Guppies are a small, freshwater species of fish known for being lithe, sociable, and friendly. However, they can jump to heights fairly impressive for a fish of their size.
Guppies can jump anywhere as high as 30cm (12”) to 40cm (15”) and have been spotted jumping even higher than this on occasion. However, by keeping conditions stable and the tank closed, you can negate the issues with these leaping fish as much as possible.
In this article, I’ll cover some more about the jumping behaviour of guppies. I’ll explain why fish jump, if guppies are likely to jump out of their tanks, and what you can do to help prevent this.
Why Do Fish Jump?
Fish jump for a variety of reasons, including water conditions, natural inhibitions, or because they’re influenced by the behaviour of other fish. If you find that your guppies, or any of your other fish are jumping out of their tank, it may be due to any of these factors.
If you suspect that the water in your guppy’s tank has an issue, you can always do a partial water change. There are many instances where you would benefit from replacing up to a third of the water in your tank. This is also a good supporting solution and can be used alongside a number of the other below methods:
- Ammonia levels: If fish have died recently, or there’s a surplus of excess food floating around the tank, an ammonia spike may occur. This is when the amount of ammonia in the water exceeds the habitable amount. To reduce ammonia levels, remove any unnecessary organic matter, including dead fish, dead plants, food, and visible waste.
- Temperature: Fish can only survive comfortably in certain temperature ranges. Most common guppy breeds can survive in a variety of temperatures, but the tank is the most homely around 21 – 25°C (70 – 77°F). If your tank is too hot or too cold, your fish will likely try to escape.
- pH levels: Guppies thrive best in 7.5 pH level. Use a pH testing kit to determine the acidity of your tank, and use an adjustment kit to increase or decrease the level accordingly.
- Water quality: The water in your tank should be relatively clear and free of debris. Guppies tend to be more easily accustomed to water quality than other, more picky fish. Make sure substrate, gravel, food, and waste are not obstructing the view of your tank, and your guppies should have no issues.
The Behaviour of Other Fish in the Tank.
If your guppies are too crowded, or if the other fish are aggressive, it may cause undue stress and disease, ultimately leading to them trying to jump out. Keep a close eye on your other fish, and make sure they have enough space.
The food in the tank should be a reasonable amount. If your fish aren’t being fed enough, they may try to escape. In addition, if you are feeding your guppies quite often, monitor the amount of food being eaten. You may find that your fish are leaving food uneaten, which may make conditions undesirable. Ideally, when you feed your fish, they should have eaten everything within 3 minutes. If there is still a lot of food left after that time, you are overfeeding them. However, if they eat the food you give them super quickly, and they are still darting around the tank looking for any leftovers, the chances are you aren’t feeding them enough.
The Fish’s Natural Instincts.
Some fish are, unfortunately, more likely to jump than others. Among these are guppies, who, although not as eager to take the leap as, say, danios, may jump out of the water even with perfect living conditions. This does not indicate that a fish has emotions complex enough to determine if and why it should jump.
Will Guppies Jump Out of the Tank?
Guppies will possibly jump out of the tank. They’re one of the more active fish breeds, and some owners have reported their guppies making a jump for freedom. They will jump less often if the conditions are good, but they still carry a slight flight risk.
Compatible Environments for Guppies.
If your guppies are surrounded by similarly active fish and a tank with many adornments, they may feel less stressed and less likely to jump. Use your own judgement to determine if your fish seem like they are eating and swimming normally. If they are active, and not showing any signs of stress, then they are probably pretty content with where they are.
Can Guppies Live in an Open Tank?
Guppies cannot live in an open tank in case they jump out. The tank lid must be tightly fastened at all times to prevent any from escaping. Guppies tend to swim at the surface or in the middle of the tank, fairly close to the top of the water, and are prone to dangers if the tank isn’t lidded.
Back in 2013, a biologist by the name of Daphne De Freitas Soares, studied guppies and their jumping habits, after witnessing a guppy jump out of a tank and onto the lid of her iced chai drink!
She basically set a speed camera up to film what the guppies did, and concluded that guppies plan to jump out, rather than it being a spontaneous action, and that they were able to jump up to 8 times their body length.
More details on her study can be found here.
What to do if your Fish Jumps out of the Tank.
If you find one of your fish on the floor, then the chances are they have jumped out of the tank. That is, if you don’t have a lid.
If you do have a lid on your fish tank, you need to start questioning family members, or have a quiet word with the cat.
If the fish feels dry and looks pale and rigid with its eyes glazed over, you are too late. You will need to dispose of it correctly and cover your fish tank so no one else gives it a go! I wrote a helpful article on what to do if your fish dies, which you may want to have a look at.
If your fishy jumper is still wet and is moving, the chances are he has jumped only a minute or two ago so there is a chance he might make it. Set up a separate tank. If you don’t have a hospital tank, then a bucket will do for the short term. The most important thing is to get him back in water. Take some of the water from your tank to put into the bucket. I would advise you not to put him back into the tank with your other fish until you are happy he is ok. Hopefully, the chances are he is just in shock and will be ok after a few minutes back in the water.
Like many other fish, guppies are capable of leaping out of their fish tank when the mood takes them. Anecdotal experience from fish owners suggests that guppies are certainly capable of jumping, and at quite a decent height. However, by keeping your guppies happy and healthy, you can reduce the risk of unsafe jumping. Keeping a lid on your tank is the best way to ensure they remain unharmed by their own adventurous behaviour.
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