Why Are My Guppies Disappearing?
So, you just got your first guppy population up and running. You’ve set the tank, learned how to care for your fish, and entered a balanced routine that unveils as intended daily.
Then you notice your guppies start missing. What’s going on with that?
I’ve seen many novice fish keepers confused by this aspect, and for a good reason. Unlike other pets, guppies live in a contained environment. It’s not like they could just jump out whenever they feel like it. Or could they?
Today, I will present the 5 most common reasons why guppies tend to go missing from the aquarium.
1. The Guppy Died and Got Eaten by Snails
As you already know, aquarium snails don’t eat guppies. Not even the larger species like the Apple snail. That’s because, despite their size and ferocious looks, snails are friendly creatures that pose no direct threat to other tank inhabitants. They also tend to live on the substrate, which means they don’t share the same space with guppies.
It also helps that guppies are fast and agile swimmers, making it impossible for a snail to catch and eat one. Unless the guppy dies first. This can happen for several reasons, including disease, parasites, infections, etc.
If the guppy is smaller in size, dies, and reaches the substrate, the snail(s) will eat it. It will also happen fast, so you might not even be aware of the incident.
2. The Guppy Got Sucked into the Filter
The filters aren’t generally powerful enough to suck in adult, healthy fish. The fish will swim the other way and oppose the current in case they come near the filter’s intake.
However, smaller or sick fish may not have the strength to do so, and they might get sucked in. If any of your guppies are missing, verify the filter; it might still be alive.
I also suggest covering the filter’s intake with a piece of vinyl or even a sponge filter to prevent such future incidents.
3. The Guppy Got Eaten by Other Fish
This tends to happen when guppies live with fish large enough to eat them. But that’s not always the case. Pairing guppies with incompatible tank mates will have the same results, even if the culprit isn’t much bigger than the guppies.
Fish species like the goldfish, angelfish, clown knife fish and others will hunt and kill guppies if given the opportunity. Especially if the predator fish is significantly larger than the guppy and the latter has no safe places to retreat to.
To prevent this, I suggest only pairing guppies with compatible tank mates. You’re looking for omnivorous species of similar size, displaying friendly behavior.
4. The Guppy is Hiding Between Plants
This is probably the number 1 reason for people panicking over missing guppies. Guppies enjoy lush environments with plenty of hiding places available to explore or retreat to when threatened.
If you’ve provided them with caves, various tank decorations, and plants, you should always expect guppies to go missing. Guppies will seek hiding for a variety of reasons, including sickness, the need to rest, playfulness, trying to flee abusive tank mates, and even pregnancy.
If the count shows 1 or more guppies missing, don’t panic. Check the tank visually to see if the missing specimens aren’t hiding among the tank’s vegetation and decorations.
5. The Guppy Jumped Out
Yes, guppies can jump out of the tank. If you think this is unexpected, you should hear the reason for their behavior – nobody knows why. Some species of fish will jump out of the water to hunt flying insects; others will do so when playing or mating. Neither of these explains guppies’ behavior.
They do it in the wild, and they tend to do it in the tank.
This isn’t necessarily a problem if you have plants floating in the tank’s upper half or have a lid on. But if guppies can reach the surface easily and there’s no lid, they might jump out. Especially if the aquarium is filled with water.
This can cause the guppy to end up on the floor and wiggle its way under some furniture piece where it will die. The smell will give it away later on. Or maybe a pet will take notice of the stranded fish and end its torment right then and there. In that case, you may never know what happened.
You can’t train guppies not to jump out of the water, which makes covering your tank the next best strategy.
Do Guppies Eat Their Dead?
Yes, they do. This is typical guppy behavior since, remember, guppies are omnivores. They will eat plants and animals whenever they get a chance to and never shy away from cannibalism. Guppies won’t hurt each other actively since they belong to the same species but will consume dead brethren in a heartbeat.
You should, however, prevent your guppies from doing so. Guppies almost never die of old age. It’s always a disease, a parasitic infection, or bacteria taking over and ending the fish. The illness may spread to the guppies consuming the corpse and then transmit between live guppies as well.
Not to mention, dead fish will start decaying soon after their passing, poisoning the water and raising ammonia levels. I suggest monitoring the tank’s dynamics regularly to identify and address every case of sick or dying guppy immediately.
Quarantine the fish, figure out the problem, and seek adequate treatment. If nothing works, euthanize the guppy and move on.
I’ve written extensive articles on guppies’ behaviors and what triggers them. Check them out, as they will teach you how to identify abnormal behaviors and the meaning behind them.
Guppies tend to go missing for a variety of reasons, but they never vanish into thin air. There’s always a cause for their absence, and you must find it soon to prevent other guppies from following the same path.
If this article has helped you solve the mystery of your missing guppy, share your story; it may help someone else.