What Are The Ideal Tank Mates Of Softshell Turtles?

Image of freshwater exotic Chinese softshell turtle

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

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Softshell turtles are an aggressive species. Their rough behavior often makes it difficult to raise any other small aquatic animal with them. If you have a turtle of this species, you must have questioned yourself, “What are the ideal tank mates of softshell turtles?”

There is no ideal tank mate for a softshell turtle. Some owners claim fast-moving fishes can live with the baby softshell turtles. A softshell turtle may feel comfortable to share the tank with another turtle of its own species.

I am sure you have many questions on your mind. For example, can softshell turtles live with other fishes or turtles? If you have the slightest curiosity, then continue reading this article.

Can Softshell Turtles Live With Another Small Species?

Well, when it comes to tank companions, you can either put fishes or another turtle with your softshell turtle. But I personally do not encourage people to raise another aquatic creature with the softshell turtle. Even most experts believe, putting another small animal with a softshell turtle will turn your aquarium into a mess.

So, what can you do? Isn’t there any ideal match for your softshell turtle? If you observe the behavior of softshell turtles, you will notice that the baby softshell turtles are less aggressive than the young or adult ones.

So, you can put fish or other small turtles with baby softshell turtles. But that is also for a few months. When the softshell turtles start growing, you need to place them in a separate enclosure.

Let’s think about it logically. The softshell turtles are voracious species. They are carnivorous, and meat or fish is one of their favorite dishes. What do you think a softshell turtle will do after getting its favorite meal inside the same tank?

However, some people claim that you can raise other turtles or fishes even with adult softshell turtles. They believe not all softshell turtles act aggressively. Also, the big and fast-moving fishes can live in the same enclosure as them.

Softshell Turtle With Fishes

I have mentioned earlier that it is not a great idea to put fishes with your softshell turtles. These turtles are primarily carnivorous and so they can end up eating those fishes. You can obviously put a big, fast-moving, and sharp fish in the enclosure, in that case, your pet turtle may get injured.

Most turtle owners regret or avoid raising fishes with the softshell turtles. On the other hand, some keepers are happily raising fast fishes with their softshell turtles. Here are some of the fishes that can be compatible with your softshell turtle’s tank:

  • African fish (Cichlid)
  • Pacu
  • Phantom pleco
  • Uaru
  • Snakehead
  • Pike
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Some people believe guppies can live with softshell turtles. It is because they are small and super fast. You should never put goldfishes with the softshell turtles.

As softshell turtles are aggressive species, you might think that they attack the fishes. But that is not the case always. Sometimes, the fishes swim around the turtle and irritate them. And eventually, the softshell turtle bites or attacks the fish.

If you want to raise softshell turtles and fishes in the same tank, you have to consider the tank size. You can not put both these creatures in a congested space. If you do, one party will get severely injured.

Softshell turtles can get 25 inches big depending on the species. Check this article to know how big a softshell turtle can get. For healthy growth, a baby softshell turtle requires a tank of 20 gallons and the young or adult ones need an enclosure of more than 40 or 75 gallons.

When you are adding fishes in the same enclosure as the softshell turtle, increase the tank size. Most experts claim that if the tank is about 125 gallons or more, these turtles can live with any big and fast-moving fishes. In that situation, the big tank will resemble a small pond.

There is another option open for you. You can build a 500 gallon outdoor tank for the softshell turtles and fishes. In that case, you will have almost no restriction in choosing tank mates for your softshell turtle.

Actually, fishes and softshell turtles can live together if both parties act gently. But as you can not predict the behavior of the turtles and fish, you should not take the risk of raising them in a single enclosure.

Softshell Turtles With Other Turtle Species

People are also confused about this topic. Some of them believe softshell turtles can live with other hard-shell turtles only if both parties are on their good behavior. On the other hand, most experts claim that putting softshell turtles with a hard shell one will only cause damage. So, what is the truth?

Well, softshell turtles are an aggressive species. They feel vulnerable because of their soft shells. When you put them with a hard shell turtle, they will feel insecure most of the time.

However, the hard shell turtles can also act aggressively. If somehow they attack a softshell turtle, the pet will be badly injured. Wounds on the softshell turtle’s shell can lead to shell or skin rot.

But it is possible to raise softshell turtles with other turtle species. You just need to take care of the space. Usually, you need a minimum of 40 to 75 gallon tank to raise a softshell turtle depending on its size. So, if you want to put another turtle in the same enclosure, increase the tank size by 20 gallons. Also, build several hiding places so that the turtles can protect themselves.

See also  How Big Do Softshell Turtles Get?

Basically, the softshell turtles do not dare to fight with the hard shell ones. So, they kind of maintain a distance. Large space with maximum visual barriers is the key to raise softshell turtles with other turtle species. Also, you have to provide enough food for all the turtles.

By following these tricks, you can raise the following turtle species with a softshell turtle:

  • Red eared sliders
  • Map turtles
  • Painted turtles
  • Musk turtles
  • Cooters

Many people have been successfully raising softshell turtles with other species with the tips. But no one can guarantee the health protection of your softshell turtle. That is why try to provide the softshell turtles a single enclosure rather than putting them with another turtle species.

What Are The Ideal Tank Mates Of Softshell Turtles?

You already know that a softshell turtle is not a good match with fishes or other turtles. So what is their ideal tank mate? The answer is “Another softshell turtle”.

Yes, it is true that softshell turtles mostly exhibit angry behavior towards their own species. Despite this, a softshell turtle lives most comfortably with its own species. Here are some things you need to consider if you want to raise two softshell turtles in the same tank:

  • Do not put a baby softshell turtle with an adult one. It is because the adult softshell turtles often try to dominate the younger ones. As a result, the baby turtles will get hurt.
  • Putting two female softshell turtles will not cause much mess as the females are less aggressive than the male ones.
  • If you try to raise two adult male softshell turtles in a single enclosure, there will be frequent fights.
  • Putting a male and a female softshell turtle in the same tank can be a smart decision. But make sure both the parties are comfortable. The male softshell turtles can try to dominate the female one and act aggressively if they want to mate.

Check this article to get more information on the ideal tank mate of a softshell turtle.

How To House Multiple Softshell Turtles In A Single Enclosure

If you are housing more than one softshell turtle in an enclosure, it means there will be lots of fighting. The best thing you can do is try to reduce the chance of fighting. Here are some tips that will help you to raise multiple softshell turtles in the same tank:

  • Make sure the enclosure is big enough for the turtles. For one softshell turtle, you will need a habitat of 40 gallons. So, provide a minimum of 75 gallon tanks for two turtles. Experts suggest not to house more than 2 softshell turtles in a single enclosure.
  • Softshell turtles can often get angry, stressed, or panicked. In that mental state, the turtles have a tendency to attack their tank mate. For the safety of both parties, you need to build visual barriers inside the enclosure. The hiding places are a must when you are housing multiple softshell turtles.
  • Softshell turtles are voracious species. Most of its aggression problems or fighting can be solved with food. Provide the turtles enough food so that they stay in a chill mood. Depending on the age, and size, feed the softshell turtles every day, or thrice a week. Check this article to get the diet schedule of a softshell turtle.
  • Softshell turtles often fight over the basking space. If you are raising more than one turtle in a single enclosure, make sure there is enough space for them on the basking station.
  • A softshell turtle can get involved in a fight if it is stressed. So, determine all the reasons that can stress the pet turtle. For example, filthy water. Remember, softshell turtles are aquatic species and spend most of their time swimming underwater. That is why providing clean and hygienic water is a must. The best way to do it is to install a water filter.
  • Do not put baby softshell turtles with the adult ones. Always house the turtles according to their ages and sizes. Mixing the softshell turtles will cause fighting.
  • Raising the softshell turtles in pairs is a better option. Keep changing the pairings until you find the most compatible matches.

Frequently Asked Question

It is better to keep softshell turtles with no other tank mates. Fast moving fish as well as turtles of other species can live with a Albino softshell turtle. However, the age and size of the Albino softshell turtle will be an important consideration here.

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Don’t keep baby red eared slider turtles with an adult full-sized Albino softshell turtle. Make sure both the turtles are of similar age and size.

It is generally recommended to keep Florida softshell turtles without any tank mates. However, some owners claim that fast-moving fish can live with baby Florida softshell turtles. Also, a softshell turtle may feel comfortable sharing the tank with another turtle of the same species.

It is important to note that the age and size of the Albino Softshell turtle should be considered when choosing tank mates

Small fast-moving fish as well as babies of another turtle species can live with a baby softshell turtle. However, it is better to keep baby softshell turtles in their own tank without any additional tank mates.


Red eared sliders, painted turtles, and some fast-moving fishes can live with a softshell turtle in a large tank. But the ideal tank mate for them is another softshell turtle. If you can afford to raise a softshell turtle in a single enclosure, avoid housing it with other turtles or fishes.

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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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