Guppies are wonderful fish to have. They are quite hardy and don’t require too much maintenance but they can still get stressed. It’s important to look out for these signs to make sure that they are staying in the best of health.
The most obvious sign your guppies are suffering from stress is if there colour looks paler than before. They may also stay near the top of your tank and appear to be gasping for air. Below I will go through all the signs and what you can do about guppy stress.
What is fish stress?
Fish get stressed in the exact same way that humans do and there can be a wide variety of reasons for it. As with humans, it is a sign that something is wrong. That problem can either be within themselves or their environment.
The most common cause will be that there is something in their environment preventing them from being at full health. This stress can make it harder for them to fight off diseases and reduce their ability to heal.
Again, this is very similar to humans. A human can have a bad environment (work life for example) which can lead to stress. This stress can lead to physical problems which can make the stress even worse and lead to low mood. This low mood can lead to loss of appetite and less breeding.
You need to look for the signs of stress, examine the root cause and alter it. This will then lead to a much happier guppy and one that will be able to lead a longer life.
How do you know when Guppies are sick?
There are a few key signs of stress. Here we look at an overview before looking at them in greater detail:
Gasping at the surface
Lack of color
Loss of appetite
Gasping at the surface – A fish will do this when they need more oxygen as it’s the most oxygen-rich part of the tank. This is a key indicator that the water quality in the tank is very low.
Disease – If you see any changes to the physical appearance of your fish this can be a sign of stress. This could be white spots, building eyes, bloated stomach or any other type of unusual change.
Losses of color – Some fish go darker when they are stressed but guppies can go very pale. Make sure that they are not losing their usual beautiful colors.
Appetite – As with humans, a fish that is stressed or not well will usually not want to eat anything at all.
Erratic swimming – This is a huge warning sign and it’ll often look as though your guppies have gone crazy. This can be crashing into things, rubbing on rocks or swimming in circles.
Lethargy – In contrast to erratic swimming, they may simply stop swimming as much and move very slowly. This can also be an indicator of poor water conditions.
What causes this stress?
If you’ve seen the signs, you want to make sure that your guppies can be back to full health as quickly as they possibly can. Here we look at the key reasons that may be acting up:
Lack of oxygen
Wrong water temperature
Not enough space
Oxygen – Guppies need a constant source of oxygen to be able to survive. If the surface of your tank remains still then they will eventually use up all the oxygen in the tank and suffer. To remedy this you need to oxygenate the water which can either be done with a pump or a filter disturbs the surface of the water. When agitated, the water will absorb oxygen from the air.
Contaminated water – As a human, you wouldn’t like to live in an environment where your waste was all around you. For fish, their waste will break down and create ammonia which is poisonous. Their water needs to remain high quality and the best way to do this is with a filter.
Water temperature – Guppies are quite hardy but still need the right water temperature in order to thrive. Too low and they will likely get sick and too high and they will be starved of oxygen. A simple water heater should be able to keep them at the right temperature which should be anywhere between 75-78 °F (24-26 °C).
Not enough space – None of us like feeling too cramped up and it’s the same for fish. Not only is this bad for their stress but it also means there is less oxygen for the guppies and more waste. You should use at least half a gallon of water per guppy but ideally around a gallon to let them grow normally.
Fellow fish – Guppies may be seen as peaceful fish but they can also be territorial and fight each other for dominance of their space. While this is rarely an issue, a bigger issue can be if there are other types of fish in the tank. Guppies are placid and won’t fight back. If guppies share their water with other fish, make sure they are good tank mates.
How do you destress a fish?
Ensure something agitates the water for constant oxygen supply
Use a filter to prevent water contamination
Keep the water between 75-78 °F or 24-26 °C
The pH levels should be balanced and close to neutral
Try to avoid tap water as this contains chlorine and heavy minerals
Add live plants to your tank
Make sure that you have at least half a liter of water per guppy
Don’t introduce any other fish that may be aggressive
Can a stressed fish recover?
You always want to keep your fish happy and healthy but there can be times when stress can occur. As long as you look for the signs then you’re going to be able to take steps to change their environment. Any change of behavior should be investigated as it could be that your filter has stopped working or any number of different problems.
As long as you identify the stress quickly then your guppy will be back to full health and happiness in no time at all, keep their color and grow to their full size. If you’re ever worried about your guppy, it’s a good idea to bookmark this page and come back to if you’re ever unsure about whether they are stressed or not.