Our Top-Rated Turtle Food: A Comprehensive Review

Photo of author
Published On

I Love Veterinary blog is reader-supported, and we may earn a commission from products purchased through links on this page, at no additional cost to you. Learn more About Us and our Product Review Process >

What Do Turtles Eat?

Fruits, vegetables, fish, and water plants are the most common turtle food. Before feeding your turtle any fruit or vegetable, consider the phosphorus content. Phosphorus is a challenging nutritional component for turtles.

To attain some flexibility in their shells, turtles need the right amount of phosphorus, but too much can cause the shell to soften. In general, there are certain fruits and vegetables that you should avoid; your veterinarian can provide you with a list.

Turtle eating lettuce

What is the Difference Between a Turtle and a Tortoise?

Turtles and tortoises are reptiles but belong to different taxonomic families with distinct physical and behavioral differences. The following are some critical differences between turtles and tortoises.

Habitat 

Turtles are usually aquatic or semi-aquatic, meaning they live in or near bodies of water like rivers, ponds, and oceans. They have webbed feet or flippers, and their shells are generally flatter and more streamlined to help them swim. 

In contrast, tortoises are land-dwelling reptiles that typically live in dry, arid environments like deserts and grasslands. Their feet are round and stumpy, and their shells generally are larger and more domed to protect them from predators and the elements.

Diets 

Turtles are omnivores, meaning they eat plants and animals. They feed on various things, such as insects, fish, algae, and aquatic plants. On the other hand, tortoises are herbivores and feed mainly on vegetation such as grasses, flowers, and cacti.

Behavior

Turtles are more active and social than tortoises. They are well known for their ability to swim, dive, and move quickly on land and in water. Tortoises, in contrast, are generally slow-moving and spend much of their time basking in the sun to regulate their body temperature.

Physical Appearance

In addition to differences in shell shape, turtles tend to have more streamlined, hydrodynamic bodies, with flatter, elongated heads and webbed or flipper-like feet. On the other hand, tortoises have rounder, bulkier bodies with shorter, more elephantine legs and heads that are more upright and dome-shaped.

Lifespan

Tortoises tend to live longer than turtles, with some species capable of living well over 100 years. Turtles, while still long-lived compared to many other animals, generally have shorter lifespans than tortoises.

Hibernation 

Many species of turtles hibernate during winter, often burying themselves in the mud at the bottom of ponds or rivers. Tortoises, however, typically don’t hibernate but instead go into a period of reduced activity during the cooler months.

Geographic Distribution 

Turtles have freshwater and saltwater habitats worldwide, from the Arctic Circle to the tropics. On the other hand, tortoises are popular in dry, arid regions, such as deserts, savannas, and scrublands.

Threat Status 

Both turtles and tortoises face significant threats from habitat loss, pollution, and poaching, but turtles are more at risk than tortoises. Many species of turtles are somehow endangered or critically endangered, while most species of tortoises are not vulnerable or considered to be of the least concern.

How Long Can a Turtle Go Without Food?

The length of time that a turtle can go without food can depend on several factors, such as the age, size, species, and overall health of the turtle, as well as the temperature and humidity of its environment. Generally, healthy adult turtles can go without food for several weeks to months without suffering ill effects.

Some turtles, such as box turtles, can go longer without food than others. This is because they have an adaptation to survive periods of drought and food scarcity in their natural habitats. Box turtles can survive up to a year without food in the wild, although this is not recommendable for captive turtles.

However, it’s essential to note that while turtles can survive without food for extended periods, it’s not healthy for them to do so. A lack of food can weaken a turtle’s immune system, make it more susceptible to disease, and lead to malnutrition and other health problems.

If you care for a pet turtle, it’s crucial to provide it with a varied and nutritious diet and ensure it has access to fresh water at all times. If your turtle goes without eating for an extended period or shows signs of illness, you should consult a veterinarian specializing in reptiles.

How Often Do Turtles Eat?

Below are factors to remember as you consider how often your turtle can eat.

Turtle Type

Even though the general dos and don’ts of nutrition remain consistent, there are a few factors to consider depending on your turtle species. For instance, a high-protein, high-fat diet is not advisable for map turtles, whereas the opposite is true for red-eared sliders. 

Life Phases 

Feeding your turtle per its age is essential for its growth and health. Baby turtles should feed on a smaller quantity of food that is also small in size and shape, making it simpler for them to consume. 

Some turtles, such as the red-eared slider, change their dietary preferences as they age; a baby red-eared slider is predominantly carnivorous, whereas an adult slider prefers a plant-based diet. 

Variety 

Like any pet, a balanced diet is essential for a happy and thriving turtle. To meet its nutritional needs, you will need to provide a variety of nutrients. Generally, you can choose invertebrates and fish as a source of protein, plants, and vegetables as a source of necessary vitamins, or pellets that contain a healthy balance of all required nutrients.

Frequency and Quantity 

Turtles younger than seven should feed once daily. You can progressively reduce the frequency of feedings to every third day as they age.

A general rule for determining the appropriate quantity of food to feed your turtle is to use its head size. This will be sufficient for a single feeding session if you fill a cup or small receptacle to the size of your turtle’s head (not including the neck). 

The Different Types of Turtle Food Plus Pros and Cons of Each

There are a few choices for your turtle’s diet. The kind you pick will depend on your unique pet’s needs and the type of turtle you already own. The following are the various kinds of turtle food available for purchase:

Pellet 

This type, typically made for land turtles, is also available in soluble form. Pellets are excellent for land turtle owners. If you want to make them more palatable for your turtle, you may add a little moisture to them, though it is not required. Pellets don’t need refrigeration; you can keep them in a cold, dry environment.

Pros

  • No wasting     
  • You can moist it         
  • Refrigeration is not necessary           

Cons

  • It can get extremely dry
  • It only serves land turtles
  • It may not have the best flavor

Sticks  

Unlike food that may fully disintegrate in the water, this type of turtle food floats on water and remains intact for 24 hours, which helps keep your aquarium’s water clear rather than hazy. Sticks quickly swell up in the water but won’t completely dissolve, leaving the water muddy and hard to clean.

Pros   

  • Easily floats on water
  • Does not disintegrate
  • It softens immediately
  • Can remain intact for 24 hours          

Cons

  • It is specifically for aquatic turtles
  • Sticks are not advisable for baby turtles

Canned

For your land turtles, you may also purchase turtle food in cans. This kind of turtle food is shelf-stable and typically does not need refrigeration. Some brands have a prolonged shelf life of up to two years.

Pros   

  • The cans have a long shelf life          
  • Refrigeration is not necessary

Cons

  • Not ideal for aquatic turtles
  • It can be pricey over time

Our Preferred Turtle Review

Our preferred turtle food is Zilla Land Turtle and Tortoise Extruded Food Pellets . This turtle food provides sufficient vitamins, proteins, and minerals for your turtle’s health. The pellets are ready-to-eat and easy to digest. This product is great for promoting excellent shell color.

Tortoise eating food

An Overview of Our Preferred Turtle Food Brands

Product Best for case
Zilla Land Turtle and Tortoise Extruded Food Pellets Best overall
Tetra ReptoMin Floating Food Sticks for Aquatic Turtles Best floating turtle food
Mazuri Nutritionally Complete Aquatic Turtle Food Best natural turtle food
Ultra Fresh - Turtle Nutri Stick, Turtle Food with Probiotics for Picky Turtles Best for picky turtles
Zoo Med Gourmet Aquatic Turtle Food Best value for money
Fluker's Buffet Blend Aquatic Turtle Food Best blended turtle food
Mazuri | Nutritionally Complete Aquatic Turtle Food | Freshwater Formula - 12 Ounce (12 oz) Bag
Zilla Land Turtle and Tortoise Extruded Food Pellets 6.5 Ounces
Fluker's Buffet Blend Aquatic Turtle Food, 7.5-Ounce - Ideal Water Turtle Food with Freeze-Dried Shrimp, Mealworms, and Vitamin Enriched Pellets - Essential Turtle Supplies for Balanced Protein, Fat, Vitamins and Minerals
Product name
Mazuri | Nutritionally Complete Aquatic Turtle Food | Freshwater Formula – 12 Ounce (12 oz) Bag
Zilla Land Turtle and Tortoise Extruded Food Pellets 6.5 Ounces
Fluker’s Buffet Blend Aquatic Turtle Food, 7.5-Ounce – Ideal Water Turtle Food with Freeze-Dried Shrimp, Mealworms, and Vitamin Enriched Pellets – Essential Turtle Supplies for Balanced Protein, Fat, Vitamins and Minerals
Price
$14.39
$7.10
$4.80
Mazuri | Nutritionally Complete Aquatic Turtle Food | Freshwater Formula - 12 Ounce (12 oz) Bag
Product name
Mazuri | Nutritionally Complete Aquatic Turtle Food | Freshwater Formula – 12 Ounce (12 oz) Bag
Price
$14.39
Buy Now
Zilla Land Turtle and Tortoise Extruded Food Pellets 6.5 Ounces
Product name
Zilla Land Turtle and Tortoise Extruded Food Pellets 6.5 Ounces
Price
$7.10
Buy Now
Fluker's Buffet Blend Aquatic Turtle Food, 7.5-Ounce - Ideal Water Turtle Food with Freeze-Dried Shrimp, Mealworms, and Vitamin Enriched Pellets - Essential Turtle Supplies for Balanced Protein, Fat, Vitamins and Minerals
Product name
Fluker’s Buffet Blend Aquatic Turtle Food, 7.5-Ounce – Ideal Water Turtle Food with Freeze-Dried Shrimp, Mealworms, and Vitamin Enriched Pellets – Essential Turtle Supplies for Balanced Protein, Fat, Vitamins and Minerals
Price
$4.80
Buy Now

Our Turtle Food Reviews Below

Zilla Land Turtle and Tortoise Extruded Food Pellets : Best Overall

Brand: Zilla

Item form: Pellets

Lifestage: All life stages

Package size(s): 6.5 ounces (184 grams)

Key features: Easy to digest

Target species: Reptile

About Product

Zilla Land Turtle and Tortoise Extruded Food Pellets have the proper ratio of vital proteins, vitamins, and minerals for wholesome activity, brilliant color, and a long lifespan. Your pet will benefit the most from each bite with these easy-to-digest, ready-to-eat recipes that don’t need refrigeration.

Naturally, land turtles and tortoises eat plants, berries, flowers, and insects. Each extruded pellet contains essential nutrients for turtles to develop an excellent shell color. Mix these pellets with fruits and vegetables and feed your turtle as a main meal.

Pros

  • It promotes excellent shell color
  • The pellets are easily digestible

Cons

  • It is expensive

Tetra ReptoMin Floating Food Sticks for Aquatic Turtles : Best Floating Turtle Food

Amazon’s Choice in Fish Food by Tetra

Brand: Tetra

Item form: Sticks

Flavor: Shrimp

Lifestage: All life stages

Package size(s): 3.17 ounces (89.86 grams), 3.7 ounces (104.89 grams), 10.58 ounces (300 grams), 1.94 ounces (55 grams), 2.64 pounds (1.19 kilograms), 6.83 pounds (3.09 kilograms), 27.32 pounds (12.39 kilograms)

Key features: Easy to digest, scientifically formulated

Target species: Reptile

About Product

The Tetra ReptoMin Floating Food Sticks for Aquatic Turtles is one of the best and most reliable solutions available if you’re unsure where to start with turtle food. This product is a well-balanced aquatic turtle food thanks to its high protein, calcium, and vitamin C content.

Additionally, this turtle food contains essential amino acids crucial for your turtle’s health. These food sticks are tasty (for turtles, at least), carefully prepared for easy digestion, and loaded with fish and shrimp meals. You can use this food to feed your turtle twice a day.

Pros

  • It has high-quality ingredients
  • It contains vital nutrients and minerals for a turtle’s health

Cons

  • It dissolves faster, therefore, contaminates the water
  • It contains fillers

Mazuri Nutritionally Complete Aquatic Turtle Food : Best Natural Turtle Food

Brand: Mazuri

Item form: Pellet

Lifestage: All life stages

Package size(s): 12 ounces (340 grams)

Key features: Natural formula, floating diet

Target species: Turtles (Mata Mata turtles, Map turtles, Wood turtles, Red-Eared Sliders turtles, Snapping turtles, Juvenile Box turtles)

About Product

This nutritionally complete turtle diet from Mazuri provides plant and animal proteins essential for turtles’ health. Your turtle can thrive when fed this diet frequently because it has a higher-than-average protein content, primarily derived from fish.

This turtle food comprises several high-protein components, including ground corn, menhaden fish meal and oil, poultry byproduct meal, and pig meat meal. It also naturally contains vitamin E.

Mazuri turtle food is available as floating pellets for a natural feeding schedule and is excellent for all turtle breeds at all life stages.

Pros

  • It is a natural whole formula; you do not need to feed them extra supplements
  • It has a high protein content

Cons

  • Makes water mucky

Ultra Fresh - Turtle Nutri Stick, Turtle Food with Probiotics for Picky Turtles : Best for Picky Turtles

Brand: Ultra Fresh

Item form: Sticks

Flavor: Shrimp

Lifestage: Adult

Package size(s): 3.35 ounces (95 grams), 13.4 ounces (380 grams), 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram)

Key features: High calcium and vitamin D3

Target species: Turtle, Aquatic Turtle, Snapping Turtle, Musk Turtle, Diamondback Terrapins, Red-Eared Slider 

About Product

Ultra Fresh - Turtle Nutri Stick, Turtle Food with Probiotics for Picky Turtles  is highly palatable and combines wild sword prawns, shrimp marinated in Akiami paste, veggies, and seaweed. It has an ideal meat-to-vegetable protein ratio of 4:6. This product is a superior quality formula essential for your turtle’s growth. It contains plenty of calcium and vitamin D to keep turtles healthy.

It’s also full of vitamins A, C, D3, E, B1, B2, B6, and B12, which are excellent for bone or shell formation, maintaining color vibrancy, and boosting immunity. It does not contain artificial additives, flavors or colors, byproducts, and other potentially harmful ingredients.

This turtle food has added probiotics for healthy digestion and high nutritional value. It softens in water quickly yet does not break down and cloud the water. Baby aquatic turtles benefit from quick digestion and full nutritional absorption thanks to easy ingestion. It is easy for turtles to consume and digest.

The nutri sticks remain intact for 24 hours, leaving the aquarium water crystal clear.

Pros

  • It has probiotics that aid in digestion
  • It has plenty of vitamins for stronger immunity
  • It is easy to digest

Cons

  • It is expensive

Zoo Med Gourmet Aquatic Turtle Food : Best Value for Money

Amazon’s Choice in Fish Food by Zoo Med

Brand: Zoo Med

Item form: Other

Lifestage: All life stages

Package size(s): 11 ounces (312 grams)

Key features: No artificial flavors, high protein

Target species: Turtle

About Product

Zoo Med Gourmet Aquatic Turtle Food is one of the top turtle food products on the market. It comes packed with vital nutrients and minerals for your turtle. It contains various ingredients, such as shrimp, mealworms, and cranberries. This turtle-eating food has calcium, phosphorus, biotin, vitamin C, and vitamin E, and no artificial flavors or colors.

This aquatic turtle food is excellent for all life stages and may satisfy even the pickiest eaters. This turtle meal is well-designed to float on water for easy feeding. Also, it does not discolorize or contaminate the water if not eaten.

Pros

  • It has plenty of nutrients for turtle’s health
  • It does not contain artificial flavors, coloring, or preservatives

Cons

  • Not all turtles love this flavor

Fluker's Buffet Blend Aquatic Turtle Food : Best Blended Turtle Food

Brand: Fluker’s

Item form: Pellet

Flavor: Shrimp

Lifestage: Adult

Package size(s): 7.5 ounces (212.62 grams), 12 ounces (340.19 grams), 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms)

Key features: Less soluble in water, floating diet

Target species: Turtle

About Product

Does your turtle get tired of consuming the same old pellets? With Fluker’s Buffet Blend turtle food, you may switch things up for an engaging twist. As the name implies, this turtle diet is virtually a buffet for your turtle, complete with crunchy, freeze-dried mealworms and mouth-watering river shrimp in a vitamin-rich pellet form.

This water turtle food contains corn, poultry meal, and fish meal. It’s also rich in calcium and vitamin E; your turtle will enjoy every mealtime. The pellets typically float for around 20 minutes before sinking, but they won’t disintegrate rapidly, allowing your shelled friend to return for more. 

Pros

  • It is a rich source of vitamins
  • It is suitable for all turtle breeds
  • Pellets don’t dissolve fast

Cons

  • It is expensive

Some Reader Questions Answered

Can Fish Eat Turtle Food?

Fish and turtles have different nutritional requirements, so while fish may occasionally eat turtle food, it’s not recommendable as a regular part of their diet.

Turtle food provides the nutrients turtles need to stay healthy, including high protein levels, calcium, and vitamin D3. On the other hand, fish require a diet high in protein but lower in calcium and vitamin D3.

If fish regularly feed on turtle food, they may develop health problems due to an imbalance in their diet. Over time, a high-calcium diet can lead to excess calcium deposits in a fish’s body, which can cause kidney damage, among other issues.

If you are looking for food for your fish, choosing a high-quality food specifically formulated for your fish species is best. Similarly, if you are feeding turtles, it’s best to provide them with food explicitly designed for their nutritional needs.

Do Turtles Eat Fish?

Yes, some species of turtles do eat fish. However, it’s crucial to note that not all turtles are carnivorous, and even those that are may not eat fish as their primary food source. For example, many aquatic turtles are omnivores and eat various foods, including fish, aquatic plants, insects, and crustaceans.

What are the Common Turtle-Feeding Concerns?

Regarding feeding turtles, there are a few common concerns to remember. Overfeeding is one common issue, as turtles can become overweight and develop health problems if you feed them too much. Feeding turtles appropriately and providing them with a varied diet that meets their nutritional needs is essential.

Another concern is feeding turtles foods that are inappropriate for their species or potentially harmful. For example, some turtles cannot properly digest foods like dairy products or high-fat meats. It’s essential to research the specific dietary needs of your turtle’s species and to provide them with safe and healthy foods.

Are Turtles Fed in Water or on Land?

Whether turtles get fed in water or land depends on their species and habitat. Generally, aquatic turtles eat their food in the water, where they spend most of their time. Land-dwelling turtles, such as box turtles, are usually fed on land. 

However, it’s vital to ensure that turtles have access to fresh, clean water at all times, regardless of whether they get fed on the ground or in the water. 

What Should I Do If My Turtle Stops Eating?

If your turtle stops eating, it could indicate an underlying health problem. Turtles can go off their food for various reasons, including illness, stress, or environmental changes. 

Suppose your turtle has not eaten for several days or appears lethargic or unwell. In that case, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian specializing in reptiles to rule out any serious health problems and get advice on how to get your turtle eating again.

What to Look for in Turtle Food

When selecting turtle food, it would be best to consider factors that meet your turtle’s nutritional needs. Here are a few key elements to look for:

Quality

Look for high-quality turtle food specifically formulated for your turtle’s species. Avoid generic “reptile” food or food not designed for turtles, as it may not provide the right balance of nutrients.

Ingredients

Check the ingredients list to ensure the food contains high-quality ingredients, such as whole fish, shrimp, vegetables, and fruits. Avoid foods that contain fillers or low-quality ingredients.

Protein

Turtles require a high-protein diet, so look for food that contains high-quality protein sources, such as fish, shrimp, and insects.

Minerals and Vitamins

Turtles also need a variety of minerals and vitamins to stay healthy. Look for food that contains vital nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin D3, and vitamin A.

Convenience

Consider the convenience of the food, especially if you have a busy schedule. Pelleted or canned foods may be more convenient than fresh foods, but fresh foods can be a good option if you have the time to prepare them.

Affordability

Finally, consider the cost of the food. While high-quality food may be more expensive, it can be a worthwhile investment in your turtle’s health. However, you should also ensure the food fits within your budget and that you can afford to provide your turtle with a healthy, balanced diet over the long term.

Why Trust Us

Here at I Love Veterinary, we are passionate about animals. We strive to provide our readers with accurate and useful information on how to keep their pets. Our team does extensive research on different products and delivers unbiased reviews. 

Manufacturers do not pay us, nor do we seek opinions from company representatives. We write articles to help you decide on the products your pets love.

Turtle eating apple

Final Words

Wow! We just threw plenty of information at you, right? Then hopefully, you now understand better what to feed your turtle and what it will like the most. We try our best to help you limit your selections since, as pet parents, we know it can be an uphill task to sort through the numerous options available for our pets.

Zilla Land Turtle and Tortoise Extruded Food Pellets  is our choice for the best overall turtle food. This product contains essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins for your turtle. It is suitable for turtles in all life stages. Also, it does not require refrigeration, so you don’t have to worry about storing it. You can combine it with fruits and vegetables as a primary diet.

SaleBestseller No. 2
Tetra ReptoMin Floating Food Sticks, Food for...
Tetra ReptoMin Floating Food Sticks, Food for…
Age Range Description: All Ages; Included Components: Tetra Reptomin Floating Food Sticks For Aquatic Turtles/Newts/Frogs
$7.49 Amazon Prime
SaleBestseller No. 5
Zoo Med Gourmet Aquatic Turtle Food, 11 oz.
Zoo Med Gourmet Aquatic Turtle Food, 11 oz.
With added vitamins and minerals. No artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors
$6.79 Amazon Prime

Sharing is caring!

Photo of author

AUTHOR

Project dedicated to support and help to improve Veterinary Medicine. Sharing information and raising discussions in the veterinary community.