We’ve all seen and kept Guppies indoors before. These hardy fish are some of the most popular aquarium fish in the world for good reason! But if you have a small outdoor pond or bowl, have you considered stocking it with a few flashy Guppies?
Can You Really Keep Guppies in an Outdoor Pond?
Absolutely! It depends on where you live and how cold your winters are. However Guppies can do just as well outside as they do in aquariums or bowls. It just takes a little planning beforehand!
What Climate Can Guppies Survive in Outdoor Ponds?
For tropical fish, Guppies are very cold tolerant. Their native country of Venezuela is balmy the entire year. If you live in a temperate region like most of North America or Europe, the amount of time you can keep them outdoors is limited.
There are a few true tropical regions in the United States, including South Florida, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii. In these regions, Guppies will thrive all year round without ever having to bring them indoors.
Residents of South Texas, Southern California, and the Gulf Coast may find that Guppies do well during moderate winters. But keep in mind Guppies start to suffer if the water temperature falls below 65℉
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If you live in one of these borderline climate zones and are using a container pond or outdoor bowl, consider picking up a pond heater to keep the temperature stabilized.
When placing your outdoor pond, try to avoid temperature extremes. The rising and setting of the sun can cause the temperature to swing wildly if the pond gets sudden exposure.
Fences, the shadow of your house, and more, can keep things cold, only for sudden noonday sun exposure to fatally heat the water.
Setting Up an Outdoor Guppy Pond
Considering how small they are Guppies don’t need a lot of space. In fact, I recommend sticking with smaller outdoor ponds and bowls.
Otherwise, your Guppies are likely to go wild on you, feeding on mosquito larvae and algae and not relying on you for food. They are likely to simply flee into the depths every time you come around to have a look!
Outdoor ponds 30-300 gallons are ideal for outdoor Guppies; plenty of swimming space without them easily getting lost in the pond.
Of course, larger ponds can also work, assuming you don’t mind not seeing them on occasion. Larger ponds also provide additional living space for their fry to mature without being easily eaten. Within a few months you’ll see substantially more fish than you started out with.
As tropical fish Guppies prefer water temperatures of 75-82℉ but can tolerate temperatures as cold as 68℉.
I recommend using a heater to keep temperatures on the warm side whenever possible; their home region is close to the equator (and they are raised in stable aquarium environments). So they aren’t accustomed to wide variations in temperature.
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Neutral to slightly alkaline conditions suit them best (pH 7.0-7.5) but they will thrive even in more strongly acidic or alkaline parameters. Guppies also appreciate a touch of aquarium salt, which improves gill function and stimulates healthy slime coat production.
Feeding Your Guppies
Guppies are some of the heartiest omnivores you’ll ever find! Literally anything that’s small enough, plant or animal based, will be happily eaten. Algae, aquatic insects, plankton, flakes, tiny pellets…Guppies enjoy all of it!
Keeping them outdoors makes feeding significantly easier since your pond will attract all kinds of life looking to colonize the space.
Watch out for possible outdoor predators as well, though. Dragonfly larvae, diving beetles, and water spiders are all very willing to eat a juicy Guppy if given the chance!
Guppies and Mosquito Larvae
Many prospective pond keepers decide not to start one because they worry about breeding mosquitoes. Fortunately, Guppies have a lot to offer you if mosquitoes are an issue in your area.
You may already be familiar with their close cousin the Mosquito Fish (Gambusia affinis). Like them, Guppies love mosquito larvae and other tiny aquatic insects.
Either species can be added to ponds to keep them from becoming mosquito breeding habitats, ruining backyard summer evenings. If you live in regions too cold for Guppies, Mosquito Fish are native North American livebearers that can overwinter in much of the country.
In large enough ponds, there may even be enough algae and mosquito larvae that you can go without feeding your Guppies for extended periods! Instead of treating them as pests, I recommend netting mosquito larvae as nutritious live food treats for your indoor fish.
Pond Mates for Guppies
Guppies are extremely peaceful fish that stay quite small. So you’ll need to be careful in selecting pond mates because they are significantly smaller than most pond fish.
Goldfish are some of the most popular pond fish in the world. While they get quite a bit larger than Guppies they are peaceful, if a bit clumsy at times. Goldfish are likely to eat free-swimming Guppy fry. But so will the Guppies themselves.
Goldfish are much more cold tolerant and can typically live outdoors year-round even if your Guppies cannot. They also like to dig and uproot plants as well. So make sure your plants are well established and can resist their constant rooting about.
Mollies are some of the largest livebearing fish in the hobby. Some, such as the Sailfin Molly (Poecilia velifera), can grow as large as 8 inches in length! Mollies have very similar habits to their smaller cousins, with a stronger vegetarian streak.
Algae, soft plants like Cabomba, and blanched vegetables are all eagerly eaten. Mollies also require a bit of salt for ideal health.
If your outdoor pond is warm enough for Guppies it’s also warm enough for Bettas. Like Guppies, they come from tropical regions that rarely get below 75℉.
The common myth is that Bettas are too aggressive to keep with other fish. The truth of the matter is that they are aggressive towards each other, especially the males.
They may decide to chase other fish on occasion, especially fish with similar long fins like male Guppies. However they are otherwise peaceful, particularly in spacious, heavily planted ponds.
While they are typically sold alongside other tropical fish, Zebra Danios are quite cold-hardy. In fact, they and most other danios prefer slightly cooler temperatures from 65-75℉.
They are also as easy to breed as Guppies, scattering their eggs among thick plant matter. Make sure you provide Guppy Grass, Java Fern, and other tangled plants that give eggs and fry a chance to mature without being eaten.
Pond Guppies aren’t nearly as common as raising them in an aquarium. But if you’re too space limited for a koi pond and want to try something very different, it can work well!
Just make sure you’re aware of whether your climate can support Guppies year-round. If not, smaller ponds make it easy to move them indoors for the colder months as necessary.
And once spring returns, feel free to bring your Guppies back into the sun to explore!