Ponds: Temperature Options
Red eared slider ponds are popping up in backyards all across the world, but what many people don’t realize is that turtles can’t take extreme cold temperature. If you live in an area where red eared sliders naturally live and it gets a bit colder in the fall and winter, have you ever wondered where all the turtles go during the cold months? The answer is that they all hibernate – and not all of them survive hibernation. It’s survival of the fittest at its best: the strong survive hibernation to pass on their good genes and the weak do not. You don’t want to replicate this harsh reality in your backyard turtle’s pond, so if it gets pretty cold where you life in the winter (and bringing your turtles inside for the winter isn’t an option), you need a pond heater.
Red eared sliders need a water temperature of about 75-86 degrees Fahrenheit to maintain good health, so your pond must stay within this range at all times. In fact, if you find that you cannot maintain this temperature year-round, you might want to keep a water heater in your pond at all times. Unlike aquarium heaters, pond heaters are not as accurate when it comes to their temperature range, so you will need to monitor the temperature regularly with a thermometer. You also need to beware floating de-icing type of heaters, as these will not effectively heat the water all the way to the bottom of the pond and your turtle will likely climb on the floating heater, possible injuring itself or damaging the heater.
The best thing you can do is look for a red eared slider pond heater designed for koi ponds. When shopping for a heater such as this, keep in mind that koi do not require nearly as much heat as sliders, so you will want to get a heater sized for a larger pond or get multiple smaller heaters. The best thing to do is talk to a pond expert and see what they recommend. For ponds, calculating the actual amount of heat you need to regulate the temperature for sliders and koi varies wildly depending on the ambient temperature of the area you live in because you cannot regulate the temperature outside. It’s a pretty technical calculation involving kilowatts and BTUs, so if you live in an area of temperature extremes in the fall and winter, you should consult an expert. If you live in a very temperate area, however, you won’t have as hard a time.
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