Goldfish can be very harmful to aquatic turtles, as can any large fish. There are multiple reasons why goldfish can harm a turtle. Let’s cover some of the top ones first.
- All goldfish contain an enzyme called thiaminase that can destroy or deplete Vitamin B1 found in aquatic turtles’ diets. If ingested by turtles, it can cause respiratory failure and death. This is one of the most common causes for deaths occurring out of nowhere and is often overlooked when dealing with sick freshwater turtles. A diet which has been high in vitamin B can lead to a deficiency in particular organs due to toxic buildup leaving these organs useless, such as liver damage.
- Turtles can be very sensitive to water quality. With goldfish in the tank, it can lead to an increase in ammonia and nitrate levels as well as drastic pH changes. These can all cause health issues for turtles including respiratory infections, cancer, internal bleeding, liver damage or even death. Because they are so big and produce so much waste, goldfish can quickly foul a turtle’s environment making it impossible for them to breathe easy or live healthy.
This can also pose problems for any other fish you may have in your aquarium if the amount of waste produced is too great for filtration of the tank to handle. If there is not enough filtration then this can cause the fish to die from ammonia poisoning. If you can’t afford a large enough filtration system to accommodate your goldfish then I would not recommend getting any fish that can grow big enough to be dangerous to turtles.
Another thing you must consider is space. Large or long-finned breeds can easily clog up the filter and pump in your tank, causing them to overheat or wear out prematurely. This can also cause problems if there are no spare parts for repairs available for purchase because pumps can become very expensive. If it’s important that your turtle have a heater and filter with adjustable output then you should avoid larger breeds of goldfish like comets. It can also just seem silly when considering how many more problems can arise with larger fish.
While small and medium-sized breeds can be just as fine to keep in boxes, they can still pose other issues for your tank. Their waste can quickly cloud the water making it hard to spot any health issues until they have already become very severe. It can also cause ammonia levels to rise if there are too many of them and not enough filtration since they are so small and consume less food.
They can also get easily sucked up into filters or pumps causing damage to your equipment which can lead to more expenses than a single fish is worth. Fish should only make up about 1/3 of the volume of the water you add back into your turtle’s environment after doing a water change. This can be hard to regulate in smaller tanks where it can be difficult to get an accurate reading of the water level, causing your turtle’s tank or bowl to become overstocked.
This can also lead to issues with aggression between fish in the same tank. Aggression can take many forms including chasing another fish until they are exhausted, trying to bully them away from food or territory, or even killing and eating any other fish that enters their space. There could also be more of a risk for your turtle getting sick if there are too many fighting for air time leading to possible infections from wounds inflicted by fins and scales during fights.
Talking about aggression can bring up another point; goldfish can be very territorial and can have no problem chasing your turtle away from its favorite places to hang out. They can also get really scared by fast moving fish and can injure you or themselves if they thrash around or try to get away from the advancing danger.
Even though it may seem like goldfish can make a great pet for your turtle, it can actually turn out to be more of a headache than anything else. They are messy eaters with large appetites which can foul up water quality in a matter of days due to their waste production rates taking longer than normal filtration can handle. This can lead not only to health issues for your turtles but also cause expensive equipment failures from constant maintenance needed just so that everything can keep up with the waste produced.
They can also pose a danger to your turtles if they can grow big enough to swallow them whole, or scare them away from important areas in their habitat. Due to their territorial nature goldfish can also be aggressive towards other fish and can injure or kill any other pets you may have living in your aquarium like shrimp, snails, or even smaller breeds of goldfish. The best thing for your turtle would be to find it an alternative pet that can stay safe inside its tank without posing risks not only to itself but also all the other animals in the tank as well.
There are many different alternatives that can fit your turtle just as well. Consider other types of fish like loaches, catfish, or flatworms which can all be used for the same purpose with a relatively similar diet while being easier to look after. They can also help keep algae at bay because they love to eat it and can even live in brackish water making them easy to breed in saltwater tanks if you prefer. It can also be more fun for both you and your pet since they are unlike any other pet you can have.
I have a big soft spot for turtles. I grew up near a pond that was full of snapping turtles. Now and then I’d see them crawling across our front yard, which was always exciting.
Now I write about turtles for this website as a fun side hobby. Glad you stopped by!