I have a small turtle, and I feed it a variety of food including boiled chicken, slugs, earthworms, and vegetables. I've recently upgraded its aquarium and added substrate and made it deeper.

I'm not sure if the turtle will still find it easy to locate or eat its food, and there may be a risk of it swallowing some substrate in the process (I'm not sure I just fear that).

Is this a problem? If yes then do I have to feed it in a separate bowl or what? Also, I think my turtle would be reluctant to eat in a separate bowl; I know many are.

1 Answer 1


Eating the substrate is certainly a risk as turtles are notoriously messy eaters. Though really, a lot of reptiles are in my experience. Since the substrate cannot be digested, it has the risk of causing impaction. Impaction is where the intestines are blocked by a foreign object, and nothing can be digested anymore.

The best way to avoid it is to use a separate container for feeding. One without substrate. It doesn't have to be a whole new tank just for feeding, it could be a moderate sized plastic bin. As long as it holds enough water to hold the turtle and let it move around a bit to gather the food.

While it might seem like a bit more work at first, it is actually easier to handle, as you can simply empty out the food tank and rinse it out. If you feed the turtle in the tank it lives in, you're going to have to take extra care to clean all the missed food out of the substrate. A gravel vacuum would help with that.

The only other option I really know of is to feed the turtle slowly, so that it catches all the food before it hits the gravel. It's not foolproof, and it's more time consuming than using a separate container for feeding I think.

  • What if the turtle does not like to eat in another container? I've seen reports of this. And also would that affect the mood of the turtle and cause stress(being moved in and out), I do really want it to feel like the aquarium is its home. If the substrate is just some colored rocks is that also a problem?
    – Mozein
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 19:32

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