can turtle eat fish food

Whether you have some leftover or you want to save money, you probably want to know if you can feed your turtle fish food. This article will explain if turtles can eat fish food, and give other feeding advice.

Can I feed my turtle fish food?

Yes, turtles can eat fish food and it won’t make them sick. However, over time it will not provide them with enough nutrients.

Below is a video that goes into detail on the best type of foods for turtles.

It is important to know that fish food is similar to turtle food and will not cause your turtle to get sick. Both turtles and fish are omnivores, and their commercial foods are similar in makeup. They both contain many of the same nutrients, including protein and vitamins A & D.

However, many fish foods don’t have enough nutrients inside them in order to sustain a healthy diet for a turtle. I’ll explain below.

Fish food doesn’t have enough key nutrients

In general, fish food does not have enough calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D3 to sustain a healthy diet for your turtle.


Most fish flake food has little to no calcium. This poses the biggest risk to your turtle, as they need high contents of calcium in their diet to maintain a strong shell.

healthy turtle shell

If you plan on feeding your turtle fish food for an extended period of time, you should supplement calcium into their diet. You can learn more in my article on do turtles need calcium.

Vitamin A

While fish food does contain vitamin A, the quantity is most likely not enough for a turtle. Vitamin A is essential for a turtle’s diet as it helps build up their immune system to protect them from infection.

You can supplement your turtle’s diet with dark leafy vegetables to help insure they are getting enough vitamin A. You can learn more in my article on what vitamins does a turtle need.

Vitamin D

It is also essential for turtles to consume vitamin D3. While fish food has this vitamin, it may not be enough, especially for a young, growing turtle.

Luckily, turtles can get vitamin D from basking in their tank, so make sure you have a good basking platform and light.

Do turtles like fish food?

turtle eating fish food

In my experience, I have found that turtles almost always like fish food. I have tested this out by putting both fish food and turtle food in the tank at the same time, and more often than not the turtle will go for the fish food.

I’m not sure if it’s because its less common for them so it peaks their interest, or if they are just more interested in the flavor. I will say fish flakes tend to have more of a variety in terms of flavor compared to commercial fish food.

How long can you feed your turtle fish food?

If you are only feeding your turtle fish food, I recommend only doing it for one to two weeks. After this period, you risk the chance of your turtle developing health problems due to the lack of nutrients in their diet.

However, if you are feeding your turtle commercial turtle food along with fish food, you can feed them fish food continually.

That being said, it is important to know the signs of a turtle with an inadequate diet.

What happens if you only feed your turtle fish food?

If you are only feeding your turtle fish food, you should keep an eye out for the following symptoms.

Puffy eyes or discharge

If you notice that your turtle is developing puffy eyes or discharge from their mouth or nose, there is a good chance that they have a vitamin A deficiency. This is common if you feed your turtle fish food for an extended period of time.

If you suspect this is the case, you should supplement their diet immediately with foods that are high in vitamin A.

Bone deformity/lack of movement

If you feed your turtle only fish food for an extended period of time, there is a good chance they will become deficient in calcium and possibly vitamin d. This can have detrimental affects on their body.

Their shell might start to become soft or deformed, which is a sign of metabolic bone disease. Their limbs might also start to swell up, which can cause them to not be able to swim or walk.

If your turtle develops any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should add calcium and vitamin d to their diet immediately.

Can baby turtles eat fish food?

I recommend not feeding baby turtles fish food. It won’t make them sick if they do, but their diets are more sensitive compared to adult turtles because they are undergoing periods of rapid growth.

Baby turtles require high protein diets to help fuel their growth, and most fish foods don’t supply enough protein. Feeding a baby turtle fish food over a long period of time can cause their growth to be stunted.

If you only have fish food, you can supplement your baby turtles diet with foods that are high in protein. For example, you can go outside and catch insects such as crickets, grasshoppers, etc. and feed them to your turtle. They are high in protein and will help sustain your turtle’s protein needs.

You can learn more in my article on the best food for hatchling turtles.

Can turtles eat fish food?

As you have learned above, it is totally okay to give your turtle fish food, as it is pretty similar to turtle food. That being said, it doesn’t contain all of the nutrients required for a turtle’s diet, so fish food should not be a long-term solution for their diet.  

cheap turtle supplies