Once you get all your starter pack necessities out of the way, you now wonder if it will be expensive or cumbersome to maintain it. Short answer, no. A proper set up will give you more time away from maintenance. However that does not mean a totally hands off approach, there are still important key notes to take down that I feel most people neglect.


Feeding is generally a daily routine when you have a terrapin as a pet. The problem is not that terrapin keepers in Singapore are not feeding their pets, the big problem is that, more often than not, they tend to overfeed them.Red eared sliders in the wild grow at a slow and steady rate. They reach a medium size of about 4-6 inches shell length in about 4 to 5 years. If you have a friend who has a terrapin, ask them how big they are and how long they have had them. Chances are, they are about 4-6 inches and have had them for only a few months. There are two reasons most people overfeed them.

– They are unsure of the recommended daily amount to feed.
– Terrapins always seem hungry.

Terrapins are opportunistic feeders, they will eat anything and ‘beg’ for food all the time, but that does not mean you should keep feeding them every time they give you puppy eyes. So how much to feed them? It depends on the size of their head. Yes, their literal head. The rule of thumb is to feed as much as the size of their head (excluding neck) daily, not 1 heap teaspoon. When they are adults, you can feed once in two days.

Personally, I feed only as much as they are able to eat without leftovers, hence keeping the tank clean of leftovers as well. One of the contributing factors on why water gets dirty fast is because of the excess food that are left to break down and rot over time.

Water quality

Water quality is not as crucial for a turtle compared to fish, but that does not mean you can neglect the water conditions. When you have set up your tank proper, your water should be clean for a while, thanks to your filtration. This gives you more time to appreciate the turtle and less time doing water change. However, do monitor your tank visually for any debris or bad water conditions. Remove any debris that your terrapin might accidentally consume.

You will notice that your water becomes cloudy after several days no matter how much you change your water, and you ask why? This question opens a Pandora’s Box called the Nitrogen Cycle. I will cover this on another section as it can get quite technical. For now, just know that white cloudy water is not bad. Green and brown cloudy water is bad. If you picked a proper filter, you do not need to clean your filter for months even. 50% water change however will need to be one once in 2 weeks to keep the nitrates level low.

Water level

Over time, your tank water level will inevitably drop due to evaporation. Although this is seems like a trivial matter, ensure it does not dip too low that your terrapins are not able to access the basking area. When that happens, do a water top-up.


You will not be able to visually see the inside of your filter (if you are using a canister filter like me) to know when to clean them. However, you can look out for indications of a dirty filter. Firstly, monitor your water quality. If you water quality drops overtime, i.e. discolouration, it might be time to open your filter up to have a look. Drop in water quality shows that your filter is pretty much filled with gunk and requires some deep cleaning. Secondly, check your filtration outlet. After a period of time, you will realise that your outflow had been drastically reduced. This is a result of all the gunk collected within your filter from the thousands of litres of water filtered and blocking the water flow. When this happens, it is a good idea to do a clean-up as well.

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