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. 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 Really Need in a Tank?
Guppies can grow up to 2 inches in length. Therefore, a 5-gallon aquarium is recommended for a trio. But given how quickly they reproduce, a 10- or 20-gallon aquarium would be more appropriate in the long run. 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. To prevent tiny fry from getting sucked up, you can use gentle filtration such as a sponge filter.
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. They also like hard water with good amounts of 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.
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. 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 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. 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. You can quickly and efficiently feed your tanks with the easy-to use squeeze bottle
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 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. 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?
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. Be prepared to give them nice, clean water, a good diet, and possibly medications to treat illnesses and 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. If you learn to treat your guppies well, you’ll be rewarded with hours of entertainment from your action-packed, rainbow-hued aquarium.
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.