Care Guide for your New Pet!

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Fish are more interactive than you might first think. They are entertaining to watch as they navigate their way around a tank, weaving in and out of rocks and plants. They will also rush to greet you at feeding time, coming to the surface for the tasty treats that you drop in.

If you are looking for a pet to satisfy a child’s request, then fish are the perfect solution. They are not only easy to keep, but will teach children about being responsible for an animal’s life. From remembering to feed them to cleaning the tank, they will learn the importance of caring for something in order to keep it alive. It may also be an opportunity to ease your child into the subject of death and loss, when the inevitable happens and they discover a fish floating on the surface.

So what do you need to think about ahead of getting your first fish?

  • The bigger the tank or aquarium the better. Most fish may be small in size, but they still need plenty of room to swim, especially if you have decided to get more than one. Whether you’re starting with a single goldfish or a few, browse our wide range of fish tank's for their new home.
  • Think about where you place your tank. Keep it out of direct sunlight, away from windows and heating. The last thing you want is for the water in the tank to heat up out of your control.
  • Invest in a decent filter. This will keep the water in the tank cleaner for longer, removing any debris, pollutants and waste.
  • Add an air pump. This will keep the water in the tank oxygenated and keep it moving which is great for your fish. Pumps come in different sizes depending on the amount of litres your tank can hold. Our range of air pump or sponge filter can provide a healthier underwater environment for your fish.
  • Fish may need heat and light. Depending on the breed of fish, heating could be crucial. If your fish are tropical there will be certain temperatures that you to need to ensure the water is kept to. Goldfish and cold water fish are an exception and will require no heat. Lighting will help any plant life in the tank to grow and will also show off the colours of your fish for you to enjoy.
  • Add some gravel to the tank. Some bacteria is beneficial to fish and the gravel gives it somewhere to live. It will also help to break down any waste that your fish creates, as well as adding an attractive look to their surroundings.
  • Include some plants and greenery. Using different varieties of plant life will give your fish somewhere to hide and play, helping them to feel safe. Real plants will help to maintain the nutrients in the tank, but artificial plants will work just as well for giving your fish somewhere to hide.

Fish are a fantastic choice of pet for so many reasons. They are space-saving, in that they have a fixed area of the room and you know where they are at all times! They don’t require walking and they are cheaper to look after than other pets, without the big food costs and vet bills. Fish are fairly low maintenance, although you must allocate time to keep the tank and water in good condition. If the water looks cloudy or smells at all, take action and deal with it, rather than wait for your fish to get ill. They are a quiet species, making no noise, ever! Fish are also known as a stress reliever, with research showing that the relaxing act of watching them swim silently and without conflict will lower blood pressure.

Ultimately, fish are beautiful breeds that come in all shapes, sizes and colours, making them wonderful to watch. As you get to know your fish, you may discover that they have their own personality, which will help them to become a member of the family!

Aquatic Turtles

Essential Turtle Equipment

  1. Enclosure. A turtle tank and turtle aquarium are standards, but today, there also are plenty of alternatives, like turtle tubs and ponds.
  2. Light/Heat. Turtles are cold-blooded. To swim, digest, grow and maintain their immune system, turtles need UVB light and heat. This can be provided with separate bulbs or in combination with a mercury vapor bulb.
  3. Basking Site. Turtles thermoregulate (control their body temperature) by basking, which is when they get completely out of the water to warm up and dry off.
  4. Filtration. Clean water is critical to a healthy turtle, and it avoids a smelly room.
  5. Food. Like other pets, turtles need a complete commercial food staple, with occasional treats.
  6. Enrichment. Turtles are curious! Adding decor to their home is vital to keep them healthy and stimulated. Fake plants, like Marineland Bamboo, can provide security and a place to rest.

Choosing an Enclosure:

Ideally you begin this process before getting your pet turtle. Turtle tubs and DIY ponds can be customized and provide more space to your pet, but many people prefer the aesthetics of a turtle tank or turtle aquarium as it allows you to observe the animal underwater.

The enclosure should be as large as possible for the adult size of the animal. I recommend nothing smaller than 75 gallons for most aquatic turtle species. Note: Females of most species get larger than males, which is something to consider if space is a concern.

Smaller turtles, like mud and musk turtles, can thrive in a 40-gallon, long aquarium their entire lives. A sturdy stand is a must, as 40 gallons of water can weigh over 300 pounds.

Avoid placing the aquarium in places with large fluctuations or extremes in temperature. This includes areas like drafty doorways, garages and near certain windows.

Setting Up Your Turtle Aquarium:

After placing the enclosure where you want it, add in the decor.

For beginners, I strongly recommend against using substrate, such as sand, gravel, pebbles or river rocks, to line the bottom of the turtle tank. Substrate tends to collect debris and accidentally can be eaten, which can cause impaction or death. If you must get substrate, use large river rocks or washed calcareous sand.

Avoid décor items with large holes or those that potentially could fall, as turtles can drown if they get pinned or wedged. I stick with plastic plants and driftwood, which can create platforms your turtle needs to rest, sleep and reach the surface for air.

Next, add the basking spot.

Some turtle tubs include a built-in basking site similar to this platform. DIY platforms, rocks and logs can be used, but take precautions to ensure they cannot be moved by your pet turtle and crush or pin him.

Floating basking sites often don’t support the weight of adult turtles, but they can be used as a secondary resting area. Once you’ve placed the basking site, hang your light and heat above it.

Add Light and Heat.

Your turtle needs both light and heat to thrive. Essential light for your pet turtle should offer both visible light and ultraviolet light (in the form of UVB).

Heat and visible light can be provided with an incandescent spotlight between 60 and 100 watts. Base the wattage on whatever gets the basking site to 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.

The UVB light can come from a UV compact fluorescent light.

Leave lights on for at least 10 hours per day. I use an outlet timer to automatically turn on the lights at 9 a.m. and shut them off at 10 p.m.; that way I can enjoy feeding and watching my turtles after I return from work.

Keeping Your Turtle Tank Clean:

Yes, you need a filter. Yes, turtle tank filters can be pricey. But it will save you time and money in the long run and can turn keeping turtles from a chore into a relaxing part of your home.

I recommend a canister filter, a pond filter or a sump (wet/dry) filter. These all maximize the biological filtration surface area, which is the site where aerobic bacteria grow to break down solid waste.

To say the least, always overkill on the filtration!


Feeding Your Pet Turtle

You will find that turtles are very food motivated. They quickly become beggars and will have you trained to giving them treats in no time!

Hatchling formulas contain smaller pellets, which may be necessary for young turtles. Feed the recommended portions by placing the pellets directly into the water. Most all aquatic turtles need to eat while in the water.

Add variety to your turtle’s diet for complete nutrition. Live foods, like crickets, wax worms, super worms and earthworms, are readily devoured, especially by young turtles, who tend to be more carnivorous.

Adult turtles also enjoy nibbling on fresh produce. I recommend floating pieces of dandelion, duckweed, water hyacinth, kale and other leafy greens.

Enjoying Your Pet Turtle

I strongly recommend researching your specific pet turtle species before bringing him home. And keep in mind that turtles can live 30-50 years on average, so they can be a part of your family for decades.

As with all pets, watch their weight, appetite, activity and appearance so you quickly notice signs of illness. And, most importantly, have fun!

Many turtles love to interact with their human families. Taking walks outside of their tanks, getting their shells scrubbed with a toothbrush and getting to bask outdoors while supervised often are enjoyable experiences for a pet turtle. Just be sure to exercise good judgement, proper hygiene and common sense.

With these notes in mind, your pet turtle should live a happy and healthy life.




The Sulcata tortoise of North-Central Africa is one of the most popular and well-known pet tortoise types. They are also known as African spurred tortoises or spurred tortoises. Once rare in the United States, the Sulcata tortoise has shown a fantastic ability to adapt to many climates and habitats in captivity. Combined with their low cost and curious personality, they have become the most sought after by first-time tortoise owners.


Baby Sulcata tortoises are available from many sources, including local pet stores, reptile expos and breeders. All baby tortoises are captive bred, as importation has ceased. The pricing for a tortoise depends on size, age and even season; when more babies are available, the price can drop. Sulcata tortoises can also be adopted from rescues or families that are unable to care for them any longer.

Sulcata Tortoise Size and Lifespan

Hatchling Sulcata tortoises will be about 1 ½ to two inches in shell length. The growth rate is more diverse than other tortoises; 10-inch tortoises could be three years old or 10 years old. The variance is mainly due to temperature and care from the owner.
Many adults will surpass 100 pounds. Big females can range from 90 to 120 pounds. All Sulcata tortoises, especially males, can reach 200 pounds, but that is when the tortoise has reached old age. The tortoises grow quite fast for the first 10 years, and then their growth slows with age.

It hasn’t been determined how long a Sulcata tortoise can live in captivity as they haven’t been raised in captivity for long, but it is believed they can live for more than 80 years. Given a lean, high-fiber diet, captive-raised animals have higher life expectancies than wild counterparts.


Due to their size, Sulcata tortoises are best kept in an outdoor area. They can be kept there for most, or all, of the year. A desert-type set-up outdoors with a large grass area in the center and dirt around the perimeter is the recommended setting. The tortoise will “patrol” the border, so leave it unplanted. The tortoises are constant grazers and will eat any plants in the enclosure. Fragile plants will likely be destroyed.

An adult tortoise enclosure requires a sturdy wall at least two feet in height above the ground, as well as a foot below ground to prevent or discourage the tortoise from digging. Concrete masonry blocks work well, as does a well-built wood wall. See-through fences and walls shouldn’t be used because the tortoise will try to escape through or over something it can’t see through.

Young Sulcata tortoises should be raised indoors. Outdoor housing is acceptable when the temperature is in the correct range. It is recommended to grow the baby indoors for the first few years and then transfer it outside. The best enclosure for a baby tortoise is a shallow terrarium or plastic tub. Focus on the substrate, lighting, temperature and cage furniture.

Baby tortoises should have access to a humid hiding area. This helps their shells grow smoothly and keep them hydrated. When a baby is raised without proper humidity, it can form a bumpy shell, which is known as “pyramiding.”
To help tortoises with winter climates, an enclosure can be built in a garage. Garage enclosures should be well heated to keep the tortoise comfortable, and the temperature should be checked regularly.

Sulcata Tortoise Substrate

Sulcata tortoises will burrow more if there isn’t a proper hide box accessible. When the tortoises do dig, these spots should be filled with large stones or bricks to prevent future digging in that area. Single tortoises can burrow naturally, but multiple tortoises can “stack up” in the burrows and block the deepest ones, not allowing them to exit.

For substrate, there are many different options. Cypress mulch can be great bedding. Coconut bedding or peat moss is also good. Outdoor enclosures don’t need added substrate, provided that the soils are natural and not tainted with fertilizer. Include a few larger, flat rocks to help file the tortoise’s nails.

Lighting and Temperature

Outdoor Sulcata tortoises can be tolerant of many temperature ranges. High temperatures are not a problem is they have a shaded area to escape from the sun. They can also handle cold temperatures as low as 45 degrees Fahrenheit with no problems.
When nighttime temperatures drop below 50 degrees, provide a heated hide box that maintains at least 55 to 60 degrees, with the mid-‘70s being the ideal temperature, or you should bring the tortoise inside. You should absolutely check on the tortoise if it is exposed to low temperatures to ensure it got into the heated hide box.

For indoor tortoises, they can be maintained at average room temperatures of 68 to 75 degrees. Provide a basking area heated by an overhead light in the 100 plus degree range. They need a UVB light to help process the calcium in their diets. Keep the light on 12 to 14 hours a day and turn it off at night. The heating can be provided 24/7.

Sulcata Tortoise Food and Water

The Sulcata tortoise is always an eager eater and will rarely turn down food. For adults, the best staple diets are various dry grasses and leaves. They will graze on lawn grasses, grape leaves, hibiscus leaves and flowers. Most will also eat hay. However, baby and small tortoises may have a harder time eating the tough grass and hay.

Spring mixes work well, especially for babies. Include kale, collard greens, turnip greens and any darker lettuce type. Mazuri Tortoise Diet can be offered occasionally to cover anything nutritionally. Feed the tortoise from a flat rock or shallow dish. Never feed the tortoise from gravel or diet, so it doesn’t eat the soil or rocks.

If you live in areas with prolonged dry months, such as Los Angeles, offer water to keep the tortoise hydrated. Use a shallow, low-sided dish for water. This makes cleaning easy, which must be done regularly, as most tortoises will soak and defecate in the water dish. Tortoises that live in areas with regular rainfall will drink from puddles or leaves.

The tortoise needs to be soaked with shallow, warm water once or twice a week for 15 to 30 minutes to get fully hydrated and clean the shell. A soft toothbrush can be used to remove dirt from the shell. Baby and juvenile tortoises can dry out quicker, so soak them up to three times a week.

Health and Handling

Purchase an alert, active Sulcata tortoise with bright, clean eyes and no discharge from the nose, or buy one from a reputable source. These tortoises can suffer from most of the common reptile health problems but respiratory infections are the most widespread. They are susceptible to respiratory infections if kept in cold or wet enclosures; they need to dry out.

Sulcata tortoises can get easily stressed out when overhandled. Always keep the tortoise right-side-up when holding. Adults are more resistant to handling. Avoid pinning them down or restricting them, especially when they are young. Older tortoises are usually more tolerant of people. - Allens Pet Center


Crested Geckos

Crested geckos are a low-maintenance pet and are well-suited for children or novice lizard owners who have little time to devote to their daily care. One of their distinctive features is their eyelashes, which is why they are sometimes called eyelash geckos. These lizards hail from New Caledonia, an island country off the coast of Australia. They were once thought to be extinct but were "rediscovered" around 1994. Since then, their popularity as pets has continually increased.

Crested Gecko Behavior and Temperament

Crested geckos come in a wide array of colors and markings (morphs). They get their name from the fringed crest that begins over their eyes and runs down their necks and backs, though the size of the crest varies.

Crested geckos have specialized toe pads that allow them to move along vertical surfaces effortlessly, and their prehensile tails add to their agility. They are also excellent jumpers.

Crested geckos usually have relatively docile temperaments, though they are a bit skittish and care is required when handling. They don't usually like handling, so avoid it if possible. They may try to jump away from you, which can injure them. Crested geckos may drop their tails if handled roughly or in an attempt to get away. Unlike other geckos, they will not regenerate their tails.

They will only bite if they feel threatened. Bites are startling; though they do not hurt, they are not strong enough to cause bleeding.


A minimum of a 20-gallon tall terrarium is sufficient for an adult, but a larger tank is better. Crested geckos are arboreal, active, and need lots of vertical space for climbing, so a tall tank is preferred. Two to three crested geckos can be housed in a tall 29-gallon terrarium. Males are territorial, so keep only one male per tank. You can use a glass terrarium with a screened side for ventilation, but some keepers prefer screened enclosures.

Crested geckos need room to climb, so provide a mix of branches, driftwood, cork bark, bamboo, and vines at a variety of heights and orientations. Add a variety of silk or sturdy live plants such as Epipremnum (pothos), Philodendron, Dracaena, and Ficus as they will hide in the plants for cover.

Every day, you will need to remove all uneaten food and spot clean to remove feces. Clean the entire terrarium and its decorations at least once a month using reptile-safe disinfectants. Depending on the substrate, you will need to replace it weekly or monthly to prevent bacterial growth.


As cold-blooded creatures, all reptiles need to regulate their body temperature. A daytime temperature gradient of 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (22 to 26.5 degrees Celsius) should be provided for crested geckos with a drop at night to 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 24 degrees Celsius). Monitor with temperature gauges to ensure the cage does not overheat. Crested geckos get stressed at higher temperatures. A low-wattage red nighttime bulb makes a good heat source, and it also allows you to view the lizard at night when they are most active. Do not rest a heat source on the top of the tank as these climbing geckos could get too close and get burned.


Crested geckos are nocturnal; technically, they do not need special UVB lighting. However, some experts suggest that a low level of UVB lighting (about 5 percent) is beneficial for overall reptile health. Any added lighting will raise the temperature in the enclosure, so monitor that. Also, provide a gecko hideaway, so geckos can get away from the light if they want.


Crested geckos need a moderate to high humidity level of about 50 to 70 percent. Get a hygrometer (humidity gauge) to monitor levels daily. Provide humidity with regular misting with warm, filtered water. Depending on your cage setup, you may need to mist it a few times a day to keep the humidity up. Always make sure the cage is well-misted at night when the geckos are most active. If you are not around during the day or cannot physically mist the enclosure, get an automatic mister or fogger to add humidity to the cage at timed intervals.

Specific Substrate Needs

Most pet owners use a substrate to line the bottom of the cage. When selecting a substrate for a gecko, consider pet safety, ease of cleaning, and if the substrate aids in retaining humidity. Ideal substrates for a crested gecko are coconut fiber bedding, moss, or peat. You can also use newspaper or paper towels, although these are not as attractive.

Crested geckos are somewhat prone to ingesting substrate while hunting; if this is the case for yours, use sphagnum moss (either alone or over another substrate like coconut fiber) or paper towels. Paper towels are recommended for juveniles as they are more likely to swallow other substrates accidentally.

Although attractive, gravel (or pebbles) is not a suitable substrate since it is difficult to clean thoroughly and regularly. Avoid reptile sand and non-organic soil substrate because these are swallowing hazards.

What Does the Crested Gecko Eat & Drink?

Since they are nocturnal, feed crested geckos in the evening. Feed juveniles daily and adults three times a week.

A commercial crested gecko diet is usually well accepted and is the easiest way to ensure a well-balanced, nutritious diet. Supplement that food with crickets and other prey insects (roaches, waxworms, silkworms). Avoid feeding mealworms, since they have a hard, undigestible exoskeleton. For variety and to allow the gecko to exercise his hunting instincts, feed as many prey insects at one time as the gecko eagerly eats.

Insects fed should be slightly smaller than the space between the gecko's eyes and should be gut-loaded or fed nutritious foods before feeding to your lizard. To boost your reptile's vitamin and mineral intake, dust the insects with a calcium/vitamin D3 powdered supplement three times a week. You can dust prey items with a multivitamin powder supplement once a week as well.

Crested geckos will eat fruit several times a week. Try mashed fruit or jarred baby food. Favorites include bananas, peaches, nectarines, apricots, papaya, mangoes, pears, and passion fruit.

If you have difficulty finding a commercial gecko diet, provide a combination of insect prey items and fruit. This option is not the most balanced diet, but it will suffice in a pinch or for a short period. In this case, your best insect choice is crickets with the occasional addition of other insects for variety.

Provide a small shallow water dish with fresh water daily, though they will likely prefer to drink water droplets from leaves in the humid habitat. - The Spruce Pets