The Turtle Lover's Utopia

Care Sheet: Red-eared Slider

Red-eared sliders love water. Allow them plenty of swimming space. A heat source and light for basking should be given if unfiltered sunlight is not available. Providing a basking log and a transition section so that your slider can move back and forth from basking to swimming with ease.

Temperature and Humidity:
It is recommended that warming water be at least twice the turtle’s shell length, at a minimum. Temperature of the warming water should be about 75-86 degrees F and a large basking site are essential for red-ear sliders. Be sure to provide ample lighting and humidity.

Red-eared sliders are mainly carnivorous as juveniles, becoming more herbivorous as adults. The young eat water insects, crustaceans, mollusks, and tadpoles, then turn to a plant diet as they mature. The most important dietary requirements are vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus, which are necessary in sufficient quantity and in the correct proportions to form the bones and shell of a growing turtle, without which the shell would become soft and deformed.

Their diet is somewhat varied, so they can be feed worms, snails, water plants, fresh vegetables, and small pieces of raw meat. (As a side note: Raw meat should only be fed as a treat, since it is high in fat and grease soils the tank quickly.) Commercial prepared dry turtle food is acceptable as long as it is used in a well-balanced diet.

Cleanliness & Health:
Aquatic turtles, by general nature, are messy. It’s best to inspect your turtle thoroughly before purchase from a breeder or pet store. Other possible health problems include both internal and external parasites.

Further Information and Related Web Site:

33 Responses to “Care Sheet: Red-eared Slider”

  1. Raphael said on August 31st, 2007 at 2:15 pm:

    I purchased a turtle from a pet shop in panama city beach florida. It looks just like pictures of the red eared sliders except there is no red ear. Could you tell me what kind I have? I am wanting to learn more so I can give him a good life. He or she not sure which yet already comes to me when I approach the bowl. I have fallen in love with him. Thanks

  2. admin said on September 8th, 2007 at 5:49 pm:

    Hi Raphael,

    You could have a yellow bellied slider or a river cooter, but it’s hard to tell without pictures. Either way, they can be taken care of like a red-eared slider. Care sheets for red-eared sliders will do you just fine. :)

  3. Evan said on September 13th, 2007 at 7:54 pm:

    Hi i just bought a red eared slider a month ago, and also a Turtle starter aquarium (20 gal.). My problem is is that my turtle has this white stuff building up in his neck and legs and i don’t know what it is or how to stop it. I also noticed that my Bio Bag (in filter) is also building up with this green substance. I have a clean room so that can’t be the problem. If you have any suggestions that would be great.

  4. Evan said on September 13th, 2007 at 7:54 pm:

    Let me know at hckysk8er822@aol.com Thanks again

  5. admin said on September 27th, 2007 at 5:40 pm:


    Calcium build up is common with turtles. As long as it’s not smelly or mushy, you’re just fine. You might want to look into running filtered or softened water to avoid the build up.

  6. sara said on October 31st, 2007 at 11:27 pm:

    I have an old slider and she is not as buoyant as she used to be. She basks on the rocks in the pond longer now. Why?
    I have two other female sliders that are younger and they are fine. They all live in a 3ft. deep 4×13 pond with koi fish and a Hayward filter in southern California. Is she on her last days! What can i do?

  7. Christina said on November 22nd, 2007 at 8:51 pm:

    I have a a red eared slider turtle that is about one and a half years old. Recently it has developed a green substance on its shell. At first we thought it was mold, but now we think it is just growing. What do you think?

  8. Danielle said on November 27th, 2007 at 4:56 pm:

    Hi. My boyfriend and I just got a red eared slider from a pet shop in denver. We have had the turtle for about 3 days, and we have been doing tests on the water to check all the levels of ammonia nitrite and so on. However, our ammonia level is not at zero. We read on a different site that ammonia needs to be present, but how much ammonia is exceptable? Thank you for your help.

  9. admin said on January 12th, 2008 at 12:52 pm:

    Sara –

    I’ve read that as turtles get older, they tend to become more sedentary. Other than that, I’m not sure if there is a particular reason your little one has taken to basking so much.

    It’s kinda like us when we grow older. We tend to get more sedentary too. 😉

  10. admin said on January 12th, 2008 at 1:21 pm:

    Christina –

    That’s most likely algae. You’ll want to keep your water clean (or cleaner) and try to reduce the amount of time the lights are on. (Algae grows with exposure to light.) It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you will want to keep it to a minimum.

  11. admin said on January 12th, 2008 at 2:07 pm:

    Danielle –

    We didn’t specifically test for ammonia levels. We just did regular tank cleanings. If you’re looking for specific values, you might want to check:

    Filtration Basics for Water Turtle Tanks


    Austins Turtle Filtration Page

  12. rony said on January 27th, 2008 at 3:36 am:

    hi well i have 3 red eared slider around the age of 1.5 years now these days i can see some white substance on their shell which comes off . can you please tell me what do i need to do

  13. admin said on January 27th, 2008 at 4:53 pm:

    Rony –

    That’s probably shell rot. I would recommend you find a veterinarian that works with reptiles and have him take a look at them. He can administer antibiotics as needed and give you further instructions on nursing your turtles to better health.

  14. Cindy said on March 18th, 2008 at 7:38 pm:

    My daughter wants a red-eared slider from our petshop. I want to know if red-eared turtles are aggressive or not.Thankyou.

  15. Bailey said on March 24th, 2008 at 3:41 pm:

    I’m looking to purchase a red eared slider, but I was wondering if they required fresh water or salt water. Email at rawdha01@yahoo.com


  16. Colleen said on June 5th, 2009 at 5:06 pm:

    Hi. My mother has a red eared slider who is about 8 months – 1 yr old. She recently has become ill which makes it difficult for her to care for her turtle. My sister has a beautiful pond in her backyard. We live in Utica NY. Can Red Eared Sliders stay outside in our climate? Thank you – Colleen

  17. Danielle said on July 10th, 2009 at 9:27 pm:

    Hello. I have two red ear sliders and i recently noticed a thin yellow white worm looking thing in the water. It was just one and i don’t see anymore but i’m afraid it could be a harmful parasite. please help


  18. admin said on July 11th, 2009 at 12:41 pm:

    @Bailey – Red Eared Sliders are freshwater.

  19. admin said on July 11th, 2009 at 12:42 pm:

    @Cindy – Red Eared Sliders are not aggressive. (Snapping turtles can be though, but you generally won’t find them sold in stores.)

  20. admin said on July 11th, 2009 at 12:46 pm:

    @Danielle – You probably have Planaria in your tank. Check out my blog post Advice Column: There are little white worms swimming in the tank… and see if that doesn’t help you out.

  21. admin said on July 31st, 2009 at 2:19 pm:

    Hi Colleen – Please check the following post for a followup on your question: Advice Column: Can a red eared slider survive winter in a pond in NY

  22. Jen said on July 15th, 2010 at 9:14 pm:

    Hi i have a baby red ear she is only about a year old and she had a really soft brittle shell for a awhile . I have since been treating her like the vets have said and it is getting better , but now her shell is growning very dark green moldy fuzz all over . Should i be worried ? and what could I do different ?

  23. admin said on July 16th, 2010 at 12:35 pm:

    Hi Jen – Sounds like it’s just algae, which means you’re running a good tank! Check out this video for more information: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxqAdLHW6Cw

  24. Spencer said on September 20th, 2010 at 12:18 am:

    Do red eared sliders shed parts of their shell? OUrs seems to lose an occaisional thin section. Is this normal?

  25. admin said on September 25th, 2010 at 11:50 am:

    Yes, the do shed layers of their shell as they grow. It’s very normal.

  26. Heather said on October 29th, 2010 at 4:12 pm:

    I found a small Red Eared Slider turtle outside my house. He has algae on his shell and i tried gently rubbing it off with a soft toothbrush but it only got some of it off. Is there something else i could do? Or do i need to give it time and slowly work at it?


  27. nakita said on November 1st, 2010 at 11:36 pm:

    My red eared slider is 3 years old. We have had her for about a year. She has uva and uvb lights. She isn’t shy AT ALL…she is actually agressive. I know the temperatures are right in her 50 gal aquarium..but she wil not bask. HELP! Also she has a pink spot on her shell…but she is eating great and acting fine. Thanks in advance!

  28. admin said on November 3rd, 2010 at 1:11 pm:

    Hi Heather – You actually don’t have to work on it at all. Check out this video from Expert Village: http://www.turtletopia.com/advice-column/pet-turtle-care-how-to-clean-turtle-shell/

  29. admin said on November 3rd, 2010 at 1:32 pm:

    Hi Nakita – You may simply not be seeing her bask. RES take to the water as their first line of defense, so they tend to only bask when you’re not around. If you hear a splash when you enter the room it means she just jumped off the basking platform. You may want to check the temperature of the basking area though. if the area is not at least 10 degrees warmer than the water, the turtle will have no incentive to leave the water. Test it right at her level on the rock and see if you get a reading of about 90 degrees. To help her feel more secure, you can place a rock just below the water surface. When resting, turtles oftentimes like to sit on rocks so they are underwater but can stick their heads up and get air without having to swim to the surface. See if one of those things doesn’t help your turtle feel more comfortable basking.

    Regarding the pink spot on the shell, she may have the starts of shell rot. You should check the following page for more information and some informative photos: http://www.austinsturtlepage.com/Care/medshell.htm

  30. Scott said on November 5th, 2010 at 1:40 pm:

    I have/had several RES over the years and have never had any problems with aggression until recently. I merged 2 large (1 male, 1 female) RES into a 250g tank as a new home. One is a vegetarian and the other is totally carniverous (except for pellets) and they are both about 5 years old. The male who happens to be slightly larger has for the last 3 days tenaciously attacked the female nonstop. I tought that there might be an acclamation period of a few days but the male has battered the female so badly that I had to seperate them again. Eventually once they get a little bigger, they will be moved to my backyard pond which has been the plan all along, unless of course they are not compatable. What should I do? Please help.

  31. admin said on November 8th, 2010 at 6:17 pm:

    Hi Scott,

    Turtles are generally solitary creatures. Put two or more in a tank and one will turn out to be a bully. Your best bet is to do what you did previously and keep your turtles separated until you’re ready to move them to your backyard where they will have more room to roam and stay out of each others way.

  32. nancy said on December 19th, 2010 at 11:10 am:

    My brother bought 2 RES. One has grown rapidly, from one inch to an in1 1/2, the other barley grew. The larger one has, what appears to be slim coming off its limbs and head. Is there a problem or is it because of the growth? Should he clean it off? Your help is appreciated. Nancy

  33. admin said on December 20th, 2010 at 10:12 am:

    Hi Nancy,

    One turtle is dominating the other. You’ll want to separate them to allow the smaller turtle to thrive in a safe place. Regarding the slime, it’s algae and it means you have a healthy tank environment. See this post for more information: http://www.turtletopia.com/advice-column/pet-turtle-care-how-to-clean-turtle-shell/