Water Turtles in Goldfish Ponds

Water Turtles in Goldfish Ponds

There is some debate whether aquatic water turtles will eat the goldfish in their pond or not. The short answer is yes – and no. Many goldfish pond keepers and goldfish tank owners that have introduced pond turtles and goldfish as tank mates tell stories that describe a varying degree of success. Some say their pond turtles go after the goldfish and eat or injury them, while others say their pond turtles are oblivious to the presence of the goldfish. One theory is that the wrong breed of turtle was selected. Some pond turtle breeds are more aggressive than others. Clearly one would want to avoid the aggressive pond turtle breeds and select a more gentle breed that prefer greens to protein.


Pond Turtles for Goldfish Ponds

  • Red Eared Slider Turtle
  • Northern Red Bellied Turtles
  • Peninsula Cooter Turtle

Turtles to Avoid

  • Snapping Turtle
  • Mud Turtle
  • Soft Shelled Turtle
  • Musk Turtle
Another theory is that some pond turtles will not be aggressive towards goldfish if the pond turtles are introduced into a goldfish pond, opposed to goldfish being introduced into a turtle pond. It is thought that a newly introduced pond turtle will adapt to its surroundings and not be as aggressive towards the inhabitants that were there first. This has been successfully tested in at least one case in which a red eared slider turtle was introduced into an establish goldfish pond. The resident pond goldfish were curious about their new red eared slider tank mate while the red eared slider was a bit timid. In the end these pond keepers never really had any problems. That could have been due to the fact that the red eared slider turtle was well fed by turtle pellets. It’s much easier to eat a floating pellet than chase around a goldfish.

Pond Turtle Care

Most aquatic turtle species prefer to live in water between 75-85*F but many species will adapt and can live in cooler water. Aquatic turtles begin to hibernate in the mud on the bottom when the water temperature drops below 50*F. Many pond keepers in climate regions below 7 will winter their smaller and less hardy pond turtles indoors.

Different breeds prefer different depths of water but all of them will need a place where they can crawl out of the water to bask in the sun. Turtles are cold blooded so they need to warm themselves in the sun. Adding a semi submerge log creates a ramp for the pond turtles to crawl up and bask on. Other options can include a floating island or floating aquatic plants. By placing these basking areas in the goldfish pond and away from the banks will keep raccoons, coyotes and other goldfish pond predators from making a meal of them.

Build an enclosure to keep any wandering red ear sliders or other pond turtles from escaping. This wandering behavior occurs more often when they are looking for a mate. If these pond turtles escape they might become prey for a predator or find local water ways to invade. In fact, many aquatic turtles are illegal in certain states, like the red eared slider in Florida because they interbreed with other aquatic turtle species. They are also banned on the entire continent of Australia and owners can face jail time and a huge fine. Always check to make sure you are buying legal turtles and are legal where you live.

Reviewed By: Tim Winter

Tim Winter has a strong affection for pets and wildlife. His years of experience caring for various types of pets has led him to share his knowledge with others on the best practices in pet care. Tim holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications.

2 thoughts on “Water Turtles in Goldfish Ponds”

    • Debbie. A turtle will try to escape the confines of the pond. My red earred slider make several attempts at going down the driveway. It takes them about 3 weeks to get used to their new home. Terry, my terrapin does not try to leave any more. He’s quite happy to bask by my pond now.


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