Can Red-eared Slider Turtles Have Tankmates They Won't Eat?

  • #1
Ok. So we bought 2 x 4 year old red eared sliders on a great value impulse (they came with tank & set up). Nevermind tank parameters right now - this is just a theoretical question. We want tank mates they won't eat who will help clean up their insane mess (mostly from food bits they don't eat, like the "skin" on cooked corn kernels). My partner did research that said "but tank mates at your own risk" basically. I'm curious about things like shrimp, bottom feeders, snail's etc.

Any ideas where to look for more info? If we decide it's possible, I'll start checking water parameters & we'll buy an external filter.

  • #2
I would say a large pleco or a catfish that stays small enough to fit in your tank
  • #3
Probably not, if it can fit in their mouths. They pretty much ate anything I threw in the water for bait, while fishing. Safely unhooking them was a pain in the butt. I'm unsure whether they'll eat snails though.
  • #4
They likely would eat snails, mine ate stink bugs whenever they dropped in the tank, voracious and viciously in a matter of seconds.
Tank mates they wouldn't eat are other snails - if you are trying to keep them cleaner, more water changes and better filtration (as well as a larger tank so it takes longer to foul the water as badly). They are messy creatures, mine grew to 8 and ten inches and I had them for 8 years before I put them in a turtle pond because they weren't getting the best care with me (turtle pond that has only released turtles in it).
  • #5
Honestly turtles (especially Red-Eared Sliders) eat everything they can fit in their mouth (and even if they can't they will manage to eat it. I don't recommend putting an fish in, but if you want to try a catfish or large pleco I would give it a try!
  • #6
When I was in 7th grade, I caught a red-eared slider, put it in one of my dads old 250 gallon tanks, which no longer exists in one piece today, and I put 2 catfish I caught in Percy Priest lake here in TN. I soon found out that the catfish I caught grew over 2.5 feet though.
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
Thanks team!

They refuse to eat their greens - lettuce simply floats until it starts to go slimy. So maybe if we disguise a freshwater crayfish under some lettuce, the turtles won't go near it? Lol!

Our plan is to build an outdoor pond enclosure for them. We adopted them a year after they should have been moved to a tank double the size they're in (in our view). We already supplement weekly 50% cleans/changes with a 1-2 bucket clean (vacuum) of the worst mess every other day. Their previous owners didn't even have a proper basking lamp! Grrr.

We saw an episode of that show "Tanked" on animal planet randomly where an Australian turtle was in a fish tank (with shrimp!) & thought "oh, is that even possible?" My hunch was No Way, but had to check.
  • #8
There are some turtles that can handle life with fish, but red earred sliders are not normally considered for this because they get much larger and are more willing to eat them (mine wouldn't eat earth worms, loved veggies and stinkbugs..).
  • #9
Mine are doing fine with snails and rosy reds. I introduced them while the turtles were eating and I add about 3 dozen fish at a time every month. There is a lot of hiding places and plants for them to hide in and that helps keep them alive longer. Hope you’re able to get some tank mates!
  • #10
I have a musk turtle I keep with 6 zebra danios and a pleco. A small group of them makes a good clean up crew for her. I have seen it done with cories, and even goldfish, angels and gouramis and male bettas. So it's you the owner choice. But assuming you want them as tank mates as opposed to feeders then start with fast moving fish species. Once the sliders get used to those in the tank, can do something larger like livebearers. If they don't target them as food then, awesome! I'm considering moving in convicts with my musk. That combination is the most interesting one that's done often.
  • #11
Little late to the game... but I have a 2yo RES, and his best friend is a pleco around the same age/size. They chase eachother around the tank, and are usually near one another. Other tank mates include cichlids, tigerbarbs, cory cats, bala sharks, and mollys. The only time Coffee shows interest in the other fish..other than his when I bring in someone new.

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