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Shy Fish | How To Stop Your Fish Hiding

Updated on April 14, 2011

You have a beautiful fish, but you never see it because it is always hiding.How can you make friends with your fish? There are several reasons why fish tend to hide all the time, those reasons and potential fixes will be explored in this article.

Hidey Holes

Your fish might not have enough hiding spaces. Some fish, like cichlids, love to have hiding places. Without places to hide they become quite stressed out and actually spend more time hiding in corners and sitting in dips of gravel on the bottom of the tank than they would if you gave them a home of their very own. A fish that knows it has a safe place to escape to is likely to be a much more outgoing fish.

Some owners actually remove shelter from tanks because they 'want to see the fish'. Doing this is a good way to stress your fish out and make sure that it never feels comfortable.

Water Quality

Water quality can affect your fish's mood. If your tank isn't cycled properly, or if you aren't doing frequent enough water changes (at least 15% a week is a good idea for most tanks, more if your tank is heavily stocked) your fish may feel poorly and behave erratically.

Feeding Time

Don't let automatic feeders do your job. If you're overfeeding your fish, or leaving feeding duties to an automatic feeder or another person, don't be surprised if your fish stay away from you. Most fish do better when fed sparingly (overfeeding is one of the greatest causes of illness in aquarium fish, both because it causes constipation and because uneaten food spoils in the tank, tainting the water with unpleasant toxins.) Unless you're already sure that you're feeding your fish the right amount, try feeding your fish once a day and a smaller amount. I feed my fish right after I turn on the tank light and there's not a fish in that tank that isn't my best friend when that light goes on. Even a very retiring Jack Dempsey who spent several months hiding now comes out to feed.


It could simply be the nature of the fish. Is your fish one that spends a great amount of time under rocks in the wild? If you haven't already researched your fish, you should do so. Some fish are simply more retiring than others. Some are entirely nocturnal, and if you want to see them, you'll need to invest in what's called a 'moon light', a light that simulates moon light and can be turned on when the main light goes out. These lights allow owners to enjoy night feeding fish without stressing the fish out.


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