Guppies: Bottom-Resting Behaviour Explained

why are my guppies laying on the bottom

Guppies are typically active swimmers, so it can be concerning when they are found laying at the bottom of the tank. There are numerous reasons why this might be happening, from harmless to serious. For instance, guppies may be resting or sleeping at the bottom of the tank, which is normal behaviour. However, it could also be indicative of distress, caused by environmental, health-related, or behavioural factors.

If your guppy is laying on the substrate and not moving much, it is likely unwell or injured. This could be due to poor water quality, inadequate water parameters, or aggressive tank mates. Additionally, guppies may lay at the bottom of the tank when they are pregnant or about to give birth, as they seek quiet and secluded spots.

To address this issue, it is important to monitor water parameters, ensure proper water temperature, check for tank overcrowding, and provide sufficient oxygenation and hiding places. If none of these measures work, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian to check for any underlying diseases or health issues.

Characteristics Values
Reasons Pregnancy, stress, poor water quality, inadequate water parameters, disease, injury, aggressive tank mates, bullying, overcrowded tank, lack of oxygen, spike in ammonia levels, resting, sleeping
Behavioural Indications Prolonged resting or laying on the tank bottom, lack of appetite, listlessness, erratic swimming patterns, duller coloration, gasping at the surface, hiding, frequent resting in one spot
Guppy Behaviour Active swimmers, vibrant social interactions, dynamic and consistent movement, rarely staying still for long
Water Quality High levels of toxins such as ammonia, nitrites and nitrates can cause stress, disease or death
Water Temperature Guppies are tropical freshwater fish that thrive in warmer temperatures between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit
Lighting Abrupt changes in light patterns can startle guppies, causing them to retreat to the bottom
Tank Setup Inadequate substrate, hiding spots, and overall arrangement can cause discomfort and impact guppy behaviour
Diet Overfeeding or an improper diet can lead to health issues and impact guppy behaviour
Age Older guppies may rest more frequently and experience a loss of buoyancy, which can result in resting at the bottom of the tank


Guppies may be sleeping or resting

Guppies are generally active swimmers, displaying vibrant social interactions and lively behaviour. However, they do sleep, usually at night when the lights are off. Guppies do not have eyelids, so they sleep with their eyes open. They may sleep at the bottom of the tank, on the gravel, or near plant decorations.

Guppies are diurnal fish, meaning they sleep at night and are active during the day. They prefer to sleep when it is dark, so they will usually sleep when the lights in the tank are off. Guppies can also sleep during the day if the room is dark.

Guppies sleep for around 6-8 hours, which aligns with the natural light cycle of day and night, mimicking their natural habitat's lighting conditions. Maintaining a natural light cycle in the tank is important for their health, as constant illumination can cause health issues and excessive algae growth.

To ensure proper sleep conditions for guppies, manage the tank lighting, avoid excessively bright external lights, and provide hiding spots. It is also important to ensure compatibility with tank mates to prevent disturbances during sleep. Guppies feel more secure if they have places to hide when they feel scared or stressed.

Guppies may be sleeping if they are motionless, with slower breathing, and stationary behaviour during dark hours. They may be floating near the top of the tank or resting on the substrate or gravel at the bottom of the tank. They may also twitch or flick their fins occasionally while sleeping.

If you are unsure whether your guppy is sleeping or dead, check for vital signs such as gill movement, eye movement, and response to being scooped out with a net. A dead guppy will show no movement, while a sleeping guppy may twitch or flick its fins. However, if a guppy remains completely still even when the lights are turned on, it may be dead.


Poor water quality

Guppies are susceptible to various diseases, which can be caused by poor water conditions. These include Ich or White Spot Disease, Guppy Disease, Fin Rot, Swim Bladder Disease, and Columnaris (mouth fungus). Poor water quality can also lead to stress, which in turn can weaken the immune system of guppies, making them more prone to diseases.

To ensure good water quality, it is important to regularly test and maintain the correct levels of pH, ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. The water temperature should also be monitored and kept within the ideal range of 72-82°F for guppies. Regular water changes and tank maintenance are crucial to prevent toxin accumulation and ensure optimal water quality.

Additionally, providing a proper filtration system is necessary to keep the water clean and healthy for guppies. It is recommended to replace half of the filter media when it turns brown, as this will remove harmful bacteria without eliminating the beneficial bacteria that aid in waste breakdown.

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Inadequate water parameters

Guppies are susceptible to various diseases, many of which can cause unusual behaviour such as resting at the bottom of the tank. Poor water quality is one of the main stressors that can cause guppies to act differently. They may become sluggish, lose their appetite, show signs of illness, and remain at the bottom.

If your guppy stays at the bottom of the tank and doesn’t move, you should measure your water parameters as one of the first things you do. Use a reliable test kit to measure pH, ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. Make sure they’re all at the correct levels.

The ideal pH range for guppies is between 6.8 to 7.8. pH is a measure of the number of hydrogen ions present in the aquarium water. pH range 7 is considered neutral. If the pH of the water is less than 7, it is considered acidic, and if it is more than 7, it is considered basic.

The ideal water hardness for guppies is dGH 8-12. Water hardness measures the calcium and magnesium ions in the water. Calcium and magnesium are essential for the proper growth and development of guppies.

The ideal KH for guppies is 4 to 8 dKH or 70 to 140 PPM. KH stands for carbonate hardness and measures the carbonate and bicarbonate ions in the water. KH acts as a buffer for pH swings or spikes.

Ammonia is very harmful to guppies. Even a slight level of ammonia can lead to the death of the fish in your tank. You should always make sure that your tank doesn’t contain any ammonia.

Guppies can be kept in a wide range of temperatures that will directly impact their lifespan and rate of reproduction. The ideal temperature range for guppies is between 72° to 82° Fahrenheit (22° to 28° Celsius). Guppies are tropical freshwater fish and need warmer temperatures in the fish tank.

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  • Monitor for physical symptoms: One of the most obvious signs of pregnancy in guppies is a belly bulge. The female guppy's belly will gradually get bigger over time, and when she is very large and has a boxy appearance, it indicates that she is close to delivery. Another sign to look out for is the gravid spot, a dark triangular spot near the guppy's vent that appears when she is carrying fry.
  • Observe behavioural indications: Pregnant guppies may exhibit certain behaviours such as swimming in place, hiding, or displaying aggressive behaviours like fin nipping. They may also rub themselves against objects in the tank and exhibit body contractions as they prepare to give birth.
  • Minimise stress: It is important to minimise stress for a pregnant guppy, as a stressful environment can lead to the absorption of babies or a miscarriage. Try to create a calm and peaceful environment for the mother guppy.
  • Use a breeding box: While breeding boxes or net breeders can be useful for isolating pregnant guppies and providing a safe space for giving birth, they can also cause stress. It is recommended to keep the pregnant guppy in the breeding box for as short a time as possible and to watch for symptoms of labour before placing her in the box.
  • Provide a well-balanced diet: During pregnancy, it is important to feed the guppy a variety of nutritious foods to ensure she doesn't develop any nutrient deficiencies. Alternate between regular flake food, tiny fish food pellets, algae discs, krill, bloodworms, or brine shrimp.
  • Maintain a clean tank: Regularly clean the tank to prevent the growth of bacteria, which can lead to diseases such as Ich. Use an Ich/Disease treatment in the water or apply aquarium salt as instructed to kill parasites.
  • Separate the babies: Once the babies have matured, they can be returned to the main tank or kept in a separate aquarium. Keep in mind that a tank cannot be overcrowded, as this can create stress and even cause adult guppies to eat their babies.
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Aggressive tank mates

If your guppies are in a community tank, it is important to keep an eye out for any signs of aggression, such as chasing or nipping, and separate the aggressors if necessary. Guppies are known for their peaceful temperament and prefer the company of similarly mild-mannered species. Suitable tank mates include tetras, mollies, platies, and small catfish. Non-aggressive bottom dwellers like dwarf corydoras and bristlenose plecos can also be a good match, as can aquatic snails and shrimp.

It is also important to ensure your tank has plenty of hiding spots, such as caves, plants, or decorations, to help guppies feel more secure and reduce their stress levels.

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