Guppy Mouth Openings: A Fatal Mystery

why are my guppies dying with their mouth open

Guppies are tropical fish that are popular among aquarium owners due to their vibrant colours and peaceful nature. However, despite being very hardy, guppies can sometimes be seen dying with their mouths open. There are several reasons why this might happen, including poor water quality, high ammonia levels, and diseases such as mouth rot or columnaris.

Poor water quality is the most common reason for guppy deaths. Guppies are sensitive to water temperature and oxygen levels, and tap water contains chlorine which is deadly to them. Over time, the water can become polluted with waste and uneaten food, leading to high ammonia levels which can be fatal.

In some cases, guppies may be affected by diseases such as mouth rot or columnaris, which can cause their mouths to become stuck open. These diseases are often treated with antibiotics or commercial products designed to treat cotton mouth.

To prevent guppy deaths, it is important to maintain good water quality through regular water changes, control population size to prevent overcrowding, and quarantine new fish before adding them to the tank.

Characteristics Values
Cause of death Mouth fungus, mouth rot, or a new disease
Water quality Poor, contaminated with chlorine, or high levels of ammonia
Water temperature Too cold or too warm
Overcrowding Lack of oxygen
Guppy genetics Poor, bought from big pet stores
Diseases and parasites Ick (white spots), velvet (gold dust), fin rot, and flukes


Poor water quality

  • Regularly test and maintain the water parameters, such as nitrate and nitrite levels, pH levels, and temperature. The ideal water temperature for guppies is between 72-82°F (22-28°C).
  • Perform regular water changes to remove toxins and waste buildup. It is recommended to change about 15-25% of the water once a week.
  • Ensure proper filtration and maintenance of the tank, including cleaning the tank, substrate, and equipment at least once a month.
  • Avoid overfeeding, as uneaten food can lead to water contamination. Provide a balanced diet with high-quality tropical fish flakes and live food supplements.
  • Quarantine new fish before introducing them to the main tank to prevent the spread of diseases.
  • Provide a stress-free environment with adequate hiding places and plants to reduce anxiety and improve the mental and physical health of guppies.


Lack of oxygen

Guppies are hardy fish and easy to take care of, but sometimes they can suddenly die. Dying with their mouths open could be a result of a lack of oxygen in the water. Guppies breathe through their gills, and when there is a lack of oxygen in the water, they will swim with their mouths open to allow more water to enter their mouths and pass through their gills, helping them absorb more oxygen.

A deficiency of oxygen in the water will cause guppies to become stressed and prone to various diseases and parasites. They will also exhibit strange swimming behaviour, such as swimming at the top of the tank and gasping for air at the water's surface.

To prevent oxygen deficiency, it is important to ensure proper aeration of the water. This can be achieved by adding an air pump to the tank and creating water movement with a filter or air stone. Live aquatic plants can also help increase oxygen levels in the water. Regular water changes are crucial to maintaining good water quality and preventing oxygen depletion. Aim for a weekly water change of at least 35%.

In addition to oxygen deficiency, guppies may also die due to poor water conditions, high levels of stress, or an ammonia spike. Poor water conditions can be caused by dirty water, dead plants or fish, excess algae, and waste production. This can lead to an increase in harmful toxins such as ammonia, which can burn the gills and body of guppies, affecting their breathing and making them susceptible to diseases and parasites.

Stress can be caused by various factors, including poor water conditions, unstable water temperature, the presence of aggressive fish, lack of hiding spots, irregular food supply, and irregular maintenance of the aquarium. It is important to provide a stable water temperature, adequate hiding places, and a peaceful environment for guppies to reduce stress levels.

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Tap water

To treat tap water, you can use a water conditioner such as Seachem Prime or API TAP WATER CONDITIONER. These products eliminate chlorine, chloramine, and other harmful chemicals.

It is also important to perform regular water changes to maintain good water quality and prevent ammonia spikes. Poor water quality and ammonia spikes can lead to guppies dying with their mouths open due to oxygen deficiency and gill damage.

In addition to water quality, other factors such as high levels of stress, inadequate water parameters, and unstable water temperature can contribute to guppies dying.

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Ammonia levels

Guppies are hardy and easy to care for, but they can be very sensitive to ammonia levels in their environment. Ammonia is produced by fish waste, uneaten food, dead fish, and dirty filters and substrates. High ammonia levels are very harmful and often fatal to guppies.

Ammonia burns will lead to death, albeit at a slower rate than instant death caused by high ammonia levels. Guppies can also be affected by ammonia spikes without dying, which can cause them to gasp for air at the water's surface with their mouths open.

To prevent ammonia-related issues, it is important to maintain good water quality and perform regular water changes. Water changes of at least 35% should be done weekly to keep the water clean and ensure good water conditions. It is also crucial to monitor nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia levels, keeping nitrate below 25ppm and nitrite and ammonia at 0ppm.

In addition to water changes, a good filtration system and live aquatic plants can help keep the water safe from harmful toxins like ammonia and nitrite.

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Additionally, overcrowding can heighten competition for food and space. Guppies may not get enough nourishment if they have to compete with other fish, leading to malnutrition and stunted growth. The lack of hiding places and increased aggression among fish can further add to their stress.

To prevent these issues, it is essential to provide a suitable environment for your guppies. This includes ensuring adequate tank size, maintaining optimal water conditions, providing hiding places, and regularly monitoring water parameters such as oxygen levels, waste products, and pH. Taking these steps can help reduce the chances of guppies dying due to overcrowding and its associated complications.

Frequently asked questions

This could be a case of mouth rot, a bacterial infection caused by the Chondrococcus columnaris bacterium. It is fatal if not treated early.

You can treat mouth rot with broad-spectrum antibiotics. It is also recommended to use medication that targets gram-negative bacteria.

To prevent mouth rot, you should maintain good water quality and regularly clean your tank. You should also quarantine new fish and plants for at least two weeks before introducing them to your established tank.

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