What To Feed Baby Painted Turtles

baby painted turtle
If you have questions around what to feed baby painted turtles then this article will help, we cover the ideal diet and our top 5 best food picks

When it comes to keeping turtles at home, painted turtles are definitely some of the coolest options to go with. For one, they do certainly look very nice. Moreover, they really are not that hard to take care of. As long as you have a decent size tank, some lights, a basking station, water, substrate, and food, all should be just fine.

Well, today we are here to talk about food, or more specifically what your painted turtles are going to want to eat. What to feed painted turtles is the main topic here, but we are going to diversify a bit and talk about the eating habits of painted turtles in general as well.

Our Top 3 Food Picks

  1. Mazuri Aquatic Turtle Diet
  2. Tetra ReptoMin Select-a-Food
  3. Hikari Bio-Pure Freeze Dried Brine Shrimp

What Do Painted Turtles Eat?

painted turtles
Image by Scottslm from Pixabay

Thankfully, when it comes to feeding your painted turtles, baby or otherwise, they are not picky eaters at all. These cute little guys are omnivores and they will eat animal matter just like they eat plant matter. Painted turtles like to eat worms, insects, small fish, and other animal matter they can get their mouths on.

They also like to eat aquatic plants like water lettuce, duckweed, water hyacinth, and others. Furthermore, you can also par-boil leafy vegetables for them, as they love to eat those as well.

Lettuce, spinach, and others of the sort are all good bets to go with. As you can see, painted turtles have quite a varied diet and they are usually not too picky about what they eat.

What To Feed Baby Painted Turtles

The diet of baby painted turtles is really not much different from that of the adults, except for the fact that they do of course not eat quite as much. With that being said, these little guys are still growing, so you might be surprised at how much they can pack down in comparison to their small frames.

Baby painted turtles do need a lot of vitamins, calcium, and protein to grow big and strong. Before we get into what you should feed them, remember to feed them not more than once every 2 days. Overfeeding will cause some problems that you would probably rather avoid.

It is recommended that you feed them lots of live foods such as brown worms, black worms, guppies and other small fish, and brine shrimp too. Keep in mind that freeze dried foods are usually considered to be safer than live ones, but turtles usually do not like to eat animals that are already dead.

Although they might look a little slow, turtles do enjoy the hunt quite a bit. You should also provide some small chunks of fruit and leafy greens too. Make sure that you also work in some foods that are high in calcium.

Best Food For Painted Turtles

Let’s quickly go over some of the best foods that you can feed your painted turtles. Each of these is ideal, and we would recommend using a combination of the below foods as turtles do like to have some variety.

1. Mazuri Aquatic Turtle Diet

Buy Mazuri Aquatic Turtle Diet at Amazon

This is a very simple and straightforward food for your painted turtle. They are little floating pellets, which is convenient because your turtle can leisurely swim around as it eats.

These things are made in the USA and the bag is a 12 ounce bag. Moreover, these pellets are said to contain all of the nutrients a turtle needs to be happy and healthy. It is apparently a totally balanced food for your painted turtles.

2. Exo Terra Aquatic Turtle Food

Buy Exo Terra Aquatic Turtle Food at Amazon

This is another good option to go with, one that is in all reality fairly similar to the one above. It also provides your turtle with a well-balanced diet and all of the nutrients and vitamins your turtle needs to be happy and healthy.

With this container, you get 8.8 ounces of turtle food. As advertised, this stuff is formulated with super high quality ingredients and even includes gammarus shrimp for an extra protein boost. They are floating pellets, which once again is ideal for turtles.

3. Tetra TetraFauna ReptoMin

Buy Tetra ReptoMin Select-a-Food at Amazon

This is a pretty neat option to go with as well. This is a 1.55 ounce bag of food, which admittedly is not very much, but the food included on the inside is pretty good none the less. Here you get one section that is filled with specialized reptile food that can be fed to frogs, turtles, and newts too.

This food contains all of the necessary nutrients required by painted turtles. There are also other sections in this bag which contain baby shrimp and mini krill, both of which are great sources of protein for you painted turtle.

4. Brine Shrimp

Buy Brine Shrimp at Amazon

If you want to provide your painted turtle with a big protein boost and a tasty snack, you might want to go for these freeze dried brine shrimp. Yes, your turtle would probably like live shrimp better, but these are freeze dried, which means that they are totally free of harmful bacteria and parasites.

This food has been nitrogen charged to prevent oxidization before the package is opened. Another good part here is that this stuff will not cloud the water, plus it has many more nutrients other than just protein. This is not a total meal replacement, but it does provide your turtle with a big protein rich snack.

5. Duckweed

Credit: Sorakrai Tangnoi, Shutterstock

You may not think of duckweed as being an adequate food source for turtles, or even a food source at all for that matter, but that is actually not true. Painted turtles love eating this stuff a whole lot and it contains many different vitamins and nutrients which turtles need.

Now, this can be used as a snack every couple of days, but it is a meal supplement, not a total replacement. You cannot only feed your turtle duckweed, but it does make for a pretty tasty snack none the less.

Buy Duckweed at Amazon

How To Care For A Baby Painted Turtle

Your baby painted turtle will require a pool of water that is roughly twice as deep as it is tall, as well as three times longer than the length of the baby turtle.

Keep in mind that you will most likely need a water heater to keep the water temperature between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The aquarium itself should be between 15 and 30 gallons in size.

A baby painted turtle will also require some soil and gravel away from the water, which will serve as a resting place, as they are young and cannot swim for too long without getting tired.

Turtles are cold blooded, which means that you need to provide them with heat and light, and therefore you will need to get your baby painted turtles some adequate heat lamps to survive. This basking place should be between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with the heat lamp about 6 inches away from the soil/gravel, a 50 watt option should do fine.

Baby painted turtles should be fed small amounts several times per day, and this can include brine shrimp, guppies, worms, and even proteins that are not alive anymore.

Make sure to get a good filtration unit for the water, as painted turtles, especially the babies, are pretty susceptible to getting ill due to poor water conditions.

Other Commonly Asked Painted Turtle Feeding Questions

Here are the answers to a few common feeding questions that seem to come up a lot;

Can Painted Turtles Eat Strawberries?

The short answer here is yes, painted turtles can indeed eat strawberries. Painted turtles usually love strawberries as they are tasty, sweet, and acidic.

Now, painted turtles do require a fair bit of protein, so you cannot feed them too many strawberries in comparison with their normal foods, but they do make for a good snack. They love eating other fruits like cantaloupes and apples as well.

What Do Painted Turtles Eat In The Wild?

In the wild, like we said before, painted turtles have a very varied diet. They will eat plants, veggies, and many animal based proteins too. They are pretty slow and not too picky, so they tend to eat mostly whatever they can get into their mouths.

How Often Do Painted Turtles Eat?

Painted turtles are pretty slow naturally, so in the wild, they kind of eat whenever they get the chance to do so. However, in a home aquarium, you need to be careful to not feed your painted turtle more than every 2 days.

They can easily become overweight, which can cause many problems that need to be avoided. Feed your painted turtle for about 5 minutes every 2 days. This should be more than enough.

What Kind Of Fish Do Painted Turtles Eat?

More or less, painted turtles will eat any kind of fish that they can catch, because turtles are pretty slow, as well as fish that can fit in their mouths.

Guppies, minnows, goldfish, tetra fish, and other such small fish, as well as basic feeder fish can all be used to feed a painted turtle.

What do baby painted turtles eat, you may be wondering. Well, more or less the same things as the adults, just in smaller quantities.

How Long Can A Painted Turtle Go Without Eating?

What is cool about painted turtles is that they are with food as camels are with water. A healthy adult painted turtle that has been fed regularly for the duration of its life, healthy and ideal food, should be able to go for about 2 or 3 months without eating.

Of course, this is not ideal, and definitely not fun either, but the bottom line is that health turtle like this can go a very long time without eating.

Baby turtles however won’t last for more than a few days without food, and juveniles no more than a week or two.

Do Painted Turtles Eat Worms?

Painted turtles are omnivores and they are not picky either. They will eat fish, frogs, insects, and yes, worms too, along with other sources of protein, crustaceans, and various vegetables and fruits too. Painted turtle food is whatever the turtle can catch and can fit in its mouth.

Can Painted Turtles Eat Lettuce?

Yes, as mentioned above, they are not very picky and water lettuce is perfectly fine for them.

Related: Guide on hatching Brine Shrimp.


As you can see, feeding a painted turtle is really not all that difficult at all. There are many different foods which they enjoy and many prime choices for purchase. As long as you give them a varied diet of protein, veggies, and water plants, they will be perfectly happy.

Feature Image Credit: Jay Ondreicka, Shutterstock

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