Algae… Good for the Earth, GREAT for your Turtle!

Did you know? "Algae is the perfect food plant. It doubles cell mass every twelve hours, depending on the strain".

Aquatic turtles, such as the red-eared slider or other types of pond turtles, have several unique problems. 

Understanding these problems will allow you to better care for your pet and minimize future healthcare issues.

Algae On My Turtle Shell?!

Algae grow on turtles’ shells naturally. 

However, it can hide infections or injuries, and excessive buildup can get in the way of the turtle’s ability to absorb UVB and heat while basking. 

In rare cases, algae will start to grow under partially shed scutes (shell scales), and shell rot may develop as a result.

Dark green algae that grow in carpets or patches is fine.

However, if you notice a long, stringy, slimy type of algae growing on your turtle’s shell, that is cause for more concern.

If your turtle’s shell feels slimy or slippery, but you can’t see any algae, it’s most likely bacteria and as you can imagine, that’s not a good thing. 

Fortunately, the treatment for bacterial film is similar to the treatment for algae.


Make a routine of regularly scrubbing your turtle’s shell with a soft toothbrush and room-temperature water in a separate container from the turtle’s tank or pond. 

Depending on how much algae has built up on your turtle’s shell, this can take some time. 

However, be patient, GENTLE, and remember, turtles can feel their shells just as well as you can feel the top of your head.

After you are done with your turtle’s regular shell-brushing, disinfect the container with F10SC, chlorhexidine, or bleach solution.


There’s no way to truly prevent algae buildup in your turtle’s tank. 

However, there are some things you can do that will help (note that most of these things are congruent with good pond turtle husbandry):

  • Keep the tank clean
  • Scrape algae off the walls and décor regularly
  • Keep the water moving with a filter and/or aerator
  • Do not place the tank near a window
  • Perform regular water changes
  • Don’t leave excess food in the tank
  • Use live plants
  • Add algae-eating fish (might get eaten by turtles)

Do not add algae-prevention chemicals to the water, as these may be able to harm your turtle!

Some algae in a turtle tank can be a good thing. 

While it does look a bit messy, it can help clean the water and make a healthier living environment for your turtle.

Ecological Importance of Algae

Before delving into the Ecological Importance of Algae, let us first define Ecology, Types of Algae, and why it is so important. Ecology is the study of the interactions of living organisms, including humans, with their surroundings. In simple words,

landscape photography of green islands
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Ecology is the study of the relationship between living organisms and the environment. Ecology is extremely important for the world, and it plays a critical role in human well-being.

It is the source that provides a clear relationship between humans and nature; thus, it helps us understand and study oxygen, food production, clean air, and the future environment.

Algae is a broad term that covers a wide range of plants.

Alga is a generic term for seaweed.

foamy waves splashing on algae covered seashore stone
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The word Alga is the singular form of the word Algae and is a Latin word.

Many scientists believed that the word Algae had some connection with the Latin word Allergy, but this was met with strong opposition from other scientists because Algae has nothing to do with temperature, whereas Allergy is a type of human cold.

Algae is extremely important in freshwater environments. Freshwater environments are those in which the level of salt in the water is very low, hence the name.

Algae can range from unicellular to multicellular organisms.

scenery with green algae on rocks
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Many studies have shown that algae lack the specialized tissues that are found in land plants.

The absence of these cells could be an adaptive mechanism to the environment in which the plants will live.

More than half of the world’s oxygen is produced by microscopic algae. Phytoplankton is single-celled algae that are responsible for primary production.

Because Phytoplankton is eaten by small animals at the surface levels, they are the primary producers. The larger algae provide a habitat for fish and other aquatic animals. 

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