When it comes to the subject of a well balanced red eared slider diet, the important thing to remember is that sliders are omnivores. This means that they are opportunistic feeders, and in the wild they will happily eat animal or plant material. In captivity it’s best to follow a diet pattern of 25% pellet food, 50% greens and veggies, and 25% animal protein for adults. However, a young and growing red eared slider’s diet should be more carnivorous to help fuel their growth, so for them it’s best to bump the protein portion up to 50% (with pellets 25%, greens and veggies 25%).
Red Eared Slider Feeding Frequency
When considering how often to feed red eared sliders, the main deciding factor is the age of your turtle. In young and growing turtles, especially those less than a year old, food should be offered daily. In the case of fully grown sliders, food should be offered every two to three days.
Be aware that red eared sliders are very capable beggars, and will likely try to get food out of you more often. Overfeeding can lead to negative developmental and health effects such as shell disfigurement or organ failure, so make sure to stick to your pre-determined feeding schedule.
Red Eared Slider Diet Options
Quality pellet food forms a good nutritional base for your red eared slider. They offer a good mix of protein, vitamins, and minerals, but they shouldn’t be relied on as a sole food source. For an adult red eared slider, pellets should make up about 25% of their diet. A few popular types of freshwater turtle pellets are:
Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
An adult red eared slider should have its diet consist of at least 50% fresh greens. In the wild, they eat aquatic plants and other vegetable matter, but as a pet they can be happily fed out of your local supermarket’s produce section. Fresh greens are crucial to your slider’s health, and without them it is at risk of developing a dangerous vitamin K deficiency. Last note, it may be helpful to shred these food items before giving them to your slider so they are easier to eat.
- Suitable greens:
- Dandelion Leaves, Red Leaf Lettuce, Green Leaf Lettuce (not iceburg, iceburg is lacking in nutrients), Kale
- Suitable fruit:
- Cantaloupe, Pears, Papaya, Apple, Mangos, Figs
- Suitable Vegetables:
- Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans, Zucchini, Pumpkin
Another excellent option for meeting your red eared slider diet’s 50% fresh greens recommendation is to add aquatic plants to its tank. These are the kinds of plants they would be eating in their natural habitat, and are a great way to round out a diet. They also have the advantage of assisting in your tank’s nitrogen cycle and giving your turtles something healthy to munch on when they feel like it. These plants can be bought at aquatic pet stores or online. A few recommended types are:
- Water Hyacinth
- Amazon Swords
The last 25% of your red eared slider diet should consist of animal proteins. This is an especially important part of the diet to research because there are a few foods that can cause harm if fed to your sliders. For example, previously frozen fish contain thiaminase, which destroys vitamin b1 in your sliders. Crayfish can transmit a bacteria which causes shell rot, and goldfish often harbor parasites. Earthworms are great, but those collected from outside (rather than bought) can contain pesticides or parasites. Below we will list some protein sources generally agreed upon by aquatic turtle keepers.
- Pinhead Crickets