Can Turtles And Fish Live Together?

can turtles and fish live together

Turtles are curious creatures. They like going after every moving object, which is very common in all of their species. Turtle tanks could look very boring with just turtles in them. As a pet owner, you must get a thought of adding some fish in the tank. I agree that it would make the tank a lot more attractive than before. 

But is it okay to keep fish and turtles together? Is it even possible? Answers to these questions are not straightforward. It depends on various factors, which we will discuss a bit later in this article. 

Pet turtles like red-eared sliders or painted turtles are notorious. They show aggressive behavior when introduced with any other inhabitant, including other turtles. Because of this reason, it isn’t easy to keep fish and turtles together in a tank. This article will teach you everything you need to keep fish and turtles together.  

Related Article: How Big Can Turtles Get?

Can you put turtles and fish in the same tank?

Yes, you can keep turtles and fish in the same tank. But this is not a simple task. There are many things that you need to do correctly to make your turtle behave nicely with the fish. 

Forget about fish; keeping two turtles in the same tank itself is a difficult task. Turtles don’t like company, and they like to live alone. When you put fish in a turtle’s tank, chances are very high that your turtle will think of fish as their food. 

Turtles are omnivorous, and they can easily eat any small species of fish like guppies. To make them live with fish, you have to make certain arrangements. 

Some species of turtles like red-eared turtles and yellow belly turtles are aggressive. They will try to attack fishes no matter how full they are. You have to select a peaceful turtle species like mud turtle that are not interested in eating fish. 

If you have a red-eared or any other aggressive turtle species in the tank, ensure that the tank has enough hiding spots for fish. These spots should be small enough for turtles, and only fishes can hide in there.

Tank size, filtration system and water temperature are important factors that need to be optimum for both turtle and fish to live together. 

How to keep turtles and fish in the same tank?

There are incidents where turtles eat fish when kept in the same tank. Some species of turtles are less aggressive, and with some precautions, they are good to live with fish in the same tank. 

However, for more aggressive pet turtle species like red-eared turtles or yellow belly turtles, you need to ensure some additional steps to avoid confrontation between them. Below are some factors you can consider to make turtles and fish live happily in the same tank. 

1. Big Tank

Tank size is a crucial factor when keeping turtles and fish together. A smaller tank means less area for turtles and fish to roam around. This increases the chance for turtles to notice fish and attack them, thinking of them as food. 

It is very important to make a large tank so turtles and fish can live there happily. Tanks should also have hiding places for fish where they can enjoy their complete privacy. Hiding spots could be rock or other decorative items under the water, and this should be safe from turtles getting inside it.  

2. Selecting the right fish species

It is very important to select fish species that are not very aggressive; otherwise, they can harm the turtle. While selecting a fish species, make sure that they are proactive and not too aggressive. 

Turtles are very active in the water, and they can easily eat slow fish. The fish need to make their way away from turtles. We have mentioned some best-suited fish species for your turtle tank below. Check them out.

Related Article: Do Turtles Bite?

What fish can live with turtles?

Intelligent, quick and feisty would be the correct word for defining a suitable fish to live with a turtle. While selecting the fish, make sure they are either small or medium in size. It would be best if you avoid any big size fish as they might bully the turtle. 

The faster the fish, the longer they can survive in the tank. Also, the small size fishes are easier to escape from turtles, making them best suited for turtle tanks. Fishes with flashy or longer fins are to be avoided as they are attention grabbers for turtles. 

Few species of fish that, according to me, is the best suitable to live along with turtle are:

  1. Tetra fish
  2. Zebrafish
  3. Yellow cichlids
  4. Algae eaters
  5. Corydoras
  6. Mollies
  7. Neon tetras

All these fishes are small in size, and they are considered some of the proactive species of fish. These fish are smart enough to survive along with turtles. I would recommend introducing a school of these fish and observing which species perform best with turtles. 

Can turtles and goldfish live together?

It is not a good idea to keep goldfish with turtles. Goldfish are cold-water fish. They need water temperature below 74 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas, for turtles, water temperature should be between 75 degrees and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Secondly, goldfish are very slow, which makes them an easy target for turtles. Their flashy tails are another reason for turtles to attack them. 

Goldfish excrete a lot more than any other fish. This much amount of waste will contaminate tank water quickly. You will need a more powerful water filter; otherwise, the ammonia released from their feces will make your turtle sick.   

Dangerous fishes to avoid with turtle

It is always a good idea to keep small-sized fish in turtle tanks. However, you should avoid large fish species. Otherwise, they might attack turtles and cause them serious injury. 

Turtles are notorious, and they will go behind every moving object in the tank. By avoiding big-size fish and other aggressive fish species, you can prevent any collateral damage to your lovely aquatic animals.

Some other dangerous fish species which you should avoid keeping with turtles are:

  1. Catfish
  2. Electric eels
  3. Piranha
  4. Lobsters

All these species are super aggressive and could attack or hurt turtles easily. It is wise to avoid keeping these from turtles.  

3. Filter

Finding a turtle-compatible fish species is not very difficult. But you should be aware of the waste a school of fish can produce. If we combine the fish and turtle excrete, it would be a complete mess in the tank. This much waste could make your turtle sick. To avoid any such complications, it is recommended to install a powerful filtration system in the tank. 

As a turtle owner, I would suggest using canister filters. These filters can be mounted anywhere outside of the tank, and this way, it saves space inside the tank. Canister filters also provide multi-stage water filtration keeping water clean for both turtles and fish. 

4. Hiding places

Fishes won’t be able to survive long if you don’t have hiding places for them. Turtles are expert hunters, and they love to hunt fish. You have to help your fish to survive them against turtles. Making some hiding place in the tank is the best strategy you can follow to safeguard fish. 

Hiding places should be safe for fish, and there should be no way for turtles to enter that place. You can use PVC pipes, rocks or other decorative hideouts for making hiding places for your fish. 

5. Water temperature and other conditions

Turtles are cold-blooded animals. They can not maintain their body temperature like humans. For surviving, their tank water temperature should vary as per the outer environment. Ideally, the water temperature should be between 75 degrees to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. 

On the other hand, most tropical fishes require water temperature between 75 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. For keeping both turtle and fish healthy, water temperature should be between 75 degrees to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  

The pH level of water should also be maintained between 7.4 to 7.5, depending on the type of fish you have. Make sure you know what pH level is best for the fish species you have chosen. For turtles, the ideal pH level of water should be between 7.4 to 7.8 only.


If you follow some simple rules, it is possible to keep fish and turtles together. Tank size and fish species are the key factors that decide how the turtle will behave after introducing fish in the same tank. Some turtle species such as mud and musk turtles are less interested in fishes, and so these could be kept with any fish type. Red-eared turtles are more prone to attack fishes, so you should test different fish species one by one to check their compatibility with them. Smaller and active fishes have a better chance to survive against turtles.