You are here:

Reptiles/Sideways Floating and Swimming Turtle



I have a baby Yellow Bellied Slider. He had an eye infection 10 days  ago and has just completed treatment today. I noticed this morning when i moved him to his feeding tank that he was floating and swimming sideways (with the left side elevated). I attempted to feed him this evening as normal but he did not eat anything. He swam around and surfaced several times for air. I have NOT heard any difficult or weird breathing sound and I do NOT notice any other signs that an infection is present. I change out about 1/3 of his water daily (and use de-cholorinator) and constantly monitor the temperature of the tank.  I am very concerned about him floating and swimming with his body tilted sideways. Please HELP!!!!

Thank you,

Concerned Turtle Mom


I'm so sorry I didn't see this question sooner. I'm in the middle of moving, and I didn't have internet access for the past week.

It is very difficult to know what might be causing the unilateral movement and swimming. It is most likely a neurological problem that could have been from the infection, or from the antibiotic treatment. A veterinarian would might be able to diagnose the specific cause, but with a small turtle, the diagnostic options are limited.

I hope your baby is doing better, and that the situation resolved itself. I"m sorry I cannot be of more help.

All the best



All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Jennifer C Parnell


I can answer questions about health, diet, behavior, housing requirements, common illnesses, and general husbandry of most reptiles. My answers are not a substitute for veterinary care. If I don't feel confident about answering your question, I can generally point you to someone who can answer it, or advise you to seek veterinary help.


My father is a licensed veterinarian for 40+ years. He specialties include venomous American snakes, reptiles, rodents, primates, dogs, cats, goats, geese. I grew up assisting him and have always maintained rescued, injured, or unwanted reptiles. I'm familiar with snakes, most common lizards, turtles, terrapins and tortoises. I'm also familiar with Bearded Dragons and currently have several.

veterinary technician wildlife biology

©2017 All rights reserved.