Guppies: The Most Popular and Colorful Lifebearer
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. In this care guide, we answer your most frequently asked questions about this simple yet beautiful species.
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 Really Need in a Tank?
Guppies reach an average length of 2 inches. A 5-gallon aquarium would be the best size for a trio of them. But given how quickly they reproduce, a 10- or 20-gallon aquarium would be more appropriate in the long run. If you are planning on breeding them, it is advisable to start with one male per two to three women and to provide ample cover (such live aquarium plants) so that the babies can 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, like many livebearers enjoy pH levels of 7.0 or higher. 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. 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°F. This is because these fancy guppies can be less resilient than the wild species. At this temperature range, your guppies should have an average life span of two to three years. If you raise the heat to 82degF, the fish will grow faster and make more babies – but they’ll only live for 18 months. You can increase their lifespan to 3.5 to 4.5 years by lowering the temperature to 72 degrees F. But they won’t live as long and will have to wait to become adults. They may also experience a slow death rate, with only one baby 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 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. Adult guppies should be fed once or twice daily, and as often as they are able to eat in a single minute. 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. The easy-to-use squeeze bottle allows you to feed tanks fast and efficiently.
Is My Guppy Fish Pregnant?
The answer to this question is likely yes if you have at least one male guppy and one female. 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 give birth approximately every 30 days and will predate on their own young unless you provide lots of hiding spots for the fry.
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?
The unfortunate truth is that guppies sold in pet stores can be fairly weak. Guppies are highly inbred to produce these amazing colors and they’re kept in very cramped 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 wholesalers, distributors, then your local pet shop. 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.