Tank Setups

Hatchling Tanks Setup

Hatchlings can be housed in 10 gallon or 20 gallon aquariums with a hanging filter like 300 AquaClear. These filters do a good job of keeping the water clean and they are fairly easy to clean. For heating use a 50-watt or 75-watt submergible heater set to 85F.  Warmer water helps keep their appetite strong and keeps them growing at a good rate. 

Hatchlings do not have to be kept in shallow water. They only need to be kept in very shallow water for the first couple of days out of the eggs. They are good swimmers even at only a week old.

ZooMed basking platforms work great for hatchlings but they will grow out of it within about a year. For basking they will need a UVA/UVB bulb like a 100 watt Mega Ray.  

Start feeding them in a separate feeding container once they are about 2.5 inches long.

Juvenile Tanks Setup

70 to 100 gallon aquariums work great for juveniles. Wet-dry filters are preferred but two AquaClear 300 filters or a canister style filter can be used. A 200-watt submergible heater set at 82F will be enough to keep the water at a stable 82F. For lighting a 100 watt Mega-Ray UVA/UVB basking bulb, they provide great UVB coverage. Wooden boards for basking platforms.  

Juveniles can be moved to a breeding setup at range of sized. Waiting until they are a mature size is the most beneficial. For males at is 4.5 inches and females 6 inches.

Adult Tanks Setup

Waterland Tubs medium and large tanks can be used in breeding setups. Also 150 or 300 gallons Rubbermaid stock tanks work too. They can be ordered through most feed stores or online. Stock tanks are great for outdoor, in garages or basements. Housing them indoors had advantages and disadvantages. Indoor setups can be designed to allow for complete control over a diamondback terrapin’s environment. While outdoors they have access to real sunlight.

There are a lot of options when it comes to filtering a stock tank. Wet dry filters are commonly used for pond applications and do work will for stock tanks. Most can be run with a submergible mag-drive pump. 

Oase BioSmart 5000 Pond Filter is an excellent filter option for a couple of 150 or 300 gallon tanks. It also works great for small ponds. 

For smaller applications Tetra Pond: PF-3 Clear Choice Biofilter is a very reasonably priced wet-dry filter. One simple modification is to change out the supplied bio-balls with use ones with more surface space. A medium like Bio-Bale works well in these filters.

The size of the pump will vary based on the filter and the size of the tank. The water should be turn over about 3 to 4 times an hour. UV filter should also be added to the output of the filter. This will add in keeping the water very clear.

Nesting Boxes

Masonry mixing tubs work well as a sandpit. They are 3 feet by 2 feet and 8 inches deep. Build a 3 sided wooden box around the sandpit. A strip of pond liner attached to the wood and dropped into the mixing tub can be used to reduce the amount of sand spilled out of the tub. Filled the tub all the way to the top with either playground sand or washed multipurpose sand. All of these items can be found at most local hardware stores. 

The bottom of most diamondback terrapins nests are around 6 to 7 inches deep so it is important that they have as close to 8 inches of sand to dig in.

Making Brackish Water

The first part of making brackish water is to get a good quality Full Range Specific Gravity Meter, ensure it measures from 1.000 to 1.030. Secondly item needed is will rock salt, which can be purchased at the supermarket a few bucks for five pounds. For making a lot of brackish water solar salt made for water softeners can be use. Make sure the salt is at least 97% pure, it is normally only $5 for thirty pounds.

Adult diamondback terrapins can be kept at 1.014. To obtain this level start by adding 1.5 cups of rock salt for every 10 gallons of water. Let it circulate in the tank for 24 hours then measure the water with a specific gravity meter. It will probably be around 1.010. Add another half a cup of rock salt for every 10 gallons of water and wait another 24 hours before testing it again. Do this until the water reaches the desired saline level. It normally takes about 3 cups of rock salt for every 10 gallons to obtain 1.018 salinity.

Housing them in brackish water they will need to be soaked in fresh water for 15 minutes once or twice a week. Even though they can be house in brackish water they do need the access to fresh water.

Large Scale Breeding Setup

My setup has six 150 gallon Rubbermaid stock tanks and two 100 gallon. All of these tanks are plumbed together. The water for the breeding setup is filtered by Sacramento Koi Advantage 10 Bead Filter. The filter is designed to filter koi ponds up to 10,000 gallons. The total water in the breeding setup is 1,100 gallons. 

This filter is able to mechanically filter water down to 27 micron while at the same time remove ammonia and nitrites from the water. The water is circulated by an PerformancePro Artesian 2 A1/4-58 pump. The pump moves up to 5,760 gallons of water. This turns over the water in roughly five times an hour. The saline lever is kept around 1.008.

A True BiO Filter model 10 biological filter is placed at the output of the bead filter. The ceramic composition is comparable to natural rock. With a surface area of approximately 150,000sq ft per cubic foot. The properties of the True BiO’s media create a stable home for beneficial bacteria that remove any additional ammonia and nitrites missed by the bead filter.

The last stage in the filtration system is an 80 watt UV water sterilizer by Aqua. It attached to the output of the True BiO filter. The complete filtration system is able to keep the water quality very clean and crystal clear. 

The basking ramps are made out of wooden planks 1 foot wide and 3.5 feet long. They allow access to the sand nesting area. Also they provide a space for the turtles to climb out and dry under the heat basking bulbs. Each tank has a 100watt Mega-Ray bulbs to provide each turtle with UVA and UVB rays.