The MFKers Guide to Keeping Turtles and Fish Together

snakeguy101

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A lot of people here ask about what fish they can keep with their turtle. This is a controversial subject because there is always going to be some degree of risk. In this thread, I will discuss the turtles that people seem to have the most success when keeping them with fish.

I will start with the more common turtles and work my way up to the more advanced/ rare turtles.

Mud/Musk turtles ( Kinosternon / Sternotherus )

an adult mud turtle sp.
eastmud.jpg

a baby musk turtle sp.
48005250_87ccfec9dd_o.jpg

These are some of the smallest turtles that you can keep and will do will in smaller tanks around 30 or 40 gallons. These turtles spend most of their time in the water but they are surprisingly clumsy swimmers. Give them lots to climb on and a small space out of the water to bask if the choose to. Muds and musk turtles do not need UVA/ UVB since in the wild, they spend a majority of their time in black water where the sun cannot reach them. This means that they have developed other ways to obtain the nutrients other turtles get from the light.

Muds and musks are capable of taking down and eating small fish and nipping at the fins of larger fish but will leave them alone most of the time. I would suggest keeping large bodied fish about the length of the turtle or bigger. Keep in mind that some fish will pick on these turtles because of their size too so choose wisely.


Map turtles ( Graptemys sp )

barbours-map-turtle.jpg

Mississippi Map Turtle.jpg

These are arguably the most risky of this group to keep with fish. They get larger than the muds and musks. At 8 inches, these turtles are capable of taking down a 12 inch fish but they prefer to prey on much smaller items like earth worms and insects. These guys will need a minimum tank size of 55 gallons for adults however, 75 is ideal. They require a larger basking spot that is at least twice the size of your turtle and be sure to provide them with the proper UVA/ UVB lighting.

I would not put any fish that you are terribly attracted to in this guys tank but if you have a pleco or large guppy that you would not mind losing it might be worth a shot and it will probably work out. I will not be responsible for someones prized fish getting eaten though.

Mata Mata Turtles ( Chelus Fimbriatus )

View attachment 557348

DSC_5076_2.jpg

These guys get big. Some of them can reach 18 inches and have a neck nearly as long as their shell. This means that they need a big tank. These turtles like shallow areas so if you have a deep tank be sure to stack some decorations in an area to allow your mata to sit and be able to reach the top of the tank to breathe. These turtles do not need a basking area or UVA/UVB lighting but if you have a female that is sexually mature you will need an area for her to come and lay her infertile eggs on land so that she doesn't become egg bound. Matas cannot pick at fish because of the way their jaw is formed. They are designed to swallow fish whole without tearing them into pieces so any fish that is too big to swallow will do fine. My rule of thumb is anything that is bigger than my matas head is safe. Others will say that thier mata can swallow rather large fish so I suggest you experiment with fish you don't care about before you put your favorite fish in with them. It is your call.

Fly River or Pig Nosed Turtles ( Carettochelys Insculpta )

FRT Hatchling 1.JPG

64326.jpg

These turtles are the best choice to put with your fish but unfortunately, they are also the most expensive and advanced to keep. If you are really interested in them, I suggest you check out this link that has more detail than I could ever put here:
http://www.monsterfishkeepers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=16611
 
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snakeguy101

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There are other turtles that can be kept with fish just fine but I think that those cases are the exception rather than the rule. In the end, it is your call. If you think your red eared slider is peaceful enough to be okay with fish then by all means try it out with some guppies and see how he reacts to these for a month or two before you put your favorite oscar in with him.

Generally plecos will do fine with sliders and terrapins and other turtles that soft bodied fish might not fair so well.

If anyone has any questions about other turtles or the ones mentioned, let me know and I will do my best to answer them.
 

EricIvins

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Pretty much the only commercially available Turtle that could be kept with Fish peacefully are Callagur Borneoensis........There are a few others, but they aren't generally available to the public, and the majority are big 16"+ Turtles - Podocnemis Unifillis would be another, but again, they are big Turtles, and are only commonly available in a few States.......
 

snakeguy101

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Thanks guys.

Eric, like I said, there are other turtles that can be kept with fish but these are the most common and all of these can be kept with fish peacefully.

Floridagar, If you go to the link I posted, you will find all of the info on the fly rivers. They do well with almost all fish.
 

Gr8KarmaSF

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Gr8 thread, STUCK! :headbang2
 

Miguel

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With MataMata ( Chelus Fimbriatus ) my experience is that it does swallow fish of a size one would not expect it to be able.
If the pointy end of the fish happens to be pointed in the right direction, ie, the turtle's mouth it happens. I have seen it happen with a 11' Hoplias Malabaricus.
 

snakeguy101

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Miguel;4656867; said:
With MataMata ( Chelus Fimbriatus ) my experience is that it does swallow fish of a size one would not expect it to be able.
If the pointy end of the fish happens to be pointed in the right direction, ie, the turtle's mouth it happens. I have seen it happen with a 11' Hoplias Malabaricus.
Did you feed yours large pieces of frozen fish like in this video?
[YT]NMcAiJ7kpNk[/YT]

I think that there might be a correlation between feeding large pieces and the turtle seeing large fish as food. I feed mine small minnows and I am able to keep things that are surprisingly small with them. I have a slender 6 inch gar that I know my mata COULD swallow but he doesn't.

You can see the gar in the upper left hand corner if you look closely below:
IMG_0983.JPG
 

Miguel

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Yes. As a matter of fact I did, at the time. I later learned that MataMata should eat small pieces, and that big pieces actually are bad for their health.

I think you may have a valid point.
 

EricIvins

Feeder Fish
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Jun 21, 2009
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Miguel;4657380; said:
Yes. As a matter of fact I did, at the time. I later learned that MataMata should eat small pieces, and that big pieces actually are bad for their health.

I think you may have a valid point.

In what respect? That was a 17" Female that is still being fed halved 1lb Tilapia every few days, and has gone on to produce Eggs, as have all the Females in the rest of that group.........

Some of those animals would eat 2+lbs of Tiliapia every time it was offered........Even the 13" Males had no problem being fed like that.......That's what they're made to do


Maybe I should start making more videos?.........
 

Miguel

Ole Dawg
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Dec 28, 2006
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Very much south..
EricIvins;4658033; said:
In what respect? That was a 17" Female that is still being fed halved 1lb Tilapia every few days, and has gone on to produce Eggs, as have all the Females in the rest of that group.........

Some of those animals would eat 2+lbs of Tiliapia every time it was offered........Even the 13" Males had no problem being fed like that.......That's what they're made to do


Maybe I should start making more videos?.........
I do not think we should hijack this sticky on Mata feeding issues....

I also used to feed such large pieces of fish to my Mata. Then several people more knowledgeable than me in MataMata husbnadry told me they did not beneift from large chunks, but rather from smaller pieces of fish in more servings.

This all was a couple of years ago...Mata died.
 
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