Can You Have Turtles And Fish In The Same Tank

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can you put a turtle in a fish tank

If you give it some thought, you would agree that adding a turtle to a fish tank isn’t the same as adding a fish to a turtle tank.

Turtles are more demanding than fish and so the requirements to have each isn’t the same.

So if you are pondering on the question, “can I put a turtle in a fish tank?” the short answer is yes but not until you have made some modification to the tank to ensure your turtle can survive there.

The answer also depends on whether or not these animals are compatible and if they can co-exist peacefully.

Turtles are sometimes placed in tanks that contain other types of water dwellers such as goldfish because it seems to make sense at first glance.

However, what many people don’t realize is that the turtle needs land to bask on for up to 12 hours per day while the goldfish needs its entire life cycle spent in water. This means that one animal will always be unhappy due to lacking an essential part of its environment.

The animal that is not suited to the tank will be stressed, unhappy, and may even die because it is unable to adapt.

Before you purchase a turtle, make sure to look for a tank size guide to ensure that it will have enough room because as they grow they will need more space to stay healthy.

What Fish Can Live With Turtles?

turtle tank
turtle basking

When you are looking for fish that will live with a turtle, it is important to research the type of turtle. You don’t want to have a fish that will be eaten as it grows.

Certain types of fish are more likely to interact with turtles without being killed such as the following fish:

  • Goldfish (Carassius auratus)
  • Guppies (Poecilia reticulata)
  • Mollies (Poecilia sphenops)
  • Platies (Xiphophorus maculatus)
  • Swordtails (Xiphophorus hellerii)
  • Zebra danios (Danio rerio)
  • Cichlids

Certain types of fish are more likely to be eaten by turtles such as the following fish:

  • Koi Fish (Cyprinus rubrofuscus)
  • Mollies (Poecilia sphenops)
  • Platies (Xiphophorus maculatus)
  • Zebra danios (Danio rerio)
  • Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare)
  • Gourami (Trichogaster pectoralis)
  • Guppies (Poecilia reticulata)
  • Neon tetra (Paracheirodon innesi)

In addition, if you have a large turtle it is advisable to not have any fish in the tank. The turtle may mistake smaller fish for food and create problems such as bullying with aggressive ones or even eating them!

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Do Turtles Eat Fish?

turtle in tank
juvenile red-eared slider

Many turtles will eat fish if they are hungry. This is especially true of omnivorous and carnivorous species such as red-eared sliders, painted turtles, and various freshwater and sea turtles.

Buying a turtle is not like buying a goldfish because you need to purchase ones that are small enough to not eat the fish in their tank.

It is also important to understand that turtles may still try to eat the other inhabitants which can result in aggression.

RELATED READ: Can Turtles Eat Fish Food and is it any Good for Them?

Advantages of Putting a Turtle in a Fish Tank

As compared to other options available to place your turtle, a fish tank is a better choice for your turtle for the following reasons:

  • Aquariums are more beautiful to behold
  • Majority of fish tanks are made of transparent glass that allows you to enjoy the view of your pet
  • Aquariums are sturdy and reliable to hold the weight of your pet and every other thing inside
  • Due to their build and design, you can easily place them on top desks, drawers, tables, and other furniture
  • They are a way of beautifying the room
  • Aquariums come in different sizes so there are options for juvenile and options too for adult turtles
  • Setting up aquariums is user friendly as majority of electrical equipment in the market are designed for use in a fish aquarium
  • Basking docks are made to fit a fish aquarium also
  • The ease of acquiring an aquarium is also a factor to consider
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Disadvantages of Putting a Turtle in a Fish Tank

The biggest disadvantage of putting your turtle in a fish tank is that you need to go for the biggest size available.

This is because turtles need a lot of space and as a rule of thumb, the minimum capacity of the tank should be 10 gallons for every inch of the carapace.

Now you would think this isn’t a problem when your turtle is still small and a common mistake turtle owners make is to go for a small tank at the beginning.

Turtles grow up very fast and you’d be changing that tank soon, so always go for the biggest you can get.

This will cost you more from the start but it’s worth it in the end.

Also, additional work would be required in order to make the aquarium comfortable for your pet turtle.

This is in the form of mounting platforms, installing powerful filters, heaters, lighting, and others.

Choosing The Right Fish For Your Aquarium

Before having both pets stay together, consider the following:

  • Turtles love their space and you should be sure that you have an excess of this available before introducing the fish into the tank. Having both pets in the same tank with limited space will only stress them out.
  • Turtles are messy and will destroy the tank decorations and also attempt to eat the fish. Make use of a strong filter to keep the tank clean and replace the decoration often to maintain the tank’s beauty. Also, provide hiding spots for both fish and turtle so each can maintain its privacy.
  • Add a fish of the same size as your turtle, or one that swims faster than your turtle to protect it from being eaten.
  • Adult turtles are the best addition to the tank with your fish as they are more herbivorous than carnivorous.

Before you decide to purchase a turtle, make sure to research the types of fish that it will enjoy eating.

You also need to make sure that it is not large enough yet to eat the fish that you already own.

Can Turtles Live With Tropical Fish?

No, turtles cannot live with tropical fish such as angelfish and gourami because they will eat the other inhabitants.

Research the types of fish that the turtle will not try to eat and make sure to choose ones that can peacefully coexist in a single tank.

Dangerous Fish For Turtles

Not all fish are safe for turtles. Some types of fish can be aggressive or even dangerous to the turtle that you own, which will result in it being stressed or killed.

Some fish that are dangerous may not eat the turtle but may still result in its death by bullying, stress, or becoming food themselves.

  • Piranha
  • Catfish
  • Electric eel
  • Lobster

Best Turtles for Fish Tank

The best turtles to put in a fish tank are those that spend more time in the water than on land.

With this group of turtles, you can use an above-the-tank basking platform to provide a place for your pet to dry off, while still having enough space to swim in.

Some examples of turtles that are best suited for fish tanks are:

  • Red-eared sliders
  • Yellow-bellied turtles and other types of sliders
  • Map turtles
  • Painted turtles

Turtles Need Big Tanks

It is important to realize that turtles will outgrow their small tanks, while some small aquarium fish types will be relatively small even in the adult phase. This means it is essential to ensure the tank you purchase for the turtle has enough room to grow.

Turtles need at least the following tank sizes:

  1. Newborn turtles (1in, 10 gallons)
  2. Juvenile (2in, 20 gallons)
  3. Young adult (4in, 40 gallons)
  4. Adult (12in, at least 60 gallons)

If you decide to purchase a turtle, make sure that the tank you buy has at least these measurements. If it does not, then it is not big enough for it to grow and may result in problems.

RELATED READ: The Best Turtle Tanks

Turtles Need A Powerful Filter

filter for turtle tank
filter for aquarium

With any aquarium, it is important to ensure that the water has been properly filtered. Turtles are big animals with heavy shells, so this means that they will create a large amount of waste.

Aquarium filters are designed to remove this waste, but it is important to make sure that the filter is powerful enough to handle the turtle’s tank. If you need assistance finding a filter, ask your local pet store for guidance.

Our recommendation is to not use a water filter designed for fish since turtles need a powerful filter.

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RELATED READ: The Best Filter for Turtle Tanks

What Is the Right Tank Size To Keep Turtles And Fish Together?

There is no right tank size to keep fish and turtles together. In fact, it is not advised because they will often end up eating the other inhabitants.

If you want to keep fish and turtles together, it is important to research the types of fish that the turtle may try to eat before buying it.

What Other Animals can Live With Turtles?

Turtles are good pets that are relatively low maintenance. They are curious creatures that will eat a variety of foods, but it is also important to make sure that they get enough of what they need.

One concern is whether or not turtles can be housed together in a tank with other types of fish. There are some types of fish that can live with turtles, but there are also others that are not safe to put together.

Make sure to research what types of fish can and cannot be kept in a turtle tank before purchasing them for your aquarium.

Can Different Turtle Species Live Together?

Yes, there are some types of turtles that can live among each other in the same tank. This means you do not need to worry about having separate tanks for each type of turtle you own unless they are aggressive towards one another.

Some types of turtles that can live together include the following:

  • Painted turtles
  • Red-eared sliders
  • Mud turtles
  • Map turtles

RELATED READ: How to Set Up a Turtle Tank


Putting your turtle in a fish tank is easier to manage and more beautiful to behold.

But just as with everything else, adequate preparation needs to be done first.

Knowing the needs of your turtle and making those needs available will make your pet very comfortable and happy.

If you want to include a fish to the tank to improve the aesthetics, you need to carefully select both fish and turtle species to ensure that they can stay together.

Apart from the careful selection of species, adequate provisions need to be made to encourage peaceful cohabiting.