Why Do Tetras Jump Out Of The Tank + How To Stop Them

Image of a tetra swimming in an aquarium

Almost all fish jump at some point. In the wild, fish jump to change their habitat. However, there’s no question of changing the habitat in captivity. Still, sometimes you may notice your tetras trying to jump out. So, why do tetras jump out of the tank?

Tetras jump out of the tank when they feel stressed or threatened. Besides, they jump due to low water quality, unfavorable water parameters, food shortage, bullying, overcrowding, lack of oxygen, or out of curiosity to explore the surroundings. They jump to escape the habitat when it’s unsuitable.

It is shocking to see your tetras jumping out and risking their lives. However, they take this extreme step only when the environment becomes unsuitable for living. Let’s now understand all the reasons for tetras to jump and what preventive steps can be taken.

10 Reasons Why Tetras Jump Out Of The Tank And How To Stop Them?

It is sad to see your fish jump out of the tank. Unfortunately, jumping out of the water has been one of the leading reasons for the death of aquarium fish. This happens due to various reasons. Your fish is trying to escape the habitat and is losing its life in the process.

In the wild, fish jump to either increase their speed or go to a nearby water body. However, if your tetras are jumping in captivity, they are not happy in the given environment. You need to rectify the problem to save your tetras’ life.

So, let’s discuss the numerous reasons that force tetras to jump out of the tank. Also, we will look at ways to stop tetras from jumping.

1. Stress.

Stress is the primary factor for tetras to jump out of the tank. Your tetras can feel stress if the habitat is not conducive to thriving. Poor water quality, unfavorable water parameters, absence of schooling, bullying, overcrowding, food shortage, and illness are some of the reasons for tetras to feel stressed.

How To Stop: You must provide a favorable habitat for your tetras to live long. You need to ensure that they get favorable living conditions along with adequate nutritious food. Besides, tetras are schooling fish. Hence, they always need to be kept in groups for them to feel secure.

2. Cramped for space.

It is easy to overcrowd a tank if the fish are small. However, overcrowding creates stress among tetras, and they will try to escape the environment. If you have a small tank with large numbers of tetras and other fish species, then your tetras will be cramped for space. They will not be able to swim freely in the aquarium.

Besides, if there is not enough hiding space in the tank, it can trigger a traumatic response in tetras. The constant overcrowding with no place to retreat will cause the tetras to leap out of the tank.

How To Stop: You need to keep only those many fish in your tank as the tank size permits. Avoid keeping tetras in a tank that is less than 20 gallons in size. Besides, provide ample space for hiding.

3. Poor water conditions.

Poor water conditions are another primary reason for tetras to jump out. If the water quality is low, tetras will jump out in search of a hospitable environment.

Tank water quality is affected by an increase in ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites. Tank water gets polluted due to insufficient filtration, overfeeding, overcrowding, or lack of water changes. Tetras cannot tolerate contaminated water and hence will jump out to escape the inapt habitat.

How To Stop: Regular water changes are the key to maintaining water quality. Besides, the use of a filter is beneficial. You can also avoid overfeeding your fish. Several test kits like API Test kits are available in the market to test the tank water quality.

4. Unfavorable water parameters.

Tetras rely heavily on the water temperature to maintain proper metabolism. If the water parameters are non-conducive, tetras can feel stressed and become uncomfortable. Besides, it can weaken their immune system, and they become more prone to bacterial infections.

The ideal water temperature for tetras is 75°F to 80°F, and the pH level is between 6.8 and 7.8.

Unfavorable water parameters can make life difficult for tetras, and they may opt to jump out in desperation.

How To Stop: You can install a heater to regulate and maintain the tank water temperature. Also, you can use a thermometer for easy monitoring of the water temperature.

5. Lack of oxygen.

Lack of oxygen can be stressful and life-threatening to your tetras. Tetras will feel suffocated if the oxygen level is low in the tank. Besides, they will find it difficult to breathe and try to jump out of the tank to search for a better environment.

You can determine the low level of oxygen in the tank by closely monitoring your tetras. You can find tetras gasping for air at the surface and swimming erratically. Besides, if the oxygen level remains too low, your tetras will become lethargic.

How To Stop: You can keep the oxygen level in check by constantly monitoring it. You can use your filter to increase the oxygen levels as it causes water movement at the surface where oxygen exchange occurs. You can also use wavemakers to move the surface water. This circulates more oxygen to all parts of the aquarium. Planting live plants is also beneficial.

6. Aggressive tankmates.

Aggressive tankmates are yet another significant reason for tetras to jump out of the tank. Tetras are peaceful fish. Hence, if they have aggressive tankmates, your timid tetras will be continuously bullied. This will create stress among tetras, and they will try to jump out in desperation.

Besides, if you have non-compatible tankmates, the larger fish will prey upon the smaller tetras. Your tetras will then look for a shelter. If they do not find a safe place, they will jump out to safeguard themselves.

How To Stop: You need to keep compatible tankmates like guppies, mollies, loaches, cardinal tetras, and other such fish that can live in harmony with one another. Another way is to provide enough hiding places like caves, plants, and decorations wherein your tetras can rest if they feel threatened.

7. Inadequate food.

Inadequate food is another reason for tetras to jump out. Food is essential for any living being to thrive. If you do not provide adequate food to your tetras, they will try to jump out in search of food. Starvation can force tetras to take this extreme step without realizing that it can prove fatal.

How To Stop: You need to ensure that all your tetras are well-fed. The best and easiest way to discourage tetras from jumping out is to continually provide them with nutritious food.

8. Curiosity to explore.

Tetras love to explore their surroundings. So, if you have an open aquarium, your tetras will jump out of the tank in curiosity.

How To Stop: You need to keep the tank closed by keeping a lid on it. This will prevent the tetras from jumping out. Another way to avoid jumping is by maintaining the water level. You can keep the water level a few inches down from the top of the tank.

Related Further Reading:

9. Fear.

Fear is another reason that is often overlooked by aquarists when it comes to tetras jumping out of the tank. When you first introduce tetras to the tank, they will feel anxious in the new environment. Tetras or any fish that are brought from the wild and introduced directly in an aquarium will freak out.

This is because these tetras are not used to live in a confined space. Besides, tetras can get frightened by bright light, loud noise, high current, and constant bullying.

How To Stop: When you initially introduce new tetras to your tank, you need to give them a favorable living condition. You can place the aquarium in a quiet place away from loud noise, traffic, and bright sunlight.

10. Illness.

Illness is another primary reason for tetras to jump out. If your tetras are suffering from any illness and they find a suitable place to rest, they may attempt to jump out in sheer desperation. Besides, sick tetras are easy prey for other aggressive fish. They can even be bullied and stressed out in a hostile environment.

How To Stop: If you have a sick tetra, it should be treated medically. You need to ensure that it gets the required rest and medication to recuperate its health. You can provide ample hiding spaces in the aquarium and keep an eye on the health of your sick tetra.

Is It Normal For Tetras To Jump Out Of The Tank?

Fish love to explore their surroundings as any other living being. Hence, your tetras may be driven to jump out of curiosity if you have an open aquarium. On the contrary, If you have a well-maintained aquarium, your tetras will not jump out of the tank.

If your tetras are jumping out of the tank, there is some problem with their habitat that is bothering them. They are compelled to jump in search of a suitable environment.

As already discussed, there are several reasons that prompt tetras to jump out of the tank. Poorly maintained habitat, low oxygen level, unfavorable water parameters, stress, aggressive tankmates, illness, and lack of hiding places are significant reasons for tetras to jump out of the tank.

Can Tetras Survive If They Jump Out Of The Tank?

Any fish, including tetras, need water to survive. Tetras exclusively depend on their gills for breathing dissolved oxygen from the water. If tetras jump out of the tank, they will suffocate and eventually die due to lack of oxygen intake.

A neon tetra will stay gulping for a couple of minutes if it has jumped out of the tank. The time will primarily depend on the humidity and the temperature of your room.

Usually, when a fish jumps out of the water, it takes some water with it. The same will be the case with your tetras. If your tetras fall on a non-absorbent floor, like tiles or a plank of wood, their chances of survival will be a little more. Nevertheless, they cannot survive for long outside the water.

Related Further Reading:

How To Revive A Tetra If It Jumps And Falls Outside The Tank?

It is disheartening to see your tetra falling outside the tank and battling for its life. The key to saving a tetra outside the water is your swift action.

It is challenging to revive a tetra that has jumped out of the tank. You need to immediately place the tetra in the water and check if it can breathe.

You can place it in your main aquarium and hold it on the current for a while so that it absorbs a lot of oxygen. Or else you can hold the tetra wherever there is proper water circulation.

If the tetra is able to breathe on its own, you have won half of the battle. However, if the gills of your tetra are barely moving, you have a task on your hand.

You can use a pair of tweezers to slightly open your tetra’s mouth and loosen its gills covers. Once the mouth and gills are open, you can revitalize the tetra by flushing the water over the gills.

While doing this, do not ever hold the tetra in front of a powerful water flow. Instead, hold the tetra where there is gentle water flow. Also, the tetra always needs to be moved forward. Any backward motion will push the water in the opposite direction across the gills and damage them further.

Once your tetra can breathe independently, you can transfer it to an aquarium with an air pump.

Also, always bear in mind that even though you have successfully revived your tetra, you need to closely monitor it for a few more days. Your tetra can become sick due to the affected immune system or can easily catch a disease. So, you need to be prepared to act upon any symptoms.

Can You Keep Tetras In An Open Aquarium?

Aquarists worldwide have varied experiences with their tetras in an open aquarium. Some aquarists have kept their tetras in an open aquarium without any difficulty. While for some other aquarists, their tetras have attempted to jump out of the tank.

It all depends on the behavior of your tetras. You can keep tetras in an open aquarium. However, there will always be a risk of them trying to jump out of the tank due to curiosity. Hence, it is advisable to cover your tank or keep the water level low in the tank.

Related Questions

Do newly added tetras jump out of the tank? Newly added tetras can attempt to jump out of the tank. This is not because of any non-conducive living conditions. Newly added tetras try to jump out of the tank as they are not accustomed to their new environment. Tetras are vulnerable in the new habitat during the initial few minutes. They may get scared of their tankmates. They tend to swim all around the tank in confusion and may become hyperactive. This can often propel them to jump out of the tank.

Do neon tetras jump out of the tank? Neon tetras jump out of the tank if the living conditions are not suitable for them to thrive. They usually jump out when they are stressed due to constant bullying, overcrowding, lack of food, low oxygen levels in the tank, poor water quality, unfavorable water parameters, illness, or curiosity to explore new surroundings.

How high can neon tetras jump? There is no scientific research to date on how high neon tetras can jump. However, we can certainly assume the height based on similar sized fish species’ jumping behavior, such as guppies and bettas.

Guppies can jump to about 8-15 inches of height, while bettas can jump to heights of around 2 to 3 inches from the surface of the water. So, we can assume that neon tetras can jump to similar heights.

Do rummy nose tetras jump? Rummy nose tetras are tropical freshwater fish popular amongst aquarists for their beautiful colors. Like neon tetras, rummy nose tetras can also jump if they face constant bullying from their tankmates, which can frighten and stress them. They may also jump due to low water quality, food scarcity, or lack of oxygen levels in the tank.