Trying to Make Things Right for my Red Eared Slider. Please help me to gauge how he is doing.

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RedEaredAngel
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Hi everyone! I'm new to this turtle forum so I apologize if I am posting this in the wrong place or formatting something incorrectly. Thank you for having me here!

I am currently trying to make things right for my poor turtle, Patrick. I have always been embarrassed to speak about the conditions my family has kept him in but now that I am an adult I have been trying to improve his life and it is time to ask for help. I have had Patrick for about 15-16 years (I have grown up with him. He is my best friend and basically a sibling.) I know that I have always loved turtles and that my family had good intentions, but getting me a turtle to grow up alongside me as a child meant I could not care for him (and they did not realize the extent of care needed to raise reptiles) was not good for him. As a result, Patrick has lived in about a 20-30 gallon tank for his entire life. Somehow, he has survived in these conditions.

The world right now is a very crazy place (I hope you have all been safe and well) but just before it began I have become an adult and have been working and my very first project and paychecks have been to finally help my little angel. I immediately bought him a 55 gallon tank to replace his 30. (I wanted to get him a 75 but I could not afford one in my area.) I did not fill the tank immediately; I slowly raised the water level overtime because I assumed his muscles would be weak from not having to swim or dive since he was a baby. The tank is now full to the top and he is a very fast and comfortable swimmer! Above the top of the tank, he has a setup where he can (and does) climb easily into his basking area. I have purchased a better heat lamp and UV bulb as well. He has access to this heat and light for over 14 hours a day and uses it frequently. He used to have a diet of only turtle pellets and I did not want to suddenly introduce a new food to him after having only eaten one thing for over a decade. I do still feed him his familiar turtle pellets, but I am also mixing in fruits and vegetables with his diet more and more every day. He also has a heater that keeps his water at around 75 degrees F constantly. He also has a filter appropriate for his tank size. I wanted to get him different things such as plants, some balls of moss (he used to enjoy those as a baby), and gravel or rocks for the bottom of his tank but the pandemic closed the nearest pet store just as I began this project for him.

I apologize for this post being so lengthy, but I hope this gives some insight into the big changes he has been experiencing in the context of the questions I am about to ask. I am trying to make these changes slowly so that he can adapt, and I hope I am doing this properly. If I am doing something wrong or there is something I can do better please let me know! As of right now I'm going to attach some pictures of his shell and hopefully get some insight on how he's doing. Though his conditions were extremely poor before, he has always had a seemingly healthy shell and appearance and now that some things have changed, I want to know if these changes have been detrimental to him.

I have tried to show in the pictures some spots I am seeing on his shell; both in and out of the water. He has NEVER in over 15 years had any white or grey spots or discoloration. I have seen shell rot in turtles before and was very worried about that. However, none of these spots are soft or fuzzy to the touch and there is no odor. He is also not uncomfortable when I feel these areas. While he is underwater, these spots are fairly shiny and there is actually almost a strange gold color on his shell in spots that have not yet shed scutes. He does not feel oily or slimy but he looks to have some sort of glow. These grey areas appear along the back of his shell near the tail, and around the edges but not really in the center. Separate from this issue, is one circular dot as you can see on the very top of his shell, and this is the only spot that feels different from the rest of his shell. The other spots are smooth and this one spot feels like a small rough bump, almost as if he ran into something. He is also not bothered when I touch this spot. On the bottom of his shell, I cannot really describe a strange texture since it looks so rough in these pictures but actually still feels almost perfectly smooth. It does not feel strange, but he did not look like this before. His skin color is still it's happy little green, I believe, but he almost has a cloud of fuzz around him as his skin looks as though it is also shedding. I am hoping that these things are either mineral deposits from the new water and/or rigorous shedding from previous buildup now being relieved by actually swimming. He did not ever shed very much in his old tank but now he is dropping scutes (the pieces are whole and nearly perfectly transparent) all over the place in this new tank. But the fuzziness, skin shedding, and sudden appearance worries me.

Aside from these changes in his appearance, which has only occurred in the last week or so after having been in this setup since March, he is acting perfectly fine. He is still wonderfully friendly, and seems to enjoy actually being able to swim and is living up to his slider name by constantly scooting himself down the basking area ramp loudly and randomly to spook me. I think he enjoys his new basking area since it is completely enclosed but eye level with our cats, who he has always liked to walk up to and tease. He is also always begging for food and ready to eat, and is greedily eating all of the new foods he has been trying. I really hope I have been doing good things for my dear friend. Patrick has been in that awful 30 gallon tank for so many years, and it must have been terrible and yet he was always sleeping in his tank with me right beside my bed on my worst days and there with me to greet every single sunrise, ever since before I was even 4 years old. He is my oldest friend and I would do anything for him. Having begun college and now working with and studying animals, I have only felt worse about my turtle's condition and I want to do everything I can to improve his life and extend the time I will be able to share with this beautiful baby in the future. Please let me know if there is anything I am doing right or wrong, and if there is anything I need to change or watch out for. Any feedback at all is greatly appreciated. Thank you all so much.
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TurtlesBunniesPlants
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Hi,

I am glad to read what you have done for your turtle! You have done things right and I am sure Patric appreciates your loving care as well.

Overall, as far as I can see in those pictures, I don’t see much issue with growth and health.
One thing I noticed is that your Patric might be “Patricia” judging from the tail in the picture.
Adult sliders will have longer and thicker tail with cloaca opening further out from the base of tail, and also develop longer nails on their front legs.

About the discolored patches, it can be early signs of infection or it can be mineral deposits or stuck scutes.
Stuck scutes and mineral deposits are basically buildup on surface of scutes so it goes away with shedding.
On contrary, shell infection progress inward from the surface. So you should try some treatment if you don’t see any improvement after shedding or if the conditions worsen overtime. For shell rot issue, dry docking and betadine is your fist go-to treatment. As long as it is treated at the early stage, it should heal up quite easily.

Bumper appearance in the middle of each scute unfortunately will not go away completely. However, with proper care, it will smooth out little bit over the years.
RedEaredAngel
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Sorry, I missed the notifications for your reply. Thank you!

I did realize several years ago after a trip to the vet that Patrick was in fact a "Patricia," haha. My family is just so used to his name at this point that we still use it. I will definitely continue to keep an eye on him and I am prepared to try dry-docking for him and betadine treatment if something seems to worsen or he seems uncomfortable. As of right now, some of the spots continue to go away as he sheds so it is looking very promising. Thanks again for the confirmation and help! :)
Pauly
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What you are doing sounds good to me and I'm sure Patrick appreciates the changes! Have you tried feeding her minnows? Turtles like meat and it gives them exercise to chase the fish too. My girl will only eat "live" food and and pellets. I've tried feeding her fruits and veggies and she doesn't even try to eat it. My girl won't eat dried insects either. Each one has their own preferences I think. Good luck! Unfortunately I don't really have any advice, I'm a novice RES turtle owner myself. I'm learning as I go along.
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