How Long Do Guppies Live: 9 Elements That Dictate Their Life

how long do guppies live
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Last Updated: September 4, 2023 by Flora Gibbins

A guppy’s life can be pretty short when you think about it. Off the top of your head, how long do you think a guppy lives?

As far as guppies are concerned…

They only live 2-5 years in captivity and up to 3 years for wild guppies. It’s worth noting that when they perish in the wild, they will decompose in their own watery grave.

There are many different species of guppies, all of which live to varying degrees. This article will explore the average guppy’s lifespan and how these different species differ in their lifespan.

The Fact

guppies with colorful fins in a fish tank

It is suggested that guppies can live up to 1-3 years in captivity, but most will die between 2-5 years old. The reason that guppy lifespan in captivity is a bit higher is that they are also fed larger amounts of food, as well as have space to swim and breed.

They live longer in captivity than wild guppies, though.

They can live over 5 years old in captivity, depending on their habitat and food source.

Some scientists believe that all guppies have initially been a different species; some believe that the guppy came from Africa. Others believe it was a mutation from a water plant on this continent.

The Life Cycle of a Guppy Fish

The life of a guppy is very short in comparison to most other fish, with some species living as short as their first year. The life cycle of a guppy is pretty complicated and explores the many different factors that can affect how long guppies live.

1. Egg Development

pregnant guppy with big belly

Development of an egg from start to hatching can range from 5-17 days depending on water temperature and surrounding environment. The development time for eggs depends on their size, ranging from 4-7 days for small eggs to up to 15 days for large eggs.

As eggs grow in size, the development time speeds up. The average development time is 10-12 days, and the average eggs will be nearly fully developed by day 12.

2. First Stage

The first guppy hatching can show various colors, from dark green to beautiful pink, with almost every color imaginable in between. A 2-day old guppy’s belly is entirely soft and transparent due to the water it was born in. After leaving the egg at about 6 days old, they will have a red tinge on their gills and fins.

3. Second Stage

pregnant female guppies and male guppy

After the first stage, a guppy will enter its second stage of development, the most dangerous part of its life. The death rate for male and female guppies during their first two weeks is 60-70%. Guppies are very small and prey on many different predators and each other. They are easy to catch by many animals, such as fish, frogs, birds, and even insects.

4. Third Stage

The third stage of a guppy’s life cycle is when they finally become adult fish. Its colors define the social structure of a group. The color an adult guppy is is inherited from the male in its species.

Male guppies only produce one egg in their life span, which is why the colors it has are only limited to inherited ones. For example, a blue male will be all blue, and a pink male will be all pink.

5. Fourth Stage

male and female guppy with fry in aquarium

In the fourth stage of a guppy’s life cycle, they become adult fish and will live happily ever after. As they grow larger, they will begin to exhibit symptoms of sexual maturity, such as puffing up when stressed or frightened and spawning more often.

6. Fifth Stage

After the fourth stage of its life, a guppy will fall off the edge of the aquarium into some substrate that floats. While the peaceful fish is being eaten by smaller fish or crabs (or anything else in the water), it will die.

7. Sixth Stage

male and female guppy in aquarium

A guppy’s sixth stage is also known as its death stage, as it is where it has finally reached adulthood and can now live happily ever after with a mate. After a male dies, his sperm goes swimming for 5-6 months until it meets with an egg from a female and fertilizes the egg.

Factors that Determine How Long Guppies Live

1. Life Cycle

The life cycle of a guppy is the way it reproduces and how it lives, which is divided into four phases: egg, larva, juvenile, and adult. The life cycle of a guppy varies from fish to fish. Some species live in water, and others live inland environments such as caves.

The benefit of living in an aquatic environment for a guppy is that many different types of food are available for them to eat. Along with this, there are many different predators in aquatic environments that the guppies can eat, giving them more time to live past their egg stage.

The downside of living in an aquatic environment is that there are many predators and not many food sources to eat. Other than this, all four phases of the guppy’s life cycle are very similar.

2. Diet

The main source of food for a guppy is their diet, in which they will eat algae, crustaceans, worms, insects, etc to make them healthy fish. However, different species and types of fish from different environments have their diets and sometimes even have different kinds of preferred foods.

You should also give them live food on a regular basis, such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms.

The average guppy fish will eat mostly algae, but some prefer pellets more than others depending on what type of pellet they like the best or what they can afford the most, sometimes even changing their diet to fit their budget.

Fun Fact: Read about What Do Guppies Eat — A Look Into Its Dietary Habits And Food to know this species’ food choices.

3. Predation

Predation is defined as an animal hunting, killing, and then eating another animal. Many fish species are predators of guppies and will eat them given the opportunity, therefore reducing guppies’ lifespan.

This can be considered a threat to some populations of guppies unless they have a good hiding spot for protection.

4. Exposure to Pollutants

When there is the introduction of different pollutants into an environment such as water, air, or land, it has been shown to affect the organisms living in that specific area.

Guppies are no exception to this rule and will receive different amounts of harm depending on what is causing the pollution and how much is available in their environment.

5. How Guppies React to Stress

It is known that certain situations can cause a fish to be stressed, and this will affect their life cycle or even how they live. Cichlids and any other aggressive fish can cause stress for guppies.

If a guppy fry is placed in an environment where it does not feel comfortable or if it has to live with other fish that bother it, it can cause them to have stress. This stress can affect their life cycle and reproductive cycles, making them live shorter life.

6. Reproduction

The average gestation period for female guppies is about 2-3 weeks after laying her eggs. A typical female guppy only lays one batch of eggs at a time, and she must rest for several days before laying more eggs.

The gestation period can also vary depending on the species of guppy that you are looking at. Some species of guppies lay their eggs in a nest, while others will lay them wherever they live in their area. How long do guppies live may be longer or shorter depending on their ability to reproduce correctly.

7. Gender

Just like all other animals, guppies have different genders, just like humans. Male and females have different qualities that determine what they enjoy doing during the day, what time of year it is, and what type of mate they prefer to find to reproduce with.

Males prefer to live with more males and fight over females to reproduce with. Females will want only one male mate and a lot of food and resources for their eggs.

8. Size

How long do guppies live may be different depending on the size of the guppy that you are looking at.

Generally, larger or smaller guppies have different living conditions, which can affect their life cycle and their ability to reproduce properly and live long enough that they can mature into adults.

9. The Hormonal Process

All animals, including fish, are sensitive to hormones and the changes that go along with them. Guppies have different hormones that go along with life stages, such as puberty, which is essential in their reproductive cycles.

Cues such as water temperature, physical attraction, size, ability to properly feed, etc., can all play a role in how well a female guppy can reproduce and take care of her young after they are born.

The average female guppies will live about 3 years, although there are many exceptions to this rule. The average male guppy will live about 2 years, which is also typical for most males in that situation. Large and small adult fish vary greatly depending on their life circumstances and how they grew.

The average lifespan for most fishes, including guppy fish, varies from species to species depending on the environment, diet, predation threat, etc., of each fish or population of fish.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule, such as when a female or male changes their environment, diet, etc., or when exposed to pollutants like chemicals that can harm them and allow them to live longer in certain situations.

Do Male or Female Guppies Live Longer?

The lifespan of male guppies is shorter than that of females.

Although there are some exceptions to this, the average lifespan for male guppies is about 1-2 years, while females live up to 3 years.

What are the Best Guppy Fish Tank Water Conditions?

The guppies in this study were all kept in freshwater aquariums with a temperature ranging from 72 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. They were also kept under constant light conditions, which were maintained at 10 hours per day.

The most important thing to do is to feed them a variety of food. For example, baby brine shrimp, bloodworms, and vegetable pallets are all things you can get in a pet store or get online for guppy fish.

What are the Causes of Stress in Guppies?

A variety of reasons cause stress in guppies. This can range from past experiences, inadequate care, and current living conditions.

Some experiments have found that too much light can be stressful for certain fish.

Though these have to be kept under restricted lighting situations to ensure their health and well-being.

More research is needed to determine whether or not stress causes different fish to live longer or shorter than other fish in a similar type of fish tank.


How long do store-bought guppies live?

Store-bought guppies are usually less than 2 years old, which is why most pet fish live only a short amount of time. This is due to the process of being store-bought and shipped around.

How old are guppies at pet stores?

Guppies that are sold at pet stores are usually anywhere from 24-48 hours old to a few days old.

How come my guppies keep dying?

There are many reasons why your guppies could die. One would be if one of the conditions listed here applies to them – high temperature, low oxygen level, or lack of food or water. Another reason is that they might have been exposed to pollutants, like chemicals or heavy metals in their environment.

Are guppies hard to keep alive?

Guppies are not hard to keep alive, but they do have certain care requirements. They need clean water and a suitable environment. Though guppies can live with other species of fish, they are best kept by themselves.


Guppies are not the short-lived fish that they are thought to be. With lots of space, food, and a healthy environment, they can survive for up to 5 years. The males tend to be shorter-lived as they are often subject to predation, but this is not always the case.

Females wild guppies tend to live longer, but when kept in captivity by people, they live roughly the same amount of time as males do in captivity.

However, guppies can live for much longer if they are raised in captivity and given lots of space to swim and breed.

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