Peacock Slider Turtles Definitive Care Guide | Diet, Habitat, Breeding, Accessories

Jan 11, 2022

Peacock Slider Turtles

Slider turtles are among the popular ones in the reptile pet category. The red-eared slider, yellow-bellied slider, and pond sliders are some of them. 

Not all slider turtles get equal attention like these three. However, some newer species have entered the scene as new kids in town. 

Yes, we are talking about peacock slider turtles. 

In this episode, we will be diving deep into the details of how to care for a peacock slider turtle.

Quick Facts:

  • Name: Peacock slider turtle
  • Species: T.emolli
  • Nickname: Nicaraguan slider
  • Genus: Trachemys
  • Maximum Size: 15 inches
  • Lifespan: 15 – 20 years
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Temperature: 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Temperament: Mild
  • pH Range: 6.0 to 8.0
  • Lighting: Moderate to dim

Natural Habitat

Native to Nicaragua and Costa Rica, peacock slider turtles are mainly found in Lake Nicaragua, Lake Managua, and their tributaries. 

They are freshwater turtles, and their habitat is identical to other slider turtles’. One such is the Meso-American slider turtle (Trachemys venusta), distributed from Mexico to Colombia. 

Appearance 

Apart from the iconic pattern on their carapace, peacock slider turtles are similar to every other slider turtle in terms of appearance. 

There are distinct circular designs on the carapace that closely resemble a peacock’s (thus, the name). And in the center of each marking, there is a dark spot. 

The color of the carapace can be olive green or brown. You will also notice the yellow markings on the edges where it meets the plastron. 

Like in other sliders, the color of their plastron is also yellow. 

Size

The size of a peacock slider depends upon its habitat and the food it intakes. An adult male can grow up to 12 inches in length, whereas a female can reach 15 inches.

A baby peacock slider turtle in its first 3 years will show rapid growth. And after that, it will gradually grow at a normal pace – 1 inch per year.

Life Span

The peacock slider turtles survive for about 15 to 25 years in captivity. However, some wild ones are known to survive for more than 30 years. 

Tank Requirements

Size Of A Tank

Baby peacock slider turtles are known to grow unexpectedly in their first 3 formative years. This is why you need to think beforehand about the tank size.

Usually, an educated guess will be 10 gallons per inch for most turtles. The same can be used as a reference for peacock sliders. 

If you have a peacock slider with a length of 4 inches, you will have to house it in a 40-gallon tank. 

But as these turtles are likely to overgrow their tank, you will have to think about the tank size from day one. 

I recommend that you get at least a 50-gallon tank. This will be big enough to keep a baby or a juvenile peacock slider. 

As for an adult, get at least a 150 to 200-gallon tank.

And if your turtles happen to outgrow your guestimated tank size, you need to keep them in a large tank or a stock tank. 

Here’s a 150-gallon tank that I use for keeping my sliders: 

Water Parameters

Peacock slider turtles require freshwater that is free of ammonia and chlorine. If you are using tap water, you should check the water composition to find if there are any traces of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates.

You can try this master kit from API to check water quality. 

Here are the optimum water parameters for a peacock slider turtle:

  • pH Value: 6 to 8
  • Chlorine Level: 0
  • Ammonia Level:0
  • Nitrite Level: 0
  • Nitrate Level: preferably 0 (less than 40 ppm)

If you use tap water for your turtle tank, you need to dechlorinate it first. Or, you can simply use distilled water. 

Here’s a dechlorinator that I use for all my tanks:

Filters

A good filter will go a long way in keeping your water clean and your sliders healthy.

No matter which filters you choose, clean them once a month (twice is preferred). Timing will be perfect when you are about to change the water. 

Along with mechanical filtration, you also need to emphasize biological filtration. This encourages the growth of beneficial nitrifying bacteria, which turn toxic nitrogen waste into nonthreatening byproducts.

I recommend that you use canister filters. Here’s one I use for my tanks:

Although reasonably expensive than other filters, they are durable and are much effective at doing their job. 

Another thing I like about these filters is that you can keep them hidden beneath the tank. This will help preserve your tank’s aesthetics. 

Also, they are less noisy than other filters. They are definitely helpful if you are a light sleeper. 

You Might Also Like To Read:

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Aquarium Plants

Putting plants in your turtle’s tank will help mimic its natural habitat. They provide places to hide, rest, and keep the turtle busy.

However, you need to be mindful of which plant you keep in a peacock slider’s tank. 

Like other turtles, there’s a high possibility that the peacock sliders will dig and guzzle plants that they find tasty. 

Also, keep in mind that you have to raincheck whether these plants are safe for turtles. This is because your turtles will definitely take a nip no matter which plants you keep in the tank. 

Here are some safe aquatic plants that you can keep in your peacock slider turtle’s tank:

  • Anubias Barteri
  • Java Fern
  • Amazon Sword Plant
  • Water Hyacinth
  • Java Moss
  • Hornwort
  • Duckweed
  • Dwarf Hair Grass
  • Common Waterweed

And here are some unsafe plants that you should avoid keeping in a peacock slider’s tank:

  • Begonia
  • Boston Ivy
  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Dumb Cane
  • Elephant’s Ear
  • Firethorn
  • Calla Lily
  • Arrowhead Vine

As I said earlier, no matter which plant you keep in your peacock slider’s tank, it will definitely be ravished at some point in time by your turtle. 

Therefore, I recommend going for the artificial ones, which will be durable and make your turtle’s habitat an explorable district.

Here are some artificial plants you can choose from:

Diet

Peacock slider turtles are omnivores. Like most turtles, they are opportunistic feeders and will cram down everything they come across. 

What To Feed Peacock Slider Turtles?

A peacock slider turtle’s diet depends on its age. Babies and juvenile sliders require protein-rich food, whereas adults need fiber and starch-filled food to keep them full.

Peacock slider turtles are hardy pets. So, as long as you provide safe and nutritious food, you need not worry too much about their diet. 

Here’s a list of foods that you can feed a peacock slider turtle:

Protein sources: Insects, worms, feeder fish, cooked meat, larvae, snails, and small crustaceans.

Vegetables: Kale, cabbage, beetroot, cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, and peas.

Fruits (Occasionally): Strawberry, apple, mango, pears, guava, kiwi, raisin, star fruit, melon, banana (with skin), and grape.

Flowers (Occasionally): Dandelions, rose, nasturtiums, hibiscus, and carnations. 

Foods To Avoid For Turtles

A word of advice – keep the oxalate-rich food at distance. Some examples are spinach, okra, rhubarb, leeks, and swiss chard.

How Often Should You Feed Peacock Slider Turtles?

You can feed hatchlings and juveniles every day. For adults, provide them once every other day. 

How Much Should You Feed Peacock Slider Turtles?

A rule of thumb will be to offer your sliders the amount of food that they can finish within 15 minutes. 

Another way to serve is by giving them tentative amounts of pellets equal to the size of their head. 

One thing you should know about peacock sliders and every other turtle is that they make a real mess while binging.

This can make the tank dirtier quickly. 

To counter this bedlam, keep your turtle in a separate container during feeding time. 

Pour some aquarium water in the container first and place the turtle, and feed it inside it. 

Once the dinner is over, drain the dirty water, and put the turtle back in its tank.

Health And Diseases

Peacock slider turtles are still prone to several health implications despite being hardy. 

These diseases and conditions can result from factors like water conditions, diet, and habitat.

As a result, turtles suffer from respiratory infections, salmonella, shell rot, swollen eyes, intestinal parasites, and algae buildup on shells. 

Let me explain.

Respiratory Infections

Like us, turtles also suffer from pneumonia, a respiratory infection. Turtles suffering from RI show the following signs and symptoms:

  • Lopsided swimming
  • Runny nose, watery and puffed eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Frantic breathing

Usually, wrong water parameters and temperature are the causes of respiratory infection. 

If your turtle shows any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should address this concern with your vet immediately. 

Salmonella Virus

Most reptiles and amphibians are the familiar caddies of the salmonella virus. And they can transmit it to humans, too. 

Even though turtles are susceptible to carrying salmonella, it doesn’t really affect them. 

On the other hand, when you handle a turtle and do not wash your hands right after, it can cause you a gastrointestinal disorder. 

This will lead to fever, frequent loose motions, cramps, and vomiting. 

In the worst-case scenario, the virus can advance to blood, bones, and even the brain.

Shell Rot

Shell rot in turtles can happen due to several conditions. But mostly, infections caused by fungal and bacterial organisms are the major culprits behind it. 

The turtle’s immune system becomes weak when it is restricted from vitamin D intake, nutritional diet, optimum water conditions, and adequate space to swim. 

In response, slight wounds or scratches on the turtle’s shell will not heal in an ordinary fashion. 

Furthermore, the infection will spread all over the turtle’s body in the form of light spots on the shell. 

If not treated immediately, the scutes will come off the shell and releases a foul odor. 

If this happens, you should take your peacock slider turtle to your vet. Usually, they will prescribe topical antiseptic like povidone-iodine to apply on your turtle’s shell daily.

Swollen Eyes

This is not a disease in itself but a symptom of infection. Turtles suffering from respiratory infections usually have puffy red eyes. 

Hence, once the disease is treated, it will subside, too. 

Intestinal Parasites

Your peacock slider turtles are also prone to intestinal parasites. One of the most common ones is the planaria worm. 

It is microscopic and lives inside a turtle’s intestine. 

Often hobbyists mistake other worms as this one in their tank, but it isn’t true. 

You cannot see planaria with naked eyes. 

Once attached to a turtle’s intestine, it will feed on its guts and pose a severe threat. 

Thus, it is recommended to deworm your turtle tank regularly.

Here’s a dewormer that I use:

This is the one for you if you suspect the presence of planaria in your peacock slider’s tank.

Algae Buildup On Shell

Algae buildup on the shell results from having a bad filter, or you could say, a maintenance problem. 

Turtles make a mess quickly, and it does get cumbersome to clean the tank daily. As a result, algae deposits fast on their shell. And too much algae deposits can also cause shell rot.

To get rid of the algae, use an old soft toothbrush to scrub it off the shell. Also, replace the old filter if it isn’t functioning as promised.

Vitamin Deficiency 

Peacock slider turtles eat a diverse range of food necessary to keep them active and healthy. But did you know that your turtle needs only two vitamins in general? 

Yes, even though all vitamins are necessary, turtles specifically require vitamin A and vitamin D. 

I give these nutritional sticks to my turtles. You should try them, too.

Without these vitamins, they can suffer from serious health complications like Squamous metaplasia and metabolic bone disease. 

To fulfill the vitamin A requirements, you need to feed your turtle foods rich in beta-carotene. 

It is found mainly in leafy veggies like kale, cabbages, broccoli, and cauliflower. Some other vegetables rich in beta carotene are sweet potatoes, carrots, and squash. 

Tank Mates

You might have read that turtles are solitary reptiles. However, there are particular tank mates that you can keep along with your peacock slider turtles. 

Here are some appropriate tank mates for your peacock slider turtles:

  • Neon Tetras
  • Yellow Cichlids
  • Koi Fish
  • Zebra Danios

And here are other species of turtles to keep with your peacock slider turtles:

  • Red-eared slider turtles
  • Mud Turtles
  • Pink belly sideneck turtles
  • Western painted turtle

Tankmates To Avoid Keeping With Peacock Slider Turtles

Tankmates that are too slow or too big shouldn’t be kept with peacock sliders. Also, avoid aggressive ones. 

Some species of aquatics that you need to avoid keeping with your peacock sliders at all costs are:

  • Piranhas
  • Catfish
  • Goldfish
  • Feeder Fish
  • Lobsters
  • Breeding 

If you plan to breed peacock sliders, you should first check if the pairs have reached sexual maturity and are healthy.

Female peacock sliders reach sexual maturity when they are about 7 years old. As for the males, they reach quite early, which is about four and half years old.

Lower the habitat temperature to around 60 degrees Fahrenheit to encourage breeding. 

Also, dim the lights.

Give them about 6 to 8 weeks to mate. 

Unlike other slider turtles, the male peacock slider turtles do not have long claws to grab a female’s shell during mating.

Only if the female finds the mate worthy will she stoop low to let the male mount her. 

After that, you can put them back in their everyday living conditions. 

The nesting season mainly falls from December to May. Females will lay up to 35 eggs in a season.

The hatchlings will then crop up between 70 to 130 days.

Final Words: Peacock Slider Turtles Care Guide

Although peacock slider turtles require moderate attention, they make tanks dirty instantly. Therefore, clean the tank regularly and check for spikes in levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate in the water. 

Also, do not house them in a tank that compromises their swimming needs. Not only does this stress them, but it also hampers their development. 

Relevant Readings:

Can Turtles Eat Popcorn? Are They Safe?

Do Owls Eat Turtles? Or Is It The Other Way Around?

Can Turtles Eat Dog Food? Harmful Or Beneficial?

rohit gurung author at urbanfishkeeping

About Rohit Gurung

My never-ending love and fascination with Aquascaping started when I received a red-eared turtle for my 10th birthday.

Apart from researching and writing, I spend hours gazing at my 3 turtles. And yeah, I bask alongside them too.