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Krill in Turtle Diets: an Interesting Experiment and Some Useful Products

Small, shrimp-like marine crustaceans known as krill have long featured prominently in the diets of aquarium fishes.  I’d like to relate here some personal experiences that point to their value as food for turtles, tadpoles, newts and salamanders.

Krill as Turtle Food

KrillSome years ago a herpetologist of my acquaintance, noting that krill were quite high protein and calcium, decided to use this food as a major part of the diet of a group of Blanding’s turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) that had hatched in his collection.  The diet he used, simple by current standards, was comprised of 50% freeze-dried krill and 50% Reptomin Food Sticks.  The turtles matured into beautiful, healthy adults with hard, well-formed shells…not always an easy task in captivity.  I later successfully repeated the experiment with a clutch of Eastern painted turtles (Chrysemys picta).


The diet fed to tadpoles greatly influences their survival rate during the stressful period when they transform into frogs.  I have found that species typically considered to be herbivorous, such as bullfrog and spring peeper tadpoles, actually fare much better when protein such as krill is included in their diets.  Newts, amphiumas, axolotls and African clawed frogs relish krill as well.

Useful Products

We carry a wide variety of freeze dried and frozen krill of various sizes at ThatFishPlace/ThatPetPlace.  You will also find krill and shrimp in Reptomin Select-A-Food, Suprema Food Sticks and Gammarus Shrimp Supplement and in Zoo Med Can O’ Shrimp.

The World’s Most Abundant Animal?

The Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, may be the planet’s most numerous species…550 million tons of them are swimming in the southern Pacific Ocean at any one time (our own biomass tops out at a mere 110 million tons).  Krill form nearly 100% of the diet of certain seals, whales, birds, shrimp, squid and fishes.

Further Reading

To learn more about using freshwater shrimps, please see my article Zoo Med Canned Freshwater Shrimp.



Krill image referenced from Wikipedia and originally posted by Saperaud

Blandings Turtle image referenced from Wikipedia and originally posted by Raphael Carter.

About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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