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Hello. I have a female RES in a 30 gallon tank. She is about 6 inches. I have a Turtle Filter canister filter, a heater (Dr. Fosters and Smith) set at 84, cooler temps are about 72ish. There is no substrate. She has a docking platform with 120 UVB and 100 spot light (both exoterra). I feed her Reptomin floating food pellets with the shrimp bites regularly, plain cooked chicken as a treat and Superworms as a bonus. She doesn't like any of the veggies I was told to buy her (leafy greens, carrots, sweet potato,). I have tons of foliage, hiding caves and a waterfall. She basks regularly, eats once a day in the am, and poops, swims fine, eyes and nose are clear. I took her to my Reptile Vet due to the start of an ear abscess. It was removed and she is in dry dock for 2 weeks (Saturday is week one). The cut is healing well, and she is on Fortaz. Her dry dock consists of a 10 gallon tank with a 100 UVB bulb (exoterra). She goes in the tank for 1 hour, twice a day and she eats in the am. This morning I noticed a very light pink tinge on the back right leg. I called my vet, (I work and do have a follow up appt on Saturday) but was only able to leave a message. I started poking around on line, looking for possibilities and Septicemia seems a possibility. Although she is not lethargic (she bangs around in that tank all day!), she eats when I feed her, no swollen eyes or any pink coloring on her shell at all. She was at the vet last Saturday for the lancing, and no mention of Septicemia at all. When I do take her out for her hour(s), I do put her back in her home for a bit of exercise and the tank is cleaned daily. I am wondering if I should get a higher wattage bulb to keep her warmer and not put her in her home to feed at all? Should I start panicking and race back to the vet, or keep an eye on her and wait for her appt on Saturday? Thanks

Hi Kristine,

Any way you can post a very clear picture of the pink area?  I think it's likely just a skin irritation, a slight scrape, or something similar rather than septecemia.  I did a little research for you and Fortaz is apparently the antibiotic of choice for treating septicemia, so it's unlikely that your turtle would develop it at this juncture.  In addition, turtles that are septic are quite ill even in the early stages, and lethargy/lack of appetite are common early symptoms as well.  Since your turtle is active and eating, she's clearly feeling pretty good.  Just keep monitoring her behavior and the area for any changes, but I don't think you have anything to worry about at this juncture.  

I can see that you want to do the best you can for your turtle, so I have a few suggestions for you on improving her habitat.  First, a 30 gallon tank for a 6" RES is much too small.  If you figure one gallon per inch of turtle as a rough estimate of minimum requirements, she needs at least a 60 gallon tank.  If you're sure she's female, 75 gallons would be better and really 100 gallons would be ideal so she has room to grow into it.  The filter should be capable of handling twice to three times the tank's capacity, since turtles are dirtier than fish (not their fault, but you get my drift).  

I'm a little unclear as to temps.  I assume the heater is for the water, in which case 84 is too warm.  A mature RES should have a water temperature of around 75 degrees.  The basking temperature should be 88-90 degrees.  It's important to measure the basking temp on the basking platform directly under the heat source.  If you're measuring air temperature, or if the thermometer is away from the heat source, the actual basking temperature may be much too hot.  You want to maintain at least a 10-15 degree difference between water and basking temps, because if the water is too warm the turtle won't bask, and if the basking area is too warm the turtle again won't bask because it'll be in the water all the time trying to stay cool.  Ideally the turtle should be basking for several hours a day.

Unfortunately, most UVB bulbs are wildly unreliable, Exoterra included.  I would get a ZooMed Powersun 100 watt (reliable for both heat and UVB output).  That's all you should need for basking and UVB.  I wouldn't add more heat at this time.  If you get a 100 gallon tank, you *might* need the 160 watt Powersun, but I'd check the temps with the 100 watt first.  As it is, with the bulbs you're using with a 30 gallon tank, it's much more likely that the tank is overheated.  

As far as diet goes, at her size she doesn't have to eat daily.  RES are greedy, and can get overweight pretty easily, especially if they're not eating a lot of vegetation.  Mature RES are primarily vegetarian, or should be.  I would start feeding her carnivorous diet either every other day, or in smaller amounts daily, and fill in with greens or veggies.  Ideally limit the protein items to 3 times a week, let her get good and hungry, and offer the vegetarian items (do this after she's all healed up and off the antibiotics, of course).  You can also try anacharis or duckweed in the tank.  

Hope all this helped.  Please post back if you have any more questions or need clarification.  It's really great to hear from someone who's so dedicated to turtle care.  A big thumbs up to you!


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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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