|Q: I have a 3,000 gallon pond with koi and goldfish. Earlier this summer I was given a small red-eared slider and small painted turtle by a friend who's a turtle keeper. I have lots of baby fish so it doesn't look like there interested in eating them : ) My question is this: I would normally clean all guck from the bottom of the pond but should I leave some for the turtles to hibernate?
Turtles and fish don't usually mix in the ornamental setting. The painted turtle will be LESS likely to eat or bite fish than the red ear which is a prodigious fish biter. Here's the "rub" - these turtles are not adept at taking healthy fish. Any weak or sleeping fish is fair game however. So you will start to see notches in the fins and tails of your favorite fish.
Another common problem, and the reason I gave up turtles in my collection, was that the big Koi aren't afraid of the smaller turtles, which gives the turtles the opportunity to swim up and notch their tails. Now, this is not threatening at face value, but the injuries sustained, might infect and take the fish.
Second, turtles cannot hibernate in the pond with success. I tried it myself and lost fifty percent so I am not talking out the side of my neck. (Had sixteen turtles from wholesaler and I thought they could hibernate on the bottom of the Koi pond over winter) but they die. They should be hibernated in nature. Otherwise, you might be wiser to let these turtles enjoy an overwinter stay in the house nice and warm, it's simple to do and all you need is a vat, filter, landfall and full spectrum (Coralife Trichromatic Actinic) light source. You would go nuts if you checked out: http://www.tortoise.org/