Guppy is a live-bearing tropical fish. This fish belongs to Poeciliidae, whose scientific name is Poecilia reticulata. It’s commonly known as million fish or rainbow fish. Guppy is a colorful fish with flowing fins and a beautiful body.
They’re one of my favorites!
This fish has different colors and unique patterns, and tail shapes. Guppies benefit most aquarists and help control malaria by feeding on mosquito larvae. The fish is adaptable and can survive in various water parameters.
Guppies are the best fish to keep for beginners due to their hardy nature.
Let’s learn how to care for a guppy fish as an aquarist.
- Origin of Guppies
- Appearance of Guppies
- Behavior of Guppies
- Guppy Reproduction
- Guppy Fish Care
- Guppy Tankmates
- Guppies Diet and Feeding
- Guppy Care on Diseases
- How to Care for Guppies
- Watch This!
- Frequently Asked Questions
Origin of Guppies
People discovered guppy fish for the first time in the 1860s in South America. Though the fish have a wide distribution, they are native to Brazil, Guyana, Barbados, Venezuela, Tobago, Suriname, Antigua, and Trinidad.
However, you can find guppies in most freshwater rivers in South America nowadays. Again, the fish is common in other countries worldwide to control mosquito breeding. Guppies tend to feed on mosquito larvae and thus may be the best solution in eradicating malaria in the prone areas.
Guppies can live for a period of between two to five years. Their lifespan will depend on their care and the genetics in place. Thus, your guppy will live longer with healthy living conditions and quality food.
Appearance of Guppies
Guppies have the most stunning coloration and thus win the heart of many aquarists. Their bodies look gorgeous and have tail fins. Their fan-shaped fin may be larger than the rest of the body. Other fins may have similar colors and textures, but the tailfin is the most impressive and detailed, making them unique.
Both males and females possess flowing fins and colors. Nevertheless, the female guppies are larger. The female can become plumper and grow twice the size of the male, thus overshadowing the tailfin feature.
Guppies are generally small in size, thus why the flowing fins become impressive. These fish can grow to about 2 inches long for mature adults. Female guppies, however, can grow large, up to two and a half inches. But the male guppies are always less than two inches.
There are different breeds of guppies depending on the following features.
Guppies have a range of colors, from metallic blue to bright orange. These colors appear on their upper and lower bodies, where the upper parts are more colorful than the tail. Again, the gray color is dominant, but you can still find gold and albino white.
There are around 30 different types of guppies under this category. The unique ones include;
- Albino guppies are present with white or translucent bodies with pink markings. This species is rare and comes with triangular or flag tailfins.
- Black guppies – it’s an unusual species of guppy.
- Solid color guppies come in red, white, or blue colors.
- Bi-colored guppies have a different base color and some portions of the body with another color.
- Half-colored guppies have the best combination and thus appear most beautiful. Again, this is the most sought-after breed due to these colors hence very expensive.
The usual varieties are half black and blue, red delta breed, black and yellow guppy, and black-red guppy.
You will find some guppy fish with solid colors, while others will have patterns on their bodies as follows;
1. Snakeskin – it has a pattern similar to snake or tiger-like. However, the body has a chain-like design with rosettes.
2. Cobra – has dark rosettes and spots like a cobra. These guppies have multiple colors like silver, green, orange, black, and white.
3. Tuxedo – it’s compared to a tuxedo suit; these guppies have different colors on the front and back sides. The upper body part is lighter, while the lower is darker( two-toned bodies).
4. Leopard – the fins have a series of spots like the leopard skin. The leopard-like markings may be in range and black. Others have red, white, and blue shades with different black markings and are so pretty.
5. Mosaic – the pattern on the tail has posts joined together like the mosaic design.
6. Lace – describes the pleasing weblike shapes that form on the snakeskin guppies.
7. Grass – has an admirable pattern than leopard and tiny dots like grass seeds.
8. The glass type is transparent as the tail lacks guanine.
Tail Fin Shapes
There are various fancy fins in the guppy species due to selective breeding. The difference in the fins’ appearance has resulted in many breeds such as;
- Large fan tails belong to the group of fancy guppies.
- Square flag tails
- Double swordtails
- Delta triangle tail
- Veil tail guppies
- Top swordtail
- Bottom swordtail
- Lyre tail
- Needletail has a rounded shape or sharp pointing.
- The Spade tail resembles the shape of spades in the pack of cards.
- The round tail looks round in form.
- Halfmoon tails are also among the gorgeous guppies.
Behavior of Guppies
Guppy is a less aggressive fish with no territorial tendencies. These fish are active swimmers and like exploring and chasing each other. Again, guppies enjoy swimming or even feeding in a school. The schooling behavior enables them to overcome predation, especially in the wild.
Guppies can swim anywhere in the tank, but they mostly prefer staying at the top of the tank. They like swimming in the open but can hide in caves when playing or are afraid of something. The fish will sleep when it’s dark and remain active in daylight.
Guppy fish are ovoviviparous, meaning fertilization occurs inside the female guppy, and the eggs remain for development. Instead of spawning, these fish give birth to active fries that can survive independently. Guppies carry out this method to increase the chances of survival for their young ones.
The male will keep chasing the female during the mating season until she accepts. The female will hide among the plants or caves in the aquarium until she feels ready. When the male gets a chance or notices the female is distracted, he will quickly insert his anal fin and release sperms. The mating process is so quick that you may not even see it.
Something unique about guppies is the ability for females to store sperm for a very long period. Again, they can give birth to many fries without mating as they already have stored sperms.
How Will You Notice a Pregnant Guppy?
Since it’s hard to notice when guppies are mating, you should be keen to look out for pregnant ones. Identifying a pregnant fish helps you give it good care and prepare for the guppy fry.
Some of the signs of a pregnant guppy include;
- The fish gets plumper over a few weeks.
- A dark spot called gravid occurs on her abdomen after fertilization.
- Loss of appetite
- Being restless
- Rubbing themselves against objects
If you notice your fish has the above signs and is pregnant, make sure you provide a peaceful environment. It’s best to keep it in a separate tank to avoid stress, leading to miscarriage. Again, keeping her in the breeding tank prevents the fries from being eaten after birth.
Fun Fact: Guppy fry is cute and adorable (from the fish owner’s POV)! Do you know how to care for them? Read our article and educate yourself — Guppy Fry: Tips And Hints In Taking Care Of Your Baby Gup.
Guppy Fish Care
Guppies are the best fish for any starters since they are resilient species. The fish are highly adaptable, and one can learn their care quickly without harming them.
However, every species has its preferred aquarium requirements for optimum growth and survival. Some of these requirements for the guppies are as follows.
If you need to keep guppies, what type of aquarium do they require? How many guppies do you need to stock? Since guppies are small, you don’t need a huge tank. A five-gallon tank is enough for three guppies for a start.
However, it’s best to have a 10-gallon tank for better results. A large tank will provide comfort for the fish. Since guppies are active swimmers, they will enjoy a larger tank than a smaller one. Hence a reason to start using larger gallon tanks from the start.
These fish spawn fast, rapidly increasing their population and outgrowing the small tank.
Guppy Water Parameters
Guppies originate from warm waters in the wild. Though they can survive in a wide range of temperatures, they thrive best in warm waters since they are tropical fish.
Guppy fish will multiply and breed faster in warm waters while having a slower growth rate in cold water. The best water temperature should be between 64 – 84 degrees F. The ideal water temperature is around the mid-70s.
Water pH is also essential — guppies prefer close to normal pH levels. The ideal range is between 6.8 – 7.8 similar to what is found in the natural habitat. Also, maintain the water hardness at dGH 8 -12. Water flow is another factor to consider.
Water current isn’t an issue for the guppy fish as they enjoy playing in high flow. But if you find the flow causing stress to your fish, you should place plants and decorations to reduce the effect.
Guppy Fish Tank Requirements
The guppy aquarium should resemble the natural habitat. In the captive state, the fish prefers a freshwater aquarium environment. So, it’s best to ensure you keep the proper water parameters.
Guppies also require plants and decorations that resemble their natural environments. Choose live plants like flame moss, java, and wisteria as they offer the best cover for the fish. These pants also facilitate the nitrogen cycle, essential in the tank system to break down the toxic compounds.
Decorations are also crucial in the guppy tank. They act as sites for the guppy to play, mainly the pebbles and caves. The Poecilia also hide in the caves during the mating process.
Driftwood can also be a great addition to the tank as a hiding place. However, avoid any sharp objects that will rip off the fins. For the substrate, choose a dull color. Since guppies aren’t bottom dwellers, sand or aquarium gravel can be good options.
Do guppies like lighting? Guppy fish has no strict requirements for lighting. It’s best to keep the conditions natural. A regular day or night cycle is enough for them. You can place standard aquarium lights on a timer or put the tank in an area with sufficient natural light. Full-spectrum of natural day/night cycles is enough to mimic their wild habitat.
Are heaters necessary for a guppy aquarium? You may require a heater for your guppies if you live in cold areas. This tool keeps water temperature stable for your fish for optimum growth and activity. As stated earlier, this fish species likes warm waters.
Clean and fresh water is ideal for any aquarium fish. Therefore, it’s necessary to purchase a quality and reliable filtration system. A filter helps eliminate any toxic compounds in water by breaking them down into less poisonous substances. For example, it prevents the accumulation of nitrate and ammonia.
Guppies are calm fish and not fighters. However, they might be cheeky and occasionally nip the fish with long fins. To combat this, ensure you keep them with peaceful species. Some tank mates to consider are platies, small catfish, tetras, mollies, and rasboras.
As a rule, choose the species that aren’t prone to fin-nipping due to the guppies’ long-flowing fins.
Guppies Diet and Feeding
Guppies are omnivorous and mainly feed on algae in the wild. These fish also feed on invertebrates and detritus along the bottom of water bodies. These fish live in schools and carry out foraging; they can share when they find more algae supply.
In captivity, guppies can feed on various foods since they are omnivores. You should feed them a diet of meat and vegetables. So, what feed should you give them? Guppies can feed on flakes, brine shrimp, and mosquito larvae. Brine shrimp has a high level of protein at around 60%. Also, brine shrimp are the favorite food for adults and are very nutritious.
Please don’t assume that since guppies are omnivores, they can eat anything. Be careful about what you feed them for better health. Consider purchasing tropical flakes and fish feed formulation for your guppies from a credible fish store. They also enjoy plants like hornwort and water sprite.
Vegetable pellets are also worth it and contain a combination of algae, plankton, and spirulina. Use this with a high-protein fish flake to have a balanced diet for your fish. Other foods to consider are zucchini, tubifex worms, and daphnia.
How Do You Go About Feeding Guppies?
The first thing to consider is to avoid overfeeding your guppies to prevent health complications. Guppies have a high appetite, which may tempt you to feed them more.
To combat overfeeding, follow a 5-minute rule. Give your guppies the amount they can only consume in a span of 5-minute. If you go to the aquarium after 5-minutes and still find some food, you should extract it.
Excess food will also impact water quality. Extra feed and other waste products will soil the aquarium, creating an unhealthy environment. Again, overfed fish will excrete more waste, which lowers water quality.
Guppy Care on Diseases
Guppies get ill just like any other ornamental fish. Nevertheless, these species are less susceptible to infections, especially in healthy aquarium conditions. But, if their living conditions get compromised, they get stressed and become susceptible to diseases.
The common infections that affect them are bacterial, fungal, and parasitic. The common parasitic disease that affects them is ich. This infection presents as minute white dots on the fins and the body. Your fish usually rubs against objects and swims erratically.
Ich infection is very contagious and can put all your fish at risk. If you notice the white dots, it’s best to quarantine the infected fish and treat it immediately.
Another disease is fin rot caused by bacteria or fungus. The colorful fins will start decaying and then slough off. This illness affects your guppy’s beauty and also their swimming habit.
To combat fin-rot infection, you should maintain stable water quality and parameters. Ensure you do regular water changes either daily or weekly, depending on tank condition. Poor water quality and ammonia burn lead to fin rot.
This infection has different kinds of treatment depending on whether it’s bacterial or fungal. Ensure to quarantine your fish if infected and seek advice from a veterinary officer.
Other guppy diseases include;
- Swim bladder disorder affects fish buoyancy and occurs primarily due to stress. Your guppies usually are unable to swim and keep balance.
- Popped eyes that occur due to poor water quality, dropsy, fungus, or bacterial
- Dropsy is a bacterial infection affecting the liver or kidney, leading to a swollen abdomen. It may occur due to poor water pollution, genetics, or feeding them with too many bloodworms.
The best treatment for all diseases is prevention. Always provide healthy living conditions for your guppies to avoid illnesses. Ensure the water is clean and fresh, keep all water parameters in check, protect your fish from stress and feed them correctly.
How to Care for Guppies
Ensure you provide the best living conditions for your guppies to thrive. Some of the practices you should carry out include;
- Make sure you do water changes regularly for clean, healthy tank conditions. If doing it daily, change 10% of the water. Ensure you change 30% of the water weekly for optimal conditions.
- Feed your guppies one or two times daily with the right food.
- Keep a breeding tank for the fries to avoid being eaten by the mature fish. Provide the fries with the correct water parameters. Ensure they have a sponge filter, protecting them from being sucked accidentally.
- Set your aquarium with the items like a filter, heater, decorations, and live plants.
Fun Fact: Move forward with your guppy buddy by learning the basics of a guppy tank setup! Read our post on Guppy Tank Setup: A Noobie Guide To Assembling An Aquarium to quickly get your pet fish swimming happily.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my guppies are happy?
To know that your guppies are happy, they should have the following signs;
- Clear normal eyes without clouding or bulging
- Actively swimming
- Normal breathing rate
- Good appetite
- Brightly colored scales
- Bright and spread-out fins
- Stock your fish accordingly on the tank size you have.
Maintain your fish health, and if sick, quarantine and treat immediately.
How often should guppies be fed?
You should be careful not to overfeed your guppies due to their high appetite. Ensure you feed them once or twice a day, depending on the amount of food.
Can you have two male guppies together?
Yes, it’s okay to keep two male guppies in the same tank. Though, at times some male guppies may be aggressive to other males, which is normal. For instance, they can chase each other when fighting over a female. To ensure they thrive together, provide hiding spaces for the weaker ones.
Guppies are great fish that most guppy breeders keep as a form of leisure. Guppy care is easy when you have all the skills needed. To be equipped, you should do your initial research before venturing into this hobby.
Just ensure your fish are healthy by providing a clean aquarium environment and a balanced diet and keeping them stress-free.
Last Updated: July 13, 2022