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Is it shell rot or something worse?

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Posted by: mperetz at Thu Sep 15 22:12:49 2011  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by mperetz ]  

Aside from my other post about my female being attacked by the male....

I have been handling the female (8" a lot lately since we went to the vet and she's getting antibiotic injections and betadine on the wounds on her neck.
We (the vet and later myself) have been able to peel layer after layer of pieces of her shell ('scutes?') - - - UNTIL I got the point last night when I was worried because what's left is of course still shell... but it was coated with a black pasty substance - like some organic material between the deeper layers of the shell was there and I don't think it should be.

The set-up and conditions:
As in my other post, we have currently less than optimal conditions.
1. The tank is too small - it needs to be either a 75 gallon breeder (said the pet store owner), or something like a 150 gallon aquarium (which he said was unnecessary because so much height is wasted). But for a total of 14" of carapace our 75 gallon 24" tall tank is just not working, esp. now that I've had to separate the turtles to keep the male from actually killing the female since her injury is already profound.

2. We have a Fluval 405 filter that works fairly well for this 75 gallon tank (but will be inadequate for the upcoming tank size change I think.....unless it still would work in a 75 gallon breeder tank....

3. I don't treat the water and don't know if it's hard or soft - we do get mineral deposits in our electric water kettle so we 'think' it's a bit hard

4. There is a full length tank hood with two full spectrum fluorescent tubes in it shining through a glass top.

5. The turtles are approximately 8 years old. They have lived together for almost that entire time.

6. They had floating turtle docks (because the darned suction cups dry out and they end up floating by default) which they used occasionally). I got the new magnetically attached types and of course the magnets suck - so I ordered neodymium magnets and we'll see if that will hold the new docks.

7. There is NO heat lamp because I was told that turtles at this age and size only need the full-spectrum tubes.

8. The water temperature is a constant 80 degrees F in the summer with no heater running despite the room temp being 72. It just stays that way and we can't control it.

9. The turtles spend 90% of their time submerged. In fact the smaller male likes to go for record dive times and can stay under for an entire HOUR. He's more active than the larger female and always has been.

10. I put live fish of different sizes (feeders) and they have eaten 4 out of 12 in the last several days - but the fish stay entirely on the male's side for some reason even though he's quicker and more apt to catch them. Neither turtle seems that competent in catching them though. I switched the 'sides' the turtles were on - and the fish FOLLOWED the male through the egg crate TO his new side - thinking maybe they were hanging out at either the input or the output of the filter system. But that's NOT the case. They are simply avoiding HER. I try to herd them over to her side and she did catch two more tonight. But I need BIGGER, and preferably a bit slower feeder or goldfish.

11. I hardly EVER do water changes as they've grown older. Maybe 2x/year because it's a big pain and the Fluval seems to keep up with everything except loose shells and some occasional detritus that is too large and hard to break down.

So, I'm not sure what this black, pasty substance is that's coming off the injured females peeled off shell - but the vet never saw it because it didn't become accessible until the female had been back in the water again for some time and more of her shell became easily removable. I removed some of the gunk tonight and revealed a small open wound/cut on her back between the pieces that came off. So I used betadine on that too. Thank goodness she's on antibiotic injections.

I don't know what I'm doing wrong - maybe they need secure docks and a heat lamp even at their age?

And I need a place to look for new equipment - a larger tank, adequate filter and that's about it. Can't afford NEW because I've been unemployed for 3 years.
I could put an egg crate divider in the new tank if need be. There is NO way that I'm going to get into setting up TWO tanks though. We don't have the money or the room. And these guys were living together quite well for many years until 'something' changed.

I'm worried - I'll probably ask the vet - but I thought I'd ask here. Hoping I get some answers. Thanks so much in advance.


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>> Next Message:  RE: Is it shell rot or something worse? - Linda G, Sat Sep 17 19:53:30 2011 image in post