This section covers one of the most, if not the most important aspect of turtle care – Money.
Let’s face it, most people who ignorantly bought turtles are cheap. They don’t expect to fork out more than a few dollars for a shelled creature and personally, I feel that is one of the biggest issues with turtles in Singapore. With turtles costing $5, who could blame them? Since many people tend to steer towards cost-driven decision-making, I shall explain in the way you understand.
I will aim to lay out the cost of turtle care as transparently as possible so you will be aware of what it costs to provide proper care for them. I will start from the highest value to the lowest and how it adds up.
In a country like Singapore, SPACE in itself is expensive. From what I gathered, space in a household plays a big factor in providing adequate care. A good few may require parental approval to get a sufficiently sized tank, which the parents themselves may not understand their importance.
Next you have to worry about the tank/tub. Aquariums/tanks are commonly measured in imperial units, specifically in feet. Because you guys like to feed your turtles often given their nature to beg for food, they grow ridiculously fast. They will grow from 1inch to 4inches in 6 months. Females grow to 8-10 inches and males to 6-8inches typically, they can reach these sizes in 1.5years. How big a tank do you need? More importantly, how much do they cost?
Tank only (1 ft = 30cm)
ONE adult turtle requires at least 3ft by 1.5ft by 1.5ft tank. ($100 and up)
TWO adult turtles require at least 4ft by 1.5ft by 1.5ft tank. ($300 and up)
THREE adult turtles require at least 5ft by 1.5ft by 1.5ft tank. ($500 and up)
Tank stand ($150 and up)/ Tank cabinet ($400 and up)
Transport ($100 to $300)
Let’s do a scenario. An average clueless buyer will get 2 turtles from the pet store, little did he know he will need a 4ft by 1.5ft by 1.5ft tank.
Tank cost (based on price on the lower end) =
Tank + Tank stand + Transport =
$300 + $150 + $100 =
Next on the line, filtration. Although there are many kinds of filtration (that I will cover in other sections), the starting price for the different filters for the same sized tank is roughly the same. Although filters are not as costly as a tank, they have recurring costs. Additionally for filtration, you should err on the side of caution. As turtles are really messy and massive waste-producing creatures, over-filtration is always encouraged.
Aside from just the filter, you have to also consider the cost of the filtration media required. The bigger your filter, the more media you need and the better your water conditions will be.
Filter for 4ft tank – $150 and up
Mechanical media – $20 and up (every 2 months)
Bio media – $40 and up
Total cost =
Filter + Mechanical media + Bio media =
$150 + $20 + $40 =
UVB lighting and Basking area
UVB lighting is often neglected when clueless buyers get turtles from the pet stores simply because it costs more than the turtle and the tiny turtle tub combined. This makes for bad business and pet stores will not emphasize the importance as it will be a deal breaker.
UVB lighting is very much crucial for a turtle’s health and the bulb should be changed every 6 months, another recurring cost.
UVB Lamp – $20 and up
UVB Bulb – $15 and up (every 6 months)
Total cost =
UVB Lamp + UVB Bulb =
$20 + $15 =
There is also basking area to consider. Rarely, a commercially available basking area can accommodate an adult turtle weighting 2kg and above. More often than not, you will have to build your own. The price ranges depending on design and material. I have built basking areas using egg crates + PVC ($40), acrylic sheets ($80) and glass, so it depends how importance is aesthetic for you. In this calculation, I’ll consider the lower end i.e. egg crates + PVC.
Turtles are not picky when it comes to food. They can be fed from pellets to shrimps to live fish. Of all the cost involved, this is the only one that is obvious. Turtle food can be cheap, specifically pellets. With so many brands on the shelf, price ranges from $10 to north of $20. You will also come to realise that they are not cut from the same cloth. Some pellets dirty your water more, some have a better reputation, etc. On average, you are expected to spend about $20 every 2 months. Not so bad.
These are the costs you don’t see, or for me, refuse to see. Electrical bills, water bills, cleaning supplies, basking areas, aquarium lighting, decorations etc. These varies from person to person depending on their personal preferences. It can be as little as $50 to hundreds. I shall not include these cost but do bear in mind that the cost considered are on the lower end of the spectrum.
How big a hole in your pocket does having a turtle cost?
Minimum cost for housing 2 turtles is $855.00, with recurring cost of $25/month on average.
Is that expensive? Definitely. Keep in mind, this is minimum cost. No consideration for repair or replacement had been added. Now you understand why it is hard to convince a customer to buy a $5 terrapin with a $800 starter pack. But $30? No sweat.
But if you are still very keen on getting a turtle even if it breaks your bank, you can check out cost-saving tips.