Do Turtles Eat Algae?

The question of do turtles eat algae is a common one for people with ponds in their back yards. Some turtles do not eat algae, while others do. If you have a pond and are curious about if your turtle eats algae or not, read on to find out!

As omnivores, turtles eat aquatic vegetation, algae, fish, insects, and crustaceans. Turtles can eat algae, but it does not consider it the main part of their diet.

Is Green Algae Bad For Turtles?

Although it might be a little bit surprising to see green or brown algae on your turtle’s shell, you can rest assured that it isn’t a cause for concern. However, it is worth noting that not all types of turtles can live with algae on their backs.

Algae can grow on a shell’s surface and make them vulnerable to water buildup, which leads to rotting.

What Causes Algae In A Turtle Tank?

Turtles are an important part of the ecosystem. They help keep the algae growth in lakes and ponds at bay by producing waste that helps clean up unwanted nutrients.

However, when you do not have turtles in your pond to help control the algae growth, the excess nutrients from fertilizer and animal waste can cause it to grow.

  • Photosynthesis

Like plants, algae have a chemical called chlorophyll that aids in photosynthesis. During the photosynthesis stage, a combination of water, light energy, and carbon dioxide are infused to create algae.

  • Nutrients

Nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen are vital for algae growth. These nutrients are usually found in fertilizer and animal waste. This is one of the reasons why algae can grow rapidly in ponds, lakes, or even your backyard fishpond when turtles do not eat it as they do naturally.

  • Temperature

There are certain species of algae that grow more significantly in warm water than others. Some even require a specific temperature range to survive, and some can not live above or below a certain temperature.

  • Stable Conditions

Algae grow in stable conditions that have minimal turbulence. That’s because the clearer the water, the easier it is for the sunlight to penetrate. As a result, more algae will develop, and the water will be murkier.

Turbulence is also created by the motion of something in or near the water, like turtles’ flippers. Turtles eat algae and therefore do not cause turbulence in the water that can lead to algae growth.

  • Sunlight Exposure

Algae need light to survive. They do not have the ability to produce their food like plants and are therefore dependent on a supply of carbon dioxide (CO2) and sunlight.

The amount of sunlight exposure your pond receives has a direct correlation with how much algae grows there. The sun’s rays are what plants use for photosynthesis which produces oxygen, so they need at least six hours of light per day to grow well without too many other competing microorganisms such as bacteria absorbing nutrients from the first.

The more sunlight in the aquarium, the higher the algae’s sustainability. It has been said that algae do not need any special conditions and are an autonomous life form.

Lack of light can cause limited growth amongst algae plants. Because of this, it is important to have a light source in your aquarium.

Ways To Remove Algae From Turtle Tank

With the right amount of planning, you can get your turtle tank algae-free. Here are some ways to remove algae from your turtle tank:

  • Remove Everything

First, remove any plastic or other debris that might be in the tank. Next, use diluted bleach water to kill remaining bacteria inside your turtle’s habitat with a 10 minute wait time before using a cleaning solution and allow it to dry for at least 2 hours after completing this process.

Anytime you’re handling the tank or the turtles, use gloves and wash your hands afterward. Some turtles carry Salmonella, so it’s best to stay careful!

  • Balance Nutrients and Light

Your goal should be to get light and nutrients as balanced as possible. Start by placing your light on a timer. Then increase or decrease the nutrient levels with an all-in-one fertilizer.

Don’t rush for results using this process. On average, it takes up to 2-3 weeks to see any change in your plants and if your actions have bought a difference to your aquarium.

  • Using Algae Eaters

Some fish can help you keep your aquarium clean and clear. For instance, the Florida flagfish or amino shrimp will prevent algae from growing excessively in your tank!

Also read -> Can Algae Eaters Live With Turtles

Turtles do not eat algae directly; they need to feed on the plant themselves. But turtles enjoy eating plants that have been overgrown by algae and will do so if there is nothing else available for them to eat. For this reason, you should purchase multiple types of live plants in different colors when starting your turtle’s tank.

  • Diagnose What’s In Your Tank

Don’t do anything too drastic to your tank until you have a better idea of what is going on.

This could be due to the lighting, nutrient levels, or another issue that needs addressing. It’s always good to get multiple opinions before making any decisions about changing things with your aquarium!


When algae sticks on your turtle’s shell, it is important to get rid of the algae as soon as possible. Algae can be harmful if eaten in large amounts because they contain toxins that may cause a turtle’s shell to rot. If you notice any algae accumulation or other potential problems with your pet reptile, make sure to contact an exotic veterinarian for help!


Algae Benefits

Now that we know what algae do for our ecosystem and how turtles help maintain them, let’s talk about their benefits to turtles. Turtles will happily munch on a mouthful of slimy green algae if given a chance!

Turtle food contains protein that helps provide necessary sustenance while hunting down other prey items such as insects and plants. The fatty acids, minerals, fiber content also give turtle shells their beautiful coloration.

Also read

Do Turtles Pee?


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