Guppy Fish: A Guide to Care, Breeding, Diet & Behavior
Most novice fishkeepers have heard about Guppy fish. They are easy to care for and have stunning coloration that lights up an aquarium! Guppy fish can be found at just about any pet store, and many aquarists compare their care to goldfish.
Guppy fish are small and colorful, with fun patterns on their bodies. Due to how easy and fast they breed, breeders have created various combinations of colors and patterns to diversify the species.
Follow this guide on identifying, caring for, and breeding Guppy fish in the best way!
Guppy Fish Overview
Guppies come from the Poeciliidae family and are named after Robert John Lechmere Guppy, who first identified them in Trinidad in 1866. They originally come from South America and are found in freshwater streams around Venezuela, Guyana, and the Caribbean islands. Today, they are bred in almost every continent except for Antarctica. Guppies have been bred for more than a century and have become an aquarium staple.
These placid fish survive best in tropical, clean, and flowing waters. Full-grown Guppies are around 2 inches long, and you can expect them to live around two years, whether in captivity or in the wild. However, Guppies in the wild generally have a lesser life expectancy due to their size and number of predators.
Guppy fish are peaceful fish and do well with all sorts of other species. However, keep in mind that they can be a target or food source for more aggressive fish. Therefore, guppies should be in a tank with other passive fish. They like to swim at the tank’s surface, so adding fish who prefer the bottom will be most compatible because they won’t get in each other’s way.
Good tank mates for Guppy fish include:
- Zebra danios
- Cory catfish
- Cardinal tetras
- Sparkling gouramis
Guppies come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They can be between 1 and 2 inches long with various tail lengths, patterns, and eye colors. Their tails can be long and flowy or short and flat. The most common types of Guppy fishtails include:
- Round tails
- Spire tails
- Veil tails
Guppies can have two or three tones, including pink, silver, red, orange, yellow, pink, black, silver, and blue. In terms of size, females are longer and bigger than males. The males are brighter and more colorful than the females, so it is easy to distinguish between the sexes. During breeding, the females will become pale and round from producing eggs. Female fins are smaller in proportion to her body than males. Guppy females in the wild also have grey, diamond-shaped scales.
Guppy Fish Behavior
Guppy fish are passive, easy-going fish who can live with various other fish. However, they are known to nip at the fins of slow-moving fish. Guppies are social animals and make excellent community fish.
Another fun behavior of Guppies is their activity level. They are fast swimmers and spend a lot of time chasing each other around the aquarium, exploring their surroundings, and hiding in caves or behind plants. Males also have this way of flaunting themselves to attract females.
You will only see Guppy fish showing aggression during feeding time or when you are keeping them with other fish in a small tank. Guppies also breed fast, so ensure enough room for them and their spawn to reduce negative behaviors.
Nutrition and Feeding
Guppy fish are omnivorous and eat various foods, such as algae, invertebrates, worms, and larvae. Therefore, to ensure they live a healthy life, you should feed them a varied diet as they would in the wild. Foods can be live, frozen, or artificial. Live foods include:
- Brine shrimp
- Mosquito larvae
Other foods include fish flakes, algae wafers, and pellets. Remember that Guppy fish are small and have small mouths, so don’t feed them anything they can’t bite and swallow.
Feed Guppy fish only as much as they can consume in 2 minutes 2 – 3 times a day. Stick to a strict schedule and don’t overfeed them as they will overindulge. Your Guppies are smart and will learn their routine quickly, and you may even see a display of excitement when feeding time arrives.
Guppy Fish Care Instructions
Guppies don’t require a lot of space but choose an appropriate tank size for the number of fish you keep. For example, a 5-gallon tank is appropriate for 2 – 3 Guppies at a time. Should they breed or want more, increase the tank size as they are active fish. They aren’t necessarily schooling fish, but since they are so small, it’s good to have a few of them for the social aspect.
These colorful fish have long tails, and it’s good to avoid coarse leaves and other objects with sharp edges, so they don’t snag on them. In addition, some rocks and shelters can harm Guppies.
Guppies thrive in clean, freshwater aquariums, and it is important to cycle the water correctly. They are fairly easy to keep and under the right conditions; not much maintenance is needed. The tank size should be a minimum of 5 gallons for 2 – 3 fish and an extra gallon for every Guppy that gets added.
Tank setup should include the following:
- Water temperature: Temperature should be maintained between 74- and 82-degrees Fahrenheit. Should you keep the tank at a lower temperature, they may live longer but get ill easier.
- pH: The water’s pH must be between 6.8–7.6 pH.
- Water filter: A filtration system is unnecessary, but it will keep the water quality high. If you decide to add an internal filter, ensure the flow is low as it can harm juvenile or adult Guppies.
- Gravel: Guppies like sandy or rocky substrates because they match the natural habitat where they are from.
- Plants: Live plants, such as flame moss, will provide your Guppies with coverage, and it is great for the aesthetic of the aquarium.
Breeding Guppy Fish
Breeding Guppies are reasonably straightforward, and you will see them spawning because they are live breeders. This means that they don’t lay eggs and birth free-swimming fry. A Guppy’s gestation period is between 25 and 40 days, and they can give birth to more than 200 babies. However, don’t expect all 200 juveniles to survive. Guppies will eat their fry, and chances of survival are low if the aquarium’s conditions aren’t right.
If you want to maximize the chances of the baby Guppy’s survival, separate the breeding fish into a tank with grasses so the young can hide. Provide food that is high in protein, such as brine shrimp. Wait at least six weeks before introducing the surviving fish to a community.
When the female’s eggs are fertilized within her body, you will see a dark mark on her abdomen, which means she is pregnant. Once you have found the pregnant females, remove the males and any females that aren’t pregnant. Then, feed the pregnant female up to 5 small meals a day and monitor her progress until she births the fry. Once she has given birth, she can be returned to her home tank.
Freshwater fish are susceptible to disease, no matter how easy they are to care for. Prevent diseases by consistently monitoring water conditions and performing regular water changes to keep ammonia levels low. They can suffer from a range of bacterial and parasitic infections. These include:
- Ich: This parasitic infection is fairly common among Guppies, and you will notice it by the white spots that develop on the Guppy’s body. Without treatment, it can be fatal. In addition, Ich is contagious and sick fish must get isolated right away.
- Fin rot: Fin rot is either caused by fungus or bacteria. It can cause fins to decay and fall off, which affects the way they swim.
Guppy Tank Mates
Guppies are small and can fall victim to larger fish who may view them as food. When choosing tank mates, consider their size, temperament, and where they like to swim. Guppies prefer to swim near the surface, so their tank mates should spend much time on the bottom of the tank. This will prevent them from fighting for space or getting in each other’s way.
Tankmates that will live well with Guppies include:
- Zebra danios
- Molly fish
- Cory catfish
- Cardinal tetras
- Neon tetra
- Most Gouramis species
- Ghost shrimp
Keeping single Guppies in a tank will cause them to feel vulnerable without the protection of a group. It gets recommended that there be at least three Guppies in a tank to prevent introvert behaviors.
Guppies are peaceful, communal fish that are easy to care for and breed. Keep these beautiful and colorful fish in freshwater, temperature-regulated tanks to ensure a healthy and happy life. They are smart fish that you will see learn routines, play with other fish in the tank, and show excitement when you approach.
They are not only stunning, but they are entertaining to watch. If you decide to care for Guppy fish, develop a good feeding and cleaning routine to ensure they live a healthy life.