Can Turtles Eat Goldfish

Can Turtles Eat Goldfish? Is It Safer to Feed Them?

Turtles are omnivores who eat both plants and animals. So many owners keep feeder fish in their turtles’ tanks as non-veg treats. Goldfish is also a feeder fish and isn’t toxic to turtles; however, it’s not an ideal food for them.

Can Turtles Eat Goldfish? Yes, an adult turtle can eat goldfish, but it’s not a good choice for your aquatic pets. Goldfishes have spiny bones that can hurt the turtle’s intestine and throat. Also, they’re fatty and contain an enzyme named thiaminase which can lead to Vitamin B1 & E deficiency in your turtle. The goldfishes purchased from pet stores may also contain parasites, bacteria, or germs that could be harmful to the turtles.

However, comet goldfishes are still popular feeder fishes for turtles. So should you give it to your turtle or better avoid it? Find out the answer in this article here.

Can You Feed Goldfish To Your Pet Turtles?


There’s a difference of opinion when it comes to feeding goldfish to the turtles. Many will say you can and should feed these fish to your pet turtle, while others strongly disagree. Here we’ll see key facts regarding feeding goldfish to your pet turtle from both these angles.

Can Turtles Eat Goldfish

Goldfish as a Feeder Fish for Turtles

Turtles love chasing live fish to eat them. They can have a bit of mental and physical exercise while going after the feeder fish. That’s why feeder fish like comet goldfish are considered good food in the turtles’ tank. 

Turtles Eat Goldfish

Moreover, goldfishes are an excellent source of protein, vitamin A, phosphorus, calcium, and many other vital minerals. So they can bring many health benefits to your aquatic pet as well.

The goldfishes could turn out to be an excellent treat for the turtle if offered sparingly(maybe once a month or every other month). 

Warnings for Feeding Goldfishes to the Turtle

There are a few reasons why goldfishes aren’t the ideal food, even for grown-up turtles. One of the key ones is the spiny bones of the goldfish that could cause internal damage to your turtle. 

Goldfishes are high in fat, and constant fat intake could lead to overweight and deficiency of thiamine and Vitamin E. These deficiencies could cause different illnesses to your favorite aquatic pet. 

Turtles Eat Goldfish

Some goldfishes bought from regular pet stores are cheap and mass-produced. So it’s likely that they carry different parasites or germs in their gut which could lead to serious health issues for your turtle.

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Do Turtles Like Goldfish

Most adult pet turtles enjoy eating the smaller comet goldfishes. They love chasing them, catching them, and tearing them apart before they finally gulp them. 

Turtles Like Goldfish

However, some goldfishes aren’t enjoyable for turtles, especially if they’re larger and aggressive. They can even hurt the turtle with their bones sticking to the turtle’s throat while getting gobbled up. 

Health Benefits for Turtles Eating Goldfish

Goldfish don’t contain any toxic ingredients for turtles, so it’s basically safe and even has some health benefits for the larger, grown-up turtles. 

Health Benefits for Turtles Eating Goldfish

But the benefits could only outweigh the risks if fed as an occasional treat to the turtles. If the goldfishes are bred at home, they’re more likely to be free of parasites and benefit your turtles. Some of its health benefits include:

  • Goldfishes are high in protein and can make up for the protein requirement
  • They contain phosphorus and calcium, which can benefit the turtles
  • Being live fishes, they allow the turtle to go after them and have some physical and mental stimulation

Risks for Turtles Eating Goldfishes

The risks of feeding goldfishes to your turtle are more than its benefits. Especially if you consider it as a regular diet. Some of the key risk factors are:

  • Goldfishes are high in fat and can lead to overweight
  • They contain thiamine which can cause deficiency of Vitamin B1 & E and lead to different health issues
  • The spiny bones can hurt the throat or cause internal damage
  • Some goldfishes may contain bacteria and germs that could hurt your turtle’s health

Why Shouldn’t You Feed Goldfish To Turtles? 

You shouldn’t feed goldfishes to the turtles because the risks associated with feeding them outweigh its benefits. Another reason to avoid a risky food like goldfish is the availability of several other safer alternatives for your turtle. 

Turtles Eating Goldfish

Some of the best feeder fish alternatives for turtles include guppies, killifish, platies, crappies, bluegills, etc. Although they’re safer, you should still feed them moderately.

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Can You Feed Goldfish To Baby Turtles? If So, How?

No, you can’t feed goldfishes to baby turtles. Since eating gold fishes requires tearing them apart, the baby turtle will likely get hurt by the fish bones. They mightn’t even hold it in their mouth well.

Besides, they may contain bacteria, parasites, and other germs which can cause severe illness to your baby pet. So you mustn’t feed goldfishes to the baby turtles.

Video Of A Turtle Eating Goldfish 

Here you can clearly see how a turtle is chasing and eating goldfishes.


1. Can Box Turtles Eat Goldfish?

Like most other pet turtles, box turtles can also eat goldfishes. But they’re as risky for box turtles as for other turtles discussed in the article. So it’s better to feed goldfishes to these turtles sparingly.

2. Can Red-Eared Slider Turtles Eat Goldfish?

Red-eared Slider Turtles (adult and larger ones) can eat goldfishes. But since goldfishes are high in fat and have a chance to carry parasites, it’s recommended to feed them as an occasional, infrequent treat.

3. Can Painted Turtles Eat Goldfish?

Adult painted turtles can eat fishbowl-size gold fishes easily. However, goldfishes aren’t the ideal feeder fish because of their risks. But eating an organic goldfish once in a while should be alright.


If you’re going to buy goldfish from pet stores, we’d recommend you drop the idea. They may contain bacteria or parasites and could harm your pet turtle. 

But if you’ve got organically produced goldfishes, you can consider them for your turtles. However, make sure they’re equal to or less than bowl-sized fishes so your turtle can gulp them easily. 

Goldfishes are riskier and should be offered carefully to your turtle. You may also avoid them and look for other safer alternatives.

Do you want to know if turtles eat spiders or potatoes? Read our articles about it to learn more.

Can Turtles Eat Goldfish

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