Why do fish jump out of water? Fish are known to jump out of water for a variety of reasons. They can be chasing prey or trying to escape from a predator, or trying to remove parasites from their skin, or are migrating up a river, or some other reason. But the question on the mind of many aquarists, especially those who keep guppies (Poecilia reticulata), is why do guppies jump out of fish tanks? Well, it is not because of the above mentioned reasons, but because they may be looking for new bodies of water to inhabit.
Researchers Daphne Soares and Hillary S. Bierman sought out to determine why guppies jump out of water after one landed in Soares’ cup of iced tea. In order to help determine why and how the fish jump, Soares and Bierman set up high speed digital video cameras to capture the fish jumping event and what they found was intriguing to say the least; the guppies not only jumped out of the fish tanks, but they jumped out with purpose, actually backing up to gain speed for their hurl into the air. They determined that the guppy can jump several times its body length and do so for no apparent reasons.
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The researchers believe the guppies jump for dispersal purposes, meaning they want out of the current body of water that they are living in. They didn’t find any evidence that guppies jump out of water to feed on arboreal food items like that of the archer fish or arowana, or for seasonal migration purposes. Soares and Bierman hypothesize that guppies jump out of water deliberatively and for the purpose of moving to a different body of water.
So, if you keep guppies, which happen to be one of the most popular fish for freshwater aquarists, make sure that the tank they are living in has a lid on it.
The complete paper, “Aerial jumping in the Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata),” is published in the scientific journal PLoSONE.