Will Turtles Eat Fake Plants?

A turtle tank must be set up based on the turtle’s requirements. They need to have a habitat that simulates the wild. It will help them to adapt better in captivity that way. In the wild, the pond or stream usually has a lot of vegetation. Should you also add plants to the turtle tank?

The answer to that question is a big yes. You can add plants to the turtle tank. It will create a more natural habitat for the turtle. But there are pros and cons should you decide to go for it. It’s best to think about it carefully before deciding to put plants in the turtle tank.

If you are a new turtle keeper, it is recommended to wait until your turtle is already comfortable. Adding plants to their habitat may stress them out. Turtles can feel if there are changes made in their tank. Once the turtle is good to go, you can start by adding hornwort since it’s the easiest plant to add to the tank.

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Will Turtles Eat Fake Plants?

Turtles are bigger animals compared to aquarium fishes. Adding plants in their tank will make them curious. Some hobbyists choose to use fake plants to make the tank look aesthetic. It will look more attractive without the issues of having a live plant. But turtles might eat them and that will be a problem.

Adding artificial plants to the turtle tank may be a good idea. But you have to be careful since the turtle might have a bite. Fake plants are made of plastic and it’s bad for turtles. Turtles will try to eat them since they are curious about them. Adding fake plants may not be a good idea.

Are Plastic Plants OK for Turtles in Their Tank?

Tending a live plant can be a chore since it needs to be taken care of. The best option is to try using artificial plants. Artificial aquarium plants will work for most turtle tanks. Try to find the one that is molded in one piece. It can hold better compared to the removable stalks.

However, fake plants will not be useful in terms of making the water quality better. Although it will make the turtle tank look more aesthetic. It can also give the turtles something to play with. This will also provide a hiding place for the turtle’s tank mates if they have one.

Are Fake Plants Safe for Turtles?

Having some fake plants is better than nothing at all. The turtle tank will look boring and it’s the same for the turtle. In the wild, they are surrounded by different aquatic plants. Living in captivity without them will be too different from their natural habitat. Therefore, it’s not a bad idea to add some fake plants to the tank.

However, it may pose a danger for turtles if they tried eating the artificial plants. They might get curious about it and decide to have a taste. Some turtles may not realize that they are not real and continue to eat the artificial plants. When this happens, it’s better to remove them. It can cause digestive issues for the turtles.

Can I Put Fake Plants in My Tortoise Enclosure?

Adding fake or real plants to the tortoise enclosure is up to you. They are both alright to place in the tortoise enclosure. It depends on what plant you prefer to use. Using real plants will require more effort but it’s safer for the tortoise. Fake plants can pose a risk for the tortoise since they can cause ingestion.

Tortoise will eat fake plants since they will be curious about them. It’s better if you place it in the areas that the turtle can’t access. Fake plants are low maintenance since you don’t have to care for them. Just make sure to put the tortoise food away from it.

Pros of Keeping Real Plants in the Turtle Tank

1. Makes the Water Quality Better

Real plants can help to make the quality of water in the tank better. They filter nitrates and ammonia. It can also help to reduce the growth of algae by competing for carbon dioxide. Improving the water quality is the best benefit of having real plants in the turtle tank.

2. Discourage the Growth of Bad Bacteria

Having a live plant can also oxygenate the water in the tank. It will discourage the anaerobic bacteria from growing. Having these bad bacteria on the turtle tank is not good for your turtle. Real plants will avoid their growth because it produces oxygen.

3. Natural Looking Habitat

Aside from the other benefits, real plants will add up to the tank’s aesthetics. It will look more attractive and natural. Having real plants will simulate the vegetation in the wild. Turtles will also enjoy hiding and snacking on them. It will be fine for them even if they eat the real plants.

Cons of Keeping Real Plants in the Turtle Tank

1. Requires a Substrate

Some plants require a substrate that is hard to maintain. Real plants need to plant their roots from the bottom of the tank. It can take a lot of effort to keep it clean. Vacuuming the substrate must be done once or twice a week. If not, leftover food and turtle waste can make the water bad.

Having a substrate in the turtle tank will make it hard to clean. Although some plants don’t require a substrate. Hornwort can survive by leaving it floating on the water. It can get the nutrients it needs from the water. That will make cleaning the tank a breeze.

2. Some Plants are Toxic

There are a few plants that can be toxic to turtles. Make sure that the plants you’re about to put in the tank are safe. It can be fatal for the turtle if you’re not familiar with what plant to add to the tank. Turtles can also end up messing up the tank. They may dig out the plants without a reason.

If you don’t have any experience with tending aquatic plants, it can end up in a disaster. Although you can stick to having hornwort since it’s the easiest and safest plant for turtles. You have to learn more if you want to add more variety of plants to the turtle tank.

Type of Plants to Add in the Turtle Tank

When choosing the type of plants, you should stick to the common variety. They are available in pet shops and inexpensive as well. You can find safe plants that can also grow well in turtle tanks. If you have decided that your turtle needs them, then keep on reading for more tips.

1. Hornwort

It’s easy to add to the turtle tank since it doesn’t need a substrate. You can use a rock to anchor the hornwort at the bottom of the tank. It can also be used as a floating plant. The best part is it doesn’t need too much care which makes it the best plant for beginners.

Hornwort can also maintain water quality. Turtles seem to dislike how it tastes so they will not eat this plant. It’s also safe for the turtles even if they take a bite. This plant will make the turtle tank look more attractive as well while making the water clean and healthy.

2. Java Fern

It’s a common and affordable plant that will suit the turtle tank. Java fern grows in driftwood, rocks, and submerged objects in nature. However, it doesn’t have strong roots and it can’t stay on the substrate. You have to attach it to something to avoid it floating around the tank.

The best way to have the java fern is to attach them to rocks or driftwood. You can tie these plants with a thread to keep them where they should be. It’s a good aquatic plant to keep on the turtle tank since it will look more natural. Driftwood with plants looks also attractive for the turtle tank.

2. Anubias Barteri

The anubias barteri is a slow-growing plant with broad leaves. It’s an excellent choice to add to the turtle tank. This is one of the easiest plants to maintain and is good for beginners. They are also easy to find and inexpensive. It’s usually available in pet shops that sell aquarium supplies.

This plant is easy to care for and trouble-free. The anubias barteri will be fine with low-light tanks. It can grow whatever is the pH level of the water. Fish and turtles will not even try to eat them. Tie this plant to rock to weigh them down the tank. Pile some gravel on its base to keep it.

3. Amazon Sword

The amazon sword is also easy to maintain. Although it needs to have a good amount of light. Avoid planting it on the dark part of the turtle tank if you want it to thrive. Turtles may have a taste of this plant but that’s fine since it’s safe so it’s a good choice.

These plants have roots so they need to be planted in the substrate. Like other aquatic plants, you have attached them to a rock. But once it grows stronger roots, you can replant them anywhere in the tank. You can easily find them in pet stores so you can add them to your turtle’s habitat.

4. Egeria Densa

It’s also known as the common waterweed. The Egeria densa is cheap and can be easily found in pet shops. It grows the same way as weeds and it’s a nutritious snack for turtles. But some turtles like sliders and painted turtles tend to eat this a lot. They may end up making a lot of mess.

However, juveniles will leave it alone since they prefer to eat meat rather than plants. Mud and musk turtles will just leave this plant alone. The Egeria densa happens to be an invasive weed. It can take over the plants’ habitat when they are in the wild. This is only allowed for indoor habitats.

What is a Turtle Tank’s Substrate?

If you have decided to add aquatic plants to your turtle tank, you need to have a substrate. It’s a material that you can put at the bottom of the tank. This may vary from sand to fluorite. Many people prefer gravel as a substrate. Although using substrate can be a lot of work.

Most pet turtles like red-eared sliders and painted turtles don’t need this. But if you want to add live plants, you will need a substrate. It’s needed by most aquatic plants since they need to attach their roots to it. But if you plan to have the hornwort plant, there’s no need for a substrate.

What to Consider When Choosing a Substrate for the Turtle Tank?

When choosing a substrate for the turtle tank, there are things you have to consider first. That way, you can make sure that your turtle will be fine. It should also be suitable for the aquatic plant of your choice. It will make the turtle plant look better but it should also add good benefits.

1. Natural Look

Make sure to achieve a natural look when decorating the turtle tank. It will be better if it will look like their natural habitat. To achieve this, you can use sand, small pebbles, or natural fibers as a substrate. Make sure that it will be good for the plants as well.

2. Safe

Make sure to choose a substrate that will be safe for the turtle. Find something that will be soft for it to walk around the tank. When the turtle tries to dig on it, the substrate should not hurt as well. Small pebbles can be used to line the bottom of the tank since the turtle will not walk on it.

3. Avoid Dangerous Materials

There are different types of substrates out there but not all of them will be suitable for turtles. Small gravel and calcium should be avoided. Turtles will try to ingest them which can be harmful to them. Make sure it doesn’t contain dangerous materials that can be bad for turtles.

4. Should Not Contain Artificial Additives

Some substrates may be processed with dyes and chemicals. It will be harmful to turtles’ health especially when ingested. Choose a natural substrate instead to ensure that it will not contain chemicals. Make sure to wash it thoroughly before adding it to your turtle tank.

What’s the Best Substrate for Turtle Tank Plants?

If you must use a substrate for aquatic plants, it’s better to learn more about them. Using substrate can make the tank harder to maintain. But it can make the turtle’s habitat more natural. It can also keep the plants alive if you decide to use live plants instead of fake ones.

There are some advantages and disadvantages to using a substrate. But you can choose from the different types of substrate that will best suit your turtle tank. The best thing to do is to go for the substrate that will also provide benefits for both the plants and your turtle.

1. Sand

Sand is the best substrate for other people. Although it seems to be hard to clean and it’s too dense. It will allow the water to circulate on the plant’s roots. Sand doesn’t have any nutritional value for plants. It can also damage the filter if it gets stirred up and sucked.

However, some turtles like digging in the sand such as the softshell turtles. Sand is also a popular choice when it comes to a substrate. Since turtles will enjoy digging on it, the effort of cleaning it may be worth it. But there are other substrates that you can choose from other than sand.

2. Dirt

For some people, dirt seems to be the best substrate for the turtle’s tank. It’s a good idea since plants can grow in dirt. The downside is you have to sterilize it first before putting this inside the tank. It can also make the tank water muddy when the turtle starts digging.

3. Gravel

Gravel is another popular choice to use as a substrate for the turtle tank. The problem with gravel is there are sharp edges on them. It can hurt the turtle and if it’s small, they will try to eat it. You can choose the larger gravel instead to avoid that. But it doesn’t provide nutrients for the plants even if it can still live in them.

4. Fluorite

It’s more expensive compared to other substrates on this list. Although it may be the best substrate that you can use for the turtle tank. Fluorite is originally made for planted aquariums which are best for aquatic plants. It’s also non-toxic and more stable since it provides good footing for the plants on your turtle tank.

Fluorite has a high nutrient value for plants and it looks nice. It can make the turtle tank look more attractive. This is also an excellent medium for good bacteria. However, when you add it for the first time and pit the water, its dust will look muddy. Although it’s not harmful to turtles, it can clog the filter.

How to Set Up a Planted Turtle Tank

When setting up a planted turtle tank, you have to consider some things. If you have a juvenile turtle, you may want to start with a small planted tank. But keep in mind that the turtle will grow eventually. It will need a bigger tank, new lighting, and a better filtration system. It’s better to get a tank for an adult turtle instead.

You also have to consider where to put the planted tank. Turtles don’t like to be the center of attention. It may cause a lot of stress for them if you place the tank in the family room. Instead, place the turtle tank where it’s calmer. You can also choose a place where the turtle can have access to sunlight.

What is the Right Water Temperature for the Plants on the Turtle Tank?

Many aquatic plants came from tropical places. That means that they prefer to live in warmer conditions. Most aquatic plants will do well with a temperature of 78�F. They should be kept in suitable conditions for them like good light sources and nutrients. These plants will grow well with the turtle tank’s environment.


1. What plants are safe for reptiles?

Reptiles and amphibians don’t usually eat the vegetation. Turtles may do that since they are herbivores when they become adults. For other reptiles, the safe plants for them are the following.

  • Pothos
  • Spider Plants
  • Bromeliads
  • Snake Plants
  • Ficus
  • Dwarf Schefflera
  • Orchids
  • Peperomia

2. Do turtles eat water lettuce?

Yes, turtles eat water lettuce but it doesn’t mean you should not add them to the tank. Adding aquatic plants that they like to eat is not a bad idea. Turtles usually eat submerged plants such as anacharis, water hyacinth, water lettuce, duckweed, fairy moss, and frog-bit.

3. Do tortoises eat succulents?

Tortoises like eating opuntia during summer more than other types of succulents. Although they also like other succulents, they should be consumed in moderation. Cactus, jade plants, and wild purslane can also be given to tortoises as snacks.

4. Can a tortoise live in an aquarium?

Aquariums or glass tanks are not a proper habitat for tortoises. It lacks proper ventilation and doesn’t have enough space. Unlike turtles, tortoises will feel trapped in an enclosure.

5. Will turtles eat fake plants?

It depends since some turtles can recognize its fake but others don’t. This can cause them indigestion and it’s bad for their health. Add real plants to their tank if you want the turtle to stay safe.

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