Are Guppies Aggressive? (Guppy Fighting Guide)

Last Updated on 2023-05-27

If you’re thinking about adding guppies to your tank, or you’re just getting started and you don’t know what fish to choose, there are a lot of questions. One such question is “are guppies aggressive?”

In this article not only are you going to find out about guppy aggression, but you’ll also learn, how common it is, and if it does occur how to deal with it! So keep reading to find out everything you need to know!

Are Guppies Aggressive & Do They Fight?

Guppies are peaceful fish, so aggression from them is rare. When aggression does occur, it is likely due to breeding rights or overcrowding. If you’re looking for non-aggressive fish for your tank, they are still a great choice.

What Are The Signs Of Guppy Aggression

You can’t watch your tank all the time. So it’s important to spot the signs of guppy aggression. That way you’ll be able to notice it even when you’re not around. Here are some of the most common signs of aggression.

1. Damaged And Frayed Fins

One of the most common signs that your guppies are acting aggressive towards each other are damaged and frayed fins. If you notice this, then it typically means that they’re getting nipped by other fish in the tank.

However, it’s important to remember that while it could be from guppies, it could be from other fish in your tank. Especially known fin nippers like barbs, or from more aggressive fish like bettas or gouramis.

(Some great tank mates for guppies include platies and neon tetras.)

Lastly, it could also be a sign of a disease called fin rot. So it’s important not to assume straight away that damaged fins are caused by aggression. Although it is a possibility.

2. Fish Are Hiding

Another sign that a guppy may be acting aggressively is if you notice certain fish are hiding. If it’s just guppies in your tank and you notice that you can never see all of them, then the chances are that bullying and aggression is occuring.

Once again, though, it’s important to remember that bullying can come from any species of fish and doesn’t necessarily mean that a guppy is the culprit.

3. Guppies Chasing Each Other

One of the most common signs of aggression is when one guppy is constantly chasing another. This is because they’re trying to assert their dominance by scaring them and attacking them. While it occurs more in males, it doesn’t mean females won’t do it either (you’ll find out more about this later).

However, a little bit of chasing is normal as the males are going to try and mate with the females. You should become concerned when the chasing also includes fin nipping, fighting, or when it’s relentless.

4. A Dead Fish

Another obvious sign that there is aggression occurring in your tank is if you notice a dead fish. However, make sure you only take this as a sign if you notice other signs of bullying as well.

And when you do notice a dead fish it’s also important to check the tank parameters, as well as the inhabitants to make sure that there’s nothing wrong.

5. Signs Of Stress

And lastly signs of stress such as a loss of appetite or faded colors are another sign that your guppies are being bullied or there is aggression occurring in the tank.

(Find out all the reasons your guppy may have died.)

What Causes Aggression In Guppies

While it’s rare for your guppies to actually become aggressive, there are a lot of things that can cause aggression in guppies. Such as:

1. Illness & Disease

If one of your guppies is sick or diseased, then they may begin to act aggressively to defend themselves. This is natural instinct as by being defensive, it’s less likely other fish will try to attack them.

2. Dominance

Guppies can also experience dominance issues, especially when the males are competing for females, or if there is a scarcity of food in the tank. Aggressive behavior can lead to bullying, fin nipping, and stress for the weakest and most docile guppies.

To avoid this, make sure to provide plenty of hiding spots and plants for the guppies to seek refuge in.

3. Competition for Mating

We all know guppies love to breed, and it may be the case that aggression occurs because of this. Not just the males being aggressive towards other males, but also females being aggressive to males who are pestering them too much. This can lead to fighting and stress for both males and females.

The easiest way to deal with this is providing multiple females for each male so they don’t end up attacking each other.

4. Food Scarcity

If your guppies aren’t being fed enough or the right food, then they’ll become more aggressive as they compete for food amongst each other. So make sure you’re providing your guppies with all the food they need. And any uneaten food should be removed from the tank as soon as possible!

(Find out more about what you should feed your guppies.)

5. Overcrowding

Overcrowding is one of the biggest causes of stress in guppies, and if your tank is overcrowded, then it’s going to cause aggression extremely quickly. You should be keeping one inch of guppy per gallon of water, to ensure you’re not overcrowding your tank. And keep in mind that guppies breed quickly, so monitoring the population regularly is the key to keeping the tank stocked correctly.

(If you’re interested, here are how many guppies you can keep in a 5 gallon, 10 gallon and, 20 gallon fish tank!)

6. The Group Is Too Small

Guppies are social fish and thrive in large groups. As a rule you should be keeping a minimum of three guppies together (2 females and 1 male). As your tank size increases you can start to keep more and more, and stick to a 2:1 ratio where possible.

7. Introduction of New Guppies

Introducing new guppies to an established tank can be stressful for both the new and existing guppies. So when introducing new guppies to your tank, monitor their behavior closely and be prepared to remove them if necessary.

It’s also a good idea at this time to make sure that your adding plenty of hiding places to your guppies tank to reduce the chances of aggression occurring.

How To Stop Guppies From Being Aggressive

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to stop your guppies from being aggressive. Remember, if you don’t act when you notice aggression, then you could end up with a dead fish.

1. Keep More Females Than Males

One of the best things you can do is make sure that you’re keeping more females than males. Males are going to become a lot more aggressive to each other when there’s more competition for females. As well as this, the females are also going to be a lot more stressed as they’ll constantly be being harassed by the males.

As a rule of thumb, you should have a 2:1 ratio of females to males. However, more females are always better.

2. Add Hiding Places

You should also make sure that your tank has plenty of hiding places for your guppies. Giving them lots of hiding places will help reduce the chance of aggression occuring. Not only, can your guppies get away when there are more hiding spots, but they also break lines of sight a lot easier.

When lines of sights are broken, then it’s much more likely that a guppy will cease acting aggressively.

If you’re not sure what kind of hiding places you should add then plants are normally a great choice. Especially large leaf plants like anubias. As well as plants, caves driftwood and ornaments also make great hiding places.

(Find out the best ways to set up a guppy tank.)

3. Make Sure The Tank Isn’t Crowded Or Too Small

You should also make sure that your tank isn’t too crowded or too small. If your tank is too small then your guppies are going to fight for territory too often. And of course, the same thing is true if you’re keeping too many guppies together.

You can keep 3 guppies in a 10-gallon tank together, after that you’ll need an additional two gallons per guppy. This way ensures they have enough space from each other and will reduce the chances of aggression.

(Find out how many guppies you can keep in a 5 gallon, 10 gallon, and 20 gallon tank.)

4. Remove The Culprit

One of the best things you can do is remove the culprit altogether and move them to another tank. Normally, it’s just one fish that’s going to cause a problem, and once you remove that fish, every other fish will have a much better life.

If you don’t have another fish tank handy, then you can always try returning your fish to the fish shop if they’ll have them. Of course this isn’t always practical however, so you may need to try the other methods.

And, you should also take this time to make sure it’s just your guppies being aggressive and not other fish in the tank as well.

5. Make Sure They’re Getting Enough Food

You also need to make sure that you’re feeding your guppies enough. If you don’t feed them enough, then obviously, they’re going to begin fighting for food.

You should be feeding your guppies for two minutes at a time. Giving them as much food as they can eat

What About An Aggressive Female Guppy?

You may notice that it’s not a male guppy that’s being aggressive, but one of the females. In fact, this is more common than you might think. And there are actually a few reasons that female guppies may end up being aggressive.

The main reason that female guppies can become aggressive is when they’re establishing a pecking order. The most dominant female will often bully the other females to make sure she’s getting the most food. In fact, this becomes even more common when the female is pregnant.

If you notice this you don’t have to worry too much, as most of the time it’s just chasing and nudging. However, if you notice nipping then you’ll need to take action.

Why Is A Female Guppy Attacking Males?

You may also notice that sometimes a female guppy will attack a male. And there’s actually a couple of reasons they do this.

The first reason is that the male is sick or diseased. Unfortunately, just like in the wild, your guppies aren’t going to feel sympathetic to each other. And often when one becomes sick or diseased, they’ll just end up being killed by the other fish in your tank.

The other reason is to stop being pestered all the time. This becomes a lot more common if they’re not getting enough food, there’s not enough space in the tank, or they’re already pregnant.

What About Male Guppies Fighting?

Another common issue you’ll notice is male guppies fighting. If you do notice this then the best thing you can do is introduce more females into the tank. Asides from this just follow the advice above. Add hiding places, make sure they’re getting fed enough and that the tank is big enough.

In some cases, no matter how many females are in your tank, you’re still going to have an aggressive male. If this is the case then your best choice is to remove them from the tank, and put them in another one.

Can Guppies Kill Each Other?

It’s entirely possible that guppies male or female can kill other guppies in their tank. If you don’t remove a bully or aggressor, then the chances of another guppy in your tank dying are going to increase.

While it’s not as likely that they’ll outright kill each other by attacking. The chances of a disease or illness overcoming your guppies while they’re weak and injured are much more likely. This is why it’s so important to make sure bullying isn’t occurring in your tank.

After all, it’s not like in the wild where they can just swim away. In captivity they’re stuck with their attacker.

Will Guppies Eat Other Fish

Guppies won’t normally eat other fish, however, if they’re hungry enough, then they may be forced too. But with regular feeding, you shouldn’t notice guppies in your tank eating other fish.

Why Are Your Guppies Attacking Other Fish?

Guppies rarely attack other fish, but when they do it is generally because they’re in overcrowded conditions where they’re fighting for dominance, territory or food. If you notice your guppy attacking other fish, you should move them to a bigger tank.

Are Guppies Aggressive_ (Guppy Fighting Guide)


So are guppies aggressive and do they attack each other? The answer is yes they can be. So you need to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to reduce the chances of aggression.

Aggression is much more likely to occur when you have too many males and not enough females. However, female guppies can also be aggressive when they’re pregnant, or trying to establish dominance.

You can reduce the chance of aggression by adding lots of hiding spaces, making sure the tank is big enough, and making sure it’s not overcrowded.

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