Care Guide for Guppies – the most Popular and Colorful Livebearer


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. This care guide answers the most common questions you have about this beautiful and simple species.

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 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 plan on breeding them, start with a ratio of one male for every two to three females, and provide lots of cover (such as live aquarium plants) for the babies to hide in. 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. Guppies also love hard water rich in calcium, magnesium, or 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. 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. 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 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 love to begging for food so their owners overfeed them which can cause constipation and other health problems. Guppies can be fed as many times as they will eat in a given time per day. 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 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 brightly colored and have a modified anal Fin called a “gonopodium” that looks like a long, straight stick. 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.

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. They are often inbred for their amazing colors and kept in crowded environments that makes them more susceptible to illness. (For more information, read our article on why livebearers become weaker. They might get sick as they travel all around the globe to distributors and wholesalers. 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. 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.