Guppy Fish 101: Care, Breeding, Lifespan, Tank, Food & More!

If you’re a budding aquarist just looking for one of your first forays into the world of fish, the Guppy fish might just be the one you’ve been waiting for.

The Guppy is an active, friendly, community fish guaranteed to get along with many aquarium fish. This tiny swimmer is not all about personality either, because they’re also quite simply beautiful!

The table below gives a quick overview of the Guppy fish profile:

AttributeValue
Care DifficultyEasy/for beginners
Lifespan1-2 years average (sometimes up to 5 years)
DietOmnivorous
Color(s)Wide variety of colors and patterns
TemperamentFriendly/Peaceful
Maximum SizeUp to 2 inches or around 5 cm
Minimum Tank Size10 gallons
Tank SetupFreshwater/Highly vegetated
FamilyPoeciliidae
CompatibilityCommunity fish

Below is our Guppy Fish care guide, continue reading to find out more about their tank mates, tank size, diet, lifespan, and more.

Overview

The Guppy Fish (Poecilia reticulata), also called by the names Rainbow fish and Millionfish, are beautiful, peaceful, and very friendly fish. Native to northeast South America, they can now be found most anywhere in the world. From springs to canals and mountain streams, the Guppy can be found living its life happily.

This teensy-weensy freshwater fish is one of the most popular pet fishes in existence. For both wide-eyed beginners and the more experienced aquarist, you can be sure they have a couple of beautiful guppy strains in their home aquaria. Guppies are bright, exciting creatures that are relatively easy to take care of. 

Whether you’re looking for something simple at an affordable price, or a rarer, more high-maintenance underwater pet, there is a Guppy for everyone!

Appearance

Guppy fish are sexually dimorphic. This means that male and female guppies look very different from one another. You can easily tell which are males and females just by looking at their appearance. 

There are many different varieties and strains of Guppy fish, but in general, the males are the true scene-stealers in their population. 

Male Guppies typically have bright color patterns like streaks and spots along their small bodies, with larger even more ostentatious fins. These fins are ornamental, and usually fan out in an attention-grabbing display. 

Meanwhile, female Guppies possess a more subdued coloration. In the wild, they are usually only grey or silver in color. Their tail fins are also the same color, and are noticeably shorter than the males’. Female Guppies are much larger in body size, however, growing up to double the size of male Guppies. You can definitely tell the sex of your Guppy from a single glance.

Mainly done for aesthetic purposes, selective breeding is very commonly done in Guppies. This is because of the wide array of beautiful color combinations and a relatively easy breeding method. 

Plenty of guppy strains are from selective breeding, where the intention is to create more striking color combinations and patterns. The selection of traits range from customizing its colors, patterns, to even choosing the size and style of fins for both male and female. 

Tip: Many owners find that their Guppies keep dying despite doing everything right. The culprit for this phenomenon might be the pet stores doing inbreeding on Guppies to get specific colors and patterns. Frequent inbreeding can cause weak genetics to be passed on to your Guppies, making them more vulnerable to sickness.

Average Size

By any standards a very tiny fish, Guppies can only grow to sizes of up to around 5 centimeters or 2 inches. This is mainly achieved by the females, however, because they are noticeably larger than their male counterparts. Fortunately, when choosing a partner, height is not a requirement for female guppies because the males are usually only about half their size.

Lifespan

Despite being a highly adaptable species of fish, the average lifespan for a Guppy is only around one to two years. Don’t worry! These hardy fish are capable of living fulfilled lives of up to 4 or even 5 years under the right loving hands.

Guppy Fish Care Guide

Like what you see? Before you go grab a bunch of bright Guppies, keep reading and get to know everything you’ll need about proper Guppy care. 

Tank Size

Guppies may be small, but they procreate like there’s no tomorrow. While a 5 gallon tank may seem like enough for about three Guppies, this won’t be the case for long.

Guppies enjoy the company of not just other Guppy fish, but various other tank mates and decorations. Male Guppy fishes are also constantly running after females. This practice predictably ends up in baby Guppies! 

So if you have both sexes in your tank, it is more practical to get a minimum tank size of 10 to 20 gallons. A 40 gallon tank is ideal, and that includes your filter and decorations. In a 40 gallon tank, your Guppy friends could swim and enjoy the space and amenities of  their home. 

Water Parameters

Generally, Guppy fish are both resilient and beginner-friendly. Because of this, many owners end up neglecting their Guppies’ water needs and requirements. This is a sure-fire way to make your tiny friends unhappy and sick. 

As with any other fish, the correct water parameters are always essential and a part of being a good fish owner. For the Guppy, a freshwater aquarium that emulates the water conditions of their native habitats is ideal. 

Guppies love a warm environment, so keep their water temperature at around 64°F to 82°F, or 18°C to 28°C. 

The hardness of their water is another essential condition. It is acceptable to have about 15 to 30 gH (general hardness), but what matters more is the kH (carbonate hardness) in your tank. 

Guppies are serious about this stuff, as they need a water hardness playing around 9 to 19 kH (carbonate hardness). 

Once you’ve ensured an ideal kH, your Guppies won’t mind the pH so much. Just to be on the safe side, though, it’s best to keep a neutral pH of 7.0 to 8.0. 

Tank Setup

So what do these robust fish want for their glass homes? Apart from the necessary filter, heater, and air pump, Guppies appreciate a well-decorated tank. 

For their substrate of choice, Guppies are happy with a nutrient-rich substrate. You may choose between a sandy substrate, a gravel substrate, bare bottom, or tile substrate. You must consider, however, that Guppies sometimes pick at their tank substrate for bits and pieces of food. Avoid choosing a fine-textured substrate, or those with very tiny rocks.

These colorful fish love playing hide-and-seek, so for your tank decorations, give them aquarium plants they can hide and play around in. Good examples of these plants are Java ferns, Java moss, Water Wisteria, and some Anubias Nana. 

It’s also good to place some driftwood and smooth rocks. Not only will these add a beautiful contrast to your Guppies’ bright aesthetic, but will also serve as underwater caverns for them to hide in as well. 

Lastly, your Guppies will need some light in their lives. If your tank already gets its dose of sunlight, that’s good enough. Otherwise, you could simply add an LED light to finish off your Guppy home, and make sure the light’s not too bright for your little friends.

Now that their new aquatic home is all set up, leave it for a while. Before placing your Guppies in their new home, condition your tank first with all its contents and ornaments for a couple of weeks. When that’s done, you can then introduce your beloved Guppies in it slowly. They’ll thank you for it!

Tip: It’s better to have more females than males in your Guppy tank (2:1 ratio) to prevent unwanted overpopulation.

Common Diseases

We’ve already mentioned Guppy fish as being both good for newbies and resilient. This does not mean, however, that they never get sick. Ironically, because they are known to be tolerant and relatively easy to keep, many aquarists make the mistake of neglecting them.

Sadly, Guppies are susceptible to the diseases mentioned below mainly because of owners’ neglect. When the water conditions in its tank are very much below optimal and filthy, multiple diseases can set in, such as:

  • Fin rot (keep fin-nipping fish away from Guppies)
  • Fish Ick (caused by below optimal water parameters)
  • Guppy Disease (caused by a parasite when their tank is not heated well)
  • Mouth fungus (keep tank clean, do not overcrowd)
  • Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia (change water regularly)

Ultimately, the old adage ‘prevention is still better than cure’ applies to your Guppy fishes. They are already hardy on their own and don’t need much from you apart from minimal upkeep. 

Inspect your tanks and Guppy fish daily. Make sure their water is heated, with the right carbonate hardness (kH). Don’t forget to quarantine your Guppies before introducing them to a new environment. Do not shock them. 

Perform weekly water changes and keep their overall tank and substrates clean. In case you spot a sick fish, immediately remove them away from your other healthy Guppies so that they can be treated.  

Food & Diet

Unlike some humans you probably know, Guppy fishes are not picky with their food at all. They are omnivorous and ready to eat whatever you give them. In the wild, they are used to eating zooplankton, various insects, and other debris. In fact, the only main concern is the particle size and if it can fit into their minuscule mouths. Don’t go feeding them random stuff, however. To ensure their health and happiness, check out our Guppy food suggestions.

Food suitable for Guppy Fish include:

  • Frozen brine shrimp and Bloodworms (cut them up into tiny portions)
  • Cut up vegetables (spinach, lettuce, algae)
  • Flake food 
  • Veggie pellets (they’re full of vitamins!)
  • Spirulina tablets (for healthy fins and coloration)

Once you’ve got all of these, just remember to give them high-quality food (whether those are flakes or even homemade food), make sure the meals are properly-sized, and not to overfeed. A feeding schedule of once or twice a day will do wonders for these freshwater fish.

Temperament & Behavior

When talking about being friendly, none is more popular than the Guppy. They’re peaceful and great community fish. They’re also quite active, as they constantly move and jump around the tank. Guppies love hanging out with a shoal of other Guppies as well as meeting other peaceful species. 

Male Guppies can also be often seen chasing around a female Guppy at any given time. They are relentless in their pursuit, sometimes wiggling their fins and bodies around to get female attention. Talk about being a show-off!

Guppy Fish Tank Mates 

Since we now know that Guppies are extremely social and love company, it is only natural that they’re perfect for community aquaria. You have a lot of choices for tank mates as well, with minimal considerations. While Guppies appreciate the company of their own kind, fishes of other species will also be welcomed with two fins wide open.

Tank Mates suitable with Guppy Fish include:

While Guppies are peaceful fishes, putting much larger fish in your Guppy tank would be nothing short of a disaster. If the Guppies can fit in their mouths–you can’t put them together. Another big mistake is adding fishes that are aggressive or have a tendency to nip fins (poor Guppies!). 

Guppy Fish Breeding Behavior

Now, you’ve fallen hard for your besties and want more of them. Fortunately, Guppies are live bearing fish, and are often thought of as underwater rabbits. They love to love and are almost always just breeding. 

At 3 to 5 months of age, Guppies are ready to get it on. To start, male Guppies put on a show of wiggling their bright, colorful tails. This display attracts the females and urges them to move closer. This is a mating trap, of course. The females hold eggs inside them, while the males have a modified anal fin called the gonopodium (their Guppy ding-dong) which they insert as soon as the females are close enough. 

About three weeks after the deed, many changes occur to the females. Their gravid spot (a triangle-shaped patch near the anus) becomes darker, they want to hide and isolate, and they have a noticeable loss of appetite. These changes are mainly to protect their unborn fry. The entire gestation period of a female Guppy can range from 24 to 35 days. The length of time depends a lot on different factors, including environmental conditions, Guppy health, and diet. Naturally, if these factors are less than optimal, you may end up with terminated or unhealthy pregnancies. 

Mama Guppies can release around 20 to 40 babies per birth – practically a school! So if you intend to keep all fry safe, you should move them to a breeder box. This is to protect them not just from other fishes, but from their own mother as well. You should remember that once a Mama gives birth, she no longer recognizes her babies and will eat them!

The fry can quickly learn to swim and search for their own food in no time at all. For instance, some of their favorites are brine shrimp nauplii, micro worms, and Daphnia.

Conclusion

Guppies are bright, bold, and beautiful fish. It doesn’t take much to care for Guppies, as long as you’re willing to give them the best life possible. Guppies can be the perfect tiny friends not just for you, but for other fishes as well. They’re a worthy addition to the large community aquarium of your dreams. 

Note: Please consider the environment before printing this Guppy fish care sheet.

Leave a Comment