It’s not uncommon for people to have pet turtles along with koi fish in their backyard ponds.
But do turtles eat koi?
No, turtles do not eat koi fish Koi as they are too big for most turtles species mouth. However, if the turtle is hungry, there is a high chance he will try eating koi fish.
So as long as you watch your turtle and make sure they don’t get close enough to the pond where there are koi swimming around, you should be good!
Here, we’ll discuss how to keep turtles and koi fish together.
Here, watch this video of turtle and koi hanging out toghter.
Do Turtles Eat Koi Fish
While there is no evidence proving that turtles can eat koi fish, a starving turtle is still a major threat.
Some turtles are avid hunters, meaning that they will attack larger fish.
Things to consider when keeping turtles with koi fish
If you don’t want to place your koi fish in danger, you’ll have to abide by a few considerations to keep them safe near turtles.
Here are some of those considerations:
- Water Quality
The water quality of your pond must be maintained properly. Turtles are very hardy and can live in water that is not the best quality.
However, koi fish are much more sensitive to poor water quality.
Turtles leave tails and bones in pond water, and they defecate often. The mess a turtle leaves behind can severely affect the koi fish’s health.
Expect to clean your pond regularly if you want the turtles and koi fish to co-exist together.
Keep an eye on water levels, as well.
Koi fish are very susceptible to temperature changes and oxygen levels.
Colder temperatures will cause the koi fish to become sluggish and lethargic, while warmer temperatures may result in overheating (either of these conditions can lead to death).
- Aggression and Temperment
Different turtle species have varying ranges of aggression.
For instance, a snapping turtle is more likely to attack a koi fish than an Eastern Box Turtle.
However, turtle aggression, in general, does not usually pose a threat to your koi and should be taken into consideration.
Koi fish may, however, attack turtles if the turtle threatens their territory or food source.
It is important to remember that the koi fish has a longer lifespan than turtles by about 15 – 25 years.
This means you will have more time to get used to the idea of both animals swimming around together (and possibly defend themselves against each other).
Turtle basking is when turtles sunbathe within a sunny, dry spot.
This is an important activity for the health and wellbeing of your turtle.
You will need to include a basking section within your pond.
These can be made with either storebought or with natural materials like driftwood.
- Turtles are Destructive and Leave Waste
Before placing your turtle in a pond full of koi fish, know that turtles can be very dirty.
If you get a turtle-like a red-eared slider or painted turtle, they can be messy eaters.
Many turtles will not chew their food and cannot digest the large fish koi.
Instead, they swallow their food whole. While this may seem cute when your pet is still small, it becomes an issue as he grows larger and larger.
A huge turtle with no teeth and unable to properly chew his food will choke on leaves of plants in your pond.
The waste produced by turtles is even more of an issue than a choking hazard.
These animals produce massive quantities of waste compared to other pets like cats or dogs.
They literally poop almost everything that they eat directly out the other end of their bodies into the water surrounding them.
If you decide to place your turtles in a koi pond, make sure that the filter is large enough.
A good pond vacuum can help with managing sludge levels and controlling bacteria growth.
- Leaving the Pond
You’ve done everything you can for your pet turtle, and they just take off one day.
Turtles are amphibious, so even if their pond environment doesn’t seem like it’s working out, turtles can live on both land and water!
They also have a special ability to travel short distances across the ground without getting too tired from walking.
Turtles often stay in the same pond for a few months, but they can also live there for years.
There could be many reasons why turtles leave their homes and journey far away from home to another waterhole:
They are looking for mates or just want someplace new to lay eggs!
The turtle may seek out other ponds if it is not content with its aquatic environment at first or has been displaced by predators such as foxes that have eaten all of its food sources.
- Turtle Diet
You have to remember that turtles are omnivores.
While some species mainly eat meat, some turtles love a few leafy greens. Most turtles will eat a mixture of worms, meat, and plant life.
Turtles are typically carnivores, but they only eat meat as a last resort.
If you plan on keeping your koi fish in the same pond with your turtles, you can rest assured that it’s not going to be easy feeding them both.
Try to find turtle species that enjoy eating vegetables and small insects.
That way, they won’t pose a threat to the koi fish.
Which turtles are best to keep with koi fish
Spotted turtles are recognized by their contrasting yellow spots and black color.
Their diet consists of crickets and worms and is located in southern Georgia.
However, the population of spotted turtles declined within the past few years, so this might be a species you’ll have difficulty getting ahold of.
Eastern Box Turtle
Eastern Box Turtles have an average size of 4.5-6 inches.
You can recognize them based on round shells and orange/yellow splotches.
This turtle likes to eat bugs, worms, and mushrooms.
River Cooter Turtle
The River Cooter Turtle is a basking breed, and they love to feel the sun on top of logs and rocks.
Adult turtles have a herbivore diet, while adolescent turtles receive their protein through eating fish and crustaceans.
If you can keep a river cooter turtle well-fed, they won’t pose a threat to your koi fish.
Preparing Tips For The Ponds For Koi And Turtles
- Clean Your Pond Often
Ponds accumulate dust, dirt, and germs over time.
Leaves tend to release toxic gasses while decaying, which causes harm to the ecological balance.
You should use a skimmer net to pick up and remove leaves and light debris.
Sludge is another form of waste that you’ll need to remove.
Use a pond metal to remove the mud from the bottom, but keep a small amount of it to support algae growth.
To fully cleanse your pond, drain the water using a container or pump and place your aquatics in another reservoir.
Next, scoop up the sludge and clean out the bottom of the pond.
After you’ve finished cleaning, return the sludge and fill the pond with fresh water.
Finally, return the aquatics into a reservoir of their choosing.
Note: It is better to perform a clean when aquatic life isn’t active or can be relocated during this time for any reason without harm.
- Maintain the Filter, Lines, Pumps, and Fountains
These parts are usually found in complex ponds and are prone to clogs caused by the debris.
During the summer season, the filters and pumps are set to work for an excessive amount of hours, making them malfunction if not appropriately managed.
If your filter is clogged, disconnect the pump and remove any debris.
When cleaning out the biological media in a filtration system, clean it partially to protect beneficial bacteria that break down ammonia and other compounds.
- Manage the Plants
If you have trees or plants in your garden, sometimes the leaves will fall into the pod.
You can use a trap net to prevent this from happening.
Place the net on the pond and use a filter mat for the smaller debris.
You can use bricks or rocks to secure the mat and net. Place a piece of foam at the end of the net so turtles and fish cannot get caught.
Turtles and koi fish aren’t the best pond mates, but they can coexist together. You must do your part by adequately filtering and cleaning your pond regularly.
By doing so, you can make sure your aquatic pets can remain safe.
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this blog post on how to keep your pond healthy and happy for both turtles and koi fish.
If you have experience with these animals and would like to share it with us, please do so in the comments below!
Are turtles bad for koi ponds?
Turtles aren’t bad for koi ponds as long as they are managed correctly. When turtles are small, you may not notice them in the pond. Over time, they may eat the food intended for koi and other fish.
The turtle will also pollute the water if it decides to defecate or urinate in the pond.
Turtles can cause harm when they climb out of the pond through a drain hole.
If you notice any unexpected behavior from your turtle, then you may want to find a new home or place for it.
Will a red eared slider eat my koi fish?
Yes. Red eared sliders tend to eat most fish that are in the same pond or aquarium with them.
In a large pond, koi fish would be able to survive with red eared sliders, even though they will nip at their fins.