Can Angelfish And Turtles Live Together? (Mistakes To Avoid)

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One of the first things aquarists ask after getting a turtle for their aquarium is which fish can be kept with it.

As angelfish are pretty common these days, many fish owners wonder if they can share a tank with turtles, given the right conditions.

But can the two actually coexist? Will a turtle pose a challenge to the relatively small and delicate angelfish? And what about the water parameters each species requires?

In this article, I’ll discuss all these questions and many more, so you leave with all the information you need. Let’s get started.

Can I Keep Angelfish and Turtles Together in the Same Tank?

No, it’s generally not advisable to keep Angelfish and turtles together in the same tank. While some exceptions exist, the risks and challenges typically outweigh the benefits.

  • Different Habitat Needs: Angelfish require a stable, warm water environment with specific pH levels, whereas turtles need a varied habitat with both aquatic and dry basking areas.
  • Risk of Aggression: Turtles can display territorial behaviors and may harm or stress Angelfish, which are known for their delicate fins and peaceful nature.
  • Dietary Incompatibility: Turtles are omnivorous and might consume foods that are detrimental to Angelfish health; they also produce more waste, leading to water quality issues.
  • Space Requirements: Angelfish need ample swimming space to thrive; adding turtles, which can grow significantly, leads to overcrowding and heightened stress for both species.

Also Read: Angelfish Tank Mates

Angelfish vs. Turtles: Behavior

The first factor worth considering is the Angelfish’s and turtles’s natural behavior. Here is what you should know:

1. Angelfish: Natural Behavior

Angelfish are known for their tranquil and graceful demeanor, making them a favorite in home aquariums.

They display complex social behaviors, often forming hierarchies and territorial claims within their group.

  • Territorial Nature: Angelfish can be territorial, especially during breeding times; they often claim certain areas of the tank and defend them against intruders.
  • Social Hierarchy: In a group, Angelfish establish a pecking order; the most dominant fish often controls the best feeding and breeding spots in the aquarium.
  • Breeding Behavior: During breeding, Angelfish become more aggressive, protecting their eggs and fry; they often pair off and become more reclusive from the group.

2. Turtles: Natural Behavior

Turtles, on the other hand, exhibit a range of behaviors depending on their species. Generally, they are more active and can display both aquatic and terrestrial behaviors.

  • Basking Needs: Most turtles require a dry area to bask and regulate their body temperature; this is essential for their health and well-being.
  • Foraging Habits: In the wild, turtles are opportunistic feeders, often foraging for a variety of foods including plants, insects, and small fish.
  • Territorial Displays: Turtles can be territorial, especially in smaller spaces; they might show aggression towards other tank inhabitants, including Angelfish.

Ideal Parameters for Angelfish and Turtles

This table compares the ideal water parameters for Angelfish and Turtles, highlighting the differences in their environmental needs.

Temperature76°F – 84°F (24°C – 29°C)75°F – 85°F (24°C – 29°C)
pH Level6.5 – 7.07.0 – 8.0
Water Hardness3-8 dKH5-15 dKH

1. Angelfish: Ideal Parameters

Angelfish thrive in a specific aquatic environment that mimics their natural Amazonian habitat. Maintaining these conditions is crucial for their health and longevity.

  • Temperature Range: Ideal water temperature for Angelfish is between 76°F and 84°F (24°C – 29°C), which supports their tropical nature and metabolic processes.
  • pH Level: Angelfish prefer a slightly acidic to neutral pH, ideally between 6.5 and 7.0; this range helps in reducing stress and promoting health.
  • Water Hardness: Soft to moderately hard water, typically between 3-8 dKH, is preferred for Angelfish, ensuring they get the right mineral balance.

2. Turtles: Ideal Parameters

Turtles, being more adaptable, still require specific conditions for a healthy life in captivity. These parameters differ significantly from those ideal for Angelfish.

  • Temperature Variation: Turtles need a varied temperature range, with water temperatures between 75°F and 85°F (24°C – 29°C) and a basking area of about 90°F to 95°F (32°C – 35°C).
  • pH Level: They are less sensitive to pH changes but generally prefer a neutral range, around 7.0 to 8.0, which is higher than the ideal for Angelfish.
  • Water Hardness: Turtles can tolerate a wider range of water hardness, typically from 5-15 dKH, which is higher than the preferred range for Angelfish.

Angelfish vs. Turtles: Tank Setup

This table outlines the key differences in tank setup requirements between Angelfish and Turtles, covering various aspects of their habitat.

Tank Setup ComponentAngelfishTurtles
Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate0 ppm (Ammonia, Nitrite), <20 ppm (Nitrate)0 ppm (Ammonia, Nitrite), Tolerant of higher Nitrates
Tank Size20 gallons for a pair, plus 10 gallons per additional fishAt least 40 gallons, increasing with growth
FoliageLive or artificial for hiding spacesOptional, may be uprooted or eaten
DecorationsSmooth-edged for safetySturdy for climbing and basking
FilterHigh-quality, 3-5x tank volume per hourPowerful, high waste output handling
HeaterRequired for stable temperatureRequired for water, additional basking heater
SubstrateSoft or fine to prevent injuryCoarse, large, easy-to-clean
PumpAir pump for gentle water movementStrong for adequate water movement
LightingModerate for natural environmentUVB for vitamin D3, basking lights

1. Angelfish: Tank Setup

Angelfish require a carefully maintained aquatic environment that mirrors their natural habitat in the Amazon River.

The tank setup should prioritize water quality, space, and a stress-free environment for these sensitive fish.

  • Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate: Angelfish need ammonia and nitrite levels at 0 ppm and nitrate levels below 20 ppm to avoid stress and health issues.
  • Tank Size: A minimum of 20 gallons is required for a pair of Angelfish, with an additional 10 gallons for each additional fish to provide adequate swimming space.
  • Foliage: Live or artificial plants are essential for providing hiding spaces and mimicking the natural environment, helping to reduce stress in Angelfish.
  • Decorations: Smooth-edged decorations that do not have sharp parts are recommended to prevent injury to the delicate fins of Angelfish.
  • Filter: A high-quality filter that can handle 3-5 times the tank’s volume per hour is necessary to maintain clean and clear water.
  • Heater: A reliable heater is needed to maintain the temperature between 76°F and 84°F, crucial for Angelfish health.
  • Substrate: Soft or fine substrate is preferred to prevent injury; sand or fine gravel works well for Angelfish.
  • Pump: An air pump providing gentle water movement helps oxygenate the water, which is beneficial for Angelfish.
  • Lighting: Moderate lighting is ideal for Angelfish, replicating their natural environment and promoting plant growth.

Also Read: Can Angelfish Live With Shrimp?

2. Turtles: Tank Setup

Turtles require a more diverse setup that accommodates their amphibious nature. Their tanks need to cater to both their aquatic and terrestrial needs.

  • Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate: Turtles are more tolerant of higher nitrate levels, but ammonia and nitrite should always be kept at 0 ppm for their health.
  • Tank Size: Turtles need large tanks, at least 40 gallons for small species, increasing as they grow; they require ample swimming space and a dry area.
  • Foliage: While not as crucial as for Angelfish, some aquatic plants can provide enrichment for turtles, though they might get eaten or uprooted.
  • Decorations: Sturdy decorations are needed for climbing and basking; turtles enjoy logs, rocks, and platforms that they can climb onto.
  • Filter: A powerful filter, capable of handling the high waste output of turtles, is essential to maintain water quality.
  • Heater: Water heaters are needed to keep the temperature suitable for turtles, along with a basking heater to provide a warm dry area.
  • Substrate: Coarse substrate is suitable for turtles; it should be large enough to prevent ingestion and easy to clean.
  • Pump: Strong water pumps are often required to create adequate water movement and filtration for turtles.
  • Lighting: UVB lighting is critical for turtles to synthesize vitamin D3, along with adequate basking lights for their dry area.

The Dietary Requirements of Angelfish and Turtles

This table compares the dietary requirements of Angelfish and Turtles, emphasizing the distinct needs of each.

Dietary AspectAngelfishTurtles
Food TypesFlakes, frozen/live foods, vegetablesPellets, leafy greens, insects, fruit
QuantitySmall amounts 2-3 times dailyDaily for young, every other day for adults
Feeding ScheduleConsistent times, moderate feedingRegular, consistent routine

1. Angelfish: Ideal Dietary Requirements

Angelfish have specific dietary needs that reflect their omnivorous nature. Their diet should be varied and balanced to ensure proper nutrition and health.

  • Food Types: Angelfish thrive on a mix of high-quality flakes, frozen or live foods like brine shrimp or bloodworms, and vegetable matter.
  • Quantity: Adult Angelfish should be fed small amounts 2-3 times daily; the amount should be what they can consume in about 30 seconds to prevent overfeeding.
  • Feeding Schedule: Consistent feeding times are recommended; regular, moderate feeding helps maintain health and reduces stress in Angelfish.

2. Turtles: Ideal Dietary Requirements

Turtles, being omnivorous, require a diet that includes both plant and animal matter. Their dietary needs vary widely based on species and age.

  • Food Types: A diet for turtles can include commercial turtle pellets, leafy greens, insects, and occasional pieces of fruit, depending on the species.
  • Quantity: Young turtles require daily feeding, while adults can be fed every other day; the amount should be in proportion to the size of their head.
  • Feeding Schedule: Regular feeding times are important for turtles; they benefit from a consistent routine that mirrors their natural foraging behavior.

More Suitable Tank Mates for Turtles

Finding suitable tank mates for turtles involves considering both the temperament and environmental needs of potential companions.

Generally, other semi-aquatic or aquatic creatures that can tolerate similar conditions and won’t be seen as food by the turtles are good choices.

  • Goldfish: Sturdy and adaptable, goldfish can coexist with turtles, provided the tank is spacious enough to prevent overcrowding.
  • Plecos: These algae-eating fish are hardy and can handle the messy environment turtles often create, helping keep the tank clean.
  • African Clawed Frogs: Being aquatic and robust, these frogs can share a tank with turtles, but they need similar water conditions.
  • Bichir: This bottom-dwelling fish is large and tough enough to live with turtles, and it won’t compete for the same swimming space.
  • Larger Barbs: Species like Tiger Barbs are active and can usually avoid turtles; they need a large tank for ample swimming space.
  • Snails: Large, hardy snail species can help clean the tank and are usually safe from turtles, as long as they are too big to eat.

Ideal Tank Mates for Angelfish

Ideal tank mates for Angelfish should be peaceful and non-aggressive to ensure a harmonious aquarium.

It’s important to select species that won’t nip at the Angelfish’s long fins or outcompete them for food.

  • Corydoras Catfish: These bottom dwellers are peaceful and won’t disturb Angelfish; they also help keep the tank clean by scavenging for food.
  • Dwarf Gourami: A calm and colorful addition, Dwarf Gouramis share similar water parameters with Angelfish and coexist peacefully.
  • Mollies and Platies: These livebearers are peaceful and adapt well to the same water conditions as Angelfish, making them compatible tank mates.
  • Rummy-nose Tetra: Known for their schooling behavior, they add dynamic movement to the tank without bothering Angelfish.
  • Loaches: Like Kuhli or Yoyo Loaches, they are peaceful and occupy the bottom of the tank, offering a complementary presence to Angelfish.

Also Read: Can Angelfish Live With Cichlids?

Dwarf Gourami


For quick readers, here’s a short summary:

  • Angelfish and turtles generally should not be housed together due to their different habitat needs, risk of aggression, and dietary incompatibilities.
  • Angelfish require a stable, warm water environment and peaceful tank mates, while turtles need both aquatic and dry basking areas.
  • Ideal water parameters for Angelfish include a temperature of 76°F – 84°F and a pH level of 6.5 – 7.0, which differ from turtles’ requirements.
  • Angelfish thrive in a tank setup with specific water quality, ample swimming space, and moderate lighting, unlike the diverse setup needed for turtles.
  • Suitable tank mates for turtles include goldfish and Plecos, whereas Angelfish are better paired with peaceful fish like Corydoras Catfish and Dwarf Gourami.