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Can Turtles Get Ick?

Keeping pet turtles has been steadily increasing in popularity over the last five years or so and although they are still not one of the most common reptiles kept as pets, they are still considerably more popular than they used to be.

Due to their increase in popularity, we have noticed a spike in the number of questions that we see each month from members of the turtle owning community about taking care of their pets.

We do see a wide range of different questions ranging from general health to diet to potential health issues and one question that people have been asking more frequently recently is if turtles can get ick or not.

With there being a number of people reporting that their turtle has ick and asking how they are able to treat it recently, we decided that we wanted to publish our own dedicated article on the topic to try and help as many of our readers as possible.

Our hope is that we will be able to help our readers better understand what is happening to their pet turtle as well as how they are able to try and fix the issue.

Our table of contents below should be able to help our readers better navigate the article to save them time and help you skip directly to sections that you want to read about.

Can Turtles Get Ick?

Turtles are not about to get ick due to ick being a condition that infects fish with the illness requiring the cells of a fish to take hold and develop.

As turtles are reptiles, their cells are different to that of a fish so they are not able to get ick in the traditional sense but there are other parasitic infections similar to ick or some fungal infections that can give the appearance of ick.

These conditions are much rarer in turtles than ick is in fish though and prevention is definitely better than cure. Many turtle owners use treatments such as Turtlefix to treat the water in their turtles tank to reduce the chances of having any issues like this.

The active ingredient in Turtlefix is tea tree extract so it can be effective at dealing with bacteria, some fungus, and some parasites helping to reduce the chances of your pet turtle having issues.

In some situations, Turtlefix is also able to help treat any parasite, bacterial or fungal issues that have already broken out in your pet turtle too.

We wouldn’t recommend that our readers rush out and order Turtlefix just yet though as these issues are rare on turtles and there is a very common issue that is commonly mistaken for issues like ick in turtles that we will cover next.

Is It Ick Or Is It Shedding?

Due to turtles being reptiles, they will naturally shed their skin with the shells of some turtle species also having a shedding process too.

This can commonly be misidentified as ick when in actual fact, it is just a totally natural shedding process that all turtles go through a couple of times each year once they reach a certain age.

There is no need for you to take any action in most situations if your turtle is just shedding as the process is totally normal for most turtle species once they reach the age of one year old but some may not start shedding until they are around three years old.

That said though, there can be a couple of issues that will cause your pet turtle to shed more often than it normally would with the first one being due to the turtle owner feeding their pet turtle too much food resulting in excessive shedding.

In addition that that, poor water conditions and issues with bacteria, parasites or fungi can also increase the frequency of your turtle shedding its skin too.

This is why so many people treat the water in their turtle’s tank with Turtlefix in the hope that they are able to reduce the chances of these issues causing excessive shedding in their pets and improving the quality of life of their turtles.

What Is the White Stuff On My Turtle?

There are a number of different bacterial, fungal, and parasitic conditions that can take hold of turtles and cause the appearance of ick but these do tend to be rare and the majority of people who maintain ideal water conditions should not have issues with them.

The turtle shedding their skin is a more common cause of white stuff forming on turtles as the air gap forms below the skin prior to the skin actually shedding.

It can be difficult to identify the specific issue that is causing white stuff on a turtle, especially if you are new to keeping turtles.

You are able to book a short video call with a veterinarian to have them check over your turtle over to get a better idea of what is potentially causing the issues in your pet turtle with the white stuff on its skin or shell.

This should put you in a much better place to move forward and actually deal with the problem too.

Depending on exactly what’s wrong, the vet may recommend a specific treatment to deal with any fungal, parasitic, or bacterial issues on your pet turtle. If the white stuff is just skin shed then it can commonly be shed naturally without needing any specific treatments.

Some vets may recommend a warm water bath to heal eat some of the tough shed off your turtle though but this is usually not required in turtles as it is in some other reptiles.


That brings our article going over if turtles get ick or not to an end and we hope that we have been able to help you. Although there have been countless reports from turtle owners over the last few years that their turtle has “ick”, it will be some other form of issue and traditional ick treatments that are designed for treating the issue in fish will usually do little to nothing to treat a breakout in your turtle. As we have explained above, there are turtle specific treatments for any potential problems but for the most part, you will commonly find that it is simply skin shed that is stubborn and has not came off your turtle naturally yet.