Freshwater turtles: how to care, what they eat and aquariums


It worries you how to feed a turtle? Taking care of your torture food can be very simple if you know how.

The land and water turtles are normally omnivorous reptiles, that is, they feed on both vegetables, fish and small insects. The simplest is to give your turtle the common food that you can find in any pet store. But what to do if your pet refuses to eat it?

Beyond their diet, there are also some basic care that you must follow if you want your turtle to grow home. Do you know them?

Essential care to have a turtle

Turtles are quite resistant animals, but this does not mean that you can neglect their living conditions. In addition to knowing how to feed a turtle, you should know the following "basics":

  • In your aquarium they are essential An area with deep water and an always dry surface.
  • The aquarium must be located in a place where the sun inc>

Freshwater turtles

Although turtles are not animals with which we can interact very actively, they are ideal for children to learn to be responsible.

It is important to be aware of your needs so that the turtles remain healthy. We give you some basic principles so you know how to properly care for your water turtle.

The water turtle is a pet that must adapt an artificial space similar to its natural environment. You need an aquarium with the ideal temperature.

The turtle feeds on plants, meat and various aquatic insects.

The aquarium for water turtles

You should choose an aquarium large enough so that the turtle (better if there are two) feels comfortable. You must take into account the fact that it will grow. Inside the aquarium you will prepare an area without water so that the turtle can rest and sunbathe.

The aquarium should be deep enough for the animal to swim comfortably.

Try to place it in an area of ​​the house where the turtle receives sunlight (it needs it for its bones and its shell). If this is not possible, buy lamps that reproduce sunlight. It is essential for the turtle to grow healthy.

Like fish, turtles require that the water have a temperature between 26 and 28 degrees. You should also make sure that the temperature of your environment does not fall below 25 degrees (with a lamp) to prevent the temperature change from being too brutal and affecting your long-term health.

Water requires a lot of attention. Therefore, it should always be clean to prevent disease. To keep it clean, you can install a filter or change the water frequently although it will depend on the speed with which the turtle dirties its space.

Water turtle food

You will find special food for turtles in animal stores. However, other foods can be added. Remember that turtles are omnivorous and that it is important not to give them prepared foods intended for human consumption (with salt, spices, etc.)

You will have to be very careful with food so that they adapt to your nutritional needs.

Turtles eat three times a day when they are small. The adults eat less.

The health of a freshwater turtle

The health of the turtles depends on three factors: that they receive adequate sunlight, feed properly and that the area be kept clean. The appearance of fungi in the shell is a common problem. To avoid this, you can pour salt (1/4 cup for every 19 liters of water). Consult with a specialist.

Remember that turtles need attention to grow healthy.

Turtle species

Ask at the store what the name of the turtle is and the species to which it belongs.

The most used turtles as pets belong to the Testudines family., There are several types (genera) in this family. The largest is the genus Testudo to which the Mediterranean turtle (Testudo hermanni), the black turtle (Testudo graeca), the Mediterranean turtle (Testudo horsfieldii) or the turtle aligned (Testudo marginata) belongs.

Also in the family of Testudines, of the genus Geochelone, the leopard tortoise (Geochelone pardalis) and the red tongue of the coal turtle (Geochelone carbonaria) are included, among others.

As for water turtles, the most famous is the Trachemys type to which the red-eared turtle or Florida turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans) and the yellow-eared yellow-bellied turtle (yellow belly slider) belong. There are also many turtles of the genus Pseudemis. The red-bellied Florida tortoise (Pseudemis nelsoni) is the most famous.

Be careful because some species of turtles, such as the blackberry tortoise (Trachemys Graeca), are protected by law in many countries.

The legs of the turtles

You should look at its legs to know if a turtle is land or water.
The legs of aquatic turtles have to facilitate swimming and that is why they have membranes between the claws of the legs (interdigital membranes) easy to observe with the naked eye.

In contrast, land turtles do not have those membranes. Its legs are shaped like a tube and its claws are poorly developed.

In some aquatic turtles, the claws are not long and pointed but rather rounded and difficult to detect with the naked eye because they are stunted.

The shell of the turtles

The shell also depends on the type of turtle as it adapts to the reptile's habitat.

A soft shell does not resist and helps the turtles move better in the water. The shell of a water turtle is much softer. The land turtle is very rough and irregular.

How to feed a water turtle

Turtles are excellent pets that, like any animal, require special care and attention. Food is the aspect that, in general, most worries its owner because it is not always clear what kind of food he should give and how to get it.

Commercial foods that can be found in specialty stores are an excellent alternative to feed water turtles. These foods are nutritionally balanced and provide the turtle with everything it needs to be healthy.

However, it is possible that your turtle decides not to eat, which is very common if it has been recently caught or is not used to this type of food. Do not forget that in their natural state, depending on the species, they are herbivores or omnivores.

If your turtle does not want to eat food bought in the market or mixed with other natural products, you can opt for the alternative we offer you: vegetables.

Remember that the turtle likes this type of food. Small pieces of lettuce, carrot, cabbage or cucumber can become a delicious accompaniment.

If you notice that he only eats vegetables and ignores commercial food, it is important that you continue insisting that he will usually end up eating it after a while.

With regard to animal protein, fish is a simple alternative and you can give it to your turtle taking into account that it should not be salted.

Avoid giving it the so-called blue fish (tuna, sardine, salmon) as it has more fat and will fatten your turtle.

Crickets are also a good alternative to feed turtles. Full of nutrients and vitamins, they can be easily found in animal stores specializing in reptiles and represent a dish that turtles normally crave.

The amount you will give depends on the species and size.
Larvae are also a good alternative to vary the diet of water turtles. They are found in stores specializing in reptiles.

In general, small insects are a good alternative to feed water turtles that allow them to vary a bit from typical commercial food. This will prevent, above all, that they get bored of food. They can become a feast for small turtles, ants and spiders that we find in the home

This is some good suggestions. If you have any questions about the amount of food you should give to water turtles, the best thing you can do is consult a specialist.

How to care for a water turtle that hibernates

Certain cold-blooded animals such as turtles, and mammals such as bears, hibernate during the coldest months of the year to protect against low temperatures and lack of food at that time.

In the case of turtles, all species do not hibernate but do have to prepare properly to overcome those weeks without food. Since they are not in their natural environment, it is very important to know how to take care of them so that they successfully overcome that stage.

All turtles do not hibernate

All species do not hibernate. When you buy a turtle, so that it lives healthy, it is very important that you know the species, the type of climate to which it is accustomed and all its habits.

The species of turtles that hibernate are:

  • The Bolsón desert.
  • The board of Florida Trachemys Scripta.
  • The Testudo horsfieldii or Horsfield.
  • The Clemmys or Wood Insculpata.
  • The Guttata Clemmys or punctate.
  • Box turtles
  • Ninja Turtle.

If your turtle is part of one of these species, you should learn how to take care of it while it hibernates.

At the beginning of the hibernation of the turtles

In their natural environment, turtles begin to hibernate when temperatures begin to drop and are below 10 degrees. Normally, the hibernation process, depending on the weather, lasts 3 to 6 months.

The animal prepares for this process and stops eating three weeks before hibernation to completely empty its intestines (your health will be affected if they are full).

When turtles should not hibernate

It is important to prevent turtles from hibernating in these cases:

  • If the animal is underweight or ill.
  • If the shell is broken or damaged.
  • If dehydrated
  • If the turtle has an egg.

In these cases, if your turtle is not healthy, the best thing you can do is create an environment in the terrarium or aquarium similar to summer so that you do not feel the need to hibernate and can recover properly. Otherwise, he will die.

How to take care of a turtle that hibernates

Before hibernation, it is important to make sure that the turtle has not eaten for weeks and has no remains of debris in its intestines. Dip your turtle in water at 30 degrees and leave it there until it is ejected.

Once your pet is ready, lethargy will begin to hibernate. It is necessary to keep in mind that:

    The temperature> What are the symptoms that can alert me to the health of my turtle?

Turtle watching can help cope with your health problems. A sick turtle exhibits abnormal behavior that is expressed by the following symptoms:

Water turtle feeding

Water turtle diet: Feeding is a fundamental part in the care of water turtles. One of its characteristics is its voracious appetite, so a balanced diet at an appropriate temperature of the aquarium or cabin will guarantee the healthy and happy life of our turtle.

On the contrary, if our turtle does not show appetite and / or refuses food it would be a cause for concern.

They are omnivorous animals, that is, they eat meat, fish and vegetables. In freedom they usually feed on fish, crustaceans, snails, molluscs and aquatic plants, although when Trachemys, Graptemys and Pseudemys They are young, because they are growing they show a preference for proteins, so they are mostly carnivorous.

As we mentioned in other posts, turtles should eat and therefore be fed in the water, since they use it to swallow food and drink, and they usually go to the bottom to chop food. Hence, the water should be in the best possible hygienic conditions, and of temperature, since this will affect the metabolism of our chelonium.


Ideally, the diet should be as balanced and varied as possible, so that they have all the possible vitamins and nutrients, for their best development (but being varied within the foods and indications below)

The food BASE must be a I think Special for water turtles. These sticks or feed are balanced food preparations, especially for turtles, different from other feeds such as dogs or pond fish, the former being unsuitable for turtles and the latter not sufficient for turtles. Therefore, keep in mind that it is, we repeat, especially for water turtles.

Nutritional analysis that should contain good feed for water turtles:

Crude protein 35 - 42%
Crude fat 5 - 10%
Raw fiber 2 - 5%
Ashes 2 - 5%
Humidity 5 - 10%

You can find the best feed in pet shop, online stores and specialized pets. (above some examples)

The feed can be supplied daily and we will repeat the Pillar of our turtle's diet as it offers all the basic nutrients for our turtle's diet.

However, the feed could or should be supplemented with other animals (which they usually eat in their natural habitat) with fruit, vegetables and meat or fish, the latter to a lesser extent as we will see below.

Another food that is also important, could be:

Irons which constitute a complete and nutritious food that can be provided on a regular basis, beetles, that they are a complete food too, although alive they can be very aggressive, so it is not recommended to give it to young turtles, and freshwater fish like Guppies, Gambussias, Mollies, Tents.

Vegetables, fruits and vegetables:

Themlike the apple, the pear, the lettuce, the carrot, the melonamong others . They should be fed in the water, since they use it to swallow and digest food, and in turn is where they chop their food when it is large to swallow.

Fruits, as the best choice are soft pulp, such as apple, pear that we have already commented, but leaving citrus fruits like orange aside. Nor should we abuse the fruits much as they can produce intestinal parasites.

Vegetables are essential for Vitamin Abut you have to avoid spinach by its oxalic content, and can damage the kidney, and the cabbages that cause diarrhea in addition to thyroid problems (goiter)

Aquatic plants:

They also usually eat plants, so if we have some plants in the aquarium or aquarium, they will eat them. Some plants that can eat would be: elodea (Dense egeria ), Java fern ( Microsorium pteropus ), water lilies, water lentils, salvinia, azolla, water lettuces ( Pistia stratiotes ) or water hyacinths ( Eichhornia Crassipes ), among other.

Both fruits, vegetables like aquatic plants can be supplied a couple of times a week.

Water hyacinth

Meat, fish and seafood:

They can be given low-fat meat cooked always (and in non-ground strips) and better always chicken, such as breast or pork. Regarding fish and shellfish, they can be given any type (provided they have been frozen for at least 48 hours)

Other foods to complement (although not complete) can be earthworms, freshwater snails or land (not sea) grasshoppers or other insects (which can be purchased at pet stores or raised at home).

While meat or fish are great sources of both protein and phosphorus, and some vitamins, it would be ideal if we supplied it to our turtles once a week.


The dried shrimp or prawns (gammarus) that they sell in some stores, are for turtles an occasional treat since they love them, but due to the elaboration process used, they lack vitamins and other nutrients that are essential for turtles, and They can never be a unique food For our turtle.

We have seen cases of turtles fed only with this product, but it is a serious mistake since it does not provide all the necessary nutrients for a healthy turtle. These treats must be supplied once a week.


Calcium is essential for the turtle since they are mostly shell. This, being bone, is basically formed of calcium and that is why the good synthesis of vitamin D is necessary. With a good balanced diet, it would not be necessary to add any calcium supplement, but if the situation requires it, supplements can be obtained of calcium in any pet store, or online stores, but we believe that if a good dose is important in the first months of our turtle's life, or first years. Then, with a proper and fully balanced diet like the one we suggest, it would not be as necessary.


Like calcium, with a balanced and balanced diet, vitamin supplements would not be necessary, being used when there is any type of deficiency in the diet or in a possible case of illness, and so it is prescribed by the exotic veterinarian. . Do not abuse these supplements as they can damage the liver and kidneys, so always advise before using them with our turtle without knowledge, or apply them with caution or in small doses.


Some NOT recommended foods they would be those that have saturated fats, such as cooked or serrano ham, sausages, citrus fruits such as orange or tangerine, cabbage and spinach in vegetables, cheeses, cookies, bread, cereals.

Any food that is ignored after 10 minutes must be removed from the water. Also, it is important to monitor the diet and prevent the turtles from getting fat, because if we cannot put their health at risk.


The issue of how often and how much to feed our quelonios is somewhat complex, since it depends on the type of turtle, the activity you have, the age and the type of food that we are going to give you.

We recommend feeding the turtles, to regulate their diet, 1 or 2 times a day with their diet BASE. In the morning and in the afternoon if we have to give it 2 times. Then the complementary food, which will be, as the case may be, as we have seen once or twice a week.

Many turtle fans usually use this method to turn it into a routine for their pets to feed them first thing in the morning (eg when rising) and when the sun goes dark or dark. Nor is it too important when, but it is something that is already routine that we can internalize and be useful and pragmatic (eg when we come from work) and also meet certain requirements that are not two meals in a short time.

Among the known authors we have different opinions.

Harmut Wilke:

Let the turtle fast for a day. Then weigh the turtle's favorite food or measure the amount by flushing a teaspoon.

Feed him until he loses his initial voracity and begins to show
Little interest in food. The ideal ration will be half of that amount (50%).

Youth frequency: Once a day.
Subadult frequency: Every two days.
Adult frequency: Twice a week.

If you notice that the turtle is obese, reduce the amount of food in a
30% to 40% until the turtle has consumed its fat stores. (Harmut

Jordan Patterson:
He advises us to experiment with different quantities, letting ourselves be carried away by instincts, and then seeing the results.

Look at the limbs of the animal. Is the skin bulky and stained? Maybe he has been overeating the turtle.

If on the contrary, the legs look too thin, and the skin
Something loose, maybe it's time to increase the portions.


For water turtles, a balanced, balanced and varied diet is necessary, that is, eat in addition to the feed which will be your BASE Diet, a little of each food group, and within each group, you will have to alternate some foods with others, on certain days of the week.

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