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.
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. But given how quickly they reproduce, a 10- or 20-gallon aquarium would be more appropriate in the long run. 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 to drink for guppies
Like many livebearers, guppies enjoy pH levels at 7.0 or greater. Guppies also love hard water rich in calcium, magnesium, or 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. 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 may be kept at a variety of temperatures, which will have an impact on their lifespan and reproduction rate.
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. You can feed fry more often, but keep the amount of food you give to them smaller so they don’t get sick. 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?
You will probably be able to answer yes if there is at least one male and one female (or if your female guppy was raised in a tank that had males). Males are brightly colored and have a modified anal Fin called a “gonopodium” that looks like a long, straight stick. Females tend to be larger, more colorful and have an anal fin that is fan-shaped behind their belly. If you don’t provide enough hiding places for your fry, they will give birth every 30 days.
The male guppy (on top) has an under-belly fin that looks like a stick, while the female guppy has a fan-like tail just behind her belly.
You can make a lot of babies by increasing the amount of food and doing partial water changes every so often to maintain the high quality of the water. 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. They might get sick as they travel all around the globe to distributors and wholesalers. 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. Your aquarium will provide hours of entertainment for your guppies if they are treated well.
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.