Aquatic turtles are commonly kept in backyard fishponds. These adorable, shelled creatures are extremely low maintenance pets and will spend most days basking in the warm sunlight along your pond’s edge. Turtles also feed on the same pellet foods commonly used for koi and goldfish. Adult turtles are primarily omnivores, so they do not typically chase or harass the fish in your pond in any way. The lone exception would be a badly sick fish already lying on its side at the water surface, as this may be viewed by a turtle as an easy meal.
In truth, most pond fish are way too fast for the turtles to catch anyway. The turtles usually figure this out for themselves when they are young, so as adults they rarely even try. We know many hobbyists who have successfully kept adult turtles and large koi fish within the same pond for decades without any issues. Much like koi fish, turtles also have personalities and come to recognize the hand that feeds them. Many of our rescued turtles were originally raised in aquariums and they will often swim up to greet you at the pond’s edge in hopes of receiving a handout.
Turtles have legs and they like to explore. For this reason, we highly recommend adding some type of fencing to prevent them from wandering off. Personally, we have found that using a small plexiglass fence works great to keep your turtles restricted to your designated turtle habitat area. We do not advise using netting or chain link fencing, because turtles are excellent climbers. Turtles also love to dig, so be sure to plan accordingly to prevent them from simply digging under the barrier you’ve created.
Based on our experience, the added waste produced by adding a few aquatic turtles to a properly designed koi pond is minimal. Chances are you will not notice any significant differences in water quality, water clarity, or maintenance workload after adding your turtles. The lone exception would be aquatic plants, as turtles love to eat plants even more than koi fish do. We do not recommend adding aquatic plants to any koi pond, regardless of whether you decide to add turtles. If you do wish to add plants, then we highly recommend limiting them to an area where they cannot be easily reached by your fish or turtles – such as within a separate bog filter or in your waterfall weir.
Red ear slider (RES) turtles are one of the most common species of aquatic turtles typically kept in backyard fishponds. Due to an extremely high volume of turtle rescue requests, we offer free RES turtle adoptions year-round. If you would like to add a RES to your own backyard pond, simply submit a completed turtle adoption request below:
Turtle Adoption Request:
Note: Please be sure to provide a valid contact cell phone# as we coordinate and schedule all adoptions via SMS text.