It isn’t hard to see why guppies are one of the most popular types of fish to own. They are inexpensive, low maintenance, and fun to watch. The reason they’re so fun to watch? They have quirky personalities.
They are active and social but sometimes have strange behaviors. One common bizarre guppy action is hanging around the filter. If your guppies spend too much time by the filter, you may question if this is normal behavior.
Why are my guppies hanging around the filter? There is a long list of reasons as to why your guppies spend an excessive amount of time around the filter. It can be related to your guppies’ environment, health, or social standings among other fish. Unfortunately, to pinpoint the reason, you’ll have to spend some time observing your aquarium.
The good news? There’s always a way to fix it.
But before you can fix this odd filter behavior, you need to know what you’re looking for. Continue reading below to get all the helpful information you need.
1. Your tank has poor water quality
If all of your guppies seem to be spending all their time around the filter, your water quality may be to blame. A filter is necessary for cleaning the water in your tank. It sucks up debris and rids the water of toxic ammonia.
Also, filters help add oxygen to the water, helping your guppies breathe.
If you have poor water quality in the tank, guppies will flock to the filter. This is because they are trying to get as close to the best quality water as they can. If the water quality has been substandard for an extended period, your fish may be hiding by the filter because they are sick.
An excess of ammonia can poison your guppies.
If water quality is the issue, do a major water change of at least 50% with dechlorinated water. Also, get rid of as much debris as you can. Guppy waste and old food quickly rots and turns into ammonia. Use a vacuum to suck up the debris.
Staying on top of water quality is important, and easy to do if checked frequently. Purchase an ammonia test kit to ensure your water quality is fine.
2. Your pump is too strong
Current flow in an aquarium is important to maintaining a stable environment. It’s important to have a good quality pump, but not one that is too powerful. An excessively strong pump causes an excessively strong current in the tank.
This means your guppies will struggle to swim and might be blown around the tank by the strong flow.
If this is the case, guppies usually gather by the filter. The areas surrounding the filter are often a dead spot. The water is much calmer and easier for your guppies to inhabit. It gives them an area to rest.
It’s easy to spot this issue. Most guppies will take refuge by the filter. The ones swimming freely will appear to struggle or be blown around. If this is your issue, correct it as soon as possible by providing an appropriate filter.
Guppies living in a strong current quickly become stressed and can die.
3. Your guppy is pregnant
If you notice one of your female guppies hanging out alone by the filter, it may be pregnant. Guppies about to give birth like to hide by the filter because it has a lot of coverage. It offers a safe space to have her babies.. It is vital to have a safe spot since other guppies eat the newborn fry.
Not sure if your filter loving guppy is pregnant? It’s easy to tell from a little observation. The biggest indicator is locating a dark patch on your guppy’s stomach near her tail.
This spot becomes darker and more swollen as the pregnancy progresses. Additionally, pregnant guppies can have a change in appetite, fading colors, and a change in behavior.
If your guppy is pregnant, it is best to isolate her until she has her fry. This prevents the vulnerable mother and babies from getting harassed by other fish.
After she gives birth, you should move her to another separate area to recover for a day or two. We created a complete article on isolating the pregnant guppy here.
Keep the fry separate. Mother fish are also guilty of eating their babies in some cases. We explain more about guppies that eat their babies in this article!
4. Your guppy is hiding
Have you ever had a day where you want to hide from the world in a safe space? That feeling is not unique to humans. Like most living creatures, guppies also like to have a hiding spot. If there aren’t many hiding spots available, the filter is the go-to spot.
Guppies hiding for a short time is normal. Often, a hiding guppy wants some time away from the other fish. However, guppies tend to hide for long periods if they are stressed. This can be caused by a bully fish or an aquarium in a high traffic area.
Additionally, guppies placed in an unfamiliar environment tend to take cover. A new home can be both scary and stressful. Your new guppy may want to hide until it feels safe.
As previously mentioned, if there’s nowhere to hide, guppies gravitate towards the filter for cover. It’s essential to have lots of hiding spots for your fish.
Plants, rocks, and ceramic decorations make great options. It not only gives your fish a place to hide but makes your tank more beautiful.
5. You have a bully in your aquarium
It may surprise you to learn that each guppy has its own unique personality. It can run the spectrum from shy to aggressive. Some of those aggressive guppies take it the extra mile- they act like real bullies. How rude.
Similarly to those cliche school bullies stealing lunch money, they prey on the small and weak. But unlike the movies, the bullied guppies probably won’t have some big, underdog triumph over its aggressor. They are going to hide somewhere secluded and safe, like by the filter.
It can be difficult to determine the reason for bullying, but there are some steps you can take to help mellow out your bully guppies and protect your bullied guppies. First, it helps to determine the gender ratio in your tank.
If you have way more males than females, it can be the root cause of bullying.
A shortage of females means that male fish have to compete more intensely to win over a female. Fish often do this by asserting dominance over other males, sending scared males into hiding. Balance out the equation by adding more female guppies to your tank.
If evening out the gender ratio doesn’t help, you can put your bully in “time out”. It may seem silly, but many fish owners claim that segregation successfully leads to a permanent attitude adjustment. Catch your bully fish and leave it in a breeder’s net alone for 24 hours.
There are a variety of reasons that can cause your guppies to hang out around the filter. Whatever the cause may be, it’s important to take notice and understand why your guppy is displaying this behavior.
Despite the reason, take action to get your guppy out of hiding. They are at their best when swimming happily around the tank, and it’s best for us- we get to see more of their natural beauty.