Guppies are one of the most common species of fish found in home freshwater tanks. They are a hardy fish that adapt well to most environments. The guppies’ natural habitat can be found in North-East & South America. It is native to many Islands, including Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, and the Virgin Islands as well as Brazil and Venezuela. They are highly adaptive and have been introduced to various regions around the world, usually with ill effects to the natural fish populations.
Guppies vary in size, with the males normally being smaller at 1.5-3.5 cm in length. Female guppies range in size from 3-6 cm in length. Males can have brightly coloured spots or stripes as well as other markings as a result of selective breeding, while females are usually grey in colour. Offspring of guppies are called fry and are live-born and self sufficient right away.
Guppies mature within 10-20 weeks and can live up to 2 years, in that time females can have many broods of fry. Lifespan in the wild differs from that of a live tank, but depending on the dynamics of the aquarium guppies can live slightly longer than in the wild.
With a well planned out aquarium that has plenty of rocks and vegetation, guppies can be a great addition. Be careful of predator fish within the tank however, and make sure the guppies have plenty of hiding spots for themselves and their fry. Guppies have also been known for infanticide, so make sure your guppies are well fed and not crowded, as these are common reasons for them to do it. With the proper knowledge and care, guppies make a great addition to any tank.
Guppies eat a wide variety of foods in the wild, including algae and water insect larvae. In a home aquarium though, you want to feed your guppies a combination of foods. By feeding them a quality flake food designed for tropical fish, you can enhance the colour of your guppy. But if that isn’t important to you, any quality flake food should be fine for them. We recommend you get the best possible food for your fish. You might want to stay away from pellet style food as it can be too large for a guppies’ mouth. Guppies can have a wide variety of foods and it is recommended you incorporate other options besides the flakes to keep them healthy.
Freeze dried foods.
Guppies will eat a variety of freeze dried foods, you might want to think about including things like; brine shrimp, bloodworms or daphnia. These foods will give your guppy some variety and if you are thinking of breeding, a varied diet will deter them from eating their own fry. You can offer these as a live food instead of freeze dried. Live foods are more nutritious however live foods do carry a risk of transferring disease to your tank.
It’s not something you think of normally but you can also offer your guppies vegetables. They will eat things like; lettuce, peas, and cucumbers, which will provide your fish with nutrients and variety.
It’s important not to over feed your guppies as well. They have very small stomachs, so by over feeding you can potentially block their intestines causing them distress. You’re guppy should be fed only a couple of times a day, and only in very small amounts. Also, take notice of the tank temperature. Guppies will eat less in cooler temperatures as their metabolism slows. Monitor their eating habits and only provide them with what they can eat at one feeding, leaving food floating in the tank will not only encourage over eating, but will also rot and pollute the water. It’s a good idea therefore to remove any leftovers once feeding is over. A good schedule is usually flakes in the morning and then a live or freeze dried food or vegetable in the evening. This will ensure your guppies stay healthy and happy and potentially lengthen their lifespan.
Guppies Preferred Tank Conditions
When thinking about getting guppies on their own there is a lot to consider when putting together a comfortable tank for them. The most common size is a 10 gallon tank. It isn’t too big, and a nice starter size. If you try a tank smaller than 10 gallon it will be difficult to keep clean because it won’t be able to cycle water efficiently enough. You will want to make sure your guppies have a lot of hiding places, so make sure you decorate the aquarium with lots of plants and ornaments. But be careful of anything with a sharp edge, there is the chance they might damage their delicate fins. You’ll also want to make sure that there is a least 2 inches of gravel on the bottom of the tank. This will not only look nice but helps to filter the water as well. Keep the water at a comfortable temperature as you risk killing your guppies if the water temperature is too hot or too cold. Room temperature is ideal.
Even though guppies are common prey for many fish, there are some that live harmoniously with them in the same tank. When building a mixed tank that includes guppies, or you want to add guppies to your existing tank, you’ll want to consider which fish will either eat them, or at the very least nip at their long fins. Even if they aren’t being preyed on for food, being bullied is just as much of a stress and will for sure affect the health of your guppies. You could consider adding similar fish like platys or gouramis. They are very similar in that they also live birth and they are shy fish that prefer to live in peace, making for a calm aquarium. There is also the option of including different species into the tank, such as shrimp, they will also keep the tank swept for you between cleaning’s so they are a great addition. Or try a bottom dweller, guppies stay in the middle and top so adding these will not only keep your tank clean like the shrimp, but will stay out of the way of your guppies, keeping the whole tank happy. If you are looking for some excitement in the tank you can try including a rasboras. These fish are slightly more aggressive but will get along great with your guppies.
When designing the tank it’s really important to think about what you want your tank to look like and what kind of fish you want to occupy it. Keeping this in mind, you can come up with an interesting tank full of different colours and species of fish. It’s especially important to think of the make-up of your tank if you are considering breeding your guppies as well.
If you are thinking about breeding guppies there are a few things you need to know to get started. First you should consider whether you are breeding as a hobby or with more intent. Casual breeding won’t be as involved and will allow you to go slowly and have fun. However, a more professional breeding takes careful planning and resources.
First consider the environment you will be breeding them in. Will you let nature take its course in their regular home tank as a casual breeder, or will you set up a special breeding tank to carefully control the breeding? If you will set up a breeding tank you should make sure it’s fairly large and gives ample space for breeding. It should be similar to the home tank so as not to stress them, but make mating easy. You can carefully choose the guppies you will breed for colour, size or any other feature think is interesting or important. You will also need to have a few tanks to accommodate breeding pairs as well as some small tanks for the fry.
When accessorizing the tanks there are a few important things to have. Having a breeding trap is an important accessory. These are a small trap that is hung in the breeding tank. It has two compartments separated by a slotted wall, so when the female is ready to give birth, the fry can safely swim to the other compartment, preventing the female from eating them, the last thing you want when breeding is for the female to eat the fry. Also make sure the lighting and temperature match in all tanks, this way there is less stress and more chance of success. You’ll also want to make sure you have a really good filtration system. Even though guppies are fairly clean, fry are very susceptible to pollution in the water, so to make sure they stay healthy it’s important to maintain good water conditions. You should also make sure you have good aeration as well. A good air pump is important to move the water and get the oxygen flowing in. You can also add live plants, not only will they help oxygenate but they will provide a food source and a hiding place for the fry as well.
When it’s time for breeding there are a few steps to ensure success. The first step is to choose which guppies to breed. You can choose any adults with the features that you want to breed, such as colour, shape or size. If you are breeding in the main tank it’s a good idea to make sure they are comfortable and well fed. Guppies aren’t shy and you should have no problems breeding this way. However if you would like to have more control, you can take things to a breeding tank. Once the female has conceived you will notice a small patch just above her fin, called the gravid spot, will be a little darker, this is where the eggs are kept. Then you wait. It takes about 30 days for gestation and you will notice your guppy getting a little larger and boxier in the stomach area. Close to the time of delivery, you will want to move your fish into a breeding trap to make sure the fry stay safe. They will be fully independent and you will be able to move them to their own tank or area right away. Once the fry are born you want to provide them with plenty of places to hide and plenty of foliage. Live plants are best. With proper cover they can be introduced right away to the main tank, or you can keep them in a smaller tank until they are a little larger. Your guppies will be ready to breed again shortly after, so it’s recommended to get move the fry in order to prepare the breeding tank for the next round.
When caring for the fry you will have to monitor the tank conditions closely as they are very sensitive to change, so to give them the best chance of survival you will have to make sure the conditions are just right. A stable temperature between 24-26.5 C is ideal. When feeding the fry it’s important to consider their size, they are too small for conventional guppy pellets or flakes, so you can either give them a special fry food designed for their small mouths or you could crush up the regular flakes and pellets to make it more manageable for them. You should also think about supplementing with brine shrimp or bloodworms to make sure they are getting all of the nutrients they need and give them a better chance at growing into adults. Also make sure that your tank is healthy, the fry are sensitive and it isn’t likely they will survive any kind of disease. If you are serious about breeding it might be a good idea to keep the fry in a separate tank until they are older and have developed their immune system better. Finally, watch the growth of your fry closely. You can tell by their growth if they are getting the nutrients they need and if they are becoming healthy adult guppies. If they are too small or growing too fast you will know how you should alter their diet to ensure they stay healthy, grow strong and become an interesting addition to any tank. Once they have reached the age of between 6-8 weeks they should have no problems being introduced in to the main tank with the rest of the population. At about 20 weeks, they will be ready for their own breeding.