Okay, first things first. I will not be held responsible for any harm done to any turtles. No turtles were harmed during the process of writing this. Also, This is not a professional guide. This is my own guide. Happy reading! 🙂
They need a source of water to swim in. About 7 inches or more of water. As long as it covers their whole body and they are able to maneuver around.
They also need a basking area with a UVB light shining down from above it. This is used to get their vitamins. It’s like an artificial sun . It should be easy to ascend/descend from the basking area to the water for your RES. Make sure you buy the light from a pet shop or a reptile shop. ReptiSun is a pretty good choice (I use the ReptiSun 3.0)
Food pellets should be the staple in your RES’s diet. ReptoMin or Wardley Reptile Sticks are good turtle food brands. I have also seen other good food brands, though. However, my personal favorite is ReptoMin, because it offers the right amount of everything they need, the pellets are nice and long, which makes hand-feeding sooo much easier, plus you can find it just about anywhere (I have seen it in WalMart, PetSmart, PetValue, and porbably others that I can’t remember at this moment). Vegetables are also healthy for your RES. I give my turtles shredded carrots and raddish greens. If you are going to feed it lettuce, make sure it is a dark lettuce, such as Romaine lettuce. You can also feed your RES live food. These can be guppies, earthworms, etc. A 0-4 years old turtle’s diet should consist of about mostly food pellets, but it’s still a good idea to give them vegetables every now and then. Feed baby/juvenile RES daily.. Once they reach 5 (maturity/adult), start feeding them 50-50 of veggies and pellets, and every second day is good enough for them.
They also need a UVA light for heat and light. Remember, they only need both lamps (UVA and UVB) on in daylight. The lights in his (or her, I will not refer any turtle as an “it”) tank is like his sun. When the sun goes down for real, so does your RES’s light. 😉
If you are going to use decorations, make sure they are turtle-safe. Some decorations can be harmful to your RES. This includes what kind of glue used, if they are sharp, and if they are small. You don’t want your RES to eat your decorations, so don’t buy too small a decorations. Keep in mind, that your RES will grow to as large as a dinner plate. Be careful when using fake plants, because your RES might try to eat them. If the plants have sharp edges, they might cut your turtle’s mouth. If you are going to se real water plants, make sure it is safe for an RES to eat, because they will probably eat it.
As for substrate, don’t use pebbles or gravel, as your turtles may eat it and it will damage their intestines when the turtle processes the substrate. If you must use substrate, use calcium-free play sand, rinsed. You can buy play sand at almost any hardware store.
Their aquarium needs a filter according to the amount of gallons it can hold. Remember to keep it clean! Speaking of gallons, if you are wondering how big a tank your RES needs, measure them! For every inch, equals 8-10 gallons. Remember this: You don’t like your house dirty, do you? Then why should your RES’s house be dirty? Keep it clean! Dirty tanks could also lead to making your RES sick. 😦
To shorten the amount of times you need to clean your RES’s tank, you can feed them outside of their tank. In a “feeding tank”. This can be a heavy duty cleear plastic container. (you can buy 20 gallon containers). They need access to water because they can’t swallow without it (RES don’t produce saliva in their mouths).