Turtle Skin Fungus: Treatment, Prevention, Tips

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Pet turtles often suffer from fungal diseases. Even though they might be a problem, hygienic practices make elimination a breeze. This situation calls for doggedness.

Causes of fungus on turtles’ skin include unclean conditions, insufficient water changes, etc. It can be treated with a salt bath and by cleaning with soap or iodine solution. Preventing turtle fungus requires installing appropriate filtration and providing appropriate lighting and nutrition.

Fungi may grow on aquatic turtles if their tank is not properly maintained. Infected turtles’ shells will develop fuzzy gray or white areas, indicative of a fungal infection. The fungus may be treated and further outbreaks avoided if detected early.

In case your turtle contracts fungus, I’ve outlined several strategies for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention here. As you continue on, you’ll also find some quite useful advice.

How Do Turtles Get Fungus?

The lack of proper hygiene in a turtle’s tank is a leading cause of fungal diseases. Because turtles often feed in the water and then defecate there as well, they create a huge mess and are very challenging to keep sanitary.

This creates a substrate that is both sticky and stinky, ideal for the growth of fungus. When you factor in the constant high humidity and warm temperatures of the tank, it’s a wonder that all of the turtles are constantly ravaged by fungal infections.

The shell and skin health of turtles that are native to humid regions may quickly degrade if they are allowed to overdry.

When animals that are native to dry habitats are housed on moist substrates, the outer keratin layer has the potential to become pliable and misshapen, which might make it easier for diseases to penetrate their bodies.

It is of the utmost importance to ensure that all turtles are kept on a suitable substrate and that this habitat is kept clean at all times.

How To Detect Turtle Fungal Infection?

A turtle fungus may be easily recognized. You may identify them by the little green spots they sometimes have on their necks and legs, or on their shells.

The appearance of fungal growth on the skin is similar to that of little raised green spots. They mature and disperse in a very short amount of time.

The white patches that are linked with the loss of the skin and shell are not to be confused with these patches in any way.

One may do a careful inspection of the turtle if you are unclear as to whether or not it is genuinely shedding.

To assist you in making this determination, you might even make use of a magnifying lens. A shedding patch is a place where a piece of skin or shell has detached from the one underneath it.

In a similar vein, shell rot may sometimes be confused with turtle fungus. In most cases, an infected lesion or injury is the cause of shell rot.

The decay begins at the location where the injury occurred, and it spreads more than simply a single layer deep.

Shell rot will almost always give off an unpleasant odor, and the outermost layer of the shell may seem blotchy and packed with fluid.

In addition to that, they seem to be particularly harmful. The treatment for shell rot must begin right away.

What Does Turtle Fungus Look Like?

Before you can cure the fungus on your turtle, you’ll need to be sure it is indeed fungus and not just the product of a normal molt or shedding of the shell.

Small, raised green spots, or soft, fuzzy white or yellow patches, may be seen on the skin or shell.

Don’t worry, that whitish discoloration is only the result of natural shedding and not fungus. Fungal growth grows back after being brushed off, but the shed remains.

How To Treat The Fungal Infections In Turtles?

The identification of the turtle fungus is the most challenging and complex task, but once that has been accomplished, treatment is not complicated in the least.

We’ll talk about two approaches to treating fungal infections and how to keep the habitat clean.

A. Salt Bathing Your Turtle

Fungus grows rapidly in warm, damp environments, but a brief salt wash may kill it.

When a terrapin eats, it makes a huge mess. To put it another way, this is a recipe for yeast infections.

Having fungal infections manifest as bumps or patches on the turtle’s body has previously been reported.

If you are uncertain, it is best to see a vet that specializes in treating herps and other exotic animals.

What You Will Need:

  • Bath Salts: The antifungal properties of bath salts make them an effective treatment for fungal infections. The unscented bath salts from Ahava come highly recommended.
  • Sponges: Sponges should be kept clean and reserved for the turtle’s needs. You shouldn’t put the sponge near dishes, sinks, or soap.

Giving The Turtle A Bath

  1. The ideal water temperature for terrapins like the red-eared slider is between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a thermometer to double-check the water’s temperature.
  2. Add one-fourth cup of bath salt to five gallons of water. In the bathroom, you’ll want to have an additional storage bin.
  3. It’s possible that a Rubbermaid container might suffice. Fungus should be eradicated by the salt in the water. The salt also helps prevent infection in wounds.
  4. About 30 to 40 minutes of soaking time is recommended for the turtle. Do not wipe the turtle dry after removing it from the salt solution. Instead, let the turtle dry out while in the salt solution.
  5. You should do this therapy for two weeks straight, once each day.

B. Using Soap, Water, and Iodine To Clean The Turtle

Take a look at the turtle. A soft toothbrush, some fragrance-free soap, and the assumption that it is healthy should be sufficient to clean it.

Prepare a tub, small container, or bucket for turtle bathing.

It is possible that you are already aware of this, but turtles are known to contain salmonella. Because of this, it is not a good idea to clean a turtle in a sink.

What You Will Need:

The Steps Include:

1. Use Soap to Wash the Turtle

To clean the turtle, just use a gentle toothbrush and hypoallergenic soap. Avoid using excessive amounts of soap.

If you use too much soap, the fungus will become too soft, and you’ll have to start all over again. The soap can’t have any added scents.

2. Clean the Turtle

After washing the turtle, give it a last rinse with clean drinking water and then let it dry in the light. A clean towel may also be used to dry the turtle.

The next step is to bathe the turtle in a solution of diluted iodine (wipe it all over). If you need to get anything cleaned up, use Betadine or iodine.

When used on reptiles, it produces good results. Ten times as much water and one-tenth as much betadine should be used.

Your herp vet will be able to give you advice on which brand is best for your needs.

3. Apply Betadine/Iodine

After bathing the turtle in the betadine/iodine solution, you should let it air dry.

You should do this therapy for two weeks straight, once each day.

How To Clean Turtle Enclosure?

As we’ve previously established, a dirty tank is a major contributor to the spread of turtle fungus.

This means that if your turtle develops a fungal illness, you’ll need to clean the tank. In order to keep the fungus from returning, you should clean the cage once a month.

What you will need:

Steps for cleaning the enclosure are:

1. Take Away The Turtle

The first step is to release the turtle from its confinement. Keep the turtle in its own tank, since it is my recommendation.

Only the turtle should consume its food from this container. The reason for this is that salmonella is spread by turtles.

It is recommended that the container provide adequate water for the turtle to swim in, as well as a platform, such as a rock, on which the turtle may dry off.

2. Take Away Tank Items

Next, take out everything that was inside the cage, including the heater, filter, basking light, and anything else.

Keep the electronics in a separate container from the pebbles, basking platform, and other accouterments. Put them in big storage bins.

3. Empty Out The Tank

Empty the water from the aquarium into a container and flush it down the toilet, using a device like the Python No Spill Clean and Fill Aquarium Maintenance System.

4. Position The Tank Near A Cleaning Area

Get the aquarium where you’ll be doing the cleaning. The bathroom tub or the backyard grass will do. It’s not a good idea to use the kitchen sink (or any sink) to clean the tank.

This is because there is a risk of salmonella in the tank. This tank is hefty, if you can’t manage to carry it on your own, please ask for assistance.

5. Clean The Substrate

You should change the tank water four times to clean the substrate.

6. Use Bleach Solution To Clean The Tank

Cleaning the tank with a mix of 30 parts water to 1 part bleach (or 5% chlorine bleach) should do the trick. Put on some rubber gloves before you start cleaning.

7. Clean Out The Vessel

Clean the edges and the crevices thoroughly. Completely disinfect the space.

8. Completely Clean The Tank

When finished, let the solution rest on the container for 20 minutes. The enclosure should then be carefully rinsed to remove any lingering odor of chlorine.

9. Tidy Extras

You should clean the filter, the decorations, and the heater while the enclosure is sitting.

10. Refill The Tank And Put It Back

After cleaning, return the tank to its original placement and replace all contents in their original settings. First, you need to fill the tank, and then you may set up the heater, filter, and other components.

How To Prevent Turtle Fungus?

Maintaining a clean tank is the only thing that can protect turtles from getting fungus. This is not challenging nor time-consuming in any way.

When compared to the care needs of other types of pets, turtles have a low threshold for attention.

It is highly recommended that you adhere to the best practices listed below. They are uncomplicated and make very few demands.

1. Provide Your Turtle With A Tank That Is Sufficiently Large For It

The larger the tank, the more room it will take up, and the more it will cost, but it will be better for the turtle in the long run.

The tank will remain clean for a longer period of time after adding extra water to its capacity.

Hatchlings and little turtles (those with a carapace length of less than 5 inches) should be kept in tanks that are at least 20 gallons in capacity.

Keep turtles in aquariums that are 50 gallons in size and have carapaces that are 5 inches long. Keep turtles in aquariums that are 75 gallons in size and have carapaces that are ten inches long.

2. Make Sure You Use A Filter

Having a filter in the tank guarantees that the water is being thoroughly purified on a consistent basis. This guarantees that the water is spotless and devoid of any particles at all times.

I concur with the recommendation of the vast majority of herp veterinarians who state that you should use a filter that is rated for a tank that is twice as large as the tank in which you actually keep your turtle.

The Polar Aurora External Aquarium Filter, the MarineLand Penguin, and the SunSun HW-3000 are just a few examples of high-quality filters that you may want to take into consideration.

3. Throw Away Any Food That Has Been Leftover Immediately

The majority of turtles get their food from the ocean. As a consequence of this, when you have finished feeding them, there will most certainly be remnants of the food in the water.

Using a fish net, eliminate these items as soon as possible after serving the aquarium turtles.

4. Scrub The Holding Vessel

Maintain the cleanliness of the tank on a consistent basis with the assistance of an aquarium vacuum system like the Python Aquarium Maintenance System.

5. Alter The Water

If you own a Python Aquarium Maintenance System, you should use it once every week to replace one-third of the water in the tank.

You will need to completely replace the water in the aquarium once every few weeks or so at the absolute least.

6. Ensure That Chemical Levels Are Maintained

Use a water conditioner, like the TetraFauna AquaSafe Water Conditioner, to keep the water in your aquarium at the ideal chemical composition.

After doing a water change, it is important to analyze the aquarium for nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, and pH.

The pH level needs to be somewhere in the range of 6 and 8. The amount of ammonia ought to be zero. It is recommended that there be no chlorine present.

The nitrate concentration needs to be somewhere in the range of 0 to 40 ppm. The amount of nitrite should range from 0 and 0.5 parts per million (ppm).


Fungus in turtles is common since their cages are damp and warm. To be sure, you may reduce their frequency to nearly nothing by taking the appropriate precautions.

The good news is that if your turtle ever does have a fungal infection, you can easily cure it. Turtles with fungus may be cleaned with a gentle brush and water or given a salt bath.

Fungus may also be easily eliminated by treating the turtle with an iodine solution. If you want to prevent the fungus from coming again, you should maintain the cage clean.

It’s important to regularly replace the tank’s water, use a good filter, and clean the tank out once a month using a bleach solution.

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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