Guppy Constipation (Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, Prevention)

Last Updated on 2024-06-22

If your guppy has constipation, then you’ll need to treat it before it becomes worse. Fortunately, guppy constipation is fairly easy to treat, and if your guppy does get it, the chances are you’re going to be able to treat them easily.

In this article, not only are you going to find out how to treat constipation in guppies you’ll also find out about the symptoms, what causes it, and prevention.

What Causes Constipation In Guppies?

There are a number of different things that can cause constipation in guppies. If you want to treat, constipation, you should first know the different causes. Here are some of the main ways your guppy can become constipated.

A Poor Diet

One of the most common causes of constipation in guppies is a poor diet. If you’re not giving your guppy a proper diet, then the chances are, they’re going to become constipated at some point. A poor diet will include things that they shouldn’t ever eat such as bread, as well as a lack of variety, and low quality food.

(Find out exactly what you should feed your guppy.)


As well as a poor diet, you may just be feeding your guppies too much food. Tropical fish are gutty little things, and they’ll keep on eating if you keep putting food in the tank. As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t feed them for longer than two minutes.

And any food that is left floating around in their tank should be removed as soon as possible.

They’re Not Getting Enough Exercise

If your tank isn’t big enough, then a lot of the time they’re going to become lethargic and not want to move around as much as they should. (Find out what the best size tank for your guppies is!)

On top of this, if the temperature in the tank isn’t warm enough for them, then they’re going to become more lethargic as well. Fish are cold-blooded, so a lot of their energy depends on the temperature around them.

Swim Bladder Disease

This is a little bit complicated. Constipation can be a cause of swim bladder disease, but swim bladder disease can also be a cause of constipation.

Swim bladder disease is when something has gone wrong with your guppies swim bladder, however, there are many things that cause this, including constipation.

If your guppy is suffering from swim bladder disease, that’s not caused by constipation, it could end up causing your guppy to become constipated.

(If you think that your guppy is suffering from swim bladder disease, then this is the article you need to read!)

Why Do Guppy Fry Have Constipation

To keep them from getting constipated, it is very crucial for guppy fry that they have a safe, warm, and clean place to live. But sometimes, that isn’t enough to keep your guppy fry away from digestive health problems. Here is a list of other things that causes your guppy fry to get constipated. 

Swim Bladder Disease

Most of the time, it is constipation that can cause your guppy fry to have swim bladder disease.On the other hand, if your guppy fry has swim bladder disease, it may end up having constipation.

Lack of Activity

Your guppy fry can also get constipated if they have nothing to do. Most of the time, this is because the fish tank is too small leaving them no space to swim around. Always make sure to put them in a big aquarium before they hatch into fries so they have plenty of space to go around.

Low Temperature

Fish are cold blooded, so their metabolism needs the heat from their environment to work right. If the temperature in your aquarium is low, your guppy fry will be less active, which can lead to them getting constipated.


Giving too much food can also make your guppy fries constipated. When newly hatched, guppy fries need a lot of food, so they will keep eating as long as you keep putting food in their fish tank. As a general rule, they should get between four and eight meals a day, every three to four hours.

Surface Feeding

Guppy fries are more sensitive than full-grown guppies, so they need to be fed the right way. When your guppy fries eat food that floats on the water’s surface, they may also swallow big gulps of air. The best way to keep fish from gulping air is to soak flake food for a few seconds or use food that sinks.

What Are The Symptoms Of Constipation In Guppies?

If your guppy is suffering from constipation then fortunately, there are symptoms that are going to alert you to the problem. So lookout for the symptoms below to help diagnose your guppy properly.

A Bloated Belly

This is probably the easiest symptom to spot. If you notice that your guppies are bloated, then it’s normally a good indicator that they have constipation. However, there are a few reasons this may not be the case.

If you have a female guppy, then she could be pregnant. Also, a bloated belly can also indicate dropsy (alongside pinecone scales) or swim bladder disease.

So just because your guppy has a bloated belly, don’t automatically assume that it’s because of constipation. You should look for other symptoms of constipation as well.

Not Passing Stool/Stringy Feces

Obviously, this is going to be the most clear indicator that your guppy is constipated is if they’re not passing stool. However, this is going to be extremely difficult to notice unless you’re constantly keeping an eye on your guppies.

However, you may be able to notice if your guppy has stringy feces. When your guppy is healthy the feces should just fall out and sink to the substrate. However, when they’re constipated it may hang from them instead.

Lethargy/Lack Of Swimming

When your guppy is constipated they’re going to feel lethargic and not want to swim nearly as much as before. If you think that your guppy is being lethargic, don’t just jump to conclusions right away.

Check them for a couple of hours, they may just not be as active or resting. As well as this, there might be a whole range reasons that your guppy is lethargic such as the temperature in the tank is too cold or they’re sick.

Trouble Swimming

Lastly, as well as lethargy, you may notice that your guppies are struggling to swim. This is because their bloated bellies makes it a lot more difficult for them to move around.

However, there is a whole range of things that could be causing this, including pregnancy. So it’s important to make sure you’re checking for the other symptoms as well.

How Do You Treat Guppy Constipation?

Fortunately, there are a lot of different things you can do to treat guppy constipation. And all of them are easy to do. Here are the different ways you can treat guppy constipation.

Fast Your Guppy

Before anything else, the first thing you should do is fast your guppy for 2-3 days. This may sound harsh, but you have to remember, in the wild, this would happen fairly often.

And because guppies are cold-blooded they can last much longer than we can without food.

By fasting your guppy, you’re going to help give any food in their stomach a chance to pass through completely, relieving any blockage that there may be. If you notice after 2-3 days that your guppy still seems constipated then you’ll need to move onto the next step.

Feed Them Peas

Peas are high in fiber, which will loosen up your guppies digestive tract and help them pass their stool easier. However, make sure you’re not feeding your guppy raw peas, as they’ll be too hard to swallow. Instead, do the following:

Add a pea to boiling water, and let it cook for about 30 seconds to a minute. This will blanch it just enough for your guppy to be able to eat it.

Once it’s been blanched remove the outside of the pea. The outside of the pea is going to be too difficult for your guppy to swallow. Once the outside has been removed, place the soft mushy pea inside the tank and let your guppy eat it.

Once you’ve fed your guppy a pea, leave them for 24 hours. If there constipation has passed, feed them as normal. If it hasn’t, try blanched peas two more times.

If they still haven’t worked, move onto the next step.

Try Epsom Salt

Epsom salt is a great choice when your guppies constipation is more severe. However, if you’re going to use it, then you’ll need to move your guppy to a quarantine tank.

Generally, you should dose your guppy with 1/8 of a teaspoon of epsom salt per 5 gallons of water. However, you MUST always follow the instructions on the container.

Also, when you’re using Epsom salt, make sure you’re not adding it to your tank directly. Instead, you should, take some tank water, and the dissolve the Epsom salt in it first. Once the Epsom salt has been dissolved, you can then add it to the tank.

If you’re using Epsom salt, never dose the same water twice either. You should remove 25-50% of the tanks water, before dosing with Epsom salt again.

Increase The Water Temperature

Because guppies are cold blooded, digesting food will take a lot longer when they’re in cool water. You can increase their digestion by raising the temperature of the tank. However, make sure you’re doing this slowly and only raise it a couple of degrees over a few hours.

Once the constipation has passed, slowly begin lowering the temperature again.

Change The 25% Of The Water

Lastly, you may also want to change 25% of the water. While it’s unlikely, sometimes constipation can be caused by poor water quality. So changing the water could alleviate symptoms.

And even if poor water quality isn’t causing constipation. It may still end up causing other illnesses and diseases. (That’s also one of the reasons it’s so important to have a filter in your tank.)

What Other Reasons Could Your Guppies Stomach Be Swollen?

A swollen stomach in guppies can be a sign of various health issues, ranging from minor digestive problems to serious infections or diseases.  Here are some of the most common causes:


Dropsy is a bacterial infection that can cause your guppy’s stomach to become swollen and distended. This condition is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, and pineconing of the scales.

Egg Binding

Female guppies can become egg-bound, which means that they are unable to lay their eggs. This can cause their stomach to become swollen and painful.


Although rare, guppies can develop tumors that can cause their stomach to become swollen. These tumors can be benign or malignant, and they can be difficult to diagnose without a veterinary exam.

guppy poecilia reticulata

How To Prevent Constipation In Guppies

While you can save your guppies by treating them, it’s always best to avoid constipation in the first place. And, it’s fairly easy to prevent.

Here are some of the best things you can do to drastically reduce the chance of your guppies suffering from constipation in the first place.

Make Sure You’re Feeding Them A High Quality Diet

Generally, constipation is most likely going to be caused by a low-quality diet. If you’ve been feeding your guppies cheap flake food, or you haven’t been varying their diet enough, then it’s inevitably going to lead to constipation.

(Check out the 8 best fish foods for guppies.)

So make sure you’re using high-quality food. And that you’re also mixing it up. Daphnia, brine shrimp, and mosquito larvae are the three best live foods you can give your guppy, although they’ll also love them freeze-dried or frozen as well.

You may have heard that guppies love blood-worms and they do, but you definitely don’t want to make them a staple part of their diet. Blood-worms are extremely fatty and may end up causing more problems than they solve.

And to make sure they’re getting enough vegetation in their diet, you can also try giving them blanched vegetables like lettuce, peas, and zucchini too!

Mixing up their diet and making sure you’re giving them high-quality food is going to work wonders for them.

Make Sure You’re Keeping Them In A Big Enough Tank

If your tank isn’t big enough for your guppies, then they’re not going to get enough exercise. And without enough exercise, it’s much more likely that they’re going to suffer from constipation.

Guppies should rarely be kept in tanks that are smaller than 10 gallons. And on top of this, each additional guppy is going to require more space. After 10 gallons, a good amount of space to keep each additional guppy in is an extra 2 gallons. This way they’re definitely going to have enough space to swim.

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

Keep The Water Temperature Warm Enough

As you now know, by warming up the temperature you’re going to help speed up your guppies metabolism. However, if you’re keeping your tank warm enough in the first place you won’t need to do this.

That’s why it’s so important that you keep a heater in your tank all the time. So that the temperature never drops and your guppies can have the maximum amount of energy they need.

Can Constipation Kill Guppies?

You may think constipation isn’t a big deal, because it’s not a big deal in humans. However, make no mistake. If you don’t treat guppies for constipation there’s a good chance that they’ll die.

Even if the constipation doesn’t kill them, the weakened immune system that comes with it over time will open them up to a whole range of diseases.

So make sure if you do notice that your guppy is suffering from constipation that you don’t ignore it. And that you make sure you treat it quickly.

Can You Feed Guppies Canned Peas

Many beginner aquarists don’t realize this but it is actually safe for guppies to eat peas. They are nutritious and it has fiber, which helps them digest food and keeps them from getting constipated. Peas are also full of vitamins, which help guppies grow and make their immune systems stronger.

The thing about canned peas is that they are soaked in water with salt and many other preservatives. If you feed your guppies canned peas, make sure to wash and rinse them well to get rid of any harmful substances. So, the canned peas will be safe for your guppies to eat.

Don’t forget that you should only give them a small amount of peas. If your guppies eat too many peas, they will unironically get constipated and bloated. Before putting it in the fish tank, cut it up into small pieces to make it easier for your guppies to eat.


How Do I Know If My Guppy Are Overfed?

Overfed guppies may become lethargic, and their stomachs may appear swollen. Additionally, if you notice a significant amount of uneaten food in the tank after feeding, this is a clear sign that you are providing too much food.


As you can see, constipation is a lot more serious than you may think. So it’s extremely important that you take the time to treat, or even better, prevent it from happening in the first place.

However, with that being said. If you do notice that your guppy has constipation and you treat them as best you can, there’s a strong possibility they’ll survive.

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