Guppies are among the most popular aquarium fish thanks to their bright colors, lively personalities, and low-maintenance nature. If you have an aquarium, you won't regret adding these beautiful fish who will add so much character to your tank yet ask for little in return.
Still, like all pets, you should know some key things before adopting these creatures. Discover the guppy essentials, plus the best care tips for keeping them happy and healthy.
Guppies originate from the streams and rivers of South America. Still, their popularity as aquarium pets means millions are bred in captivity every year. And the guppies you find in the pet store will never have been near a river.
For this reason, you don't need to try and match the conditions these fish would experience in the wild. Instead, you should follow the advice of the breeder or aquarium experts.
Guppies may be small, but they still require adequate space. At a minimum, you should purchase a 5-gallon tank. But, as with all animal enclosures, bigger is better, so if you can buy bigger, do. Keep the temperature between 74 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit and ensure the pH is high-neutral, sitting around 7.2 to 7.4.
Additionally, guppies like hard water, which is rich in minerals such as calcium or magnesium. Some areas will be lucky enough to possess naturally hard water, but if yours is soft, you can add crushed coral or remineralization products.
Choosing the Right Companions
Guppies are peaceful fish with a gentle temperament, so you don't need to worry about their impact on other fish in your tank. What you do need to stay mindful of is keeping your guppies safe. Stick with fish that are small and work well in a community. Avoid anything that's too big or has a reputation for fin-nipping.
Thanks to the vivid colors and variations of guppies, they can create a beautiful aquarium by themselves. But, if you want to add companions, some of the best species to combine them with are bottom dwellers, such as cory catfish, who will take care of the substrate and add interest lower down in your tank.
Other good companions include:
- Neon tetras
- Dwarf chain loaches
- Nerite snails
If you purchase a group of guppies, you can rest assured that they will breed and provide you with an endless supply of fish. Still, there are a few key things you need to remember.
The females should outnumber the males. Guppies do not practice monogamy, and one male can take care of several females. If you have too many males, they can fatigue the female fish and cause illness or even death. When you set up your aquarium, aim for a ratio of one male for every two to three females.
You can tell the difference between genders by looking at the colors of the fish. The males have far more elaborate fins with a rainbow of colors that make them stand out. The females tend to be plainer and slightly smaller than their male counterparts.
When the babies are born, they are tiny, so you'll need to create hiding places in your tank where they can stay safe. Floating grass, plants, and decorations are all excellent solutions for keeping babies safe.
Alternatively, you can segregate the small fry in a grow-out tank where you can watch them develop. Remember, these babies are tiny, so you'll need a gentle filtration system in your tank, such as a sponge filter, to avoid the small fry getting sucked in.
Guppies are one of the easiest fish to feed because they're not fussy about what they eat. The only challenge you'll face is finding food that is small enough to fit inside their mouths. Keep it simple by purchasing high-quality fish flakes or mix it up by adding some frozen brine shrimp to their diet, which your fish will love and is small enough for them to eat.
Feed adult guppies once to twice daily with as much food as they can consume within a minute. You can feed fry more often (up to five times a day) but keep portions small and break the food down into tiny chunks.
Guppies are low-maintenance fish that don't require much time and attention. Still, they need you to keep an eye on their basic needs, or they can become susceptible to illnesses such as ich or fin rot. You can treat both of these with medications, but it's much easier to maintain a healthy tank environment to prevent them altogether.
Guppies are tropical, so keeping the tank warm enough for them is one of the most critical factors in keeping them healthy. And make sure tank mates are friendly, so you don't have other species nibbling at the beautiful fins of your guppies.
We've talked about the ideal temperature for your tank, around 74-84 degrees Fahrenheit, but did you know that the water temperature can affect a guppy's growth and lifespan?
At optimum temperatures, your guppy will have a lifespan of around two to three years. Lowering the temperature to 72-74 can increase their lifespan to three and a half years, but they will grow more slowly and only produce babies every six months. In contrast, heating the tank to 82-84 degrees encourages the guppies to reproduce more quickly but could shorten their lifespan to 18 months.
For these reasons, you want to monitor the tank's temperature carefully to ensure it stays within the optimum range.