Why Is My Guppy Laying On The Bottom Of The Tank? Top 8 Reasons

Dec 19, 2020

Why is My Guppy Laying on Bottom of Tank?

Guppies are quite expressive. Dare I say, theatrical? Every action is underpinned by a complex psychological or physical motive. So, why is my guppy laying on the bottom of the tank?

Why Is My Guppy Laying On The Bottom Of The Tank?

Mostly, a guppy laying on the bottom of the tank is out of habit. But there could also be other reasons behind it. A pregnancy, illness, stress, low water conditions, overstocking, and diseases are a few of them. Sometimes, they’ll move to the bottom just to get a goodnight’s sleep. 

Now let’s look at the 8 reasons in depth. 

Pregnancy Labor In Guppies 

Expecting female guppies like to hang at the bottom of the tank—especially if she is in labor. 

That’s because they’re looking for a quiet, secretive place to give birth. 

So, if you have a hybrid tank, the chances are that you’ll see a lot of female guppies laying on bottom of tank frequently. 

Keep an eye out to see if your female guppy is really expecting or if it’s any other issue.

Signs Of Pregnant Guppy:

  • A swollen belly
  • A dark, triangular spot at the bottom of the swollen belly
  • On a frequent lookout for a hiding spot
  • Loss of appetite 

If you see a group of fry swimming a couple of hours later, you can be assured that pregnancy was the reason, after all. 

But I’d recommend you to use a breeding tank or a breeding box that your female guppies can give birth in peace. 

It will also help to protect the little fry from adult guppies. Otherwise, they’ll turn into tasty snacks for parents in no time. 

I personally use a breeding box instead of a tank – it’s so much less hassle.

Here’s one I have by Fluval. It has a multi-chamber holding design and a nice aesthetic to it. I’ve never run into a problem with this one.

You Might Also Like To Read:

What is The Best Guppy Male to Female Ratio? Urbanfishkeeping

Do Guppies Sleep? | Your Ultimate Guide on Guppy’s Sleep Cycle

Diseases And Injuries In Guppies 

A guppy experiencing physical pain will lay at the tank’s bottom since it lacks the energy to swim around. 

Several diseases can cause guppies to do so. For example, it could be a bacterial infection, parasitic infections, bladder disorder, dropsy, or bent spine. 

As for injuries, guppies love to nip on each other’s fins and tails. So, if you see a guppy swimming in a weird position at the bottom, it could be a sign of injury. 

Nevertheless, always check for lesions, cuts, and spots if you notice anything out of the ordinary.

If you provide medical assistance early on, the illness can be treated effectively, and your guppy will go back to living a long, healthy life. 

Depending on the severity, you may also have to transfer the guppy in question to a quarantine tank. That way, the disease won’t spread to other fish if it’s transmittable. 

Poor Water Parameters 

Bad water conditions have a ripple effect on a guppy’s health and behavior. For starters, it’s a recipe for numerous diseases like parasitical and fungal infections. Likewise, a bad environment also leads to loss of appetite, lethargy, and stress. 

In turn, these factors will affect a guppy’s overall wellbeing—causing it to swim at the bottom. 

A guppy’s tank is prone to being overpopulated. So, make sure that the water condition is neat and healthy often. 

Before transferring your fish into a new tank, ensure that the tank has completed its due cycle.

Ensuring the tank’s filtration system is to the T is vital in this regard. You can also add a few plants that help to keep the water clean. 

You will also need to invest in additional equipment like a heater and air pump to ensure a hospitable tank for your guppies. 

But most importantly, conduct frequent water changes—weekly or biweekly, depending on the tank’s need. Otherwise, everything else you do or buy is futile. 

Bullies In The Tank

why is my guppy laying on the bottom of the tank
A pair of goldfish.

Fishes that thrive in the same water conditions don’t necessarily have to be friends. If a guppy is being bullied or threatened by its tank mates, there’s a good chance it’ll swim at the bottom of the tank to camouflage. 

Angelfish, neon tetras, and goldfish often bully guppies and eat up their fries. 

On the other hand, mollies, oto catfish, plecos, and platies get along with guppies quite well. 

It can be surprising, but things like hierarchy, aggression, bullying, and fighting are common in tanks. 

If you don’t consider compatibility when choosing tank mates, there will be quite a few casualties. 

Ammonia Poisoning 

Ammonia poisoning is a deadly condition that can happen suddenly or over some time. Regardless, it’s hazardous for guppies. 

And one telltale symptom of ammonia poisoning is guppy laying at the bottom of the tank with clamped fins. 

Now there could be several underlying causes behind it. Some of them are:

  • Death of bacterial colonies 
  • A broken filter mechanism 
  • An overpopulated tank 
  • Use of medications in tank
  • Sudden changes in water parameter

Since ammonia spike is a deadly condition, don’t just rely on one symptom to find out. 

Other common signs of ammonia poisoning are loss of appetite, lethargy, reddish gills, and clamped fins. 

You will see red streaks and bloody patches if the situation has gotten worse. 

Once you pick up any sign, immediately lower the tank’s ammonia levels by performing water changes. Don’t forget to use an ammonia test kit to make sure that ammonia has been removed. 

You may also have to transfer the sick fish to a quarantine tank.

Here’s ammonia test strips by Tetra that show results in ten seconds!

A Hot Tank 

The ideal water temperature for guppies ranges between 72°F to 82°F.

If the water temperature is not normal, it’s not uncommon for guppies to lay at the bottom. 

For example, if the water is too hot for a guppy’s liking, it will swim to the tank’s bottom, where it is relatively colder. It’s because warmer water rises to the top—leaving cold, oxygenated water at the bottom. 

And since warm water has a lower oxygen level, it can also stress out a guppy—forcing it to swim or lay at the bottom. 

Here’s our water temperature guide for guppies.

And here’s a trusty thermometer by Aquaneat that I use for all my fish and turtle tanks.

It isn’t the best-looking option available in the market – you can find all kinds of stuff with LCD screens, sensors, and so on. But when it comes to something as sensitive as water temperature, I’m not a fan of reinventing wheels.

Icks In Guppies 

Guppies are susceptible to a disease called ich—pronounced ick. It is caused by a parasite and characterized by white spots. 

A guppy suffering from ick will often lay at the bottom to rub himself on the gravel or rocks. This will momentarily soothe the itch. 

Chemicals like copper sulfate and formalin are usually used to treat water when fish have icks. However, it’s important to diagnose early on as it spreads quickly. 

Stress In Guppies

Stress is by far the most common answer for the ‘why is my guppy laying on the bottom of the tank’ question. 

Guppies are social fish that love to swim in shoals. However, they can get stressed quite quickly due to several factors.  All the pointers mentioned above are stress factors for guppies. From overstocked tanks to bullies and pregnancy, the reasons are many. 

And when stressed, like every other fish, a guppy will naturally try to hide. That’s why you will find them swimming at the bottom of the tank. 

Frequently Asked Questions

A guppy swimming sideways

Why is My Guppy Sleeping At The Bottom Of The Tank?

As diurnal creatures, guppies often sleep through the night and remain active at day time. Guppies will often swim to the bottom of the tank and sleep as it’s quieter there. 

This may seem weird, but don’t be alarmed. Your guppy is just getting some rest. 

If you are not convinced, look for signs like slightly twitching or flicking fins and tail. Other than that, they will be in a pretty relaxed position. 

Guppies need only about 8-10 hours of light every day. Don’t forget to turn off the tank’s light as night falls. 

Why Is My Guppy Swimming Sideways At The Bottom Of The Tank?

If a guppy is swimming wonky, there’s seldom anything funny about it. A guppy swimming sideways at the bottom may be suffering from a damaged swim bladder. It is an organ that adjusts the fish’s buoyancy. 

Thereby, a guppy may have issues maintaining balance and staying afloat. 

Often, the swim bladder is damaged due to enlarged intestines or stomach as a result of overfeeding. 

Other times, it can be caused by a parasitic infection. 

You have to find out the root cause and start treatment accordingly. 

If it’s a simple case of overeating, you can avoid feeding for a few days. For infections, you’ll have to resort to veterinarian advice and use antibiotics. 

Conclusion On Why Is My Guppy Laying On The Bottom Of Tank

There can be several reasons a guppy is laying on bottom of tank. It can be something as harmless as giving birth to getting a good night’s sleep. On the other hand, there can also be some underlying grave issues. For instance, your guppy may be stressed due to the tank’s poor environment, bullies, diseases, and overstocking. Whenever stressed or sick, a guppy will always resort to hiding—causing them to swim at the bottom.

Relevant Readings on Guppies:

How The Guppy Got Its Spot? This is What Science Says.

How Do Predators Influence Guppy Coloration? Here’s What You Need To Know.

rohit gurung author at urbanfishkeeping

About Rohit Gurung

My never-ending love and fascination with Aquascaping started when I received a red-eared turtle for my 10th birthday.

Apart from researching and writing, I spend hours gazing at my 3 turtles. And yeah, I bask alongside them too.