Guppy Pregnancy: Why Gravel?

why are my female guppies staying at the gravel

Guppies are typically energetic and active fish, so it can be concerning when you notice your female guppies staying at the gravel. There are several reasons why this might be happening, including:

- Pregnancy: Female guppies tend to rest at the bottom of the tank when they are pregnant, seeking comfort and security.

- Health issues: Guppies may stay at the gravel due to sickness, such as swim bladder disease, ich (white spot disease), fin rot, or other bacterial infections.

- Environmental factors: Poor water quality, extreme water temperature, or incompatible tank mates can cause stress and discomfort, leading guppies to stay at the gravel.

- Age: Older guppies may experience a decrease in energy and rest more frequently, which could explain why they are staying at the gravel.

- Comfortable substrate: Providing too much comfort in the aquarium, such as a smooth substrate, can make guppies lazy and prefer staying at the gravel.

Characteristics Values
Lack of oxygen Oxygen deficiency
Pregnancy Swollen belly, preference to hide
Sickness Swim bladder disease, white spot, fin rot, mouth fungus, dropsy, internal bacterial infections
Poor water parameters High levels of toxins such as ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates
Extreme water temperature Water too cold or too hot
Incompatible tank mates Aggressive or incompatible species
Ageing Loss of fertility, higher chances of complications in pregnancy, loss of appetite



As the pregnancy progresses, female guppies' bellies become larger and more rounded, and their colour may darken. A noticeable sign of pregnancy is the appearance of a gravid spot – a darkened area near the guppy's anal vent. As the guppy nears delivery, this spot may become more pronounced, and the eyes of the fry may even be visible within the mother's transparent tummy.

To care for a pregnant guppy, it is important to minimise stress and provide a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods. Using a breeding box can help safeguard the pregnant guppy and her fry, but it may also cause stress, so the time spent in the box should be minimised.

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Stress from tank mates

Guppies are typically peaceful fish, but they can be vulnerable to bullying from more aggressive tank mates. Therefore, it is crucial to select companions that mirror their gentle nature to ensure a stress-free habitat.

Guppies are quick, but it is better not to keep them with fish that might cause them harm. Guppies are known to occasionally nip fins, so avoid stocking them with long-finned fish.

When it comes to choosing tank mates for guppies, it is important to consider size, temperament, and environmental needs. Ideal companions should be non-aggressive and thrive in similar water conditions. Ensure that the chosen species won't compete excessively for food or dominate tank spaces.

  • Angelfish
  • Tiger bars
  • Cichlids
  • Barbs
  • Killifish
  • Flowerhorn fish
  • Oscar Fish
  • Goldfish

Additionally, big fish can eat little fish, and guppies are tiny. Avoid any tank mates that might see your guppies as a snack.

To reduce the chances of stress and disease and promote overall well-being in the community tank, it is important to carefully select tank mates that are compatible with guppies in terms of size, temperament, water parameters, dietary needs, and swimming zone preference.


Lack of oxygen

Guppies require oxygenated water to survive. They breathe by pumping water through their gills, which extracts the oxygen from the water. Guppies staying at the gravel may indicate a lack of oxygen in the tank.

A lack of oxygen in the tank can be caused by poor air circulation, which could be due to low-quality pump or filter motors. This can be fixed by adding an air stone to the middle of the tank to improve air circulation and increase oxygen levels. Regularly cleaning and maintaining filters can also help to optimise their function and provide sufficient oxygen.

Other signs of oxygen deficiency in the tank include:

  • Most of the fish in the tank swim at the top.
  • There are no bubbles in the tank.
  • Guppies are breathing fast and moving their mouths rapidly.
  • Guppies are producing more bubbles than usual.

If guppies are not getting enough oxygen, they will swim to the top of the tank, where the water is more oxygenated due to direct contact with the air. Therefore, it is important to address the issue of oxygen deficiency promptly to ensure the health and well-being of the guppies.

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Incompatible tank mates

Guppies are known for their vibrant colours and lively nature, and they thrive when paired with compatible tank mates. However, incompatible tank mates can lead to stressed, threatened, or bullied guppies. This stress can cause abnormal behaviours such as hiding, erratic swimming, or staying at the bottom of the tank.

When choosing tank mates for guppies, it is important to consider size compatibility, temperament compatibility, water parameters compatibility, dietary needs, and swimming zone preference. Guppies are typically 1.5 to 2.5 inches in adulthood, so it is important to choose tank mates of similar sizes to ensure harmonious coexistence and prevent potential threats. Guppies are also non-aggressive, so it is important to select companions with a similar temperament to ensure a serene and stress-free habitat.

In terms of specific fish to avoid keeping with guppies, it is best to avoid known fin-nibblers, such as Tiger Barbs or Red-Tailed Shark, and fish that grow too big in comparison to guppies, such as Angelfish. It is also important to avoid aggressive species, as guppies are vulnerable to bullying from more aggressive tank mates. Additionally, avoid keeping guppies with larger predatory fish that may see them as a snack.

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Old age

To care for ageing guppies, it is recommended to set up a separate shallow fish tank with gentle water flow and optimal water parameters. Adding soft plants and smooth substrates can make their movement easier, and regular feeding with nutritious, high-quality food is essential.

Frequently asked questions

Female guppies often stay at the bottom of the aquarium when they are pregnant, creating the misconception that they are unwell. They may be seeking a comfortable spot to deliver their fry.

A swollen belly and a preference to hide are signs of a pregnant guppy. The female guppy's body will also become rounded, and a dark gravid spot will appear near the tail.

Provide hiding spots such as rocks, caves, plants, and driftwood in the aquarium. You may also consider transferring the female guppy to a breeding tank so that she can give birth peacefully.

Guppies may stay at the bottom of the tank due to a variety of factors, including sickness, poor water quality, extreme water temperature, stress from tank mates, or old age.

Quarantine the guppy in a hospital tank and treat the water in the community tank with proper medication. Improve water quality by performing regular water changes and ensuring optimal water temperature and lighting conditions. Provide hiding spots and compatible tank mates to reduce stress.

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