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. We answer the most frequently asked questions regarding this beautiful, yet simple species in this care guide.
Guppies are so in-demand.
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.
What Water Is Best for Guppies?
Guppies have a pH level of 7.0 or more, just like other livebearers. They like water that is rich in calcium, magnesium and other essential minerals. A high pH water supply is essential for guppy breeding success. 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.
Aquarium heaters are recommended to warm the water to between 76 and 78 degrees F. These fancy guppies may not be as resistant as those found in nature. Guppies will live for two to 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. Their life expectancy may be extended to 3.5 years if the temperature is dropped to 72°F. However, they will take longer to reach adulthood and may have only six babies per year.
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 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. Adult guppies should be fed once or twice daily, and as often as they are able to eat in a single minute. Fry can be raised up to three to five meals per day. However, make sure each meal is smaller to avoid contaminating the water. Guppies don’t have to be picky and will eat the algae in 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. The easy-to-use squeeze bottle allows you to feed tanks fast and efficiently.
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. If you don’t provide enough hiding places for your fry, they will give birth 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.
If you want to make lots of babies, increase the amount of food you give them and do partial water changes more frequently to keep the water quality high. 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 information, please see our article about why livebearers are getting weaker. You might catch diseases as they travel around the world to distributors, wholesalers, and finally to your local pet shop. You may have to give them a lot more attention by the time the guppies 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. You can do more research by joining a Facebook group dedicated to guppies and talking with other passionate people 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.
To find out how often you need to do water changes on your guppy tank, download our free infographic that guides you step-by-step through the process.