Can Pet Turtles Live With Fish?

By Alberto Roy

Published on:

Fish and turtles are somewhat tricky to cohabitate, but if you consider a few things, you can make it happen. Let’s find out more.

Many aquarium enthusiasts believe that fish and turtles can’t coexist together. So, can pet turtles live with fish? Keeping pet turtles and fish in the same tank is viable if a few requirements are satisfied. Typically, turtles and fish do not get along because the turtle will persistently try to catch the fish.

It requires thorough preparation, attention to detail, and a little luck. You should choose a fish with a comparable size as your turtle if you wish to keep it as a pet. Also, remember that not every aquarium owner who attempts to raise fish and turtles will get the same outcomes.

There will be some turtles that are keener to pursue them than others. So, it’s crucial to pick fish of a size and species that are safe for turtles if you wish to have both turtles and fish in the same tank.

Reasons Why Keeping Fish and Turtles Together is Not Always a Good Idea

Being a distinct type of reptile, turtles have unique needs that must be satisfied in captivity to keep them content and healthy. During feeding, turtles like to be immersed in water.

Being “ambush predators,” long-neck turtles consume various foods in the wild, including insects, crayfish, prawns, freshwater mussels, fish, and, in certain circumstances, animal remains.

The majority of aquarium owners generally do not seek to have turtles and fish in their tanks at the same time for the following primary reasons:

  • As omnivores, turtles will pursue fish placed in a tank with them. It will become hard for fish to survive along with them.
  • A tank must have more area for a turtle to walk around in and for the fish to have enough space to avoid them (for every inch of turtle shell length, there should be enough room to carry 10 gallons of water). You need to purchase a big tank to keep them together.
  • When turtles and fish are kept in a single tank, infiltration must significantly increase. Without that, chances of increased contamination.
  • Snapping turtle species don’t cohabitate with anything. You need to know the categories of fish this turtle can coexist with.
  • It can be challenging to fit turtles’ requirements for healthy growth in fish tanks with basking spaces, UVB light, and heat lamps.

4 Factors Determining Housing of Fish and Turtles

Preferably, it would help if you refrained from making any significant changes to your turtle’s environment fast because doing so might hurt their well-being, as shown in recent research reptiles showed increased anxiety when placed in new environments.

Their environment should closely resemble their natural habitat to lessen stress. Aggression, excessive or decreased activity, decreased hunger, and abrupt defecation when being handled are all indications of stress. The following elements help you decide if you should keep fish and turtles in the same tank:

1: Species of Fish

The following aquarium fish species tend to thrive in tanks with turtles as well:

Plecos: Plecos, a suckerfish, is a pretty large fish typically considered safe from larger or smaller turtles. Because they eat algae, they also have the added benefit of keeping your tank clean.

Guppies: The large tails and many colors of guppies make them one of the most popular aquarium fish. They are also incredibly swift and agile swimmers, making them challenging for turtles to catch.

Pictus Catfish: The Pictus Catfish, sometimes referred to as Pictus Cat and Angel Cat is a common aquarium fish that does best in larger tanks, such as those frequently used to house turtles. Turtles also have difficulty catching and eating these fish since they are so active and quick.

Neon-Tetra: The neon tetra is another aquarium fish known for its lightning-fast swimming abilities and difficulty being caught by turtles. They have a nice appearance but are known to kill aquarium plants if not fed regularly.

Rosy Barbs: Fish from peppie species, such as Rosy Barbs, are known to thrive in environments with turtles. They make excellent aquarium decorations and are very simple to care for.

Goldfish: Due to their agility, Comet goldfish and Shubunkin goldfish are considered ideal for keeping in a tank with a turtle.

Platies: Platies are an excellent pair for a turtle since they move very quickly and can hide in several locations because they rarely grow larger than 2.5 inches.

Koi Fish: As they may grow to great sizes and are highly elegant, koi fish make the ideal turtle companions. Koi fish are not the best for tiny aquariums since they may grow to adult sizes of 22 and 26 inches, but they are lovely in large aquariums or ponds.

2: Species of Turtle

When it comes to preventing them from eating all the fish in a tank, aquarium owners have had luck with the following turtle species:

Pink Sideneck Belly Turtles: Pink Sideneck Belly Turtles are a favorite among enthusiasts, and if appropriately handled while they’re young, they may live with aquarium fish.

Painted turtles: Painted turtles are another aquarium favorite that is perfect to associate with fish in an aquarium because they are only known to feast on minimal types of fish.

Red-Eared Sliders: Red-Eared Sliders grow less protein as they get older and become more interested in vegetables and other aquatic plant foods. It is better to bring them to a fish tank when they are older.

Mud and musk turtles: In general, mud and musk turtles are not exceptionally skilled at hunting and appear relatively uninterested.

3: The Cost of Fish in the Tank

Sometimes, pairing turtles and fish in an aquarium is not worth the risk, and this may be shown by having expensive tropical fish. Placing a turtle in the tank is not worth risking your investment.

Even if your precious tropical fish survives, there’s a strong possibility they’ll lose some of their fins and attractiveness. For this reason, many people keep goldfish and minnows in aquariums with turtles since they are cheap and easy to replace if they get eaten.

4: Some Fish May threaten your Turtles’ Safety

In an aquarium setting, this ferocious fish hunter sometimes becomes the prey. In a fish tank, the turtle isn’t necessarily the dominant figure.

The turtle you have kept in your fish tank may be in danger if you have large or ravenous fish. It is accurate for aquarium fish that are considerably larger, like koi. Another strong and aggressive fish with a record for eating and killing turtles is the Oscar.

10 Criteria for Upkeep of Turtle Tank

Turtles may keep company with a wide range of animals in their tanks. It’s crucial to pick the suitable species if you want to enjoy having healthy fish. There are a few rules you should follow while choosing the appropriate fish for a turtle tank. Remember that tiny fish might harm the tail and fins of your turtle. Try a medium-sized tetra fish, which is also quite reasonably priced, if you are unsure of the size of your tank.

Choosing a fish that is not highly competitive is vital because turtles can be hostile. Turtles are typically solitary animals, and  a group of fish might frighten them. Moreover, turtles prefer deep water, which is at least twice as long. A depth of 12 inches would be necessary for a six-inch painted turtle. Also, it requires a place to relax.

1: Do Not Place Any Cichlid Fish In A Turtle Tank

Choosing a fish that is not highly competitive is vital because turtles can be hostile. Turtles are typically solitary animals, and thus, a group of fish might frighten them. Moreover, turtles prefer deep water, which is at least twice as long. A depth of 12 inches would be necessary for a six-inch painted turtle. Also, it requires a place to relax.

An African species that may grow to four inches is popularly known as the golden cichlid. Keep a safe distance when adding these fish to your turtle aquarium since they are aggressive and territorial.

These aggressive fish will turn the tables on turtles if they don’t know how to behave around them. They also require a lot of hiding places, which is another reason they might not be appropriate for turtle tanks.

2: Make Sure You Feed Them an Aquatic Rich Diet

When adding fish to a turtle tank, take a careful look at the aquatic turtle’s nutrition. Mature turtles consume less meat and eat more vegetable-based diets, but young turtles consume smaller-sized fish. For turtles to maximize their enjoyment from their new pals, you’ll need to give a basking space, a turtle filter that can wash the turtle’s back, and UVB and LED clip-on lights. And don’t forget to feed them! Since turtles are omnivores, you should give them aquatic food to make them healthier.

3: Pick Species That Are More Attracted to Surroundings

The safest bet for an aquatic turtle is that it is naturally drawn to the color and texture of its environment. To give your turtle the most extended life possible, choose fish that are kind to them. In addition, if you wish to test different species, you may. It would help if you gave it a go because you’ll be happy you did. You can add some fish when you have a new turtle in your tank next.

4: Get a Big Tank

As much as possible, buy a tank at least 100 gallons large. Larger aquariums are easier to keep clean, yet aquatic turtles are notoriously untidy creatures. Another benefit of a larger tank is that the fish will have

more area in a larger tank, and more space implies less violence over the territory.

5: Install Lots of Decorations in the Tank For Providing Hiding Space

To some extent, hiding is required for the fish to reproduce and feel comfortable. Even in hiding, there will still be some casualties. Fish can get chased by a turtle for a great distance, but if they don’t have a hiding location to rest, they won’t be able to survive for very long.

Place some decorations with enough room for your fish to hide and enough entrances and exits.

Moreover, check that these decorations won’t shatter easily because your turtle and fish might be wounded if they get a break.

6: A High-Quality Filtration System Is Required

Keeping fish and turtles together will produce a lot of trash. Remember that at all times. You don’t want to have a bunch of dead turtles or fish on your hands.

7: Age of Turtle Matters

You can introduce the fish in your tank when you are familiar with the essentials. There are several options, but adding fish to an aquarium with a fully grown turtle is the best-case scenario. Turtles don’t require as much protein as they initially did as they mature, and their primary food source is greens. Now that your turtle is not interested in it, any fish you put in the aquarium will probably live. Nonetheless, you must tread carefully if you raise baby turtles.

8: Feed the Turtle Before Putting the Fish in the Tank

Before introducing the fish to the tank, give the turtle a good meal. You’ll raise their chances of surviving, exploring, and finding a home inside the tank. A hungry turtle can be more aggressive toward fish and may see it as food. It is the best option for your fish to get comfortable in its new home.

9: Give Your Turtle Enough Food To Keep Him Full

Your turtle will chase the fish if it doesn’t eat properly. Thus, be careful not to miss any of its meals. Apply the “size of the head feeding” guideline to ensure you give your turtle adequate food while avoiding overfeeding.

The simplest solution to using this technique is to select a small container, such as a shot glass, medication cup, or bottle cap. The container has to be around the same size as your turtle’s head, excluding the neck. Then you may feed your turtle the food within the container when you’ve filled it to the brim.

10: Avoid Placing Turtle With Some Fishes

There are some fish in the world that your turtle should never be allowed to consume or live with. The list of fish that you should be careful of includes:

  • Goldfish
  • Rosy Red minnows
  • Carp
  • Gizzard Shad
  • Feathered minnows

These fish are not toxic or anything like that, so that is not the issue. The issue is that they have several tiny, sharp bones that might harm a turtle’s internal organs.

Turtles swallow little fish whole without chewing them when they consume them. Moreover, the fish’s spine bones may graze them, which might cause internal bleeding that could be deadly.

A turtle will take large chunks from a larger fish, consuming them whole without chewing. A similar issue will then arise.

The high thiamine content of some fish is an additional issue. The enzyme thiamine prevents the body from absorbing vitamin B1, which is crucial for a turtle.

Wild-caught fish is another kind of fish you should stay away from. A wild-caught fish can make your pet turtle ill since it has the same robust immune system as a wild turtle.

You may ask someone at the fish or aquarium shop for the fish category you can place a turtle in. You should be aware of which fish are more harmful than others before putting them in the same tank as a turtle.


Aquatic turtles possess the ability to survive in a tank. But can pet turtles live with fish? Yes, they can. They can coexist with larger fish, but when you talk about smaller fish, there is a chance that the turtles will consume them. These aquatic reptiles can swim well, but they also have requirements that must be fulfilled for them to thrive in the fish tank.

Considering that most turtles would never give up chasing the fish in your aquarium. Considering the larger picture, this case has only two possible outcomes.

Ensuring your turtle won’t be able to catch the fish is the key to successfully keeping a turtle and fish together in the same tank.

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