Why Did My Guppy Jump Out The Tank? (Solved!)

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There are a number of reasons guppies may leap from their aquariums including to catch insects above the water, to avoid predation, and to leap over obstacles in the water. It is also believed that in the wild guppies may deliberately leap from their water source to be able to move from one source of water to another allowing them to take advantage of all habitable water sources in their local areas.

Anyone who has ever kept a fish tank without a lid knows that fish occasionally jump out. Guppies seem more prone to this apparently random leap to their death than most other fish. It can be very sad to lose a guppy in this way.

I have been keeping guppies for 30 years or more. In that time I have lost my fair share of fish who just jumped out of the aquarium for no apparent reason. In a recent study, the reasons why guppies are so prone to leaping out of their aquarium were scientifically investigated.

Reasons Guppies Might Jump

In my own aquariums, I have found there are a number of reasons guppies may voluntarily leap from their own tank. These include;

  • Fear of predators
  • Poor water quality
  • Over enthusiastic spawning
  • Incorrect water temperatures

Each time I have lost a guppy through jumping I have tried to understand why the fish has leaped out of the water. Almost every time I believe one of the four issues was the reason.

Fear of predators

Guppies are small fish. They are nowhere near the top of the food chain and I believe their instinct to survive tells them there is a good chance they may be eaten.

I have kept guppies with a variety of tank mates over the years, some smaller than the guppies, some larger. I have noticed the chances of guppies leaping out of the aquarium are higher when they are kept in an aquarium with a fish they may consider to be a predator.

Poor water quality

Guppies are hardy and adaptable, but they still need their water to be clean and free from high levels of organic waste.

On more than one occasion I have tested my aquarium water after losing a guppy to jumping, only to find I was suffering from an ammonia spike. On one occasion my filter had stopped working without me noticing and the water quality had really deteriorated.

In the wild, guppies may have the ability to leap from their current water source to an adjacent pool, allowing them to leave water that is potentially drying up in the sun, or just becoming of poor quality. I believe this instinct was driving my guppies to leap from their tank.

Overenthusiastic spawning

If there is one thing we can all agree on about guppies, it is that the males put a lot of effort into spawning. It is how they spend most of their day.

I have noticed in some of my guppy tanks that the males are really active. They swim fast and dart around showing off to the females. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that male guppies occasionally get carried away and actually leap from the water. I

would also say it is perfectly possible that a female hoping to escape the unwanted attention of an overly energetic male could end up leaping from the aquarium.

Incorrect water temperatures

As with water quality issues above, guppies are hardy, but they have their limits.

If the water temperature in the aquarium was to get too high, perhaps because a heater was stuck in the on position or due to the sun heating an aquarium through a window, I can imagine the guppy’s instinct to look for another water source would kick in, leading it to jump from the aquarium.

How To Stop Guppies Jumping Out The Aquarium

The answer to stopping guppies leaping from their aquariums is a simple one, keep a tight-fitting lid on the aquarium at all times. I learned this lesson a few years ago and now I never keep guppies in an uncovered aquarium.

No matter how hard you try, you won’t stop the occasional guppy from leaping out the water, so rather than risk losing a fish, just add a cover.

If you are adamant you want that modern, open-top look, instead of adding a traditional hood or cover, just place a piece of glass, cut to match the size of your aquarium, over the top of your tank. That way they look won’t be spoiled, but the fish will stay in the water.

About the Author

I’ve been keeping, breeding, and showing tropical fish for nearly 30 years. Over that time I’ve done it all! I’ve had great success and I’ve made some really foolish mistakes (like the time I bought an Asain Walking Catfish). Read more…
Richard James

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