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how often to feed red eared slider

One of the most important tasks when caring for a red-eared slider is making sure they get enough food. It is also important that you don’t overfeed them. In today’s article, I will explain exactly how much and how often you should feed your red-eared slider.

Let’s start first with the frequency.

How often should you feed a red-eared slider?

Depending on the age of your red-eared slider, you will need to either feed them twice a day, once a day, or every other day.

You can learn more in my video below:

Younger red-eared sliders should be fed twice a day to help support their growth. Older, mature turtles that have stopped growing only need to be fed every other day. While there isn’t an exact age where you need to switch their feeding frequency, below is a good chart for guidance.

In terms of pellets, I strongly recommend this aquatic turtle food from ZooMed.

zoo med turtle food

It is high in protein and also has important vitamins such as vitamin A and vitamin D3. Below is a video where it won the competition for being my turtle’s favorite pellet food.

Red-eared slider feeding schedule

Red-eared slider ageFeeding frequency
Hatchlings/Babies (0-2 years old)Twice a day
Juveniles (2-6 years old)Once a day
Adults (6 years old and up)Every other day

If you are unsure of the age of your turtle, the pic below should give you a good estimate.

How to Tell a Red-Eared Slider's Age

Once your red-eared slider reaches full maturity and stops growing, you can change their feeding schedule to every other day or even every three days. Most red-eared sliders will reach their full size between the ages of six and eight.

Now that you know how often to feed your red-eared slider, let’s talk about how much.

How much to feed a red-eared slider?

While it depends on the time of food, you should typically feed your turtle the amount of food that is the size of their head.

This is pretty easy when it comes to pellets and insects. However, fruits and vegetables can be a little harder to estimate.

I usually give my red-eared slider a lettuce leaf that is about the size of their shell. It usually takes her a day or so to finish it. For fruits, I just cut up a couple small pieces.

Other people recommend feeding your turtle whatever they can eat in 10-20 minutes. While this might work for some turtles, I have found that this method can result in overfeeding.  

Regardless of how much you feed your red-eared slider, make sure to always put their food directly in the water. They prefer to eat in the water because it helps them breakdown and digest their food.

It is important to note that no matter how much you feed your red-eared slider, they will always continue to beg for food. They might follow you around, open their mouths, or constantly swim to the top of the surface. While it can be tempting, it is important to stick to a regular feeding schedule.

Now that you know how often and how much to feed, let’s discuss a red-eared slider’s diet.

Red-eared slider diet

As omnivores, a red-eared slider diet should consist of food from both animal and plant sources. While the proportions will depend on the age of your turtle, a red-eared slider diet should consist of commercial pellets, vegetables, and occasional fruits/protein treats.

Below I will breakdown the diet for each stage of life.

Hatchling/baby red-eared slider diet

Since a young red-eared slider is growing a lot, you will need to feed them a high protein diet. This should look something like 50% pellets, 30% vegetables, and 20% protein (insects). You can also feed them occasional fruit.

As mentioned above, you should feed your baby red-eared slider every day. You can learn more in my article on how to care for a baby red-eared slider.

Juvenile red-eared slider diet

red eared slider diet

A juvenile red-eared slider should start to eat more vegetables. A good breakdown is 40% pellets, 40% vegetables, and 20% insects.

If your turtle refuses to eat vegetables, you should switch up the kind to see what they are interested in.

Adult red-eared slider diet

Your red-eared slider’s diet will change once it reaches full maturity around the age of 6. At this point, their diet should consist mostly of vegetables (75%). Around 20% of their diet should be pellets, and the remaining 5% can be a mix between fruit and insects.

As a red-eared slider owner, I can tell you that their appetite is huge!

I could literally feed giant handfuls of tender filet mignon steak to my slider 3x a day and it would still appear to be starving as I gave it a 4th serving.

Red-eared slider food

Below are the 4 main food choices that I feed my Red-Eared Slider. As mentioned earlier, older sliders will likely need more vegetable based food while younger sliders need more protein.

Red-eared slider food list

Tetra Tetrafauna Pro Turtle Food

    Price: ~$10 Nutrition: High Protein and Vitamin D3

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Aquatic Turtle Medley Food - Freeze Dried Shrimp & Mealworms for Aquatic Turtle

    Price: ~$15 Nutrition: High Protein and Fiber

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Fluker’s Buffet Blend Turtle Food

    Price: ~$8 Nutrition: High Protein and Vitamin A

Check Price On Amazon
red eared slider food

Best turtle food for red eared slider

Here are some options for the best vegetables and proteins for red eared sliders:

In the past, I have had turtles that will not eat fresh vegetables. I found the best alternative to fresh vegetables was the Zilla vegetable and fruit mix.

You can feed red-eared sliders fresh fruit, but it shouldn’t be fed daily.

I recommend using some type of aquatic pellet as your main protein staple, as this will ensure that your turtle gets an adequate amount of protein and other minerals and vitamins. A lot of other protein sources are actually devoid of nutritional content.

It is important to feed a red eared slider vegetables that have a lot of calcium. This can help prevent red eared slider shell rot.

More Red-Eared Slider Foods

For treats and to round-out their diet, I would recommend the following:

Protein Treats

  • Feeder fish
  • Crickets
  • Earthworms
  • Crayfish
  • Ghost shrimp
  • Krill

Vegetable and Fruit Treats

  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Collard greens
  • Endive
  • Banana (in small amounts)
  • Aquatic plants

If you are interested in feeding your turtle feeder fish, you should watch my video below.

For vegetable sources, a handful of romaine lettuce daily will do. If it’s too much they will simply stop eating it. It’s quite difficult for red-eared sliders to gorge on vegetables.

For protein sources, I would advise you to give them enough food that would fit into the size of their head was it empty.

Summary

To summarize how often to feed a red-eared slider:

  • You can feed your turtle daily.
  • Hatchlings can be fed protein daily.
  • Juveniles can fed protein every other day.
  • Adult turtles should be fed once or twice a week, less as they age.
  • In order to figure out how often to feed your turtle, you will need to determine how old it is. You can do this by measuring the length of its shell and by looking at its coloring.
  • Pellets should make up the bulk of its protein sources.
  • As red-eared sliders age, they should be fed more and more vegetables and less and less protein.
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