Why Does My Guppy Have A Bent Spine?

People think only humans develop a bent spine, surprisingly, guppies also do. The fact is, the curved spine is the most noticeable disease that affects guppies.

Guppy Bent Spine

Why Does My Guppy Have A Bent Spine?

If your guppy has developed a bent spine this is a sign they have a disease, either scoliosis or fish tuberculosis. Sadly this disease is untreatable.

Whilst the diseases are untreatable there are a few things you can do to manage the disease.

It is also possible that the guppy is deformed and was born with a bent spine.

If you are planning to have guppies in your aquarium and you’re disturbed with the news of bent spine flying around. In this post, I will showcase the causes of the bent spine in guppies, why they have it, and other information related to this.

Swimming is often tedious for guppy with a curved spine, this disability leads to stunted growth, and other healthy fishes usually bully them.

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Causes of Bent Spine In Guppies

Your guppy will have a bent spine because they are suffering from either scoliosis or fish tuberculosis, which is a disease that deforms the guppies spine.  Below I will give you more information about these diseases.


This usually occurs before birth (fry stage), infected guppies develop spine in shape of letter ‘s’ or ‘c’ kind of curvature. When the spine is deformed, the condition is called scoliosis. Some female guppies develop this after birth due to the heavy pressure on the abdominal region in this period.

Fish TB, as it is popularly called, is very contagious, it can affect the spines of all the fish in your aquarium/tank if urgent steps are not taken. This disease affects all the life cycle of some fish, and it is sadly not curable. Guppies are colorful creatures that are good looking, but this ailment deformed them and made them less active.

Fish Tuberculosis

This ailment also affects guppies that are kept in freshwater. Mycobacterium Marinum is the disease that causes tuberculosis in fish, and they are bacteria.

Aside from guppies infected from birth. An aquarium that is not kept clean periodically, an aquarium full of guppies more than they can contain and tanks that are low in exchange for oxygen and high in accumulation of wastes products are prone to contracting fish tuberculosis.

It is amazing that in the most sanitize aquariums/tank, fish TB can still affect your guppies, especially when you introduce new fish that are already infected to the aquarium.

Scoliosis Symptoms In Guppies

If your guppies have Scoliosis they will show the following symptoms

  • Loss of Appetite
  • Folding Fins
  • Protruding Eyes
  • Scanty Scales
  • Sparse Scales
  • Tinting of Colors
  • Pleating Fins

Tuberculosis Symptoms In Guppies

If your guppies have tuberculosis they will show the following symptoms

  • Scanty Scales
  • Protruding Eyes
  • Sparse Scales
  • Tinting of Colors
  • Pleating fins

Why Does My Guppy Have A Curved Spine?

Three major factors lead to a curved spine in guppies are listed below.

  • Inbreeding : Guppies that possess a large gene, most times deliver fries with deformed spinal cords. Most guppies that are specifically breed for specific traits don’t escape spinal cord deformity. This is avoidable if the gene pool is diversified and you desist from inbreeding.
  • Hereditary : If you have fish with tuberculosis or scoliosis in your aquarium, never allow them to produce fries, these diseases can be shared with fries. Research shows that 90% of diseased female guppies, especially having scoliosis, give birth to diseased fries.
  • Poor Diet and Aquarium Conditions : The third reason why a guppy spent might be bent is poor diet or dirty environment. A crowded aquarium will have low oxygen, and food might not be evenly distributed. Hence, bacteria begins to grow in that kind of situation.

Poor diets are not just food, not evenly distributed, or you are not feeding them. It can also mean you are not feeding them with different varieties of food. Guppies are omnivores, feeds like pelleted veggies, tubifex; if you can find it, tablets like spirulina are also essential.

Dried shrimps and blood worm makes them healthy. Ironically, overfeeding is also an issue when it comes to guppies, too many feeds on their water can foul the water and might have difficulties indigestion. Do everything in moderation is the keyword when caring for guppies.

How To Treat A Guppy With A Bent Spine

There are a lot of palliative measures out there that don’t work. You must have heard people say whenever there is a bent spine, just add aquarium salt or increase the temperature of the water, and they are healed.

Based on experience, these works for other things but no cure for the bent spine at the moment you can only manage it.

Isolation is the first thing to do when the bent spine is seen in the guppy; then, you should dump them. It is a tough decision to take, but you will never be able to add them to other guppies because it is contagious.

The most efficient way to assist bent spine guppies is to prevent them in the first place from the life-threatening disease.

If you love healthy guppies, you should do euthanize a sick fish. It is no news that scoliosis and TB have no cure, and they are contagious. If your guppy’s spine is not severe and they still swim comfortably, it is the best time to euthanize them.

If you continue to keep them in the aquarium, other guppies will spot them and cause further injury to the infected guppies, thereby resulting in more infected fish.

Though there are many unconventional methods, people are using to euthanize guppies like immersion in cold water, flushing them down the drain/toilet, or boiling them till death.

These methods are against the rules to care for sick animals and are humane.

The acceptable method is the adding of clove oil into the tanks/aquarium you have kept them. Clove oil is a sedative on almost all kinds of fish, it brings hypoxia to the water and suffocates them within ten minutes of introducing high concentrated clove oil to the water.

Don’t treat these diseased guppies with bare hands because it can be transmitted to humans with injuries.

Can You Straighten A Curved Spine In A Guppy?

No, you can’t. If you attempt it, you will break the guppy’s spine and the guppy will surely die.

How To Prevent A Bent Spine In Guppies

There are a few things that can be done to prevent your guppies developing a bent spine which include

  • Ensure your fish are well fed so their immune system can be strong
  • Make it a habit to periodically replace their water.
  • Be conscious about the number of guppies you stock in each aquarium to enable them to live a stress-free life and prevent sickness.
  • Make sure newly purchased guppies are quarantined for some weeks before you add them to other fishes, this will help you to avert fish tuberculosis.
  • I hope you have been able to learn one or two things in this post concerning guppies bent spine. Do more of prevention and always quarantine newly purchased guppies.


Hello, I'm Jason. I'm the guy behind HelpUsFish.com. I volunteer at my local fish shop and I created this site to offer tips and advice on the fish I care for.

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