Are Guppy Freshwater Fish: Facts, Habitat & Domestic Care

Guppy fish is a freshwater fish that belongs to the family Poeciliidae. They are a type of freshwater fish that is native to South America. They are often kept in captivity as pets and are known to be a popular choice for beginner fish keepers. Guppies are small, active fish that require little maintenance. They are a popular choice for beginner fish keepers because they are fairly low-maintenance and relatively easy to keep healthy.

Albino male full red guppy (Poecilia reticulata) in planted aquarium

Guppy Fish in the Wild

Species Summary

Guppies are very colorful and have a spotted pattern. They can grow to 2 inches in length. They inhabit rivers, streams, and lakes. Guppies require relatively low maintenance as they are quite hardy fish that survive in both fresh and saltwater environments without much problem at all as long as their tank is well established with accessories like filter-hoovers gravels and rock, decorating gravel and rocks with an oasis of plants, etc. The range in color is wide-ranging from a gunmetal blue to silver-gray as they are more commonly seen on moving water especially in the tropical regions but some can be green or even orange occasionally also.

Guppies are a great pet to keep especially if you have another aquarium that can be safely housed in your home. They thrive on water quality and may die off easily treatable disorders not to mention their aggressive behavior so make sure the tank is of adequate size for them which will require more maintenance expenses but it’s definitely worth the potential outcomes.


As mentioned earlier, guppy fish originated from South America. Over time, they have spread through the globe and now, they are among one of the most popular aquarium species. Some of the more common places where you may find guppies include the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, and Argentina. In the wild, they inhabit rivers, lakes, ponds, and even the ocean. Some guppies live in tropical climates while others live in colder climates.


The basic color pattern of the guppy is that it comes in three different types or species with the most noticeable being pink, red, and bluefish. They are usually oval-shaped but some can also be slender which makes them great easy to distinguish adults at a distance. Some species have even been reported to be able to become camouflaged on foliage like leaves when they move around along river banks so you might have a hard time recognizing the color of the guppy fish among other predators because they have this modified shape.


The lifespan range of guppies is quite unpredictable especially in the wild, but they are indeed hardy which makes them perfect for a lot of aquarium enthusiasts. Many people keep single adults in captivity right to 2 years old when they stay healthy and well-fed. This fish can live up to around 1-3 years but this depends on their maintained growth pattern as well as how clean you take care of your guppy’s tank properly.

Macro of male Guppy (Poecilia reticulata)

Guppy Fish in Captivity

Tank Size

Though keeping guppies in a small tank is fine, their recommended size varies from 20 gallons to 30+ gallon sizes. The ideal water capacity for them should be at least 50% bigger than the total volume of what your aquarium holds (e.g., if you have a 15-gallon fish tank, that’s 25 gallons). They need about 40 gallons of fresh water which includes 10 – 12 pounds to make up their gallon which equals the tank itself.

Tank Conditions

Guppy fish are not very delicate and do well for beginners because they can handle higher temperatures with lower water levels, which is quite contrary to tropical fish. They get used to your normal room temperature as long as it’s shaded by an aquarium hood on the side of their tank so they don’t have the freedom to escape out onto cool surfaces like walls or plants but accept all conditions that occur in a bigger flat-bottom tank. They are not cold water fish and don’t need extremely low temperatures to survive. If you want them in a tank of more than 30 gallons in size, choose an aquarium sheathed with acrylic or glass that would offer the shielding facility necessary against traumatic temperature changes.

Water Quality

Regarding water quality, their tank’s pH and level of hardness should be in neutral or slightly alkaline levels. This is to challenge your guppies with balanced biochemistry. Having a good level of nutrition and a generally healthy fish diet is essential for sustaining its growth rate as well as extending its life span in case it resists any situation during this stage. A single tank could have at most a large number of different varieties that might contain several accessories with diverse temperatures like commercial tanks.

Water Changes

The process of water change is a regular maintenance exercise that ought to be performed regularly in the tank. Water replacement can lead up to 75% of total contents being changed every week, depending on functioning factors like pH (in case this becomes low near 7), hardness and/or alkalinity level; bacterial load as well as how much beneficial bacteria were selected for use during initial setting-up. In general, a 10 percent per month capacity can be taken, with frequent maintenance given the different water changes.

Water Temperature

Speaking of water temperature, take note that good water quality includes enough oxygenation, so the water temperature must be at a recommended range of 74 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (23 to 28 degrees Celsius). The higher the temperature, the faster and easier it is to kill beneficial bacteria. Aquariums with high levels of CO2 will require lower temperatures.


The lighting within their tank is pretty superficial or no-fuss, with subdued fluorescent lights on the high end. Incandescent bulbs are fine since it will still give them enough light as long as your other lights do not directly illuminate at night like an open windowed door that would let cool air get in and block out a significant amount of sunlight during middle to late periods when they need most food and rest cycles. The fish needs decent lighting at sufficient intensity for its appropriate growth but not too beautiful the tank will look messy. A moderate level of illumination is necessary depending on how vibrant your aquarium wall or decoration looks, which can be postponed into dim spaces as this will transition naturally through different light levels and might produce a lot of color variations in response to lights.

Aquatic Plants

Keeping the guppy tank is not difficult, but you need to provide plenty of living and hiding places for your fish. Beginning with plants can make things easier by offering them support as well as decorating your tank in a visually attractive manner. Everything they do takes place underwater so it’s important to have sufficient cover to protect their main source of food – green algae on rocks, other aquarium walls or driftwood bits, and many rock formations form colonies. In addition to planting your tank with common aquatic plants, you can also use special types of aquarium landscaping in the meanwhile that create a variety of depth.

Tankmates for Guppies

There is no one definitive answer when it comes to tank mates for guppies. Some of the most popular choices include neon tetras, dwarf gouramis, Corycats, and swordtails. Of course, many others could work well in a smaller or larger aquarium but these are some of the more commonly suggested choices. Guppies will generally get along with other fish provided they have similar dietary needs.

Food and Diet

Guppies are omnivorous. Some common live food that they eat are snails, earthworms, and slugs of various sizes. They also like to dine on crustaceans. These include diversity such as shrimp, crabs, crayfish, mussels, lobsters, etc., because of their high protein content. Spirulina, an earth seaweed used in commercial aquaculture, is also said to be a good food source for guppies.


It is relatively rare for fish to become sick. Just a handful of diseases related to aquariums and the environment do occur such as dropsy, fungal infections, bacterial infections, protozoan parasites amongst others. An environmental disease caused by microorganisms will often be resistant to many commercial medications including those used in human medicines and aquaculture drugs are using an alternative approach that fights this kind of disease. No matter what your reason is for keeping fish in your home aquarium, you should always do proper maintenance.