What Are The Best Plants For Turtle Pond? [20 Choices]

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Turtle ponds are getting more popular these days. And with that, turtle owners are also starting to wonder how they can decorate their turtle ponds, what plants are safe for turtle ponds and so on.

There are several options available in terms of plants to put in a turtle pond. The best type of plants for the turtle pond includes water lettuce, hyacinth, java moss, fairy moss, hornwort, Carolina fanwort, tape grass, Anubis, and so on.

There are a variety of water plants that may be kept in the pond with your turtle. The process of deciding which are best for your pet may require time and possess challenge.

Because of this, I felt it would be good to compile this informative guide that provides evaluations of the finest plants for a turtle pond. After reading these evaluations, you will have a better understanding of which plants are able to provide the most benefits for your turtle.

20 Best Plants For Turtle Ponds

There are a lot of reasons why you should put live plants in the pond where your turtles are kept.

Your turtle will enjoy an environment that is similar to their natural home, and the living plants may assist to eliminate waste from the water while also lowering the number of algae that grows in the pond.

The following is a list of plants that are recommended for use in a turtle pond:

1. Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)

Water lettuce, water cabbage, Nile cabbage, and shellflower are all common names for this plant.

Because of its trailing roots, water lettuce is a common plant found in ponds. These roots provide ideal cover for your animal companion.

The lettuce is quite effective at purifying the water by eliminating ammonia and nitrogens from it. Additionally, it is quite effective in preventing the growth of algae.

It is not unusual for turtles to chew on the leaves of the plant, however, since the plant grows at a slow pace, this should not have a significant influence on the plant. Turtles are sometimes seen as invasive in aquatic environments.

If the pond is located outside, you should make sure that there is some kind of shady areas for the water cabbage so that the stems do not catch fire when they are exposed to direct sunshine.

2. The fairy moss (Azolla )

The mosquito fern, fairy moss, duckweed fern, and water fern are all common names for this plant.

If you don’t keep the pond healthy throughout the summertime, a very little floating plant known as fairy moss, also known as Azolla or mosquito fern, may turn the pond into a carpet if it gets out of hand. It is wonderful for turtles and other creatures who live in ponds, especially those that are marine.

3. Carolina Fanwort (Cabomba caroliniana)

Fanwort, green Cabomba, Carolina water shield, fanwort, Washington grass, and fish grass are all names that are often used to refer to this plant.

Only the blossoms and a select few leaves of the Cabomba plant, which is also known as Brazilian fanwort or Carolina fanwort, are visible above the surface of the water while the plant develops underwater.

The green, leathery leaves of the plant are arranged in a fan pattern underneath the surface of the water, where they contribute to the oxygenation of the water.

4. Tape Grass (Vallisneria spiralis)

Tape grass, eel grass, and straight Vallisneria are some of the common names for this plant.

Tape grass is a kind of plant that lives for many years and develops immersed in saltwater or freshwater. It is most at home in waters of a tropical or warm climate.

This plant helps to filter the water while also providing a habitat that is very desirable for pond fishes and invertebrates. In addition to that, it makes an excellent snack for turtles.

5. Dwarf Bulrush (Typha minima)

The common names for this plant include dwarf bulrush, least bulrush, and small cattail.

Because of its short, blue-green stems and spherical, brown seed heads, the dwarf bulrush is an excellent choice for little ponds.

It can thrive in temperatures very low and can reach a height of around 60 centimeters (24 inches) when fully grown.

It is possible for your turtle to eat the stem, but it will not be able to eat anything else.

6. Dwarf Papyrus (Cyperus isocladus)

Dwarf Papyrus is a common name for this plant.

This plant has a very striking resemblance to papyrus, which is a plant that is used to make paper, however, this plant is relatively small and can thrive in narrow ponds.

It features tuffs that range in color from green to brown on the tip of its stalks, which are thin and erect but don’t have leaflets. It has the potential to reach a height of 18 inches (45cm).

7. Java Fern (Leptochilus pteropus)

Java fern is a common name for this plant.

Because it is drought-resistant, disease-resistant, and inexpensive, the Java fern is an excellent choice for a living plant to keep in your turtle pond. It is possible for it to grow completely or partially buried, and the fact that your turtle would not consume it is a significant bonus.

The plant has sturdy roots, but in order for it to take root in the location of your choice, you would need to manually connect it there.

In order to connect a plant to rocks or logs, you may use floss. If you do not secure it, it will be free to move about the pond on its own.

8. Dwarf Rushes (Juncus capitatus)

Dwarf rush is a common name for this plant.

Dwarf rushes are plants that resemble grass and have bright green leaves that have a fiber quality to them. In most cases, it will have a few brown seed heads.

The plant is able to sustain in cold temperatures and may reach a height of 15 cm (six inches) in height.

It is possible for turtles to trample it, but if you withdraw it off the pond for a little while, it will begin to develop again.

9. Anubias spp.

It is almost difficult to kill Anubias, and it is remarkably versatile in terms of the ways you can position them in the pond.

On top of all of that, it is a pretty plant. Turtle owners who never had familiarity with live marine plants will benefit greatly from the addition of anubias to their ponds.

Once they have taken hold, they are incredibly resilient, and it is doubtful that your turtle will be able to evict them from their position.

Because they have a harsh flavor, it is likely that your turtle will only make one attempt to nibble at it before giving up. The plant does not call for any particular kind of supplemental illumination.

Be aware that this is a plant that grows extremely slowly and that it will only get a new leaf once a month or once every couple of months.

The Anubias are native to both Central and West Africa, they have modest lighting requirements and a sluggish pace of development.

Can you find the turtle in this pic?

10. Red Ludwigia (Ludwigia repens)

Red ludwigia, water primrose, and spreading primrose-willow are some of its more common names.

It has spade-shaped leaflets that may vary in shade from a brownish-red to a greenish hue. It can develop either completely or partly buried.

The amount of light that it is exposed to determines the intensity of its color. If the plant doesn’t receive enough light, the colors will probably start to fade.

It thrives in water that has a pH that is close to neutral and is quite soft.

11. Duckweed Spp (Lemnoideae)

Duckweeds, water lentils, and water lenses are all common names for this plant.

Within a few days, duckweed may overcrowd the surface of the water in your turtle pond. It thrives in bright environments and develops at an astounding rate.

The plant flourishes in the presence of turtles because it benefits from the abundant light and nutrition in the water. It is also known to carbon dioxide from algae, which results in a decrease in the number of algae that grows in the pond.

It is important to eliminate a fistful or so of duckweed off the pond every week since doing so will rid the water of undesired nutrient levels and act as a secondary filter.

However, once it has taken root, it may be difficult to eradicate. A single bit of the plant that is abandoned will start to grow again in a matter of days.

Because this is a hovering plant that expands very quickly and needs a lot of sunlight to thrive.

12. Purple Pickerel (Pontederia cordata)

Pickerelweed and purle pickerel are two common names for this plant.

Long stems that end in heart-shaped leaves are produced by the purple pickerel plant, which develops its roots in water.

The plant is capable of reaching a height of up to 30 inches (76 cm), and it has blooms of a deep purple color that bloom in the late spring and throughout the summer.

It enters a state of dormancy throughout the winter, although it can withstand temperatures below freezing in the pond so long as its roots are kept wet.

13. Tiger Lotus (Nymphaea lotus)

Tiger lotus, white lotus, white Egyptian lotus, and Egyptian white water-lily are some of its more common names.

The tiger lotus, also known as lily pads, has distinctively formed leaves that resemble arrowheads.

Red leaves are commonly observed in strong lighting. The undersides of the leaves of the red tiger lotus are a deep royal purple.

The species of tiger lotus that you have chosen will determine the shade of green that the petals have. There is a myriad of color permutations to choose from.

14. Sword Plant of the Amazon (Echinodorus amazonicus)

In order to grow, the Amazon sword plant requires a great deal of exposure to light. This plant needs very little attention as long as it is placed in a well-lit area.

It is necessary to provide it with a strong root system in the pond by using pebbles or gravel since it may become fairly huge.

Because turtles do not often consume these plants, they are mainly valuable in the capacity to filter the water.

15. Parrot’s Feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)

The plant is also known as parrot feather watermilfoil and parrot’s feather.

It is well known that the feather of the parrot has the ability to absorb any contaminants as well as nutrients from the pond. Additionally, it may convert nitrogen into forms that are useful by other plants while at the same time oxygenating the water.

However, despite its potential benefits for ecosystem restoration, it is classified as an invasive species. Therefore, before you add anything to your turtle pond, be sure that doing so is not against the law.

16. Hornwort (Anthocerotophyta)

The common names for this plant include horned liverwort and bryophytes.

The plant known as hornwort is favored by turtles and has a very rapid growth rate. You have the option of letting it hover in the pond or anchoring it to the ground.

The fact that hornwort requires little in the way of maintenance contributes to the plant’s widespread appeal. Taking care of it is as simple as adding a plant light to your pond.

Additionally, it performs an excellent job of purifying the water in the enclosure that your turtle calls home. On the other hand, turtles do not really like munching on this food item.

17. Java Moss (Taxiphyllum barbieri)

Bogor moss is its more common name.

Java Moss is a commonly accessible and economical plant that offers numerous roles in your turtle’s pond. This small plant can do it all.

Java Moss is able to adhere itself to rocks and other porous and rocky surfaces, and it needs very little light to survive.

Because turtles like eating it, it may serve as a beneficial source of food. The water in your pond may also be cleaned with the aid of Java Moss.

18. African Water Fern (Bolbitis heudelotii)

Dark green in color, African water ferns have serrated or split leaves on their stems. They may reach a length of up to 22 inches and need very little light to thrive.

The African water fern develops at a very sluggish rate. It is able to adhere to any rough surface in the pond. They may survive for quite a lot longer without any work from you since they thrive off of the waste that is produced by the turtles.

It is not necessary for you to be concerned about the sluggish development since turtles do not typically like eating these leaves.

19. Waterweed (Anacharis)

Waterweed is a common name for this plant.

The waterweed plant is a common kind of aquatic plant that thrives with a modest amount of illumination.

It is covered with shoots that develop quite quickly and hang all over the surface. It might be a plant that floats or one that is rooted in your pond.

When it is planted, it needs more light at a higher level so that it can reach the outer leaves. When the plant is planted, the roots are incredibly thin, and because of this, they are susceptible to being uprooted. This is especially true if you have bigger turtles.

It’s also possible that your turtle enjoys eating the leaves, which won’t hurt the plant until it becomes so hungry that it consumes the whole plant.

If cared for correctly, it may last for a long time and be a delightful treat for turtles.

20. Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)

Hyacinths of the water are the most common names for this plant.

The water hyacinth is a kind of floating plant that resembles water lettuce in appearance. It is a tough plant that is able to survive in a wide range of conditions without any problems.

The turtles like munching on this plant, which provides a savory treat for them in the evening. Your turtle pond will have more aesthetic value as a result of its stunning appearance when the flowers grow.

What Plants Are Toxic To Turtles?

It is important for those who work with turtles, such as, rescuers, pet owners, zookeepers, or even gardeners, to be conscious of plants that might be harmful to turtles.

It is in your best interest not to serve turtles something that you are unsure of whether or not it is healthy.

Before cultivating in the backyard, if the turtle is permitted to go outdoors, you should first conduct a study on the poisonous potential of every plant that may be bought or cultivated.

A turtle or other pet will not be able to distinguish between a plant that is harmful and one that is not.

Because turtles often consume plants that seem appetizing to them, it is your responsibility to be knowledgeable about the foods that turtles can consume.

These are the plants that are most well recognized to be harmful to turtles, however, there are many more.

Plants that are high in oxalates (oxalate salts):

Burning, swelling, and discomfort are all possible side effects of coming into contact with these plants:

  • Arrowhead Vine (Syngonium podophyllum)
  • Calla Lily (Zantedeschia sp.)
  • Begonia Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata)
  • Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)
  • Elephant’s Ear (Colocasia)
  • Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia amoena)
  • Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
  • Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea)
  • Umbrella Tree (Schefflera actinophylla) 
  • Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera)

Plants that are poisonous to turtles or have the potential to be toxic to them:

There are several plants that turtles should not consume since they might cause damage to their organs. The degree of toxicity varies from plant to plant and may vary from minimal to severe:

  • Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)
  •  Amaryllis (Amaryllis belladonna)
  • Avocado (leaves, seeds) (Persea americana)
  • Caladium (Caladium sp.)
  • Buttercup family (Ranunculus sp.)
  • Castor Bean (Ricinus communis)
  • Asparagus Fern (Asparagus sprengerii)
  • Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens)
  • Azalea,
  • Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea)
  • Euphorbia (Euphorbia sp.)
  • Chinaberry (Melia azedarach)
  • Columbine (Aquilegia sp.)
  • Larkspur (Delphinium sp.)
  • Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica)
  • Daffodil (Narcissus sp.)
  • Carnation (Dianthus sp.)
  • Hydrangea (Hydrangea sp.)
  • Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
  • Holly (Ilex sp.)            
  • Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum)
  • Jerusalem Cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum) 
  • Iris (Iris sp.)
  • Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus africanus)
  • Nightshade family (Solanum sp.)
  • Oleander (Nerium oleander)
  • Lily of the Valley (Convallaria sp.)
  • Juniper (Juniperus sp.)
  • Philodendron (Philodendron sp.)
  • Lobelia Lupine (Lupinus sp.)
  • Lantana (Lantana camara)
  • Shasta Daisy (Chrysanthemum maximum)
  • Periwinkle (Vinca sp.)
  • String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)
  • Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)
  • Love Pea (Abrus precatarius)

Toxic effects of dermatitis:

The sap from any of these plants has the potential to irritate the skin and produce rashes or itching.

  • Candytuft (Iberis sp.)
  • Primrose (Primula sp.)
  • Ficus (Ficus sp.)

Plants have the potential to cause harm:

There is evidence that shows these plants may also be detrimental to turtles:

  • Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus) 
  • Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)
  • Gardenia Grape Ivy (Cissus rhombifolia)
  • Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

Outdoor turtle pond setup guide infographic

For a printable version of this infographic, click here!

What Should I Put In My Turtle Pond?

It is important for a turtle pond to have a greater surface area since this increases the amount of oxygen that can be found in the water, despite the fact that the height of the pond will vary somewhat based on the kind of turtles that are kept there.

When designing your pond, it is important to take into account the natural behaviors of the kind of turtles that you want to keep.

Some turtles, such as red-eared sliders, are able to live in greater depths, whereas other turtles are more comfortable in shallower depths.

When designing your pond, it is important to take into account the natural behaviors of the kind of turtles that you want to keep.

The following should be taken into account while designing a turtle pond:

Area for basking:

This is of the utmost significance. You are going to need to offer the turtle a log, a plank, some bricks, or a rock so that it may get out of the water and enjoy the sun.

Set up the basking spot such that it will be half underwater and your turtle will have an easy time climbing out from the water and over to the sunbathing spot.

The sun should shine on the area designated for sunbathing for the better part of the day.

Level of water:

Attempt to design the water such that it has a variety of levels, with slopes connecting each one.

In addition, it is preferable to have a shallow area where the turtle may sit with its torso inside the water and its head above the surface of the water.

Land region:

Because turtles do like going for walks, you should add some land surrounding the pond as part of the enclosure that you create for them.

Places for hiding:

Make sure there are places even outside the water where turtles may hide, as well as shady locations.

Clay plant pots that have been turned on their sides perform very well, as do plants with large leaves, whether they are aquatic or terrestrial.


It is important to remember that turtles may wreak havoc on your pond’s aquatic plant life both by devouring them and by swimming about them.

However, water plants are an incredible asset to turtle ponds since they give shade and protection as well as additional food for the turtles.

It is advised that you plant plants that contribute to the naturalization of the pond edge.


Increasing the number of exterior filtration, and aeration stones in the water can help increase the amount of oxygen that is present in the water. This is of utmost significance when the temperature is chilly.


One of the many benefits of having a bigger pond is the ability to stock it with feeder guppies and goldfish, which will keep your turtle active and occupied while it hunts.

On the other hand, if you like decorative fish such as koi, you should practice caution.

Check out this article if you’re interested in learning more about the effect that turtles have on fish ponds.

Do Turtle Ponds Need Filtration?

A robust filtration system is essential for a turtle pond. In a regular fish pond, you want the filter to turn the water over about every two hours, however, in a pond for turtles, you want to make it half so that it changes the water over approximately every hour.

If you feel the need to raise the duration any more, you are free to do so until it is being changed every thirty minutes.

Keep in mind that maintaining a pond is very similar to maintaining a fish tank in that the filter has to be cleaned once per week and the water needs to be changed on a regular basis.

This is particularly true in a turtle pond, which is notorious for having filters that clog up very rapidly due to the presence of turtle excretion.

As soon as the filter becomes clogged, the quality of the water will begin to deteriorate. You will want to replace around 15–20 percent of the water every week.

Any new water that you add must be cleaned to eliminate any chlorine or chloramine that may be present.

Because turtles, like fish, are sensitive to ammonia and nitrites, you need to be careful that you do not produce a short cycle by retaining the chlorine in the water.

Doing so would kill the majority of the helpful microorganisms that are living on the filter, which may be harmful to the turtles.

the water that you take out of the pond once a week doesnt need to be throw away since it has a good chance of having a high concentration of nitrates, therefore making it an ideal medium for watering land plants.


There are a variety of plant species that may thrive in the environment provided for your turtle. Both Java Moss and hornwort come out on top as the finest options, according to our assessments.

Java Moss is an excellent food source, it maintains the cleanliness of your pond, and it takes very little maintenance. Hornwort is one of the finest values for simple water filtration, despite the fact that turtles do not use it as food.

Because these plants are regarded as invasive species in regions that have warmer weather, you will need to check to see whether you are allowed to utilize them in your region before doing so, despite the fact that they are an incredible asset to turtle ponds.

To lessen the likelihood of their taking over the pond, they must be removed by below-freezing temperatures throughout the winter.

Due to the extraordinary development rate of these plants, they must be contained inside a pond at all times.

After going through this article, you should be feeling more confident in your ability to locate the most suitable plants for your turtle’s habitat.

About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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