Can Turtles Live With Fish And Other Turtles?

Are you thinking of setting up a turtle tank but you're unsure whether they can live with fish and other turtles. While it is possible to do so, certain factors are going to make the introduction more receptacle and straightforward.

Setting up a tank for your turtle requires a lot of effort on your behalf. It isn't simply as easy as setting up the tank and then introducing multiple turtles and fish without doing your research beforehand. 

Can Turtles Live With Fish and Other Turtles

While turtles and fish can live together so long as their requirements are met, the process is slightly more challenging in regards to housing more than one turtle in the same tank.

Below, we have identified some factors that we would advise you to consider before attempting to house turtles and fish together in one tank. Doing so will not only make the process more straightforward for you but will also ensure that the environment of the tank is safe too. 

Can Turtles Live With Fish?

While a fish and turtle in the same tank can be visually pleasing it doesn't always work out as you may expect. If you want to introduce fish to co-inhabit with your turtle, you must first consider the species and size of the fish.

Smaller fish, such as guppies tend to produce a higher volume of waste which can ultimately create an inhabitable environment for the turtles. Other fish can be particularly territorial and unpleasant in nature.

These issues can also be reversed as freshwater turtles, in particular, are known to be quite snappy and because of their instincts to hunt, they aren't suitable for keeping with other fish as they pose more of a threat to them. 

Despite the issues mentioned above, there are some fish and turtles that can happily live in the same environment. To find the right match, you will first need to conduct some thorough research into the nature of each species of fish and also the hunting instincts of particular species of turtles. 

When selecting the fish, you will need to ensure that they aren't too small in size and they aren't too territorial. When selecting your turtles you will need to ensure that they don't live on a fish-based diet as this will of course limit the threat that they pose to the fish that inhabit the same environment as them.

What Species Of Fish Can Live With Turtles?

Before introducing the fish to the tank, you must ensure that they are going to thrive in the same environment. The fish should be fast and slender so that they can escape any potential threats quickly.

The best species of fish to introduce to the same environment as turtles are tetra fish, zebrafish, or yellow cichlids. As they are bigger, koi fish are another option as they are more likely to fight off any threats from the turtles. 

What Species Of Fish Should Not Live With Turtles?

You should avoid putting goldfish into the same tank as turtles. This is because they are more subject to being attacked by the turtles because of their fins and tails. Goldfish are also known for producing a lot of waste which can affect the quality of the water.

While turtles can display aggression towards the fish, it can also be the case that some species of fish are territorial and aggressive towards the turtles. Species in particular that aren’t recommended for living in the same environment are catfish, piranha, and more.

Can Turtles Live With Other Turtles?

Turtles are solitary creatures and because of this, it can be difficult to determine whether they can live together happily. Their behaviors can differ depending on the environment that they grow up in.

Those kept in captivity tend to get along at a younger age before beginning to fight as they get older. It is typically the case that turtles are found in the same location because of the conditions of this environment.

Simply put, the conditions offer them what they need and this is why you may find multiple turtles living together. They often tend to gravitate towards the same basking spots as they are the best places for them to warm up. 

There can also be issues associated with housing turtles from different species inside the same tank and because of this, it is important to conduct thorough research into the living requirements, possible diseases, and behaviors of each species.

Some turtles have much calmer temperaments than others and when put inside the same tank this can lead to territorial aggression. 

Turtles from different species that share the same environment also present a greater risk of transmitting disease. As a result of this transmission, unfortunately, if exposed to such diseases there is a risk of your other turtles becoming ill. 

Male turtles, in particular, tend to display more aggression and as they become older, living in the same confines can escalate this behavior. It also isn’t advised to house younger turtles in the same environment as older turtles as this can lead to a clash in temperaments. 

The size of turtles is also another reason why it isn’t advised to keep them in the same tank. Some species, red-eared sliders, in particular, require around 120 gallons of water for themselves alone.

You are even likely to be confronted with challenges when attempting to house smaller species together. More often than not, you will find that turtles require their own tanks so that they have enough space available to roam around freely.

Despite the aforementioned issues, there are species of turtles that thrive when living with other turtles.

So long as they are the same age e.g all juveniles or all adults they will likely live peacefully together when sharing their confines with other species of turtle. It is important to ensure that both species share the same living requirements, e.g same temperature of water. 

What species of turtle can live together?

Some species of turtles are identified as sharing the same niche as other turtles. Thus referring to their diet, activity, etc.

Although turtles that share the same niche can live together, you will likely find that housing those with opposing niches will be more successful as there isn’t going to be so much competition between them.

Species of turtles that can live together include map turtles, musk turtles, painted turtles, cooters, and sliders. 

What species of turtle shouldn’t live together?

You should not house snapping turtles or softshell turtles in the same environment.

This is because these species in particular have territorial personalities and are likely to display aggression towards other turtles sharing the tank.

How Many Turtles Can Live Inside The Same Tank?

The number of turtles that can live inside one tank is primarily determined by the size of the tank.

If you are intending to have multiple turtles inside the tank you must have the space available to accommodate this.

As a general rule, per inch of turtle, there should be 10 gallons of water.

By the time most juvenile turtles have aged they can be pretty large and so the size of the tank needs to coincide with this to ensure that they aren’t limited to room.

Factors To Consider Before Housing A Turtle With Fish And Other Turtles

The Size Of The Tank 

The size of the tank is also going to determine whether you can have a turtle living alongside fish and other turtles. Of course, the tank needs to be generously sized so that each species has plenty of space to move around.

If the tank is on the smaller side this will mean that the turtles and the fish aren't going to have the room available to move around freely and this is likely to cause territorial problems. Ideally, the tank should offer a 90 gallon size volume at least.

Having plenty of space available will allow for the fish to be introduced to the same tank while ensuring that they aren't restricted to the room that they have available.

It is also important to remember that the turtles will need room to grow, with some species growing up to 12 inches in length. If they are restricted in the room that they have available, they are likely to become more aggressive towards other fish or turtles inside the tank.

Although it is safe to put certain species of turtles inside the same tank, it is very important to ensure that the growing requirements of each are catered to. If each turtle has space to grow and move freely, they are likely to live peacefully together. Also, consider the basking spots that each turtle will need. 

While it is important to consider the growing space required by the turtles, you will need to remember that the fish need plenty of space to grow. If you introduce turtles and fish into an inadequately sized tank for their needs, this is of course going to cause many problems. 

The Filtration System

Next, you will need to consider the filtration system of the tank. Fish are known to produce a lot of waste and the absence of a filtration tank can result in an unpleasant and dirty living environment.

To avoid this issue you will need to ensure that your tank is equipped with a powerful filtration system that is going to get rid of this mess. There are different types of filtration systems available with a popular option being a filtration canister. You should also try to keep the water aerated too. 

Turtles tend to have a tougher resistance to poorer environments than fish and while they may be able to live in a tank with a buildup of waste, this isn’t the case for fish. 

The Hiding Spots

You will also need to ensure that the fish have plenty of hiding spots in the tank in the form of rocks and pipes etc.

Even when species are compatible, it can be exhausting for the fish to continue to run away from the turtles and so the provision of these hiding spots allows them to relax and rest. 

These hiding spots will also provide the fish with a safe place where they can reproduce. 

The Diet Of The Turtles

Many turtles survive on a fish-based diet. In fact, the main source of food for aquatic turtles is wild fish. For this reason, it is important to ensure that the introduction is done correctly so that the fish aren’t put at risk of being eaten by the turtles. 

This tends to be more prominent amongst younger, juvenile turtles as their wild instincts tell them to do so. As they get older, this isn’t so much of an apparent issue as they are more likely to survive on a vegetable-based diet rather than a fish-based diet. 

How To Introduce Fish To A Tank With Turtles

Once you are confident that you have the correct setup that accommodates the needs of both the turtles and fish, you can begin the process of introducing the fish into the tank.

Ideally, your turtle should be older and this is because they tend to have more relaxed personalities than juvenile turtles who are more aggressive. They also don’t survive on a fish-based diet so the thought of feeding on the fish isn’t likely to appeal to them. 

Before introducing the fish to the tank, it is recommended that you feed the turtles beforehand. A fed turtle isn’t likely to be bothered by the addition of fish inside the tank and they are more likely to leave them alone to familiarize themselves with their surroundings.

However, if the turtle is hungry, this is less likely to be the case. Because of this, when the fish are added to the water, the turtles are more likely to see them as something that they can eat and the fish's chances of survival are much more limited. A fed turtle is likely to be disinterested by the new presence of the fish. 

It is also very important to allow the fish time to acclimatize to the water. This is the case regardless of whether there are turtles in the water or not. Failing to do so and adding the fish directly to the water can shock them.

The process is fairly straightforward taking a couple of minutes but it is going to be very effective in helping the fish to adapt to the new water at their own pace.

First, you should add the bag to the water without doing anything to it other than allowing it to float on top of the water. When a couple of minutes have passed you should add some of the tank water into the bag so that the fish can familiarize themselves with it before being added straight into it.

Once you have done so and you have waited for a couple more minutes can add some more water. Then you can open the bag and if the fish doesn’t swim out automatically, you can encourage them to do so by carefully pouring the fish out of the bag. 

Final Thoughts

While it is possible to keep turtles, fish, and other turtles inside the same tank, conducting thorough research beforehand is going to be super important.

You will need to ensure that the tank set up caters to the needs of both the fish and the turtles. Understanding the requirements of different species of fish and turtles will allow you to base your choice on their compatibility. 

It is possible to keep fish inside a tank with turtles depending on the size of the fish and their personalities. Smaller fish are likely to be more subject to attacks from turtles. You must also ensure that the turtles don’t survive on a fish-based diet.

Likewise, you will need to ensure that the fish aren’t going to be aggressive towards the turtles and when fully grown they aren’t going to be too big for the tank. 

Keeping more than one turtle inside a tank is a little more challenging, simply because turtles tend to be more solitary animals which can cause them to become aggressive and territorial when they are sharing the tank with another turtle.

While it is important to be aware of issues caused by keeping two incompatible species of turtles together, certain species can be kept together.

Considering the factors that we have mentioned above will ensure that the tank is suitable for the fish and the turtles and the process is done carefully so that the right species can live peacefully alongside one another. 

Dorothy Razo
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