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As an aquarist, it can be shocking to find out that your fish are jumping from the water in the aquarium, especially if they are landing on the floor and they end up struggling to breathe in front of your eyes. It will therefore be important to establish what exactly is making your fish behave in this way. If the fish jumps off from an aquarium that is managed by an experienced aquarist, it will be more shocking.

LizWinfreyV, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You might have provided the best-conditioned aquarium as an aquarist with nice plants, caves, rocks, and an environment for the fish, and they will still jump. This article seeks to expound and give the various reasons why the fish might behave in this manner. By looking at some of the reasons behind the fish jumping out of the tank and the various ways to prevent you will be able to reduce the chances of this happening to you.


It can be very shocking and stressful to find that your fish has jumped out of the tank, especially when you are not around. It is also important to understand that whenever they do this, they are not considering it as a jump in order to die, but they are trying to escape from the environment they are living in because it is not suitable for them. However, there are some fish species that are more prone to jumping than others due to their original environment. These reasons include;


If your fish is living in unhealthy water in the tank, it will try to free as early  as possible. When the fish is living in dirty water, it means it is struggling to breathe and function.

 If this happens, they will naturally try to escape from the area. This lack of enough oxygen in the tank could happen as a result of various factors such as; not replacing the water in the tank frequently enough. To avert this, you need to inject more oxygen, or maybe the number of fish you have in that particular tank is too high. Also, it could be that there is a high presence of algae in the tank, and this makes it very u unpleasant and it also saps oxygen from the water.

Also, this could have been caused by something that you have put in water, such as driftwood, and that thing is releasing some toxins in the water, and this mainly happens f you put the component into the tank before doing proper cleaning. Another reason is the fact that there could be higher levels of ammonia and nitrates in the water, and to be able to discover this, the water should be monitored and tested on a regular basis.


The second reason why your fish might be jumping out of the tank is that the temperature in the tank could be too high or too low. The first thing you need to ensure in this situation is that you know the right range of temperature for the fish that you are keeping in the tank. This will enable you to monitor and always ensure it is within the range. You need to install a reliable and accurate thermometer in the tank to enable this.

Also, check the location of the tank to ensure it is not near the radiator, in the direct sunlight, or near the door or window that is open most of the time. This is because these little things that you might not pay close attention to might be the change in the temperature of the water in the tank, which will make it very uncomfortable for the fish, and hence they will try to jump from the tank. Therefore, if your fish jumps out of the tank, you should assess this before throwing it back because you will not have solved the problem.


Another main reason why the fish usually jump out of the tank is due to the lack of enough oxygen in the tank. You can be able to know that the fish is experiencing a lack of oxygen by just looking at it. If you notice that your fish is having some difficulties in breathing, then that is it. When your fish jumps out of the tank, the first thing you need to do is assess the cleanliness and oxygen level in your tank. Consider the tank size, and look at the number of fish in the tank since having a high number could be the reason why the oxygen is being depleted quickly.

The fish is not like the human being with lungs, and therefore for them to breathe with ease, they need the oxygen to be dissolved in water. If this does not happen, they will not be able to breathe properly, and this stresses the fish, and that is when they take the action of trying to jump out of the tank as they try to escape. This explains why it is extremely important to maintain the tank water clean always and ensure it is replaced frequently and oxygenated by cycling. You should also consider adding some plants to the tank.


This is another common reason why some fish jump out of the tank, but mostly it is ignored. This is not as common as the dirty living environment, but a few cases are caused by this reason. As the aquarist, if you have ensured that you have provided quality and clean water that is well oxygenated and the water is within the recommended range, then the only reason your fish might be trying to jump is to escape a threat.

For instance, if you have a community tank where you have different fish species together or even a group of the same fish species, then there might be an aggressive fish within the tank that is traumatizing others. If the fish are traumatized and have nowhere to hide, they will obviously try to escape by jumping from the aquarium. To identify the aggressive fish, you should closely monitor them and look out for any aggressive behavior or unusual swimming patterns and things like that.


Although it can be very difficult to prove this is the reason why the fish is trying to jump, it can still be the case. If you have many fish in a small tank, they will definitely feel overcrowded, and they might feel the need to escape from the place since they will have no space to hide or swim. The other case could be there are some fish that are not compatible. The smaller fish will always e threatened by the bigger ones, and therefore they need some hiding spots in the tank to stay whenever they are threatened.

If your tank is small and does not have these spots, the fish will try to escape from the tank to a safer place. It is important to ensure the tank has some hiding spots by adding some decorations such as plants, cables, and driftwoods, among others. The fish will always retreat here whenever they feel threatened.


If you keep tapping the glass of the aquarium, knocking or rough handling will also cause the fish to try and jump out of the tank. This is because the fish get scared and will instinctively jump out of the tank.


Every fish should be fed the required meals in the right quantities every day to prevent them from getting hungry. A hungry fish will try to jump from the tank in search of food. You should also add some live plants, especially the floating ones, so that the fish can feed on them whenever they feel hungry.


Scientific research has established that the fish escaping from the tank is not just an act of desperation on an individual level. In one case study, the United States focused on the guppies and looked at the art of jumping from the tank. They set up equipment to record and be able to look at what exactly transpired prior to the fish escaping from the tank. The researchers found out that it was a deliberate act.

 The fish would first ensure they had enough space to escape from the tank after swimming for a while. They would then give themselves space and get up speed to make an attempt to jump. This means that the fish was fully aware of its surrounding, its limit, and how to escape. This means that the fish jumps from the tank on purpose, partly for distress reasons but also because of genetic programming.


There are a few steps you can take to prevent the loss of your fish from jumping. First, let us look at the newcomer fish and how to introduce them. This is not an acclimation process, but sometimes that should help you in setting the right environment for adding them. They include


This action has a calming effect on your new fish. When adding the new fish to your tank, you should not only turn the aquarium light completely but also your home lights. If you cannot completely turn them off, at least dim them a little.


 Also, you should ensure that you provide plenty of hiding places in your tank. You can add some plants since this is the natural way of creating the hiding spots. You can also add some caves, rocks, and driftwoods by providing some hiding spots where the new fish can disappear to help in calming the fish and will not be stressed.


You can distract your already existing fish by feeding them as you add the new fish. The fish will be too busy eating to notice that new fish has been added to the tank. This means that the existing fish will not be aggressive to the new fish, which might cause stress and fear. As the other fish eat, the new one will have enough time to go and hide and relax before it gains the confidence to start exploring the new home.


It is important to first understand the type of fish that are compatible with your fish before adding it to the tank. This will reduce conflicts since adding those that are not compatible will lead to fights every other day, and this might even cause stress and death.


If your aquarium is located in a noisy area, it might cause stress to your fish, and this will lead them to try and jump out to escape the noisy environment. Always ensure the aquarium is placed in a quiet place.


You can also prevent your fish from escaping by coving the tank using a lid. Whether by choice or accident, either way, this is an effective way of preventing the fish from jumping, especially if the fish is a jumping one by nature. However, if the fish is jumping as a result of other factors such as the water condition, it is best to improve the water conditions, and the problem will be solved rather than covering the tank.

 This method of using the lid to cover the tank is an effective method to prevent the fish from jumping, but there are some factors you need to consider before adding a lid. For instance, metal lids can rust and poison the water in the aquarium. The glass lid offers a risk of accidental damage and is especially dangerous if the children have access to the lid. Most aquarists use the special metal screen coated with a protective layer to prevent rust and pollution in the aquarium. Having open tops allows the light to penetrate to the water surface, and this will allow the plants to grow out of water.


Generally, we can conclude that the fish usually jump out of the aquarium because they feel that the condition they are living in is not conducive or they are under threat of a predator or another fish in the aquarium. They resort to jumping as they try to save their lives from these dangers. This, therefore, means that the ideal way to deal with this menace in the fish trade you need to ensure that the living conditions of fish, especially water, are up to the standards. All the parameters are adhered to as required, and the fish will be stress-free. Follow the fish guide on the tank requirements in terms of size, the compatible tank mates, and the fish will have an easy life in the tank.

However, if you provide everything and the fish still jumps from the tank, you can use a lid to cover the tank, and this problem will be solved permanently.


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