Can Turtles Eat Fish Food And Is It Any Good For Them?

by Carl Crane | Updated: July 27, 2021

There is a chance that you must have seen your turtle munching on the fish food meant for the feeder fishes that you put in its tank.

Turtles are very uncommon pets so it might be difficult to find their food in pet stores.

Fish food on the other hand is easy to get and less expensive as well.

So, at some point, you must have considered getting them fish food instead and this has prompted these questions in your mind – can turtles eat fish food?

Is it safe for turtles to eat fish food? Well, you’re about to find out as we will explain all you need to know about feeding your turtle and fish food. 

Can Turtles Eat Fish Food And Is It Safe For Them? 

Turtles are omnivores and so they can eat anything as they have wide options.

So yes, they can eat fish food.

Fish food is designed to meet the essential nutritional requirements necessary for the proper growth and development of fishes.

It however lacks the nutritional essentials that your pet turtle needs. 

Unlike fishes, turtles need enough macro-nutrients like calcium to help in the growth of their hard shells.

Fish food lacks calcium and other necessary nutrients, so feeding them this regularly will not make them grow properly, will make them look malnourished, and will have other adverse effects on their health. 

So, if you run out of turtle food and cannot get your hands on some of it immediately, you can give them fish food.

But be sure not to give it to them daily, only feed it to them once in a while.

You can avoid it altogether as there are many other more suitable food options you can give to them instead. 

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Purina Animal Nutrition Purina AquaMax

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What Diet Is More Suitable For Your Turtle? 

Turtles need a mix of both plant and animal-based food for healthy growth and development.

Although, their diet depends on whether they are aquatic or terrestrial turtles.

Terrestrial turtles feed on insects, fruits, leaves, and grass while aquatic turtles can eat both plants and animals.

Whatever the species, they are sure to live longer when you provide them with a nutritious diet.

Your turtle’s diet should consist mainly of protein, vegetables, and calcium-based food. 

Protein

Protein should be an important part of a turtle’s diet, especially for baby turtles to help with their growth.

Be careful not to give them too much as excess protein can be detrimental to their shells and organs and can also cause a deficiency in vitamin B1.

So your baby turtle’s diet should be made up of 70% protein while your adult turtle’s diet should have 50% protein. 

Insects and feeder fish are viable protein sources you can feed your pet turtle.

Don’t give your turtle any wild-caught fish because they could contain parasites and other harmful bacteria.

Also, avoid buying fishes with high fat and oil content like mackerel and smelt that are not healthy for your pet.

Guppies, minnows, and goldfish are better feeder fish choices. 

There are good turtle foods you can buy from pet stores that could pass for a good source of protein.

They come in pellets of different sizes.

However, going for fresh or live proteinous food is a better option.

It is less expensive for you and more nutritious for your turtle.

Using live food also keeps them exercising as they run around trying to catch their meal, just like they do in the wild. 

Examples of protein sources for your pet turtle include:

Vegetables And Fruits 

Vegetables form the bulk of an adult turtle’s meal.

So while you’re feeding your baby turtle with protein every day, feed them with veggies too so they can get used to it.

They need the nutritional benefits plants to have to offer to be healthy and live long. 

Before you feed them vegetables, wash and cut them into tiny pieces so they don’t choke on them while they eat.

Clear out any leftover veggies from the tank so it doesn’t form a breeding ground for bacterias.

Avoid feeding them with vegetables like iceberg lettuce that offers little or no nutritional value. 

You can give your turtle fruits but don’t overfeed them with it. Fruits like apples, berries, bananas, and kiwis should be given as treats once in a while. 

There are many vegetables suitable for your pet turtle, they include:

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Fluker’S Repta Calcium

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Calcium Based Food And Supplements 

Turtles need lots of calcium because it is essential for the proper growth and development of their shelly exoskeleton.

Lack of calcium leaves their shells weak and susceptible to cracks and infections, thereby decreasing their lifespan.

It can also make them sick and develop the metabolic bone disease. In this case, their shells are malformed and this is very painful for them.

Even if they are given calcium later, it won’t reverse the damage that has already been done. 

Your turtle can get calcium from leafy green vegetables such as kale and red romaine lettuce.

The bones of fishes also contain calcium.

So if you feed them fish and they eat the whole thing up including bones, they get a good calcium supply from it.

Also, eggshells are rich in calcium. So crush the eggshells properly before feeding them to your pet turtle. 

To be safe and to ensure that your turtle gets enough calcium intake, you can buy calcium supplements from the pet store for them.

Some of them come in powdered form so you can either sprinkle it on their meal or dust their meal with it.

An example is a cuttlebone. It is white, chalky, and has a hard outer covering.

So, break it first before putting it into your turtle’s tank.

You can also go for soluble calcium tablets.

When you put them in your turtle’s tank, it completely dissolves and is then absorbed by your turtle’s skin. 

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Tetra ReptoMin Floating Food Sticks

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Available Turtle Food In Pet Stores 

If you decide to buy turtle food for your pet from pet stores, they come in the form of either chunks, pellets, or sticks for different turtle types and ages.

You can use this food to form a large portion of your pet’s meal. 

Your turtle however may or may not like them because these foods lack any taste.

Despite it being tasteless, they contain a balanced proportion of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients that are important for your turtle’s well-being.

The downside is that it is expensive. 

Best quality turtle food contains high amounts of Vit D and Vit E.

You will also find brands with good amounts of both protein and vegetables.

Baby turtle food is different from that of adult turtles, so buy the one more suitable for your pet. 

At pet stores, there are also multivitamins and other supplements that can add nutritional value to your turtle available for purchase. 

Right Amount Of Food For Your Turtle 

Feeding your turtle too much will cause either of these- they could get obesed or get sick. It could also cause pyramiding.

Pyramiding is a condition where the shells of turtles grow faster and there is an excess build-up of keratin forming a pyramid-like shape in their scutes.

Therefore the knowledge of the right amount of food and how often you should feed them is important.

One key is to feed your turtle food the size of its head. 

For turtles, less than 1-year-old, feed them every day with protein mainly.

For turtles between ages 2-5, feed them mainly with vegetables every other day.

Finally, for turtles above 5 years, feed them mainly with vegetables every 2 or 3 days. 

Foods To Avoid Feeding Your Turtle 

Even though turtles are omnivores and can eat everything, certain types of food will cause them more harm than good. 

Dairy Products 

Turtles cannot digest any dairy product.

They don’t have the enzymes needed to break down the nutrients found in milk, cheese, or any other dairy product.

So feeding it to them will lead to health hazards. 

Sweets

Chocolates and candies can make your turtle sick.

The sugar contained in it is bad for their health. So, keep sweets away from them. 

Nuts

Nuts contain a high amount of a substance called oxalate.

This substance slows down the rate of calcium absorption in turtles.

And as stated earlier, calcium is important for a turtle’s shell growth. So, nuts should be avoided. 

Bread

Bread does not add any nutritional value to your pet.

So there’s no point feeding it your turtle as all it does is just satisfy its hunger and nothing else. 

Conclusion 

Your turtle may refuse to eat if you feed it the same type of food every day.

So if one of the varieties you’ve tried out is fish food and you were wondering if turtles can eat fish food, then the answer is yes.

But sadly, fish food doesn’t contain the essential nutrients that your turtle needs. So it is not a good everyday food option for them. 

Your pet turtle will enjoy a meal that is similar to what they eat in the wild with the same nutrients and all.

So, using fresh or live food is a better option to give them as much protein and calcium that they need.

Adding vitamin and mineral supplements compensate for whatever nutrients their meal lacks. 

To create a diet for your turtle that they can enjoy and is best for their healthy growth and development. 

Carl, the reptile-obsessed creator of this website, got his first turtle years ago and he made a ton of mistakes along the way. His goal now with TheCritterCove is simple: help others to not make the same mistakes that he did!