A major task when you have any pet is keeping their environment clean. This is no different when you have aquatic turtles. Actually, it is both more important and more difficult than taking care of many other pets. But take heart! It can be done and it doesn’t have to take all day!
The first thing I do is to use a siphon (I use Python) to remove all the water from the tank. If the tank is near a window… siphon the water out the window and onto the garden below. If there is no window within reach, use 2 recycled gallon jugs, one to catch the water in, the next to catch the water while you dump the first. To stop the flow without losing pressure; place your index finger over the end of the tubing to stop the flow until you move it from one place (or jug) to another. Please “recycle” the dirty water, my hallway plants love it!!
During this time, transfer your turtle (or turtles) to a safe container. I use a 45 gallon Rubbermaid bucket. I use the same bucket to store the cleaning and feeding supplies in.
Before all the water is removed from the tank, take a scrubbing brush (used for the turtle tank only) and clean the sides. With the siphon, remove the “yuck.” You might need to add a gallon or two of water to insure the “yuck” gets removed.
Using gloves, remove any decorations, rocks, plants, ect. from the tank and wash them with warm water. Remove any filters at this point, also. I personally do not like using any harsh chemicals around my pets. I use rubber gloves, the “turtle” brush, and occasionally an oxygen based cleaner like OxyClean. Rinse everything very, very well.
If you already use a filer; in a sink, take it apart and wash it down use very, very hot water. I use reusable foam that I wash thoroughly 4-5 times. After that I replace it with a new one. Your filter needs to be rated for a tank (fish) 2-3 times larger than you are using. Turtles are much harder on a filter than fish. I use two submergible filters.
Refill the tank with clean water, replace the clean rocks and other decorations, put the filter back in place… or put a filter or two in, and put your baby back into his clean home.
I use a water additive called “Turtle Clean Bio Care”. It helps keep the waste smell down in between cleanings. With a good filter, I only have to clean the tank every 2-3 weeks. This is with only 1 red ear slider and a 20 gallon tank. I also add 1-2 gallons of water every week to replace evaporated water. This helps keep the tank cleaner.