Care Guide for Guppies – The Most Popular and Colorful 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. We answer the most frequently asked questions regarding this beautiful, yet simple species in this care guide.
Why Are Guppies 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 can grow up to 2 inches in length. Therefore, a 5-gallon aquarium is recommended for a trio. Guppies reproduce very quickly so a 10- or twenty-gallon aquarium might be better. If you are planning on breeding them, it is a good idea to start with one male per two to three women and to provide lots of cover, such as live aquarium plants, for the babies to hide. Plus, use gentle filtration like a sponge filter so that the tiny fry won’t get sucked up.
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.
Which water is best for guppies?
Like many livebearers, guppies enjoy pH levels at 7.0 or greater. They also like hard water with good amounts of calcium, magnesium, and other essential minerals. You will be a great guppy breeder if you can live with well-watered water that has a high pH. Wonder Shell is a great addition to any aquarium if you have soft water. It will increase your water hardness, as well as add minerals.
An aquarium heater is recommended to keep the water warmer at 76 to 78degF, since these new lines of fancy guppies are not as resilient as the original species found in the wild. Your guppies should live between two and three years at this temperature. If you raise the heat to 82degF, the fish will grow faster and make more babies – but they’ll only live for 18 months. If you lower the temperature to 72degF instead, their life span may increase to 3.5 years or longer, but they’ll take forever to reach adulthood and may only have babies every six months.
Guppies can be kept in a wide range of temperatures that will directly impact their life span and rate of reproduction.
How Often Do Guppies Need to Be Fed?
Guppies can be very persistent and will eat anything they find. Owners often feed them too much, which can cause constipation, as well as other health issues. Guppies can be fed as many times as they will eat in a given time per day. 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 will eat any kind of algae that is growing in their 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 usually larger in size, less colorful, and have a fan-shaped anal fin behind their bellies. They will have one child every 30 days.
The male Guppy (on his bottom) has a sticklike fin under its belly, while the female Guppy (on her top) has just a fan-like fin 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?
Guppies that are sold in pet shops can be quite 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.) You might catch diseases as they travel around the world to distributors, wholesalers, and finally to your local pet shop. They may require a lot of attention and care by the time they reach you. You should be prepared to provide them with clean, fresh water, good nutrition, and medications to treat any illnesses or infections.
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. Talk to others who are passionate about this breed and do additional research. 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.