Can Turtles Live In An Aquarium With Fish? Why or Why Not

Last updated on December 24th, 2022 at 11:04 am

Getting a turtle habitat to look great can take quite a bit of time, energy and money. So adding fish sounds like a great idea. But should you?

Can Turtles Live in An Aquarium With Fish

Your question has been answered in a short manner.

Fish and turtles can live together in an aquarium, but you need to watch out for a few conditions for it to work effectively. Essentially, you need the right amount of conditions, and perhaps some luck, to make it work. 

I would say that most people would be wise to avoid it because of that. 

Here’s something I want to share with you.

Can Different Turtle Species Live Together?

It’s hard to manage several fish and a turtle in the same tank, but two turtles? That’s going to be a challenge!

In fact, turtle habitats that are home to several species can be very challenging to manage properly, because:

  • People of different species have regularly fought with, injured, maimed, and even killed each other’s turtles.
  • Female turtles often fight their male counterparts when there are three turtles of the same species.
  • You cannot mix certain species of turtles, such as snapping turtles, with anything or anyone at all.
  • Bullying, injuring and maiming a smaller turtle is often carried out by a larger turtle of the same species.

And fish?

The entire situation becomes infinitely worse with this.

Can this be done?

If you follow these guidelines, you can. 

A turtle needs a large tank.

Turtle hobbyists generally follow the following principle when it comes to aquarium space:

  • For every inch of turtle shell, each turtle needs 10 gallons of water.

A number of common turtles are extremely large, including the red-eared slider red-eared sliders.

A large fish tank, 150 gallons in size, is available at this website.

If you’re going to be adding fish into your meal, you’ll need to tack on even more, but how much will you need to spend more on fish?

Personally, I’d recommend that you only use an 80 gallon turtle tank if you plan to add fish. An 80 gallon tank has the capacity to accommodate a full-grown red-eared slider, a few fish, and a few plants.

It doesn’t matter how many fish you have in your tank, if you have a small tank the turtle and fish are likely to clash.

Buy some ornaments that will allow your fish to hide from the turtle, giving your fish some personal space and privacy away from your turtle. Small aquarium hideout caves like this one give your fish some personal space and privacy away from your turtle.

A Turtle Needs A Filter

A solid canister-filter system is one of the reasons I recommend turtle owners to seriously consider one because they can handle all of the waste turtles generate.

In addition to trash, gorgonians can also be found nibbling on food scraps that they have torn from the table.

My turtle tank uses this canister filtration system, and it has been great for the turtles in it.

Canister filters are not only strong, but most have multiple filtering levels that make use of chemical, biological, and mechanical filters to really make the aquarium clean.

What you ought to remember, though, is that if you add fish, your filtration system needs to be super-efficient, because most fish aren’t nearly as strong or durable as turtles.

A turtle can live in some pretty nasty environments and not endanger itself. A fish can’t.

Something really strong and solid is going to be necessary.

Among other things, you’ll also need to think about:

  • The pH levels of your tank should be monitored and controlled. Generally, pH levels should be tested at least once a month and kept between 6 and 9. 
  • In addition, you’ll want to make sure that your chlorine and ammonia levels are 0 or very close to them.
  • Adding oxygen to your water. This does a number of things, including help produce an atmosphere where good bacteria thrive.

A fish filter works for a turtle. Turtles are survivors. By that, I mean that they can survive in a very unpleasant environment. They emit so much garbage and leave the places where they live very untidy.

On the other hand, fish are fragile. They must be cared for like eggs. You cannot survive in a dirty environment. Therefore, this requires a strong filter that removes all the dirt. For a fish to survive, the water must always be clean. I’d say a fish filter works great for a turtle.

What are the best ways to keep turtles and fish in the same tank?

Let me give you some tips to help you keep turtles and fish in the same tank. The first thing to do is make sure you have a large aquarium. A single turtle needs a volume of at least 50 gallons.

This is for a 6-inch tall tortoise. If you add fish, you will need a volume of at least 90 gallons. You can use it to put some fish.

Filtration system

Next, the filter system should be checked. Filtration must be very efficient to ensure that all debris emitted by the turtle and fish is filtered.

A cartridge filter works quite well. You also need to make sure your fish have hiding places in the tank. This is because they can no longer run away from the turtle.

There will come a time when they will be caught. It would be best to have a hiding place that the turtle cannot access, for example, B. a hollow pipe, large stones, and commercial hiding places.

Related. Best Filtration System For Aquarium.

Discover the species of turtles and fish.

The last thing to check is the turtle species and the fish species. Make sure you have a compatible fish and turtle. Consistent because the fish are fast enough to escape, and the turtle is not as good at hunting as the red-eared pusher.

The species of fish that can survive in a turtle tank are tetra and zebrafish. The species of turtles are mud and musk turtles. These species can stay together in the same identity.

How can a turtle live in an aquarium? Establishment of a turtle and fish aquarium

A turtle can live in an aquarium to ensure that turtle species do not always hunt fish to satisfy their hunger. This can be achieved by getting the mud or musk turtle or a mature turtle. As turtles get older, they try to avoid protein and hug vegetables and fruits.

It would help if you also made sure that there is a filter to remove debris from the tank. Make sure that there are hiding spots in the aquarium for the fish to hide.

Just make sure that you have improved the safety of both animals and that the aquarium is always clean. Get the right fish too. The fish should be small, quick, intelligent, sharp, and quick. With these properties, the chances of survival are enormous.

Also, don’t eat fish that the turtle can eat, such as piranhas, catfish, lobsters, and electric eels.

Does A Turtle Eat Fish?

In the wild, turtles are known for having a high rate of consumption of fish. Although, some species of turtle are not known for eating fish at all. For example, aquatic turtles such as the Red Eared Slider are known for high consumption of fish.

Fish Need Hiding Places

The fish that keeps frantically swimming away from a hungry turtle in the tank is probably in too much of a state of stress to live longer.

There should at least be a few places where your fish can hide, which should be obvious.

Here’s where you can find them:

  • Overturned flower pots
  •  Pipes made of PVC
  •  Driftwood pieces
  •  Giant rocks
  •  Hideouts for commercial fish

You can choose any of these, but I recommend that you follow these guidelines when choosing a tank hideout:

  • The turtle may get into your tank and eat the fish if it’s not secure.
  • Ensure your turtle does not eat it.

In consequence, I do not recommend hiding your fish behind water plants as hiding places for your fish.

A Guide To Choosing The Right Turtle

Some people don’t think about this, but it’s gonna hurt your fish’s chances of survival; that’s why your turtle needs to choose the right species.

Turtles of some species are much more adept and skilled at hunting down and eating fish than turtles of others.

Among the best of these are the painted turtles, red-eared sliders and cooters.

A mud turtle and a musk turtle have lower hunting skills and seem much less interested in hunting than sliders.

The idea of keeping a young red-eared slider in a tank with a school of fish is a recipe for disaster.

That doesn’t mean you’re out of luck with your slider, painted, or cooter.

The following recommendations apply to those species:

Let the turtle get older and mature before you start grooming him.

In older sliders and painted turtles, the amount of protein they eat decreases but the number of vegetables they consume increases.

If that happens on a regular basis, your turtle is less likely to seek the fish as a source of food.

What Fish Can Live With Turtles?

My research has established that there are three fish that are ideal for the most common species of pet turtles. They are:

Starting a turtle tank with a small school of tetras or zebrafish is a great way for someone who has never added fish previously.

One of the reasons these species are so cheap is that they can be bought at any local pet store, finding them is straightforward.

Most species of these fish only grow to be about 1 and 2 inches long in captivity; however, since they are freshwater fish, they are sleek, swift and have a bit of intellect.

Test the waters and see how your turtle and fish will react after being introduced to a small school of either species and for how long.

Can Turtles Live with Cichlids?

You can start adding in something like a yellow cichlid after you have some success with any of these species.

A yellow cichlid is the only one of its kind in the world, from Africa, and is one of the most popular fish in aquariums. It is small in size (around 3 or 4 inches), but stands out for its feistiness.

Specifically, I’m referring to electric yellow cichlids (labidochromis caeruleus) and I’m not talking about any species other than:

Dangerous Fish For Turtles

As a general rule, all cichlids are highly territorial, and they can become quite aggressive when mated, so I would recommend only adding several cichlids to your tank. Adding too many can turn your turtle against itself and cause injury.

Essentially, nothing that is too aggressive, or anything that can cause your turtle to get injured, harmed, or die should go in the same aquarium.

Here are the most dangerous species to avoid!

What follows are my thoughts on some of the more common species I have observed coexisting with turtles.

Can Turtles Live With Tropical Fish?

My general recommendation is to avoid adding any type of tropical fish to your turtle’s tank. As previously stated, much tropical fish have very long tails and fins, which makes them attract unwanted attention.

You can always expect your turtle to get tempted to take a long, hard look at any of your new fish, including tetras, zebras and cichlids.

They will flee as quickly as the tetras and zebras, and on the other hand, your turtle will probably fight back to give chase.

Most tropical fish, however, have long, thin fins and tails that are designed just for finding their way inside the turtle’s mouth. It’s simply more difficult for these fish to get free and escape your turtle.

Can Turtles Live With Goldfish?

I’ve observed that this question crops up from time to time.

In the same way that tropical fish are not best paired with turtles, two other reasons make me especially cautious: 

  • In general, goldfish thrive in water temperatures that are slightly above the optimal temperatures for turtles, so anything over 74 degrees Fahrenheit is considered too hot for goldfish.
  • With a goldfish tank, it is essentially a turtle of the aquarium! Their waste is an annoying amount of ammonia, which increases the difficulty of keeping the aquarium’s ammonia level, nitrite level, and pH level in check.
  • They can grow large! If the turtle they’re living with doesn’t eat them, it leaves the tank, the cichlids can easily grow larger, and will easily be able to breed too much.

Can Turtles Live With Koi Fish?

Despite the fact that Koi fish are great companions for turtles, I still wouldn’t recommend them over other fish species like zebras and tetras.

You can buy turtles very expensive, and if you are buying a baby Koi fish for your turtle, you might be making it all about food.

Second, Koi fish are difficult to keep in an aquarium. Since they can easily outgrow their turtles, they would probably do very well in a pond habitat. However, they probably won’t work very well in an indoor aquarium.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Turtles Live In An Aquarium With Fish Oscar

Because Oscar fish and turtles require similar water conditions, such as temperature and pH, they can live together in the same tank. This is because both species are relatively aggressive and will take advantage of easy prey.

Can Turtles Live In An Aquarium With Fish Ponds

It is suggested that aquatic turtles live in tanks, ponds, or larger Fish that they do not eat small Fish. These turtles are strong swimmers and therefore need 55 gallons in … an aquarium, which can be filled with gravel which you can vacuum.

Can Turtles Live In An Aquarium With Fish Betta

Turtles can eat live Fish, so you should not keep a turtle in the same tank as Betta Fish

Can Turtles Live In An Aquarium With Fish Crayfish

In the simplest form, no. If you want the crayfish to survive, it is essential not to keep turtles and crayfish together.

Can Turtles Live In An Aquarium With Fish Cold Water

There are many stipulations for keeping Fish and turtles together. Therefore, it is best if you have a few things lined up correctly, and perhaps luck can help as well before you try it. For most people, I would advise against it.


  • The following factors are crucial to the survival of fish and turtles in the same tank.
  • Turtles and fish alike can live happily in your aquarium tank.
  • You have a filter that can handle the additional pressure fish could place on your water quality.
  • Provide hiding places for your turtle’s fish so that they can, in turn, hide from the fish.
  • Unlike mud turtles or musk turtles, your turtle has less interest in eating fish.
  • Among the fish species you chose, you chose fish that are intelligent, slender, and fast, for instance, tetras and zebra fish.
  • Never pair turtles with goldfish or any species of tropical fish.
  • Keep your turtle away from all types of fish and creatures that can harm, maim or kill it.

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