Aquatic turtles and fish are fun pets to keep, but one of the common questions that keep coming up is…
Can pet turtles live with fish? Yes, you can keep turtles and fish together. However, there are four factors that you should take care of to make sure that the turtles and fish do not hurt each other. These factors are species compatibility, tank size, tank conditions, and filtration system.
While pet turtles can live with fish, it is essential to select the right sizes and species. For example, a Red-eared slider turtle may try to eat smaller fish such as Guppies. Similarly, Oscars are often aggressive and may bite the turtles.
So before placing turtles and fish in the same tank, take the time to choose compatible species.
You would also need to ensure that the tank and filtration system can support the pets.
This guide will give you a detailed look at these factors so that you can set up the perfect habitat for both turtles and fish.
Okay! Let’s begin…
How to Keep Turtles and Fish in the Same Tank?
Many species of turtles will try to eat the fish kept in the same tank. Even with careful preparation, there is always a chance that the turtles may catch a few fish or devour the entire tank.
However, there are four factors that you can take care of to ensure that your turtles and fish live harmoniously together. These factors are:
Let’s take a detailed look at each of these factors now.
1. Species Compatibility
The first place to start is with species compatibility. A general rule for mixing and matching animals in the same habitat is to avoid extreme size differences. Use this rule when adding any combination of pets, including other turtles.
For example, basking turtles such as Painted turtles tend to get along with Red-eared sliders if the turtles are of similar sizes. However, a larger Red-eared slider may attempt to eat or nip at smaller species of turtles.
Similarly, size is also a consideration when selecting fish and other species.
The behavior of the fish is also an important consideration. Some smaller fish are agile enough to keep away from turtles.
Guppies are swift and likely to survive in the same tank. However, they also produce a lot more waste, leading to the need for proper filtration. The fancy tails are also a target for turtles, and the fish may end up with missing fins.
So pick your species carefully.
This raises the question…
Which Fish Species Can You Keep With Turtles?
Most species of turtles see fish as food. The turtles are likely to go after the fish and may devour an entire school overnight. Larger species of fish may also pose a threat to smaller turtles.
To keep the turtles and fish from trying to eat each other, carefully select species based on their compatibility. Typically, you want to pair the turtles with fish that are not too large or too small.
If the fish are small, choose fast-swimming fish that can swiftly get away from the turtles.
Extra hiding spots also help protect the fish from the turtles. Bushy plants, PVC pipes, and other objects provide the perfect spots for fish to hide.
Avoid placing goldfish in the same tank or pond as turtles. Goldfish are large and slow. Turtles are more likely to eat these slower fish.
The best fish species that can be kept with turtles are:
- Algae eaters
- Neon tetras
- Cherry barbs
- Zebra danios
The trick is to find fish that can either get away from the turtles or that tend to spend time in areas that the turtles avoid.
Neon tetras, zebra danios, mollies, and cherry barbs are fast and should keep away from the turtles for the most part. Corydoras and other bottom feeders, along with algae eaters, are also likely to remain safe.
Alright! Now let’s talk about…
2. Tank Size – Creating the Right Habitat for Turtles and Fish
The tank needs to offer enough space for all the turtles, fish, and creatures. It also requires a powerful filtration system to keep the water clean.
When you combine multiple species of aquatic pets, you are placing more demand on the filters. There are several things you can do to deal with this issue:
- Choose a large enough tank
- Install powerful pumps
- Use high-quality filters
- Add multiple filtration systems
Turtle and fish owners often make the mistake of choosing tanks that are too small. Smaller habitats cause stress and aggression. Giving these pets a small habitat increases the risk of overpowering the filters, leading to fungal growth, bacteria, and poor conditions.
So, now the question is…
What Is the Right Tank Size To Keep Turtles And Fish Together?
To choose the right size tank, consider the space needed for the turtles.
Here is a general set of size recommendations for three or fewer turtles in a tank:
- 30 gallon tank for turtles up to six inches
- 55 gallon tank for turtles six to eight inches
- 75 to 125 gallon tank for turtles over eight inches
While for the fish tank, the general rule is to choose one gallon per one inch of fish. If you have 20 one-inch Guppies, you should have at least a 20 gallon tank. With 10 five-inch fish, you need at least 50 gallons.
Fish and turtles also need enough water for swimming. The water depth should be at least twice the length of the turtle. For example, an eight-inch Red-eared slider should have 16 inches of water. The tank should not be entirely full of water as turtles need land too.
Now to determine the amount of water for the fish, estimate the length, width, and depth of the part of the tank containing the fish. Multiply the dimensions to determine the water volume.
For example, if the water covers 24 inches by 30 inches inside the tank and is 16 inches deep, the volume of water is 11,520 square inches (24 x 30 x 16 = 11,520).
Divide the total by 231 as there are 231 square inches of liquid in a gallon. Using the example, 11,520 divided by 231 is 49.87, giving you about 50 gallons of water for the fish.
3. Tank Conditions – What Is the Right Water Temperature for Turtles and Fish?
The tank conditions also need to offer the right environment for both the turtles and fish. The temperature and pH levels should accommodate every pet inside the habitat.
Most tropical fish are healthy when in water is kept between 75 degrees and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Turtles prefer water between 75 degrees and 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
The pH level should remain between 5.5 and 7.5 for freshwater fish and 8.0 or higher for saltwater fish. The water for turtles should have an alkaline reading between 7.4 and 7.8.
So what temperature and pH level should you use for turtles and fish? 75 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit with pH levels between 7.4 and 7.5 should suit both species.
Interesting Further Reading: Do Turtles Get Lonely, Depressed, Bored, Or Have Feelings?
4. Filtration System – What Type of Filters and Pumps Should You Use?
With both fish and turtles creating waste in the water, a more powerful filtration system is necessary.
People commonly use submersible filters in smaller tanks, but these filters do not provide the filtering capacity needed to keep up with a larger tank.
Canister filters are the preferred choice.
These filters mount under the tank to prevent taking up space inside the habitat.
Canister filters also provide multi-stage filtration with the best filters offering between three and five stages.
Now let’s take a look at some…
Can Turtles Live with Crabs and Crustaceans? No, turtles and crabs will not co-exist. In the wild, aquatic turtles may eat algae, seagrasses, shrimp, crabs, and various crustaceans. If the creature is small enough and slow enough for the turtle to eat, it will not survive long in the tank. However, if the crab is much larger than the turtle, the crab may harass the turtle.
Can Turtles Live with Frogs? No, turtles and frogs should not live in the same tank. Whichever species is larger is likely to try eating the other. Red-eared slider turtles eat frogs and small fish in the wild, especially as they mature.
Can Small Turtles Live with Fish? Small turtles, such as mud turtles or musk turtles, can live with fish. The main concern is that larger species of fish may bite or try to eat the smaller turtles. To avoid hostile conditions, choose fish that are not a threat to the turtles. Suitable examples include Algae eaters and fast-swimming fish.
Do Aquarium Turtles Eat Fish? Aquarium turtles can eat fish. In fact, many species of turtles enjoy dining on fresh fish. To protect the fish, select species that are agile enough to keep away from the turtles. The fish should also have plenty of spaces to hide, such as live plants.
So to conclude…
Should You Put Turtles and Fish in the Same Tank?
If you decide to put turtles and fish in the same tank, choose fish that can get away from the turtles or that are too big for the turtles to attack. It also helps to give the fish hiding spots throughout the tank.
The tank needs to support both sets of pets, which means a larger tank than you would need for just turtles or fish. The filtration system also needs to handle the excess demands of turtles and fish.
With these precautions, turtles and fish may peacefully live together. If you notice that fish have started to disappear or the turtles begin attacking the fish, one of the species will likely need a new home.