Why is my Guppy Fish Hiding?

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If you set up a guppy fish tank, it’s only natural to want to marvel at it, especially since guppies display a wide range of colors and patterns that are a sight to behold.

But what if your guppy fish is hiding? What if you can’t actually marvel at it because it has a reclusive behavior?

Guppy fish are quite active fish and don’t usually hide, unless there’s a problem. So, what could be the issue with your guppy fish that makes it want to hide?

In this article, I’m going to cover the reasons why your guppy fish may be hiding and what you can do to keep guppy fish happy in your aquarium.

Sick Guppy Fish is Hiding

Guppies can be exposed to illnesses, many of which are triggered by stress, improper water conditions, and infections caused by parasites that are accidentally transferred into the water.

Initially, your fish may not display any symptoms, but as illnesses progress, they may become less active, lose their appetite and hide at the bottom of the tank.

Now, guppy fish may hide at the bottom of the tank during the night, but if you see them doing that during the day, sickness can be a likely explanation.

Since it’s not the only situation when guppy fish may be hiding, you should also look for other signs or symptoms of the disease like lesions or patches on the body, protruding eyes, distended stomach, clamped or ragged fins, etc.

Poor Water Quality

When the water quality is bad fish won’t be technically hiding, at least will not do so on purpose.

Just like when they’re sick, they may become less active and sink to the bottom of the tank, which is hardly the same as hiding.

If you notice your guppy fish sitting at the bottom of the tank barely moving, you should check toxin levels in the aquarium.

There may be a spike in ammonia levels and your fish may be experiencing ammonia poisoning.

If that’s the case, performing a major water change of 50-70% during the course of several days, until you can get ammonia levels down to 0 ppm can make a significant difference.

Pregnant Guppy Fish is Hiding

Sometimes disease or poor water quality isn’t the problem. In fact, there may not be a problem at all, and your guppy fish may simply be pregnant.

When preparing to spawn, pregnant female guppy fish will seek out a more covered area of the aquarium and hide there.

Of course, the simple fact that your guppy is staying hidden doesn’t mean that she’s pregnant.

You should also look out for other signs of pregnancy like an extended abdomen, V-shaped belly, and later, baby guppies in the aquarium.

Therefore, having a pregnant female guppy fish hiding isn’t cause for concern and she’s more than likely to be preparing to spawn rather than suffering from any ailment.

Even so, it’s best if you check for signs of possible diseases, just to exclude the eventuality of an illness.

Stressed Guppy Fish

Stressful keeping conditions are another reason why guppy fish may be inclined to stay out of sight.

And stress can be induced in guppy fish because of a variety of reasons including bad tank mates and improper male-to-female ratio.

Let’s see why these keeping conditions are stressful for guppies.

Bad Tank Mates

Fish compatibility is a delicate thing. When keeping various fish together you must account for the differences in water requirements and feeding requirements.

But even when all this matches up for different fish, you still need to account for another major thing – temperament.

Fish have their own personalities that differ from species to species. Some fish are aggressive and territorial, others are shy and peaceful.

Peaceful fish should not be kept with aggressive fish that will nip at fins or fight other fish.

Likewise, slow-moving fish should not be kept with fish that live a fast-paced life or that like to swim erratically because they will stress out more mellow fish.

Fish that are feeling threatened or that are injured will try to hide and stay out of sight.

Injuries coupled with the stress of living with incompatible tank mates will eventually make your fish sick.

To avoid problems in the aquarium, make sure to pick tank mates that are compatible.

Improper Male to Female Ratio

With some fish species, having a large number of males in the aquarium spells trouble.

Live-bearing fish such as guppies will try to breed every chance they get. Male guppies, in particular, will chase females to reproduce.

But female guppies can get stressed out from the constant pursuit and will try to hide away from male guppies.

On the other hand, breeding too often can shorten the lifespan of both genders and it can even slow down their growth.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, you must ensure that the male to female ratio is 3:1, that is, 1 male for 2-3 females.

This will also keep guppy population under control, because keeping too many males for each female will lead to an aquarium overrun with guppy fry.

Placement of Fish Tank

The placement of the aquarium can make fish hide in the aquarium especially when there’s heavy traffic near the aquarium. This can scare fish and they’ll tend to hide.

The aquarium should be placed in a quiet location without heavy traffic around it.

It should also get some natural sunlight, but it should not be exposed to direct sunlight, which can cause algae overgrowth.

How to Keep Your Guppies Happy?

Guppy fish are marketed by pet stores as fish that are hardy and adaptable.

But it’s often easy to overlook simple aspects of their care and make mistakes that can have adverse effects on them.

Here are some basic tips that can help keep your guppy fish happy:

Regular Tank Maintenance

Just because guppy fish are hardy, it doesn’t mean you can skip regular water changes or perform tank maintenance.

Partial water changes performed regularly are essential for the well-being of your fish.

Freshwater added to the tank helps dilute toxins and wash away debris or uneaten food particles. It also replenishes water with trace amounts of naturally occurring nutrients.

Stable Water Parameters

Beyond water cleanliness, stable water parameters are also another thing that will make guppies happy.

Think about it — an aquarium is a closed-off environment, whatever happens fish are bound to it.

In the wild, fish can seek out warmer waters or colder waters or whatever thermal range fits them most. This they cannot do in an aquarium.

Therefore, it’s your job to keep water parameters in the optimal range for guppy fish.

And you can achieve that with the help of various aquarium equipment such as a test kit for toxins and water pH, aquarium heater, air pump, aquarium filter, etc.

Proper aquarium stocking

I mentioned the importance of male to female guppy ratio and how males should never outnumber female fish.

But having the right number of fish overall is also crucial. If there are too many fish in the tank, oxygen levels in the water will become depleted.

But the lack of oxygen isn’t the only consequence of aquarium overstocking. Waste production will also increase causing spikes in ammonia levels, which can lead to death.

Compatible Tank Mates

Keeping guppy fish in community aquariums is possible, in fact, they’re widely known as community-friendly fish because of their peaceful nature.

However, you should be careful with fin-nippers, which may have a go at the colorful and wide tail of guppy fish.

Also, because guppies are peaceful, so aggressive fish aren’t a good match for them.

There are many freshwater fish that are compatible with guppies including platies, swordtails, mollies, cory catfish and dozens more, so your options are not limited to only a few.

Proper nutrition

Guppies are an omnivorous species; they require a varied diet that includes vegetable matter and meaty foods.

If you feed your guppies only flake foods, they’ll do fine but to help them develop their beautiful colors and a strong immune system, you need to do better than feeding them only flakes.

You can make flakes their staple food, but do offer them freeze-dried foods, spirulina and algae tabs or cooked veggies to make their diet more complex.

They will thank you by becoming stronger and by showcasing their beautiful and vibrant colors.


Hopefully, I managed to include all the cases why guppy fish may choose to hide in an aquarium.

As you can see, there are various causes to this behavior and it’s not always clear why they do so.

Knowing about these reasons can help you look for tell-tale signs that can get you closer to an answer.

It’s especially important to identify the root cause of the problem when your guppy fish are showing signs of disease, so you can administer the proper treatment and stop the disease from progressing.

Guppy fish aren’t too maintenance-intensive, but you do need to be careful with water changes and offering stable water parameters.

Updated: December 12, 2021
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