Guppy fish care is easy! Guppies are the most popular type of tropical fish found in freshwater aquariums. Their bright colors and distinct patterns make them attractive to fish keepers and pet lovers alike. So, if you want to keep some, why not learn about proper guppy fish care?
Guppy Fish Care Video
|Lifespan:||Up to 2 years|
|Size:||0.6 – 2.4 inches|
|Minimum Tank Size:||5 gallons|
|Tank Set-Up:||Freshwater, plants and substrate|
|Compatibility:||Other peaceful community fish|
Guppy Fish Care Guide Picture Gallery
The first thing to think about when caring for your guppies is the size of the aquarium or tank that you plan to keep them in.
Guppies are very small but they breed rather quickly. Generally, female guppies grow up to 1.5 inches and male guppies grow up to 1.2 inches. They reach their full size in six months.
For guppies, a 10-gallon aquarium is suitable for keeping 7-10 guppies. Or, a 5-gallon tank for 3-4 guppies. Adding filtration and live plants allow you to add a few more fish but keep it to 1-inch fish per 1-gallon of water.
Female and Male Guppies
A good female to male ratio can prevent conflicts within the tank. One male to three females is recommended. However, you can also opt for a male-only or female-only tank.
Now that you know how many guppies you can put into your aquarium, you need to choose the male to female ration.
Proper guppy care also involves monitoring the water conditions of the tank. While guppies can survive in a wide range of water conditions, the following are ideal:
- Water temperature: 72-82 °F (22-28 °C )
- You probably need a water heater for your guppy tank to maintain the above temp.
- Water pH: 6.8-7.8
- Water hardness (dGH): 8-12
- 0 ppm ammonia, 0 ppm nitrites, maximum 10 ppm nitrates
Avoid using tap water to fill your tank as it contains chlorine and chloramine which can harm your guppies and even lead to death.
Use a water conditioner for if you absolutely have to use tap water. The conditioner will remove heavy metals and chlorine. If you do not have a conditioner then let the tap water sit in an open container for 24 hours to get rid of the chlorine content.
Also, ensure that the water is the same temperature as the tank water. For a low stock (less fish) aquarium change about 30% of the water once a week.
Do you need a filter for my guppy tank? It depends. If you do not want to use a filter then you’d need to do larger weekly water changes where you get rid of 50% of the water and replace it with fresh water. You’d also need to keep less fish and manage the feeding carefully. In this case, live plants are highly recommended.
As a substitute, you can use a very thick substrate (4-6 inches). A thick substrate creates an anoxic zone in the tank where the beneficial bacteria will transform nitrates into nitrogen and oxygen gas. These are not harmful to your fish.
Do you need a heater for your guppies? Yes. You do. The annual maximum temperature is 90 °F (32 °C), and the minimum is 73 °F (23 °C) in the Amazon River (guppy fish native habitat). A heater helps keep the water temperature steady and more natural.
Since guppies are omnivorous, they will eat both plants and animals. So, mosquito larvae, brine shrimp, worms, are all ok to feed guppies.
They can eat veggie flakes, spirulina tablets, frozen food, live food, and even raw vegetables. It is a good idea to mix it up to keep your guppies healthy and brightly colored.
High-quality guppy foods will have proteins listed first (for example, other fish, shrimp, and meaty products). Try not to use fish flakes that have fillers like wheat or soy listed as the top ingredient.
It’s good enough to feed your guppies once a day. If you want, you can break it up over multiple times a day but you have to be sure not to overfeed the guppies. A little here and there and only what they can eat within a minute.
Overfeeding your guppies can lead to death and can cause a spike in ammonia in the water which is toxic to fish.
Overfeeding is the most common problem of fish death. Feeding your fish too much food will result in an ammonia spike, which is highly toxic for your fish.
Under normal circumstances, ammonia (NH3) is converted into nitrites (NO2) right away by the beneficial bacteria in your aquarium. The nitrites are converted into nitrates (NO3), which is less toxic for your fish. This is called the nitrogen cycle in an aquarium. Live plants and water changes remove the nitrates.
However, with overfeeding, too much ammonia is produced by the excess food and waste that the bacteria aren’t able to convert it fast enough.
The nitrates will be removed from the water column by your live plants and partial water changes. High levels of ammonia in an aquarium can kill fish in a few hours and there are no warning signs.
Guppies typically do not need artificial lighting but they do need a source of light. The light coming into the room through windows is more than enough. Yes, guppies do sleep so turn out the lights at night.
However, if you have live plants in your guppy aquarium, artificial light is necessary. Most aquarium plants need bright and strong light for at least 8 hours a day to photosynthesize and grow.
These fish are ovoviviparous so they baby fry develop inside an egg within the female’s body. However, guppies give birth to live baby guppies that can swim on their own. They do not lay actual eggs.
Once the babies mature a bit (usually at 5-6 months), it’s easy to sex the fry and tell the difference between male and female.
- Coloring; males are much brighter and rich in color than females.
- Modified anal fin; males have a modified anal fin which (gonopodium). It is longer and narrower than a female’s anal fin.
- Males are smaller than females.
- Females often have a gravid spot (a dark spot behind the anal fin, which becomes darker during pregnancy).
Breeding happens faster than you can blink. Male guppies chase females and, during a brief moment of contact, pass a package of sperm to the female.
This drop, known as spermatophores, then separates into thousands of sperm inside the female. The female can even store some of the sperm for later use and impregnate herself.
Once the fry are born, the mother can then repeat the breading process and give birth every 21-30 days.
Use a breeding box or tank around a week before the female guppy is due to give birth. Once she does give birth, remove her from the breeding tank to prevent her from eating the guppy fry.
In the breeding tank, try to keep the bottom of the tank empty, and add plants like Java moss which give the fry hide places.
Yes, guppy fish are resilient fish; but they are still prone to fungal infections and other diseases—the most common being ich. Ich is a disease that causes white spots to appear on a fish’s scales. Fish that have ich usually rub themselves against hard objects to relieve the “itching sensation”.
Fin rot is another common problem that guppies face. In this case, the tail fin of the guppy appears torn. Sometimes, tail rot develops after a tank mate nips the tail fin.
Both of these diseases can be cured or treated using medication and stopped through preventative messages (careful selection of tank mates, for example). To reduce the chance of disease entering your tank:
- Keep water conditions optimal.
- Do regular water changes and maintenance inspections.
- Rinse everything or quarantine items before adding them to the tank.
- Avoid stressing the guppy fish.
- Feed them a mixed diet (algae, flakes and live food).
- Avoid overcrowding the tank.
So, for optimal guppy fish care, you need:
- A decent-sized tank.
- Good male to female ratio.
- Proper water conditions.
- A water heater.
- An aquarium filter.
References and further reading:
- BREEDING STRATEGIES & GENETIC MANIPULATION IN GUPPIES – https://www.academia.edu/5545575/BREEDING_STRATEGIES_and_GENETIC_MANIPULATION_IN_GUPPIES
- Poecilia reticulata – Species profile – https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/factsheet.aspx?SpeciesID=863
- Adapting to Rapid Environmental Change: Developmental plasticity in Vision and Behavior of Guppies – https://pages.vassar.edu/sensoryecology/adapting-to-rapid-environmental-change-developmental-plasticity-in-vision-and-behavior-of-guppies/
- Implications of guppy (Poecilia reticulata) life‐history phenotype for mosquito control – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5433973/
- India Finds Fishy Ways to Fight Malaria – http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/04/india-finds-fishy-ways-fight-malaria/