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We recently bought a male (as we are told he is male) reeves turtle from his previous family and for the past two days he has not been eating very much. He is roughly one years old and we adopted him one month ago. He is about 2-3inches long he is In a 30 gallon tank with 3 goldfish with 3-4 inches of water. He has plastic plants in one corner and a floating ledge in the other with a fake rock to climb on to get to the ledge. With a filter. No heat source kept at room temperature his water comes from the tap and we give him two pellets of turtle food per day. To feed him we take him out of his tank and put him in a plastic container so that his tank doesn't get too dirty.  He is more in the water than on the ledge which is above the water level also his shell has a white tinge to it that it didn't have before

HI Shelby,

The very first thing you need to do is to provide your turtle with a basking area and source of UVB.  Room temperature is much too cool, and that alone will cause lack of appetite.  Because they are ectotherms (cold-blooded), turtles require a source of heat so that they can warm themselves to the proper temperature for digestion   No warmth = no eating.  However, it is extremely important that the temperature is in the right range, because if it's too warm they won't eat either.  So get a good digital themometer.  The water temperature should be roughly 78 degrees, and the basking area should be about 90 degrees (measure basking temperature on the basking surface under the basking bulb).

UVB is what allows a turtle to properly metabolize calcium, so it is critical.  Unless a turtle is outdoor for several hours a day, there needs to be a source of artifical UVB, which is a specialty reptile bulb.  Many bulbs that claim to provide UVB are actually pretty poor.  I would get a ZooMed Powersun 100 watt bulb, which provides both heat and good quality UVB.  It does need to be replaced yearly, but it's just not something you can do without.  

Reeves are semi-aquatic and hatchlings/juveniles don't always swim well, so the water level should be fairly shallow for them, with plenty of easily accessible land area.  It's normal for them to spend a lot of time in the water.   Just make sure the water is changed frequently so that it remains clean.  If you have hard water, that can cause some mineral buildup on their shell, but it's harmless.

Make sure you are offering a variety of foods beyond pellets--insects, fish, greens, etc.  A varied diet is very important.
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Questions regarding husbandry of Russian tortoises and other Mediterranean species, sulcata, and redfoot tortoises; general tortoise and turtle care; box turtle care. If I can't answer a specific question, I can provide sources for further research. Disclaimer: My advice is not a substitute for vet care. If I think your tortoise/turtle has a specific medical condition or injury that warrants a vet visit, I'll tell you so, and if possible I'll help you locate a vet. It is neither legal nor ethical for me to provide veterinary advice.


I have kept and bred Russian tortoises for over ten years and have other Mediterranean species plus redfoots and box turtles. I've worked with other tortoise and turtle species while doing volunteer rescue work; mostly sulcata but some leopards, California desert tortoises, yellowfoots, all box turtle species, red-eared sliders, etc. I don't personally keep aquatic species, but have access to a wealth of information and research to help you with any questions you might have.

My knowledge is based on hands-on experience keeping, breeding, and working with tortoises and turtles.

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