Guppy Fish | A to Z Guide – Care, Tank Mates, Size and Diet

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Guppies are very much a favorite in any enthusiast’s aquarium. With all its male species standing out in various colors due to inbreeding, you can pick a pair in almost any color! 


The discovery of the guppy fish can be traced back to Wilhelm Peters in Venezuela (1859), who described it as the Poecilia reticulata. In the later years that came, a naturalist named Robert John Lechmere Guppy found a similar species in Trinidad and Tobago. The man’s surname got stuck as the fish name (Girardinus guppii) for the longest time.

Though the guppy fish has had many names in the past, it is now even known to be the rainbow fish or millionfish. The descriptive label (rainbow) pertains to the various hues and colors that the guppy fish can be available. On the other hand, the latter one (millionfish) refers to the copious amount of offspring a female guppy can bear in a single gestation period. 

Guppies are now recognizable in more environments than ever before. Said to have originated from South America, guppies are tropical fishes that can thrive in different water conditions. One could tell that even a beginner can know pretty fast the procedures in taking care of this diverse-looking fish!


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The popular freshwater aquarium fish is well-known for its variant looks. One could say that its profile appears to be that of a minnow or a goldfish. But it doesn’t end there. Guppies are rich in many characteristics that make them differ so much in detail.

Genders also play a role in the appearance of guppies. You can easily differentiate males from females because of their sizes and colors. Males are smaller than females. Even said so, males are still more vibrant in color than their counterparts. There is no particular color that corresponds to males, but an array of tailfin hues and patterns will fascinate you to buy one!

The female ones tend to be plumper and may even double their size than their mates. They are much more round-looking and a bit duller in color than the show-off appearance of males. Though this is the case for females, sexual dimorphism makes them stand out more in other aspects. The size of females enables them to carry dozens of young fishes born alive in the water.

Guppies have increasing vivid colors from the mid to tail of their bodies. But it turns out that the shade begins to fade from the upper-mid to the head of the fish. Along with the body coloration, it is also essential for you to spectate some of the fish’s vast body patterns.

Body Patterns

The guppies you might have seen so far have the following patterns:

  • Snakeskin: netted-like, chain-links pattern
  • Cobra: vertical barring with rosettes.
  • Tuxedo: two different colors in the fish’s front and rear body

Tailfin Patterns

The guppy also boasts a beautiful flow-like tailfin that is so pleasing to the eyes! Some of the popular patterns are:

  • Grass: dot or wisp-like that imitates a grass structure
  • Leopard: spots mimicking the ones from a leopard
  • Lace: thin or thread-like pattern
  • Mosaic: interlaced specks that are irregular in sizes

Tailfin Shapes

You will find a wide variety of tail shapes too! Guppies are close to the semblance of other fish species because of the following tail shapes:

  • Rounded
  • Fan-shaped
  • Sword-shaped
  • Lyretails
  • Spade shaped
  • Spear shaped
  • Triangular-shaped

Picking guppies as your primary tank fish is very rewarding in learning fish care. Colorful as these fishes are, guppies will enliven your aquarium splendidly and for a long time. As more breeders try to come up with novel strains of guppy colors and all, for sure, you will also have a spectrum of guppy colors in your tank soon!

Behaviour & Temperament

As active swimmers, these fishes are a show to watch as they are fast and relentless.  Yet, like most community tank fishes, guppies are still perfect with other small, peaceful fishes. You don’t have to worry too much about blending them in with bottom-dwellers or the slow-moving ones, as guppies don’t bother much.

Guppies love to be in groups, but you will observe that this does not happen all the time. They are much like other small fishes that also love to wander in the nooks and crannies of the tank (e.g., in the plants). Once you have guppies in your care, it is advisable to observe them regularly to know if they are acting a bit far-fetched in their new environment. 

For instance, the guppies who are not moving comfortably in the waters may be experiencing stress and might prefer to hide in the plants. You need to remove any contributive elements that work as a threat to your guppies. Guppies that are always out of sight may mean that they are either ill or stressed (things that need to look out for).

Moreover, you will see those male guppies are persistent in wiggling with their tails. They do this in front of the female guppy to attract their attention and be their mate. To be more persuasive in the mating stage, males would even shake more of its body of colors until they win the female.

As a fast-moving fish, this serves you more good if you want to know any slight changes to the guppy. Luckily, they are also hardy fish and can tolerate diverse conditions.  As a community tank fish, we can say that a guppy is pretty adaptable and flexible in getting through its environment. 


How long does guppy fish live?

Guppies can live for up to 2+ years. Whether they are in captivity or the wild, chances are they can outlive their average lifespan if they are not living in substandard water. To aid your guppies to live longer, the best for you to do is to provide its tank with good regular maintenance.

Your guppies also depend on the food you give them; giving them healthy food will help a great deal with their longevity. Doing this alongside sustained water changing from time to time will suffice for your fish’s health.   

Common Diseases

Guppies are not supreme in preventing diseases on their own. If you let your guppies thrive in poor-conditioned waters, it might also threaten the tank fish community altogether! Like other small, tropical fishes, you should prepare some preventive measures from getting your guppies to catch any illnesses.

Acknowledging the possible diseases that may come up to your guppies can be easier if you had any recent experience with fish-keeping. But even if you got none, remember that a guppy is not more than immune to common diseases that occur in all fish tanks. 

Like other tropical fishes, guppies can still suffer from bacterial, parasitic, and fungal infections. These factors can lead to fatality not only to the affected fish but also to all tank fishes! 


One of the most dreaded diseases among tank fishes is the ich. You can see this as white spots that are marking the fins or skin of the fish. A fish with this disease tends to rub its body on objects and is not swimming in great stride. 

Ich is commonly due to substandard water conditions (not well-maintained). In this event, bacterial and fungal growth starts to build up. The only way to prevent this disease is to give the tank a scheduled water-cleaning set every couple of weeks. Rinsing the tank and taking parts of the water out of it will be very beneficial in reducing ich occurrence and other similar diseases.

Fin rot

As guppies have impressive tailfins (some even half-bigger than their bodies), they are prone to fin rot. The disease is more associated with fungal infections due to poor environmental conditions. 

Fin rot affects the activity of the guppy and can even slow down their swimming. The best solution against this is not to slack on the water maintenance of the tank! The susceptibility of the guppy in fin rot is high, and if there is no regular tank assessment, there would be a significant impact on the guppy’s appearance and health.

Keeping the water conditions in an excellent state and minimizing the stress level on the guppies will lead to their perfect biome. If you have any ailing guppies, take them out from the others to prevent the spread of infection. By doing so, proper treatment must be done too.


How big do guppy fish get?

Guppies are so small that their flowing fins are a sight to see. An adult can grow to only 2 to 2.4 inches the most. The males cannot even reach 2 inches! 

The size makes them better to buy in groups for forming schools in the tank. They would look compatible with other small fish species, making them a good investment for the tank.

How many guppy fish can be kept together?

In a 20-gallon tank, fish owners can sustain a max of 20 guppies. But if you aim for a lower populace of the fish, 2-3 guppies can suffice for a 5-gallon. Guppies produce offspring fast, so if you plan to buy some, you can opt for a minimum of 6 guppies to start on– with more male guppies at that.

The advantage of more male guppies in your tank can enhance the aesthetic of the aquarium with their richer colors! Their bodies and tail fins have a lot more emphasis than the female ones. Some aquarists would even own a tank full of male guppies only for this reason!

If you are up to breeding the guppies, a good ratio of 2 males per 1 female is enough. Female guppies release so much young litter, so if you are not going to nurture much of their offspring,  it is best to keep fewer female guppies in your tank. 

If you happen to bring your guppies to live with other tropical fish, always keep a close 1-2 gallons for each of them. This way, each fish species could enjoy a wider area for swimming, making them feel free to swim more! Remember that the key here is to have all fishes in the tank move with more ease, like in their natural habitat.

Guppy Fish Care

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Tank Size

Having a 10 gallon water tank is adequate for fish owners who would like to start with the hobby. We recommend that you opt for a larger gallon as guppies produce a lot when giving birth. Well, unless you want to distribute some of the baby guppies to your friends or take money out of it to the market, then settling with a standard-size tank is still up to you.

With larger aquariums, you can assure that the guppies will stay active in swimming. The larger area can also handle more growing fishes in the tank, especially the fry that comes from live-bearing female guppies. Best to remind yourself that female guppies are fast-spawning fishes!

Tank Setup

Making your guppies live in a biome that is almost close to their wild habitat always proves excellent in the long run. But first, you had to bring the quality stuff to the tank for your guppies to live happily! Some necessary items for you to consider are:

  • Right size of the tank. Purchasing a few guppies, you will need an appropriate-sized tank that is best for the possible increase of guppies in the future.
  • Plants. Guppies love to be around plants! You can choose the usual Cabomba plant that innately grows in the natural habitats of guppies or try landscaping some floating plants in the tank, too.
  • Tank Filter. In buying a tank filter, choose a hang-on back one. This filter is what is usually utilized for most aquariums ever since. But if you want to try a filter for a 50-gallon one, best to have an external canister filter instead.
  • Heater. You do not want to leave out a good heater for the fish’s aquarium. Monitoring a consistent temperature inside the tank (i.e., 75 to 82OF) will save your guppies from a lot of stress from changes in their new home. Setup the filter at the end of the tank while also using a thermometer at the other end. This way, you get to know if the heat is well-distributed.

Once you have done a great job setting up the tank, you finally do not get to treat your guppies for any diseases caused by ammonium spikes or bacterial infection! 

You can even save a lot of time in trying to treat a whole fish community at worst. It is fun to also add up some beautifying elements, but choose those that are not only high in quality but are functional for the guppies too!

Water conditions

You have to follow up the overall tank setup with healthy sustenance of water. As these fish are particularly hardy, you may not find them difficult to grow and maintain. You only need to know a few guidelines in sustaining a good water condition for the guppies’ health:

  • Water pH level. A suitable pH level of 7.5 to 8.0 pH would satiate for the water’s acidity level.
  • Water hardness. Guppies live more in hard water, and soft water may not be that favorable to them. Keep about 8 to 12 dGH for the water’s density.
  • Water temperature. The water temperature is better maintained in levels not lowering to 64 °F or 18 °C. As guppies thrive in the warm waters like in South America, getting the same condition in their tank will greatly encourage them to move freely and feel more at home. 

Even if the guppies can live in brackish waters, a regular water replacement is still necessary to maintain a healthy ecosystem for them. When replacing the water, try changing 20 % to 25% of it for a cleaner guppy abode. 

Building a full cycled aquarium also reduces any toxic substances from occurring. That is why it is good that nowadays, fish pet owners also buy a good water test kit to assist in water monitoring. Getting yourself one will help you a lot!

Diet & Feeding

What do guppy fish eat?

Guppies are actual omnivores! But given that they eat any food you bring them, it is still good that you stick to some dietary plan and schedule.

You can prepare rounded flakes high in nutrients or serve protein-rich foods such as brine shrimp and bloodworms. This fish species do love eating insects too! It is no wonder why they are deemed by people before to help in reducing the production of mosquito larvae in fields and streams. 

How often should I feed my guppy fish?

Give them a good amount of food twice a day and that they can consume for only a minute, at least. You might find it tempting to indulge them with food because of their small size, but remind yourself that giving them the right amount prevents leftover food that jolts ammonium spike.

How long can guppy fish go without food?

If you had to leave your guppies for a while, prepare them at least for your leave. While the adult guppies can take no food in 2 weeks, the young ones would not survive in 3 days of no food.

If the guppies in captivity are in a tank, an automatic feeder might prove handy while you are out. Yet if you have the guppies outdoors (e.g., pond or artificial habitat), they would more likely consume algae and mosquito larvae that fall off the water surface (giving you fewer worries). 

Usually, you must have cleaned the tank in advance and removed any possible chances of decay in it. In the case that you own a guppy fry, feeding it once a day will do. Again, guppies can thrive long without food as long as there is a clean, healthy biome. 

Tank Mates

What fish can live with guppy fish?

As guppies do well in any community fish tanks, other fish species can also relate to their behavior so well. The following are some of the fishes that are compatible with your fish pet:

  • Molly Fish
  • Neon or Cardinal Tetras
  • Gouramis 
  • Swordtail fish
  • Cory Catfish
  • Rasboras
  • Platy fish
  • Clown Loaches

What fish don’t do well with guppy fish?

There are also tank fishes that you need to avoid around your guppies. Whenever you are nurturing small pet fishes, you have to mind that bigger fishes may pose a threat. The same goes for guppies and other fish species of the same measure. Fishes that ether display predatory behavior or might see your guppies as food are the following:

  • Oscar Fish
  • Goldfish
  • Barbs
  • African Cichlids
  • Goldfish

Indeed, any larger species will endanger your guppies! By picking only the peaceful and same-sized fishes, you get to provide your guppies the best tank companions.


The guppy fish is distinct in bearing its young. Instead of laying eggs, they are rather livebearers. Once the young guppies are out of the womb, you can immediately observe them swimming around! 

Breeding these guppies is not much of a problem, too. The pair of guppies might not even need your intervention to begin the process!

But if you begin to give close attention to the gestation period, you can start counting for 21 to 40 days until the eggs are ready. Once the female guppy releases the baby guppies, expect that the number of guppy fry born may reach as high as 200.

After the fry is born, you only have to be wary of separating the guppy pair from its young. The adult pair may try to eat the young guppies if left unnoticed.


Are guppy fish easy to care for?

Guppies are highly recommendable for both beginners and experienced aquarists. To have them as aquarium fish does not also demand too much maintenance from the owner.  As long as there is regular monitoring in the tank, the guppies can survive well!

Like the other small fishes such as gouramis or neon tetras, you can feed them with any fish food that you like. Make sure only to give them in the right amounts to prevent bacteria build-up in the tank.

When planning to join other fish species to their company, take precautions as to which ones are most compatible for them. Creating a good harmony inside the tank should be your first criteria.