Two weeks ago I was doing routine tank maintenance. Since it was the first sunday of the month, I did a 100% water change and took the whole set-up apart to scrub everything. In the process, I stupidly broke the water heater and it cracked open. No way was I going to put in a cracked open glass heater in the turtle tank – the turtles might get electrocuted.

So anyway, the turtles still need their tank, so I filled it up with water anyway. To heat it up I turn the ceramic heat lamp on, and to make it quicker, I took a household room heater and pointed it at the turtle tank (it made a lot of noise, but better the water gets warm than the turts freeze).

The water was cold – 50 or 60 degrees, when the ideal red ear slider tank is around 75. I’m guessing the cold water caused the chinese algae eater to slown, slow enough for Rex to be able to kill and eat it. By the time I saw what had happened, Rex had already killed the fish and was already trying to swallow it. I grabbed my camera (which I keep next to the tank) and took some video and pictures.

Note: graphic content follows… The background noise you hear is the room heater blasting at the tank.

In the first video above, Rex is trying to swallow the CAE. It’s too big for him to swallow, that whenever he tries to swallow a little bit more, the fish pops out a bit. He keeps trying and eventually just lets the fish out as he goes to the surface for a breath of air. During most of the video, you can see my other RES, Cinderella, watching from across the tank divider wanting a piece of fish too.

This second video starts with Cinderella trying to reach the dead CAE from under the tank divider (cute!). Rex comes back down from the water surface and tries to eat the CAE again. He’s a lot smarter this time as he starts clawing at it. He manages to gut and skin it, while eating the rest of the fish.

A pic of Rex looking at the skinned CAE.

A pic of the gutted CAE.

This third video has Rex eating the rest of the CAE. He goes up for air again at the end. My camera’s storage card ran out of memory…

A pic of Rex looking for more fish bits. There are some guts seen in the photo – he doesn’t eat it and I eventually siphon it up.

The lesson in this: always have a back-up heater. Or get one that doesn’t get destroyed so easy. I managed to buy a really good one the day after…

Hope you enjoyed the videos and pictures!


  1. no problem…I don’t grow attached to any fish, since I know that if they get careless or are slowed down, they’ll get eaten.

    Cannibalism? Never heard of it with RES. But I have heard of a Diamond Back Terrapin found eating a tankmate RES. Not sure if the RES was killed or died naturally….

  2. My 14mth old RES which was 3″ long at the time also ate the algae eater [a 5″ peppermint plecostamus] in his tank after 3 weeks of seeming indifference. He seemed to be ignoring it mostly and then one day I checked the tank and couldn’t find it. All I did eventually find was the outer back skin and the inner spine. Everything else was eaten. I was a llitle upset b/c I had kinda gotten attached to it and it was a very expensive feeder fish. He does love his feeder fish 🙂 In his tank fish are food, not friends.

  3. Whoa, that’s a big fish for a small turtle!!

    When I put fish in with turtles, I don’t even give them names anymore – I don’t want to grow attached to them…

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