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How To Care For Guppy Fish

Guppy fish 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 Guide
Guppy Fish Care Guide

Tank Size

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.

Water Conditions

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.

Changing Water

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.

Water Filtration

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.

Water Heater

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.


Guppies are not picky eaters. 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.

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.

Final Thoughts

So, for optimal guppy fish care, you need:

  • A decent-sized tank.
  • Good male to female ratio.
  • Proper water conditions.
  • A water heater.
  • A filter.
  • Lighting.
  • Food.

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