Turtle Eats Fish—Why? And How Can You Stop This?

Do you have a tank where you keep your fishes and turtles together? If yes, then are you finding your fishes disappear from your tank? Many fish and turtle owners, who keep them together, complain that they have been finding the corpse of their fishes inside the tank, their numbers reducing swiftly, and there is only one other culprit in the tank—the turtle.

They have been feeding them regularly enough to be sated, so why are they eating your fish?

Here is the answer to the list of questions you may have about keeping your pets together and some viable solutions to help you keep them safe.

Is It Possible To Have Fish And Turtles In The Same Aquarium?

Possible? Yes.

Safe? No.

If you want to keep your turtles and your fishes together in the same tank, you will need to make certain changes to the tank and be careful about a few factors to mitigate the damage before you place them together.

Why Can it Be Dangerous?

Several factors could be an answer to this question. A few of them:

  • For turtles, fish are food—not friends. They are omnivorous, and they are intuitive to eat fish. For a specific species, such as wild turtles, fishes are even the main source of their diet.
  • Turtles need space. In general, every turtle needs about 10 gallons of water for every inch long its shell is. If you keep fish in the tank, you will need more space to accommodate them so that each species inside has sufficient space to unwind in. If the space inside the tank is not enough, the chances are that your turtle and fishes may confront one another, and what better way to make space than for your turtle to wipe the fishes off forever?
  • Some species of turtle are, by nature, aggressive. They don’t care who the occupant inside their tank may be, and even if it is another turtle, the turtles inside will attack each other for reasons as simple as to escape boredom. So, yes, your turtle could be hunting for your fish as a way to pass the time.

How to Stop This?

Fishes that are small in size are easier to prey on. With fishes larger in size, there is a possible chance that they might, in turn, hurt the turtle, or otherwise, by considering each other to be a threat.

There are a few measures that can reduce the frequency by which your turtle attacks and preys on the fish in your tank. Some possible alternatives you can take have been mentioned below.

More Space – More Safety

Turtles and fishes have an innate set of requirements for themselves. They need sufficient space for themselves. The larger the tank is, the better the chances are that they will stay in their own designated areas and won’t come face to face with one another. A general recommendation would be to buy a tank that can support above and beyond 80 gallons of water.

Ornaments to Hide in

Another possible way to protect your fishes is to give them a place to hide. Adding elements such as large rocks or decoration pieces can give them areas to find shelter in. You can also place it in flower pots, plants, chunks of driftwood, or pipes. The more ornaments they can hide in, the more they can stay out of sight.

With plants, the turtle can get in and eat the fish, so it is not a recommendable tactic to hide them. However, using these measures can help reduce the stress level your fishes may have built from fear.

Species of Turtle

Most people do not consider this a factor when buying their turtles. As mentioned above, different species of turtles have different levels of aggression and attraction to fish. And, some species are not as skilled as other species when it comes down to hunting. A good example of this would be musk turtles or mud turtles.


It does not mean that you can’t keep turtles like sliders who like to hunt. It will put your fish at risk, but this risk reduces if you buy a much older slider. Matured turtles that have grown need more proteins and greens in their diet to survive. Your turtle is less likely to think of your fish as bait in such cases.

Species of Fish

Finding the right species of fish will also determine its ability to survive in a tank that places it with a possible predator. Factors like the nature of the fish and its cost will help mitigate the consequences of placing them together.

Fishes that are bound to survive better are those that:

  • have a small, slender figure, which makes it easier for them to hide
  • are quick and intelligent. Having speed makes it easier for them to run away from the turtles, who have slower speed in comparison. Whereas the desire to survive is innate for every species. Fishes, however, that can sense danger and are cautious by nature will have better chances of staying alive in the tank.
  • Now, this point is a little tricky. Fishes that are feisty tend to be aggressive, so there are chances that they may be bold and confront the turtles head-on. This could mean that your fishes may bite and scare the turtle away, or it could possibly lead them to a quicker end.


You can also place a divider between the tank to keep the fish and the turtle separate from one another. This is the safest way, can be easily implemented in a larger tank.

Reduce Lure

One other possible way to reduce your turtle from eating your fish (and this is something that works but is not really recommended) is buying a few dozen cheap fish such as mosquitofish and dumping them with your turtle.

The idea here is to reduce the lure of eating fish for your turtle. The more they see them there and feed on them, the less interested they may be in fishes; later onwards.

What Else To Consider?

Now, these were all pointers regarding why turtles eat fish and what you can do to stop them. But there are other reasons why having the two together inside the same tank could be problematic.


Fishes and turtles have different levels of water temperature that they both prefer to thrive in. As an example, goldfish like cold water temperature. Anything that is more than 74 degrees would be too warm for them. In contrast, this temperature is not as ideal for a turtle.


Fishes and turtles, especially some species, tend to create substantial wastage in the tank. Even though turtles can survive in almost any environment, being as tough as they are—fishes can’t. Plus, the wastage inside the tank shoots up to high levels, which can mess with the nitrate, pH, and ammonia level of the water inside the tank! This is dangerous, especially for your fishes, as they are not as resilient as the turtle inside the tank.

Attractive Fishes

Now, as an aquarium holder, you would want your aquarium to look aesthetic. However, adding fishes with beautiful colors, long tails, and fins will not only attract any onlookers, but it will also attract your turtle. Chances are they might have a go on your fish just out of curiosity if they are too distracting.


It is better not to mix the two species. However, yes, you can keep your fishes and turtles together in the same tank if that is what you want! It will be a risk for your fish, but you can manage that risk and prolong the chances of your fish surviving in the tank if you know what you are doing and take the right measures to protect them.