Guppy Fish: Ultimate Guide (Care, Diet, Breeding, & More)

Guppy fish swimming in tank.

Guppy fish are a species of freshwater fish that have a lot of repute in the aquarium community. Not only are they strikingly beautiful, but they are also easygoing and easier to care for as well.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced aquarist, you can easily make Guppy fish care a part of your daily routine, and it will be incredibly fun to see them swim around in your tank, adorning it with splashes of color.

This helpful guide has been curated to help you understand all that needs to be done in order to care for your Guppy, including their habitat, water requirements, diet, tank mates, breeding, and much more!

Species Summary

Guppy fish are known by the scientific name Poeciliareticulata, and they belong to the Poeciliidae family. They have a highly beautiful and captivating appearance that ensures you won’t be able to keep your eyes off them.

Guppies are known for their striking and majestic color combination, as well as the fact that they are incredibly fast breeders. This makes them the perfect choice for your freshwater aquarium. You may also see them being referred to as rainbow fish or millionfish.

CategoryRating
TemperamentPeaceful
Life SpanUp to 2 Years
FamilyPoeciliidae
DietOmnivore
Color FormVarious
Care LevelEasy
CompatibilityPeaceful community fish
SizeUp to 2.4 inches
Tank SetupFreshwater with plants
Minimum Tank Size5 Gallons

Most experienced aquarium owners also think that Guppy fish are like Goldfish, in the sense that they look somewhat similar, are found widely, and are also really easy to care for.

Even if you are a beginner, you can easily get the hang of their care regime. Guppy fish were first discovered in South America, but they are mostly found in Guyana, Brazil, Barbados, and several other locations around the world.

These are some of the most widely found fish all over the world, and not just because they are released into the wild by people who don’t want to look after them anymore.

Interestingly, the Guppy fish is also used to control the mosquito population since they actively feed on mosquito larvae. Therefore, people use them as a chemical-free alternative to keep mosquito growth at bay.

Moreover, you have to be wary of introducing them to a new environment, and even if they are stressed, or you are done with them, never release them into the wild just like that.

Nevertheless, Guppy fish are excellent pets, and they can be raised by beginners and experts alike.

Lifespan

On average, Guppy fish live anywhere between 2-5 years, and their lifespan greatly depends on the quality of care and tank conditions that you provide them with.

However, these aren’t the only two factors that determine their lifespan. Genetics and a bit of luck also come into play when you are caring for them, but this doesn’t mean you should slack off on maintaining the tank conditions.

These fish can be easily stressed or prone to diseases if they aren’t kept in a well-maintained tank. Luckily, you can follow our guide and get the hang of it in no time at all.

Appearance

The Guppy fish is easily noticeable thanks to their vibrant and striking appearance. They have beautiful and colorful tailfins, and their body is comparatively lighter.

They have a body shape that is similar to a group of small freshwater fish called minnows, having a pointy snout and mouth aiming upwards.

Once you look past their caudal fin, they look like a beautiful canvas with a splash of colors. They have a fan-shaped fin that is relatively larger than the entire body, and the tailfin is adorned with striking colors and patterns.

You can tell the males apart from the females upon looking closely because the latter has slightly larger and thicker bodies. Plus, they grow up to be twice as large as the males. As compared to their body, their tailfin isn’t as distinguished.

According to aquatic experts and scientists, there are more than 300 varieties of Guppy fish, which have huge diversity in terms of colors and patterns.

They are also active breeders and spawn fairly quickly, which is why you see so many different variations of these fish. Some of the popular varieties you hear about are the cobra, tuxedo, lace, and snakeskin. Their bodies have a vibrant color and black spots and patterns that add to their beauty.

Size

Guppy fish are quite small in size, which is why your attention is instantly drawn to their beautiful flowing fins. On average, they grow up to be 2 inches long when they reach maturity, whereas the females can grow up to become 2½ inches long.

Thanks to their small size and beautiful appearance, these fish are perfect for smaller freshwater aquariums and community tanks, where you already have fish of other species that get along well.

Moreover, if you are looking to raise a group of them, you can place them in a larger tank so they can feel more comfortable and happier.

Guppy Fish Care

The main reason why Guppies are so hugely popular in the aquarium trade is that they are perfect for beginners. Plus, they are hardy and resilient, which means that they can easily thrive in different water and tank conditions.

If this is your first time owning an aquarium, these species are the perfect start to a new passion. You can easily make their care regime a regular part of your daily routine.

In order for them to stay healthy and thrive, you need to follow certain requirements and guidelines, which you can read about in the corresponding sections.

Tank Size

First and foremost, you need to ensure that you get the right aquarium for your Guppy fish, one that is spacious enough for them to swim around comfortably.

Thankfully, these fish don’t require a lot of space to stay healthy, and if you are looking to put three of them in a tank, you need to ensure that it is a minimum of five gallons. Generally, aquarists go with at least 10 gallons of capacity so that the fish have adequate space.

These fish are highly active and like to swim around their aquarium. By giving them a larger tank, you will be able to provide them the freedom to do so whenever they want.

Plus, they are quick to spawn, which means that soon you may notice a sharp increase in the aquarium population, and you may need to upgrade the tank size then. It is better to be prepared in advance and get a larger tank.

Water Parameters

One of the most important things that you need to take care of are the water parameters, and it is best to replicate their natural habitat in the best way possible.

Guppy fish are native to warm waters in South America, which means that they adapt well to a range of water temperatures. Ideally, you should keep the temperature towards the higher side, but the recommended range is between 64°F to 84°F.

The lifespan of these fish is also dependent on the water conditions, and colder water can slow down their growth while also hindering their breeding process. On the other hand, they mature much faster in warmer waters.

Moreover, they are found in ponds and streams with slow to moderate water flow and lots of sea life. Therefore, you should keep the pH level neutral between 7.5 and 8.0 and the water hardness between 8 to 12 dGH.

The water conditions for these fish are quite flexible, which means that you have a window for any changes in temperature or pH levels. To avoid any sudden changes or loss of quality, you should get a water testing kit and use it regularly to monitor the water parameters.

What to Put in Their Tank?

Now that you have gone through the tank size and water parameters, the next step is to determine the type of environment you will create for your Guppy fish, and this involves the use of accessories and plants to make their aquarium feel like home.

Since you want to replicate their natural environment, you need freshwater with quite a few plants in it. Thankfully, these fish aren’t fussy about their habitat. Start by adding a sandy substrate at the bottom of the tank, as this will prevent them from getting injured.

Plus, you can also add large rocks and gravel to the substrate. Since Guppy fish need lots of plants, the sand will do well to keep them grounded. The presence of live plants is recommended as these fish like to hide among them when chased by larger fish in the wild.

The various types of live plants that you can use include java moss, aquatic ferns, and several others. Additionally, you can add artificial plants to the tank, provided that they are soft and don’t injure the fish when they swim by them.

To mimic their natural habitat, you should add a variety of background and foreground plants to the tank. The middle of the tank should be kept free to provide the fish with enough space for swimming comfortably.

Apart from live plants, you can also add rocks, driftwood, and decorative accessories to the aquarium. Make sure to avoid any rocks or accessories with sharp edges, as the Guppy fish are quite tiny and can get injured if they scrape their bodies against them.

When it comes to lighting, you don’t have to follow any certain requirements. You can add standard lighting to the aquarium. These fish are used to a day and night cycle, which is why you can add a timer to the lights, or keep the tank closer to a window, so they can get natural sunlight.

If you live in a colder environment, it would be wise to install a submersible heater to keep the water warm so that any sudden temperature changes don’t stress the fish or cause them to fall sick.

Moreover, a strong filtration system is essential if you are looking to keep Guppy fish in your tank. Although you can also make do without one, a filter helps regulate the levels of ammonia and nitrate in the water.

Thankfully, these fish don’t produce a lot of bio-waste. Still, if you keep a larger group in the tank, their collective waste will contaminate the water. Therefore, you should install a filter and set it to clean the water a few times every hour so that the water conditions are maintained, and your fish stay healthy.

Common Diseases

Although Guppy fish are hardy and resilient, and they can survive in a range of water conditions, this doesn’t make them fully immune from diseases.

These species are susceptible to common diseases that affect freshwater fish, including fungal infections, parasitic infections, and bacterial infections. Since the aquarium has a closed environment, the disease can quickly spread throughout the tank, thus infecting other fish as well.

One of the most common diseases that affect Guppy fish is Ich, which is also known as white spot disease. This disease is caused by a ciliated protozoan called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, and it results in the formation of small and grainy spots to appear all over their bodies.

Ich can be easily spread to other fish in the tank, which is why you should treat it proactively. You can make use of over-the-counter medication to treat it, provided that the medication doesn’t cause any harmful effects to other fish that are in the tank.

If you don’t treat this disease on time, it can grow to be harmful and lethal for the fish, and they can even die from it. The best way to prevent Ich in the first place is to improve the tank and water conditions so that your fish always stay healthy.

If you notice white spots on one or a few of the Guppy fish, you should quarantine them to a separate tank right away so that you can treat them with medication.

Another condition that these fish suffer from is called fin rot, and it causes the fins to become frail and discolored. This can be caused by a fungal or bacterial infection, and it can cause bits of their fin to chip off if not treated in time.

When this happens, the fish can have a lot of difficulty swimming, and you should administer them the specific medication to treat it properly. Once they start feeling better, their fin will also start to grow back with the passage of time.

To ensure that Guppy fish don’t get affected by any type of disease, you should monitor the water conditions regularly and also perform partial water changes to reduce the levels of ammonia and nitrate. This way, your fish will be able to live long and healthy.

What Do Guppy Fish Eat?

Guppy fish are natural omnivores, which means that it can be incredibly easy to look after their diet. They are used to eating anything they can find in captivity and also in the wild.

In their natural habitat, these fish munch on plant detritus and bits of food. As mentioned above, they also feast on insect larvae in the water, as well as small insects.

You should give them a well-balanced diet that has commercial pellets and flakes in it. It is the right size, shape, and nutritional composition that allows these fish to fill their stomachs.

You can also give your pets high-protein foods like brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, and bloodworms. Otherwise, you can give them frozen, freeze-dried, and live foods.

Although they are tiny in size, Guppy fish are used to eating as much food as you give them. Therefore, overfeeding them is an issue that even experienced aquarists face. Ideally, you should give them two meals a day, and just give them enough food that they can eat in just a minute.

They are smart creatures, which is why they quickly adapt to the feeding routine that you set. Plus, they are highly active and start getting excited when you get closer to the aquarium. Not only will this help you ensure that the fish are healthy and happy, but it also helps you develop a close bond with them.

Behavior & Temperament

Guppy fish are quite peaceful and friendly, and they like to explore the tank with their mates in a group. However, this doesn’t mean that they are schooling fish. Since they swim very fast, they are used to following slow-moving fish and nipping at their fins.

You can avoid this problem with a bit of planning. These fish are also suitable community fish and get along well with peaceful community species.

Guppy Fish Tank Mates

Ideally, the best tank mates for Guppy fish are their own kind, and you should keep them in a group of at least three fish. The larger the group, the more social and friendly these fish will be.

If you keep solo fish, they will continue to feel vulnerable and spend a lot of time hiding among the plants and rocks.

When you are keeping a group of Guppy fish, make sure that the females outnumber the males by a 2:1 ratio. If you don’t follow this, the males will continue to fight among each other and will also continue to bother the females for breeding.

Some of the best tank mates for Guppy fish include:

Breeding

Since Guppy fish are fast and eager breeders, you won’t have any trouble in this process. They belong to a group of fish that are known as livebearers, and these fish give birth to freely swimming fry instead of eggs.

The female fish will grow the fry inside their womb for anywhere between 21 to 40 days, and then they will give birth to more than 200 babies at the same time. Soon, your tank will be flooded with little fry.

Although they breed frequently, it is quite difficult for their fry to survive, mainly because they don’t have paternal instincts and eat their fry. Ideally, you should keep a breeding tank and add live plants and grass to it so that the fry can hide in them.

To provide them with the perfect conditions for breeding, you should feed your Guppy fish with high-protein foods for a few days. Although you may not notice them mating or breeding, you will know that the breeding process starts when the female starts to swell up.

Once the fry is born and released into the breeding tank, you can remove the adults and feed the babies with baby brine shrimp or fry food.

Final Thoughts

So, are you ready to take on the task of caring for Guppy fish?

As you can see, it’s quite an easy and fun task, as long as you give them a large enough tank and also maintain the perfect water conditions in order for them to thrive.

Whenever you are stuck and need any help regarding their care, you can always check back on this guide!

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