Guppies are one of the most resilient fish around but they still need the right conditions to thrive. In order to breathe, they extract the oxygen in the water through their gills. If this oxygen in the water runs out then they are not going to be able to survive.
Yes guppies need oxygen to survive. Oxygen gets in to the water through surface agitation. You will need an air pump which will produce agitation from the waters surface surface.
Can Guppies live without an air pump?
Water can get added oxygen in several different ways and all you need is for the surface of the water to be disturbed. This allows water to release its CO2 content and add oxygen to the water, which guppies can then use to survive.
As there are several ways that this breaking of the surface can occur, you don’t always need an air pump. You still need to ensure that they are receiving enough oxygen and therefore you need something that is going to help them breathe.
Guppies need oxygen
The fundamental aspect of this question is that guppy fish need oxygen. In seas, lakes and ponds there are things that are constantly breaking the surface of the water and therefore oxygen is able to transfer into it without any problems. There is also plenty of plant life to provide that much-needed O2.
There are a few ways that you can add oxygen to water. As we mentioned you can agitate the water surface but you can also simply add fresh water to the tank which is going to contain plenty of dissolved oxygen. Another way is by increasing the amount of plant life in the tank.
To agitate that water, an air pump is probably going to be the most effective method. You can use this with either an air stone or a water pump. Air stones have the advantage of looking great in a tank while a water pump can be a more effective solution.
Do Guppies need a water filter?
As well as needing oxygen, guppies also need their water to be filtered. The reason is the same for all fish in that they produce waste. This will eventually decay and turn into ammonia which is going to be poisonous to your guppies.
It’s a good idea to combine the two and have a pump that is able to power filter and give you that water agitation at the same time. A great way to do this is with a biofilter where the bacteria are going to be able to change that ammonia into nitrates.
A great option is a sponge filter as this is going to clean the water and in the process, the bubbles come from it are going to agitate the water. There are plenty of other filters that you can use but not all of them are going to agitate the surface.
Adding live plants to your tank
A lot of people don’t like using water pumps or air stones as they can be quite noisy. A great alternative is to use live plants. Just as happens in our ecosystem, the plants will release oxygen, the fish will consume it and then the plants will absorb the carbon dioxide.
There is a balance to be found here and the plants have to be thriving and providing enough oxygen for this system to work. It can be a great alternative to needing a pump and it can also make your tank look a lot better in the process. You’ll want to choose plants that are hardy and will be able to cope with a difficult environment.
So do guppies need oxygen from an air pump?
No, they don’t If you don’t want to get an air pump then you don’t have too. What is clear is that they need a source of oxygen from somewhere. Still surface water won’t be able to absorb oxygen from the air and this needs to be remedied. Here we take a quick overview of your alternative options:
More surface area – A larger surface area will give your tank more chance to oxygenate as there is more water surface for the gas exchange to happen. If you have oxygen issues then it could be due to a narrow tank.
Agitating filter – If you have a filter that agitates the water then you’re not going to need an air pump. You’ll probably need a filter anyway and therefore it’s a good idea to get one that ticks both boxes.
Powerheads and wavemakers – Both of these work by creating turbulence in the water which is going to be able to allow for the gas exchange of the surface. They can, however, be dangerous for some fish.
Replacing the water – You also have the option of changing out the water and replacing it with fresh water. This can be time-consuming to have to do this on such a regular basis and you can’t do it if you’re away.
What can affect the oxygen in a fish tank?
You may not be aware but there are other factors that can cause there to be low oxygen in the water.
Water temperature – Ever wondered why a glass of water is full of bubbles after you leave it for a while? It’s because cold water holds more gas than warm water. Check that your tank is cold enough for your guppy.
Medicines and chemicals – You may think that you’re being good to your fish with medicines and chemicals but you may be causing harm as some of them can decrease the oxygen content. Make sure you check this beforehand and compensate for this oxygen loss if they do.
A lack of oxygen in the water is going to lead to serious issues. There are warning signs for this such as your fish gasping towards the surface, fast breathing, lethargy or swimming off balance. If you notice any of these signs then oxygenate your tank immediately.
As we’ve seen, that doesn’t always mean adding an air pump. This is one way of adding oxygen but there are also plenty of other methods if you prefer to do it a different way. Whatever method you choose, just make sure your fish are happy and oxygenated.