Plants for turtle pond


Attracting Turtles: How To Attract Turtles In Garden And Ponds

Garden and pond turtles are a gift from nature. If you have a garden pond, there are several things you can do to encourage turtles to take up residence. You’ll enjoy watching these interesting animals go about their daily life as you help an animal that is struggling to survive because of shrinking natural habitats. Let’s find out more about attracting turtles into the garden.

How to Attract Turtles

From an aquatic turtle’s point of view, the ideal garden pond has lots of plants and insects for food, as well as structural features such as small coves along the edge of the pond and rock piles for climbing and hiding. Dig shallow coves with a shovel to create micro-environments that will shelter turtles in garden ponds. Use rocks of varying size to build piles with crevices.

Lush vegetation in and around the pond is sure to attract turtles. Plants provide shade, shelter and food. They also attract insects, which are an important source of protein in the turtle’s diet. Preferences depend on the species. Plant a variety so you’ll be sure to have something for everyone.

Box turtles, one of the more common North American turtles, like to spend their time in shady areas with plenty of leaf litter on the ground. They sleep under leaf litter at night and tunnel around in it during the day. These omnivores eat a wide range of plants and insects and seem particularly fond of slugs. Complete your box turtle garden by providing a small bog or moist area where they can cool off during the heat of the day.

If you want box turtles to remain in the garden year round, provide a place for them to hibernate from October until the soil warms in spring. They like to tunnel under a small brush pile when the weather turns cold. In summer they need an open, sunny area for egg laying.

Avoid using herbicides and insecticides in your outdoor turtle garden. Organic gardening practices lead to healthy turtles, and, in turn, they’ll help keep the insects and weeds under control.

Gardens that Attract Turtles, Snakes, Lizards, Salamanders, Frogs, and Toads

An American green frog in water

Gardens that Attract Turtles, Snakes, Lizards, Salamanders, Frogs, and Toads

This group of creatures are referred to as ‘herps”. What is a Herp you may ask? Herp is short for Herptile which is a name that collectively includes reptiles and amphibians. These amazing animals are a modern day throwback to the age of dinosaurs. Reptiles and amphibians are remarkably successful to have survived essentially unchanged since the dawn of time. They are found in almost every part of the world and most have adapted to many challenges, the biggest of which are the impacts (mostly harmful) of humans. These animals definitely deserve our respect.

The mid-Atlantic region has a rich diversity of turtles, snakes, lizards, salamanders, frogs and toads. Herptiles play a very significant role in nature. They eat pests such as rodents (primarily the snakes); others feed on harmful insects, slugs and other destructive plant pests; and many are also food for other animals. For example, the Bald Eagle that is making a comeback in Maryland loves to eat water snakes. Aside from their role in the balance of nature, they are an “indicator species” of environmental quality. Reptiles and amphibians are very sensitive to pollutants in the landscape. Their presence in your backyard is a good indicator of a healthy environment.

Herps in our region are increasingly threatened by wide spread habitat destruction, pollution, and vehicles road kills.

What can you do in your landscape to attract and support a population of reptiles and amphibians?

Here is a quick check list to help you:

  • Limit the use of traditional insecticides, use them only when absolutely needed and only on the target plants. Whenever possible use bio-rational insecticides such as insecticidal soap, horticultural oil and biologicals. Plant native plants that are more insect and disease hardy than many imported plants.
  • Do not over- use lawn weed killers. Keep your lawn mowed at the proper height of 2-3 inches for cool season grasses and weeds will be reduced. Hand dig or spot treat weedy patches with a labeled weed killer. Do not spray the entire lawn if weeds are only patchy.
  • Avoid mowing your lawn in the late evening or at night. Almost all species of reptiles and amphibians are actively moving through the lawn at night. Turtles are usually not very active at night except during the egg-laying season of early summer. Whether you mow with a push or riding mower always be on the look out for turtles, snakes and toads. Box turtles are the number one victims of lawn mower injuries.
  • Install an aquatic garden; it does not need to be large. They are not too difficult to make, (except for the digging). Planted with beautiful water lilies an aquatic garden will bring you great enjoyment. It also will provide a refuge for frogs and toads to lay their eggs, a place for a box turtle to drink and wade. Be sure there are several easy places for a turtles to climb out, or else they will drown. To learn how to create your own back yard pond refer to HGIC publications #17 Aquatic Gardening: Construction and Maintenance and 17A Basics of Planting Aquatic Plants.
  • Provide cover for reptiles and amphibians to hide. Convert some of your lawn into beautiful perennial flower beds, ground covers or shrubs. An open lawn does not provide the needed protection for these small animals to feel safe and secure. They are rather low on the food chain and need to hide a lot!
  • Leave a place in your yard a little “wild”. The entire landscape does not need to be so manicured, an area that has a patch of wild growth, piles of leaves or branches provide places to hide and to hibernate over the winter.
  • When driving be on the look out for turtles crossing the road. So many are killed by drivers who either do not see them or simply don’t care. (some drivers even aim for them). It seems that a glass beer bottle has a better chance of surviving than a poor turtle simply trying to get across. If safe, pull over and move the turtle across the road in the direction it was headed. Although a box turtle is very cute, resist taking it home as a pet.
  • Finally, take a little time to learn more about these fascinating creatures. Snakes are the least understood or appreciated reptile. Too many have fallen victim to the shovel. Fortunately today, less people kill them than years ago partly due to the many educational programs on TV and what children are now taught about reptiles in school.

Keep in mind that all native reptiles and amphibians are protected in Maryland and neighboring states. It is illegal to willfully kill a snake or any other reptile. If you find an injured turtle contact a licensed wildlife rehabber by visiting the website of the Mid-Atlantic Turtle and Tortoise Society

To learn more about enhancing your backyard wildlife habitat see our website’s Attracting Wildlife page.
Hopefully, by making a few improvements you can create a landscape that sustains good environmental quality for Herps.

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2009 edition of Home and Garden News.

by Ray Bosmans, Professor Emeritus & President of the Mid-Atlantic Turtle and Tortoise Society

​If you are hoping to attract wild turtles, consider the size and depth of your pond. Turtles like to swim freely and explore, and they prefer a pond that is at minimum 2.5‘ deep. This depth serves a dual-purpose: it gives them the room to hide beyond the reach of land predators like fox and coyote, and it allows them to winter over in the pond where the water is not at risk of freezing solid. If you have a pond with turtles and live here in NJ, it is recommended you use a floating pond heater to guarantee you maintain a hole in the ice so the turtles can swim up for air. (This rule still applies if you only have fish, without a hole in the ice fish can suffocate in a small pond) Another necessity for turtles in the winter is a nice bed of mud or sand for them to bury in, this helps insulate them from both the cold temperatures and from predators. You can easily provide this by sinking a shallow plastic bin filled with sand and mud into your pond in the autumn. Be sure the bin is at least 2-3 times the width of their shell so the turtle can fit comfortably inside. When the water warms up, you can remove the bin and enjoy your pond in it’s natural state.
The perfect turtle pond will also have some shallow sloped sides for ease of entering and exiting the water. Think of it like a boating ramp, but for turtles. A mix of small, medium and large rocks in the pond provides a good variety of areas with little nooks and coves to attract an assortment of critters. Turtles like it best where they feel safe, so creating some nice coves along the banks where they can nestle down and wait for tasty insects to come by will increase your chances of attracting a resident turtle to your pond.
The last consideration is fencing. If you already have turtles, fencing-in your pond will prevent most predators from getting in and keep the turtles from escaping. If your pond is not fenced in, there is greater chance wild turtles will find your pond, but know that they may only be temporary residents. Turtles love to wander and explore, and it is encouraged that you don’t overly restrict their natural freedom when it’s not necessary, such as in the case of a rescued and rehabilitating turtle.
By following this advice, you will maximize your chances of attracting turtles to your pond and keeping them so happy they don’t feel the need to leave. Even with the happiest turtles in the most ideal turtle ponds, without a mate they may still need to leave and answer their biological instincts. With the proper preparations and a bit of luck, they are most likely to return and share more time with you in your backyard pond!
To learn about the different species of turtles found in New Jersey, this link will take you to a nice field guide with descriptions and photos:
If you live in South Jersey and have specific questions about your turtles or your pond, give us a call at 856-768-9404. Thanks!

The diet of a box turtle is one of the most crucial factors in maintaining a healthy animal. Getting a turtle to eat or to eat the proper nutritious foods is often the hardest thing a turtle owner must learn to do. If you are asking yourself the question “what do box turtles eat?”, you are in the right spot. This post has all the information about the box turtle diet. However, not only the diet itself is important to keep your box turtle healthy but also the environment in which it is kept and fed.

Since this is a rather long post, you can find the main contents here. Just click on the titles and you will get right to the correct content section.

  • How often should you feed your box turtle?
  • The ideal balanced box turtle diet
  • What if your box turtle won’t eat?
  • The importance of minerals and vitamins in the box turtle diet
  • Full list of food items and nutritional values for box turtles
  • Box turtle food FAQs

Disclosure: This is post contains affiliate links. At no extra cost for you, we may receive a commission if you purchase products mentioned below.

A Western Ornate box turtle enjoying a melon

What do box turtles eat?

Wild turtles are omnivores and in will eat earthworms, snails, grubs, beetles, caterpillars, carrion, grasses, fallen fruit, berries, mushrooms and flowers. They will take a bite of anything that smells edible in their natural habitat. Ornate box turtles that live in the grasslands of the Great Plains also feed on wheat grasses. This is the diet that is best to follow. Give in moderation all types of edible food. But is the food something the turtle wants to eat? If you see that your box turtle refuses certain types of food, it may just be because it doesn’t like it.

Do not feed your box turtle junk food

But they won’t come across cheeseburgers or bacon and eggs in the wild! You must feed your turtle what it needs to eat, not what is convenient for you to give it. If you find something your turtle really loves, then you are half way to retraining any bad eating habits.

If it loves earthworms then try giving it chopped worms with grated yellow squash and cantaloupe. Or a plate of worms and chopped collard greens and strawberries. A list of good food items is presented later in this section.

How often should I feed my box turtle?

Feed young turtles a small amount of food every other day. Adults can be fed every 2 or 3 days in late spring and summer. Find more information on the diet of hatchling box turtles in our post about breeding box turtles here. Regardless of the age of your box turtle, a feeding schedule should be made in advance.

During the summer months when I’m trying to strengthen and add weight to my box turtles, my schedule may be like this: Monday, Wednesday and Saturday are full meal days. Other days I may feed a small snack where they might get a beloved treat like bananas or tomatoes sprinkled with vitamins. On Sundays the turtles receive no food. A day of fasting will not harm a healthy turtle.

Of course, use your own best judgment. You may want to feed more or less often depending on the health or activity level of your turtle. However, clean water should be provided daily.

Must-have food items

Overall, box turtles need a lot of calcium in their diet. This helps them grow a healthy shell. While several factors influence the absorption of calcium, it is very important that your turtle gets a lot of calcium in its diet. Later, we will show you the ideal diet that will ensure a healthy and happy turtle.

However, irrespective if you keep your pet boxie indoors or outdoors, you should always provide it with some natural cuttlebone. You can just put some into the enclosure and the turtle will bite on it as it sees fit. This will ensure a good trim to the beak as well as a healthy calcium intake. You can buy natural cuttlebone here on Amazon (or by clicking on the image below) or in pet stores.

Cuttlebone (Calcium)

You should also add additional calcium powder to the food you serve your turtle 2-3 times per week.

The ideal box turtle diet

Box turtles have specific dietary needs to ensure good health. A well-balanced diet is easily provided from a combination of common grocery store items and backyard biota. Following is a list of foods to give your box turtle. Most foods are acceptable if given in moderation. Each feeding should include a food item from several food groups. For example, include a protein, a vegetable and a fruit. Or a protein, a fruit and a green leafy vegetable. By varying the diet of your box turtle, you are increasing the chances that they will get the mineral and vitamins necessary for good health. You also lessen the chances of them fixating on just a few foods. Plus it is naturally for box turtles to have a varied diet.

The ideal diet of a box turtle consists of 50% proteins, 30% vegetables, 10% green leafy vegetables and 10% fruits. Below you can find some more details and do’s and don’ts when feeding your box turtle.


PROTEIN makes up about 50% of the box turtle diet. Protein foods should be cut up small enough so the turtle cannot get its fill of food with just one bite of protein. Mix the protein with the vegetables and fruits.

All muscle meats should be sprinkled with calcium supplement that contains no phosphorus. Cuttlebone given to birds may also be shaved onto food stuff and left in the turtle’s home so the turtle can forage on it at will. It is high in calcium and other trace minerals and should always be available to box turtles.

  • Use regularly – Natural live, whole foods like pesticide free earthworms, slugs, waxworms, beetles, grubs, sow bugs. Boiled, chopped chicken, feeder fish or beef heart.
  • Occasionally – Low-fat soaked dog kibble, soaked puppy Milkbones®, low-fat premium canned dog food, cooked lean steak, mealworms and crickets that have been gutloaded on dark greens, prepared box turtle food products.
  • Less frequently – Pinky mice, boiled egg, tofu, low-fat cat kibble.
  • Never – Due to the possibility of contamination, fat content and salt: raw meats, fatty meats or processed meats.


VEGETABLES make up about 30% of the diet. Use the part of the vegetable that is colorful as it contains the most nutrition. Use fresh vegetables whenever possible and steam or grate hard vegetables before offering to the box turtle.

  • Use regularly – Summer and winter squashes, peas in the pod, sweet potatoes, okra, grated carrots, green beans, wax beans and cactus pads with all spines removed.
  • Occasionally – Mushrooms of all types, corn on the cob and tomatoes.
  • Less frequently – Bean sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, beets and cauliflower.
  • Never – Avocado peel.

Leafy Dark Greens

LEAFY DARK GREENS make up 10% of the diet. Dark leafy greens contain fiber and many minerals and vitamins. Greens help keep the turtle gut healthy through their cleansing action. Always provide your turtles with greens.

  • Use regularly – Collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, romaine, wheat grass and turnip greens.
  • Occasionally – Red leaf lettuce, endive, parsley, kale and Swiss chard.
  • Less frequently – Iceberg lettuce and spinach.
  • Never – Rhubarb, potato and tobacco leaves.


FRUITS make up the remaining 10% of the diet and are dessert for your turtles. Most turtles love fruits and each seems to have a favorite. Try to find your turtle’s favorite. If it is a finicky eater, use the fruit to entice it to eat other foods. Chop the favorite fruit into small pieces and mix it with things the turtle should eat but won’t. This way, with every bite of fruit it will also eat the required food. I sprinkle vitamins on the fruit as well.

  • REGULARLY – Grapes, apples, fresh figs, blackberries, raspberries, mulberries, peaches, crabapples, strawberries, cantaloupe, kiwis, cherries and persimmons, banana and most other fruits.

I don’t mean to imply the above diet is the only way to feed your pet turtles but I follow the diet and have produced healthy box turtles with smooth shell growth and strong immune systems. The effort a person puts into the diet is directly proportional to the health of the turtle. Read about the natural history of wild box turtles and learn what they eat and try to follow a natural diet.

What if your box turtle won’t eat?

For some reason, many turtles, especially wild caught turtles, will not readily eat. They may even be fixated on certain foods. It may have something to do with the stress of captivity, changes in the environment, or removal from their home ranges. Temperature and lighting play a role in triggering appetite and turtles no doubt have their own food preferences. A turtle not given the proper circumstances to feed will go on a hunger strike. Unlike warm-blooded animals, they aren’t forced by their metabolism to eat. They can just slow down their activity level, retreat in their shells and wait for better conditions.

Unfortunately, if the turtles are kept in a tank or penned in an outdoor area, those better conditions never come unless the owner makes an effort to supply them. If they aren’t supplied, the turtle will slowly grow weaker and becomes debilitated, sick and eventually dies. It’s important to find out what is required to get your turtle to eat.

Check out our temperatures, humidity and light post to learn everything you need to know to keep your box turtle strong and healthy.

Is it warm enough for your turtle to eat?

These are some of the first causes to look for when box turtles refuse to eat.
If the box turtle is outside, try feeding it during late morning hours or after a light sprinkling of water. If it is early in the year or late in the fall, you may need to adjust the time of feeding to a later hour so the turtle has a chance to warm up first.

When nighttime temperatures go below 65° F (18° C), the turtle will need to warm up its body temperature before it will feed. Cold turtles cannot digest their food properly. Therefore location is important when considering a place for an outdoor set up. Check to see where you have placed the enclosure. If the enclosure faces the east, it will get morning sun. But if it is on the west side, it may not get sun until later in the day. West- and north-facing enclosures are not ideal.

Some box turtles won’t eat in the open because they are very timid. You need to provide an eating area where it feels safe, for example, near a shrub or under a hide box. Is the food in the sun or shade? Try putting the food plate in an area where it is partly shaded in the summer. A turtle can overheat very quickly, and it may not venture out into the sun to eat if it is too hot.

The right temperature and light is important

If your turtle is kept indoors, and this is recommended only for hatchlings and sick or weak box turtles, then you have other factors to consider if your turtle won’t eat.

Is the ambient temperature too low or too high? There should be a gradient of temperatures in the housing with the warm end being around 85-87° F (30° C) and a cool area around 75-78° F (25° C). This cool area could be where the hide box or burrowing area is placed. Feed the turtle at the same hour and place each time.

A UVA and UVB producing fluorescent lights can make foods more appealing to turtles by bring out the colors. It may also stimulate appetite in much the same way a nice bright sunny day makes us happy. Full-spectrum light is also necessary for vitamin D3 production, especially if your turtles is not getting vitamin D3 from food and is not living outside.

Read more about the ideal indoor habitat for box turtles here and the required temperature and humidity levels for your box turtle here.

Make sure each box turtle gets enough food

Are several turtles housed together in close proximity? A dominant turtle may not let a weaker turtle eat. Make sure each turtle has their own food dish or fed in seperate areas if necessay. Place the food on shallow plates or tiles.

After you have eliminated all physical causes of a hunger strike and the turtle still does not eat, then you will have to look at medical reasons. For a beginning turtle keeper it may be hard to tell from just behavior if a turtle isn’t eating due to an illness.

If the feces look firm and no whitish mass of worms is seen, you can try soaking the turtle in slightly warm water that contains a few drops of reptile vitamins for half an hour each day for one week. The water should only go half way up the back of the shell and not over the turtle’s head. If a turtle still hasn’t eaten after a week, then a trip to a reptile veterinarian may be necessary.

If the eyes are closed and puffy, the box turtle will not eat and should be taken to a veterinarian. There are several reasons why the eye condition may be present. Vitamin A deficiency causes the glands in the eye to dry out and infection may begin. Upper respiratory illnesses can also cause the eyes to become infected. These conditions are best handled by a vet who may want to treat it with antibiotics.

Find more information on box turtle health here.

Importance of minerals and vitamins in the box turtle diet

In the early 60’s and 70’s, many hundreds of thousands of baby Red-eared sliders were sold as children’s pets. It was during this time that the effects of improper diet for turtles became appallingly obvious. Soft shells, deformed shells and paralyzed legs were common in many of the sliders. As breeders, veterinarians and researchers began to look into the problem, the mineral calcium (Ca) became the first choice to cure the deficiency. Calcium blocks were produced and sold but the problem didn’t go away.

More research showed that the absorption of calcium was controlled by several biochemical factors. Not only was calcium necessary, but the proper amounts of phosphorus (P) and vitamin D3 were needed. Each of these vital elements and compounds will be discussed briefly, but the real purpose of this section is to teach you which foods contain the proper nutrition for box turtles.


Calcium is a mineral that is obtained from foods or supplements. Calcium is absorbed by the blood system through the turtle’s intestine and stays dissolved in the blood until it is used by the body to build bones or for other organ functions. For calcium to be used by the body, a proper level of phosphorus and vitamin D3 is required. If a turtle does not get enough calcium, it will try to maintain a blood Ca:P blood level of 2:1 by stealing calcium from its own bones, causing metabolic bone disease.


Phosphorus is a mineral found in abundance in foods that turtles eat. Therefore it is not usually necessary to supplement phosphorus. A calcium supplement without phosphrous and which contains Vit D3 is best to use.

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 is a vitamin that is produced by pigment cells in the skin and shell when a box turtle is in sunlight or other UVB producing light source. The vitamin is necessary for the conversion of calcium into useable compounds. Therefore buy calcium supplements that contain Vit D3.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for good vision and health. It is found in foods that are orange fleshed like carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squashes, dark, leafy greens and cod liver oil. A deficiency of vitamin A can lead to eye infections and upper respiratory disease. Vitamin A rich food should be provided regularly.

The combination of various foods is important for box turtles

In the wild, a box turtle will have a large area in which to roam and forage for food and it would likely find all the nutrients its body needs. A deficiency would be unlikely. Many long-time turtle keepers will tell you that most wild turtles are very healthy.

As penned pets, our turtles don’t have the opportunity to forage on a lot of different things, and it’s up to the owner to provide the correct diet. For optimum health, a turtle should get the proper types and amounts of food items. The turtle should be given a “square meal” which contains protein, carbohydrates, fiber, calcium, and vitamins. An animal that doesn’t receive the correct diet can succumb to various diseases, metabolic bone disease, organ failure, and immune-suppression diseases.

It would be nice if we could insure that our box turtle is getting everything it needs from diet alone, but that’s not usually the case. No one has ever observed a wild box turtle from the moment of hatching and written down everything it eats. If someone does in the future, we’ll come a long way in understanding the nutritional needs of box turtles. We do know the Ca:P ratio of foods is important and therefore have provided a list of foods and their ratios.

Regularly use foods with a high Ca to P ratio and avoid foods with a high P to Ca ratio, and foods high in oxalic acid. The food items at the end of the list below should be use sparingly. If they are used, add calcium supplements without additional phosphrous to bring the calcium levels higher. However, this list should not be used exclusively to construct your turtle’s diet. Remember to include insects or other protein sources.

Full table of nutritional value of box turtle food items

The table below shows a listing of various food items and their Calcium and Phosphorus content. A listing of “2.00” in the Ca:P column represents a ratio of 2:1 and is good. The lower this number is, the worse the Ca:P ratio and the less it should be used in the diet. Most of this data come from the USDA. You can check the nutritional content of other food items at their website USDA.

Food Item Prep Serving Weight (g) Ca (mg) P (mg) Ca:P
collards raw 1 cup 36 52 3,6 14,4
roselle raw 1 cup 57 123 21 5,86
lambsquarters boiled 1/2 c 90 232 41 5,66
papaya raw 1 med 304 72 16 4,5
turnip greens raw 1/2 c 28 53 12 4,42
coriander raw 1/4 c 4 4 1 4
rose apple raw 3.5 oz 100 29 8 3,63
parsley raw 1/2 c 30 39 12 3,25
amaranth boiled 1/2 c 66 138 47 2,94
dandelion green raw 1/2 c 28 52 18 2,89
cabbage, Chinese raw 1/2 c 35 37 13 2,85
beet greens boiled 1/2 c 72 82 29 2,83
lettuce, loose-leaf raw 1/2 c 28 19 7 2,71
kale boiled 1/2 c 65 47 18 2,61
figs raw 1 med 50 18 7 2,57
pricklypear raw 1 med 103 58 25 2,32
orange, Valencia raw 1 med 121 48 21 2,29
chicory greens raw 1/2 c 90 90 42 2,14
figs dried 10 figs 187 269 128 2,1
orange, navel raw 1 med 140 56 27 2,07
cabbage, green raw 1/2 c 35 16 8 2
carissa raw 1 med 20 2 1 2
kumquat raw 1 med 19 8 4 2
spinach (don’t use raw 1/2 c 28 28 14 2
watercress raw 1/2 c 17 20 10 2
onions, spring raw 1/2 c 50 30 16 1,88
endive raw 1/2 c 25 13 7 1,86
lime raw 1 med 67 22 12 1,83
raspberries raw 1 cup 123 27 15 1,8
sapodilla raw 1 med 170 36 20 1,8
mustard greens boiled 1/2 c 70 52 29 1,79
chard, Swiss boiled 1/2 c 88 51 29 1,76
leeks raw 1/4 c 26 15 9 1,67
lemon raw 1 med 58 15 9 1,67
grapefruit raw 1/2 med 118 14 9 1,56
blackberries raw 1/2 c 72 23 15 1,53
tangerine raw 1 med 84 12 8 1,5
grapes (slip skin) raw 1 cup 92 13 9 1,44
celery raw 1 stlk 40 14 10 1,4
sapote raw 1 med 225 88 63 1,4
tofu uncook ed1/2 c 61 49 37 1,32
green beans boiled 1/2 c 62 29 24 1,21
cabbage, red raw 1/2 c 35 18 15 1,2
turnip boiled 1/2 c 78 18 15 1,2
crabapple raw 1 cup 110 20 17 1,18
eggplant raw 1/2 c 41 15 13 1,15
garlic raw 3 clves 9 16 14 1,14
radish raw 10 rdsh 45 9 8 1,13
okra boiled 1/2 c 80 50 45 1,11
acerola raw 1 cup 98 12 11 1,09
tofu raw 1/2 c 124 130 120 1,08
pear raw 1 med 166 19 18 1,06
mulberries raw 1 cup 140 55 53 1,04
apple, w/skin raw 1 med 138 10 10 1
lettuce, iceberg raw 1 leaf 20 4 4 1
persimmon raw 1 med 25 7 7 1
pineapple raw 1 cup 155 11 11 1
elderberries raw 1 cup 145 55 57 0,96
mango raw 1 med 207 21 22 0,95
gooseberries raw 1 cup 150 38 40 0,95
currants, black raw 1/2 c 56 31 33 0,94
watermelon raw 1 cup 160 13 14 0,93
cranberry raw 1 cup 95 7 8 0,88
honeydew melon raw 1/4 c 100 14 16 0,88
grapes with skin raw 1 cup 160 17 21 0,81
cabbage, savoy raw 1/2 c 35 12 15 0,8
guava raw 1 med 90 18 23 0,78
cucumber raw 1/2 c 52 7 9 0,78
cherry raw 10 chrs 68 10 13 0,77
lettuce, romaine raw 1/2 c 28 10 13 0,77
casaba melon raw 1 cup 170 9 12 0,75
strawberries raw 1 cup 159 21 28 0,75
broccoli raw 1/2 c 44 21 29 0,72
apricot raw 3 me 106 15 21 0,71
dock raw 1/2 c 67 29 42 0,69
kiwifruit raw 1 med 76 20 31 0,65
Brussels sprouts boiled 1/2 c 78 28 44 0,64
French beans boiled 1 cup 177 111 181 0,61
cauliflower raw 1/2 c 50 14 23 0,61
blueberries raw 1 cup 145 9 15 0,6
carrots raw 1 med 72 19 32 0,59
cantaloupe raw 1 cup 160 17 29 0,59
fruit cocktail canned 1/2 c 128 8 14 0,57
squash, summer raw 1/2 c 65 13 23 0,57
apple, w/o skin raw 1 med 128 5 9 0,56
sweet potato baked 1 med 114 32 62 0,52
raisins, seedles sraw 2/3 c 100 49 97 0,51
zucchini raw 1/2 c 65 10 21 0,48
persimmon, Japan eseraw 1 med 168 13 28 0,46
tomato, green raw 1 med 123 16 35 0,46
peach raw 1 med 87 5 11 0,45
alfalfa sprouts raw 1 cup 33 10 23 0,43
asparagus boiled 1/2 c 90 22 54 0,41
beets boiled 1/2 c 85 9 26 0,35
banana raw 1 med 114 7 22 0,32
plum raw 1 med 66 2 7 0,29
avocado, Fla raw 1 med 304 33 119 0,28
tomato, red raw 1 med 123 8 29 0,28
nectarine raw 1 med 136 6 22 0,27
peppers, sweet raw 1/2 c 50 3 11 0,27
avocado, Cal. raw 1 med 173 19 73 0,26
peas, green raw 1/2 c 78 19 84 0,23
lima beans boiled 1 cup 188 52 231 0,23
kidney beans, red boiled 1 cup 177 50 252 0,2
potato (no skin) raw 1 med 112 8 52 0,15
mushrooms raw 1/2 c 35 2 36 0,06
corn, yellow boiled 1/2 c 82 2 84 0,02

Notice this box turtle enjoying corn on the cob. Corn is very low in calcium and should not be giving regularly without calcium addition. But like all creatures, box turtles seem to really enjoy the foods that aren’t good for them!

I hope this post has answered the question what do box turtles eat. If you still have any questions, feel free to post them below. Next we collected the most frequent questions about what box turtles eat and their diet.

What is the best box turtle food – FAQs

How often should I feed my box turtle?

Offer your box turtle food once a day. While box turtles do not necessarily require food every single they, they will leave the food if they are not hungry. If they refuse to eat for several days in a row, something may be wrong with their housing situation, they may have a medical issue or prepare for hibernation.
If you have baby box turtles, feed them around 3-4 times a week.

What do box turtles drink?

Box turtles drink fresh water. Make sure to provide your box turtle fresh water every day in a flat container.

What type of insects can I feed my box turtle?

Box turtles enjoy any type of insects and since they are very protein rich, you should also make sure to include insects into the diet of your pet turtle. You can either catch the insects yourself or give your turtle the chance to do so or buy them in pet stores or online. You can feed the following types of insects: mealworms, wax worms, super worms, earthworms, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, slugs, snails, red worms, caterpillars and many more.

Can box turtles eat celery?

Celery is vitamin- and nutrient-deficient and consists mainly of water and fibers. Since a box turtle meal should include proteins and vitamins, you should not feed celery alone. However, adding celery to a balanced meal of a box turtle can be beneficiary since the fibers will help the digestion of the turtle. If you feed your box turtle too much celery, it may get diarrhea. So be careful with the amount.

Can box turtles eat watermelon, cucumbers or strawberries?

As omnivores, box turtles can eat and digest nearly every type of food. But the calcium to phosphorous ratio of the box turtle diet is very important and should ideally be around 2:1. Since the ratio of watermelon, cucumbers and strawberries is not ideal, you should not feed your box turtle exclusively with these food items.

Can box turtles eat spinach?

The calcium to phosphorous ratio of spinach would make it an ideal food source for box turtles. However, we do not recommend feeding your turtle spinach due to the oxalates in the greens. If the spinach is not eaten directly and lies around in the heat, the oxalate levels increase and could lead to health issues of your turtle.

Can box turtles eat bell peppers?

Yes, bell peppers are actually ideal to feed a box turtle. Especially red bell peppers are full of vitamin C.

Can box turtles eat grapes?

Yes, box turtles can eat grapes. Peeled or unpeeled grapes have a good calcium to phosphorous ratio and are therefore great to prevent metabolic bone disease in box turtles.

Can box turtles eat blueberries?

Yes, box turtles can eat blueberries. Thanks to the ideal calcium to phosphorous ratio, blueberries and raspberries are actually a great addition to the box turtle diet.

“Box turtles are omnivorous, which means that they eat both plant and animal based foods.”

Box turtles are omnivorous, which means that they eat both plant and animal based foods. Some box turtles, like the ornate box turtle, eat insects. They have a sharp eye and keen sense of smell. Young, growing box turtles, up to 4-6 years of age, tend to be primarily carnivores and adults tend to be herbivorous. As a guideline, your box turtle’s diet should be about 50% plant-based material and 50% animal-based material. Be sure to discuss a specific diet for your turtle with your veterinarian.

Most young turtles eat daily, while older turtles can be fed daily or every other day, depending upon the pet’s individual appetite.

What are some types of plant material I can feed my turtle?

Most (80-90%) of the plant material should be vegetables and flowers, and only 10-20% should be fruits. As a rule, anything dark green and leafy should make up a large part of the diet. Yellow, red and orange vegetables can also be included. Avoid fiber-rich, nutrient and vitamin-deficient light green vegetables including iceberg or head lettuce and celery, as their composition is mainly fiber and water with little nutrient value. The inner light colored parts of some vegetables are less nutritious than the darker green outer leaves.

Acceptable vegetables that should represent a high percentage of the diet include collard greens, beet greens, mustard greens, broccoli turnip greens, alfalfa hay or chow, bok choy, kale, parsley, Swiss chard, watercress, clover, red or green cabbage, savory, cilantro, kohlrabi, bell peppers, green beans, escarole and dandelion. A lesser percentage of the diet can include cactus, various squash, sprouts, cooked sweet potato, parsnips, okra, cucumber, asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, peas and corn. Fruit can include apples, pears, bananas (with skin), mango, grapes, star fruit, raisins, peaches, tomato, guava, kiwis, and melons. Fruits that are particularly healthy include figs (which are high in calcium), apricots, dates, raspberries and strawberries. Fruits may be eaten preferentially, are generally mineral poor and should perhaps be used sparingly as a top dressing. As a treat, flowers such as geraniums, carnations, dandelions, hibiscus, nasturtiums and roses may be offered.

“Fruits may be eaten preferentially, are generally mineral poor and should perhaps be used sparingly as a top dressing.”

Vegetables can be offered cooked or raw although raw is more natural and retains more nutrients. Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables. Flowers can be home grown or purchased from floral shops. Often, floral shops throw out older, wilting flowers. While these may be unacceptable for sale to the public, the florist will often give them to box turtle owners. It is wise to be sure that no chemicals have been applied to the flowers or water.

Swiss chard, spinach and beet greens should be fed sparingly as they contain oxalates that can bind calcium and other trace minerals, preventing their absorption. Diets composed primarily of these vegetables can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Caution should also be exercised when feeding cabbage, kale or mustard greens, as these contain goitrogens; excessive intake of these items may lead to hypothyroidism.

Food should be presented to your box turtle in a shallow clean dish that is not easily upset. Vegetables should be finely chopped and mixed together to ensure a wide variety of food types are eaten and discourage the eating of a single preferred food item.

What are some acceptable animal-based protein foods I can offer my turtle?

If you and your veterinarian decide that animal-based protein sources are acceptable, some appropriate foods include grasshoppers, crickets, mealworms, wax worms, silk worms, moths, slugs, earthworms, tofu, and hard-boiled eggs. High quality, low fat dog food may be fed occasionally. Commercial reptile pellets, bird pellets, and trout chow are excellent protein sources. Live prey such as crickets and various worms should either be raised by the owner, retrieved from a nearby field or purchased from a pet store, bait store or reptile breeder. Care must be exercised when collecting insects, especially from the home garden, as fertilizers and insecticides can be toxic to turtles.

Remember to feed a wide variety of healthy items from all of the food categories listed above for balanced nutrition.

Do I need to give my box turtle vitamins and minerals?

Turtles have a higher need for dietary calcium than phosphorus. It is recommended by many veterinarians to LIGHTLY sprinkle (2 – 3 times per week) all food offered to the box turtle with a calcium powder (calcium gluconate, lactate, or carbonate). A LIGHT sprinkling of a good reptile vitamin mineral mix on the food is also recommended weekly, especially if it contains vitamin D3. Any supplements should be dusted onto small portions of salads or moist foods and those portions fed first to ensure that the box turtle receives them.

“Turtles have a higher need for dietary calcium than phosphorus.”

A common problem seen in pet box turtles is over-supplementation with vitamins (especially vitamin D3) and minerals. Check with your veterinarian about the need to supplement your pet’s diet.

What are the box turtle’s water requirements?

Fresh clean water should be available at all times. Box turtles will not only drink from the water bowl but will often bathe in it as well. You can provide the water in a shallow dish, crock or pan that cannot be easily tipped over; provide the dish with a “ramp” so that the box turtle can easily climb in and out for soaking and drinking. The water level should reach up to its chin when the head is just coming out of the shell. You must change the water and clean the bowl frequently as many box turtles will defecate or eliminate in their water bowl.

You can mist the turtle with a water sprayer a few times a week as well.

Different types of box turtles may have slightly different nutritional needs. There are many different opinions regarding what is a nutritionally correct diet for box turtles; please discuss this very important topic with a veterinarian familiar with box turtles.

ALWAYS WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY after feeding, cleaning or handling any turtle.

Contributors: Rick Axelson, DVM © Copyright 2009 Lifelearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.

Tortoise Edible Plants & Tortoise Edible Weeds that are safe for tortoises to eat including sulcata tortoise safe plants and more.

Various types of tortoises enjoy weeds, plants and other edible greens. You can feed these types of plants to the following species: Sulcata tortoise, leopard tortoise, indian star tortoise, aldabra tortoise, burmese star tortoise, russian tortoise, greek tortoise, hermann’s tortoise, egyptian tortoise, pancake tortoises and most other species of tortoise for sale.

Recommended basic food plants:

In practice, the important thing is to provide a variety of fresh ‘natural’ graze. This is vastly superior to ‘supermarket salads’ and will supply a far greater range of minerals and essential trace elements. The fiber content will also be far high than ‘commercial’ salads. If you can manage to grow some of these plants in your tortoise enclosure your tortoises will certainly appreciate your efforts. Not only Mediterranean tortoises will benefit from a healthier diet. Ashley Woods, a Tortoise Trust member who keeps and breeds leopard tortoises (Geochelone pardalis), includes several wild plants in their daily die:

Please note this list is in ad­dition to a large free range area where animals can graze and browse on various grasses and clovers – grass is a very important factor in the diet of leopard and sulcata tortoises, for example. Don’t forget Mazuri tortoise chow, as a 2-3 day a week staple!

  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) leaves, stems and flowers.
  • Red clover (Trifolium pratence) leaves, stems & flowers
  • White clover (Trifolium repens) leaves, stems and flowers.
  • Greater Plantain (Plantago media)
  • Ribgrass or Ribwart Plantian (Plantago lancealata)
  • Smooth Sow Thistle (Sonchus ol­eraceus) leaves, stems & flowers
  • Prickly Sow Thistle (Sonchus as­per) coarsely or finely chopped.
  • White-Dead Nettle * (Lamilim al­bum)
  • Red-Dead Nettle (Lamium pupureum)
  • Chickweed * (Stelaria media)
  • Smooth hawks-beard (Crepis cap­illoris) leaves & flower
  • Hedge mustard (Sisymbrium offl­cinale) young plants
  • Bramble (Rubus fruticosus) shoots, tender leaves & fruit.

Remember when searching for any tortoises for sale, including a new baby tortoise for sale, tortoise town is your source for the best tortoise for sale , baby tortoises for sale , baby turtles for sale, and adult turtles for sale of any turtle store anywhere including a huge aquatic turtles for sale section. If you are interested in tortoise care, please visit our care section.

  • Pond Size: To successfully overwinter turtles, a deep pond with a large surface area (offering the best exchange of oxygen) is necessary. A hibernating turtle needs at least a foot of water that isn’t frozen at the bottom of the pond. The pond must also have a large surface area to facilitate sufficient oxygen levels in the water. Aquatic turtles usually settle into the sediment at the bottom of a pond to hibernate and switch to absorbing oxygen through the skin, so the levels of oxygen in the water must be kept high enough.
  • Oxygenation: Since hibernating aquatic turtles require high oxygen levels in the water, some method of adding supplemental oxygen is a good idea. Running a pump (to keep water moving) or air pump can increase oxygen levels in the water.
  • Water De-Icers and Heaters: Pond supply companies usually sell submersible heaters which can be used in the pond during winter. De-icers will usually prevent the pond from totally freezing over, which can help with oxygenation as well as make the pond safer. A water temperature of around about 50 F seems to be the best for hibernation. Avoid heaters that raise the temperature much above this as a cold and inactive turtle that is not at a low enough temperature to hibernate is likely to be severely stressed.
  • Someplace to Dig: As mentioned previously, aquatic turtles in the wild usually submerge themselves in sediment at the bottom of a body of water for hibernation. Make sure there is something on the bottom of the pond such as a layer of leaves to give the turtle something to dig into for hibernation. Some people even put a pan of sand or sand and soil mix at the bottom for hibernation. Too much decaying plant matter can negatively impact water quality though, so be careful about having too much.
  • Prepare the Turtle: Only healthy, strong turtles should be hibernated. Turtles should also have been in the pond since at least mid-summer to have time to adjust to the changing season to prepare for hibernation, and they should be older than six months. As the weather cools, the turtle will eat less and less which is normal. As the turtle stops eating and the temperatures approach 50 F, stop feeding.

It’s rare to find someone who doesn’t enjoy a pond in their backyard. You can spend hours relaxing by the water’s edge, as you enjoy the tranquility that a pond brings to a backyard. And while fish ponds are the most popular types of pond, they aren’t the only option for your property.

Perhaps one of the most interesting types of ponds that you can build, is a turtle pond. These ponds take a bit more work to set up, and are a bit more demanding when it comes to equipment, but offers unique and fascinating interactions with your pet turtles.

While I am more familiar with fish ponds, my recent project of setting up a turtle pond has taught me some important – and painful lessons. If you are going to build a turtle pond, then you need to do it right, and not just throw some turtles into what is essentially a fish pond.

The Pond

One of the big differences between a turtle pond and fish pond, is that it needs to be large. Where you can get away with a small pond for fish, you will need at least 250 gallons (1136 litres) for a turtle pond, and you should really shoot for a pond that is at least 1000 gallons (4546 litres).

Turtle ponds also need varying depths, and it’s important to have portions of the pond that are only a few inches deep, while other areas need to have impressive depths. You will at least one area of the pond to be at least 3 feet (0.91 metres) deep, and you will want deeper areas if you live in a cold climate where they will have to hibernate.

And it’s not just about provided the right water for the turtles, since it’s just as important to provide an area where the turtles can leave the pondto bask or lay eggs. If your female turtle has no ground to lay eggs in, it may become seriously ill, and could end up needing a trip to the vet.

The location of a turtle pond will also play a role in how successful it is. Ideally, you will want an area of the pond to be shaded so that the turtles can retreat to this area during the hot hours of the day, and another area to have full sunlight, so that they can easily bask in the warm sunlight.

Oh, and did I mention that turtles are escape artists, and that nearly every animal in the wild aside from deer want to eat them (and I’m still not 100% sure about the deer)? Because of this, you need to specifically design the layout of the pond to keep the turtles in, and hungry animals out.

The easiest way to keep the turtles in, and land animals out, is to build a sheer wall around the pond. This can be done through lowering the pond water so that there is at least a one foot (0.30 metres) edge around most of the pond, or by building a small wall out of building materials.

Fences can be hit and miss with turtles, and some species amazingly enough, can actually climb fences. If you build a fence, stay away from mesh fences, since turtles claws can become entangled in them. Try to stick with wood or PVC cloth enclosures, which often look nicer anyways.

Predatory birds can be a little harder to keep out, and one of the best methods I have found to keep birds out is through stringing fishing line across the pond. I have erected a few poles around the pond, and have linked them across the pond with fishing line, which seems to keep the majority of large birds out – especially the ever ravenous herons.


Feeding most species of turtles is not exactly what you would call difficult, since they all tend to have voracious appetites and are omnivores – consuming both plant and animal material. Most turtles will be more than happy consuming commercially prepared foods, but they will appreciate it if you can offer them some variety. I personally use Zoo Med Natural Aquatic Turtle Food, which is great food for larger turtles.

Young turtles prefer a more carnivorous diet, and they can be fed earthworms, crickets, waxworms, silkworms, snails and mealworms. They will also eat feeder fish, so these can be added to their turtle pond – though they tend to ignore larger fish.

They can also regularly be offered vegetables, and they will accept most green vegetables, including lettuce, kale and bok choi and even some common weeds like dandelions (make sure they have no pesticide on them). They can also be fed several other vegetables and fruits like carrots, squash and bananas.

You should always avoid foods like spinach though, as many turtles owners have reported complications and even calcium deficiency from spinach feedings. Other vegetables to avoid are those high in purine, which can cause gout in the turtle. These include most beans, mushrooms and peas.

Unfortunately, their appetite for plants isn’t limited to those growing on land, and they can devastate your carefully planted aquatic plants. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t include aquatic plants in their pond, but don’t be surprised if they damage them through feedings or just by their movements.


A turtle pond needs powerful filtration, and a turtle’s prodigious pooping ability puts even a goldfish to shame. With a normal fish pond, you want the filter to turn over the water every two hours or so, but with a turtle pond you want to halve that so it turns it over every hour. And if you feel the need, you can even increase the time, until it is turning over every half an hour.

Just remember that a pond is just like a fish tank – the filter needs weekly cleanings, and the water needs to be changed regularly. This is especially true in a turtle pond, where filters are known to become clogged extremely quickly. Once the filter is clogged, the water quality will plummet and you will have a problem on your hands. I have had great success with Laguna Pressure-Flo UVC Filters, which I find clog far less often than many of the other comparable brands.

Continuing with the theme of similarities to an aquarium, you will want to change about 15-20% of the water weekly, and any new water that you add should be treated to remove any chlorine or chloramine. Turtles are sensitive to ammonia and nitrites just like fish, so you want to be sure that you don’t cause a mini cycle by leaving the chlorine in the water, which will kill most of the beneficial bacteria on the filter.

You don’t have to waste the water that you remove from the pond each week, as it should be relatively high in nitrates, which makes it excellent to water plants with. I personally use mine to water many of the shrubs and plants on my property.


If you live in a northern climate, then you are going to have to deal with the difficult issue of hibernation. If you want to avoid the issue all together, simply take your turtles indoors and provide them with a heated environment until spring comes.

This can be done in a large aquarium, or in a mini pond inside (if you significant other doesn’t mind a turtle pond inside). I have even known some people to overwinter their turtles in animal stock tanks in their basement, which give the turtles a comfortable, if somewhat less than attractive home.

If you want them to overwinter outside, then you need to make sure that the pond is suitable for hibernation. The pond needs to be constructed so that it is built below the frost line, and it is imperative that at least 12-16 inches (30-40 cm) remain unfrozen even at the coldest temperatures during the winter.

This is also where the ponds size really comes into play, and a pond without adequate surface area for the number of turtles, will quickly see the turtles suffocating. It’s also important to have some sort of water movement during the winter months, or the detritus at the bottom of the pond will begin to break down and release toxic chemicals into the water.

You will also need to prepare your turtles for hibernation, and it shouldn’t really even be considered for young hatchlings or juveniles. Most of them will not survive the winter, so this should only be attempted with large, healthy adults that have been outside all summer.

Stop feeding the turtles when the temperatures fall into the 50°F (10°C) range, as they need to have a completely empty digestive tract during hibernation. Also, make sure that the turtles have a significant amount of pond detritus at the bottom, since they will need this to burrow into as the temperature drops.

After you have done all of this, you just need to make sure that the pond has some motion for the rest of the winter, and hope that your turtles are healthy enough to make it through the dark days of winter.

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Fake plants are just fine, but that is not what we are here to talk about today. There are many things that are necessary for a healthy and happy tank of turtles, one of those being plants. That is why we are here today, to help you find the best live plants for turtle tanks.

Turtles love live plants (this plant is our top pick) because they like to eat them, plus it helps replicate their natural environment too. You may be wondering what kind of plants are good for a turtle tank, and deciding on the right ones may be a bit of an issue.

Hornwort Hardy plant 9.4/10
Java Moss Grows quickly 9.3/10
Java Fern Natural filter 8.9/10
Moneywort Not demanding 8.3/10

What Kind Of Plants Are Good For Turtles?

When it comes to a turtle tank, there are a variety of options that you can go with, but there are a couple of things that you do need to keep in mind when selecting them. One of the main things to look out for is that you only add plants that the turtle can eat (like Hornwort).

While you do not want plants that are overly tasty, because the turtles will eat them before they ever get a chance to grow, any plants that may contain compounds which are toxic to turtles need to be avoided. Turtles love to eat plants, so any kind of plant that is edible for a turtle is a big bonus.

Moreover, you want to add plants that root easily in the substrate. You need the plants to stay firmly rooted in the substrate, so any plant with a good root system is a big bonus. Furthermore, turtle tanks usually don’t have too much light or oxygen in the water, so any plant that doesn’t have too big oxygen or light requirements is ideal too. Floating plants (like Water Lettuce) are nice for turtles too, because they can provide some cover, they look nice, and they are often edible too.

What We Think Are The Best Live Plants For Turtle Tanks

Now, let’s take a look at what we feel are the 9 best plants that you can go with for your turtle tank, each of which is great in its own way and they are all turtle safe plants.

1. Hornwort

This is a good option to go with no doubt (you can buy it here). Hornwort is an aquatic plant that does not reach the surface. It is green and sometimes slightly yellowish, making it a beautiful addition to any tank. Hornwort is pretty resilient to many different water conditions. Water temperature, as long as it is not overly hot or cold, is not a huge deal, nor is lighting.

They do like a little bit of light, but as long as you have the various turtle lights going this should not be an issue. Hornwort is very hardy and can survive in many different conditions. This includes a turtle tank where it may get eaten. The fact that it grows pretty quickly is also a bonus considering that turtles may eat it quite rapidly. Moreover, this stuff is also ideal for filtering out the water.

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2. Java Moss

The real beauty about Java Moss is that it does not need any special lighting or air requirements. It will do well in dim and murky water, meaning that you can keep it in virtually any fresh water aquarium.

Java Moss is also good for filtering out the water, something that is necessary in any turtle tank. What is also good about Java Moss is that it grows along the substrate, rocks, driftwood, and other aquarium items. This means that it grows easily virtually anywhere, it grows quickly, so being eaten is not a big issue, and it is easy to care for as well.

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3. Java Fern

The Java Fern is another good option to consider. While it does need to be anchored down with some small rocks or driftwood, it still makes for a fine addition to any turtle tank. Simply tie it down to any bottom surface with some fishing line and everything will be just fine. It does require a little bit of lighting, but the turtle lights will do just fine.

Java Ferns are great at taking waste out of the water, thus acting like a natural filter. Java Ferns are not all that tasty and turtles, while they may take a bite every now and then, they won’t outright eat the whole plant. Also, low CO2 levels are no issue either. It is a very hardy, resilient, and easy to care for aquatic plant for any freshwater aquarium.

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4. Dwarf Hairgrass

Dwarf Hairgrass is actually quite similar to normal grass, not unlike on your own lawn. The difference is of course than normal grass is not aquatic, whereas Dwarf Hairgrass definitely is. Turtles will love this stuff because it makes for a good layer to cover the substrate, giving them something soft to walk on and mull through on the bottom of the tank.

It is a very beautiful addition to any turtle tank, almost like an underwater lawn. Turtles may eat some of this stuff, but it is not that tasty so they won’t raze down a whole field of it. Moreover, it doesn’t require much lighting or CO2, plus it does not grow that fast, so it will not invade too much tank space either.

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5. Moneywort

Moneywort is a really cool option to go with. Many people like this stuff for its aesthetic appeal. Simply put, it looks really nice. This is more of a straight plant, in the sense that it has longer and taller shoots with leaves on them, plus they are quite thin. They make for a good option if you have one or two smaller bunches.

That being said, don’t add too many of them as they grow quite tall and will take up lots of space in the water if you do have too many. This stuff may be eaten by your turtles, but it grows fairly quickly so that should be no issue. Moreover, while it does like lots of light and CO2, Moneywort is not overly demanding so it will do just fine in the depths of a turtle tank.

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6. Red Ludwigia

The reason why many people love red ludwigia is because it is extremely low maintenance. You will not have to provide it with any special nutrients, lighting, or aeration. It will do just fine on its own and feeding off of the nutrients in the water. Being so easy to take care of makes this plant a prime choice for much more than just turtle tanks.

It is a taller plant, so you will only want to add a couple of bushes here and there in order to avoid overstuffing the swimming area, but a few will do just fine. Also, this is very fast growing plant, one that does like to be eaten by turtles. While turtles may eat a good deal of red ludwigia, it grows really fast so it will replenish itself in no time at all.

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7. Water Lettuce

Water lettuce is another really neat option to go with for your turtle tank. These guys are floating plants that rest on top of the water. Their light requirements will definitely be met thanks to the fact that they rest on the water’s surface, and will therefore be able to absorb plenty of UV rays.

Moreover, turtles love to eat this stuff, plus it provides for some good cover too. It’s quite a hardy plant that will have no problems surviving in turtle tank conditions. There is also the fact that they add a certain amount of visual appeal to any tank as well.

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8. Water Hyacinth

A water hyacinth is also a cool floating plant option to go with. Except for the look of it, this stuff is extremely similar to water lettuce. It floats on top of the water, so it has no problem getting air and light. Moreover, it is also a very hardy and resilient plant, so keeping it alive is no issue.

There is also the fact that turtles like to eat water hyacinth, so it does make for a tasty snack. Also, these things look really nice, especially when their flowers bloom, making the very visually appealing.

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9. Moss Balls

Moss balls are a very unique choice to go with, but a good one none the less. These things are simply moss balls, aquatic moss, that rests on the bottom of the tank. They aren’t especially tasty, so while turtles might snack on them, they won’t outright consume them.

Moreover, they do fine in low light aquariums, which is great for the bottom of a turtle tank. Moss balls also make for a fun toy that your turtles can push around and play with. They also make for really good water filters that take unwanted compounds and excess nutrients out of the water. We can’t forget the fact that they look really neat as well.

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Benefits Of Keeping Live Plants In Your Turtle Tank

There are quite a few different benefits that come with keeping turtle plants in your tank. We are calling them turtle plants because in most cases, we are referring to plants that turtles can eat.

At any rate, what are the benefits of keeping live plants in turtle tanks?

Backup Filtration

One of the biggest benefits here is that live plants have the ability to act as a backup water filtration system. The best plants for turtle tanks can filter out ammonia, nitrites, and other unwanted organic compounds in the water.

They make the water cleaner, better for your turtles to live in, and they take some of the load off of the filter too.


Simply put, aquatic turtle plants will make the aquarium look much better. Aquariums and turtle tanks without plants look weird and unnatural. Not only will it look better to you, but it will be better for the turtle too.

No matter what the case, some live plants in the tank definitely help increase the visual appeal.

More Oxygen

Plants have the ability to oxygenate the water. Turtles do need a lot of oxygen, which is also the case if you happen to have some fish in the same tank.

The more aquatic plants you have in the tank, the more oxygen the water will have, which is always a good thing.

Happy Turtles

Perhaps the best parts about having some live plants in your turtle tank is that it will make your turtle much happier.

Turtles like to eat certain aquatic plants, plus they like to hide among them too. Simply put, some good aquatic plants will make your turtle feel at home.

Can I Use Plastic Plants In My Turtle Tank?

The short answer to this question is yes, you can use artificial plastic plants in your turtle tank if you so choose. However, in our opinion, if looking after a couple of live plants is too difficult and time consuming, then you probably don’t have enough time to really look after a turtle at all.

At any rate, yes, plastic plants will do just fine in a turtle tank, plus of course they don’t need any maintenance and there is no chance of them dying.

However, when it comes down to it, real plants are much better for turtle tanks for many reasons. First off, plastic plants cannot oxygenate the water as they do not go through photosynthesis.

At the same time, plastic plants cannot filter out any microorganisms and unwanted compounds from the water. Furthermore, turtles surely cannot eat plastic plants, and if they do, they will get sick. You are better off with real plants.

What Kind Of Plants Do Red Eared Sliders Eat?

Red eared sliders are some of the most commonly kept turtles, which is why we would like to talk about some red eared slider plants that they like to eat.

Keep in mind, they may not like to eat all these plants, but they won’t hurt the turtles either.

Common Waterweed

This is one of the best plants to go with for red eared sliders. Most turtles really seem to love the taste of this stuff and it has lots of nutrition in it. Moreover, it is very easy to grow, inexpensive, and does not require much maintenance at all.


This is probably one of the best options to go with for various reasons. While turtles usually don’t love the taste of this stuff, some are known to eat it, plus it is not harmful either.

There is also the fact that Hornwort doesn’t need substrate, it does fine in most conditions, and it does not require much maintenance either.

Java Fern

Java ferns are also very easy to care for. They do need to be tied down to something as they are known to come free from substrate and float around.

However, other than that, this plant does not require much maintenance at all. Some turtles do like to eat this stuff, but most will just stay away from it.

Amazon Sword

Amazon sword plants work well for turtle tanks too. This is another plant that is easy to grow and does not require much in terms of maintenance.

Red eared sliders may eat a bit of it, but they usually won’t eat a whole plant, but they may tear it out of the substrate if the mood strikes them.

What Plants Should I Avoid Adding To My Turtle Tank?

There are not too many things to keep in mind here. Some plants to avoid, first off, are toxic ones. Some of the plants that turtles can absolutely not eat include water hemlock, milkweed, and ivy. Other than those, most plants are edible for turtles.

Moreover, a plant that requires way too much light and oxygen is not ideal, especially if it is going to be underwater. Finally, any plant that has a weak root system (or does not float), is not going to be ideal for a turtle tank. They need to be rooted well in order to avoid floating around the tank randomly.


There are many awesome plants that you can get for your turtle tank (this is our top pick). If you have a larger tank, don’t be afraid to diversify a little bit. Generally speaking, space permitting, the more plants you have the better. Turtles love plants in their tank so do them a favor and get some!

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