Guppies Care Guide: The Most Popular, 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.
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- to 20-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. 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.
Because of their energetic behavior and flashy fins, guppy tanks can be a sight to see. But you can also keep them with peaceful tank mates such cory catfish or neon tetras. Keep them away from aggressive fish such as tiger barbs and bala sharks.
Guppies look amazing in a community tank planted with other peaceful tank mates.
What water is best for your guppies
Guppies have a pH level of 7.0 or more, just like other livebearers. They prefer hard water that contains good levels of calcium, magnesium, as well as 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.
A heater for aquariums is recommended in order to heat the water from 76 to 78°F. This is because these new guppies are less resilient than their wild counterparts. At this temperature range, your guppies should have an average life span of two to three years. Increase the heat to 82degF. Your fish will grow faster. They’ll also have more babies. But they won’t live past 18 months. Their life expectancy may be extended to 3.5 years if the temperature is dropped to 72degF. However, they will take longer to reach adulthood and may have only six babies per year.
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 problems. Feed adult guppies one to two times a day. They should eat as much as they can in one minute. You can feed fry more often, but keep the amount of food you give to them smaller so they don’t get sick. Guppies are not picky eaters and will even graze on algae growing inside the aquarium. Guppies enjoy a wide range of foods including flake foods, bloodworms, brine shrimps, flake food, pellets and Easy Fry.
This salmon-based food was created for guppies, and other community-based nano fish. This easy-to-use squeeze container allows you to quickly and efficiently feed tanks.
Is My Guppy Fish Pregnant?
Yes, if you have at most one male and one guppy (or your female guppy came from a tank with males), then it is probably true. Males are very colorful and have a modified anal fin called a gonopodium that looks like a pointy, horizontal stick under their bellies. Females are usually larger in size, less colorful, and have a fan-shaped anal fin behind their bellies. They give birth about every 30 day and predate their own children if you do not provide plenty of hiding places.
The male guppy (on top) has an under-belly fin that looks like a stick, while the female guppy has a fan-shaped fin right 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. You can give the fry away to friends or feed them to other fish once they start showing their colors around two to three months. 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. These guppies are often inbred to have the most beautiful colors, they’re mass-produced in many different countries, and they’re kept under very stressful conditions that can make them more susceptible for disease. (For more details, see our article on why livebearers are becoming weaker.) You might catch diseases as they travel around the world to wholesalers, distributors, then to your local pet shop. Guppies can need lots of care and attention once they get to you. Be prepared to give them nice, clean water, a good diet, and possibly medications to treat illnesses and infections.
Based on over ten years of experience in running fish stores and importing wild-caught species from around the world, we take the time to treat any incoming fish with a combination of broad-spectrum medicines that are safe for shrimp, snails and plants.
Despite these challenges, guppies can be a wonderful fish to keep, for both beginners as well as veterans, because of their beautiful appearance, small size, rapid reproduction, and stunning appearance. You can do more research by joining a Facebook group dedicated to guppies and talking with other passionate people about this species. If you learn to treat your guppies well, you’ll be rewarded with hours of entertainment from your action-packed, rainbow-hued aquarium.
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.