Guppy Fish – Habitat, Care, Feeding, Tank Size, Breeding

Beginner aquarists love guppies since they are easy to care for. They are peaceful and add lively colors to any tank.

Guppies also go by the name million fish because of their ability to reproduce very fast. These livebearers come in a wide variety of patterns and colorations and are also called rainbow fish.


Guppies display different colors, shapes, and tails, and the male guppies are typically more colorful than females. In the wild, the females show a greyish brown hue, while the males have vibrant spots, stripes, and splashes.

The fish will mostly have a paler color on the upper part of the body and more vivid coloration in the rear region of the body.

Other guppies display one solid color, while others are recognized by the various patterns over their body. The tail shapes will also vary from individual to individual and can include rounded, triangular, spare, and spear.

Aquarists are keen on creating new strains of guppies, which is why they come in all colors imaginable. Female guppies have also been known to prefer the most colorful males for breeding, and it results in beautiful offspring.

Female guppies grow to between 1.2-2.4 inches long, while males average at around 0.6-1.4 inches.


Guppies were first identified in the 1800s in Venezuela, and they have their native habitats in South America.

They inhabit small streams in the coastal areas of the region and have been recorded in countries like Brazil, Trinidad & Tobago, the Virgin Islands, Barbados, and Guyana.

The fish have also been introduced to wild waters in other regions to combat mosquito infestation.


The primary part of a guppy diet should consist of good quality flake food. The meal should be high in protein, and you should avoid brands with filler feeds like soy as the first few ingredients.

Guppies will also eat live and frozen foods, including bloodworms and brine shrimp. Balance the protein with vegetable matter like cucumber and lettuce.

It would be best if you alternated these meals to ensure your guppies are getting a balanced diet. Giving the fish just one kind of food will result in nutrient deficiencies. Spread the feedings throughout the day instead of giving them large meals once a day.

You can use two to four feedings while alternating the kind of food you give them at each feeding. Your guppies should be able to consume the meals you provide in two minutes.

Water & Tank Requirements

Most aquarists keep their guppies in a 10-gallon tank, which is typically enough for five or six guppies. Some fish-keepers rear their guppies in a five-gallon tank, which can become overcrowded, especially if you include other aquatic pets.

Although the bio-load of guppies is small, you will still need to provide them with plenty of space. A rectangular aquarium provides guppies with a lot of swimming space and is often the most preferred.

Temperature and PH

You should keep the temperature range between 24-28 °C (75-80 °F), and equip your aquarium with a thermometer and a heater to monitor and heat the water as needed. Guppies can tolerate a wide PH range of 5.5-8.5, but the ideal one is 7.0-7.2.

Water Conditions

Guppies produce a small bioload, but most aquarists still invest in a capable filter to maintain the appropriate water quality. If your tank is below 50 gallons, you can use a hang-on-back or sponge filter, but you will need a canister filter for larger setups. You can also equip the tank with an airstone to promote aeration.

You should commit to a 25% water change every week, and a cleaning schedule that involves vacuuming the substrate. If you do not have a filter, you will need to do 50% weekly water changes and control feeding. Overfeeding will result in the buildup of toxic elements like ammonia in your aquarium.


Guppies prefer eight hours of darkness daily for optimal health. Artificial light is preferred to natural light because the latter can affect the temperature in the tank.

You can add a two-inch layer of gravel to the bottom of the tank. Guppies love to poke around the substrate, and gravel will also support the development of plants. Some ideal plants to keep with guppies include the Amazon Sword and Hornwort.


Guppies thrive in groups, and you can keep as many as 10 of them in one tank. While they are generally peaceful, the males are known to harass the females in an attempt to mate.

The males are often seen chasing the females around and displaying their colors to impress them. You should keep two females to every male to minimize the latter’s aggression. Some aquarists also opt to keep male guppies alone since they are more colorful.

You can couple guppies with peaceful community species like gouramis, mollies, platies, swordtails, and ender’s livebearers. Refrain from aggressive and fin-nipping fish like barbs and red-tailed sharks.


Guppies attain sexual maturity from three to five months. You can tell the male guppies from the females since they are more vibrant and have a gonopodium. Females have a gravid spot behind the anal fin that gets darker during pregnancy.

Aquarists believe that a male guppy is able to differentiate between a virgin female and one who is already pregnant. The male initiates mating and makes contact with the female to release a packet of sperm into her.

This packet splits into thousands of sperms that the female uses to create several broods. The female can have many pregnancies from a single fertilization session over some time.

The gestation period in guppies is between 21 to 30 days. Individual fry are dropped in groups between one to six hours, and one female can drop as many as 200 fry.

The young guppies will need hiding spaces in the form of guppy grass, java moss, water sprite, or duckweed. The fry will feed on ground flakes and live foods and will take three months to reach maturity.


Guppies are an excellent option for a community freshwater aquarium. They are easy to keep, and their vibrant colors make them fun to watch.

Guppies are prolific breeders, and they can easily overrun your tank with fry. You will, therefore, need to be careful about the number of guppies that you keep and the size of the tank that you have.

Updated: March 2, 2020

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