Guppies Care Guide – The Most Colorful and Popular Livebearer
Guppies (Poecilia reticulata) are one of the most popular fish in the aquarium hobby because of their brilliant colors, lively personalities, and ease of breeding. This care guide answers the most common questions you have about this beautiful and simple species.
Guppies: Why are they so popular?
Discovered in South America around the 1860s, this hardy livebearer (or fish that gives birth to live young) was once used as pest control for mosquitos. These fish were introduced to the pet trade, where they have been bred to display every type of fin, color, and pattern possible. Nowadays you can find this amazing fish almost anywhere, ranging in price from $3 at your local pet store to several hundred dollars for a specialty strain from a distinguished breeder.
What do Guppies need in their Tank?
Guppies grow to an average of 2 inches long, so the smallest tank size we recommend is a 5-gallon aquarium for a trio of guppies. Guppies reproduce very quickly so a 10- or twenty-gallon aquarium might be better. If you intend to breed them, make sure to have one male for every two or three females. Also, provide plenty of cover for the babies (such as aquarium plants) and lots of hiding places. Also, make sure to use gentle filtration (such as a sponge filter) so the fry don’t get taken in.
Java moss is one of the easiest plants to grow and provides excellent cover for babies to escape being eaten by bigger fish.
A guppy-only tank is truly an astonishing sight to behold because of their flashy fins and energetic behavior, but you can easily keep them with other peaceful tank mates like cory catfish and neon tetras. Just avoid adding any aggressive fish that may nip their fins or eat them, such as tiger barbs or bala sharks.
Guppies are great in a planted community tank with other peaceful fish mates.
What Water Is Best for Guppies?
Guppies have a pH level of 7.0 or more, just like other livebearers. They also like hard water with good amounts of calcium, magnesium, and other essential minerals. If you live off well water with high pH, you’re going to become one of the best guppy breeders ever. However, if your water is naturally soft, add Wonder Shell to your aquarium, and it will help raise your water hardness and add minerals to the tank.
It is recommended that you keep your aquarium warm at 76-78 degrees F., as these fancy guppies can be less resilient than the wild species. At this temperature range, your guppies should have an average life span of two to three years. If you raise the heat to 82degF, the fish will grow faster and make more babies – but they’ll only live for 18 months. You can increase their lifespan to 3.5 to 4.5 years by lowering the temperature to 72 degrees F. But they won’t live as long and will have to wait to become adults. They may also experience a slow death rate, with only one baby every six months.
Guppies are able to be kept at different temperatures. This will have a direct impact on their reproduction rate and life span.
How Often Do Guppies Need to Be Fed?
Guppies love to begging for food so their owners overfeed them which can cause constipation and other health problems. Feed adult guppies once or twice a day, as much as they can eat in one minute. If you are raising fry, you can increase the feedings to three to five times a day, but make sure that each meal is much smaller in amount so that you won’t foul the water with excess food. Guppies are not picky eaters and will even graze on algae growing inside the aquarium. We like to give ours a wide variety of foods, such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, flake foods, pellets, and Easy Fry and Small Fish Food.
This high-quality, salmon-based food was specially developed for guppies and other community nano fish. This easy-to-use squeeze container allows you to quickly and efficiently feed tanks.
Is My Guppy Fish Pregnant?
If you have at least one male and one female (or your female guppy originally came from a tank with males), then the answer is probably yes. Males are colorful and have an anal fin that is modified to look like a horizontal, pointy stick underneath their belly. Females are typically larger and more colorful than males. They also have a fan-shaped, anal fin behind the belly. They will have one child every 30 days.
The male guppy (on the bottom) has a stick-like fin under his belly, whereas the female guppy (on the top) has a fan-like fin just behind her belly.
To make sure you have lots of babies, increase their food intake and perform partial water changes more often to maintain a high water quality. Once the fry start to show their colors (around two to three months old), you can give them away to friends, feed them to other fish, or try selling them to your local fish store. If you’re interested in selling guppies, we have a whole series on how to successfully breed fish for profit.
Why Are My Guppy Fish Dying?
Unfortunately, guppies bought in pet shops can be very weak. Guppies are highly inbred to produce these amazing colors and they’re kept in extremely crowded conditions, making them more vulnerable to diseases. (For more details, see our article on why livebearers are becoming weaker.) As they’re shipped all over the world to wholesalers, distributors, and then your local pet store, they might pick up diseases at each stop along the way. They may require a lot of attention and care by the time they reach you. Give them clean water and a healthy diet. You may also need to administer medications to treat infections and illnesses.
Based on our 10+ years of experience running a fish store and importing wild-caught species, we invest the time and money to treat all incoming fish with a trio of broad-spectrum medications that’s safe for shrimp, snails, and plants.
Despite some of these potential challenges, guppies are truly one of the best fish to keep for both beginners and veterans because of their stunning appearance, small size, and rapid reproduction. Do additional research, join a Facebook group for guppies, and talk to other people who are passionate about this species. You’ll enjoy hours of entertainment from an action-packed, rainbow-hued tank if you teach your guppies how to be good pets.
Download our infographic to learn how often water changes should be done on your guppy tank. It will guide you step by step through the process.