Turtles are cold-blooded animals that can inhabit freshwater and saltwater habitats. They can live in both deep and shallow waters, though they prefer to stay close to shorelines because they need sunlight for warmth. Turtles typically eat a diet of snails, slugs, fish, frogs, insects, and other small creatures that live near the water’s surface, but they will also happily munch on various plants. A typical turtle’s diet is affected by its habitat type.

Here are the nine different types of vegetation that pond turtles may enjoy.


The 9 Plants That Turtles Eat in a Pond

1. Water Lilies

turtle in waterlily and lotus
Image Credit: Rob Slaven, Pixabay

Lilies float on top of the water, and their roots stay at the bottom of the pond or river, where they get all sorts of nutrients from mud and dirt. The different kinds include:

  • White water lilies
  • Yellow water lilies
  • Red-purple water lilies
  • Green spider lilies
  • White water lilies

These plants are what turtles love to eat in ponds because they contain loads of calcium! They also have other nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, iron, manganese, and copper, which help them grow big and strong.

Water Lilies make great food for turtles because most other pond animals can’t eat their leaves, and they have so many nutrients.

2. Watercress

Image Credit: loren biser, Public Domaine Pictures

A type of water plant called watercress is what turtles love to munch on at the pond. This particular kind of plant grows in freshwater or saltwater, which means that it will grow anywhere there is a water source. The different kinds include the Curly cress, the Broadleaf cress, and the Garden cress.

Watercress can grow almost anywhere, which makes it very hardy. It also has tons of vitamin C, which means that this plant will make turtles grow big and strong.

3. Wild Celery

wild celery flowers
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Turtles can find wild celery almost anywhere that there is a body of water because it grows well in both freshwater and saltwater environments. There are two types of wild celery that turtles love to eat: the water celery and the rough-stemmed wild celery.

Wild celery is what turtles love because they have various nutrients like vitamin A, potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium. Even if your pond is not in an area with much sun exposure, wild celery will grow well because it gets what it needs from the water.

4. Duckweed

green duckweed
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The most common type of vegetation that turtles love to munch on in a pond is duckweed! It can be found pretty much anywhere there’s water, so chances are that your pond turtle will find some. There’s a wide variety of these plants, including curly-leaf and fuzzy white duckweed.

Turtles love duckweed because it grows well in almost any environment. It also has lots of nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, and iron, which help turtles grow big and strong.

5. Dandelions

yellow dandelions
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Dandelions can grow almost anywhere, as long as there is some moisture, so your turtle will probably find them at the pond. Different varieties of these plants include yellow dandelions, red-purple dandelions, and white clover.

Turtles particularly love dandelions because they have so many nutrients, such as calcium, potassium, and manganese.

6. Arrowhead Plantain

Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia) (Image Credit: USFWS Mountain-Prairie, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

Arrowheads grow well anywhere that there is some moisture, so your turtle will probably find them in the pond.

There are two types of arrowhead plantains that turtles love to eat: broadleaf and slender-leaved (both make great food!). These plants also contain tons of vitamins like A and C, which help turtles grow big and strong. They also have loads of iron, which helps their shells stay nice and hard.

7. Reed Canary Grass

reed canary grass
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This plant grows well in freshwater or saltwater environments, so your turtle will probably find it in the pond!

There are two types of reed canary grass that turtles like to eat: red-purple and green (which make great food because they have lots of potassium, iron, and manganese).

These plants have loads of nutrients and minerals like calcium, magnesium, and zinc. They also grow anywhere that there is some moisture, which makes these plants hardy.

8. Cardinal Flowers

Lobelia Cardinalis
Image Credit: Pexels

These plants have pointy leaves that grow high up out of the water, so your turtle will probably find them at the pond! Turtles love to munch on red and white cardinal flowers, and both make great food because they have calcium and phosphorus.

Cardinal flowers contain all sorts of nutrients and minerals, such as iron and sulfur. They also won’t choke your lake with too many weeds due to their way-high stature, which means it’s easy for you to pull out any unwanted ones by hand.

9. Moss

wild moss growinig on the ground
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Moss grows well in freshwater or saltwater environments, so your turtle will probably find it in the pond. In fact, moss can grow anywhere there is a bit of moisture, and it contains vitamins A and D, which help turtles stay healthy. These plants also have lots of minerals, like potassium and calcium.


Can Pond Turtles Eat Bread?

No, turtles can’t properly digest bread. They have a different digestive process that is best suited to what they eat in the wild. A turtle’s diet consists of plants, insects, worms, and other small animals that are found in the pond or water where it lives.

How Can a Turtle Survive in a Pond?

A turtle’s body needs a lot of sunlight to be healthy. If there isn’t enough sunlight, a pond turtle will become weak and sick because it won’t be able to absorb the vitamins that it needs from food and sun exposure. Many ponds are too small for turtles because they don’t have access to enough space or light. That’s why it is so important to make sure that your pond is big enough for your turtle and that there is plenty of sunlight.

As far as food goes, the pond should have one or more of the plants on this list, and the turtle will be quite happy.

Red Eared Slider Turtle
Image Credit: David Byron Keener, Shutterstock



Turtles are cool critters to have in a pond because they’ll eat many of the weeds and help keep the water clean. Just make sure your turtle has access to nutrient-rich plants like arrowhead or canary grass. That said, you might need to worry about feeding them too much because in excess, these plants contain nutrients that turtles don’t need.

That’s why it’s so important to find out which plants your turtle likes and then keep them well-fed but not overfed!

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Featured Image Credit by Anastasia Kreker, Pixabay