Guppies' Rock Rubbing Explained

why do guppies rub on rocks

Guppies are a popular choice for aquariums due to their colourful appearance and playful behaviour. However, one peculiar behaviour that often leaves owners concerned is their tendency to rub against rocks, gravel, and other objects in the tank. While this behaviour may seem odd, there are several reasons why guppies engage in it.

One of the primary reasons for guppies rubbing against rocks is the presence of external parasites such as ich, fish lice, and anchor worms. These parasites cause itching and irritation, leading guppies to rub against abrasive surfaces in an attempt to dislodge and relieve the discomfort. Poor water quality, including high levels of ammonia and nitrites, can also be a factor, as it can irritate the skin and gills of guppies, causing them to rub against rocks for relief.

Additionally, guppies may rub against rocks as a form of social behaviour to establish dominance or during their mating ritual to attract potential mates. It is also believed that guppies may use rubbing as a way to mark their territory, leaving behind a scent to signal to other fish.

While occasional rubbing is normal, excessive or constant rubbing may indicate an underlying health issue. Therefore, it is important for owners to monitor their guppies' behaviour and the water quality to ensure the health and well-being of these colourful fish.

Characteristics Values
Reason Parasites, skin shedding, itching, social behaviour, territorial behaviour, mating ritual, stress, infection, fluctuating water parameters, poor water quality, injury, heavy metal poisoning, ammonia poisoning
Action Provide good quality water, ensure adequate and stable water parameters, isolate new fish, wash tank decor items, treat water, perform water changes, add filtration system, add aquatic plants, monitor ammonia and nitrite levels, add hiding places, avoid overstocking, quarantine new fish, feed a balanced diet



Guppies are susceptible to parasitic infections, such as ich, white spot disease, fish lice, and gill fluke, which can cause itching and irritation on the skin. The parasites attach themselves to the fish's skin, causing discomfort and irritation, and the guppies rub against rocks or other abrasive surfaces to dislodge and remove them.

Ich, or white spot disease, is a common parasitic infection in guppies, characterised by white spots on the fish's body. It is often introduced to the tank by adding new fish, decorations, or invertebrates without proper quarantining and isolation. Poor water quality can also contribute to the development of ich and other parasites.

Guppies may exhibit excessive rubbing behaviour when infested with parasites, and it is important to seek advice from a veterinarian or experienced aquarium keeper to address the issue.

To prevent parasitic infections in guppies, it is recommended to isolate new fish and invertebrates for four to five weeks before introducing them to the main tank. Maintaining good water quality, including regular water changes, stable water parameters, and proper filtration, is also crucial for preventing parasite infestations.

Guppies: Lone Rangers of the Fish World

You may want to see also


Poor water quality

Guppies are typically easy to care for, but their owners can become concerned when they exhibit behaviours such as rubbing against rocks. Poor water quality is one of the main reasons for this.

Contaminated water can cause a spike in ammonia, which in turn elevates the pH level of the water. This makes the water highly acidic, affecting the guppies' gills and causing them to rub against rocks. Contaminated water can also lead to a lack of oxygen in the tank, causing the guppies to gasp for air at the water's surface. If left untreated, poor water quality can be life-threatening for guppies.

To prevent issues arising from poor water quality, it is important to provide guppies with good-quality water. This includes ensuring adequate and stable water parameters, such as a water temperature between 72-82 °F and a pH level between 6.7-7.8. It is also crucial to perform regular water changes of at least 35% of the tank's volume weekly and to treat the water with a conditioner to remove harmful chemicals. Additionally, a good filtration system and the use of live aquatic plants can help maintain water quality and increase oxygen levels.

By taking these preventive measures, guppy owners can ensure their fish remain healthy and happy, and reduce the risk of their guppies rubbing against rocks due to poor water quality.

Effective Ways to Treat an Injured Guppy

You may want to see also



Guppies are a popular choice for aquariums due to their colourful appearance and playful behaviour. However, they can be susceptible to stress, which may lead to them rubbing against rocks and other objects in their environment.

Causes of Stress in Guppies

  • Poor water quality: Unstable or inadequate water parameters, such as high ammonia levels or fluctuating pH, can induce stress.
  • Aggressive tankmates: Guppies may experience stress if they are bullied or harassed by aggressive fish in the same tank.
  • Lack of hiding spots: Guppies need places to hide and feel secure. A lack of plants, caves, or other decorations can lead to increased stress levels.
  • Pregnancy in female guppies: The stress of giving birth and the constant pursuit of males during spawning can be taxing on female guppies.
  • Irregular food supply: Guppies may become stressed if they are overfed, underfed, or fed an incorrect diet.
  • Overcrowding: Guppies need sufficient space to swim and establish their territory. Insufficient space can lead to stress and territorial behaviour.
  • Transport and new environments: Guppies may experience stress when transported or introduced to a new aquarium, such as during breeding or when purchased from a store.

Effects of Stress on Guppy Behaviour

When guppies are stressed, they may exhibit certain behaviours, including:

  • Rubbing against objects: Stressed guppies may rub against rocks, plants, or the sides of the tank. This behaviour can be a way to relieve tension and make them feel more relaxed.
  • Territorial behaviour: Guppies may rub against substrates or objects as a way to mark their territory and signal to other fish.
  • Social behaviour: Guppies are social fish, and rubbing against surfaces may be a form of communication within their group.
  • Changes in appetite: Stressed guppies may experience a lack of appetite or hide away from their tank mates.
  • Lethargy: Stress can cause guppies to become lethargic and less active in their surroundings.

Preventing and Reducing Stress in Guppies

To prevent and reduce stress in guppies, consider the following:

  • Maintain good water quality: Ensure stable and optimal water parameters, including pH, temperature, and ammonia levels. Perform regular water changes and use a high-quality filtration system.
  • Provide hiding places: Add caves, plants, and other decorations to the aquarium to provide guppies with places to hide, rest, and reduce stress levels.
  • Avoid overcrowding: Provide sufficient space in the tank to prevent overcrowding, which can lead to territorial behaviour and reduced oxygen levels.
  • Quarantine new fish: Before introducing new guppies to an existing group, isolate them for observation and screening to prevent the spread of diseases or parasites.
  • Optimise diet: Provide guppies with a balanced and varied diet that meets their nutritional needs. Offer a mix of flakes, pellets, and live or frozen food to ensure they receive the necessary nutrients.
  • Address aggression: If there is a bully in the tank, remove it to prevent constant harassment and attacks on other fish.
  • Manage spawning behaviours: During spawning, guppies may experience stress. Move them to a separate breeding tank to reduce stress levels and provide a more comfortable environment.
Guppies: Water Requirements

You may want to see also


Skin shedding

Guppies do not shed their skin like snakes. However, they do lose scales from time to time, which is not considered normal. This scale loss could be due to physical damage, such as collisions with objects in the tank or aggressive tankmates that nip at their fins and tails. If scales are lost, it is important to take action to prevent further harm to the guppy.

Guppies, like many other fish, do periodically rub against surfaces in their environment. This behaviour can be attributed to several reasons:

  • Parasites: Guppies may rub against objects to relieve itching and irritation caused by parasites, such as ich, or other irritants.
  • Skin shedding: Rubbing against surfaces can help guppies remove old skin and promote the growth of new skin.
  • Itching: Poor water quality or skin irritation can cause itchiness, leading guppies to rub against surfaces for relief.
  • Social behaviour: Guppies are social fish, and rubbing against surfaces may be a form of communication or a way to establish dominance within the group.
  • Stress relief: Guppies may rub against substrates when stressed to help release tension.

While rubbing behaviour is common, excessive rubbing may indicate an underlying health issue. Therefore, it is important for guppy owners to monitor their fish's behaviour and take preventive measures to ensure the health and well-being of their guppies.

Guppies: Livebearers' Evolution

You may want to see also


Social behaviour

Guppies are social fish that enjoy interacting with one another. They have a complex and highly structured social network, which exhibits characteristics consistent with the 'small world' phenomenon. Stable partner associations between individual guppies have been observed, fulfilling the basic prerequisite for the evolution of reciprocal altruism.

Guppies' social behaviour is influenced by the sex composition of their group. For example, female guppies have been found to exhibit bolder behaviour when shoaling with males compared to other females, possibly to minimise the costs of sexual harassment. On the other hand, male guppies have been observed to exhibit reduced boldness when shoaling with females compared to other males, possibly due to the perception of risk by females.

Guppies also form stable and more differentiated social ties when exposed to a high risk of predation. This intensification of social relationships coincides with guppies shoaling in smaller groups, which may reflect a conflict between the anti-predatory benefits of forming larger groups and those of forming stronger relationships.

Additionally, guppies' social behaviour can be influenced by their environment. For instance, guppies in captivity may rub against substrates due to a lack of natural substrates and objects to rub against in their aquarium.

Frequently asked questions

Guppies may rub themselves on rocks due to external parasites, poor water quality, injury, or stress.

Signs of stress in guppies include a lack of appetite, hiding from tank mates, and lethargy.

External parasites can be treated with over-the-counter anti-parasitic medication. It is recommended to transfer affected guppies to a quarantine tank for treatment.

To prevent guppies from rubbing on rocks, ensure good water quality, provide adequate hiding places, maintain proper pH and temperature, and avoid overstocking the tank.

Written by
Reviewed by
Share this post
Did this article help you?

Leave a comment