Diet of Red Eared Sliders

What to feed, how often, how much… Common questions that come from both new and experienced turtle owners. The reality is- We don’t have all the answers. Many of the answers are controversial, and no one knows for sure the exact answers. What we can provide is advice- safe foods, foods to avoid, what works for us.

How Often, How Much?
This must be the most controversial topic amongst turtle owners. Here is what works for us.


  • Hatchlings should be fed everyday for the first year of their lives.
  • Feedings should be done in a separate container so that you do not have to frequently change the water nor the filter media.
  • I found it best to give them as much as they cared to eat in a 10 or 15 minute window.
  • Hatchlings tend to be more Carnivorous than adults, so make sure to check out the suggestions of live and protein-rich foods below for how to supplement accordingly. (Make sure you still give fruits and veggies at this stage!)


  • Once your turtle reaches the 4″ mark, we recommend that you change their feeding schedule to every other day.
  • Again, a separate container is recommended, and the all they can eat deal should still be implemented.
  • Adults tend to become more Omnivorous, so make sure to check out the suggestions of fruits and vegetables below.

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What to Feed?

Commercial Foods:

  • Tetra Reptomin
  • Mazuri Fresh Water Turtle Diet
  • ZooMed’s Aquatic Turtle Food


  • Spirulina-enriched Brine Shrimp
  • Beef Heart
  • Bloodworms
  • Plankton
  • Krill
  • ZooMed’s Can O’Crickets, Grasshoppers, or Meal Worms

Live (Carnivorous):

  • Feeder Goldfish/Guppies/Rosies
  • Crickets (Gut-Loaded)
  • Pinhead Crickets (for smaller turtles)
  • Earthworms/Night Crawlers
  • Ghost Shrimp
  • Aquatic Snails/Apple Snails
  • Slugs
  • Wax Worms/Super Worms

Be careful about Wild-Caught foods because they can carry parasites that can be transferred to your turtle. Freezing Wild-Caught foods for a month will help to kill off some parasites.


  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Melon
  • Tomato
  • Strawberries

Should be cut up in small, bite-size or match-like sticks that will be easy for the turtle to bite into and not choke on.


  • Squash/Zucchini
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Greens- Red Leaf, Romaine, Collards, Kale, Dandelion Greens

Stay away from Spinach. Make sure to cut the veggies in bite-size or match-like sticks so your turtle can eat them easily. Iceberg lettuce is a good filler, but contains little/no nutritional value!

Aquatic Plants:

  • Anacharis
  • Duckweed
  • Water Hyacinth
  • Water Lettuce
  • Water Lily

To avoid contamination of salmonella in your turtle, we suggest that you do not feed raw meats (especially chicken and pork). Raw meats can carry Salmonella, and can be easily transmitted to your turtle.

Turtle Will Not Eat?

You have a new turtle, and he is reluctant to eat. This occurs quite frequently as the turtle may be stressed due to the fact that they may have traveled to get to you or because they’re in a new environment.

To coax your turtle into eating, you have to tempt them! We recommend tempting them with smelly foods like canned tuna, canned salmon, or Turtle Treats: Dried Shrimp. Live foods may also entice turtles to eat- try blood worms, tubifex worms, or feeder fish. Once the turtle has begun to eat with these, you have to try to wean them off of these treats as many of them are fatty and contain solely protein. I suggest mixing in pellet food with these treats and slowly make it so you are only giving them pellets.
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