Drain Flies In Turtle Tank

Drain Flies In Turtle Tank? How To Get Rid Of It?

If you’re dealing with drain flies in the aquarium and don’t know how to get rid of them, you’ve come to the right place. Drain flies can be a nuisance in your turtle tank and no matter how hard you try to get rid of them, they may keep coming back. So, where do they come from and how do you eliminate them for good?

Drain flies in turtle tank are caused by dirty water which easily attracts flies. Decaying food particles, turtle poop, or something smelly inside your turtle tank will also attract drain flies.

In this post, we’ll look at more in-depth details of the issue of drain flies in aquarium, where they come from, how to get rid of them, how to prevent them from invading your turtle habit again, and so much more.

Why are there drain flies in my turtle tank?


The presence of drain flies in your turtle tank is mainly caused by filthy water which is highly likely to attract the flies.

Besides, the presence of decaying foods, turtle feces, sweet fruits, algae, or bad odors coming from the turtle tank will also cause the drain flies to wander around your turtle tank.

Generally, a drain fly is attracted to dirty environments where it will then lay its eggs and reproduce. Females can lay 30-100 eggs at a go and they only take around 2 days to hatch into drain worms.

So, failing to get rid of flies in your tank will be giving them enough time to reproduce and multiply in population. And before you know it, they’ve gotten out of control!

Why are there drain flies in my turtle tank

Drain flies are also referred to as moth flies, sewage gnats, and filter flies. They’re simply aquatic flies that usually feed on organic matter found in your turtle aquarium.

If you watch closely, you’ll notice the larvae attaching themselves to uneaten food or fecal matter (this is their main diet inside the tank).

Then, after a certain period of time, they’ll float to the surface where they’ll transform into drain flies—the little brown flies you’re seeing in your turtle tank.

The flies like hanging in the space between the water and the tank lid. And if you open the tank lid, they’ll likely fly out in hundreds and right into your room where you have placed your turtle aquarium.

You’ll see them flying by your windows, sinks, etc., as they search for new places to reproduce.

Note that the flies may be beneficial to your turtle tank in the sense that they help break down organic matter. Larvae, in particular, have strong jaws and will easily cut through thick and dense buildups of organic material.

How to get rid of drain flies in turtle tank?

The best way to get rid of drain flies in turtle tank is to replace the filter media. Some turtle owners think that washing away the flies will get rid of them, but that doesn’t work and that’s why you may still see them coming back.

By replacing the media, you’re simply getting rid of their breeding area (the organic matter) which also serves as their food source.

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Other potential breeding places in the tank to check include under the substrate, near the filter, and inside the lid (you ought to clean it thoroughly before you replace it).

Make sure you thoroughly clean/scrub every inch of your tank glass, pump, and decoration, and change the entire filter medium. Afterward, do a full water change to ensure you completely get rid of these miserable flies.

How to get rid of drain flies in turtle tank

What if you see small brown worms in your turtle tank filter? Well, that’s drain fly larvae and the best way to get rid of them is also by getting rid of the filter media, and then cleaning your filter thoroughly afterward.

Using traps such as fly paper or sticky traps can also help catch the flies in your turtle aquarium. You can get commercially designed traps for catching these flies.

TIP: If you clean the above-mentioned areas and the flies/larvae don’t seem to go away, consider draining your tank completely and put all the parts out in the sun to dry out.

If you try all the above methods but the flies keep coming back, you may want to consult your veterinarian. They’ll prescribe a safe and efficient medication that helps get rid of these flies.

TIP II: Make sure the flies aren’t coming from something else near your turtle tank, e.g. potted plant, sink, sewer, etc. Otherwise, they’ll rainiest your tank soon enough after you’ve done the elimination process above.

The video below will offer some additional helpful tips for eliminating drain flies in your aquarium.

How to prevent drain flies from attacking your turtle tank?

You can prevent drain flies from infesting your turtle tank by ensuring you regularly clean your turtle tank and remove any accumulated turtle food and waste that’s likely to attract the drain flies.

Below, we have outlined some helpful prevention tips to keep the drain fly menace away from your turtle tank.

Cover your turtle tank with a mesh or screen. This will help keep flies from entering the tank while at the same time keeping other insects out.

How to prevent drain flies from attacking your turtle tank

If your tank has a lid, make sure it snugly fits the tank and leaves no gaps

Keep your turtle tank clean at all times. The drain flies are attracted to dirty environments where they lay their eggs. Keeping your tank clean makes it less attractive to these pests.

Do Turtles Attract Flies?

Yes, turtles do attract the drain flies, BUT not directly. You see, drain flies like sludge organic matter, which is a result of turtle poops and uneaten foods inside the tank, so turtles will attract the moth flies to their tanks.

The fact that water in your turtle tank is stagnant makes it easy for the drain fly population to attach and bury itself in the sludge, which explains why they won’t get swept away by simply changing water.

Do Turtles Attract Flies

These flies will then lay their eggs in the sludge and organic material. When the eggs get hatched, the larvae feed on the organic material until they become adults. They’ll then emerge from the tank and you’ll start to see them flying around.

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Are drain flies harmful to turtles?

Drain flies are 100% harmless to your turtles and will not hurt them in any way. Even if you see your turtles feeding on flies or larvae, you shouldn’t be worried as they won’t harm them.

Remember, most pet turtles are omnivorous and insects and flies make up part of their diet while in the wild.

Are drain flies harmful to turtles

However, these flies are miserable pests to have in your aquarium and may even carry harmful bacteria to your pet turtles. They’re also tough to get rid of, so it’s best to prevent them from getting to your tank in the first place.

Overall, their presence indicates unhealthy conditions in your turtle tank which could lead to the development of various health issues for your pet turtles, so it’s a good idea to act as fast as you notice them.

Are drain flies harmful to humans?

Since you have your aquarium inside your house, you may also be interested to know if the drain flies in the aquarium can harm you as well.

Luckily, drain flies aren’t harmful to humans.  As we said earlier, the flies mainly feed on organic matter, and it’s therefore a surprise that they don’t transmit any human diseases. Not just the adults, the larvae drain flies are also harmless to humans.

Are drain flies harmful to humans

However, their presence in your house can drive you mad as they buzz around your ears. They can also reproduce quickly and get out of control, so you must get rid of them as fast as possible.


1. Why are there little flies in my turtle tank?

The little flies are present in your turtle tank because you have a dirty tank. The flies are attracted to filthy environments and lay their eggs in these areas. As such, keeping your tank clean is a sure way to keep the flies away from your turtle’s habitat.

2. Will drain flies go away on their own?

Drain flies rarely go away on their own unless you get rid of their breeding grounds. With no breeding sites, the adults have nowhere to deposit their eggs and are forced to disappear.

Final Verdict

The presence of drain flies in your turtle tank is mainly due to a dirty tank. Drain flies are generally attracted to dirty environments where they feed on organic material. The presence of uneaten turtle food and waste matter inside the turtle tank will make the perfect breeding sites for these flies.

If ignored, these flies can quickly breed and multiply their population. They can easily get out of control and getting rid of them becomes tough. Follow the various elimination and prevention tips and tricks we’ve outlined in the above guide to help get rid of moth flies in your turtle tank today.

Drain Flies In Turtle Tank