Your turtle eats the water lily leaves, right? Not so fast. Though turtles love to munch on water lilies, they’re not a part of an aquatic turtle’s natural diet.
Turtles are strictly omnivores creatures (meat and plants eaters), and will happily gobble up some high-protein fare such as earthworms or crickets while living in the wild. But when you place your pet turtle in a tank with some water lilies, the turtle may pick at them from time to time, but will not consume them as part of a diet.
Some turtles like to nibble on plants and flowers for fun, or while looking for another snack. A favorite “snack” of turtles are snails, who often take shelter in the thick, meaty foliage. So if your turtle eats the water lily plants (and leaves), there’s a chance that it could be looking for snails…or just enjoying a tasty snack.
A small amount of nibbling on water lilies is normal in captive turtles, so don’t panic. Just keep an eye on your water lily plant. If it loses all of its leaves, or if the leaves start to appear misshapen or yellow, you should remove the plant from your turtle’s tank because this indicates a possible calcium deficiency.
What Types of Turtles Eat Water Lilies?
It’s not all that uncommon to see turtles munching on water lilies (Nymphaea) in a backyard pond, as many turtle owners enjoy growing aquatic plants. Although it’s common for turtles to eat some plant matter, I wouldn’t recommend letting your turtle graze at will. Instead, offer your pet a balanced diet of high-protein aquatic food and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Maintaining an aquarium with both turtles and water lilies can be done, but it’s important to understand the fact that these two creatures are not intended to share the same tank. Water lilies are actually highly toxic to most species of turtles, with the exception of painted turtles (Chrysemys picta) and a few other aquatic turtle breeds.
So, if you already have a pond that houses both your pet turtle and some water lilies, make sure that your turtle is not eating them. If the lights go out for any reason or if the water level drops below a certain point, your turtle could find itself munching on some not-so-tasty aquatic foliage.
What Happens If My Turtle Eats Water Lilies?
Unfortunately, water lily plants can be very toxic to turtles. They contain oxalates, which are highly poisonous plant substances that cause severe irritation of the mouth, esophagus, and stomach. Left untreated, oxalate poisoning can cause death within 24 hours. In order to prevent this from happening, immediately remove all aquatic vegetation if you observe your turtle consuming any water lilies or lotus pods.
What You Can Do Instead? Add “turtle-safe” aquatic plants!
If you enjoy the look of water lilies in your turtle’s pond, then consider purchasing “turtle-safe” aquatic plants. Luckily for us, there are plenty of aquatic plants that won’t cause too much sorrow if your turtle picks at them a bit.
In general, water lilies are not native to North America. You can purchase some neat tropical species such as red tiger lotus (Nelumbo lutea), water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes), and water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes). These plants are easier to find at garden stores than native water lilies.
Water lotus (Nymphaea odorata) is also a popular turtle-safe aquatic plant choice. It’s easy to identify because it has huge, wide leaves that look similar to water lilies. Water lotus (or white lotus) is also pretty common in nature and can usually be found in large patches near ponds or streams.
Another aquatic plant option for your tank is the Amazon sword plant (Echinodorus amazonicus). It is a popular aquarium plant with long, smooth leaves and upright flower stems that can grow to nearly 2.5 meters (8 feet) tall. Amazon sword plants are very easy to maintain, have vibrant green leaves, and require little sunlight or nutrients. They will also add some color to your turtle’s tank.
Anacharis (Egeria densa) is a fast-growing aquatic plant that grows in dense, bushy clusters similar to an underwater bouquet of flowers. It has long, narrow leaves that can grow up to 1 foot (30 cm). Its leaves are very flexible and will bend with the movement of your turtle or fish. Anacharis stems also root easily into growing mediums, so they make great additions to planted tanks.
Can turtles eat algae from your pond?
If your turtle is still young and growing, then it may be necessary to offer a small amount of algae wafers or pellets in order to supply some extra protein. If you are just starting with aquariums, then it’s important to understand that too much vegetable matter and certain plants can clog up the filter system and cause unusual amounts of foam in ponds.
Aquatic turtles aren’t often attracted to algae wafers or pellets, but they will eat them if you offer them the right amount at the right time. Be careful not to overfeed your turtle by leaving algae wafers and pellets out all of the time. It may also be very difficult for young aquatic turtles to eat algae wafers and pellets if they have already developed a taste for some of the live aquatic plants in their tank.
Turtle can find algae in the pond, for example, on the surface of the water. The key to getting your turtle to eat algae is timing it with a regular feeding schedule and having some patience while you wait for him or her to adjust to eating something other than live aquatic plants.
Once they get accustomed to eating healthier foods, turtles will typically stop eating leaves from aquatic plants completely. If you are not seeing any progress whatsoever, try contacting a local turtle or aquarium owner’s club for recommendations of what other kinds of foods your turtle might like.
What do aquatic turtles eat in a yard pond?
In the wild, aquatic turtles will eat both plant matter and animal matter. If your turtle is living outdoors in a yard pond, then remember that most turtles are omnivores and require a steady supply of plant matter as food. In the wild, aquatic turtles will eat both plant matter and animal matter.
As for plants, the most important are aquatic grasses (not lawn grass), which provide oxygen to pond water and prevent fish from suffocating. Turtle food can include lilypads and arrowheads. There is nothing wrong with giving your turtle some lettuce now and then, but it’s not necessary.
Most commercial turtle foods sold at pet stores are based on dried fishmeal, which is a highly concentrated source of protein.
In cool weather, turtles will eat this food readily. But when the temperature heats up, they may not want to eat it. I have found that if you are using a commercial turtle food as your primary diet, give your turtle an occasional raw shrimp or fish fillet (preferably with the skin on). Shrimp provide vitamin C – so important for turtles living in an outdoor pond.
Also, don’t overfeed your turtle. If you keep your backyard clean, it will provide a good environment for your turtles to find enough food on their own. They will be less reliant upon commercial turtle food if they are able to scavenge insects, water snails, and plants.
What animals can eat Water Lily from the pond?
Some owners have reported that koi, large goldfish, and turtles will eat water lilies. Be careful, however – you should always research the particular species of fish before introducing it into your pond, as some are voracious eaters of aquatic plants.
Even if one of these creatures eats a water lily, don’t worry about the big impact. A small area of the lily pad will be destroyed, but eventually, it will grow back to normal size.
Pond turtles and koi are also known to eat some other aquatic plants, but most of the time they do not do any harm. They may have a small impact on your pond’s overall water quality, though – so it’s important to keep an eye on their activity in order to ensure that you don’t experience too much of a decline.
Can snakes eat water lilies?
I have not heard of any snake species that eat Water Lilies, although some may attempt to eat them if they are hungry enough. Snakes tend to prefer fish eggs, small fish, small frogs, and snails. If you are concerned that your pond may have snakes in it, there is an easy way to confirm or deny this assumption.
Snakes do not like to be exposed – they love to hide. So suspend a wire netting cage (called a snake trap) just below the surface of the water in the pond. The first time you catch a snake in it, it will be noticeably heavier than the wire netting itself. This serves as a good indication of which species of snakes are using your backyard pond as a habitat, and what they like to eat.
Do Turtles Eat Water Lilies? The short answer is yes. Turtles will eat water lilies if there are no other foods available to them, but it can be hard to get a turtle interested in this plant under normal circumstances. As with many other plants, they would much rather eat something else!
If you have other fish in your pond, be careful – especially when introducing new species of fish.