questions. I've sent her an alert.
 

Markw84

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First and foremost hello!
I currently have a 29 Gallon aquarium which I plan to fill with black sand.
Get ready for the list of questions (Thank you in advance)
If you don't know the answer or have any personal experience feel free to just completely not answer it

1. I have a 29-gallon aquarium and I'm going to get a juvenile common musk turtle. Is the Whisper Internal Filter 40 good enough? Do I need to modify it? (I've seen people not use the cartridge or the "Bio-scrubber" and just stuff it with sponge, filter-floss, bio balls and carbon.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0002DHYH2/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

2. I want to keep a juvenile musk turtle, what should the water depth be? I was thinking about 10-11 inches of water.

3. From the website, I am going to order from (Turtles and Tortoises) they offer juvenile common musk, C.B. 2019 common musk turtles (I believe these are still classified as large hatchlings? Idk) and C.B. 2019 Razorback musk turtles. For a beginner like me would the juvenile be the best option? I want the one with the most personality who won't shy away too often. (All 20-25 dollar range)

4. Is the site Turtles and tortoises good? It's owned by Jay Frewer in Florida and it's had a good reputation but just want to make sure.

5. Is a 100-watt heater sufficient for a 29-gallon tank?

6. I want to use the Petco brand black sand (Imagitarium), is it any good for these turtles? The grain particles are bigger (That's why I want it, for ease of siphon). I want to grow plants though so would eco-complete be better? I could also put root tabs or fertilizer let me know!

6. What plants are good for these turtles? I was thinking of floating plants but I really don't know. I've been reading and apparently Vallisneria is pretty good.

7.(Last question I swear, for the basking platform is this any good? I wanted a floating platform but I liked the idea of suction cups on the bottom of the tank, not the side. (Makes sure they don't fall down)
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004PBCFG2/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

Once again, I give you the biggest thanks for answering these questions since I can't find anyone who actually can answer my questions with knowledge on these types of turtles. If you want to I can keep you posted on the turtle.

Thank you!
-Narnia
1 - That filter will work for a while for a single small musk turtle. I really have never had any internal or hanging filter that I was happy with for turtles for very long. If you start saving up, you will be very glad if eventually you upgrade it to a good canister filter. I use fluval. They are pricey, but extremely worth it in my opinion. Very good a keeping water quality for quite a long time and very easy to clean when you do have to.

2- Despite what everyone keeps saying, musk turtles are really good swimmers. Look at the paddles they have for feet as opposed to musk or spotted turtles. It is just that they by habit are bottom walkers and maintain a negative buoyancy to allow they to walk along the bottom. So when they do swim to the surface they have to paddle hard to get there until they fill their lungs. Most people confuse this with having trouble swimming. When they want to swim and keep a neutral buoyancy, you can see how great and strong they are at swimming. Since they prefer to walk and climb, I keep lots of plants. I use plastic garlands I buy at the craft store and anchor one end into the gravel by securing it to a piece of narrow tile or rock. Musk turtles love to hang in plants near the surface. Give them plenty of places to do that. I fill the tank to about 4-5" below the top just to keep it escape-proof for the turtle.

3- I personally like the Razorback over the common. Less of the musk smell emited when you pick them up and I feel much more attractive. Both get quite personable and will run over to the front of the tank when you approach looking for food. They are always shy and cranking if you take them out of the water. Common musk are more tail nippers if you eventually add another turtle to the tank and I find Razorbacks are less so. As long as they have started eating well and eating a variety of foods, espeically taking pellets, any age will be easy to keep for you.

4- I don't have any baby common or razorback right now. I've already sold or put into my pond any juveniles I had in tanks. Otherwise I could ship you one. I don't think you will have a problem with getting one from the source you mention. As long as you get one that is now eating well and taking pellets, you don't have the "hatchling failure" that you can often see with tortoises. Aquatic are much different to start properly. It is just a matter of getting them to eat well. Musk turtles are one of the easiest.

5- Yes.

6 (first 6) - That sand will be fine for a musk I like the gravel type sands for them as a favorite food is tubifex (blood) worms. If you get live ones occasionally, ones that aren't eaten right away can even get established in the gravel. Great enrichment and exercise for the turtle to hunt through the gravel. They will do that a lot! You won't need fertilizer as the turtle waste with an established tank will result in nitrate build-up - which is a great plant food.

6 (second 6)- You will find a musk turtle will dig up any plants you try to plant. I use fake plants, then add floating plants for nitrate and beauty. I use water lettuce as it really does well in a tank.

7 - Musk turtles are more floating/hanging in plants baskers than platform baskers. I would offer a platform, though. But be sure to offer plants to hang in near the surface in the basking zone as well. I use and prefer the type that does stick to the side of the tank as it adjusts to evaporation changes in the tank water better.
 

Narnia3737

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El Paso
1 - That filter will work for a while for a single small musk turtle. I really have never had any internal or hanging filter that I was happy with for turtles for very long. If you start saving up, you will be very glad if eventually you upgrade it to a good canister filter. I use fluval. They are pricey, but extremely worth it in my opinion. Very good a keeping water quality for quite a long time and very easy to clean when you do have to.

2- Despite what everyone keeps saying, musk turtles are really good swimmers. Look at the paddles they have for feet as opposed to musk or spotted turtles. It is just that they by habit are bottom walkers and maintain a negative buoyancy to allow they to walk along the bottom. So when they do swim to the surface they have to paddle hard to get there until they fill their lungs. Most people confuse this with having trouble swimming. When they want to swim and keep a neutral buoyancy, you can see how great and strong they are at swimming. Since they prefer to walk and climb, I keep lots of plants. I use plastic garlands I buy at the craft store and anchor one end into the gravel by securing it to a piece of narrow tile or rock. Musk turtles love to hang in plants near the surface. Give them plenty of places to do that. I fill the tank to about 4-5" below the top just to keep it escape-proof for the turtle.

3- I personally like the Razorback over the common. Less of the musk smell emited when you pick them up and I feel much more attractive. Both get quite personable and will run over to the front of the tank when you approach looking for food. They are always shy and cranking if you take them out of the water. Common musk are more tail nippers if you eventually add another turtle to the tank and I find Razorbacks are less so. As long as they have started eating well and eating a variety of foods, espeically taking pellets, any age will be easy to keep for you.

4- I don't have any baby common or razorback right now. I've already sold or put into my pond any juveniles I had in tanks. Otherwise I could ship you one. I don't think you will have a problem with getting one from the source you mention. As long as you get one that is now eating well and taking pellets, you don't have the "hatchling failure" that you can often see with tortoises. Aquatic are much different to start properly. It is just a matter of getting them to eat well. Musk turtles are one of the easiest.

5- Yes.

6 (first 6) - That sand will be fine for a musk I like the gravel type sands for them as a favorite food is tubifex (blood) worms. If you get live ones occasionally, ones that aren't eaten right away can even get established in the gravel. Great enrichment and exercise for the turtle to hunt through the gravel. They will do that a lot! You won't need fertilizer as the turtle waste with an established tank will result in nitrate build-up - which is a great plant food.

6 (second 6)- You will find a musk turtle will dig up any plants you try to plant. I use fake plants, then add floating plants for nitrate and beauty. I use water lettuce as it really does well in a tank.

7 - Musk turtles are more floating/hanging in plants baskers than platform baskers. I would offer a platform, though. But be sure to offer plants to hang in near the surface in the basking zone as well. I use and prefer the type that does stick to the side of the tank as it adjusts to evaporation changes in the tank water better.
Thanks for so much information! Won't the turtle try and eat the fake plants?
 

Narnia3737

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El Paso
Thanks for so much information! Won't the turtle try and eat the fake plants?
Oh and is it better for the Fluval U3 filter or the one I listed Whisper internal for these floating plants and turtles. I think I will have the frogbit or maybe water lettuce in one corner but I still fear that the output of the intake is going to clog because of the floating plants being sucked in. The Fluval has it's spray bar submerged I believe. And if I put it sideways, I think I would be able to avoid the problem. Or the Whisper which has it's intake beneath the water but waterfalls it back into the water.

I still don't know.
Fluval U3
Pros:
Better media capacity
All three stages included
Intake and output can be submerged.
Ease of cleaning is easier in this filter
Cons;
A bit expensive
Would have to buy filter cartridges.

Whisper internal 40
Pros:
Cheap, inexpensive
Can DIY pimp to have all 3 stages of filtration, wouldn't have to buy cartridges.
It creates a waterfall effect.
Cons:
I'm not too sure how to pimp it but I've seen videos and it doesn't seem too hard.
I don't know how often to clean sponges and bio rings

I have space in aquarium just not sure which wouldn't suck floating plants and would be better cleaning wise.
 

Moozillion

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Ah! THERE ya go!!!
markw84 is DA MAN when it comes to aquatics, IMHO.
He's kept turtles far longer than I have and has a great deal of knowledge and experience.
You're in GOOD HANDS with him on board!

I have a Razor Backed Musk Turtle- my first ever musk turtle (I've had MUD turtles for about 5 years, but this MUSK turtle for only 1 year). He is in a 40 gallon breeder tank with large gravel. I had the Imaginarium gravel at first, because I had an under gravel filter, but the gravel was the same size as his turtle kibbles and I didn't want him to eat them. So I changed out to the larger gravel. But my mud turtles enjoy the sand so much that I plan to change out his gravel for pool filter sand pretty soon.

I use an external canister filter: Fluval 206. Turtles in general are messy eaters and messy poopers! So good filtration is a must. I've always used filters meant for larger volumes of water than my tank will hold to ensure good filtration.

Oh, yes- and to add on to what mark said, I got a razor backed musk turtle instead of the common because they don't exude that stinky musk when you startle them, and I think they're much prettier. I'll attach a photo of Nelson...

In this photo, he's napping in his favorite spot: a plastic plant that I siliconed into a plain terra-cotta pot along with a few rocks to give it weight and stability. This way, he can sleep and just lift his head slightly to catch another breath, and go back to sleep! This is my favorite photo of him!!! :<3:

IMG_3658.png
 
Last edited:

Narnia3737

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Hello again!
I am here to ask a few more questions. I'm a bit confused on the basking area lights. I watched some videos by TheTurtleGirl and DantheGuppyMan and they suggested the Zoo Med Aquatic Turtle Lighting kit.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CYDEARU/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

I liked the idea of it being so easy to just set up. It was all in the box and I really did not have to buy anything else for the basking light. However, the price is a bit pricy and I think it would be cheaper if I bought it all separately.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0002DHOE0/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

This is the clip lamp holder for the light. Are these clam lamps any reliable? Just don't want them falling in the water or anything for that matter.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000KHBT12/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

This is the UVA bulb. Are they any good?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A8RI8TK/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20
This is the UVB bulb I think.

Do I need a heat emitter? I'm so confused. Are the UVB and UVA sufficient? Or do I also need a heat emitter?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFNZ59Q/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

And do I need extra light to grow plants in the tank? Or will the UVB and UVA provide enough light for the plants? I'm thinking about growing water lettuce or African frogbit.

It's a 29 gallon for a juvenile common musk turtle.
The last question, do I need a lid for the tank? I could make it out of egg crate but I'm not sure anymore because I will have a floating turtle basking area.

Thank you! Sorry for making you guys answer so many questions. I'm just really confused.
 

Randy Micheals

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A turtle expert is what you need. I'm not that, but I will advise agaisnt using the clamp, not worth the risk of a potential fire /electrical etc. Better to secure your lighting from overhead.

@Toddrickfl1 @Moozillion know lots about aquatic turtle keeping and can probably answer all your questions.
 

Toddrickfl1

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I'm no expert but I'll tell ya what works for me. As far as UVB for the basking spot, I'd skip the zoomed combo and just go with an MVB like the Solarglo or powersun. This bulb provides heat and uvb/uva. Screenshot_20200318-062011~2.png
You won't need a heat emitter. Definitely don't rely on the clamp itself either. They have been known to fail so reinforce it somehow. Also don't spend a lot of money on a fixture at the pet store. You can find a much cheaper fixture at the hardware store or Walmart. Just make sure it has a ceramic base and not plastic because the bulb gets hot. I use this one
The UVB bulb should be enough for the plants too. In fact I've got some water lettuce growing under mine right now. IMG_20200312_165800638.jpg As long as your water level is a few inches from the top I don't think you'll need a lid either. Especially with a Mud Turtle.
 

Narnia3737

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Cool thank you so much! What do you mean by overhead? What does the light fixture rest on? Because the one you linked is a clip-on no?
 

Toddrickfl1

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You can rig a piece of wood or something to fix the light to like this IMG_20200318_095321451.jpg For a mud turtle you could probably go with the lowest wattage.
 

Moozillion

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Hello again!
I am here to ask a few more questions. I'm a bit confused on the basking area lights. I watched some videos by TheTurtleGirl and DantheGuppyMan and they suggested the Zoo Med Aquatic Turtle Lighting kit.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CYDEARU/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

I liked the idea of it being so easy to just set up. It was all in the box and I really did not have to buy anything else for the basking light. However, the price is a bit pricy and I think it would be cheaper if I bought it all separately.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0002DHOE0/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

This is the clip lamp holder for the light. Are these clam lamps any reliable? Just don't want them falling in the water or anything for that matter.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000KHBT12/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

This is the UVA bulb. Are they any good?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A8RI8TK/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20
This is the UVB bulb I think.

Do I need a heat emitter? I'm so confused. Are the UVB and UVA sufficient? Or do I also need a heat emitter?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HFNZ59Q/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

And do I need extra light to grow plants in the tank? Or will the UVB and UVA provide enough light for the plants? I'm thinking about growing water lettuce or African frogbit.

It's a 29 gallon for a juvenile common musk turtle.
The last question, do I need a lid for the tank? I could make it out of egg crate but I'm not sure anymore because I will have a floating turtle basking area.

Thank you! Sorry for making you guys answer so many questions. I'm just really confused.
Hi!
I personally like the Mercury Vapor Bulbs. They provide BOTH heat and UVB light. I hang it over the basking spot and adjust the height until the temperature reading on the basking spot is about 95 degrees. I hang my light on 30 pound test line that is attached to a plant hanger.

IMG_6353.jpeg

In the tank above, the situation is a little unusual. It is a 40 gallon breeder tank, but I only keep 3 and a half inches of water in it! That's because I have a 3-footed mud turtle living in it. She needs the space to roam around, but she can't swim at all, so she has to be able to reach the surface easily to breathe. Also, mud turtles are MUCH more comfortable in still or slow flowing water. So this created a challenge in getting her water temperature right. What finally worked is 2 small submersible heaters, each pre-set for 78 degrees; there's one at eater end. This is NOT a typical set up by any means, but it can help get the mental wheels turning about how you can adapt to your own animal's needs. (You can't really see it in the photo below, but her right front foot is missing- bitten off by a predator when she was a tiny wild hatchling.)
IMG_6335.jpeg


On my other tank, I am trying out a fancy-schmancy Fluval Bluetooth LED light that is supposed to be especially good for plants, but it's really pricey and I only just started using it. BUT I also have a UVB light hanging from a chain attached to a plant hanger.
IMG_6354.jpeg


No, you do NOT need a heat emitter for an aquatic turtle. You just need a submersible heater adjusted to the temperature you want the water to stay at.
Check the temperature at either end of your tank once you have been running the submersible heater. If you have the right sized heater and good water circulation, the temperatures should be more or less the same.
In this tank, I have a single large heater at the far end from the basking light.
One larger heater works fine in this tank because the water is deeper and there's stronger circulation.

Just a thought: I do NOT put my heaters near the basking light, because the basking light will heat the water too, which I think could confuse the thermostat?
I hope this helps! :) ✨
Hugs from Mooz
 
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Moozillion

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Is a 200 watt heater too much for a 29 gallon? It's cheaper than the 100 watt heater...
I honestly don't know, but I think most submersible aquarium heaters have a label on the box that says something like "appropriate for up to 20 gallons" etc
 

Moozillion

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I know of at least 2 forum members who had problems with lights that were just on clamps falling into the enclosure/tank. The only times I have used a light with a clamp (I couldn't return it for some reason) I added chain, or heavy test line etc that made the clamp totally unnecessary- If the clamp failed or slipped, the other modifications I added would keep the light in place.
 

Narnia3737

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Do you guys have any preference for the lamp fixture? I was going to go with the Flukers clamp lamp but I have no idea how I'm going to hang it on the lampstand. Maybe the Zoo-Med will be better but it's a little more expensive because it is a deep dome. I'm going with this lampstand by the way. It can fit on the bottom of my tank and it is adjustable and sturdy.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000255OUO/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20
 

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