Can baby turtles eat fish food

Can Turtles Eat Fish Food? (Most Ideal Turtle Diet)

Since turtles are not very common pets, commercial turtle food may not be available everywhere. However, fish food is cheap and easily available. So, if you have run out of turtle food or are looking for a convenient store-bought option to feed your pet turtle, you could perhaps feed your turtle fish food. But, can turtles eat fish food?

Yes, turtles can eat fish food. However, it will not fulfill a turtle’s nutritional requirements. So, you shouldn’t use fish food exclusively to feed your turtle. Turtles thrive on a varied diet of live plant and meat-based matter. You can occasionally feed fish food, but not regularly.

So, what’s the ideal diet for turtles?

The Ideal Turtle Diet

Turtles always look hungry and will readily accept most types of food.

Since they are omnivores, they can eat both plant and animal-based foods.

In the wild, turtles will eat almost anything they find.

However, their exact dietary habits will depend on whether they are terrestrial or aquatic turtles.

Land turtles eat grass, leaves, fruits, and insects. Meanwhile, aquatic turtles will eat the plants and animals in their habitat.

This includes small fish, insect larvae, crayfish, and snails.

A rich diet of varied plant and animal-based nutrition helps them stay healthy and enjoy a long life.

Pet turtles will be healthy and happy when their diet contains the same nutrients that they enjoy in the wild.

Additionally, you should also add vitamin and mineral supplements to compensate for any deficiencies.

Interestingly, each type of turtle likes and dislikes certain types of foods.

So, plan your turtle’s diet based on what is best for its health to get the best results.

Include the following items in your turtle’s diet to ensure that it has a balanced nutritional intake.

Recommended Further Reading:

  • Can Pet Turtles Live With Fish? – Here’s Everything That We Found
  • Do Pet Turtles Hibernate? – The Actual Facts About Turtle Hibernation
  • Do Turtles Sleep? (When, Where, And How Long?)

Commercially Available Turtle Food Options

Store-bought staple turtle food can be used as the largest part of your turtle’s meals.

It can be in the form of pellets, chunks, or sticks.

Good quality turtle food will contain high quantities of Vitamin D and Vitamin E.

Look for brands with good quantities of animal-based protein, greens, and few fillers.

There are different options for hatchlings and adult turtles. The formula will have more protein if it is meant for younger turtles.

So, choose the right one according to the age of your turtle.

Vitamins and supplements will prevent nutritional deficiencies in your turtle.

Help your turtle grow and thrive by giving it multivitamins, Vitamin D supplements, and calcium.

Calcium and Vitamin D are available in powder form.

Dust your pet’s food with these supplements to make feeding easy and effective.

Sources Of Protein

Turtles need protein, especially during the growing phase.

Commercially available turtle food will have reasonable amounts of protein.

However, you can also feed your turtle fresh protein sources for added nutrition.

Crickets, mealworms, brine shrimp, snails, and insects are all good sources of protein.

You can either use them in the fresh or freeze-dried form. Both options are available at pet stores.

You can also feed fish to your turtle.

However, avoid using oily fish like mackerel and smelt as they have higher fat content and aren’t healthy choices.

Alternatively, aquatic turtles will enjoy chasing, catching, and eating fish like guppies and goldfish.

You can buy these as filler fish and add them to the tank to recreate a natural environment where your turtle must hunt and catch its meal.

Although turtles need protein, too much of it can cause high protein-levels.

It can affect their kidneys and cause deformities in the turtle’s shell.

Animal protein sources should make up 70% of the diet of a juvenile or young turtle and only 50% of the diet of an adult turtle.

Plant-Based Food

Since turtles are omnivores, they need plant-based nutrition to thrive.

Green, leafy vegetables supply most of the nutrients they need.

Feed your turtles vegetables like kale, spinach, and mustard greens a few times every week.

They also enjoy corn, yam, carrots, and beets.

Cut up the vegetables into small pieces before serving them to your turtle. This will allow them to munch on it easily.

You can also use fruits like apples, grapes, berries, and kiwis as occasional treats.

However, serve fruits in moderation and get rid of any excess that is left in the tank.

Your turtle will also like to eat flowers like carnations, dandelions, and lilies.

Related Further Reading:

  • Do Turtles Get Lonely, Depressed, Bored, Or Have Feelings?
  • Can Turtles Hear? (On Land, Underwater, And Music)
  • Can Turtles And Lizards Live Together? (No – Here’s Why?)

Calcium-Rich Food

Turtles must consume enough calcium to keep their shells healthy.

Calcium deficiency can weaken the shell, make it soft, and cause infections.

This can affect the overall health and well-being of the turtle. It can even affect their chances of survival.

So, it is a good idea to feed them calcium-rich foods like crushed eggshells regularly.

Whole fish are also good for turtles since they consume them with their guts and bones.

This total package ensures that they get the calcium they need.

Apart from fresh food that supplies calcium, you can also offer your turtle supplements to compensate for the lack of calcium in their diet.

Foods You Shouldn’t Feed Your Turtle

Although turtles can eat a wide range of food, you should avoid feeding them certain items. Let us find out what they are.

  • Dairy: Did you know that turtles, like other reptiles, are lactose intolerant? It means that their digestive system cannot metabolize milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy foods. So, all dairy products are off-limits.
  • Processed Meat: Avoid feeding your turtle sausages, burgers, salami, and other forms of processed meat. Although they supply protein, processed ingredients and fillers can adversely affect the animal’s digestive activity.
  • Refined Sugar: Candies, sweets, and foods made with refined sugar aren’t suitable for your pet. These unnatural foods can cause illnesses. You can feed your turtle pieces of fruit in moderation.
  • Raw Meat: You can feed your turtle fish and other invertebrates. However, avoid feeding it raw meat and poultry. When left in the tank or terrarium, it can rot and become a breeding ground for microorganisms that will harm your turtle’s health.

Interesting Further Reading:

  • Can Turtles Live On Land? Yes and No – Here’s Why…
  • Can Turtles Swim? (How, How Fast, And Which Turtles Can Swim?)
  • How To Play With A Pet Turtle? (List Of Indoor And Outdoor Games)

Final Takeaway…

Turtles are omnivorous animals that consume both plant and animal-based food.

The quality of food you feed them will determine their overall health and well-being.

Turtles will be healthy and happy on a well-balanced, varied diet.

It should include generous quantities of vegetables, meat, and sources of minerals like calcium.

Although store-bought turtle food is convenient and a complete source of nutrition for your turtle, it is a good idea to occasionally feed them fresh food.

Leafy vegetables, bananas, and salad leaves are good sources of nutrition.

To satisfy their protein needs, feed your turtles fish matter, freeze-dried or live food.

Additionally, supplement their food intake with Calcium and Vitamin D to keep their shell healthy and hard.

Although commercially available fish food will work as turtle food when you are out of options, it is not the best choice.

Fish food doesn’t contain all the necessary nutrients for a turtle.

So, using it all the time will deprive your turtle of the nutrition it should ideally get.

Instead, choose commercially available turtle feed that is suitable for the age and type of pet you have.

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Can Turtles Eat Fish Food (+What to Feed Your Turtle) –

Turtles are known for eating everything that you put in front of them. But this doesn’t mean that everything is good for them. There are certain foods that should be avoided as much as possible. But should you avoid giving your turtle fish food or is it ok?

Turtles can eat fish food, but it’s not recommended. Fish food doesn’t contain all the nutrients that a turtle needs. But at the same time, it doesn’t contain anything that might be bad for a turtle’s health.

So fish food isn’t the best choice for a turtle, while it doesn’t do any harm, it doesn’t provide the right nutrients for a turtle. This means that turtles should be fed only turtle food. But turtle food means a lot more than turtle pellets. Turtles are complex animals that should eat a little more than just pellets..

What Turtles Should Eat

Turtles are omnivorous, which means that they can eat a huge variety of ailments. So to make things simpler I will divide them into 5 categories:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Meat
  • Processed food
  • Pellets


Most fruits are good to eat, but there are some that aren’t good for turtles due to the high amount of phosphorus or citric acid that they contain. Citric acid irritates the stomach of a turtle, and phosphorus blocks the absorption of calcium which is essential for a healthy bone structure and shell.

So here is a list fruit that you should avoid:

  • Raisin
  • Prune
  • Date
  • Avocado
  • Guava
  • Banana
  • Coconut
  • Kivi
  • Persimmon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Apricot
  • Pomegranate
  • Honeydew
  • Nectarine
  • Mulberry
  • Peach
  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Grapefruit

So if you don’t find fruit on this list, it’s good to eat.

If you want a more in-depth explanation about fruits and turtles you can always check out my article: Can Turtles Eat Fruits? (How Much, How Often + List).


Just like fruits, vegetables are great for turtles, but there are some that contain a lot of phosphorus. Besides those, other vegetables that you should avoid are iceberg salad, cucumbers, eggplants, and mushrooms. While those vegetables won’t harm your turtle in any way, they also have little to no nutritional value for your turtle, so while they will fill their bellies they won’t get any nutrients.

Here is a list of some vegetables that contain a high amount of phosphorus, which you should avoid:

  • Corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkin
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Green Beans
  • Squash
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Turnips

So if you don’t find a vegetable on this list, it’s good to eat.


In general, all meat is good for turtles, whether it comes from a cow, chicken, pig, or fish. Just make sure that the meat doesn’t contain fat, and it doesn’t have any bones in it.

And for safety, you might want to cook the meat. Just make sure that you don’t add any condiments to it. While for us condiments add to the taste, turtles make little to no difference in taste, and can actually harm them. So no salt, pepper, or any other kind of condiment on the meat. 

Processed food

Processed food is bad for turtles. So no kind of processed food for them. So no cheese, bread, pasta, salami, sausages, bacon, or chips.


While pellets can be considered a type of processed food they are made especially for turtles so they are ok.

But as you can imagine there can be some significant differences based on the brand of the food, so if you want to know which those differences are and which one is the best I would recommend you to check out this article where I and the rest of the members of, choose the best turtle food on the market, based on our years of experience and a lot of research: Buyer’s Guide: Best Turtle Food.

Now that we covered what turtles can eat we should also take a look at how to properly feed them since this is just as important.

How to Properly Feed Your Turtle

Over the years I’ve read about countless methods of feeding turtles. But out of all of them, two stood out the most, being the most used and the most efficient. And they are the 15 minutes method and the size of the head method.

The 15 Minutes Method

The 15 minutes method is very simple, you give your turtle a lot of food, and let it eat for 15 minutes. After that, you remove the food.

As simple as this method might be it’s definitely not the best one of the two. This is because turtles, wild or pets, are opportunistic feeders by nature. This means that they will eat everything that they can in the fastest time possible because they don’t know when they will have the chance to eat again. Even if you feed them regularly they will not abandon this mentality.

While this is one of the most popular methods it’s starting to lose a lot of popularity lately due to its disadvantages.

One of its biggest disadvantages is that you can easily overfeed your turtle, and this can lead to two serious problems, one is pyramiding, and the other is an unbalanced diet. Like all animals, turtles have their preferences, and if you present them with different types of food they will instantly go for the tastiest one each time, and the tastiest option doesn’t always contain all the necessary nutrients.

So, if you were to use this method your turtle will definitely not be starving, but there is a good chance that you will be overfeeding your turtle. This is why I would recommend you to use the size of the head method, which is just as easy to use, it’s just as efficient but has none of the disadvantages

The Size of the Head

This method says that you should feed your turtle the same amount of food that it would take to fill its head (without the neck) if it were hollow.

The simplest way to put this method into practice is to find a small container, like a medicine cup, a shot glass, or a bottle cap. This container has to be approximately the same size as the head of your turtle, without the neck. Then you fill that container to the top, and then you feed the food inside the container to your turtle. And that’s all.

You don’t always have to use a container, you can always estimate the food that you would need to fill its head. If you sometimes give your turtle a little too much food, and sometimes you give it a little too much, there won’t be any problem. Your turtle won’t be affected by small differences.

This method does a great job because it takes into consideration the size of the turtle, and gives you a fixed amount of food that you have to give your turtle. And as the turtle grows the amount of food will change.

This is the method I use to feed all my turtles, and the results are great. During my research, a lot of people that used this method had great results, and nobody had any problem with it.

Between the two methods, I would definitely recommend you the size of the head method. Besides the reasons that I already listed, there is another important reason. It allows you to have a more diversified feeding schedule.

Turtle Feeding Schedule

The first thing that you have to take into consideration when thinking about how often you have to feed your turtle, or when making a feeding schedule, is the age of the turtle. Baby turtles need a different amount of food than juveniles, and juveniles need a different amount of food than adult turtles. So let’s take a look at each age group.

Feeding Schedule for Baby Turtles

Out of all the age groups, baby turtles need to eat the most often. This is because they need a lot of energy to grow. When turtles are at this stage in life they experience the fastest growth rate. And to be able to grow so fast they will need a lot of energy that they will get from eating.

So baby red eared sliders should be fed every day using the size of the head method. 

Feeding Schedule for Juvenile Turtles

Turtles grow from babies into juveniles. Red Eared sliders usually become juveniles after they reach 3 to 4 inches, this usually happens when they are between 8 and 12 months old.

A juvenile won’t grow as fast as a baby turtle, but it will still grow faster than an adult. So it still needs to be fed quite often. Here you have two good options.

You can either feed your turtle once every two days, the amount of food that it will take to fill their head. Or you can feed them half of that amount every day.

There is no difference for them if you feed them every day, or if you feed them every two days, as long as the amount of food is right. So it’s up to you to choose which way you want to do it. I would recommend you to feed your juvenile red eared slider every two days, this way the chances of you forgetting to feed your turtle are smaller.

And if it ever happens that you forget to feed your turtle once, don’t worry. In the wild, turtles can go weeks without eating. So your turtle won’t be affected at all.

Feeding Schedule for Adult Turtles

Adult turtles grow very slowly, and after some time they will not grow at all. So they won’t need as much food as babies and juveniles.

The best way to feed your adult red eared slider is once every 3 days, using the size of the head method. This might seem enough food when you compare it to the rest of the age groups, but remember that due to the way the size of the head method works, the size of the food portion also increases so there is no problem, your turtle is getting way more food than it got as a baby when it was eating daily.

Occasional Treats

Another thing that I want to address is that you can occasionally give your turtle treats. As long as they are not too consistent, you can give your turtle a few live fish, fruits, vegetables, or dried insects, without worrying that you disturb their feeding schedule.

Final Thoughts

While turtles can eat a lot of things, not all of them can be good for them.

Fish food is not ideal for turtles, while it won’t harm them the moment they eat it, in the long run, it won’t do them any good.

From my experience, I know that it’s not that easy to remember all the things that you should avoid, but as times go by you will memorize those things without even noticing. And in the meantime, you can always take another look at this article and check out the lists.

I hope that I managed to cover every possible aspect, but if you have any questions about what turtles eat or anything else about turtles don’t hesitate to ask in the comment section below. I will do my best to answer you as soon as possible.

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What kind of fish can be fed to red-eared turtles

When keeping red-eared turtles at home, special attention must be paid to their diet. These reptiles are predators, so they need a sufficient amount of protein, and calcium is necessary for a healthy shell condition. This combination ensures only feeding on fish, which is the basis of turtle nutrition in nature. To properly balance the diet, you need to know what kind of fish can be given to the red-eared turtle.


  • 1 Suitable varieties
  • 9000 Factory feeds, as well as meat and bloodworms, cannot provide the correct ratio of elements for the development of a pet and should be given only in addition to the main diet. But not all fish for the red-eared turtle will be useful, it is recommended to choose the following varieties:

    • Crucian carp;
    • Cod;
    • Perch;
    • Carp;
    • Heck;
    • Grayling;
    • Blue whiting.

    Regular consumption of fish will protect your pet from rickets and vitamin imbalance, small turtles (up to 2 years old) need to be fed this daily. Many manufacturers offer dried fish based turtle food. This option is suitable for supplementary feeding or in case of departure of the owners, but cannot provide the correct diet. Also, if you constantly buy pelleted food, the turtle can wean itself from fresh food and refuse to eat.


    In order for the pet to get all the nutrients necessary for growth, vitamins, calcium for the shell, you need to feed the whole fish, including the head and bones. It should be given raw (fresh or thawed) after cutting into small pieces. If the bones are too large, the costal processes are cut off and only the vertebrae are fed (they must be cut as small as possible or ceilinged).

    It is recommended to prepare feeding portions in advance and divide into molds to freeze. In the future, such a briquette can be quickly removed from the freezer and cut into cubes of the desired size. The pieces should be at room temperature or slightly warmer, with no ice residue. It is convenient to feed pets in a special container with water, in which you can pre-defrost food. When feeding in a jig, the remnants of the meal will not pollute the water in the terrarium and spread an unpleasant odor.

    It is harmful to feed the red-eared slider turtle with oily fish, although the pet may eat it more willingly. Before feeding varieties of medium fat content (capelin, sprat, herring), it is necessary to hold the pieces in hot water (80 degrees) for at least 2 minutes. The percentage of fat content should be within the following norm - 3-4% for constant feeding, up to 10% for rare, varieties with a fat content above 10% are prohibited.

    Live food

    If the turtle is mature and of sufficient size, it is recommended to practice feeding live fish. So you can avoid the risk of poisoning with stale food and watch your pet hunt. For this purpose, fry and small individuals of crucian carp are well suited - this breed has a high ability to survive and can often be found even in the usual market or among amateur fishermen.

    Turtles eat ornamental fish that are bred for aquarium keeping. The smallest representatives (guppies, neons, zebrafish) can be swallowed whole by a pet. An adult can also pay attention to larger breeds - mollies, swordtails. But it is unprofitable to buy such ornamental fish for food - they are much more expensive than ordinary varieties. Although turtles willingly eat aquarium fish, it is recommended to buy them only if there are no other options, and the pet is accustomed to live feeding.

    Video: how to feed live fish

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    How to feed the red-eared turtle at home

    what to feed him. The red-eared turtle is an omnivore. She needs animal and vegetable food. To raise a healthy turtle, you need to monitor the diversity of the diet. What to feed the red-eared turtle?


    • 1 animal feed of origin
      • 1. 1 meat
      • 1.2 Fish and seafood
      • 1.3 insects
    • 2 vegetable feeds
        9000 2.4 Vegetables
      • 2.5 Mushrooms
    • 3 Artificial food
      • 3.1 Homemade food for red-eared turtles
      • 3.2 Feeding turtles with food for cats and dogs. Pros and cons
    • 4 Do turtles need mineral and vitamin supplements?
    • 5 How often and at what time should I feed the turtles?
    • 6 Feeding the Red-eared Turtle - Video

    Food of Animal Origin

    Red-eared sliders should consume 70% of their daily diet from animals. Turtles love meat (horse meat, beef, poultry), fish and seafood, they are not averse to eating insects.


    Preferably lean beef, rabbit, poultry pieces. It is not recommended to give pork and lamb, as this food is too fatty and it will be difficult for turtles to digest it. Offal should be present in the diet: heart, liver, navels. Meat can be given raw and boiled, previously cut into small cubes.

    Some turtles are happy to eat small mice.

    But do not forget that constant feeding of raw meat leads to hypovitaminosis A, rickets develops. Therefore, food should be varied.

    Fish and seafood

    Low-fat varieties are suitable for feeding. The fish is cut into pieces, large bones are taken out and placed in the feeder.


    Raw fish contains the enzyme thiaminase, so before feeding it to a turtle, you need to put the fish in hot water for a couple of minutes.

    Raw can be given a "sea cocktail" which includes green shrimps, pieces of octopus and squid. Snail meat (large pond snail, reel, mariza) and squid pieces are a good addition to food, but you should not make them the main food.

    Turtles do not get along with fish in an aquarium. Carp, guppies, goldfish, carps, swordtails - serve as food for them. Turtles eat them with pleasure.


    In summer, turtles can be offered grasshoppers, bugs, non-shaggy caterpillars, bloodworms. Mealworm is sold at the pet store, so it can be bought and given in winter.

    As for feeding cockroaches, and even those caught in the kitchen, it is better to refrain from such an undertaking, because these insects can crawl to you already poisoned.

    Dried or live gammarus must be included in the diet. From time to time you can feed coretra and daphnia. At this time, it is necessary to turn off the filter for 15 minutes.

    Foods of plant origin

    Plant foods are essential for all turtles, but as they age they make up the majority of their diet.


    Animals love plantain, clover, vetch, dandelion and rhubarb leaves. In addition, they can be given lawn grass, coltsfoot, germinated barley and oats.

    Fruits and berries

    Plum, apple, pear, banana, peach, mango are recommended to be cut into small pieces and offered to the turtle as a treat. Mandarin, orange, apricot and melon are also suitable for animal feeding.

    Aquarium plants

    It is preferable to plant duckweed, spirogyra, watercress, pond algae. Turtles do not allow plants to grow even a little - they are eaten in an instant. You should refrain from planting Elodea! The plant secretes poisonous juice and is dangerous to animals.


    The diet should include bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplants. You can not do without pumpkin, radish, legumes, carrots and beets. Broccoli, celery, dry seaweed are given as additional feed.


    Pieces of boletus, champignons, russula are recommended to be given to animals no more than 1 time per week.


    Turtles are not suitable for human food! They will also enjoy food intended for other animals, but it will not benefit the turtles. It is forbidden to feed with citrus peels, give berries with seeds.

    Artificial foods

    Pet stores offer pet owners a wide range of foods for terrestrial and aquatic turtles. It is sold in capsules, granules, tablets and flakes. A large amount of feed produced by manufacturers does not always meet the needs of a particular species. Turtle food is often modified fish food. Some animals are irritated by the pungent odor and defiantly turn away from it. There are foods in which the content of calcium, protein and vitamins does not meet the needs of turtles. But some animals are happy to eat only food. Of the manufacturing companies, JBL, Sera, Nutra Fin, Tetra have proven themselves well.

    Homemade food for red-eared turtles

    If store-bought artificial food is not suitable, you can make your own turtle treats.

    Feed composition:

    • cabbage - 50 gr.;
    • carrots - 70 gr.;
    • non-fatty fish - 145 gr.;
    • apples - 50 gr.;
    • squid meat - 100 gr.

    Preparation method. All ingredients should be passed through a meat grinder, add 2 eggs, gelatin diluted in hot water (150 ml - 30 gr.) And milk in a volume of 150 gr. Mix thoroughly, let cool and add 20 drops of Tetravita. Shelf life in the refrigerator is 1 week. Before feeding, the mixture is cut into pieces and given to the turtle.

    The prepared food is enough for 10 feedings, based on 1 turtle with a shell length of 15 cm. If the animal is sick, a medicine can be added to the food. Gelatin can be replaced with agar-agar. This will prevent the cubes from melting quickly in the water.

    Feeding turtles with food for cats and dogs. Pros and cons

    Red-ears like the combined food, but they are intended for feeding warm-blooded animals and are not suitable for turtles. The food contains a completely different set of substances that are useful for cats and dogs, but completely useless for turtles.

    Do turtles need mineral and vitamin supplements?

    In young animals, the bone skeleton is being formed and the shell is being built, so they need calcium. Grinded bone meal should be added to food daily. One pinch will be enough for a small turtle, more adult specimens need to add 1 tsp each. in Week.

    Bone meal can be purchased at the pet store. If this is not possible, the need for calcium can be met by adding crushed eggshells.

    Special vitamins for turtles are recommended to be mixed with food in the doses or quantities indicated on the packaging.

    Vitamin foods have a short shelf life. Therefore, you should not give them to turtles after the expiration date.

    How often and at what time should I feed the turtles?

    A difficult question that cannot be answered unambiguously. Much depends on the age and size of the animal, on the food you feed.

    Juveniles up to 1 year of age are suitable for plant foods and artificial foods. Feeding should be daily.

    From 1 year old and older, you can feed after 1-2 days. If the turtle prefers plant foods, it is recommended to feed daily. The amount of food also depends on the age of the turtle.

    Learn more