What To Feed Turtles In A Pond? [DO’s & DON’Ts]

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

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It is entertaining to play with turtles, and it is much more fun to feed them. However, turtles living in the pond should avoid certain meals and consume certain foods to ensure the best possible health and happiness. You need to be familiar with their diet if you want to grow them as pets effectively.

You can provide a wide range of items for your turtle in the pond to eat, including fish, crickets, worms, other bugs, and even fruits and vegetables. Since these creatures are omnivorous, they will need a certain amount of protein, too.

Now, let’s have a look at the diet of these turtles in more detail. And if you’re going to raise turtles as pets in your pond, here are some suggestions on what you may and may not give them to eat.

What Do Turtles Eat In The Pond?

Turtles that live in ponds consume a wide range of foods, including fruits, crabs, plants, and bugs. Even though each kind has its own particular diet, they are omnivores for the most part.

The location of the turtle, its size, its age, and its breed all determine its food habits. Turtles are opportunistic omnivores, which essentially means that they will not refuse anything that can be prepared quickly and easily.

Many subspecies of the wild pond turtle exist, and there are more than 50 kinds in total.

Species that are most often seen are Western Pond Turtle, Giant Asian Pond Turtle, Painted Turtle, Red-eared Slider, snapping turtles, etc.

The following is a list of some of the items that the turtles enjoy eating:

  • Earthworms and leeches are examples of annelids.
  • Frogs, toads, newts, and salamanders are some of the amphibians.
  • Crustaceans, including crawfish and crabs found in freshwater, are also consumed by turtles.
  • Grasshoppers, beetles, spiders, flies, aquatic insects, millipedes, larvae, and snails are all insects that turtles eat.
  • Fish
  • Aquatic plants and algae

The fruit that has fallen to the ground is also consumed by some kinds of turtles. Carrion is another food source for many, particularly rotting fish.

food list for turtles living in a pond

The ponds are home to a diverse collection of turtle species. There are several differences between feeding land turtles, such as the box turtle and feeding turtles living in ponds.

The vast majority of turtles living in ponds are omnivores, which means that they consume both animal prey and plant matter in their diet.

Wild turtles should be fed foods similar to those they would find in their natural environment, and whatever food you do offer them should be placed in the water.

On land, aquatic turtles have a difficult time digesting their meal, and if you leave it there, they will most likely bring it with them when they return to the water.

In addition, you need to make sure that the food is chopped into pieces that are easily manageable and that the skins of any fruits with skin, such as melons and grapes, are removed.

Although the diet of each species of turtle is unique, the following items are appropriate for consumption by the vast majority of freshwater turtles:

1. Plants, Fruit, And Vegetables

It is essential for the health of turtles to consume a diet that is varied and well-balanced.

  • Dandelion greens, kale, and mustard greens are highly nutritious for turtles.
  • Aquatic plants like waterweed and anacharis are excellent dietary additions.
  • Green leaf lettuce, duckweed, and aloe vera are beneficial and safe for turtles to consume.
  • Hyacinths and hibiscus, including both flowers and leaves, provide health benefits.

Click here to know what plants are the best for your turtle and turtle pond.

They can have a diverse assortment of fruits, all of which can be readily included in their typical diet.

Cantaloupe, apples, strawberries, mangos, bananas, and other fruits are some examples.

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They can be particularly fond of vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, pumpkin, squash, green beans, cucumbers, and so on. After you have chopped the veggies, you can give them to eat.

2. Pellets

Pellets are typically less expensive and have a higher nutrient density than the traditional method of feeding the same quantity of food in its full form.

However, pellets aren’t the only kind of food that may be offered to turtles as a supplement to their diet.

Pellets must never make up the majority of a turtle’s food since this might lead to long-term health issues.

The ingredients that go into Turtle Pellets are of high grade. It is manufactured using high-nutrient components such as fish meal, shrimp meal, and other such materials. As a result, it may provide turtles with a significant amount of protein.

Because turtle pellets have high calcium content, you may offer them to your turtles in addition to their regular diet.

However, giving turtles an excessive amount of pellets might lead to digestive issues.

The percentage of their entire diet that consists of pellets should not exceed 25 percent.

I have compiled a list of excellent pellet foods for turtles below:

1.      Hikari Saki Turtle Food

2.      Tetra ReptoMin Floating Food Sticks for Aquatic Turtles

3.      10lbs Bulk Non-GMO Dried Mealworms for Reptile

4.      Zoo Med Natural Aquatic Turtle Food

3. Insect

Turtles often prefer eating insects like earthworms, crickets, and mealworms. They also enjoy mollusks, tiny crabs, snails, crayfish, tadpoles, krill, and guppies.

You can feed your turtle chicken or beef heart for a protein-rich alternative to insects, which is healthier for them.

While turtles will eat almost anything, not all foods are good for their health.

It’s important to offer turtles a varied diet instead of just one type of food to ensure they stay healthy.

Including a mix of the foods mentioned, along with earthworms and other live prey, can help keep your turtle in good health.

Below is a list of healthy food options for pond-dwelling turtles, which will help you care for them effectively and ensure their happiness and health.


Turtles love earthworms, and you can get them for sale at nearly any hook and fishing shop. Turtles might make earthworms their primary source of nutrition since they are a protein-rich food source.

Red earthworm crawling on grassy soil

Wax Worms

Waxworms, like earthworms, have a high protein content, although they have a lower fat content than earthworms.

Given this, wax worms might not be an ideal choice for your turtles to eat on a consistent basis.


Like wax worms, mealworms have a high protein and low-fat content. However, mealworms have a tougher coat than wax worms and are more likely to withstand being consumed for a longer period of time.

As a result, the turtles will be obliged to chew their meal rather than swallow the wax worms whole.


Crickets are another insects that is very protein-rich. Like wax worms, crickets lack a very tough shell, so your turtles may be able to consume them with relative ease.

4. Shrimp

Shrimp is one of the things that turtles would love eating, among other foods. The diet of the turtle would benefit greatly from the inclusion of shrimp.

Shrimp provide the appropriate quantity of fat for turtles to consume. In addition to that, they add even more variety to the cuisine that they eat regularly.

Therefore, it is essential to have the knowledge necessary to provide them with shrimp in the appropriate quantity so that they may remain healthy.

What Kinds Of Shrimp Are Best For Turtles In The Pond?

Three forms of shrimp are suitable for turtle consumption: uncooked, cooked, and dehydrated shrimp. Alternatively, shrimp pellets may be purchased.

You should not just hand it over to them without any changes. The shrimp need to be properly cooked and germ-free for the turtles’ consumption. The quantity of shrimp that your pet pal consumes each day might make up to 25 percent of their whole diet.

1. Cooked Shrimp

You may sometimes feed your turtle some prepared shrimp. Because shrimp are nutritious throughout their whole bodies, there is no need to remove any of the shells before giving them.

One of the benefits of cooking shrimp is that the harmful germs are killed off during the cooking process.

2. Uncooked Shrimp

They are going to like both the flavor and the crunch of raw shrimp. You have a responsibility to check that your raw shrimp has been properly frozen and is one hundred percent suitable for consumption without risk.

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Be careful not to give them shrimp that are too large in relation to the size of their mouths. It is recommended that you provide them with raw shrimp cut into little pieces so that they may be at ease in the feeding process.

3. Dehydrated Shrimp

Turtles like eating any sort of dried shrimp you can provide them. They will have a great deal of joy when they gnaw on the dried shrimp.

For the turtle, dried shrimp provide a new degree of taste because of their unique texture. You can check out Fluker’s Aquatic Turtle Medley Treat which is quite famous among turtle owners due to the response of their turtles.

This product contains everything but eliminates the inconvenience of handling live prey. It provides necessary proteins, lipids, minerals, vitamins, and a healthy proportion of all of the necessary nutrients!

4. Pellets Made From Shrimp

Although shrimp pellets are typically intended for consumption by a variety of aquatic species, it is possible to have satisfactory results when feeding them to turtles.

You may feed them a few pellets once or twice a week, but you shouldn’t attempt to include them in their usual diet. Consuming these pellets will provide them with a significant quantity of nutrition.

Zoo Med Gourmet Reptisticks is an excellent choice for incorporating high protein content, shrimp, kale, and other plant and animal products all in one floating pallet for your turtles!

Outdoor turtle pond setup guide infographic

For a printable version of this infographic, click here!

What Do Baby Turtles In The Pond Eat?

Baby turtles need more protein, so they often eat more meat than adult turtles, which eat more plants. As turtles grow older, they start to eat more plant matter and less animal matter.

For young turtles, depending on their species, it’s crucial to focus their diet mostly on animal-based foods.

Young turtles can eat small insects, such as grasshoppers, crickets, mealworms, and earthworms, which are commonly found in their natural habitats.

Although baby turtles don’t need much plant matter, you can still provide fruits and vegetables to your pond turtles if you prefer not to handle insects. Suitable fruits and vegetables for most turtle species include carrots, collard greens, berries, romaine lettuce, bananas, squash, apples, and melons.

When preparing fruits and vegetables, peel them and chop them into small, bite-sized pieces. Remember, baby turtles do not need many plants, so it’s important not to overfeed them with fruits and vegetables.

Is Bread Safe For Turtles To Eat?

Turtles will eat nearly anything you offer them, but not all foods are healthy, especially as daily snacks.

For example, is bread safe for turtles to eat? Are there any benefits to feeding them bread?

Bread is not toxic to turtles, but it lacks any nutritional value for them. Therefore, it’s best not to feed your turtles bread. If they consume a small piece accidentally, it shouldn’t cause harm.

Many people don’t realize that bread contains ingredients that turtles can’t digest well.

We often think of bread as a staple food for ourselves because it’s a basic grain product, but it’s not suitable for turtles. Bread contains sugars, dairy, and chemical preservatives, which are harmful to turtles. Commercial bread often has unhealthy additives that could be dangerous to your turtle.

While turtles eat both animal and plant matter, dairy products are problematic. They contain lactose, which turtles cannot digest due to a lack of necessary enzymes in their systems. Thus, turtles should not be fed milk or dairy products.

Even whole-grain bread is not recommended for turtles. It’s important to stress that bread should never be fed to turtles intentionally. If a turtle eats bread by accident, it’s a mistake to learn from but not to repeat.

Feeding your turtle inappropriate foods like bread consistently can lead to malnutrition and other digestive issues. Therefore, it’s crucial to stick to a diet suitable for their species to keep them healthy.

What Foods Are Bad For Turtles In Pond?

Even though we’ve discussed what you may feed your turtle, certain items in your home should remain strictly private.

1. Fried Foods

Fried meals include a lot of oil and fat, both of which are harmful to your turtle. These ingredients are not only indigestible for them but also detrimental to their health.

2. Items Derived from Dairy

Don’t put milk or milk items in your turtle’s diet since they don’t have the enzymes needed to digest dairy items.  

This also implies that you should not share cheese,  yogurt, butter, or any other similar food item.

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3. Chocolate

Don’t give in to the temptation of offering your turtle a taste of your go-to sweet treat, despite how much you may want to. Although they are different from dogs in almost every other way, turtles are similar to dogs in that eating chocolate may result in their untimely demise.

4. Nuts

Oxalates, which are found in high quantities in nuts, inhibit the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Because your turtle requires a certain amount of calcium, providing it with an excessive amount of oxalates will result in the death of your turtle in a short amount of time.

5. Processed Foods

Lunch meat, sausage, and other processed meats laced with salt and preservatives fall into this group, as do most processed meats. It’s not good in any way, shape, or form for your turtle.

7. Pasta and Bread

Turtles are unable to digest starchy foods like bread and pasta correctly; therefore, they have little nutritional benefit.

Even while it is quite improbable that it may be fatal to them, in the long term, it will be detrimental to their health.

7. Anything That Contains Processed Sugar

Refrain from giving any candies or foods that contain refined sugar at any cost.

If it is not fruit, vegetable, or meat from an animal, do not give it to your pond turtle. This is the rule of thumb for feeding turtles.

This guideline should be followed very carefully if you often feed your pond turtle meals intended for humans.

Also, avoid giving them bread or dairy products, as their bodies can not produce the enzymes necessary to digest these foods. Additionally, avoid meals that are too sweet or salty.

How To Feed Your Turtles In A Pond?

There is a specific method for feeding turtles. You are required to wash your hands with water at a comfortable temperature. Please don’t use any form of soap.

The most essential step is to place the turtles’ food in the pond’s water. It is better to serve them while they’re immersed in the water since this makes the digestive process of their food much easier.

It is best not to feed them when they are wandering about on the land since doing so may cause them to choke and cause difficulties in their digestive process.

What Is The Schedule For Feeding Turtles?

It is imperative that the feeding routine of turtles be maintained at all times. It makes it easier for you to keep track of any shifts in the manner in which your pet turtle consumes its food.

The slightest change in their appetite might be an indicator that they are sick. The manner in which turtles of different species consume their food could be different.

Turtles, in contrast to other types of pets such as dogs and cats, do not have several feeding needs during the course of a single day. Their upkeep requirements are really modest.

If it consumes food on a daily basis, a juvenile turtle has a far better chance of growing and surviving. After they have reached the age of one year or more, you may start giving them meals once every 24 hours.

How Frequently Should You Provide Food For Your Turtle?

If you want to feed your turtle sticks and pellets, you should feed them for 15 to 20 minutes to ensure that they can consume enough food to satisfy their requirements.

After that, remove any more food from the pond so that the surrounding environment remains clean, and this will also prevent the fish from feasting.

When feeding a turtle in the pond, you should never provide more than one cup at a time. The turtle must be fed a mixture of pellets, vegetables, plants, dead fish, fruits, insects, worms, shrimp, and so on.


Providing food for the turtles in your pond may be a delightful experience, yet if you have no prior expertise, it may seem complex.

As a result, it does require some patience and careful preparation. You ought to become educated on their fundamental dietary requirements and stick to an appropriate eating plan.

Keeping to the core diet that we described will result in favorable outcomes in the vast majority of cases.

If you discover that your turtle is not interested in eating, it is likely that they are either too full or not feeling well.

Keep an eye on their activity levels and see a doctor if you notice anything unusual.

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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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