Picking fish for your aquarium can seem intimidating when presented with many options. Ideally, you may want something colorful, budget-friendly, and hardy with a charming personality. One popular freshwater fish that fits this description is the guppy fish.
Guppies are popular in the aquarium community because of their lively personalities, ease of breeding, and brilliant colors. They also have long and flowy fins and are beginner friendly.
The fish will have longer, healthier lifespans if you provide them with adequate food and optimal living conditions.
So, how do you get started if it’s your first time getting a guppy fish for your aquarium? Well, let’s have a look.
Scientific Name: Poecilia reticulata
Common Names: Guppy
History and First Sighting
Guppies were first sighted in the 1860s. They are native to freshwater bodies in Trinidad, the Caribbean Islands, Brazil, Venezuela, and Guyana. These freshwater creatures helped control mosquitoes before being introduced to the global fish trade.
Robert John Lechmere guppy is known for collecting the first guppy fish in Trinidad back in 1866. It’s the reason they were named after him.
For more than 100 years, guppies have been captive-bred. Through modern breeding techniques, they evolved to display almost every fin type, pattern, and color imaginable.
Guppies are some of the most beautifully-looking fish in the aquarium community. Aquarists adore them for their fast breeding rate and stunning colors. Besides resembling Goldfish, these domesticated freshwater fish are quite hardy and peaceful.
Their ability to consume large amounts of mosquito larvae makes them a reliable and affordable option for mosquito control. Unlike chemical pesticides, they can help reduce mosquito populations in water streams without disrupting the ecosystem.
Most of the guppy fish sold today are bred for aquariums. They are easy to keep whether you are a beginner or an experienced aquarist.
Guppy Fish Lifespan
Healthy guppy fish can live for two to five years, depending on the level of care provided. So, like any other fish, it’ll help if you maintain optimal living conditions in the aquarium.
Guppies will likely succumb to disease and stress when kept in poor conditions. Their nutrient intake also plays a big role in their growth and tolerance to disease-causing organisms.
The Appearance of Guppy Fish
One of the most exciting aspects of guppy fish is their appearance. These freshwater fish boast gorgeous tailfins, a minnow-like profile, an upturned mouth, and a pointed snout.
Learn more about the distinct features and sizes of guppies below:
Distinct Features (Colors, Patterns, Fins)
Besides being sexually dimorphic, guppies can be distinguished from other aquarium fish using three main characteristics, color, pattern, and fins.
Though gray is a guppies’ dominant body color, these fish exist in different colors depending on their genes. The most common color variations include the following:
- Gray: The gray coloring is the original color and is caused by the presence of yellow and black cells on the epidermis.
- Blonde or Gold: Guppies can have blonde or gold-colored bodies due to the reduction in the number, distribution, and size of black-colored cells in the epidermis.
- Albino: The albino mutation refers to the partial or total absence of color cells in the body. When this happens, the fish will have pink or red eyes.
- Bronze: Like the blonde or gold coloring, a change in the distribution and number of black cells in the epidermis gives the fish a bronze appearance.
- Red: Guppies with orange to very intense red coloring are very popular among aquarium owners.
- Green: Depending on the light conditions, this color can be seen as dark green, mint green, or light green.
- Blue: Blue guppies come in shades that range from dark blue to sky blue.
- Yellow: The yellow coloring is among the most loved colors in the aquarium community.
- Black: The black coloration in guppies mostly covers three-quarters of the body.
- Multicolor: Any guppy fish with more than three colors or shades of the same color is considered multicolored.
Guppies are also classified based on their color patterns. The common color patterns include the following:
- Cobra or snake skin: This pattern looks like a chain on 60 percent of the fins and body of the fish.
- 3/4 black: This pattern covers three-quarters of the body of the fish with black coloring.
- Half black: It covers 50 percent of the fish’s body (mostly on the back side) with black coloring.
- Sunshine tequila: A feature characterized by red or orange fins and a bluish-green color.
- Red fire: A solid red or orange color covering the fins and entire body except for a small spot of silver-yellow on the pectorals.
- Moscow: The color (black, red, green, purple, or blue) appears quite degraded and covers the entire body.
- Neon Tuxedo: This pattern is characterized by a light coloring with iridescence in silver and light blue on the front part of the body and a golden yellow color on the pectoral fins and the upper part.
- Leopard: It features black spots on a yellow, pastel, or blue background.
- Rosa: It is a rare pattern that features pale pink to light red fins and a slightly darker body.
- Grass: It features fine and delineated dark marks on the dorsal fin and tail.
- Mosaic: A pattern that features irregular dark blue spots on the tapered region behind the anal and dorsal fins.
- Platinum: A pattern characterized by a 100 percent silver coloring on the body and fins in varied colors.
Guppies have colorful and beautiful flowy fins and tails. Besides making them look good, the fins and tails help them move in the water.
The fins will only recover from partial wounds and injuries but not regrow when extensively damaged. They are also prone to infections, physical injury brought by tank decorations, and bullying from other fish.
Guppies sizes vary with gender. Female guppy fish measure between 1.2 and 2.4 inches long, while males measure between 0.6 and 1.4 inches long.
The fish can grow to their full size with proper nutrition and tank conditions in six months. Maintaining tank temperatures at 80 degrees when the fish are young and growing is advisable. Once they reach maturity, you can lower the water temperature by a few degrees to slow down metabolism and make them comfortable.
Their small size is ideal for aquarists with smaller fish tanks. Nevertheless, if you rear them in larger groups, they can adapt to bigger aquariums.
How to Take Care of a Guppy Fish
Many aquarists recommend guppies to beginners because these fish are low-maintenance and hardy, despite their tiny size. Guppies are an excellent choice for anyone interested in keeping fish at home. However, to succeed in rearing them, here’s what you should know about their care requirements:
Food and Diet
Since guppies are natural omnivores, they are not quite choosy regarding food. In their natural habitat, they look for small morsels and plant waste in the water. They also enjoy feeding on larvae of tiny insects like mosquitoes.
You should provide your guppies with a balanced diet when rearing them in an aquarium. The food source needs to include high-quality pellets or flakes. Also, ensure that the commercial food is properly formulated and well-rounded to meet the dietary needs of the fish.
You can introduce high-protein snacks such as mosquito larvae, brine shrimp, or bloodworms to the tank once in a while. The diet may also include live, freeze-dried or frozen foods
Despite their tiny size, the fish will feed on whatever you give them, even in large quantities. So, be careful not to overfeed your guppy fish. Instead, follow a consistent feeding schedule of two meals a day.
Guppies take a short time to learn their feeding routine. Expect them to exhibit excitement every time you want to feed them, allowing you to establish a bond with them.
If you are rearing fry, increase the feedings to not more than five times a day in smaller increments. Pouring large amounts of food may contaminate the water and make it uncomfortable for the fry.
The Right Tank Size
Guppies can live comfortably in a small aquarium thanks to their tiny size. But for the best outcomes, go for a 10-gallon tank. If you can get a tank larger than the recommended size, increase the fish population.
Larger tanks give guppies more room to swim and live comfortably. They also make it easier for you to cope with a rising population if they reproduce in large numbers.
It’s important to keep the lighting natural. Ensure that the lighting appliances maintain the standard day and night cycle. You may use standard aquarium lights equipped with a timer that switches them on and off at specified times.
Placing the aquarium near the window for natural light may also do the trick. Either way, ensure that the fish get 8 to 10 hours of light daily. Never go overboard. Excess light will cause stress and ultimately weaken their immunity. Likewise, poor lighting conditions in the tank will have the same effect.
Moreover, keep the tank away from direct sunlight at all times. Direct sunlight may increase the water temperature and facilitate algae growth in the aquarium.
If you are going for artificial light sources, choose LED lights over other lighting options. LED lights can keep the aquarium illuminated without affecting the temperature.
Recommended Water Parameters
Guppies thrive in fish tanks that resemble their natural habitats. Since they are native to warm water streams of South America, they can survive in a tank with warm temperature settings.
Their life cycle fluctuates depending on the surrounding conditions. So, expect them to breed more infrequently and mature slowly in cooler conditions.
The fish do well in ponds and streams with moderate water flow. You can replicate these environments by using water with a neutral pH balance. Monitoring the water with a test kit can help prevent major pH fluctuations and keep the fish comfortable.
Here’s a breakdown of the water parameters required in the tank:
- Water hardness of 8 to 12 dGH
- pH level ranging from 7.5 to 8.0
- Water temperature ranging from 64°F to 84°F
What do Guppy Fish Need in Their Tank
Go for natural decorative pieces. A standard layer of a sand substrate can help you get started with the decorations. Sand is a great choice for the tank since it’s less likely to cause problems when accidentally ingested. Alternatively, you may use large rocks or gravel.
Whichever items you go for, ensure that they create a lush environment for the fish. They should also replicate the natural habitat guppies are used to living in. Doing this will make the fish feel more comfortable in the tank.
Plant cultivars like aquatic fern and java moss can liven up the aquarium. But if you prefer artificial silk plants, ensure they are soft enough not to bruise the fish. You should also ensure that the middle of the aquarium is open since guppies like to have spaces for play and exercise.
Waste produced by the fish may contaminate the tank if you have a large population of guppies. But with a filter in place, you can keep the water clean.
Invest in a good-quality filtration system to lower the nitrate and ammonia levels in the tank. The filter system will ensure that the water parameters are stable for the fish’s survival.
Common Potential Diseases
Guppies are hard little creatures that can tolerate different conditions, making maintenance easy. However, like other tropical fish reared in captivity, guppy fish can suffer from parasitic infestations, fungal problems, and bacterial infections.
Diseases spread faster when guppies are kept in a closed environment. Even more, harsh living conditions may cause stress, challenging their immunity and increasing their vulnerability to diseases.
Ich is one of the most common ailments in guppies. This highly contagious parasitic infection largely affects fish living in poor conditions. It manifests through tiny white spots on the body and can lead to death if not treated in time.
Guppies are also prone to a fungal-based condition known as fin rot. Not only does this condition affect their flowy fins, but it also impacts their beauty. The best way to prevent fin rot and Ich is to regularly monitor the tank conditions and replace the water weekly. To treat these diseases, you need to quarantine affected fish and use medication.
Behavior and Temperament
Guppies are easygoing and peaceful. For the most part, they are less likely to cause trouble when kept in a tank with other fish species. Guppies get along with like-minded fish and explore the aquarium as a group.
Best Tank Mates
The best tank mates for guppies are other guppies. But you can still keep them with other peaceful and easygoing fish. Guppies are more extroverted when surrounded by like-minded fish. They are also more active in groups of three or more. In contrast, solo fish often spend most of their time hiding and may feel vulnerable.
Moreover, guppies are easy targets for carnivorous and larger fish that appear more dominant. So, their best tank mates include the following:
- Molly Fish
- Platy Fish
- Neon Tetra
- Swordtail Fish
- Cory Catfish
- Ghost Shrimp
- African Dwarf Frog
- Bristlenose Pleco
- Gouramis (Honey, Pearl, Chocolate, Sparkling, and Female Powder Blue Gouramis)
Guppy Fish Breeding
As you plan your aquarium, focus on rearing more female guppies than males. Maintain a ratio of two females to one male. If you don’t stick to this arrangement, you’ll likely witness chaos in the tank since males tend to get aggressive when spawning, especially if there’s stiff competition. More female guppies in the tank will lessen the aggressiveness.
Thanks to their high spawning rate, guppies are fairly easy to breed. Creating new variations of these colorful freshwater fish won’t require advanced training.
If you maintain the proper female-to-male ratio in the tank, the fish will spawn without intervention. Being livebearers, guppies give birth to free-swimming fry. They reproduce from the womb instead of laying eggs in the tank.
A high-protein diet can help promote spawning (a process in which sperms are deposited into the water by male guppy fish). If you spot a bulge on the abdomen of the female fish swelling, it’s an indication that it is expectant.
The gestation period ranges from 21 to 40 days, depending on the variety and genetic factors. The female guppy fish can birth more than 200 fry fish at once.
The chances of the fry surviving are usually lower if you fail to plan the breeding process. It’s because guppies don’t have natural parental instincts. They may feed on the fry kept in the same tank.
Creating a separate guppy breeding tank can give the fry higher chances of survival. Fill the tank with grasses or fine-leaf plants to serve as hiding spaces for the fry. You should also remove the adult guppies from the breeding tank for the fry to survive.
Gender Differences Between Guppy Fish
Male guppies are usually vibrantly colored and smaller. In contrast, female guppy fish features a brown coloration, can also grow twice the size of the males, and are plumper in appearance.
The anal fin of a male guppy fish is thin and long, while the anal fin of a female fish is triangular in shape and larger. Though both male and female guppies have a flowy fin, the fin is slightly larger in the females.
As male guppies grow, they develop coloration, unlike their female counterparts. The female guppy fish starts producing offspring between 10 and 20 weeks of age. Expect them to continue reproducing until the age of 20 to 34 months.
Caring for guppies is pretty simple with the information provided in this guide. These colorful freshwater creatures are peaceful, easygoing, and hardy. Best of luck as you plan to introduce guppies in your aquarium.