What Fish Can Live With Turtles?

Keeping turtles as pets and setting up a proper setup requires time, planning, and money. If you have made up your mind about setting up an ideal aquarium set up for your pet turtles and your plan of action is an aquarium, filter, lighting, and heating, then, in my opinion, you are well on your way to caring for a healthy and happy turtle. In “What Fish Can Live With Turtles?” You’ll get brief detail:

If you have decided to add a few fish to the turtle habitat, you plan to set up, you might not be sure if fish can live with turtles. My answer to this super interesting question would be ‘yes, they can.’ Pet turtles can live in harmony with the pet fish, but like any other hobby, this one also has its fair share of ups and downs. First of all, you need to get many things done right. Not only this, to make this idea of keeping two species together in the same tank, you need to, perhaps, be a little bit lucky too.

Which Fish Are Compatible With Turtles?

If interspecies habitat setup is something new for you, we recommend you to start with fish like Zebrafish or Tetras. Both of these species are easily available, too, at cheap rates. They grow up to lengths of 1 to 2 inches. But more importantly, they are fast, smart, and smooth freshwater fish. Putting these fish in the aquarium is a good idea, especially if you are a beginner. Using these two species will help you test water quality and observe how your Turtle treats these fish and how long these fish can survive.


If the idea of the coexistence of turtles with either Zebrafish or Ttetras has been successful, you can further add some other aquatic animals like yellow Cichlids. They originate from Africa. They grow up to about 4 inches and can thrive in an aquarium. Please pay attention to the point that we have mentioned only electric yellow Cichlids. They sometimes become very aggressive, especially during mating. Therefore, we suggest you add only a small number of them initially.

Tropical Fish

Many people take any tropical fish and add that to the aquarium, which is not a good idea. This is because tropical fish possess long fins and tails. They can attract the attention that can damage the fish itself. Your pet turtle can become curious and bit fish in the tank they live in. This can happen to fish like Zebrafish, Tetra fish, and yellow cichlids. Zebras and Tetras can protect themselves from Turtles by running away quickly. Cichlids can also fight back or somehow stop Turtle from attacking them.

On the other hand, Tropical fish, as we have already said, possess long fins and tails, making them trapped in the Turtle’s mouth. It gets almost impossible for them to escape the attack of turtles.


Can we add Goldfish as tank mates with pet turtles? This is one of the most frequently asked questions as many people get attracted to Goldfish’s bright and stunning coloration, and so do they want to add Goldfish to their aquariums, even with turtles. As they are tropical fish, it is best to avoid intermixing their turtles. This is so for the reasons mentioned below.

Because of being a cold-water fish, Goldfish shows the best growth in environments with temperatures a bit lower than turtles.

They produce piles of waste. It increases ammonia levels and nitrites levels to an uncontrollable extent.

They grow a bit longer than the fish, which have perfect compatibility with the turtles. Although turtles cannot eat them (due to their large size), Goldfish can easily start breeding in your tank.

Important Factors to Consider

Important Factors to Consider

Before adding fish to your newly built Turtle’s habitat, you need to keep certain things in mind to ensure that these two species live in harmony with each other. These important factors include the aquarium size, the type of filter you will use, the tank conditions, and, most importantly, the compatibility of the two species.

Let’s have a closer look at the factors that can help you set up a pet turtle and a few fish as its tank mates.


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Compatibility of the Both Species

The first and foremost thing to consider before executing the idea of keeping a pet turtle and a fish is to check the compatibility between these two species. Most the types of turtles tend to chase fish and eat them when they are caught. If you want to add smaller, slow-swimming fish that a turtle observes as prey, we can bet that those poor fish will not last long. That’s why we suggest you be extra careful about the choice of fish to be kept with pet turtles.

An accurate rule of thumb that you should follow is to go for the types of fish that are fast swimming and have a size that isn’t too small to defend themselves whenever they get attacked by an aggressor or predator.

It’s always a good idea to provide pet fish with multiple hiding spots where they can hide to protect themselves from Turtle. These hiding spots can be any aquarium décor, PVC pipes, dense plants, or any other objects that fish can like to hide in or around. When you visit your local pet store to find fish compatible with your pet turtle, we suggest you not even look at Goldfish because they are too small to protect themselves from being prey to Turtle. Goldfish would not survive with a turtle. Although large, Goldfish are slow in swimming speed.

Size of the Aquarium

Make sure that the aquarium you buy should be spacious enough to house both turtles and fish (keeping in mind the maximum size which turtles and fish can grow up to). Only then these two species can coexist peacefully and happily. A too-small tank to house these species will leave a stain on the filter you are using. This strain can further lead to bacterial invasion, fungus build-up, and poor and less oxygenated living conditions.

We should house a turtle a six inches size in a tank of 30 gallons of water. 55 gallons of the tank should be available if you want to keep Turtle at six to eight inches. If the Turtle you have chosen to keep as a pet exceeds the size of eight inches, you will need at least 75 gallons of water where it can play and swim easily. If you follow the guidelines mentioned above, a few fish can live in harmony with your pet. By a “few fish,” we mean some of them literally and not their whole school.

Ensure water is deep enough where both Turtle and fish can swim around easily. Normally, water is supposed to be twice as deep as the length of a pet turtle.

The Tank Conditions

The aquarium you own must offer the optimal environmental conditions for both your pet fish and Turtle. These conditions include the pH level and the water temperature. If you provide both of your pets with water with a temperature of 76°F with a pH level of 7.5, both Turtle and fish would be very happy.

The Filtration

When your pet turtle coexists and mates like fish, both of these species will create waste in the water. This means while housing a turtle with fish, and you should have an even more powerful filtration system than a common submersible filter that most turtle owners use.

The canister filter is the best match for an aquarium housing fish and Turtle. This filter is our recommendation for all the right reasons as it is placed outside of the tank (leaving space within the aquarium for Turtle and fish). The best part about this filter is that it doesn’t take any room inside the tank. Not only this, it does an excellent job of cleaning water in stages.

Moreover, A turtle with a size of six inches needs 30 gallons of water. A turtle more than six inches(approximately up to eight inches) in size needs 55 gallons, and a turtle larger than eight inches requires at least 75 gallons of water. A few fishes most probably Less than ten fishes can live with in the turtle not a whole school.


I hope this article has helped you better understand the factors that need to be considered if someone wants to put a pet turtle along with fish. Although these two species can live in harmony, certain things need our attention. Like, we need to be careful to get an aquarium that is spacious enough to house both turtles and fish. Moreover, filtration should be more powerful than most turtle owners usually use the typical filter. If you are a beginner and aim to keep Turtle and fish together, we suggest you keep either Tetras or Zebrafish as both of these fish are easily available at cheaper rates. Once the idea turns out to be successful, you can further add fish like Chiclids, etc.