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Guppy Fish Care Guide: Appearance, Diet, and More

Guppy fish are a popular breed that many beginners gravitate toward. Yet, even the easiest pets need responsible, dedicated owners. So, this article will cover all the basics of how to care for guppies.

Guppy Fish Overview

Guppy Fish

Before we go into details about the appearance, behavior, and care of these fish, let’s look at a general overview of their qualities.

FamilyPoeciliidae
OriginSouth America, Freshwater
Lifespan2 to 5 years
TemperamentPeaceful
Size0.6 to 2.4 inches long
Minimum Tank Size10-gallon
DietOmnivore
BreedingLive-bearer
pH6.5 to 8.0
Hardness8 to 12 dGH
Temperature68 to 78 F
Beginner-Friendly?Yes

Guppy Fish History

Guppies were first discovered in South America in the 1860s. This freshwater species can be found in a wide range of areas around the continent, but they’re most commonly seen in Brazil and Guyana. They may also appear in Caribbean areas like Barbados.

These small fish naturally occurred in widespread areas. Sometimes, irresponsible owners release them into the wild, but it’s unlikely that they’ll survive if let loose in a place that’s not suitable for them. Today, many guppies are bred in captivity and sold as pets.

The breed is named after Robert John Lechmere Guppy, who first identified this species on the island of Trinidad. They have been captively bred for over 100 years now.

Appearance

Appearance

Guppies come in a wide range of vibrant colors. Their large tail fins have the most color while their bodies are a bit duller, but still beautiful.Their profile resembles a minnow with a pointed mouth.

Even though there’s not a consistent appearance for guppies, they’re often distinguished by their large fan-shaped fins. The flowing fin is what lets humans know that they’re looking at a guppy and not some other type of fish.

Male guppies are usually more colorful, and their caudal and dorsal fins are longer. The shape of the fins vary based on the guppy type. Some guppies have rounded tails while others have V-shaped tails. The possibilities are endless!

Guppy Fish Types

There are about 300 types of guppies, and they all belong to the Poeciliidae family. While the body shape is similar for all of them, their colors vary greatly. Blue, red, green, and white are just a few colors that you’ll find on guppy scales. 

Size

The size of guppies can vary, but they’re usually small fish. While males often have longer fins, they’re usually smaller than females. Male guppies are typically between 0.6 and 1.4 inches long while females are 1.2 to 2.4 inches long.

Guppy Fish Behavior

Guppy Fish Behavior

Guppies are known as peaceful, easy-going fish. In general, they’re hardy and adaptable, which is why they’re desirable for beginners. If the aquarium for guppy fish is too small, they may show signs of aggression by nipping the fins of other fish. Yet, they normally won’t do much harm unless they’re housed with slower-moving fish.

What Fish Can Guppies Live with?

Having other calm fish in the guppy fish aquarium usually works out well. Similar species like platys and mollies are likely the safest tankmates for this breed. Neon tetra and zebra fish may also do well around guppies. If a fish breed is known for being aggressive, it shouldn’t be kept with any guppies.

Most guppy keepers only house guppies with the same species. Guppies aren’t likely to attack each other, and there’s such a wide range of these fish. So, even with no other species, the tank will still be colorful and entertaining.

Guppy Fish Care

Before you decide if a guppy is the right fish for you, you’ll want to make sure you’re capable of caring for them. Here are some aspects you’ll need to prepare for.

How Long Do Guppy Fish Live?

Guppy Fish Care

Most guppies live two to five years. The level of care you give them can greatly affect their lifespan. An ideal tank setup can extend their lives.

Unideal tank conditions can lead to stress and other health concerns, which could shorten your guppy’s life.

Guppy Fish Food

Guppies are omnivores, so they’ll happily eat whatever they’re offered. The most common way to feed guppies is to use high-quality pellets or flakes. Most commercial fish food includes all the nutrients that these animals need in their diets.

Baby guppy fish need smaller food, such fish fry pellets or baby brine shrimp. Keep serving them juvenile food until they’re big enough to eat the same pellets as adults.

Once in a while, you can also give your fish a tasty snack, such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, or mosquito larvae. You can find those items in live, frozen, or freeze-dried forms.Those snacks are similar to what the fish would seek out in the wild. However, too many of those treats can be unhealthy, so don’t make them part of their daily diets.

Many new fish keepers make the mistake of overfeeding their guppies. Guppies will eat as much as they can, even if they’re not hungry. So, it’s up to you to keep their portions small.

Guppy Fish Tank Setup

Since guppies are small, they don’t require an excessive amount of space. Yet, a larger area can’t hurt. They can live in a five-gallon tank, but most experts recommend a ten-gallon tank or larger

Guppies are active and love to swim around. So, a bigger space makes it easier for them to do that. If you have males and females, it’s crucial to have extra space since they’ll likely multiply quickly.

These fish don’t care about what’s in their tanks, so it’s your chance to be creative. You can start by putting a substrate in the bottom of the fish tank with guppies. Sand is the most common option because it’s good for live plants and doesn’t cause any problems for the fish.

In the wild, guppies often hide to escape larger predators. Even though nothing is threatening them in an aquarium, it’s still good to replicate their natural environment. Put hiding space decorations and lush vegetation throughout the tank to give your fish places to hide and explore.

Before you put any artificial decorations in the tank, check them closely. Make sure they don’t have any sharp edges that could harm your fish.

Guppies also don’t have strict requirements for lighting. You can use an aquarium light on a timer or rely on natural light from the window. 

Water Conditions

When replicating your guppy’s natural environment, you also need to follow the water conditions closely. Accurate water parameters are essential for keeping fish healthy.

The ideal temperature should be between 64 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit, but mid-70s is ideal. Colder water causes fish to mature slower and not breed as regularly. Keep a thermometer in the tank to keep track of how warm it is. If it gets too cold in your home, you may need to purchase a tank heater.

The pH level should be between 7.5 and 8.0. Then, the water hardness should be between 8 to 12 dGH. To check those conditions, purchase a water test kit to test the water occasionally. As long as the water stays within the acceptable range, your fish should stay healthy.

Guppy Fish Breeding

Guppy Fish Breeding

If you want to breed guppies, the process is a breeze! As long as you have males and females in the tank, more guppies will appear without you needing to do anything besides keeping their tank clean.

Guppies are a unique fish breed because they give birth to young fish instead of laying eggs. They lay their eggs in the womb, so the fish eggs develop internally. It can take 21 to 40 days for the eggs to develop into fish. Then, female guppies can give birth to up to 200 fish at once!

However, most of the young fish won’t survive. Guppies don’t have parental instincts, so they will often eat their children. The best way to keep the newborn guppies safe is to have a separate breeding tank. Put plenty of dense grasses and plants in the breeding tank to give the fry places to hide.

Pregnant guppy fish may hold onto sperm for up to three months, but healthy fish will usually use it to fertilize eggs right away. Once the baby fish are born, remove the adults from the breeding tank to give the newborns a higher chance of survival.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before you become a guppy keeper, you should feel confident about it. Here are some questions that new fish keepers commonly wonder.

Are Guppies Schooling Fish?

Guppies are social fish, but they’re not usually a schooling fish breed. They enjoy swimming with their tankmates, but it’s not a necessity for their survival. You may even find lone guppies in your tank. They typically only school if they feel threatened, so they will rarely do it in their aquarium.

Are Guppies Tropical Fish?

Yes, guppies are freshwater, tropical fish that are native to South America. Thus, their ideal tank temperature is high year-round.

Can You Put Guppies with Betta Fish?

Yes, guppies and betta fish can live together. Both fish have similar living conditions. Bettas can be aggressive, but they’re unlikely to harm peaceful guppies. Monitor the two species closely and feed the Betta separately from the guppies. It’s best if your bettas and guppies are females.

Is a Beautiful Guppy Fish Right for You?

You might see guppy fish for sale at pet stores or online, but are they a good fit for your lifestyle? If you’re looking for a low-maintenance, beginner fish, then a guppy might be for you! However, before you commit to bringing some home, you need to ensure that you can give them all their needs, including proper food, space, and water conditions.

Some fish are easier to care for than others, but all deserve to live in a tank that fits their needs. So, consider every aspect before deciding which species is ideal for you.

Jason Roberts
About Jason Roberts
Jason is an aquarium fanatic that has been a fish hobbyist for almost three decades.