My Turtle Keeps Swimming Against the Glass Understanding Unusual Behavior

Why Does My Turtle Keep Swimming Into the Glass?

Turtles keep swimming against the glass for many reasons. For example, they swim against the glass walls and sometimes bump into them when they feel suffocated in a small tank. Also, when the water parameters are against their requirements or they are curious about something, they swim against the aquarium walls restlessly. Sometimes, they are ill and stressed out. That’s why they do it.

My turtle keeps swimming against the Glass – what to do now? Why does my turtle keep swimming against the glass? How can I stop him from doing this? You know these are the most frequently asked queries from turtle aquarists and lovers. That’s why I will address all the reasons behind your turtle’s non-stop swimming behavior against the glass.

Let’s dig it up and dive deeper into the turtle’s world!

My turtle keeps swimming against the glass

There could be many reasons why your turtle keeps swimming against the glass. Sometimes, they hit the aquarium glass or swim against it. They are sensitive reptiles. Something might happen to them that causes them to swim against the tank glass.

Here are a few possible reasons why a turtle keeps swimming against the glass:

1.Your Turtle Saw Reflection:

Let’s see what my Quora Digest colleague states about it:

“Mostly, it happens with the wild turtle that they perceive their own reflection as another turtle in the glass. As you know, the tank’s glass is just like a foreign object for a wild turtle; they mistakenly try to interact with their own reflection. There might be something else outside of the glass that they are trying to get or interact with that thing.”

As turtles are clever creatures, they quickly learn that it’s just a reflection of themselves or anything else. Then, they don’t try to hit the glass or swim against the tank wall because they quickly learn that this action might hurt them. Still, if they are doing this, there could be another reason why they are swimming against the glass.

2.Confused with the Glass:

Turtles get confused easily with the glass. My turtle keeps swimming against the glass because it thinks there is another turtle with whom it’s floating. However, if it gets the fact that there is no other fellow in the mirror, it might get perplexed. Sometimes, they do not recognize that the glass is a barrier for them. As a result, it bumps into it.

So, they might be confused with the wall. They also get scared due to the sudden environmental change. That’s why they try repeatedly to escape the tank and miss their old habitat. They change this behavior after a few weeks and stop trying to escape.

3.To Find a Stress-Free Environment:

Turtles are sensitive creatures that go into a stressful mood very quickly. That’s why the turtle keeps swimming against the glass and trying to get out of the water. They intentionally try to bump on the tank walls. Actually, they are trying to find a possible way to come out of stress while escaping from the aquarium.

Turtles are always conscious of their health and always seek a stress-free environment. But you know, sometimes the environment is not the reason for their stress. The causes of their focus could be one of the following:

  • So many people are wandering around them.
  • Many people are handling them.
  • Loud music or noise around them.

Thus, there could be external reasons (out of the tank), not just internal ones, that cause stress.

4.Turtle’s Curiosity:

As I have mentioned, turtles are clever creatures; they are always curious about their new environment. They try to find out what’s happening outside the tank. Their curiosity often injured them while trying to swim or bounce against the tank walls.

Not just this, but your pet turtle could be curious about what you are doing outside the tank. They want to indulge in your work or what other pets are doing in their habitat. Thus, their curious behavior is pretty harmless. You don’t need to worry about their curiosity level. They are just actively doing what they want to do.

5.Turtle Wants Attention:

Turtles are attention seekers. You can call them social animals just like us or just like fishes. As a result, they try to explore. Meanwhile, turtles try to interact with other fellows and even with their aquarists or other humans.

When they get bored due to their daily routine, they try to get attention. So, they swim against the glass. That’s why it is always recommended to spend some pet time with your turtles, too.

6.Inadequate Water Conditions:

Turtles are happy when the water parameters and temperature are proper. They get stressed when water conditions are not suitable for them. Ultimately, they try to escape from the tank and find a place that gives them comfortable water conditions.

Turtles are cold-blooded. Their water conditions must be fulfilled. Although their water temperature varies based on a specific turtle species, the general water temperature is between 75 to 85 °F. Most of the time, water is cold in the tank. Therefore, turtles try to find a bit warmer water.

Pro Tip: You can fix the water temperature for your turtle with the help of changing the temperature of the water heater. Don’t forget to check the temperature daily. Otherwise, you’ll keep complaining, “My turtle keeps swimming against the glass.”

Moreover, don’t forget to check the basking temperature. It must be between 85 to 90 °F. Remember that a too-low or too-high basking temperature urges them to swim against the glass. To fix the basking temperature, you can fix a UV light. However, don’t place this bulb too close to the tank. It can burn the turtle accidentally.

7.Lack of Proper Food:

Food is the first and foremost element for the growth of turtles. They need a proper nutritional diet like protein, calcium, and other nutrients to fight against diseases. As they are omnivorous creatures, their diet is super easy.

So, this is another reason your turtle keeps swimming against the glass. They try to find food outside the glass tank if they don’t get enough nutritional diet inside the tank. But how much food is enough for them? A bowl the size of their head must be full of brim. It’s enough for turtles. You can read about “Can turtles eat mushrooms” here.

My turtle keeps swimming in the corner

The turtle keeps swimming in the corner due to the following possible reasons:

  • Smaller Tank:

Freedom-seeker turtles don’t like small enclosures. They always hustle and bustle to explore the world and swim in open water. That’s why smaller tanks are not good enough to keep turtles.

You know 55 to 100 gallons of water is an average-sized tank for most turtle species. Moreover, they also require decorations in their tank to feel at ease and peace. So, keep your turtles in a big tank.

  • The Turtle is Sick or Injured:

This is another reason we cannot ignore. Check if your turtle is sick or injured. Also, check if there is an aggressive tank mate who’s trying to hurt the turtle. They could also get injured while bumping into the walls of the container and get a disease.

So, turtles start swimming erratically when they are sick or injured. Usually, you can observe the following symptoms, too, along with inaccurate swimming behavior:

  • Lethargy
  • Swollen ears
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Lack of appetite

Immediately take the turtle to your vet to check their health. Their shells may be damaged due to constant bangs against the tank walls. 

Why is my turtle swimming frantically?

Apart from the reasons mentioned above, the turtle keeps swimming frantically due to the pregnancy if the turtle is female. Female turtles keep bumping into the tank walls or start swimming against the glass if she’s pregnant. She could get pregnant without a male turtle. But, a female turtle needs a male to fertilize eggs.

The females not only start swimming frantically but also show several other behaviors, such as:

  • Stops eating
  • Stops basking
  • Change basking patterns

So, female turtles become restless because they need land to lay eggs, not water. That’s why she tries to get out of the water. You cannot do anything in this situation except diagnose with the help of a vet. Once the female lays eggs, she’ll become normal. I hope your question, “Why is my turtle swimming frantically?” gets the right solution.


  1. Why does my turtle keep swimming towards me?

If proper food is not given to turtles, they keep swimming towards you. They think you are their food source (you are the only one who can provide them with food). Don’t forget to check out “Do turtles eat chicken?”

  1. Why does my turtle keep scratching the tank?

Turtles keep scratching the tank due to the following reasons:

  • Their shell gets infections.
  • The hormonal changes cause the production of cortisol. This stress hormone is released when the body’s hormones change. It results in their aggressive scratching behavior.
  • They are involved in tank scratching behavior if they do not find any hidden places to escape from exposure to light and humans. They need peaceful, secret places to hide.
  1. How do you calm a stressed turtle?

Build a safe zone in the habitat of a turtle. So, whenever they feel threatened, they can hide in that safe zone. This is the best way to calm a stressed turtle.

  1. Is it normal for my turtle to swim to the wall of the aquarium?

Yes. According to many Reddit fellows, it is normal sometimes. If you don’t recognize the exact reason behind this behavior, they are simply exercising. They love to dive and emerge from a designated area. Also, they do so out of excitement.


So, “Why does my turtle keep trying to escape the tank?” is not a mystery anymore. Most of the time, turtles burst out due to the new habitat or dull environment of their aquarium. This behavior is bad for their mental and physical health. More importantly, their shells can become thin, weak, and brittle due to constant bumps and rubbing against the glass. Therefore, there are many consequences behind this bad behavior of the turtle.

You can prevent the turtle from swimming against the glass by providing them with a bigger tank. Also, decorate their tank and make the glass disappear by masking it. Lastly, give them time and properly care for your turtle. Hopefully, you get enough reasons why your turtle keeps hitting the tank walls. Plus, what can you do to stop them from doing this?

You can read the following articles to get more information about turtle’s lives: