Housing fish in an aquarium is a delicate balancing act. If you’re not keeping the conditions of the tank as close to perfect as possible, then the inhabitants may begin to act aggressively. You may be wondering, “do guppies fight?” Well, keep reading to find out!
You’ll also learn how to stop guppies from bullying each other as well!
Do Guppies Fight?
Guppies do fight contrary to popular belief. However, while they do fight, there is often a reason behind fighting and bullying, as well as many ways you can stop it!
So if you think your guppies are fighting, but you weren’t sure, then you’re not going crazy! The chances are they were. And if you want to stop fighting, then you should first figure out why it’s happening in the first place.
Why Do Guppies Fight And Bully Each Other?
There are plenty of reasons that guppies fight and bully each other, and by pinpointing the exact reason or reasons, you can stop fighting and bullying from happening.
Here are the most common reasons.
When New Fish Enter The Tank
Fighting may occur whenever you add a new guppy to the tank or, in some cases, any new fish. The guppies in the tank will begin to fight to assert dominance over the other fish in the tank.
And if the newly added fish is timid, then they may end up becoming bullied themselves.
However, while it’s rarer, a new guppy added to the tank may also begin fighting and bullying to assert their dominance over the other fish in the tank as well.
One of the most common reasons that fighting and bullying occurs is competition. Males are constantly competing for the right to mate with females. And they do this by showing their beautiful coloring off as intimidation for males and peacocking for females.
However, some guppies will intimidate the other guppies in the tank by fighting with them and showing them that they are the true dominant male in the tank.
(Find out the best ways to keep male and female guppies together.)
Not Enough Females
Another reason fighting and bullying may occur is when there aren’t enough females in the tank. If there are too many males, then they’ll all begin fighting over what little females are in the tank.
There’s Always An Abundance Of Food
If you’re taking care of your guppies, then they’re always going to have an abundance of food. In nature, this simply isn’t the case. In fact, just the act of finding food to keep them healthy takes up most of their time.
Because your guppies have a constant source of food, they don’t have to spend a lot of time looking for it. And without that preoccupation, the only other thing left to do is compete for mates.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should stop feeding them as much. Feeding your guppies is going to keep them healthy and strong. And if you suddenly cut off their food source, then aggression is also likely to increase as they notice the scarcity.
Do Female Guppies Fight?
While it’s not as common, female guppies also fight on occasion. However, it generally isn’t as bad as when the males fight, and it’s normally harassment more than fighting.
Why Do Females Guppies Fight?
Female on female aggression generally has different motives behind it than male aggression. And in fact, a lot of the time, males are actually the cause of this kind of aggression.
There Are Males In The Tank
Females are more likely to fight when there are males in the tank; however, it’s not for the reason you think. Female guppies are social and spend time with each member of the school to help bond and establish a hierarchy.
However, when males are in the tank, they often harass the female guppies, which results in them being unable to spend as much time with each fish as they need to.
When this happens, they don’t bond as well, and they often end up becoming aggressive towards each other and fighting.
Another reason that they might be acting aggressively when there’s a male in the tank is misplaced aggression. They may be getting so frustrated with the way the males are harassing them that they end up taking it out on other females in the tank.
When A Female Is Pregnant
Another reason those female guppies may end up fighting or bullying is when one of them is pregnant. When a female is pregnant, she may become more aggressive, especially when it comes to feeding time.
If this is the case, she may end up fighting other fish in the tank in an attempt to get the food she needs.
Occasionally, the dominant female in the tank will also attack other females who become pregnant.
(Find out how to tell when a female guppy is pregnant.)
How Can You Tell If Your Guppies Are Fighting?
It can be hard to know if your guppies are fighting or if it’s just part of the natural mating patterns. However, here are some ways you can spot whether they are fighting or not, especially when you’re not always watching the tank.
One common sign of bullying is fins that have become frayed or fins that are damaged in some way. This is because guppies and other fish will tend to nip at the fins of their adversaries.
However, just be careful; as well as being caused by bullying or fighting, it may also be being caused by diseases such as fin rot.
Fish Will Hide
Normally when a fish is being bullied, it’ll spend more time isolated and hiding from the other fish in the tank. So if you look into your tank, you may notice the guppies are fighting or getting bullied, spending a lot more time hiding.
It will normally be in plants or ornaments, but it could be any part of the tank that they hide in.
A Fish Has Died
If you notice a dead fish in your tank, then you should check all the water parameters to make sure that there’s nothing wrong.
However, if the water parameters are all clear and a fish has died, then it may be bullying that’s caused it. When inspecting the dead fish, look for any damage on their fins and tail, which is often a tell-tale sign of bullying.
While some levels of guppy chasing are normal (especially when a male chases a female), constant chasing definitely isn’t.
If a male is constantly chasing other males, or if a female is constantly being harassed, then it may be bullying and fighting occurring, rather than mating behavior.
(Find out more about aggression in guppies.)
Why Do Guppies Bully?
As well as noticing guppies fighting amongst themselves, on occasion, there may be the odd guppy that also bullies other fish in your tank as well.
Here are a couple of reasons a guppy may bully other fish.
Long Flowing Tails And Fins
Some fish like to go after other fish that have long flowing tails and long fins. They will constantly nip and harass them until they’re tattered and ruined. They may do this because they have an aggressive streak in them or because they see the other fish as a competitor or a threat.
Whatever the case, long tails, and fins are often a big cause of why guppies bully.
A Sick Fish
You may also notice that guppies begin to become bullies when a member of their school is sick. When there’s a sick fish in their midst, they’re a threat to the rest of the guppies. So they’ll begin to bully and harass them to move them away from the others and keep them on their own.
They’re In A Small Group
Another reason is when your guppies are in a small group. When they’re in groups of 3-4, one guppy may try to assert dominance over all the others by bullying them or fighting with them.
This is the main reason it’s a good idea to house lots more guppies together rather than a few.
How To Stop Guppies Bullying And Fighting
There are lots of ways you can stop guppies from bullying and fighting with each other, as well as protecting guppies that are being bullied. It’s essential that you do this; otherwise, you may end up with a dead guppy in your tank.
Here are the different ways you can stop guppy bullying and fighting!
Keep Larger Groups
One thing you can do is keep guppies in larger groups. When you keep guppies in large groups, the aggression will be spread more evenly, so no one fish will end up being bullied or becoming a bully.
Just make sure if you’re keeping them in large groups that the tank is also big enough for them as well.
Keep More Females Than Males
The more females there are in comparison to males in the tank, the less likely that aggression will occur. The males won’t harass any individual female as much, and they also won’t need to compete for attention as much.
When keeping males and females together, you should keep the ratio of 1 male for every 3 females. This way, you’re going to limit the amount of conflict without ending up with a tank full of babies.
(To find out more about keeping males and females together, then check out this article!)
Provide Plenty Of Hiding Spaces
You should also provide plenty of hiding spaces and breaks in lines of sight as well. To do this, fill your tank with plants and ornaments. Driftwood and man-made caves are great choices, as well as plants like anubias, java fern, duckweed and betta bulbs.
This way, it’ll be easier for any guppy being bullied or harassed to swim away and stay safe.
Feed Them Enough
Make sure you’re feeding your guppies enough. They’re used to getting an abundance of food, and if they don’t get it, they may end up acting aggressively out of scarcity.
You should be feeding your guppies a couple of times a day for a couple of minutes. Give them as much food as they can eat. After this, remove any food that they haven’t eaten.
Test The Water
If the water conditions in your tank are bad, then your guppies will become stressed, which could cause them to act more aggressively. Pay particular attention to the pH, ammonia, and temperature of the tank to make sure they are all in check. They’re the most likely to have something wrong with them.
(Find out more about the ideal pH level for guppies.)
Increase The Tank Size
You should also make sure that the tank is the right size for the number of guppies you’re keeping in it. If it’s not big enough, then they’re going to become more aggressive as they don’t have their own space or places to rest.
Each guppy needs about 2.5 gallons of water, and it isn’t recommended to keep guppies in tanks below 10 gallons. So if your tank is too small, you should consider investing in a larger one.
Remove Constant Aggressors
If there’s a guppy in your tank that constantly acts aggressive, then you should remove them from the tank and place them in another tank. If you can’t do this, then you should consider giving them back to the pet shop or finding another home for them. Some fish are just naturally aggressive, and there’s nothing you can do to stop this.
Sometimes you only need to remove the aggressor for a couple of days before adding them back to the tank, and they’ll start behaving better.
Make Sure They’re Not Mating
Sometimes mating behavior can be mistaken for bullying. Before you do anything, make sure that your guppies are actually fighting or bullying, not just trying to mate.
What Should You Do With Bullied Guppies?
If your bullied guppy is starting to show signs of injury or sickness, then you should move them to another tank on their own. This way, you can monitor their health and, if necessary, help them heal as well.
Apart from this, the only other option, as previously mentioned, is to remove the aggressor. If you remove the victim, then the aggressor is likely to find another fish to start bullying instead.
It’s common for guppies to fight and bully each other when the right conditions aren’t met for them. But with that being said, fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can stop this from happening!
Guppies are fantastic fish, and they’re well worth taking the time to look after, so don’t let this article put you off!