Are you looking for care for guppies because of their beauty and level of ease? Do you want to sure you and your tank are ready for it?
In this article I will go over everything you need to know about how to care for guppies.
Guppy Quick Facts
Listed below are some quick facts about guppy fish:
- Care Level : Easy
- Temperament : Peaceful
- Size : 0.6 – 2.4 inches
- Lifespan : 3 – 5 Years
- Water Type : Freshwater
- Water Temperature : 75°F – 80°F
Below is a checklist of things you will need to keep Guppy fish
Step 1 : Choose A Tank
You’ve decided that caring for guppy fish is right for you. You want to make sure that you’re setting up the right environment and it starts with the tank. Below are the key factors to make your tank the perfect aquarium setting for your guppies.
- Size of Tank
- Air Pump
Size of Tank
Although a 5 gallon tank will suffice, we recommend the additional space and comfort of a 10 gallon tank. A general rule of thumb is the 1:1 ratio, meaning that you can keep 1 guppy per gallon of water.
- 4-5 guppies: 5 gallon tank
- 9-10 guppies: 10 gallon tank
The more guppies to place in a tank, the more you have to clean it along with frequent water changes. We have listed the maximum limits, but our belief is that more space allows for healthier and happier guppies. Start with 5 guppies in a 10 gallon tank and add more as you see fit.
Guppies tend to thrive in a tank with gravel substrate. They have the option to burrow and hide in the gravel for short periods of time. Gravel allows the water and oxygen to flow through it better.
Gravel also prevents the buildup of unhealthy bacteria and debris. You may notice your guppies searching for bits of food in the gravel to keep themselves busy as well.
Your filtration system will help to oxygenate your tank. Toxins in the water from fish waste and leftover food will not be noticeable in most cases, but your filter will do its best to eliminate them and keep your fish safe.
You should run the filter in the tank for 3-6 weeks before placing your guppies in there. A hang-on the back filter will work well for tank sizes up to 10 gallons. Remember to always follow the directions for the filter of your choice.
A heater is necessary to keep the temperature ideal for guppies in this freshwater environment. You can give or a take 2 degrees either way but the following temperature range would be ideal:
Most heaters come with their own temperature gauge to monitor any fluctuations. A smaller sized tank doesn’t require the amount of wattage of a larger tank. Look for a heater that fits the criteria below:
- 5 gallon tank = 25 watts
- 10 gallon tank = 50 watts
A submersible heater that is unobtrusive, compact with hidden coils would be the best option while the amount of choices on the market will surely allow you to stay within your budget.
The air pump will help to agitate the surface of the water. Stagnant water drops oxygen levels and creates added stress for guppies who also enjoy the bubbles from an air pump.
It isn’t mandatory, but you would have to perform more water changes and possibly add more plants if you do not wish to follow our recommendation to include an air pump for your guppies.
Too much lighting will stress your guppies. You would like them to take a break from lights for up to 8 hours a day and keep the tank out of direct sunlight. The best option for lighting would have the automatic shut-off capability. Too much lighting can also cause a buildup of algae.
This is the fun part. Guppies are easy to take care of compared to many other marine life. They will enjoy your decorative choices from simple rocks and plants to undersea treasure chests and diver figurines. Small bridges or hideaway pipes give your guppies places to swim through to take breaks, hide or rest.
Step 2 : Buying Guppies
Guppies can be found and purchased across all continents (excluding Antarctica). They are cheap from as little as a few cents to a couple of dollars. As always, it’s best to be diligent with the following categories:
- Buying location
- Making the right choice
- Adding them to the tank
Where To Buy
Look for reputable fish or pet stores in your area. You can consult with forums or maps online and check the customer ratings and testimonials. A fish store employee should help with some knowledge and suggestions for the right guppies to suit your tank and personal preferences.
What To Look Out For
Look for guppies that are active and lively. They should not be swimming at the surface and gasping for air. They shouldn’t look bloated and you should look for that shine in their eyes and scales. Males have brighter scales, fins and tails, but it’s best to choose 2 females to 1 male for them to live peacefully.
Guppies can survive in a bag full of aquarium water from their source location to your home for 5 to 7 hours. The smaller or cheaper quality bags are fine for guppies, but the amount of time is lessened to 30 minutes to 3 hours.
You can double bag them and place a rubber band on top. Pure oxygen can also be added to the bag from your local fish store. Another option is to use a 5 gallon bucket, especially if you’re transporting 4-5 guppies at the same time. Feeding them before travel will only add more waste to the water and it should be avoided.
Adding To Tank
Test the water in the tank and make sure ammonia and nitrite levels are at 0. The tank takes 3-6 weeks for it to be cycled. Please don’t rush this process. Once the tank is ready you can gently place your guppies in the tank.
You can add small amounts of your tank water into the bag and let your guppies get used to it slowly. After about 10-30 minutes, they are ready to be introduced to their new home.
Step 3 : Feeding Your Guppies
Guppies are omnivores and will require some plant matter in their diets along with protein rich foods. They eat small amounts of algae and plant particles in the wild, but we can substitute that will plenty of options available in our local fish stores.
What To Feed Them
- brine Shrimp
- earthworms flakes
- dried bloodworms
- mosquito larvae
- fish meal
Dry, wet, frozen and live foods are all available to you, but the simplest option is the pre-balanced flakes with blended fish meal and plant matter.
How Often To Feed
Guppies love to beg for food, but don’t fall for their tricks. We don’t want them to be bloated or constipated from too much protein. They are not picky eaters, but you should consider adding variety to their diet from time to time because no one (including fish) likes to eat the same thing every single day.
- 1-4 times a day
- 2-5 minutes per feeding
- remove leftovers
Instead of one large feeding, spread the feedings up to 4 times a day. Twice a day is the most popular option, but it’s important to stay put and watch how they eat and how much they leave behind. This is will help you get used to the right amount per feeding. Removing their leftover food will help reduce waste and rising ammonia levels.
How Much To Feed
Follow the recommended servings on any container, bottle or box of guppy food. Use less than what is recommended if you plan to increase feedings or provide more variety to their diet. A half serving of flakes can suffice if you’re planning on offering brine shrimp later in the day.
Step 3 : Monitor New Guppies
Our best skill as fish keepers is our acute ability to observe what is going on in our aquarium’s ecosystem. We tend to take a macro approach to making sure that a healthy guppy is only possible when the environment is ideal.
A Healthy Tank = Healthy Guppies
Make sure the tank water isn’t cloudy. Cloudy water indicates a buildup of nitrites, ammonia, fish waste and algae. The 3 options below are listed in their order of difficulty.
- Reduce feedings
- Up to 20% water changes
- Re-cycle your tank
Start with holding back feedings. Your guppies will beg for more food, but don’t give in until water parameters are restored. This is also a great option if you notice that your guppies are sluggish, bloated and not releasing enough waste.
Frequent Water Changes
Perform water changes to clean up the water quality. Due to the small tank size, it’s best to start with smaller water changes twice a week. We don’t want to eliminate the healthy balance of good bacteria in your tank.
Cycle Your Tank (Again)
The cycling process could get long and tedious. Many tanks are not properly cycled and this leaves it with frequent fluctuations with visible cloudy water. Going through another cycling is the final option if you constantly notice that your guppies are swimming around in cloudy water.
Step 4: Maintaining Your Guppy Population
This is going to be your choice on breeding guppies. Caring for the guppy fry involves more oxygenation, lighting and a larger tank for the increased population.
Males To Females
Although the males are the most vibrant and colorful, the females are more important to keep the peace. Too many males will chase the females and stress them out. It’s best to keep 2 females for every one male guppy in your tank.
Female guppies do not lay eggs. they give live births to guppy fry. Breeding more guppies can be avoidable if you wish to keep only one gender of guppies in your tank.
Due to their peaceful nature, a tank with only males will not be as stressful as other species of fish. Only females would be less risky to avoid aggressive tendencies involving chasing or fin nipping.
Clean your tank as least once a week with water changes. 20% or more water changes while vacuuming the substrate with a siphon hose or aquarium vacuum would work well to ensure a longer lifespan for your guppies.
Remove any decorations and clean them thoroughly to remove excess algae. You can scrape off any film on the walls of your tank at this time as well. The water that replaces your tank water during partial water changes should be dechlorinated.
Illnesses Parasites or Diseases
Guppies could get inflicted with:
- Fin rot
- Red blood spots
- Swollen gills
- Popped eyes
- Swim bladder disorder
- Gill flukes
- Bent spine
- Hole in the head or body
Look carefully at the exterior of your guppy fish. Look closely around the gills, eyes, fins and tail. Notice if you see white spots that indicate Ich. Thankfully most of these illnesses can be treated with quarantining inflicted guppies or medicating the tank as a whole.
Consult with a professional when you notice any irregularities in their swimming patterns, loss of appetite, constant hiding or sulking and sluggish behavior.
You have made a great choice to care for guppies. They are the perfect entry level or low stress option for fish keepers. The variety of colors and compact sizes make them desirable and rewarding. Make sure your tank water is cycled and ready for them.
Feed your guppies a variety of foods in smaller quantities while removing leftovers. Monitor and observe their looks and actions to make sure they are healthy and thriving in your tank.
We wish you the best of luck and we hope you enjoy caring for guppies as much as we do. Look for more articles on guppies on our site and contact us if you have any questions.