Can Turtles Eat Goldfish

Can Turtles Eat Goldfish?

Turtles have a versatile taste in terms of eating food items. This is quite obvious because they are omnivorous and opportunistic eaters. Moreover, the diverse eating habits of turtles vary based on their species. If you are thinking about feeding goldfish to turtles or adding your turtles to a tank with live goldfish, you should consider “Can turtles eat goldfish?”

Turtles can eat goldfish due to its nutritional value. It’s a safe feeder fish for turtles to prey on if they’re appropriately sized. Otherwise, goldfish’s spiny bones can cause serious damage to the throat and intestine of turtles. However, goldfish are not always suitable for pet turtles if you neglect a turtle’s all-around diet. 

I understand that the relationship between turtles and goldfish looks like it is sinking in ambiguity. That’s why I decided to answer your concerns about ‘Can turtles eat goldfish?’ in this guide. Just follow the footprints of this topic till the end!

Let’s dig in!

Can Turtles Eat Goldfish?

Absolutely Yes! Turtles can eat goldfish. It’s a good source of minerals, vitamins, and proteins. However, all turtle types and species do not eat goldfish.

On the flip side, many turtle species like to eat goldfish but lose their health. So, there is a difference of opinion about feeding goldfish to turtles. The simple answer is – “goldfish is safe for most of the individual turtles, and it is unsuitable for many turtles, too.”

One thing is obvious, “Can turtles eat goldfish?” depends on the following factors:

  • Size of the turtle

The size of your turtle is very important to consider when you decide whether to offer them goldfish. Smaller turtles can struggle with larger goldfish, which can cause digestion issues or choking hazards. It can also damage the throat and intestine of your little turtles, but larger turtles can handle larger prey.

  • Age of your turtle

The dietary needs of turtles change as they age. Young turtles are fond of eating different items to get more protein for their growth, while older ones require a balanced diet. So, it would be best if we did not offer goldfish to juvenile and old-age turtles. Feed goldfish to adult turtles!

  • Size of the goldfish

The size of the goldfish is a key factor before thinking about feeding it to turtles. Small goldfish are primarily suitable for most of the turtles. It’s essential to match the size of the goldfish to the turtle’s ability to consume and digest it comfortably.

  • Species of the turtle

Different turtle species have varying dietary preferences and requirements. Some are primarily herbivores, while others are omnivores or carnivores. Understanding the specific dietary habits of your turtle’s species will help you find whether goldfish are a suitable and nutritious part of their diet.

Last but not least, personal preference and appetite level matter a lot whether goldfish is the turtle’s favorite diet or not!

Related article: Do turtles eat tadpoles?

Things to Consider While Offering Goldfish to Turtles:

Here are a few tips to consider before adding goldfish to the bowl of your turtles:

  1. Various turtle species cannot eat large-sized goldfish. An appropriately sized goldfish is enough for them to consume.
  2. Live goldfish can introduce diseases. Opt for prepared, disease-free alternatives like frozen or pellet forms of goldfish. Cooked goldfish are also suitable for turtles to eat but without spices and salt.
  3. It’s important to consider that goldfish are sized appropriately for turtles. All turtles cannot chew the whole goldfish at once. So, chop the goldfish into smaller pieces that will be easier for them to chew and digest.
  4. Goldfish are not the primary (or sole) component of the turtle’s diet. Don’t forget to offer them other food items like fruits, vegetables, and turtle food to maintain their nutritional needs.
  5. If you notice spines in your goldfish, remove them all to prevent any future mishap.
  6. Goldfish increase waste in the turtle’s habitat. That’s why it’s important to maintain a clean environment to prevent water quality issues.
  7. Monitor the quantity of goldfish while adding it to the plate of your turtle to prevent overfeeding. Excessive consumption of goldfish can lead to obesity and health issues.

Follow the steps mentioned above to prevent health issues in your pet turtles.

What are the benefits of feeding goldfish to turtles?

I know comet goldfish are known as widely used feeder fishes for your turtles. Still, many pet keepers intentionally avoid feeding the comet goldfish to turtles. Let’s see what are the benefits associated with feeding goldfish to turtles and keeping turtles:

  1. Excellent source of nutrients:

There is no doubt that goldfish are an excellent source of nutrients like vitamin A, protein, phosphorus, calcium, and many other minerals. Specifically, calcium that is present in goldfish bones is best for maintaining strong turtle shells and overall skeletal health. As a result, goldfish can bring various health advantages to your pet turtles.

  1. Right Treat at the Right Time:

If your turtle’s food is out of stock and you don’t have any alternative food, feeding goldfish to turtles is the right option. Plus, goldfish is the right occasional treat for your turtles. But don’t give them this food regularly.

  1. Best tank mates:

Live goldfish in the same tank is not just good for turtles to eat, but turtles also get involved in physical activity, which is good for their health. You would have seen turtles chasing goldfish to capture and eat them.

This is an excellent physical and mental exercise for them. That’s why comet goldfish are the best tank mates for turtles as a food and an activity source. Watch this fantastic YouTube video of a turtle chasing goldfish joyfully.

Important Note:

The goldfish you are keeping in the same tank for your turtles must be smaller in size. Aggressive and larger goldfish can harm your turtles. For example, their bones can stick to the throat of your turtle when the turtle gobbles them up. This is not an enjoyable scene for both the owner and the turtle.

What are the drawbacks of feeding goldfish to turtles?

Did you know goldfish is a rich source of fats and enzymes, especially thiaminase, which can cause vitamin deficiency in turtles? They can suffer from a deficiency of vitamin B1 and vitamin E. Moreover, the goldfish you buy from pet stores are mainly prone to bacteria, germs, and parasites.

So, these goldfish can harm your pets’ health if purchased from local pet stores. It’s important to know that most pet stores offer goldfish and other mass-produced fish species. That’s why these fish species are definitely not good for the well-being of your turtle if grown on local farms.

Apart from the disadvantage of spiny bones of goldfish, too much intake of fats in goldfish can cause a deficiency of thiamine and lead to obesity. Your pet turtles will suffer from illnesses due to constant intake of goldfish. More importantly, you’ll see gut issues in your favorite turtle as an early sign of their illness.


  1. Can baby turtles eat goldfish?

I will not recommend feeding goldfish to baby turtles. As their digestive system is not developed properly, they require a specific diet for their initial growth. You can give them commercial turtle pellets that are specifically formulated for hatchlings.

  1. My goldfish are bred at home. Can my turtles eat these goldfish?

Yes, if you are breeding them in a good home, they are safe from parasites and germs. Your turtles can eat these goldfish. To be honest, these goldfish are beneficial for your turtle’s health.

  1. What are the best fish alternatives to goldfish for turtles?

There are many alternatives to goldfish for your turtles to eat. If I specifically talk about feeder fish, platies, bluegills, killifish, crappies, and guppies are the best fish alternatives to goldfish for your cute and cuddly turtles.

But remember, these feeder fishes are safe for turtles, but don’t give them to your turtles as a regular diet. Feed them these feeder fishes occasionally!

Final Verdict!

So, our guide about the complex relationship between turtles and goldfish has concluded. The rule of thumb while feeding goldfish to turtles is – goldfish is an infrequent treat. Moreover, only adult turtles can consume a fishbowl-size goldfish without any harmful effects if appropriately chopped.

Adult Box turtles, Painted turtles, and Red-Eared Slider Turtles are mostly kept as pets in homes. Domestically grown goldfish is a meal for these types of turtles after two weeks or once a month. Last but not least, the best practice is to consult with a veterinarian or reptile specialist for specific dietary recommendations based on your turtle’s species and size.

If you have any questions for me, let me know in the comments section. I’m all ears and available to answer your queries!

Do you have any interest in knowing about “Can turtles eat zucchini and squash?” Stay tuned to learn more about the eating habits of turtles.