Can Algae Eaters Live With Turtles

Can Can Algae Eaters Live With Turtles ? Yes, turtles and algae eater can live toghter in peace. But since turtle are omnivores, there are high chances that your turtle will try and eat sucker fish.

Animals can make strange bedfellows.

You don’t have to look around online very long to find adorable pictures of unlikely friendships.

In our understanding of other creatures, we’ve come a long way since we just assumed all dogs and cats were mortal enemies. 

Man and crocodile, chimp and tiger, hamster and cat – these combinations are all well documented.

Even in the aquatic world, turtles, naturally big fish eating enthusiasts, have cohabited with algae eaters at least for a few days. And in that time, they get some very valuable work done.

In this blog, we’ll go over how to safely introduce algae eaters into your turtle tank, and talk about other ways you can easily clean the algae in your turtle’s tank.

Here first take a look at the below video on how algae eaters and turtle look living toghter in a single tank.

What Algae Eaters Can Go In My Turtle Tank?

There aren’t many algae eaters that you can put in with a turtle that it won’t go after very quickly, so it’s important to know which ones will survive long enough to clean out your tank.

The idea is to stick to species that are too big or too fast for the turtle to eat.

This doesn’t mean a fish that will put up a fight, more like a fish that will make the turtle think it’s not worth the trouble. 

With that in mind, here are your best options: 


Plecos are the most common freshwater algae eating fish in North America.

You may have heard them called sucker mouths, an accurate description as they use suction cups to attach to rocks and the glass on the side of a fish tank. 

A pleco’s skin is rough, and they can grow to be around 15 inches long.

It’s the skin that makes them a tough sell as a meal for a turtle, and if they can last in a tank, their life span is between 15 and 20 years.

So should the turtle lose interest in making a plecos its lunch, it could be a permanent solution to cleaning algae in your tank.

But this is not likely.

Common plecos can survive a fight with a turtle, but that doesn’t mean they always do.

The turtle can be pretty unrelenting.

There are known instances when plecos and turtle live together in harmony.

You’ll know within the first few days if your pleco stands a chance against your hungry turtle. 

Chinese Algae Eater  

Chinese algae eaters are tiny creatures, so you’d think they have no chance against a turtle.

This would be accurate, were Chinese algae eaters not some of the fastest swimmers around.

If the turtle attacks, they can easily make a fast escape. 

The only issue is that, as they get older, they stop being effective algae eaters.

They’ll pick up any leftovers floating around, but algae won’t really interest them. T

They also start to develop an attitude in their older years, getting quite aggressive. 

Chinese algae eaters and common plecos are the only two algae eaters that safely have a chance against your turtle.

The first few days of living together are crucial, and you’ll know whether or not the two will be able to cohabitate.

If the turtle does eat the algae eater, there’s no real loss. They are your pet, and you can be glad you gave them a nice meal.

The algae in the tank still must be cleaned, however. Here are some alternatives to dealing with algae in your turtle’s tank. 

Other Ways of Cleaning Algae From Your Turtle’s Tank

Though algae eaters are incredibly helpful as they serve their primary function in the tank, their chances of surviving long with a turtle are fairly slim.

While you can try your luck with them, there are plenty of other options for removing algae. 

Clean Your Tank

The most obvious way to keep algae out of your turtle’s tank is to clean it regularly, at least once a week.

When it comes to algae, the most effective approach is the direct one.

Scrub and clean areas of the tank where it’s visible forcefully. 

It’s also recommended that you vacuum the gravel to remove any organic material that can turn into algae later. 


Light is also a major factor that contributes to algae growth, but turtles need a lot of it. This is why it’s advisable to avoid direct light or even sunlight.

Bulbs should never focus on the turtle for a long period of time, so controlling the amount of light your turtle’s tank gets throughout the day is very important both to the algae levels and to the health of your turtle. 


Turtles are notoriously messy eaters, and it’s important to control just how much food they get every meal.

Stick to the size of head rule.

Fill a container about the size of your turtle’s head full with food. Hatchlings should get this every day, juveniles every other day and adults every three days. 

Controlling the amount of food also controls how much they’ll throw around and leave floating in the tank.

Your objective is to keep as much organic matter out of their tank as you can, so it can’t form algae. 

It’s also often better to feed your turtle outside his tank to avoid the mess. 

Nitrates and Phosphates 

Nitrates and phosphates do more harm than good in a tank. Algae particularly thrives on nutrients with phosphates, so it’s important you control the amount allowed into your tank. 

One sure way to control the levels is to never miss changing ten or 20 percent of your tank’s water every week.

Adding fresh water and removing the old takes out any developing algae.

Should the phosphate levels reach high levels, use chemicals to remove it from your water supply. 

Algae eaters can be a great solution to the algae building up in your tank, but there’s no guarantee your turtle will tolerate them for very long.

In case they don’t last, there are other easy solutions to removing algae and keeping your turtle’s environment healthy. 

keep reading

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Can Turtles and Rabbits Live Together

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Can Snakes and Turtles Live Together

References and Sources

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