Ask a Vet

How Often You Should Feed A Red-Eared Slider: Important Information

Photo of author
Updated on

Turtles are very common household pets. Knowing how to care for your pet is important to ensure you feed them appropriately.

Turtles are very hungry creatures, and you will find that they will be begging for food any time you come near their enclosure.

One turtle resting his foot on the other turtle's shell

Below we look at how often you should be feeding your red-eared slider as well as looking at the best diet suited to this species, food recommendations, a suggested feeding schedule for new owners, and a guide on how to recognize what age your turtle is to ensure you are feeding it appropriately.

How Often Should Red-Eared Sliders Be Fed

Red-eared sliders should be fed once a day at the very least, but what you should be feeding your turtle will depend on what age it is.

These little creatures will eat as often as you feed them and that is why it is so important to ensure you are feeding them a well-balanced diet.

Below we look at the diet you should be feeding your red-eared slider.

What Should You Be Feeding Your Red-Eared Slider

Red-eared sliders are carnivores, so it is hugely important that you feed your pet food from both plant and animal sources. Wild red-eared sliders often feed on worms, small fish, and aquatic plants.

To ensure your pet is getting all the minerals and nutrients that it would in the wild, we suggest that you base their diet around 25% pellet food, 50% vegetables, and 25% live or freeze-dried live food, such as shrimp, fish, and mealworms.

Baby red-eared sliders and juveniles should be getting protein daily in their diet, and older red-eared sliders eat a vegetable-based diet primarily to ensure they are kept in good health.

Below are four foods that are great for feeding red-eared sliders. We explain the nutritional benefits of each product and link where you can buy it online for your convenience.

1. Zoo Med Natural Aquatic Maintenance Formula Turtle Food

Zoo med zm113 natural aquatic turtle food maintenance formula 45 oz (1 pack), one size

This food is formulated to help maintain your red-eared slider’s health.

This food product is a classic pellet food loved by turtle owners across the country as it is high in protein and helps give your turtle daily boosts of Vitamins C, D3, and E levels, which benefits their overall health.

This food is only suitable for red-eared sliders that are 6 inches long or larger.

You can purchase this product from Chewy by clicking here or from Amazon by clicking here.

Zoo Med Zm113 Natural Aquatic Turtle Food Maintenance Formula 45 Oz (1 Pack), One Size
$21.91 ($7.79 / lb)
  • Contains 1- 45Oz
  • No Artificial Colors Or Preservatives
  • For Turtles Over 6" 5/16" Pellets
Check Price on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 05:30 am GMT

2. Tetrafauna ReptoMin PRO Formula Turtle Food

Tetrafauna pro reptomin adult turtle formula 8. 11 ounces, floating sticks turtle food

This product is fantastic for getting your turtles active at mealtimes.

This product is stick-shaped and so the food floats on the water surface, encouraging your red-eared slider to get moving in order to eat, similar to what they would need to do in the wild.

This food is high in protein and calcium and is suitable to feed your turtle daily. You can buy this product in a Baby, Juvenile, and Adult formula, we have linked each product below.

You can purchase the Baby formula by clicking here, the Juvenile formula by clicking here, and the Adult formula by clicking here. All of the above links will direct you to the Chewy online store.

TetraFauna Pro ReptoMin Adult Turtle Formula 8.11 Ounces, Floating Sticks Turtle Food
  • FOR ADULT AQUATIC TURTLES: Premium, balanced nutrition for adult aquatic turtles with shells that measure at least 5 inches long.
  • DAILY DIET: Includes shrimp-enriched protein bites that turtles love.
  • OMNIVOROUS FOOD: Decreased fat percentages for a more omnivorous, balanced diet.
  • ODOR-BLOCKING TECHNOLOGY: Digestible, odor-blocking formula that greatly reduce odors associated with turtle waste.
  • USAGE: Feed 2 to 3 times per day, offering small portions eaten within a couple of minutes.
Buy from Amazon Buy from Chewy
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
12/17/2023 11:56 pm GMT

3. Fluker’s Buffet Blend Turtle Food

Fluker's buffet blend aquatic turtle food , 7. 5-ounce

Benefits: Fluker’s Buffet Blend Turtle Food is fantastic for turtles who like the consistency of pellet food but are not as active as they should be. This blend consists of both brightly colored pellets and stick food.

The stick food floats in water and entices your red-eared slider to get active, stimulating its appetite. This food benefits your turtle as it is high in both protein and vitamin A.

You can purchase this product from Chewy by clicking here or from Amazon by clicking here.

Fluker's Buffet Blend Aquatic Turtle Food , 7.5-Ounce
  • Nutritionally Balanced Turtle Food: Provides your pet with the proper balance of essential protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. Ideal turtle food red eared slider large and small turtles.
  • Quality Ingredients: This aquatic turtle food is a perfect blend of freeze-dried shrimp, mealworms and vitamin-enriched pellets, making it a delicious and nutritious choice for your pet.
  • Easy Feeding: Fluker's Buffet Blend includes floating, vitamin-enriched pellets for easy feeding. This turtle food pellets ensure your pet receives all the necessary nutrients.
  • Health Support: Includes calcium to enhance healthy shell growth, making it an ideal choice for baby turtle food. Perfect red ear slider turtle food to ensure your pet's overall well-being.
  • Versatile Turtle Food: Whether you're looking for baby turtle food or an all-around nutritious aquatic turtle food, Fluker's Buffet Blend is the way to go.
Check Price on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 02:13 am GMT

4. Sequoia Aquatic Turtle Medley Food

Aquatic turtle medley food - freeze dried shrimp & mealworms for aquatic turtle, beard dragon and other reptiles & amphibians

Benefits: To add more variety to your turtle’s mealtimes, this product is a great choice. It has freeze-dried shrimp and mealworms and it is packed with fiber and high in protein.

The brightly colored medley can attract the attention of turtles and stimulate them if they have not been eating darker-colored foods.

You can purchase this product from Amazon by clicking here.

Aquatic Turtle Medley Food - Freeze Dried Shrimp & Mealworms for Aquatic Turtle, Beard Dragon and Other Reptiles & Amphibians
$13.99 ($4.66 / Ounce)
Check Price on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 02:01 am GMT

How Often Should You Feed Red-Eared Turtles At Different Ages

As red-eared sliders get older, their appetite changes, and so the way owners feed them also needs to change. Below we look at how often to feed red-eared sliders at different ages.


Hatchlings, or babies, should be fed every day. It is important that you feed them pellet food that is packed with minerals and nutrients to help them to thrive.

If they are not eating the pellet food, introduce stick food but ensure the sticks are suitable to feed to babies to prevent choking.

It is also worthwhile offering them small amounts of vegetables to widen their taste pallet. This will make feeding times easier as they get older.

Try to treat them to live or freeze-dried live food sources every couple of days to give them a different source of protein.


Juveniles should be fed on a diet similar to what you would feed a hatchling. Red-eared sliders at this age will be more likely to eat vegetables as they are receptive to bright colors and different textures.

Pellets, or stick food, should be a part of their daily diet, and again look for foods that will offer a suitable amount of minerals and nutrients.

Juveniles will also be more receptive to live food and so it is good to continue the practice of feeding live food every couple of days to help maintain the creature’s natural instincts.


When red-eared sliders reach maturity or their adult age, they will not be as reliant on pellet and stick foods. Their diet will mostly consist of vegetables and live foods every so often.

The vegetables help to keep them healthy and provide all the needed minerals and nutrients your turtle will need at this age.

Adult red-eared sliders do not require as much protein as they are finished growing. You can still treat them to some live food every so often, such as shrimp or mealworms.

You should aim to feed your red-eared slider 3 times a week at the very least, they do not need to be fed every day once they are adults, so it is necessary to remember when you have fed them.

Best Vegetables To Feed Your Red-Eared Slider

Red-eared slider on a white background

If you are trying to encourage your re-eared slider to eat more vegetables, then it can be useful to know what vegetables are usually loved by this species.

Leafy vegetables are always enjoyed by red-eared sliders as the leafy greens resemble the aquatic plants they would usually eat in the wild.

We recommend feeding your red-eared slider leafy vegetables, such as kale, romaine lettuce, and red-leaf lettuce.

There is a water plant that you can buy in some pet stores, which also offers the same nutrients that vegetables do, it is called Anacharis, and it is often fed to red-eared sliders.

For portion sizes of these delicious greens, you should give your pet a handful of one of the above.

Turtles are very slow eaters, so they will nibble slowly at this amount over a number of hours. If you have given them too much food, they will simply leave whatever they don’t want.

While most red-eared sliders enjoy eating leafy greens, some turtles will refuse to eat fresh vegetables.

To ensure your pet is still getting the necessary levels of nutrients, we recommend the Zilla Vegetable and Fruit Mix, which you can purchase from Chewy by clicking here.

This mix is packed with minerals, proteins, and vitamins. It also has calcium which is very important in a red-eared sliders diet to prevent shell rot.

Best Proteins To Feed Your Red-Eared Slider

There are some pellet foods, vegetables, and medley mix that you can buy to feed your red-eared turtle to ensure they are getting the necessary amount of protein but it is also recommended to feed them protein from a different source every so often.

Feeding your red-eared slider live food is a great way of getting your turtle moving and searching for food like it would in the wild. Shrimp and mealworms are perfect for feeding a red-eared slider.

When feeding your red-eared slider, you should give them the same amount as the size of their head. You should avoid feeding red-eared sliders live food that could carry parasites, such as krill, crickets, feeder fish, and crayfish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is My Turtle Always Hungry?

The reason why red-eared sliders always appear to be hungry is that in the wild, they are considered to be opportunistic eaters.

They don’t receive food at a set time each day in the wild and so they have no choice but to eat whatever is available when it is available, otherwise if they return to it the food may be gone.

These creatures live off aquatic vegetation, small insects, or decaying organic matter from a dead frog or fish.

So next time your turtle is begging for food, take a moment to realize it is just basing its hunger on an instinctual drive, not actual hunger.

How Do You Know What Age A Red-Eared Slider Is?

As we have spoken about above, it is very important to know what age your red-eared slider is to ensure that you can feed your pet properly.

Below we explain the telltale signs that will help you to estimate the approximate age of your red-eared slider.

Hatchlings or baby, red-eared sliders have shells that are approximately 2 to 3 inches long, and both the skin and shell will be a bright green color. Hatchlings are red-eared sliders that are less than 6 months old.

Juveniles are approximately 6 months to 2 years old. Their shell is approximately 4 inches long and the shell begins to become a darker shade of green or brown color.

Their red markings will also be very bright at the side of their face, and the skin will also have become a darker green with more stripes.

Adults are red-eared sliders that are anything older than two years of age.

Turtles at this age have a very dark-brown shell with black markings, and the shell is roughly 4 to 12 inches long. Their skin color will also darken further.

Final Thoughts

We hope that this guide has given you all the information you need to feed your red-eared slider confidently, knowing you are feeding them the right amount and also giving them the correct diet for their age group.

If you are unsure what age your red-eared slider is, check out our frequently asked questions section below, where we explain the telltale signs that will help you to make an informed decision as to what age your pet may be.

Having a pet is a wonderful experience for both children and adults, and once you are educated on how to best care for your pet, you will be able to watch them thrive for many years with very few issues.

Don’t forget to change your red-eared slider’s feeding schedule and diet as they grow older to keep them healthy and happy as they grow from hatchlings to fully grown adults.

Photo of author
About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.