He will probably do just fine in a 20 gallon long tank for about a year or so. I generally make the water about as twice as deep as the turtle is long. I use cork bark floating on the surface for a land area for smaller turtles, and when they get bigger (and sink the cork bark with their weight) go to something secured from the bottom of the tank - usually cork bark sitting on a couple bricks or one of those commercially made turtle ramps. The land area needs to be big enough for him to get up and completely out of the water. Having space for him to wander around is not a bad idea. Many people recommend at least 1/3 of the tank size. By the time he is adult size though, he is going to require a lot of space. They are pretty active animals. Those plastic pond liners that Home Depot sells are cheaper alternatives to huge aquariums.
For filtration I have an under gravel flter
, hooked to a Magnum
filter. Small round river rocks along the bottom. I used to use large limestone rocks to decorate/give texture but they raised the pH too much, so just use some store-bought fish tank decorations or ironwood from a fish store and some fake plants for greenery.
Proper lighting is absolutely vital, basking turtles like sliders need UV light - without it they cannot synthesize calcium and will not grow properly. This generally means a fluorescent tube light
, designed for reptiles - not one for plants or aquariums as they give off different spectrums. Also, basking turtles need a heat lamp - which I just use normal household bulbs in a metal hood fixture. They make bulbs that do both heat and UV
, but are pretty expensive. I've used them with my iguanas, but not my turtles. They get very hot, and need to be carefully monitored. The basking spot should be around 90 degrees or so. I let the rest of the turtle tank sit at room temperature.
Diet, I vary with about 10 different brands of turtle pellets, shrimp, earth worms, blood worms, feeder fish, crickets, meal worms, wax worms... whatever I have laying around. Much of the literature says that sliders get more vegetarian as they get older, but I haven't noticed such a trend myself. Though, most turtle pellets are primarily vegetable matter anyway.
Anything I'm forgetting? Turtles can be time consuming to setup properly initially, but it gets to be pretty easy once all the fundamentals are taken care of.