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Do Turtles Eat Algae? (Read This First!)

Whether you adopted a turtle or thinking to get one, you must know even if they seem effortless to own, they need special nurture and maintenance. You have to know about their preferable environment, their comfort, food, etc.

Talking about the food habit of turtles, many people wonder if the turtles do eat algae. Here we’ve explained the answer while mentioning every detail about turtles and their connection with algae.

Do turtles eat algae?

Not every breed of turtles but some of them such as red-eared sliders, wood turtles, midland painted turtles eat algae. These species of turtles have algae from waterways, swamped rocks, or plants. Though most of them eat both herbs and meat, only a few species of turtles love to eat algae.

The diet of turtles depends mainly on their species. Different turtles have different types of jaw to chew food, which determines their food habit. Also, their habitat and food sources have impacts on what they eat.

Determined by their classification mostly sea turtles for example spotted turtles, red-eared sliders, wood turtles, midland painted turtles have algae as food as they own a jagged edge jaw.

Besides omnivorous turtles may sometimes consider algae as food.

Based on the species, turtles keep algae in their food regime to balance the diet with enough plant material. Sea turtles eat algae as they are mainly herbivorous and into a vegetarian diet.

 Algae in ponds:

Turtles living in ponds are mainly omnivorous. They mostly consume snails, insects, worms, and fish. But they take plants and herbs too which includes filamentous algae, a type of algae mostly found in ponds. 

String algae:

String algae is a form of filamentous algae, also known as blanket algae. They are found on the surface of the water, hanging from a rock or over plants. Since turtles prefer filamentous algae as food, turtles eat string algae too.

Do these turtles eat algae?

What turtles eat depends on their species. Different types of turtles have different types of food choices. Also, their living area and food availability decide turtles’ eating habits.

As you already know not all turtles eat algae but it’s important to know which ones do? To get a clearer idea about it take a look below!

Sea turtles:

Sea turtles because of their habitat and especially the specially formed serrated jaw eat algae. Moreover, most of the time sea turtles maintain a vegetarian diet so algae are included in their food habit along with other herbs and plants.

Painted turtles:

Painted turtles are largely found in slow-moving waters like ponds, rivers. They are omnivorous generally but carnivorous in their early days. But as they grow older they tend to rely on aquatic herbs and plants more which includes algae.

Red-eared slider turtles:

Red-eared slider turtles are omnivorous which means they eat both meat and plants. Red-eared slider turtles actually can eat anything. Moreover, their jagged jaw allows them to chew things other species cannot. 

So if there are algae as an option, they will not mind eating them.

Freshwater turtles:

Freshwater turtles keep insects, worms, snails as well as aquatic plants, and herbs in their food routine. So they can eat algae too since it’s a plant-based item. 

But they eat algae found in freshwaters such as filamentous algae, that’s a little different from saltwater ones.

Pond turtles:

Pond turtles mainly eat plants and different types of worms, insects, dragonfly larvae, etc. So they are omnivorous by type mostly. Thus they do eat algae to balance their vegetarian part of the diet.

Snapping turtles:

Snapping turtles need one-third of plant material to cover up their diet. So they eat plenty of algae along with leaves, water fern, etc. 

Baby turtles:

Baby turtles usually take meat-type food like insects, worms, larvae, fish, etc. since they need a lot of protein at that stage. That’s why they avoid eating vegetarian food, not even algae while growing up. 

But once they are older enough, they include plant and herb-like things in their diet plan according to their category.

Is algae bad for turtles?

You might have seen turtles living in places that have algae around or you may be even witnessed turtles consuming them. Again, many people getting panicked seeing algae around their turtles might confuse you as well. 

Well, the truth is algae aren’t bad for turtles unless there is an overgrowth or the turtles consume a lot of them. But if there is much growth and frequent, it can turn bad for the turtles.

So a little algae won’t harm but more that than cause some issue, let’s know it all in details –

Too many algae: 

Too much algae growth in a turtle tank can pollute the water. Algae when overgrows can ruin the purity of water. It can also turn the water green destroying its natural state which makes the stay of turtles in the water uncomfortable.

Can grow on a turtle’s shell:

Algae can grow on a turtle’s shell if not controlled. Too many algae on a turtle’s shell can be dangerous for the life of the little animal as it can cause infection or rot the shell.

Poisonous algae:

Though many species of turtles eat algae not all the algae are safe for turtles to consume. Such as brown algae, it’s poisonous to turtles. Turtles can ever lose its life if they eat these algae.

How to stop and prevent algae growth in a turtle tank?

Algae grow anywhere that’s damp. So they can grow in your turtle’s tank as well. As long as this aquatic plant group is in control, they are harmless for your babies. 

But it’s not possible to check and clean the tank every other day to make it free from algae. Moreover, prevention is always better so why not follow some tips to stop and prevent algae growth?

Let’s see how you can prevent them from overtaking your exotic pet’s house-

Keep changing the water:

You have to change the water in the tank from time to time so that algae don’t make their hub there. Moreover, keeping freshwater keeps any kind of bacteria and harmful elements away from the turtles. 

But it doesn’t mean you have to clean every inch of the algae, that’s not important. Little algae keep the water quality good.

Control the lights:

Lights may keep the tank bright but they can trigger algae growth if kept on for too long. Lights in the turtle tank should be on for 12 hours maximum a day, otherwise, the tank gets heated and contribute to algae growth.

Also not keeping the turtle tank in direct sunlight is a good trick to avoid algae.

Install the right filter:

Choosing the right filter for your turtle tank reduce the chances of the overgrowth of turtles. A suitable filter keeps the water at its best quality. 

So it’s suggested to choose a canister-type filter as they can handle tanks up to four times the size of the usual tanks.

Use aquarium salt:

You can add aquarium salt if needed. Aquarium salt increases electrolytes in the water so when added it can keep the water clean and prevent the growth of algae. 

Put on algae eaters:

There are snails and various kinds of fish who eat algae. So if you put some in your turtle tank it will prevent extra algae by eating them without harming your pets.

How to clean algae from turtle tank?

Algae are good for your turtles till a point. As soon as they start overtaking your turtles’ habitat, it’s better to throw them away immediately following the steps-

Empty the tank:

Remove all the decors you have put in the tank for an easy cleaning session. It includes your pet, the décor, and water if possible.

Scrap the walls:

Scrap the walls of the tank with the algae scraper. It will easily clean the layers of algae over the tank walls.

Clean the rocks:

Algae grows a lot on rocks. They even stuck there if not cleaned properly, so you have to take out the rocks and clean them by scrubbing.

Vacuum the gravel:

Cleaning the gravel using a vacuum is quite satisfying and a must too. After that, you can supply fresh water to the tank again.

Is tetra algae control safe for turtles?

Tetra algae control is a popular aid to clean algae overgrowth in tanks. It can remove algae such as brown algae, hair algae, blue-green algae, etc. from fish tanks.

But since this product has not been tested on turtles so far so there is doubt if it can be used on the turtle tank. It’s better to skip this for turtles.

Final Thoughts:

Since turtle’s food habit varies from their species, all the turtles do not eat algae. Mainly Sea turtles and red-eared sliders, wood turtles, midland painted turtles eat algae regularly. Also, turtles that are omnivorous and herbivorous consider algae as food at a certain age.