Guppies' Poop Problems

why does my guppy swim with poop hanging out

Guppies are prone to constipation, which can be caused by a diet of fish flakes or pellets. Constipated guppies produce stringy faeces that hang from their bodies. This can be treated with high-fibre foods such as tinned peas, plants, or chitinous live foods.

Characteristics Values
Reason for poop hanging out Guppies have a small intestine system, almost non-existent in female guppies
Diet Flakes, algae, or overfeeding could be the reason
Parasite Parasites could be the reason for stringy white or clear poop
Constipation Constipation could be the reason for stringy poop


Guppies spending time at the surface of the water

Guppies are known to spend most of their time at the surface of the water. They are fast, active swimmers and enjoy exploring and chasing one another. They are also known to be peaceful fish that enjoy the safety and social aspect of swimming in groups.

In the wild, guppies live in large schools to protect themselves from predators like large fish and birds. They are versatile fish and can survive in a variety of habitats, including streams, ponds, small pools of water, and brackish ecosystems. However, in captivity, they prefer clean freshwater tank environments.

When setting up a tank for guppies, it is important to replicate their natural environment as closely as possible to keep them stress-free. Guppies prefer the shallower water, as it provides protection from bigger fish that may prey on them. They also tend to spend time at the surface and in the middle of the tank, so tall plants can encourage them to swim up.

While guppies can adapt to a range of water conditions, it is important to maintain stable water parameters to reduce the potential for disease and stress. The ideal temperature range for guppies is between 72°F and 82°F, and the pH should be neutral or slightly acidic, between 6 and 8.

In terms of tank size, guppies need plenty of space to swim around, so a larger tank is recommended. Guppies are social fish and prefer to be housed in groups of at least three, so it is important to have enough guppies in the tank before introducing other fish species.

Overall, guppies spending time at the surface of the water is normal behaviour and can be attributed to their natural habits and preferences.

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Guppy constipation

Guppies are prone to developing constipation from time to time. The most likely causes are an improper diet, overfeeding, or a food allergy. If left untreated, the fish can suffer from swim bladder disease, loss of appetite, and, in the worst case, death.

Symptoms of Guppy Constipation

  • Bloated belly: If your guppy is having problems emptying its bowels, its belly will get bigger and bigger.
  • Not eating: If your guppy is ignoring food or spitting it out, this is a clear sign that there is an issue.
  • Lack of activity: When a guppy is suffering from constipation, it will be uncomfortable and will not want to move around.
  • Trouble swimming: A bloated tummy will make it more difficult for your fish to swim.

How to Cure Guppy Constipation

  • High-fibre foods: Feed your guppy high-fibre, soft foods such as boiled peas. The high fibre will act as a laxative.
  • Water change: Replace 25% of the tank's water with fresh water.
  • Epsom salt: Epsom salt acts as a muscle relaxant, helping the fish to release. Add 1/8 teaspoon per 5 gallons of water.
  • Increase water temperature: The ideal temperature for guppies is 72-82 °F (22-28 °C).

How to Prevent Guppy Constipation

  • Review diet: Ensure the food you are feeding your guppy is recommended for the breed and contains enough fibre.
  • Don't overfeed: Guppies will keep eating whether they are hungry or not. Feed them the recommended amount and no more.
  • Exercise: Ensure your tank is large enough for the number of guppies you are keeping and that the water temperature is ideal to encourage activity.


Guppy diet and nutrition

Guppies are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant-based and animal-based sources of food. In the wild, they eat anything that fits into their small mouths, including soft algae, aquatic insect larvae, brine shrimp, invertebrates, diatoms, plant remains, and vegetable matter.

In captivity, guppies can be fed a variety of commercially available fish food, such as flakes and pellets, as well as live or frozen foods, vegetables, and even some human foods.

Commercially Available Food

Commercial flake food designed for tropical fish is a staple in a guppy's diet. It is readily available in pet stores and typically contains essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Flake food intended for tropical fish often includes natural colour enhancers that will make your guppies appear brighter and more colourful.

Veggie pellets are another good option, as they contain marine and vegetable proteins like plankton, algae, and spirulina. Spirulina also improves their resistance to infections, and the carotenoids in vegetarian food enhance the colours in the guppies' tails.

When choosing commercial food, opt for small pellets that are suitable for the small mouths of guppies.

Live or Frozen Food

Guppies can also be fed live or frozen foods, such as brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworms, and mosquito larvae. These foods are highly nutritious and can be offered as treats once or twice a week, as they are high in fat and protein.


Guppies can also eat vegetables, such as spinach, lettuce, cucumber, mustard greens, peas, and zucchini. These should be finely chopped or blanched and chopped into small pieces before being fed to the fish.

Human Food

Guppies can safely eat small amounts of certain human foods, such as cooked vegetables (peas, spinach, and lettuce), small soft fruits (strawberries, bananas, and apple), and plain cooked rice or small pasta. However, human food should only be given sparingly as treats, as it can disrupt their balanced diets.

Foods to Avoid

It is important to avoid large pieces of food, raw meat or fish, bread or baked goods, dairy products, and sugary or salty foods, as these can be harmful to guppies.

Feeding Frequency and Amounts

Guppies should be fed small portions once or twice a day, with a 12-hour difference between feeds. The amount of food should be just enough for them to consume within one to two minutes. Overfeeding guppies can lead to problems like obesity and tank pollution.

Baby guppies, or fry, have different feeding needs. They have tiny mouths and high protein requirements, so they should be fed small amounts of food several times a day.

Signs of Overfeeding

Some common signs of overfeeding include excess food floating or sinking in the tank, uneaten food accumulating on the substrate, increased ammonia levels, reduced water quality, and tubes of waste stuck to the rear of the fish (indicating blocked intestines).

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Guppy tank setup

Guppies are a great choice for fish enthusiasts as they are colourful, easy to care for, and can be kept in a small tank. Here are some detailed instructions on how to set up a guppy tank:

Tank Size and Location

Guppies can be kept in a small tank, with a minimum size of 10 gallons. However, it is recommended to have a larger tank, around 20 gallons, to provide more space for your guppies to swim and explore. When choosing a location for your tank, it is important to avoid direct sunlight and drafty areas, as these can affect the water temperature and quality.

Water Quality and Parameters

Maintaining good water quality is crucial for the health of your guppies. Here are some important parameters to consider:

  • Temperature: Guppies prefer a warm water temperature, ideally between 75-80°F (24-27°C).
  • PH Level: Guppies can adapt to a wide range of pH levels, but the ideal range is between 6.8 and 7.8.
  • Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate: These levels should be monitored regularly to ensure they are at safe levels. Ammonia and nitrite should be at 0 ppm, while nitrate levels should be kept below 20 ppm.
  • Water Changes: Regular water changes are essential to maintain water quality. Change about 25% of the water weekly, or more frequently if needed.

Filtration and Aeration

A good filtration system is necessary to keep the water clean and oxygenated. A HOB (Hang-On-Back) filter is a popular choice for guppy tanks. It is important to ensure proper filtration without creating too much current, as guppies prefer slower-moving water. To increase oxygen levels, consider using an air pump or a bubbler.

Tank Decor and Hiding Places

Guppies appreciate a well-decorated tank with plants and hiding places. Live plants can help improve water quality and provide a natural environment for your guppies. If using artificial plants, choose silk or plastic plants that won't tear their fins. Include rocks, caves, or other decorations to create hiding spots and reduce stress.


Guppies do not require intense lighting, and too much light can promote algae growth. Provide a balance of light and shade in the tank, and consider turning off the lights at night to give your guppies a break.

Tank Mates

When choosing tank mates for guppies, it is important to consider their size, temperament, and water parameter requirements. Some suitable options include pygmy corydoras, shrimp, and tetras. Avoid aggressive fish that may stress or harm your guppies.


Guppies are omnivores and will eat a variety of foods. Offer a balanced diet of high-quality flake or pellet food, as well as frozen or live foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia. It is important not to overfeed, as uneaten food can affect water quality.

In summary, setting up a guppy tank requires careful consideration of water quality, filtration, tank decor, lighting, and feeding. By providing a healthy and comfortable environment, you can enjoy watching your guppies thrive and display their beautiful colours and playful behaviour.

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Guppy health and signs of distress

Guppies are generally hardy fish that can survive a wide range of conditions. However, they are still susceptible to infections, diseases, and parasites. It is important to be able to recognize the signs of distress in guppies to provide them with proper care and treatment. Here are some key areas to focus on for guppy health and signs of distress:

Water Quality

Maintaining good water quality is crucial for the health of guppies. Poor water quality can lead to stress, which weakens their immune system and makes them more susceptible to diseases. Regularly test the water parameters, including temperature, pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. Ensure that the water temperature is within the ideal range of 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (22 to 28 degrees Celsius). Perform frequent partial water changes, ideally 30-50% each week, to maintain optimal water quality.


Proper feeding is essential for guppy health. Feed your guppies a well-balanced diet, providing a variety of foods. Avoid overfeeding or underfeeding, as both can weaken their immune system. Adult guppies typically require feeding once or twice a day, while guppy fries need to be fed 3-5 times a day. Ensure that the amount of food provided is just enough for them to consume within 1-2 minutes for adults and 1 minute for fries.

Tank Maintenance

Regular tank maintenance is vital to prevent the buildup of waste and contaminants. Perform a full tank clean at least once a month, ensuring that all chemicals are removed. In addition to weekly water changes, it is important to remove any dead fish immediately to prevent water contamination and the spread of sickness. Daily inspections of your guppies are crucial to check for any signs of illness or abnormal behavior.


Stress is a common precursor to many diseases in guppies. Guppies thrive in a natural environment with plenty of hiding places, such as live aquarium plants. Overcrowding can also induce stress, so ensure that your tank provides sufficient space and hiding places for all your guppies. Additionally, avoid housing guppies with more aggressive fish species, as this can lead to distress.

Signs of Distress

When observing your guppies, look for abnormal behaviors such as difficulty swimming, gasping for breath, or lolling at the bottom of the tank. These could indicate disease or poor water quality. Examine their anatomy for growths, sores, torn fins, or abnormal coloration, as these are common symptoms of disease. If you suspect illness, transfer the affected guppy to a quarantine tank to prevent the spread of disease to other fish.

Frequently asked questions

Guppies have a small intestine system, which is almost non-existent in female guppies. This is a common occurrence and is not a cause for concern. However, if the poop is stringy and clear/white, it could indicate internal parasites and illness.

Normal fish faeces will immediately fall to the substrate. Constipated fish faeces will appear stringy and hang from the fish.

Constipation is caused by a diet that lacks the necessary indigestible matter known as dietary fibre. Pellet and flake fish food contain little to no fibre.

Constipation is treated by providing high-fibre foods that can act as a laxative. Tinned peas are a classic laxative for most fish.

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