Do Turtles Eat Fish?

Do Turtles Eat Fish
Written by Emma Watson

Turtles are one of the most interesting pets anyone can get. Pet turtles are not only easy to groom but also long-living and pretty promising to their owner. However, by low maintenance, we never meant that you do not need to care for them. Like all the other pets, turtles ask for special attention in multiple aspects, especially diet. It is because they are not allowed to roam freely and search for their food as in the wild. You are their sole superhero on which their survival depends. Therefore, you need to focus a lot on the healthy upbringing of your beloved pet turtle.

When it comes to healthy growth, the most important factor is diet. It would be best to make sure a well-balanced diet for your turtle that keeps their metabolism functioning well. So, in this respect, we get a lot of queries. We have talked in detail about the diet of a turtle and its feeding schedules already. However, in this article, we are going to answer the most frequently asked question, i.e., if turtles can eat fish. If yes, then how should you feed it to them.

So, continue with us till the very end to know everything in detail about a fish diet for turtles.

Yes, most of the turtles can eat fish. However, how and which species they consume depends upon the specific turtles’ species. Moreover, some of them may also not eat any.

Turtles are of three types carnivores, herbivores, omnivores. Carnivores and omnivore turtles can eat fish (meat), whereas herbivores can not. You can understand this by the following table:

Carnivores Herbivores Omnivores

Areas Of Living

Both Aquatic or Land Turtles
Land Turtles
Usually Aquatic Turtles


Meat: Fishes, Snails, Crickets, Worms, etc.
Herbs: Plants, Fruits, or Veggies
Both Meat and Plants

Pet turtles are usually semi-aquatic omnivore organisms. They can eat both meat (fish, insects) and plants. You can feed your turtle a fish as they are fond of eating fish. Fishes provide calcium, proteins,  phosphorus, zinc, and several vitamins, including vitamin A, B, D, B2, which are suitable for your turtle’s health.

Advantages Of Eating Fish For Turtles:

  1. Calcium can only be obtained if your turtles also eat up the bones of fish. It is because the majority of the calcium is present in the bones.
  2. Proteins in the fish are also good for the turtles. Proteins are essential in the body. These also act as catalysts/enzymes. Enzymes usually speed up the chemical reactions occurring in the body. One of the significant properties of the proteins is to heal injuries by repairing the tissues.
  3. Fish also provide vitamins to the turtles. Vitamins such as A, D, and B2 are important in the body. They are essential in the following way:

Vitamin D:

The body uses vitamin D for the maintenance of phosphorus and calcium levels in the blood. Vitamin D is used to activate vitamin D3. It is also used to monitor the absorption of calcium in the intestines.

Vitamin B2:

It helps in breaking down macromolecules present in food, for example, carbohydrates,  fats, proteins.

Vitamin A:

It is used for boosting the immune system. It is also used in the proper functioning Of different organs, including the eye. Deficiency of Vitamin A causes diseases named squamous metaplasia and hypovitaminosis A in turtles.

What Is Squamous Metaplasia?

Squamous metaplasia is the thickening of ducts, usually pancreatic, kidney, and tear ducts. The thickening makes it difficult to flow the fluid through the ducts. This disease can be overcome by consuming a vitamin A-rich diet. Its treatment includes

  1. Feeding fish to your pet turtles.
  2. Feeding leafy green veggies.
  3. Feeding orange veggies
  4. Feeding turtle pellets.

What Is Hypo Vitaminosis A?

The depletion of Vitamin A also causes hypervitaminosis A disease.

The symptoms include:

  1. Swallowing of eyes:

                        The turtles’ eyes usually swell, and they are unable to see.

  1. Dry skin.
  2. Lethargy: Your turtle will feel tired every day.
  3. Loss of appetite resulting in weight loss.                                                            For more detailed information on the diseases mentioned above, you may link to Diseases in Rabbits.

Detriments Of Consuming Too Much Fish Diet:

Any vitamin/protein, if taken in excess amount, have side effects. The condition which is caused is often sometimes named malnutrition. Here we will discuss some of the disadvantages of overeating fish for the turtles.

  1. A higher concentration of proteins can cause shell deformities in turtles.
  2. A higher concentration of proteins can cause kidney problems in turtles.
  3. An increased concentration of vitamins can cause diarrhea.
  4. If you provide your turtle with massive fish. Your turtles will bite and eat them in several steps. Some of the fishes contain sharp bones. These sharp bones can damage the internal system of turtles resulting in bleeding. To avoid this condition, try to provide them with normal-sized fish. Otherwise, this can be fatal.
  5. Thiamine present in some toxic fishes can destroy the thiamin(vitamin B1) in your pet turtles. Thiamin is one the most essential nutrient present in turtles. The scarcity of this nutrient can result in death.

So long as the diversity of edible fishes for turtles are concerned, some fishes are also toxic to turtles. Both of them are given below:

Edible/ Healthy Fishes Toxic/ Dangerous Fishes
Small Fishes
Tiny Fishes, large fishes In the case of too small fishes, your turtles will only swallow them.
Guppies, Small Goldfishes (rarely), Killifish, Platies, etc.
Excess of Goldfishes, Carp, Feathered Minnows, etc.
Fishes Not Containing Thiamine
Fishes That Are Containing Thiamine.

Can Fish And Turtles Be Friends?

Yes, they can be friends but under certain conditions. If you want to put fishes and your pet turtle in the same tank, then the following points will require your attention:

  1. It would be best if you had a tank of large surface area. In this way, it will be difficult for the pet turtle to eat them as the fish will swim here and there.
  2. You can also keep herbivore turtles. Herbivore means they only eat herbs (plants and veggies, sometimes fruits as well). In this way, your pet will have the slightest interest in eating the fish.
  3. Try to put some decorative items, for example, artificial plants. Fishes will hide behind these items in case of any threat.
  4. It would help if you kept your pet turtle full. Your pet turtle will only try to eat the fish if it is hungry.
  5. Introduce the fish in the tank when the turtle is not hungry.
  6. Nominate a fish that is perfect for living with the turtle.

Keep a fast-moving fish. The fast-moving fish will swim fast, and the danger of becoming prey will decrease.

  1. Fish of high activity level.

Have a fish that is continuously swimming rather than chilling around in a corner.

Do Turtles Eat Fish In The Wild?

Yes, turtles eat fish in the wild. But it happens occasionally. Wild aquatic or land turtles are usually herbivores. They eat small plants growing in the water. They usually swim close to the plants in the water. Whereas the turtles which live on land feed on the grass, fruits, veggies, or small plants.

One question which is very common and is asked by turtle owners is that:

Do Turtles Eat Fish Food?

So the answer is “YES” turtles can. There is no harm in giving your pet turtle fish food. Instead it is easy for you as it is relatively cheaper. Fish food contains a small number of nutrients, so your turtle can not just rely on them. So far as the diet of turtles is concerned, they require reasonable amounts of nutrients, vitamins, and many more.

On the other hand, fish foods lack a sufficient amount of nutrients for turtles. Yes, you can feed your turtle fish food as an infrequent snack which, I can say, is a good idea.

Do Turtles Eat Fish Flakes/Pellets?

Fish pellets are made of macronutrients, vitamins, oats, and wheat. Pellets usually contain more nutrients as compare to fish flakes.

Like fish foods, turtles can also eat fish pellets without any harm. One best idea is to provide your pet turtle fish pellets as their carnivorous portion of the diet. Some turtles often like to eat fish food or pellets rather than turtle food. This is because modern fish food can also be used as a varied turtle diet.

So if your turtle is giving priority to fish foods over turtle ones, you don’t have to worry about it. But if your turtle is only eating fish foods, then try to feed the fish and the turtles in a separate tank as its overconsumption is dangerous.

Do Turtles Eat Fish In The Pond?

Yes, turtles eat fishes in addition to insects, algae, and small water creatures in the pond. But you cannot say that they are posing a threat to the ecosystems or endangering the fish species. Studies have estimated that only a tiny portion of turtle’s diet consists of fish.

Most of the fish are dead which are eaten up by the turtle. So we have an advantage here. Turtles clean up the pond water by eating the dead fishes, insects, and algae growing around in the water. If turtles don’t eat them, the water will become contaminated. It can no longer support aquatic life after a specific limit of time. But having turtles in the pond can have some drawbacks, which can be summed up as:

  1. They will eat fish food in the pond.
  2. They can eat fish eggs because of their searching nature.
  3. If you have snapping turtles in the pond, just try to get rid of them. Snapping turtles are pretty aggressive and can cause serious injury to a person swimming in the pond. But this only happens if they are uncomfortable.
  4. A large population of turtles can be risky for the fish if the pond is small.

Can Turtles Eat Fish Eggs?

Turtles are of scavenging nature, meaning they are always in search of food. So, for this reason, they can find the fish nests constituting eggs. In addition, they will also eat fish food. So we can say that, to some extent, they can affect your pond.

How To Prevent Turtles From Eating Fish Eggs?

  1. Keep herbivore turtles. In this way, they will neither eat fish nor fish eggs.
  2. If your turtles are omnivores, you simply need to keep them in a separate tank away from the fish.
  3. If there are snapping turtles in the pond. You can get rid of them by the trapping method.
  4. Monitor the turtles and feed them with their food if they are hungry. In this way, the danger of eating fish eggs will reduce.

Can A Fish Eat A Turtle?

Yes, big fishes can eat a turtle. This happens in wild aquatic environments depending upon the size of the fish. It happens very little. Most of the time, turtles are eating dead or alive (small) fishes.

For example, a giant catfish can eat turtles in the sea. But catfish can only eat turtles in smaller sizes. If she tries to eat a giant turtle, then she will feel difficulty in swallowing the turtle. This can result in the death of both. It is a bit difficult for the predators to eat turtles because of their hard shells.


Other than a herbivore turtle, every turtle can eat fish. However, the type of fish it eats and how frequently it ultimately depends upon the species of the turtle. Also, there are multiple advantages and disadvantages linked to fish diet in turtles.

I hope this article is helpful in determining fish status for your pet turtle. In case of any other queries, you may comment below or contact us through email. We would be happy to help.