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 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 Really Need in a 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. A 10- to 20-gallon aquarium is better for them, given their rapid reproduction rate. 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
Guppies, like many livebearers enjoy pH levels of 7.0 or higher. 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. 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.
An aquarium heater is recommended to keep the water warmer at 76 to 78degF, since these new lines of fancy guppies are not as resilient as the original species found in the wild. 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 Many Guppies Must Be Fed?
Guppies are pros at begging for food, so owners often overfeed them, which can lead to constipation and other health issues. Guppies can be fed as many times as they will eat in a given time per day. 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 very colorful and have a modified anal fin called a gonopodium that looks like a pointy, horizontal stick under their bellies. Females tend to be larger, more colorful and have an anal fin that is fan-shaped behind their belly. They will have one child 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?
The unfortunate truth is that guppies sold in pet stores can be fairly weak. They are often inbred for their amazing colors and kept in crowded environments that makes them more susceptible to illness. (For more details, see our article on why livebearers are becoming 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. You should be prepared to provide them with clean, fresh water, good nutrition, and medications to treat any illnesses or infections.
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.
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.