What Tank Mates Are Safe with Snapping Turtles?

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

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Many people put fish and turtles in the same tank. But you need to consider a lot of things to do that. It is crucial to choose the right kind of fish and turtle to keep in the same aquarium. So, what about snapping turtles? What tank mates are safe with snapping turtles?

Because of the size and nature of snapping turtles, it is challenging to put any tank mates in a snapping turtle enclosure. If you have multiple snapping turtles, you may keep them in one tank to save space. Even then, you have a lot to consider. 

In this article, I will discuss why keeping tank mates with a snapping turtle is challenging. 

Can You Keep Tank Mates with Snapping Turtles?

You may have a large tank set up for your snapping turtle. Now, you think there is plenty of space to keep a few fish or other turtles. Unfortunately, no fish or other animals are safe in a snapping turtle tank. 

Snapping turtles are large size turtles that are very common in the USA. But they are rarely the first choice as a pet turtle. Their large size and defensive nature can be challenging for many people. 

Snapping turtles are solitary creatures. They don’t like to be touched like other pets. Moreover, they can bite people pretty hard. Not just humans; they don’t like it when other animals get near them. So, it would be best if you did not put any other reptile or species of turtles in the same tank as a snapping turtle.

The only option you have is to keep another snapping turtle in the enclosure. However, you must follow some rules to keep multiple snapping turtles as tank mates. I will discuss them later in the article. 

Why Are Fish Not Safe from Snapping Turtles?

Snapping turtles are aquatic turtles. They require a large tank. So, having a few fish in the large tank may seem harmless. Although it is true for many other turtle species, it is not for snapping turtles. 

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Here are some reasons why you cannot keep fish with a snapping turtle:

Snapping Turtles Eat Fish

Snapping turtles are carnivores. They eat fish and meat. In the wild, they sit at the bottom of shallow water and hunt for fish and other small creatures. So, if pet snapping turtles see fish in their tank, they immediately decide to chase the fish. 

No matter how much you feed a snapping turtle, it will still chase fish in the tank. Even if the turtle does not eat the fish, it will harm them. 

Shallow Water

Snapping turtles are not good swimmers. They prefer shallow water in the tank so they can easily raise their head from the water and take in oxygen. On the other hand, most aquarium fishes need plenty of water to swim around. So, they cannot live in shallow water with a snapping turtle. 

Lack of Space

A major reason fish cannot live with a snapping turtle is lack of space. Snapping turtles eventually grow. The average size of an adult snapping turtle is 10 to 12 inches. 

A large size snapping turtle occupies most of the space in the tank. Hence, fish will not have enough space to swim or hide from the snapping turtle when they are in danger.

 Like turtles, some species of fish can also grow large and occupy a large amount of space. You snapping turtle will not like others to invade its space. 

Both Produce a Large Amount of Waste

Snapping turtles are notorious for being messy eaters. They can eat a lot and produce a lot of waste as well. The fish in the tank will also produce waste. As a result, the tank will become filthy quite often. 

This large amount of waste increases the ammonia level in the tank. You may have to change the water every few days, even if you have a powerful filtering system in the tank. Otherwise, your turtle and fish will both suffer. 

PH Level and Temperature Difference

Fishes have slightly different temperature and pH level requirements than snapping turtles. The temperature should be 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit for baby snapping turtles, and for adult snapping turtles, it should be 75 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Many freshwater aquarium fishes can survive at 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. But the problem can be the pH level of the water. The ideal pH level for snapping turtles is between 7.4 to 8.0. Snapping turtles prefer slightly alkaline water. 

While the pH level is slightly higher for freshwater fish, it is lower for saltwater fish. If the pH level is not ideal for the fish, they suffer from various health issues. 

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Adjusting the pH level for the fish will hamper the health of your snapping turtle. An imbalance of the water pH level affects a turtle’s growth and behavior. 

Why Are Other Species of Turtles Not Safe with Snapping Turtles?

Putting different species of turtles with a snapping turtle is not a good idea. Snapping turtles are territorial reptiles. They rarely attack humans but do not hesitate to attack other turtles and animals. 

Snapping turtles can bite, scratch, or even flip another turtle upside-down. The powerful snap of a snapping turtle can gravely injure other turtles and even kill them. An adult snapping turtle can eat small size turtles when they are hungry. 

A snapping turtle can also be at risk of getting hurt by another turtle. Snapping turtles cannot get inside their shells to protect themselves like many other turtles. So, they can get injured easily by other turtles or animals. 

Besides, different species of turtles have different environmental requirements and food preferences. Don’t expect turtles to adjust to an environment that is not similar to their natural habitat. 

While snapping turtles are primarily carnivores, most pet turtles are omnivores. Feeding turtles with different food preferences can be hectic for an owner. 

Snapping turtles become aggressive with turtles of docile nature. They can overpower meek and small turtles and eat their food. As a result, other turtles become malnourished and weak. 

Can You Keep Multiple Snapping Turtles in the Same Tank?

So, you cannot keep fish or other turtles as tank mates with snapping turtles. Then what about another snapping turtle? Can you keep multiple snapping turtles in the same tank?

The answer is yes and no. You must follow some rules to keep more than one snapping turtle in a tank. 

Here are some rules you can follow:

  • Don’t keep two male snapping turtles in one tank. They become aggressive towards each other and fight a lot. 
  • You can keep two female snapping turtles in one tank as they are less aggressive.
  • Never put one female snapping turtle with two male snapping turtles. The males will become competitive and fight for the female during mating season. 
  • Don’t keep a baby snapping turtle with an adult snapping turtle. The adult turtle will dominate the baby snapping turtle or even attack it. 
  • You can keep multiple baby snapping turtles in one tank if the tank has enough space for them. 
  • The best idea is to keep a male and a female snapping turtle as tank mates. But make sure they are comfortable in the tank. A male snapping turtle can be aggressive towards female snapping turtles during mating season. So, provide hiding spots for the female snapping turtle in case it wants to hide from the male turtle. 
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A single snapping turtle needs a large tank to live comfortably. To keep multiple snapping turtles, you will need an even larger tank. Basking is essential for turtles. So, you also have to set up a proper basking area that has enough space for multiple turtles to bask without getting too close to each other. 

Can You Keep Crabs with Snapping Turtles?

Many people consider having crabs as tank mates for turtles. Remember, not all species of crabs are compatible with all turtles. 

If the crab is too small, it will become a snack for a snapping turtle. Too big, and the crab can injure your snapping turtle with its strong claws. Also, your turtle can get seriously injured while eating crabs as they have hard shells.  

Can You Keep Snails as Tank Mates with Snapping Turtles?

People often keep aquarium snails like Mystery Snails or Apple snails in the tank as the snails are low-maintenance but great for controlling algae growth. But is it a good idea to have snails in a snapping turtle tank? 

Well, no. Snails will be fine with herbivore or omnivore turtles. Since snapping turtles are primarily carnivores, they have invertebrates like snails at the top of their food preference. So, a snapping turtle will eat snails as tasty snacks.  

Can You Keep Frogs with Snapping Turtles?

No, you should not keep frogs as tank mates with a snapping turtle. Your snapping turtle will definitely eat the frog. Frogs can jump but snapping turtles can be fast when they are in the water. 

If you put a frog in a turtle tank, you may find your frog missing a few body parts or missing from the tank. Besides, a frog will not survive long in a snapping turtle tank as it has different requirements for temperatures, food, and quantities of water. 


Keeping tank mates with snapping turtles may seem a good idea. But in reality, the arrangements can turn out to be a disaster. Snapping turtles snap at any living being in the tank. 

There is no guarantee that any fish, crabs, or other turtles can co-exist with snapping turtles. So, it is better to let your snapping turtle live alone in its tank without getting distracted by any tank mates. 

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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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