Guppies Care Guide – The most Popular and Colorful Livebearer

Guppies Care Guide – The Most Colorful and Popular Livebearer

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. We answer the most frequently asked questions regarding this beautiful, yet simple species in this care guide.


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. Guppies reproduce very quickly so a 10- or twenty-gallon aquarium might be better. 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. 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.

Which water is best for guppies?

Like many livebearers, guppies enjoy pH levels at 7.0 or greater. They like water that is rich in calcium, magnesium and 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 can be added to an aquarium to increase the water hardness and 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. Your guppies should live between two and three years at this temperature. 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 are able to be kept at different temperatures. This will have a direct impact on their reproduction rate and life span.

How Many Guppies Must Be Fed?

Guppies love to begging for food so their owners overfeed them which can cause constipation and 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?

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 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 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 top) has an under-belly fin that looks like a stick, while the female guppy has a fan-like tail just behind her belly.

To make sure you have lots of babies, increase their food intake and perform partial water changes more often to maintain a high water quality. 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?

Unfortunately, guppies bought in pet shops can be very weak. They’re highly inbred to get those amazing colors, mass-produced in many countries, and kept in very crowded conditions that make them more susceptible to disease. For more information, please see our article about why livebearers are getting 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. 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.

Get our free infographic to find out how often your guppy tank needs water changes.