Aquatic turtle feeding

If you have decided to get a turtle, you should learn what kind of care they need. Aquatic turtles are not the same as terrestrial turtles and their diet varies. In this article we will focus on the diet of aquatic turtles.

Aquatic turtles are omnivorous animals that feed on animal proteins and plants. When they are still young and growing, they need a somewhat higher percentage of protein, but when they are adults more than 50% of their diet should consist of fresh vegetables.

Special feed for aquatic turtles

There are commercial feeds for aquatic turtles of very good quality that you can use as part of the daily diet, although you can also use fish or reptile food. We recommend that you use the one that comes in the form of sticks or floating pellets because it makes less mess in the water. It is very important that you offer a wide variety of foods to your turtle, just like those eaten by turtles in the wild, to ensure that it receives all the nutrients it needs. To achieve this, commercial feed should not exceed 25% of the total daily ration.

Insects in the aquatic turtle diet

Another 25% of the diet of aquatic turtles must be composed of animal proteins. Within this category are crickets, worms, larvae and other insects bred for reptiles.

  • Crickets: They are the most common live food given to these chelonians, and an excellent food as they are a complete and nutritious meal. They can be bred in captivity to feed them or can be obtained already packaged.
  • Worms: Worms are another preferred food for tortoises. They are a food that is, nutritionally, good but incomplete.
  • Larvae: The larvae left in the water of some insects are a real delicacy for these freshwater turtles, which devour them with great appetite.

As mentioned above, you can raise your own insects, but do not use those found in the garden because they may have bacteria that can harm the health of your tortoise. From time to time, you can offer some shrimp or beef or chicken cooked in small pieces. This protein is not the most suitable for every day, since in nature aquatic turtles eat whole insects and not just the muscle meat.

Fish in your turtle’s diet

As for animal protein, fish is a very easy alternative. You can give your turtle the same fish that you buy for your home, but make sure that it is not too salty and that it is raw. Also keep in mind that no matter how much you wash it, there is always some oil left over from the fish that will dirty the water, even if you feed it separately, so when it is returned to its original pond you should wash your pet.

Remember that part of the diet of adult aquatic turtles is to hunt tadpoles and live fish, obviously your turtle will find it easier to eat dead fish than live fish, but from time to time you have to let him exercise by making him hunt his food and activate his instinct. This food is relatively inexpensive and can be purchased throughout the year.

Vegetables eaten by aquatic turtles

The remaining 50% of your aquatic turtle’s daily diet should be composed of vegetables. We recommend that you accustom your turtle from a very young age so that it learns to accept them with pleasure, since in the wild these animals are basically herbivores. Among the vegetables you can give to your aquatic turtle are collard greens, dandelion greens, ground carrots and pumpkin, peas. You can also offer some cut fruit such as apple, melon, berries, etc, but never feed citrus. Include occasional pieces of melon with rind, as the harder consistency will keep your tortoise’s beak in shape. Aquatic plants are also part of the food that water turtles eat, so they can be very beneficial. So, if you have a pond you can plant some for your pet to eat.  In this way, the aquatic turtles’ food is much more complete and enriched, making their life even longer.

Food supplements for aquatic turtles

You will also need to add a calcium and reptile vitamin supplement twice a week. Remember that for proper calcium absorption, the tortoise should receive direct sunlight or UVB/UVA radiation from a reptile lamp about 3 to 4 hours per day.

How much food should I feed my aquatic turtle?

Growing turtles should be fed every day, but adults can eat every day and a half. The best way for turtles to eat is to put their food directly into the water, as it helps them to catch it better and lubricate it for swallowing, which can be quite messy and spoil the aquarium water. A good alternative is to feed them in a separate container, a simple plastic container can be very useful. This method will also help you to check if your turtle is feeding well, especially if you have more than one. The floating pellets and plants that turtles eat can be left in the aquarium, as they do not dirty the water as much and allow them to take a little extra food when they want it.

Tortoises have a voracious appetite, so you should avoid overfeeding them. Overweight in a tortoise can be seen in the form of folds in the legs as they retract into the shell. If you notice that your tortoise is a little chubbier than usual, you will have to put it on a diet by increasing the proportion of vegetables!

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