If you keep guppies, swordtails or other common species of tropical aquarium fish you have probably had a scare – or even a tragedy – with a fish jumping out of the tank. Certain species of fish, like those mentioned, tend to exhibit jumping behavior on a fairly frequent basis. But what is it that causes them to jump out of the tank and what is their goal in doing so? Seeing one of your beloved fish dried up on the carpet can be a saddening sight and, you may not see any conceivable purpose in the behavior. The reality is, however, that jumping out of water is a fairly common behavior and, in the natural environment of fish, it can serve several purposes.
Why Fish Jump out of Water
There are three main reasons why aquarium fish may jump out of the tank. In the wild, fish may jump out of the water to escape a predator. Though your fish are not likely to have predators in the home aquarium, they could be bullied by aggressive fish and might jump out of the tank as a means of escaping the bully. Another possibility is that the fish is jumping in search of food. Many species of fish in their natural environment jump out of the water while hunting. Hatchetfish, for example, have been known to jump out of the water to knock down insects sitting on nearby leaves and branches. Once the insects fall into the water it is easy for the hatchetfish to catch them.
Perhaps the most common reason fish jump out of the water, however, is because they are searching for a new environment. The most notable example of this is the betta fish (Betta splendens). Betta fish are native to Thailand where they can be found in still, sluggish bodies of water including rice paddies, small ponds and even roadside ditches. During the dry season, these bodies of water may dry up leaving the betta fish no choice but to jump in search of a more suitable environment. The fact that their environment is becoming smaller is not the only motivating factor – as water levels recede, ammonia levels may become more highly concentrated and the pH level may change. The fish will not be able to survive in such an environment for long so it must find another body of water in which to live.
Keeping Your Fish Safe
The best way to keep your fish in the tank is to put a lid on the tank. If you purchase an aquarium starter kit, the lid is likely going to be included. If, however, you purchase a specialty or custom tank, this may not be the case. A simple solution to this problem is to buy an aquarium hood sized to fit your tank. If you already have a lighting system in place and do not want to make any changes, however, you have a few other options. One option is to purchase a mesh or screen lid – this will allow light to pass through the lid but will act as a barrier to keep fish from jumping out of the tank. Another option is to have a piece of plexi-glass cut to the proper size for a tank lid.
Tips for High Water Quality
Another factor in keeping your fish from jumping out of the tank involves making sure that the tank environment meets the needs of your fish. If the water quality is high, ammonia levels are low and the pH level balanced, your fish will have no reason to seek a better environment. To keep your water quality high you will need to perform routine water changes on a weekly basis and replace your filter media every three to four weeks. These simple tasks will ensure that your tank water stays clean.
Another easy thing you can do to keep the water quality in your tank high is to install an EcoBio-Stone in your tank. This product is made with volcanic rock and infused with beneficial bacteria. Once introduced into your tank, these bacteria multiply and immediately begin working to maintain the nitrogen cycle. The nitrogen cycle is the process through which harmful chemicals like ammonia (the result of waste breakdown) are converted into less harmful substances. With an EcoBio-Stone in your tank, your water will remain clean and clear – just the way your fish like it!