Do Guppies Bite? (Why + Do They Bite Humans?)

Image of guppies trying to bite other fish

Guppies are docile creatures, making them perfect for community aquariums. However, these little creatures can become territorial, much to your surprise. So, do guppies bite?

Yes, guppies bite each other or their tank mates under stressful conditions. They become aggressive and resort to biting for defending their territory. Guppies also bite due to lack of space, food scarcity, stress, poor water quality, unfavorable water parameters, and the absence of females to mate.

Let’s now understand what factors trigger guppies to bite each other or their tank mates.

Why Do Guppies Bite?

All fish, including guppies, can become aggressive under certain circumstances, no matter how peaceful their nature is.

Guppies can become territorial and bite each other for numerous reasons. The most common reasons are listed below.

1. Territoriality.

The most common reason for aggression between two guppies is that one has taken over another’s territory.

This can happen when there’s not enough space in the tank for all the guppies.

Guppies tend to occupy certain areas in the aquarium and set them as their territory.

These areas can be any corner of the aquarium, cave, rocks, or the surrounding driftwood areas.

Such areas make them feel secure and give them a place to rest, hide, and breed. Hence, guppies try to defend their territory.

They become aggressive and bite the other guppies that invade their space.

The extent of their aggression depends a lot on the reaction of the other guppy.

If the other guppy is just wandering by, it will get chased, followed by a gentle threat to run away.

On the contrary, if the encroaching guppy tries to take over the territory or steal the mate, it will result in a fierce battle between the two, leading to biting.

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2. Poor water conditions.

Guppies need clean water to thrive.

However, if the aquarium water quality is poor, guppies can become aggressive due to the stress caused by unhealthy living conditions.

The water quality gets affected due to an increase in ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels.

You can notice a change in the color of your tank water. This is a clear indication that the water is contaminated.

You must then immediately check whether the filter is working correctly or not.

A clogged up filter causes an accumulation of waste products, leading to a higher concentration of ammonia and nitrites in the water.

These chemicals cause irritation and stress to guppies leading to aggressive behavior.

In such cases, guppies may also attack each other and bite under stressful conditions.

3. Unfavorable water parameters.

Ideal water parameters are a critical factor for the healthy growth of guppies.

Factors such as water temperature, pH levels, ammonia, nitrites, etc., should be optimal for guppies to thrive.

Guppies are sensitive to changes in temperature.

Hence, any sudden fluctuation in water temperature can weaken their immunity, making guppies susceptible to diseases.

This ultimately results in stress and can cause an outburst of aggression among guppies.

4. Overcrowding.

Overcrowding is another significant reason for guppies’ aggression that leads to biting.

When you keep too many guppies together, they compete with each other for food, shelter, and mates.

As a result, some guppies get stressed and start attacking others.

In addition, crowded tanks often suffer from low oxygen content.

Moreover, overcrowded tanks result in less space for guppies to swim freely.

Guppies need ample space to swim as they are very active. Lack of space makes them restless and agitated, resulting in biting.

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5. Stress.

Stress is one of the primary reasons for guppies to bite.

Stressful situations like being kept alone without companionship, lack of exercise, poor water conditions, constant bullying from aggressive tank mates, and improper diet lead to aggressiveness in guppies.

When guppies are exposed to these factors, they tend to fight amongst themselves.

In addition, guppies under stressful conditions become irritable and prone to biting.

6. Incorrect male to female ratio.

Guppies are popular for their prolific breeding behavior. As a result, they have a strong urge to mate in the breeding season.

Hence, they are always on the lookout for female guppies.

If you have too many male guppies with fewer females, it will lead to fighting. Male guppies will start bullying the females.

This is because male guppies compete for the right to mate with females.

They do this by showing their beautiful colors as intimidation and peacocking for females.

The males try to force themselves upon the females, causing fights. It eventually ends up in biting.

Hence, you should have male and female guppies in a 1:3 ratio.

That means for every male, there should be three females.

This ratio will ensure that the male guppies don’t fight over the females.

7. Food scarcity.

Aggression in guppies multiplies if they don’t get enough food.

Guppies tend to fight amongst themselves when food supply becomes scarce.

Guppies will start competing over the limited food and will attempt to bite the timid guppies to scare them off from the food source.

If you feed your guppies regularly, this problem doesn’t arise.

Hence, you should provide an adequate amount of food to guppies so that they don’t feel hungry.

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Do Guppies Bite Other Fish?

Guppies are known for their peaceful temperament.

However, they can become territorial under stressful conditions and can bite other fish species.

Guppies can bite when you add a new fish to the tank.

Since the new fish is unfamiliar, guppies will initially look upon it as a competitor and try to exert dominance.

Guppies get attracted to larger, slow-moving fish with long tails and trailing fins.

So, if you have a community aquarium with mollies as a tank mate, guppies can bite their fins and tails.

Besides, guppies can get aggressive and bite other fish if the tank is overcrowded.

So it’s also important not to overcrowd your tank with too many fish as this can lead to aggression.

Even guppies can chase and bite other fish that enter their territory.

This is because guppies are protective of their territory and will attack the intruders.

If there is no threat from the intruder fish, guppies may just ignore them.

But when threatened by another fish or predator, guppies will defend themselves aggressively by biting.

Apart from lack of space and territory, poor water quality, unfavorable water parameters, and food scarcity are some other significant reasons that can make guppies bite.

When guppies become aggressive, careful observation is the key to maintain harmony in the tank.

If you see such behavior between guppies, intervene quickly before things escalate further.

Don’t let these fights go on longer than necessary because once started, they could result in serious injury to the guppies.

You need to remove the offender fish immediately so that the aggressor doesn’t feel attacked again.

Do Guppies Bite Humans?

Guppies don’t bite humans. On the contrary, guppies are very friendly towards humans.

Even though they look fierce at times, they are pretty docile creatures.

However, guppies can bite if provoked.

For example, guppies might bite back if you try to feed them using fingers instead of dropping the food in their tank.

Also, if you try to touch them directly, they might nip your fingertips.

The good thing is that even if your guppies bite your finger, the bite is not very powerful to hurt.

However, if you leave your hand in the tank for long, your skin will become soft, and the guppy bite will cause harm.

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Related Questions

Do guppies bite each other’s tails?

Guppies can bite each other’s tails when angry. It usually happens when two guppies fight over territory.

One guppy will look upon the other as a potential threat or a competitor.

When fighting, both guppies use their teeth to grab hold of each other’s tails.

Then, they pull on each other’s tails until one loses its grip. The aggressor usually bites off the opponent’s tail.

Do guppies have teeth?

Guppies do have teeth in their jaws and the roof of their mouth.

The teeth are pharyngeal teeth that are little growths of calcified tissue. Their teeth are located at the back of the oral cavity.

These teeth help guppies to hold, pierce, and crush the food.

They also help to eat small prey like insects, worms, crustaceans, and other small fish.


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