If you are just getting into the whole aquarium thing, you might not know what fish to get. Maybe you have heard of guppies before, but don’t know what they are all about. Well, that is what we are here for today, to talk about these cool little guys.
Our main point here is to figure out how to take care of guppies. They are really neat little fish with bright colors and a lot of personality. They are easy to take care of too. When you are done reading this guppy care sheet you might just want to get some of your own.
About The Guppy Fish
The official scientific name for the guppy is Poecilia reticulate. There are various colorations and names for these fish. They have often been referred to as rainbow fish, millions fish, and fancy tail guppy. The name does of course depend on the specific type of guppy, of which there are quite a few. These little guys grow to around 2 inches in length, which is not very large.
They come in different colorations, but a good way to tell males apart from females is by the way that males have larger tails with brighter colors. If you take good care of a guppy it can live for up to 5 years, or as little as 3 years, with 4 years being the average. Guppies are native to central and South America, often residing in highly planted river basins. They are very hardy and can survive in varying water conditions, plus they are quite peaceful and easy to take care of as well. They make for great fish to have in a community tank.
What Kind Of Tank You Need
One of the convenient things about guppies is that they are fairly small fish and they have a small bio-load. They don’t produce too much waste, which means that they don’t need a huge aquarium to live well. A good general rule of thumb to follow with guppies is that for every 1 inch of guppy you should have 1 gallon of water in the aquarium. Guppies should be kept in trios to make sure that they are happy (more on tank sizes here).
Guppies are pretty prolific maters and the males do tend to wear down females. To avoid this you should keep 2 female guppies for every male you have. Since guppies grow to a maximum of 2 inches in length, you will need 2 gallons of water for every guppy. Since you should keep them in trios, this means that 3 guppies should ideally have 6 gallons of tank space.
So, if you have 9 guppies, this would mean that you need 18 gallons of tank space. When compared to other fish, the amount of space required for guppies is pretty minimal. On a side note, if you have 9 guppies, at least 6 of them should be females.
Guppies are small and fairly peaceful, so they do like a lot of plant matter. Their nature means that they like to find cover in plant life and in little caves, just like in their native home of Central America. They tend to reside in river basins, so a lot of plant matter is necessary. A number of rooted plants (we have covered our top 10 plants here), some floating plants, driftwood (we have covered a buyers guide for driftwood here), and rock caves are all recommended to mimic the habitat of the guppy. As long as you set up the tank this way, your guppies won’t know the difference between the tank and their habitat in the wild.
Ideal Water Conditions For Guppies
Guppies are pretty hardy and are known to be able to adapt to different water conditions with relative ease. However, there are some water conditions that should be met in order to ensure happy and healthy guppies. The first thing to keep in mind is that guppies are susceptible to ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. This means that you need an established aquarium with beneficial bacteria to eat away these toxic substances.
The best way to go about this is to get yourself a great 3 stage filter that engages in mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. A good set of bio-balls or bio-pads for the growth of beneficial bacteria is highly recommended. Generally speaking, a really good filter that engages in all kinds of filtration is recommended. While guppies are hardy, having clean and clear water is always recommended no matter what.
The next thing to keep in mind is the temperature of the water. Guppies are tropical warm water fish, so having a heater is probably the best way to go. The ideal water temperature is anywhere between 66°F - 84°F (19°C - 29°C), or fairly warm in other words. You will probably not be able to achieve a really warm aquarium without a heater, so investing in a small but efficient heater is recommended here.
Water Hardness & pH Level
Another thing you need to keep in mind is the hardness of the water, or in other words, how much calcium and magnesium is dissolved in it. Ideally, the water hardness level, measured in dH, should be between 10° to 20° dH, which is fairly soft. Also, in terms of the pH level, which is how acidic the water is, it should be between a pH of 7 and 8, which is either neutral or very slightly basic. An average pH level of 7.5 will do just fine (if you need help increasing the pH level in your tank then checkout this article).
In terms of water changes, all aquariums require water changes. For guppies, you should change 10% of the water on a daily basis, or you can change 30% of the water every 5 days or so. As long as you engage in water changes regularly, your guppies will be fine. That being said, more frequent water changes are best.
One of the things which people really like about guppies is that they are fairly easy to take care of in terms of feeding. They do need lots of nutrients, with a good mix of animal based protein and plants or vegetable matter. Guppies are omnivorous and will eat various foods, but they do like their animal protein a whole lot.
Ideally, they should be getting more animal protein than veggies and plants. A well-varied diet is the way to go here. Simply put, high quality flake food is a really good way to go. Just make sure that the flake food you get is high in animal protein, has lots of vitamins, and some substances to help increase their bright coloring.
Types Of Food They Like
You can also feed your guppies pellet food, but remember that guppies are small, so the pellets need to be small enough for them to eat. You should also try to supplement the flakes or pellets with some live or freeze dried foods as they are high in nutrients and guppies like some nice treats too. Things like insect larvae, daphnia, bloodworms, and brine shrimp, either live or freeze dried, are all great options. Guppies will also enjoy the occasional vegetable such as peas, lettuce, and cucumber.
Caution On Overfeeding
Make sure to not over feed your guppies as this can result in illness, and in severe cases can result in death. Feeding them twice per day in small amounts is best, usually no more than they can eat in roughly 2 minutes per feeding. (we have covered the 11 effects of overfeeding on this post).
Tank Mates For Guppies
Guppies are small, quiet, peaceful, and are not very territorial or aggressive. This means that they make for great community fish. There are lots of suitable tank mates for guppies. As long as the other fish are not much larger or aggressive, you can add them into a tank with guppies.
Really large, fast moving, and aggressive fish are not ideal as they will out compete your guppies for food, or they might bully your guppies to the point of being over-stressed, injury, and death. As long as the tank mates are peaceful it should be no problem at all.
Breeding guppies is about as easy as it gets. These fish are live bearers, which means that they don’t lay eggs. The guppy fry can swim as soon as they are born. If you have a community of male and female guppies, you can be fairly sure that they will breed on their own. You do not have to change any water conditions or get a separate tank (or a breeding trap).
These little guys will breed if they are in groups of males and females. That being said, guppies are notorious for eating their young. So, if you would like to see guppy fry reach maturity, you need to remove them shortly after birth and get them their own separate tank until they are large enough in order to not be eaten by their parents. In case you were wondering, determining the sex of guppies is fairly easy. Males have much larger and more colorful tails than females.
As you can see, guppies are fairly easy to take care of, they don’t require too much maintenance, they are peaceful, and they look cool too. They definitely make for some great fish if you are new to the aquarium world.