Turtle ponds can give you such satisfaction. These animals have been around for millions of years and give a different feeling than fish. They swim and walk around which means that you need to plan the pond area a little more.
Depending on the climate where you live will decide whether you have you turtle pond indoors or out due to cold temperatures. They are mainly kept indoors and let out through the summer months.
The size of the pond can vary depending on your garden, but yet again the bigger the better. Make sure that the pond you create has swimming, resting, walking and basking areas.
Swimming areas should be at least a 25cm deep, or if you are planning on keeping them out all year round then you should have parts of the pond over 50cm deep. This gives an area for the turtles to hibernate through freezing temperatures.
Turtles, when hibernating, shut down at the bottom of the pond and start to breath through their skin. Add some sand or mud to the bottom of your pond in which the turtles can rummage around and hibernate in. They also like to have some leaves at the bottom. Remember the more dead leaves that decompose in your pond the more it lowers the oxygen levels. This means it could be possible that your turtle may suffocate and so keep on top of your maintenance.
I would have a waterfall or cascade in place, all year round, if keeping turtles outside. This will help keep the oxygen levels up and stop complete freezing through the winter months.
Resting areas should consist of water depth levels of around 3 to 6 cm deep so that they are resting under water but have their heads popping out.
Walking areas should also be included around the pond in your plan as they love going for a stroll now and then.
Basking areas should also be included - logs, rocks, bricks or plant pots should be easily accessible where they can catch a long period of afternoon sun. As much as they like getting a tan they like to hide too so pots on their sides and other shaded places should be considered.
Temperatures can vary depending on the type of turtle you have. Some will die at 55 degrees F where as some will hibernate at anything under 50 degrees F.
When using pond liner for a turtle pond I suggest the thickest liner available as turtles have sharp claws and the last thing you want is a puncture.
One big part of your design should involve a fence the whole way around the pond and walking areas. This will not only keep your turtles in, as they love running away, but help keep predators out.
Make the fence at least 40cm tall and have at least 15cm buried under the ground. The first 15cm of the fence above the ground should not be made of a material that they could get tangled up in.
Turtle ponds need a good filtration system and a good 20% water change every 3 weeks will help enormously as they are very messy.
The only two other things to consider are plants and fish.
Plants will provide good shade and hiding places but turtles will munch on them.
Having fish mixed with your turtles can be dangerous, some will hunt the small ones and will occasionally attack larger fish like koi.
If keeping turtles indoors you need to provide ultraviolet lights as this will not just give them heat but help fight diseases.
Turtles do need a lot of care and their needs differ from species to species so proper research is needed.
Provide enough attention with some species of turtle and they can become quite tame and socialable.
Return from Turtle Ponds to Pond Designs