Tegu lizards are fascinating exotic pets that require a balanced diet of animal and plant matter to stay healthy.
While insects, rodents, and fruits and vegetables are commonly included in their diet, some tegu owners may prefer for a seafood-based diet.
As a matter of fact, tegus can eat most types of fish safely, but there are a few things you should know before feeding it to your pet.
Choosing the Right Varieties of Fish
When it comes to feeding your tegu fish, it’s important to choose the right varieties. Some fish contain an enzyme called thiaminase, which destroys a reptile’s stores of vitamin B1 (thiamin) over time, leading to thiamin deficiency, neurological damage, and even death if not caught in time.
Fish varieties that should be fed in moderation as they contain thiaminase include bass, catfish, goldfish, herring, mackerel, smelt, tuna, and whitefish.
Recommended fish varieties for tegus include freshwater fish like tilapia, cod, haddock and salmon.
However, it’s important to note that saltwater fish can contain mercury, which can be harmful to your pet if consumed in large amounts. If you decide to feed your tegu saltwater fish like tuna, be sure to do so in moderation.
|✅ Safe Fish (Species reported not to contain thiaminase)||❌Unsafe Fish (Species reported to contain thiaminase)|
|Ayu (Plecoglossus altivelis)||Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus)|
|Bass (largemouth) (Huro salmoides)||Anchovies (Anchoa hepsetus)|
|Bass (rock) (Ambloplites r. rupestris)||Anchovies (Engraulis mordax)|
|Bass (smallmouth) (Micropterus d. dolomieu)||Bass (white) (Lepibema chrysops)|
|Black backs (pseudopleuronectes americanus)||Black quahog (Artica islandica)|
|Bluegill (Lepomis m. macrochirus)||Bowfin (dogfish) (Amia calva)|
|Chub (bloater) (Coregonus hoyi)||Bream (Abramis brama)|
|Cod (Gadus morrhua)||Buckeye shiner (Notropus atherionoides)|
|Crappie (Pomoxis nigro-maculatus)||Buffalofish (Ictiobus cyprinellus)|
|Croaker (Micropogon undulatus)||Bull Head (Ameirurus m. melas)|
|Cunner (Tautogolabrus adspersus)||Burbot (Lota lota maculosa)|
|Cusk (Brosme brosme)||Burbot (Lota lota)|
|Cutlassfish (silver eel) (Trichiurus lepturus)||Butterfish (Poronotus triacanthus)|
|Dogfish (squalus acanthias)||Carp (Cyprinus carpio)|
|Eel (anguilla rostrata)||Catfish (channel) (Ictalurus laccustris punctatus)|
|Gar (northern longnose) (Lepisosteus osseus oxyurus)||Clams (chowder, steamer, cherrystone)|
|Haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus)||Fathead minnow (Primephales p. promelas)|
|Halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus)||Garfish (garpike)|
|Hake (Urophycis spp.)||Goldfish (Carassius auratus)|
|Herring (Leucichthys artedi areturus)||Herring (Baltic) (Clupea harengus var. membranus)|
|King whiting (ground whiting) (Menticirrhus americanus)||Herring (Clupea harengus)|
|Lemon sole (Psuedopleuronectes americanus dignabilis)||Lamprey (adult) (Petromyzon marintus)|
|Lizard Fish (Synodus foetens)||Mackerel (Scomber japonicas) (Pacific)|
|Mackerel (Scomber scombrus)||Menhaden (Brecoortia tyrannus)|
|Mullet (Mugil spp.)||Menhaden (large scale) (Brecoortia patronus)|
|Perch (yellow) (Perca flavescens)||Moray eel (Gymnothorax ocellatus)|
|Pike (northern) (Esox lucius)||Mussel (bigtoe) (Pluerobema cordatum)|
|Pike (wall-eyed) (stizostedion vitreum)||Razor belly (scaled sardine) (Harengula pensacolae)|
|Plaice (Canadian) (Hippoglossoides platessoides)||Sauger (Stizostedion c. canadense)|
|Pollock (Pollachitus virens)||Scallop (Placopecten grandis)|
|Porgy (scup) (Stenotomus aculeatus)||Sculpin (Myooxocephalus quadricornis thompsonii)|
|Porgy (scup) (Stenotomus chrysops)||Shad (gizzard) (Dorosoma cepedianum)|
|Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)||Shiner (spottail) (Notropis hudsonius)|
|Redfish (Sebastes marinus)||Smelt (freshwater) (Rainbow)(Osmerus mordax)|
|Salmon (Salmo salar)||Stoneroller (central) (Campostoma anomalum pullum)|
|Salmon (Coho) (Oncorhynchus kisutch)||Sucker (common white) (Catostomus c. commersonii)|
|Seabass (centropristis striatas)||White bass (Lepimbema chrysops)|
|Sea catfish (galeichthys felis)||Whitefish (Prosopium cylindraceum quadriaterale)|
|Sea robin (Prionotus spp.)||Whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis)|
|Smelt (pond) (Hypomesus olidus)|
|Spot (Leiostomus xanthurus)|
|Squid (Loligo brevis)|
|Tautog (blackfish) (Tautoga onitis)|
|Trout (brown) (Salmo trutta fario)|
|Trout (lake) (Christiconer n. namaycush)|
|Trout (rainbow) (Salmo gairdnerii irideus)|
|White trout (Cynoscion nothus)|
|White trout (Cynoscion avenarius)|
|Whiting (Merluccius bilinearis)|
Preparing the Fish for Your Tegu
When feeding your tegu fish, it’s best to choose fresh fish filets without bones or small whole fish. While feeding whole mice and chicks is fine, feeding large fish with bones can be a choking hazard for your tegu.
Additionally, it’s recommended to avoid farm-raised fish that may contain growth hormones.
To prepare the fish, cut it into small pieces and put it in warm water to get it to room temperature.
Sprinkle some calcium and vitamin powder on the fish before feeding to ensure your tegu gets all the necessary nutrients. You can also try feeding your tegu fish that has been cooked, as this neutralizes the thiaminase enzyme.
Moderation is Key
While fish can be a healthy addition to your tegu’s diet, it should only be fed occasionally as a treat or supplement to their regular diet.
Always monitor your tegu after feeding fish, and if you notice any signs of discomfort, such as vomiting or diarrhea, stop feeding it fish immediately and contact your veterinarian.
It’s also important to remember that fish should not be the primary source of protein in your tegu’s diet. While tegus are opportunistic eaters in the wild and will eat fish if it’s available, their primary diet consists of insects, rodents, and plant matter.
To ensure your tegu stays healthy, it’s important to provide a varied diet that includes all the necessary nutrients.
Tegus and Fish FAQs
Can tegus eat fish?
Yes, tegus can eat fish as part of their diet. Fish can provide a good source of protein and other nutrients for tegus. However, it’s important to choose the right types of fish and prepare them correctly before feeding them to your tegu.
Tegus can eat most types of fish safely, but some fish contain an enzyme called thiaminase which can destroy a reptile’s stores of vitamin B1 over time, leading to neurological damage and even death.
Fish that contain thiaminase include bass, catfish, goldfish, herring, mackerel, smelt, tuna, minnows and whitefish. Safer options for tegus include freshwater fish like catfish, tilapia, and salmon.
Can I feed raw fish to my tegu?
Yes, tegus can consume raw fish in their diet, as they do in the wild. However, it’s important to consider the potential risks of bacterial contamination from raw fish.
To minimize the risk, it’s recommended to source high-quality, fresh fish from a reputable supplier. Additionally, it’s important to monitor your tegu’s health closely for any signs of illness or digestive issues.
Should I feed whole fish with bones to my tegu?
Feeding whole fish with bones can provide important dietary benefits for tegus, such as natural sources of calcium and other minerals.
However, it’s important to consider the size and species of fish when selecting prey items for your tegu.
Larger fish with large bones can pose a choking hazard or cause digestive issues, while smaller fish may not provide adequate nutrition. Consult with a reptile veterinarian or experienced tegu keeper for advice on selecting appropriate prey items for your tegu’s diet.
What species of fish are recommended for feeding tegus?
Tegus can safely consume a variety of fish species, but it’s important to be aware of the potential risks of feeding fish that contain thiaminase. Fish species that contain thiaminase include bass, catfish, goldfish, herring, mackerel, minnows, smelt, tuna, and whitefish, and their consumption should be limited.
Some recommended species of fish for tegus include catfish, cod, tilapia, salmon, and tuna. However, it’s important to source high-quality, fresh fish and to monitor your tegu’s health closely when introducing new prey items to their diet.
Can I feed my tegu fish with the skin on?
Feeding fish with the skin on is generally safe for tegus, as long as the fish has been properly sourced and prepared. However, some tegus may be sensitive to certain types of fish skin, so it’s important to monitor your tegu’s health closely when introducing new prey items to their diet.
Can tegus eat salmon?
Yes, salmon can be a healthy addition to your tegu’s diet as it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. However, it’s important to choose high-quality, fresh salmon and to feed it in moderation as a treat or supplement to their regular diet.
It’s also recommended to monitor your tegu’s health closely after feeding salmon to ensure they do not experience any digestive issues or discomfort.
Can tegus eat tuna?
Tuna is unfortunately not one of the healthiest food choices for tegu, due to the content of both thiaminase and mercury.
It is still relatiely safe to eat, but consumption should be limited. If feeding canned tuna to tegus, choose low-sodium varieties without oil and rinse before serving.
Raw tuna can also be fed, but be cautious of bacterial contamination and source from a reputable supplier. Keep an eye on your tegu’s health and watch for any signs of illness or digestive issues.
PetsWithScales.com is an informational website about big lizard pet care. We collect and provide information from different sources across the web on how to keep and care for reptiles as pets. The species we mainly deal with are tegus, monitor lizards, skinks and geckos. Our aim is to provide high quality information to help pet owners make better, more informed decisions about their animal’s diets, health and life.