OPERATION: TURTLE RESCUE THE PROBLEM Hey guys, new poster here-- I originally joined because I have recently developed a deep, deep love of ball pythons, and I wanted a site to be able to make sure that I was able to get help and have support with my endeavor to own one. Sadly, despite them having almost every pro and very few cons, my mom decided that she was not willing to get one because she does not like snakes. While I was very distraught about this, I realized through all the research I had done that I was not doing anything to take care of the current pets we had. We have one dog and two baby turtles. The dog is well taken care of, as far as I know, but I do know that the baby turtles are much worse for wear. We got the first one almost two or three years ago when we found it alone on a sidewalk at a park, and because I was rash and irrationally stupid back then we took it home. We luckily had a cage from our recently deceased gecko that we had cleaned out entirely and kept the turtle in, then we bought another baby turtle of a different species to stay with them. The first turtle was a red ear slider and the second is what I believe to possibly be a map turtle. They get along fine, but they haven't been growing too much(you'll probably see why later on in this post). My mom is notorious for neglectful care of animals and hardly has what it takes to really take responsibility with them, and when we got them I had no idea how much it took to take care of creatures because I was young and I hadn't been taught about it. Because I have been doing so much research, however, I know one thing-- these turtles are not being taken care of at all. Perhaps it is because my mom does not understand how to take care of them, or perhaps it is because I have just been to caught up in personal problems to realize it, but these turtles are just barely getting what they really need. Now that I know about the problem, I want to do what I can to make these turtles have a better life, even if I don't get a ball python out of it. I need to prepare myself for responsibilities and that means taking care of my animals, even if it's not really my job to do so. Please remember before reading about the rest of this that I am going to do everything I can to get these turtles what they need, but I am only one kid. I'm 15, turning 16 next week-- I don't have a job, I don't know how to drive quite yet(I'm learning under a permit), and I have to have my mom approve of everything otherwise it is not happening. Because it is summer I will have more free time, but this does not mean I will be able to acquire all of the equipment I need or that I will be able to make any immediate changes to what has happened, but I am writing all of this down here in hopes to be able to find support and suggestions to what I will be able to do to improve the lives of these animals. Please remember I am inexperienced and I have been taught very little, so be gentle. Alright, let's get started. 1: TANK The tank has been a bit of an issue from the very beginning. We had a tank from before, which was the recycled and cleaned out tank from our deceased leopard gecko named Joey, but that one eventually got a crack underneath the bottom of it during one of our rare cleaning sessions. We used a smaller fish tank after that, which was tiny and I'm sure very cramped for the turtles. Shortly after that we finally decided to switch to another fish tank, a little bit bigger than the last one that was from our old house. That is the current tank we are using. It has a small land space that is magnetized to the wall, multiple round 'boulders' that are place around the middle, and a normal fish filter off to the side. A heat lamp was something my mom said it 'didn't need', as there were apparently 'temperature regulators' inside the tank. Not only do I doubt this to be true(I've felt the water with my fingers before, it's barely room temperature), but it is also lacking the heat that the turtles need for basking. How they have done well for this long is a mystery for me. The tank, the turtles and the rocks are covered with something akin to algae, though it is under control for now. The filter is not changed enough and cleaning is rare. There's no substrate underneath them and I don't even know how many gallons this tank is. This has always been my biggest problem with how my mom has taken care of them, so I will break my questions down as best as I can to get a thorough answer range. 1. What is the best possible size of tank for two young turtles? How much will it cost, and where is the best place for getting a low-cost, good quality tank of this size? 2. What are the best cleaning products for getting algae off of the glass, turtles and items in the tank? 3. How often should the tank be cleaned? 4. How often should the water filter be cleaned? 5. Should I make sure to have the water 'purified' with turtle tablets or conditioners sold for turtles, or am I able to use normal tap water? What will normal tap water do to the turtles? 6. Is there a point where algae covered items need to be thrown away? How do I get algae off the turtle's shells? 7. How much land space is needed? 8. Is there any kind of substrate I can use? 9. What temperature and humidity should be in the tank at all times? Is misting required? 10. How deep should the water be? 11. Do they need night hours(lights turned off for 12 hours a day)? 12. Anything else you can think of that might be helpful. 2: TURTLES The two turtles we have, as mentioned above, are a red eared slider and (most likely)a map turtle. I don't remember exactly how long we have had them, but I do know that they have been slow to grow-- which is concerning, considering we've had them for at LEAST a year or two and I would assume they'd be almost half their full size by now. This is probably has something to do with undernourishment(more on this in the feeding section) and little tank room. I am planning on saving up to get them a bigger tank, but until then, I still want to know about any suggestions you might have on the issue. On top of that, there's behavioral problems. Both of them get pretty snappy when we are handling them for cleaning or for feeding, and while we've never been bit by them before it is still a concern that this might happen. They are fine with one another, honestly they get along like two peas in a pod, but towards humans it's always hissing and opening their mouths in an angry fashion. This is understandable considering the circumstances, but I would like it if I could get advice on possibly taming them down so it will be easier to feed them and to handle them when needed. We also do not have a vet that we currently know who does reptiles. I don't know any of the warning signs that a turtle might be sick, and I don't think I would be able to tell anything from their behavior as I have not been around them enough to find out. 1. How big should they be after a year of growth from birth? 2. Is there any way to tame them so they will not bite or be afraid of humans? 3. Do they need enrichment toys of some kind? If so, what? 4. Where would I find a good reptile vet in my area? 5. What are the warning signs that a turtle might be sick with something? 6. Can red eared sliders and map sliders even stay together in the same tank? 7. Anything else that might be helpful. 3: FEEDING Feeding is another big issue. Up until this point, there has been zero feeding schedule. I had no idea that they needed to eat every day, and even less idea that they needed a rounded diet. So far their diet has consisted of: feeder fish(goldfish if my mom couldn't find any), turtle pellets, strawberries(rare) and more recently a strawberry flavored food nourishment. This nourishment is said to be perfectly fine for feeding them by itself with nothing else, but the problem is quantity.Without the feeding schedule, we have neglected feeding them on a regular basis and had no idea just how much food they needed to consume. While they don't exactly look emaciated or malnourished, I can assure you that they have not been getting all of the food that they need. I have recently decided to actually start following the instructions on the food packet, which says to feed them 10-20 of the little strawberry flavored bits every day. I have also used the old fish tank that we used before this one as a feeding tank, feeding them both separated from one another so that they both get enough food. Still, I have a few questions on the schedule. 1. How often do they need food, and how much? 2. How much variety do they need? 3. What foods are not turtle safe? 4. Should they be fed on land or in water? 5. Is there a particular time of day they should be fed? 6. How can I tell what food brand is best? 7. How much food is too much, and what are the side effects? 8. Anything else that might be helpful. 4: OTHER CONCERNS I understand that this list of problems and questions is probably highly concerning to anyone who keeps a reptile themselves and actually did the research, but because I would like to be able to reconcile for these mistakes in the best way possible I ask you to be gentle with the way you handle these questions. It was not my intention to let this go on for so long and I am going to try my best to amend for these problems. I want the best for these turtles and I will do as best as I can to fix things, but until then, I need your advice on how to handle these turtles. So feel free to add any advice you have that may go outside of the lines of these questions, and sources are very much appreciated. The size of the turtles, pictures of tank conditions and other things will be added as soon as possible, but for now I am focusing on getting together all the things I will need to be able to achieve this endeavor. Until then, thank you for responding, and I hope you have a good day.