I was a bit stressed when I saw my guppy fish at the bottom of the tank instead of darting around. I was afraid they might have been sick or something. Luckily, as time passed, I learned why it was happening and how to deal with the issue.
Guppies typically lay and sit at the bottom of the tank due to environmental factors, including poor water quality, inadequate temperature, lack of oxygen, and disease. These induce stress among guppies, forcing them to stay at the bottom. However, in some cases, the guppy is merely resting.
As we move forward, I will share five easy steps to bring your guppy back to life. For those of you who hurry, the first step would be checking the water parameters using the API Aquarium Test Kit (link to Amazon).
Why is my Guppy Laying at the Bottom of the Tank?
1. Poor Water Quality
The most common reason for a guppy to sit or lay at the bottom of their tank is poor water quality. Ammonia, pH, and nitrate levels are key factors that cause anxiety and illness for guppies.
Ammonia is produced from fish waste and uneaten food particles. This ammonia is toxic to all aquarium fish when its concentration exceeds 0.00 ppm (parts per million). It is recommended to keep levels below 0.30 ppm, but even at this level, if not enough water changes are done, it will result in health problems for the guppy.
The ideal pH level for guppies is between 7.0 and 8.0, but it is more common for them to be found at levels below 7.0. This means that the water is too acidic. That can easily cause burn and skin problems on your guppies.
Guppies are also highly sensitive to nitrate levels, which should be kept below 20 ppm. Nitrate affects the guppy’s blood chemistry, which results in changes in its immune system that can allow for disease and parasites to attack. Nitrates come mainly from fish food but also fish waste and urine.
2. The Wrong Temperature
This is not the most common reason for the disease, but it still occurs. Guppies kept in water that is too warm cannot regulate their temperature, so they probably become stressed and sick. Guppies are tropical fish and need to be kept in temperatures between 74 and 82 F (23 to 28 C).
It is also essential that the temperature remains stable. If the temperature is changing, for example, from the house temperature or direct sunlight, your guppy will be highly stressed. As a result, it will move around, looking for more comfortable areas. In some cases, it will stay at the bottom, which is usually cooler.
3. Lack of Oxygen
Guppies are in constant movement. They chug along the surface of the water, swimming and hunting for food. However, if there is a lack of oxygen in their tank, they will stop moving and start to breathe heavily.
It is also worth mentioning that cold water holds oxygen better than hot water. Therefore, if your tank lacks oxygen, your guppies will seek more oxygenated areas. That includes the lower sections of your tank (resulting in your guppy sitting at the bottom).
Low oxygen is typical to tanks that do not have enough aeration. Stagnant water does not allow for a lot of air to circulate, which results in oxygen deprivation. Also, your pump and filter motor might not have enough strength to pull water up and out.
4. Stressful Environment
Another cause of laying at the bottom could be a stressful environment. Guppies are sensitive and vulnerable to their surroundings. Besides inadequate water conditions, guppy fish may be stressed by aggressive tankmates.
That is especially true for large and predatory fish, including Oscars, Jack Dempsey, and Rainbow Sharks. These may nip on your guppy’s fins, forcing them to escape to the bottom of the tank.
Another reason your guppy may be stressed is a lack of hiding places. Guppies feel more comfortable when they have places where they can hide. This will give them security and a sense of protection from potential predators.
Infectious diseases can cause guppy fish to lay on the bottom of their tank. The most common is swim bladder disease. It is an internal bacterial infection that usually causes an increase in the fish’s abdomen. As a result, your guppy will have difficulty swimming, which is why it lays on the bottom of its tank.
Another common disease is Ich, an infection caused by a parasite. It may cause the fish to act lethargically and corner itself in a specific area. You might even notice that your fish is constantly rubbing itself against the glass or objects in the aquarium.
Generally, guppy fish that are sick appear pale, lack energy, and cannot move. They might even refuse food and lose weight. So if you see your guppy do these things, it may be a sign that it is sick and needs to be treated immediately.
Once the disease gets worse, the symptoms become more evident. That is because the illness starts to affect the basic functions of the fish. For example, they might experience difficulty breathing (impervious air bladder) or show abnormal physical behavior (such as laying on the bottom).
What to do if Your Guppy is Laying at the Bottom
If your guppy sits at the bottom of the tank and doesn’t move from there, there are a few steps you should follow to steps the issue:
1. Measure the Water Parameters
One of the first things you should do is measure your water parameters. You can do this by taking a sample from the tank. Personally, I use the API Aquarium Test Kit (link to Amazon). That bundle is excellent for such situations because it gives an accurate estimation of the pH, ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites levels.
If the water is too acidic, I suggest performing regular water changes. As a rule of thumb, I replace 15 to 20 percent of the water weekly. After each change, I measure my aquarium parameters to see if something went wrong.
If you are using tap water for your tank, I recommend getting the API TAP Water Conditioner (link to Amazon). That product will remove chlorine and chloramines from the water. This way, you don’t have to let the water sit before introducing it to your fish.
2. Adjusting the Temperature
As mentioned earlier, guppies’ ideal temperature falls between 74 and 82 F (23 to 28 C). Also, the temperature must remain stable. To achieve that, I use the Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Pro Aquarium Heater (link to Amazon), which I also reviewed here.
After testing numerous heaters, I can say that this device is undoubtedly the best. With a power of 50 watts, it can heat a 12-gallon tank within minutes. And it does that while maintaining the desired temperature impressively stable.
3. Increasing Oxygen Levels
The next thing you should do is increase the oxygen level in your tank. Even if your guppies aren’t laying at the bottom due to oxygen deficiencies, elevating oxygen will help them deal with the underlying condition. For starters, I suggest getting the Hygger Aquarium Air Stone (link to Amazon).
All you have to do is place that device in the middle of your tank, and the device will take care of the rest. I like this one because it provides a nice amount of oxygen to the entire area, which is a significant advantage compared to other models.
You can also oxygenate your tank by pouring new water from above. By creating aeration, more oxygen will dissolve into the water from the surface. However, this type of aeration will only suffice if the surface of the water isn’t disturbed.
4. Adding a Few Plants
You can decrease stress among your guppies by adding some plants, including Vallisneria, Anubias, or Amazon Sword. You can also use plastic plants or decorations if you wish to avoid growing real plants.
These will provide your guppies with shelter, which will naturally mitigate stress among your fish. If your guppy sits at the bottom due to aggressive tankmates, providing hiding places is the best way to go.
I also suggest checking whether your tank is overcrowded. The rule of thumb is keeping one to three fish for every five gallons of water. If you have more than that, you should remove some of your fish to make space for those suffering.
5. Dealing With Sick Guppies
Sick guppies will present signs like lethargy, loss of weight, and apathy. If you notice these signs, I highly suggest isolating the fish in a quarantine tank. This will prevent the infection from spreading across the tank.
Use the same water from the community tank for the hospital one. Then, raise the temperature by one to two degrees F. You can also use the API Aquarium Salt (link to Amazon). Pour one tablespoon for every five gallons of water.
If your guppy seems bloated and you suspect a swim bladder disease, I suggest letting the fish fast for two to three days. You can also use peeled peas. This is not a guaranteed cure; however, it has worked for me in the past. Here is a Youtube video that demonstrates how to do that:
You can also use the Seachem ParaGuard Parasite Control (link to Amazon) if you suspect your guppy is suffering from Ich. Either way, I suggest consulting an aquatic vet. An expert will help you adjust the proper remedy for your fish. If you wish, you can capture your fish on camera and present it to the nearest pet shop.
How do I Know if my Guppy is Dying?
You can tell that your guppy is dying if it presents signs like a bloated belly, loss of appetite, and a lack of movement. Also, guppies that are near death will lay at the bottom of the tank and breathe rapidly. If you see these signs, make sure to isolate the fish and treat it immediately.
Guppies that are dying can be saved. However, it requires you to act quickly to prevent potential infections from spreading across your tank. Once the fish is in a quarantine tank, follow the tips above to treat it properly.
Do Guppies Rest on the Bottom?
Guppies don’t necessarily rest at the bottom. Like other fish, they tend to float in place when sleeping. This can happen in different sections, including the top, middle, and bottom. If your guppy stays in the bottom all day long, it is probably suffering and requires your assistance.
If you are not sure, tap on the glass and see how your guppy responds. If your fish comes back to life and starts swimming around, everything is okay. However, if it remains apathetic and refuses to move, isolate the fish.
If you found this article useful, these may also interest you:
- Ammonia Still High After a Water Change: All Reasons & Solutions
- Is 0.25 ppm Ammonia Bad? Will it Kill Fish?
- Guppies Swimming at the Top of the Tank: Reasons & Solutions
- Guppy Tail Drooping: Treating Bent Guppy Fish
- Guppy Losing Tail, Scales and Fins: Reasons & Solutions
Laying at the bottom of the tank is a sign that something isn’t right. Guppies are considered hardy fish, but if conditions aren’t ideal, they will suffer. Mainly, this is due to water conditions and stress.
The best way to keep your guppy healthy is by using the right equipment and adding the recommended plants and decorations. In addition, you should monitor your tank closely and perform regular water changes so that your fish always has clean and safe water.
If your guppy keeps laying at the bottom of the tank, you should act now before the issues worsen. Before making any changes to your tank, check my recommended equipment above. Remember that the key to healthy guppies is proper aquarium set-up and maintenance.