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Guppies: Complete Care Guide (Diet, Tank & More)

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Guppies are one of the most popular freshwater fish for home aquariums. They are beautiful, easy to care for and make a peaceful community fish.

They also come in a variety of colors which can make an impression on anyone looking at your tank. 

Keep scrolling to learn everything you need to know about guppies! This includes facts about their personality, tank needs, tank mates’ knowledge, feeding habits, and how to breed these friendly fish! 

Guppy Care Guide

Scientific NamePoecilia Reticulata
Common NameGuppy, Millionfish, Rainbow Fish
Size0.6 to 2.4 inches
Minimum Tank Size10 to 20 gallons
Guppy fish in aquarium

Guppies come in a variety of colors and only grow up to 2.4 inches long with many being much smaller. They are peaceful fish that do well in a community tank with other small fish and bottom-dwellers. They need at least a 10-gallon tank but would do better with a larger tank. They are beginner fish.

Appearance & Temperament


The appearance of the guppy is one of its biggest appeals for aquarists. With a wide variety of different looking guppies, they are sure to catch your eye. Guppies come in a vast array of different styles, colors, tail lengths, and patterns. 

Guppies at surface of the tank

They can also be categorized by eye color, color, and tail type. Their color will pale when they are stressed, also when breeding the male will intensify in color as they attract a mate.

Some guppies will have long and flowing tails, whereas others have short flat tails. Some common tail types for guppies are fantails, veil tails, spire tails, round tails, and flag tails.  They also have spots and stripes that create different patterns on the body, fins, and tails.

Typically most guppies are either two or three-toned with many different colors. Such as blue, silver, red, orange, black, pink, purple, green, and yellow. With all the different combinations it is not hard to believe there are actually more than 300 different sub-variants of guppy fish! Some of the more popular varieties are cobra, lace, tuxedo, and snakeskin  guppies.


Guppies are on the smaller side of the spectrum of freshwater fish. As they only grow up to 0.6 inches to 2.4 inches, females are larger and some males may not even reach two inches. This means that their sizes allow them to live in smaller tanks more comfortably for those who may want a smaller tank. 


Depending on the quality of care the guppy fish is given, it has an average lifespan of between two and five years. As with the poor quality of care, the guppy can easily catch diseases or have high stress which can lead to early death.

However, guppies are actually hardy and can be pretty easy to care for! With the knowledge of what they need to thrive, it is easier to maximize their life expectancy.

Temperament and Behavior

Guppy fish are very peaceful schooling fish that are active in swimming and love to explore their surroundings. Most of their time will be spent chasing each other and exploring, the male guppies actually like to show off for the females. 

Guppies tend to stay near the top of the water. As often as they enjoy swimming in open areas they like to hide when they play or feel scared behind plants or in caves. Guppies will sleep when it is dark, during the day when they are most active, and when they should be fed.

Gender Differences

The first thing you should look for when sexing guppies is their size. The female can be up to an inch larger than the males once they are fully grown. Males have a more slender body than the females, as well as being more colorful.

Guppies Diet & Feeding

Guppy fish are omnivores and in the wild will eat a very varied diet depending on what is available to them. In captivity that varied diet should be similar to that of the wild. This will ensure that your guppies have a variety of nutrients in their diet to prevent disease of deficiencies. 

The baseline of their diet should be high-quality fish flakes or pellets. This should be given to them twice a day, only giving them enough food that they can consume within two minutes. The guppies should be on a feeding schedule that is consistent.

In addition to the flakes or pellets, they should be fed some live foods every so often. The live foods can be given to them live or frozen. Great choices in live food for guppy fish are brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, and bloodworms.

Guppy fish will learn their feeding schedule or routine and will actually show signs of excitement during this time. It is best to keep them on a schedule as this will avoid overfeeding. Overfeeding guppies can happen easily as the guppy will always indulge in eating more if given the opportunity. 

Tank Mates for Guppy Fish

Guppy fish are a very friendly peaceful freshwater aquarium fish that make great tank mates with a vast number of species. It is important to keep guppies in a group of at least three of their own as they are schooling fish and this is important to not stress them. Aside from their schooling group, there are plenty of other fish you can add to a community tank!

Great tank mates for guppies are:

  • Mollies
  • Platies
  • Cardinal Tetras
  • Swordtail Fish
  • Cory Catfish
  • Plecos
  • Harlequin Rasboras
  • Kuhli Loaches
  • Neon Tetras
  • Sparkling Gouramis

This is just to name a few of the wide options for suitable tank mates. They also do well with snails and shrimp in the tank. Like other aquarium fish, there are some tank mates that should be avoided. 

Guppy fish are on the smaller side of the spectrum, much larger tank mates should be avoided. Also, aggressive fish should be avoided as well, this is all to avoid injury, stress, or death of the guppy fish.

Tank mates to avoid with guppy fish include:

  • Oscars
  • Jack Dempseys
  • Betta fish
  • Cichlids
  • Barbs
  • Killifish

As long as the tank mate you are considering is similar in size as well as non aggressive they can make a suitable tank mate.

Aquarium Setup, Water Temperature & Conditions

Guppy fish need a minimum tank size of 5 gallons if you have only a few, however, they do reproduce quickly and a 10 or even a 20-gallon tank is more suitable. It is also recommended to have a larger tank as guppies are schooling fish and thrive in larger groups, allowing 1 gallon for each guppy fish to live comfortably.

Although the guppy is a hardy fish and can adjust well to different environments they thrive better when their tank is similar to their natural habitat. They also require their environment to be stable as changes in water parameters can cause disease or stress.

Ideal water parameters for guppy fish tank:

  • Water Temperature: 72⁰F – 84⁰F
  • pH Levels: stable level between 6.8 and 7.6
  • Water hardness: 8 to 12 dGH

For substrate, a sand substrate is most preferable for guppies. As the fine sand will not cause any injuries but also will not cause issues if they accidentally consume it. Guppy fish also prefer to have plenty of vegetation in the tank. 

In the wild, they use leaves and grasses to hide. Because of this, replicating the underwater vegetation will decrease stress. Great live plant options for guppy fish are Java moss and aquatic ferns. 

Adding other decorations to their tank will help replicate their natural environment. Just be mindful to leave more open space in the middle of the tank for them to swim around. 

Guppy fish do not require special lighting requirements and standard lighting is suitable. The guppy fish just need to have the regular day and night cycle, turning off the light at night is all they really need. You can also place the tank in a room with plenty of natural light as well.

Breeding Guppies

Guppy fish are actually one of the easiest aquarium fish to breed, most of the time without any special steps taken on their own. Guppy fish also breed fairly quickly compared to other species. There are a few things that you can do in order to trigger the breeding process.

You will want to start by setting up a breeding tank for the guppy fish. This breeding tank should be at least 10 gallons and have a gentle filter system. Placing some caves for the guppies to breed in, as well as some low-floating plants for the fry to hide in when they are born. 

Also, the temperature in the breeding tank should be around 79ºF and similar parameters of the home tank. While you are setting up the breeding tank you will want to condition the guppies with high protein for a few days.

When selecting the guppies that you will want to breed, you’ll want to choose one male guppy for every three female guppies. Doing so will lessen the breeding stress on the female as the male will be distracted with multiple mates for breeding. As the male will breed with multiple females to ensure fertilization.

If spawning is successful you will see a dark mark on the female’s belly or more noticeably a swollen belly. The guppy is a livebearing fish, meaning when the female gives birth, she won’t be scattering eggs throughout the tank but rather will give birth to fry that are free swimming at birth. 

The gestation period for the guppy fish is between 21 and 40 days. However the pregnant female can actually hold sperm for up to three months, well primed guppies will use it right away for fertilization.

After you notice the females are pregnant, you can remove the males as well as nonpregnant females and put them back in their home tank. The pregnant females should be fed small but highly nutritious meals three to five times a day during gestation. 

As the female is about to give birth she will start to shiver and hide in the tank. After she has given birth to her fry she can be removed and placed in her home tank. This is to prevent any of the fry from being eaten.

The fry should be fed brine shrimp and powdered flakes. It is recommended to change 40% of the water every three days. Doing this until they are old enough to be returned to the main tank, this takes about six weeks.

As previously mentioned, the guppy fish do breed without any intervention quite often. They also breed quite rapidly and are best to be prepared in case your tank becomes overcrowded with guppies.

Origin and Distribution

The guppy fish originates in South America, specifically Suriname, Venezuela, Tobago, Barbados, Trinidad, and Antigua. First discovered in the 1860s the guppy fish has since become a very popular choice with freshwater aquariums, as now they are one of the most widely distributed tropical fish.

The guppy fish can be found in other places around the world. Interestingly enough this is not due to irresponsible pet owners. It is actually because the guppy fish is often used as mosquito control as they are known to feed on mosquito larvae. 

Guppy fish are actually expected to halt the spread of malaria in some countries! As they have been introduced to new environments their populations have been growing in the wild.

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