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Soft shell turtles make great display animals, though they may bury in the sand they are quick and alert. A big display tank with spiny, smooth, or spiny turtles is hard to beat for entertainment.
Soft-shell turtle species are found throughout most of North American, Africa & Asia. They are commonly available in the pet trade and fun to watch.
Size of the smooth shell usually grow to 14” or larger so take into consideration when picking your aquarium for housing.
Enclosure can be a 20 gallon long tank so that you can fill with water at the bottom and have plastic plants or branches so that they may get out and bask to dry.
They should be kept warm 70 degrees so a submersible heater should be used. Successfully keeping this species is very difficult; they require a soft sandy substrate and ultra clean water. Soft-shell turtles spend a great time buried in the sand so use the finest grade of sand and rinse well before using it in your aquarium.
They are a little territorial so keeping more than 4 in a 20 gallon tank you are just looking for trouble. You can use live aquatic plants but the water will need to be deeper and the filtration must be good. Be sure and build your system that prevents abrasions or injuries to the turtles shells.
Diet consists of small fish, worms, crickets, pink mice, crayfish, and shrimp. They will eagerly accept floating commercial diets but it is so fun to watch them catch the live food. The key is a balanced diet for proper nutrition.
Health is something to watch because scrapes and scratches easily become infected so this is why water quality is so important. Silvadene is an antibiotic cream formulated for use with human burn victims and it is an important tool for treating sores and shell problems. Betadine is toxic to some mud turtles so be safe when applying.
Soft-shell turtles are in the species of the mud and the spiny turtle so be careful when housing together as they are all territorial.