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Cloudy Turtle Tank

We were given a fresh water turtle a few weeks ago. The day after I set up his tank it began getting cloudy. Then it turned nasty and green. I cleaned out the tank, bought new rock, a stronger filter and it has started to get cloudy again.


I have gone to the pet shop and asked them what I can do and have gone to the library to read up on how to care for these turtles, but have had no luck in keeping the the tank clean. I am spending more money then I want on this pet. Please, any suggesting would be great.



Cloudy Turtle Tank

My experience is only with fish tanks, but this might be helpful.

In fish tanks it is easy to get a bacteria bloom. Good bacteria develops to eat the ammonia and decaying food. Sometimes in a new tank the good bacteria explodes. The "food" source for them is limited so over time there is a die back. So it gets better by itself. You just have to be sure your turtle can survive the die back.

Sometimes new rocks or gravel can cause cloudy water if they haven't been rinsed thoroughly. If this is the case, it will take care of itself.


Don't use any detergent in the tank or on the rocks because you can't get it rinsed off well enough. It is very toxic to fish, but I don't know about turtles.

I assume you'd need to dechlorinate the water (can buy bottle of dechlorinator in fish store).

You can change part of the water every day (e.g., 25%) and that might take care of it in time. Doing partial changes allows the good bacteria to develop where as if you did a total water change the bacteria almost has to start from scratch.

You could put the turtle in a bucket that never had detergent or soap in it while you figure out the tank for a day or two (include filter, rocks, heater, etc. in the bucket).

These are a few ideas. I hope it helps some.

By coolchinchilla

Cloudy Turtle Tank

Years ago, when my siblings and I had a turtle. We kept it in a goldfish bowl. It too, would get stinky and darker colored water. We found we had to clean and refill it with fresh water about every other day. (08/11/2005)


By badwater

Cloudy Turtle Tank

I've read that this cloudiness is natural as the good bacteria sets up shop. Our turtle tank had it for the first few days, as well; however, it never turned nasty. If it is turning nasty, I'd drain and start over. (05/17/2007)

By Sara

Cloudy Turtle Tank

If you drop some pennies (yes, copper pennies) in there they will help reduce algae. They will not hurt the turtles. (02/04/2008)

Cloudy Turtle Tank

You do not mention how big your tank or turtle is? We have a yellow bellied slider who's shell is about 9"x6" and we keep him in a 55-gallon tank. We change the water completely about once a month and it always starts clouding after about 2 days and stays cloudy for 2 or 3 days and then begins clearing up. This is obviously due to the bacteria forming. We've noticed that after about two weeks the water begins clouding again and by the fourth week is looking pretty disgusting. This is due mostly, in our tank, to the filter not really being large enough to keep the turtles feces to a minimum and, as a result, the darkened, cloudy water, at close inspection, is nothing more than partially dissolved turtle waste.


You may want to look into getting a bigger and better filter! Remember that turtles breathe air like us humans and don't need all the special water maintenance that fish do. Also, you really don't have to chlorination the water for the same reasons we don't have to when we go swimming or take a bath. A marine biology friend told me to simply change the water every 3 to 4 weeks so the turtle wouldn't be living in his own waste, give him a fresh lettuce leaf every now and then, and he also suggested to get rid of the gravel as it is tough to clean and turtles will actually try to eat the small rocks and this could block up their digestive systems.

Lastly, make sure the turtle has something to crawl out of the water onto and sun himself under a light. Anyway, good luck. (09/02/2008)

By Bill


Cloudy Turtle Tank

I have two turtles. I put a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in the tank every couple of days. It is a 10 liter tank and it will not hurt the turtles. (11/28/2008)

By Kyle

Cloudy Turtle Tank

I had the same problem and found that if your turtle does not eat all of his food after 1/2 hour then scoop out what's left with a net. This really solved the problem. (07/13/2009)

By babscake

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