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.
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?)
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)
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.