Guppy Fish – The Care, Feeding and Breeding of Guppies

Quick Stats

Minimum Tank Size: 5 Gallons (10 Gallons Recommended)
Care Level: Easy
Water Conditions: PH 6.5-8.5 and Medium hard to Hard
Temperature: 65-80 °F (18-27 °C)
Maximum Size: 2.5 inches (6.5 centimeters)

Introduction

The guppy (Poecilia reticulate) is easily one of the most popular fish in the aquarium hobby, and with their long flowing tails and striking colors, are arguably one of the most attractive.

The male guppy has been selectively breed for hundreds of generations, resulting in a huge array of tail fin variations and colors. The female guppy on the other hand, looks far more natural and normally only have a small tinge of color in their tails.

Guppies were originally found north of the Amazon river in South America and on several Caribbean islands, but now can be found throughout the world due to escapes and releases into the wild.

The guppy is one of the smallest live-bearing fish, with the females growing to about 2 ½ inches, and the males being slightly smaller. Nearly all of the guppies in the fish trade are commercially bred, and wild caught guppies are exceeding rare. Because of this, they can adapt to a wide variety of water types, but prefer the water to be on the hard side with a pH in 6.5-8.0 range.


Housing

Guppies are a generally peaceful fish, and will do well in most community tanks. If a person plans a non-breeding tank, a few male guppies can live quite happily in a 10 gallon (37 litre) tank. Though this number should be limited to three or four to avoid the males fighting with one another.

If you decide to add some females into the mix, then it starts to get a bit trickier. For each male guppy, there should be at least two or three females. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the male guppy is always in “the mood”, and if there is only one female available for a male to mate with,  the constant harassment may eventually kill the female. In the wild, female guppies will even choose to be near predators, rather than endure the constant mating attempts of male guppies.

Something else to consider when adding females, is that the guppy is also known by the name “million fish”. And this isn’t just an affectionate nickname – it has been earned by hordes of guppies who overran fish tanks and eco-systems alike. So when some females are added to an aquarium containing males, large numbers of baby guppies will quickly be produced. Unless there is a plan to deal with all of the fry, or a large hungry fish present (not for the faint of heart), then you should reconsider keeping males and females in tank together.

When it comes to choosing filtration, guppies don’t have any special needs, and thanks to their small size won’t put much strain on a tanks bio-filtration. Any quality HOB (Hang on Back) filter or sponge filter will keep the water in pristine condition. (You can read the Seymour Fish HOB filter reviews here.)With that being said, if you plan on breeding guppies, then the equation changes pretty quickly. In that case, you should choose a filter that exceeds what is required for the tank, and choose one based on a heavily stocked future tank.

Feeding

Guppies are easy to feed, and will readily accept almost any food that is offered to them. They should be fed a high quality flake food daily, and it can be supplemented with frozen daphnia, brine shrimp and blood worms. Guppies seem to especially love frozen bloodworms, and you will often see them swimming around with what looks like a giant blood worm cigar in their mouths. I personally feed them New Life Spectrum Small Fish, which I consider to be one of the best foods on the market.

Like most other live-bearers, they will also benefit from some vegetable matter in their diet. Small medallions of zucchini, cucumbers and any flake or pellet for herbivore fish will be greedily eaten. You will often seem them picking at any algae in the tank, though they won’t actually do much in the way of cleaning it off a surface.

Breeding

A male and female guppy

When it comes to breeding guppies, it’s as easy as just adding water. As previously stated, the fish tank should have a minimum of 2 to 3 females per male guppy in the tank. Since the guppy is a live-bearer, the females that are purchased from the store may already be pregnant. So if someone is looking to breed a specific variety, it’s important to ensure that any females purchased come from a female only tank.

As a live-bearer fish, the female guppy carries her eggs internally, and will give birth to highly developed babies about a month after being impregnated. The easiest way to tell if the female is pregnant, is to look for a dark gravid spot near it’s anal fin, and an enlarged belly.

The addition of live plants to the tank greatly helps with breeding guppies. It gives the pregnant guppy a place to hide when it goes into labor, and once the babies are born, they will also instinctively hide in the plants. Some of the best plants to add are Java Moss, Water Wisteria, Hornwort, Cabomba and Duckweed. These all give the baby guppies excellent hiding places and have the added benefit of improving the water quality.

Since the fry are born with such small mouths, they should be fed fry specific food for the first few weeks. They can be fed newly hatched brine shrimp, microworms, or any of the commercial fry foods (I recommend New Life Spectrum Small Fry Starter Formula or Hikari First Bites). If you decide to go the baby brine shrimp route, you can find a brine shrimp hatchery at Amazon.com here.

Comments

  1. says

    Is there any “rule of thumb” about how many guppies can live in a 10 gallon tank, versus say a 20 or 40 gallon tank? I’m just wondering what size of tank to buy next, since my 30 gallon tank has a lot of fry :) The water parameters are excellent still – just planning ahead. Thanks!

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