Where Did My Guppy Fish Disappear?
Guppies are energetic and lively fish that like to roam their environment constantly. You should see them moving around their habitat and interacting with each other every day. With time, you will begin to differentiate between them quite easily, so you will immediately notice if one goes missing.
Believe it or not, this is an actual problem you need to consider. Guppies will go missing frequently, especially in larger tanks and really especially in community setups housing different fish species.
So, what happens when guppies simply disappear? Do they vanish in thin…water? Or is there a simple explanation you may have not thought about? Let’s see!
Reasons Guppy Fish Are Disappearing
There are 5 primary reasons for guppies are going missing in your fish tank.
– Guppy Fish Died
Okay, the fish died, but that doesn’t equal it vanishing, right? No, but actually, yes, in some cases. While it won’t happen immediately, the guppy will vanish after death due to a variety of factors. The most important one is bacteria, going to work immediately and decompose the fish’s body at an accelerated pace.
If your guppy lives in a community tank with bottom feeders, for instance, the body will disappear even faster. Bottom feeder species are known to consume dead matter regardless of its source. The body of a dead fish is a great opportunity to get the necessary protein intake that many bottom-feeding fish require.
And it’s not only bottom feeders that are up to the task. Other fish will also eat their dead tankmates, should they get the chance, guppies included. Any guppy dying in a larger guppy tank is bound to disappear fast, as other guppies will swarm the dead body immediately.
Naturally, it’s preferable that you remove the dead guppy from the tank, especially if you have no idea why it died. If parasites or bacteria are involved, these pathogens can transmit to the fish that will eat the corpse. If that doesn’t happen, the fish’s body will rot away among plants and rocks, poisoning the environment by raising ammonia levels.
Which is not good for obvious reasons.
– Guppy Was Eaten
You would think that we have already covered this point in the previous section, and we did, but not entirely. That section deals with dead guppies, this one deals with the dead ones. Pairing guppies with larger fish is a sure way of turning them into prey. A fish doesn’t need to be a predator to eat other fish. Bigger species will always eat smaller ones, even if the attackers are generally peaceful omnivores.
Only herbivorous species won’t eat other fish, but most tank fish are omnivorous. If they’re larger than guppies and can fit the fish in their mouths, they will eat them. So, always pair guppies with fish similar in size and temperament. Otherwise, they might fall victim to the natural order and become food for the larger, more aggressive species.
Some tank fish that can and will eat cichlids include:
- Goldfish – Goldfish typically grow up to 1-2 inches in the tank, but there’s a catch. Their overall size and growth rate is heavily influenced by their available space. Pairing them with guppies in a large community tank will allow the goldfish to grow larger, up to 8 inches in some cases. This will enable the fish to easily swallow a smaller guppy occasionally, and you won’t even know it happened.
- Oscar – The Oscar is a clear threat. This beast will grow fast and can reach a size of 12 inches within its first year of life. It’s also highly intelligent, powerful, and very aggressive and will view guppies as an everyday food. They are so proficient as hunting and eating them that many aquarists use feeder guppies to keep the Oscar entertained and full.
- Any cichlids – Cichlids don’t make for good tankmates for guppies or any other small and shy fish species. Cichlids are overall aggressive and territorial, and most of them will happily hunt and feed on smaller fish. Pair cichlids with guppies at your own risk.
Plus, most fish will eat guppy fry, including guppies themselves. So, you also have that to chew on.
– Guppy Fish Jumped Out
This may come as a surprise, but guppies can jump out of the tank. You only need the perfect storm for that, like:
- Too much water – If the water level is too high, even the smallest jump could result in your guppy popping out of the tank. You should always keep the water level lower to prevent that.
- No tank lid – You don’t usually need a tank lid for a guppy tank, but sometimes is necessary. Especially if you have a lot of water in the tank or house other fish species that are known jumpers. You should consider a tank lid in both of those scenarios. Just make sure they have holes to allow for a healthy airflow, not to impact water oxygenation.
- Poor water conditions – Most fish will attempt to escape a poorly maintained tank by simply jumping out. Some of the conditions that would force them to act that way include high water temperature and ammonia buildup, causing the fish visible discomfort. Poor water oxygenation is another reason that could drive your fish to act that way.
Once they’re out of the tank, the guppy can disappear fast. Especially if you have a pet in close proximity that couldn’t refuse a quick snack. If not, the fish will simply wiggle around and get under some furniture, where it will die and decay in peace. You may find it later on or never.
– Guppy Fish Just Hiding
If you can’t find your fish, consider that it’s probably hiding since that’s most likely the case in most situations. Guppies enjoy a lush and well-decorated environment with a variety of plants around. They love moving around their habitat and investigating all available nooks and crannies.
They also play a lot and hide in the process, but they will eventually come out. The problem becomes more serious when your fish remains in hiding for longer than usual. In those cases, you have 3 potential explanations to consider:
- Fish stress – Guppies can get stressed for a variety of reasons, including aggressive tank mates, inadequate water temperature, chemical poisoning, starvation, etc. When that happens, the guppy will attempt to leave the area and go into hiding. This helps it feel safer and calmer, and it might take a while until the fish will emerge from its hiding.
- Disease – Sick guppies will display a variety of symptoms, depending on their condition. However, some symptoms will occur in all diseases, the hiding behavior being one of them. Guppies will experience sickness-related stress and will hide near the substrate or below a rock or cave to find some comfort. This is a potentially dangerous situation since their illness may be contagious. Identifying the guppy fast and quarantining it is a must to contain the disease and ensure proper treatment.
- Inadequate fish dynamics – Guppies are generally peaceful, but things change fast when discussing male dynamics. Guppy males can be extremely territorial and competitive towards one another. It’s not uncommon for guppy males to fight to the death over females, food, space, or hierarchical domination. They can’t kill each other directly but indirectly via bullying and poking, which will stress and hurt the opponent. A bullied guppy male will attempt to hide to escape the violence. Sometimes, the situation is so severe that the inferior male will rarely be able to get out of hiding.
As you can see, these 3 points showcase a simple conclusion – figuring out the problem fast is an emergency. Each of these explanations can have deadly consequences for both the fish involved and potentially other tank inhabitants.
– Guppy Fish Got Stock in Filter
This problem is rather common among novice aquarists opting for inadequate tank equipment. By ‘inadequate,’ I mean too powerful for the fish. If the filter is too large or too powerful for the tank, several things might happen.
- Environmental destruction – The overpowered water flow may tip over tank decorations, destroy plants, and blast the sand substrate everywhere, clouding the water. On the one hand, this breaks the tank’s esthetic factor. On the other, it jeopardizes your fish’s lives, as they can get stuck under various tank elements falling on them.
- Fish stress – Guppies hate fast-flowing waters. If the filter is too powerful, they might stress out, and we’ve already discussed what that does to them. Prolonged stress will also affect the fish’s immune system, making it more prone to infections and parasites.
- Getting sucked in – It’s not uncommon for guppies to get sucked in a powerful filter lacking a protection grid. This will not only clog the filter but kill the fish as well. The dead body will then decompose in the filter, becoming an environmental hazard due to increasing ammonia and nitrites.
The same problems apply to an inadequate air pump. This problem has an easy fix. Always make sure that the tank equipment matches the available water volume and your fish’s requirements.
Also, consider using sponge filters, especially if you have smaller guppies or plan on growing fry in the main tank. Smaller fish can enter the filter if there’s no protection to prevent them from doing so.
How to Find Your Missing Guppy Fish?
There’s clearly some detective work involved when looking for your guppy. So, let’s break down the necessary steps:
- Check the tank thoroughly – First, look through the vegetation and around any tank decorations you might have. The fish might simply be hiding around for various reasons. You first need to know for sure there’s no sign of them floating near some plant or under a cave somewhere. Small guppies are pretty good at hiding in places you don’t even expect them to. You should also verify the substrate for any dead or dying guppies.
- Check outside of the tank – If the fish is nowhere to be found inside the tank, check the surroundings. Look under the furniture in the tank’s immediate vicinity and check the floor for any signs of water. The guppy may have leaped out of the tank. You might even find it alive if you’re lucky enough, although that’s rather doubtful.
- Check the tank equipment – Look inside the filter and the air pump. If your guppy got sucked in, you should find it fairly easy.
If the guppy is simply nowhere to be found, you might as well accept your loss. The fish most likely got eaten or died and decomposed in the water. I recommend regularly monitoring your fish’s dynamics to identify early signs of violence and potential personality incompatibilities between them.
How to Dispose of a Dead Guppy?
The easiest and safest ways of disposing of a dead guppy include:
- Burying it – This is as easy as it sounds. Find a reliable spot that your pets are unlikely to reach and bury the guppy there. Its body will nourish the earth and the plant life growing around it.
- Cremating it – If you have the means, I suggest cremating the corpse. This way, you prevent the spread of pathogens and viruses contained in your fish’s body.
- Throwing it in the garbage – Make sure that the fish is well-packed to prevent sanitation workers from touching it by mistake. The garbage disposal services will incinerate the waste, carrying the fish to the other world in flames.
What not to do:
- Don’t flush the dead guppy down the drain – Not all drainage systems work based on septic tanks. Some pour into rivers and oceans, and flushing the fish may transport dangerous pathogens into the wildlife. Be mindful of that. The fish’s body may also clog the drainage system, so you also have that.
- Don’t feed it to your pets – Guppies have a variety of bacteria and viruses in their bodies even when they appear healthy. Their immune systems keep the pathogens in place, preventing the fish from getting sick. However, these microorganisms can transmit to anything that will eat the fish, even after the fish has already died. And you don’t want that.
- Don’t throw it away – Your pets or other animals might find it, eat it, and get sick as a result.
There are right ways and wrong ways to do it. As you can see, the wrong ones have some nasty consequences attached to them.
If your guppy simply appears to have vanished from the tank, you need to summon your inner Sherlock Holmes for a minute. The fish might simply be hiding around, but the situation can be more serious than that. Sick or stressed fish come with different problems that require different approaches.
Fortunately, you now know how to get to the bottom of it.