Can Algae Eaters Live With Turtles (How to Put Sucker Fish With Turtles)?

When it comes to turtles, there is always the age-old question, which is whether they are able to live with fish. This is something that is highly debated amongst fish and turtle owners, and something that tends to divide opinions. 

While fish and turtles can live together, this does not necessarily mean that they should, however, there are some exceptions to this. One exception is algae eaters, which we are going to discuss in more detail.

In this article, we will be chatting you through whether algae eaters can live with turtles, and the best way to introduce sucker fish into your turtle’s tank. 

Can Algae Eaters Live With Turtles?

When it comes to adding algae eaters to your turtle tanks, while this is possible, it is not something that is generally recommended. This is because turtles are a particularly fast animal, and they are likely going to eat smaller, less agile fish.

For the safety of the fish, it is best if they are kept in a tank that is completely separate as a result of this. However, there are some fish that are capable of living with turtles, and are at a far less risk of being eaten.

One type of fish that is suitable are algae eaters. When talking about algae eaters, we are referring to catfish and plecos.

If you have ever owned your own fish tank, then you will know how fantastic algae eaters are. While you still need to keep on top of your tank’s maintenance, they will greatly help to reduce the algae around the tank, and ultimately make the job easier for you. 

Given that they keep to themselves, and will grow to a significant size, they are safe in a tank with turtles. However, even though they are typically safe to keep with them, care will still need to be taken. This is because turtles are omnivores, and still may potentially try to eat the algae eaters. 

If you have any concerns over this, we would not recommend adding them to your tank as a precautionary measure.

How to Put Sucker Fish With Turtles

When you are planning to introduce sucker fish and algae eaters into your tank, care will need to be taken. As we have already discussed, you should only do this if you are confident that your turtle is not going to eat the sucker fish. In addition to this, it would be worth choosing a larger catfish, so that it is going to be able to fend for itself.

When adding fish into a tank, there are a few different steps you will want to follow in order to do this correctly:

Step One – Checking the Size of the Tank

Before purchasing the sucker fish, you will need to ensure that the tank is large enough for both the sucker fish, and the turtle. Ideally, the tank should be at least 80 gallons (ca. 303 liters), in its size. This is to accommodate both species as they grow.

If your tank is much smaller than this, you will need to consider purchasing a larger tank, as it will not be a suitable home for both species. 

Step Two – Choosing the Fish

Next, you will want to choose the correct type of fish. We would always recommend seeking advice before purchasing the fish, just to ensure that it is a suitable option. 

Step Three – Feeding the Turtle

Before you pop the bag containing the sucker fish into the tank, you will want to feed your turtle. That way, the turtle is less likely to try and eat the fish or bother with the bag it is currently in. 

If the turtle has not been fed, it may potentially see the fish as food, which is something that is not ideal. The turtle is far more likely to be accepting of the fish when it is not hungry, either. 

Step Four – Acclimatizing the Fish

When placing fish into a new tank, it is so important to ensure that it has been correctly acclimatized. This helps to prevent the fish going into shock, and decreases the likelihood of the fish dying, too. 

To do this, you will need to place the bag that the fish is in, into the water for around 20 minutes. After every 10 minutes, you will want to add some tank water to the bag to get the fish used to use. 

Next, you will need to carefully place the fish into the tank along with the water from the bag. At this point, the fish should be used to the change in water. 

We would also recommend speaking to the store you purchased the fish from, to ask the water conditions the fish has been kept in so that you can check if your levels are similar to this. 

Step Five – Checking on the Fish

After the fish has been introduced, you will want to keep a close eye on both animals to ensure that the fish is kept safe. Over the first two weeks, it is so important to carry out these checks regularly.

If you do notice that the turtle is not happy with the fish being present in the tank, then you will have to remove the sucker fish for its own safety. It is worth having areas in the tank where the fish can retreat if it is feeling vulnerable, too. 


We hope that you have found this article useful. As you can see, it is completely possible for algae eaters and sucker fish to live with turtles. However, care and caution should always be taken. 

You want to ensure that the fish are large enough not to get bullied or eaten by the turtle, and you will want to introduce the fish into the tank correctly. This is fairly easy to do when you follow the simple steps we have provided.