Guppy Fish – Care, Water Conditions, Feeding, Breeding
Guppy Fish, Poecilia reticulate, is one of the renowned aquarium tank fish. Many people, including those who know nothing about aquarium tanks, will tell you something about this type of aquarium fish.
A large percentage of aquarium tanks enthusiasts have had the guppy fish at least once in their aquarium tank and that is for a good reason. To start their hobby, most aquarists buy a few guppy fish and increase them gradually.
Guppies received their name from the English scientist and priest, Robert John Lechmere Guppy, who made a report to the Royal Society in the year 1886.
In the report, he told stories of fish that spawned juveniles instead of laying eggs. Guppies live in brackish water or freshwater basis of Guiana, Venezuela, North of Amazon River, North of Brazil, Trinidad and Barbados islands in their natural habitat.
As a rule, the fish live in clean flowing water but they like brackish nearshore waters – not salty seawater. They feed on bloodworm, larvae, worms and small insects.
Because of their peculiarity, people moved guppies to the arm water basins in many parts of the world to help fight mosquito larvae and prevent malaria. In the wild, the males are brightly coloured than the females are.
Guppy Fish Tank Conditions
Aquarium guppies are popular because you do not need a large tank to rear them – their bio-load is small. They are also brightly coloured and therefore beautiful and more fun to watch. Here are some of the tank conditions you have to observe to ensure that they are healthy.
The PH level ranges between 1 and 14 and PH levels between 1 and 7 are acidic while that of 7 is neutral. Everything that is above 7 means that the water is basic (alkaline). Guppies prefer PH levels that are very close to the normal. The best PH level should be between 6.8 and 7.8, which is the value associated with natural habitats.
The correlation between PH level and water hardness is very important. If the PH level is high, you should try to maintain a high water hardness level. Generally, you should try to change half of the water tank on a weekly basis to keep it clean and fresh. You can also change 10 percent of the water on a daily basis or 30 percent every five days. Most experts will tell you that changing the water after every 7 days is suboptimal.
When it comes to water temperature, guppies are widely known for being hardy and able to adjust to various environments. If you want the guppies to remain comfortable, you should work hard to make the aquarium a better place for them. The best thing to do is to mimic the temperature in their natural habitats, which include rivers, lakes in South America.
The best water temperature for the fish should range between 10 degrees and 29 degrees Celsius (50 degrees and 84 degrees F). One of the things that you should observe is the water temperature consistency because the high fluctuation of temperatures will lead to health issues. Never allow the water temperature to fall drastically or suddenly.
Guppies are small fish with very small bio-load so they do not require a lot of swimming space. However, they require a reasonable space and you have to ensure that the tank is large enough for the fish to thrive.
To ensure that your guppy fish is healthy, it is good you follow the one gallon of water for every one inch of fish rule. Experts believe that you should hold guppies as trios if you have both females and males in your tank. If you start with three fish, you have to provide four gallons of water.
For any additional guppy, you will have to add one gallon. For example, 4 gallons for every 3 guppies, 6 gallons for every 6 guppies and 9 gallons for every 9 guppies.
As a guppy keeper, you have to ensure that you have a fully established aquarium tank setup. In other words, you should maintain good bacteria in the filter and the whole tank. When setting up a new tank, you can use filter pads from another aquarium tank to jump-start the cycle. Put the dirty pad in the filter and run the water for several hours before introducing the fish. Go for the highly rated filters to maintain good water condition.
The water filter is very important and that means you might need to buy a power filter because it is easier to use. However, most tank suppliers provide them with inbuilt filtration systems. You might, therefore, need to switch that out for something better. By filtering the water, you will be sure that your guppies have a clean environment and one that is free from bacteria.
Sand is the best bet when it comes to selecting the aquarium tank substrate (the bottom layer of your tank) for the aquarium. Due to the fine texture, sand is unlikely to get stuck in the mouth of your fish. Sand is also easier to replace and it will never collect any excess dirt or food.
If sand does not sound like a good substrate, crushed coral, gravel and larger rocks are a good choice. However, keep in mind that coral is more likely to alter the water PH, therefore, necessitating PH-neutralizers like driftwood. When it comes to the amount of substrate you require, you will need around one pound of substrate per gallon in the tank.
If you choose a 10-gallon water tank, you will require 10 pounds of sand to cover the bottom properly.
Plants for Guppies
Live aquarium plants have many benefits for the guppies and the other fish. They add oxygen to the water and absorb the ammonia and carbon dioxide that the fish create. The plants will form a natural looking habitat for the aquarium tank.
They can also serve as great hiding spots for the young ones after birth. When choosing the live plants, you will have to stick to those that remain fully submerged in water. Guppies have the tendency of jumping from time to time and you will, therefore, have to keep your aquarium tank covered throughout the day.
You can try java moss, hornwort, moneywort, Indian fern, Amazon sword plant or the chain sword plant. Other plants include pygmy chain, corkscrew Vallisneria and Najas Indica.
Guppy Fish Feeding
Now that we have covered more about the water conditions and the size of a tank, we should now talk about their feeding. Unlike goldfish, guppies are not vegetarian. They can feed on all types of food whether frozen, live, and wet or dry. However, you have to avoid giving them a lot of protein.
A balanced diet of vegetation and protein will keep them happy and healthy for a long time. Dried white worms, bloodworms, mosquito larvae, earthworm flakes and brine shrimp are a great choice for the fish. For the commercial flake food, New Life Spectrum Neurox Optimum, Aquacarium Natural Tropical Flakes, API Tropical Flakes is recommendable.
Instead of providing them with large amounts of food at once, you have to provide them with smaller amounts throughout the day. Ensure that the guppies can finish the food you give to them within 2 minutes and if they struggle to do that, then you are possibly giving them more than they need.
Give them 2-4 meals in a day and alternate what you provide to them. In other words, if you provide them with brine shrimp, you have to opt for fish flakes next.
Guppy Fish Breeding
The breeding of Guppies, mollies, swordtails and platys is easier, something that the fish a good choice for beginner aquarists. Their fry is able to start swimming immediately after birth, but it is important they have a good hiding place within a few seconds of life because their parents and the other fish in your aquarium tank are likely to eat them.
Most aquarists experience baby fish through livebearers. They are able to breed without special conditions. Depending on the temperature water conditions and diet choice, guppies can give birth to new fry after every 4-8 weeks.
Keep in mind that when choosing the fish to breed, you have to consider the colour and the shape of their tail. By choosing fish of the same colour, the fry will feature the same colour. The same will happen to the fin shape.
Remember to maintain a male to female ratio of one to three in your aquarium tank. Maintenance of a different ratio will result in stressful situations because the females will keep chasing the females.
With a 1:3 ratio, you will be able to split the attention of males between the females and as a result, make the breeding process less stressful for the females. Stressed out fish are known to catch diseases easily, particularly if their immunity is down.
You can breed the guppies in a selective or a community tank. By breeding them selectively, you will have more control over their appearance because you will select the shape of fins for females and males and their colour.
However, selective breeding will take up more space because you will have to establish a separate tank for the breeding alone.
Breeding in a community tank might be unpredictable because you will not know how the fry will look like until they are born or until their colour starts appearing. The appearances might be very different from that of the parents. However, the result might be something you like from breeding.
Guppy Fish Breeding Process
Guppies have no special requirements for breeding. However, before you start the breeding process, you have to:
- Setup an aquarium tank and ensure that the conditions are very close to those of the natural habitat. The water temperature should range between 24 degrees and 26 degrees Celsius (75-79 degrees F) and the water condition should be roughly 5.5 to 8.5 for the PH and 15 to 40 dH for the water hardness.
- The female guppy fish are able to store sperm for around three months so she might get pregnant three times after just one mating session. It is important to note that if you want to practice selective breeding.
Determine if Guppy Fish is Pregnant
A guppy will develop a large round belly after getting pregnant. The dark patch close to their back of their belly, known as gravid spot, becomes enlarges as the birth dates get closer.
Guppies can deliver around 20-200 fry per every spawn depending on the age and size.
You will have to avoid stressing the guppies when pregnant because that can result in premature birth or miscarriage. Most of the fry born prematurely do not survive.
Setup Guppy Breeding Tank
Even though it is exciting to know that our guppies will become parents in a few days, you have to remember that they will eat the fry after birth if you fail to protect them.
Therefore, you will have to establish proper hiding places for the fry so that they can run away from the parents and other tank mates. Plants like Duckweed, Java Moss, Watersprite, Hornwort and any other plant with dense leaves will provide great hiding spots for your fry.
Algae on the plants will serve as temporary food for the newborns.
If you hate live plants, you can opt for the available plastic plants because they form good hiding spots too you can use larger rocks to make small cracks for the young guppies to hide in. any aquarium tank decoration that allows the adult-sized fish to enter in will not form good hiding spots.
Alternatively, you can go for a breeding box setup. A breeding box will isolate the fry from the mother immediately after birth. That ensures higher survival rates because the mother will not be able to swim past the box to eat the fry.
If you choose the breeding tank or breeding box method, you will have to isolate the pregnant female around one week before the delivery date.
Raising the Guppy Fry
Immediately after birth, the fry will become hungry and start searching for food. Therefore, you should provide them with Brine Shrimp, fry food or any other quality feed.
Avoid providing the fry with more food than they can consume within 15 minutes. Remember to remove the leftover food so that it does not pollute the water.
In addition to the processed foods like pellets and flake food, you will have to provide them with live food at least once a week so that they can get the nutrients they require. Guppies are omnivores. That means you can provide them with both plants and meat.
Provide young ones with smaller amounts of food throughout the day if your goal is to facilitate faster growth – you can feed them for up to six times a day.
To maintain good water conditions, you have to do regular water changes. You can pour half of your community aquarium tank into the breeding tank to acclimate the fry to the water conditions they expect in the future home.
In 4-6 weeks, the fish will be large enough to survive in the community tank. If they are larger than the mouths of the adults, you should transfer them. if that is not the case, you can set up a different aquarium tank for them.
Guppy Fish Tank Mates
Here are the best tank mates for guppies:
- Bristlenose leco
Guppy Fish Tank Maintenance
What is the male to female ratio for Guppies?
Experts recommend 1:3 male to female ratio for the livebearers because the males tend to harass the females and they might chase them around the tank and stress them as a result. You can also opt for a ratio of 1 male for every two females.
One of the things that will help you differentiate females from the males is the male gonapodium. The gonapodium is the copulatory organ that a male must have. Females, on the other hand, have triangular or regular anal fin.
Their anal fin is situated on their underside where the tail meets the abdomen – between their paired pelvic fins. The gonapodium resembles a tiny tube or a stick on the male. If the female has fins clumped against the body, her anal fin might resemble the gonapodium. However, that is uncommon with healthy guppies.
Males are usually more colourful than the females are but when it comes to fancy guppies, the females might resemble the males. However, they will have a unique colour on the tail fins or caudal fins and on the back and dorsal fins.
But if you compare them, you will realize that they are very close. Some females will have dark sports near their anal fin known as the gravid spot. Remember that the spot might not be obvious unless the female is pregnant.
Apart from the bright colours, the males have longer fins than the females do. The fancy guppies will have fins of various shapes such as elongated veil tails or the lyretails.
The fin shapes of the females rarely change. Therefore, their dorsal and tailfins are somehow standard. Some female fancy guppies will have longer tails and those of the males will be shorter.
The general body shape can also help you differentiate males from females. Some breeders use the body shape for differentiation before the fish develop the full fins and coloration. The females are larger than the males of the same age are.
The females can have a length twice that of males. Moreover, females have rounded bodies.
What is the lifespan of Guppy Fish?
The average lifespan of guppies is 1-3 years. The breeding rate of guppies highly affects their lifespan. That might sound sad but it is what the mother nature works for most species. Even though the fish cannot live for many years, they are beautiful and good fish to own. If you are a newcomer, you should start with these fish because they are educational and super fun.
Do guppies eat their fry?
Adult guppies will eat their baby fry and any other guppy will take a bite out of the dead or immobile guppies that they encounter. You can keep the fry safe by adding more plants in the aquarium or transferring them to a different tank. The plants will give the babies a large hiding space. Most people opt for breeding boxes.
Do guppies take care for their fry?
Guppies do not care for their fry. In fact, they will eat them if you are not careful. Fortunately, the fry does not need any special attention. The female guppies can give birth to 20-60 fry each time. They give birth once every 30 days until they are around 2-2.5 years old.
The females hide when pregnant until it is time to drop the fry and they can be in labour for hours or days. The fry will start swimming and eating immediately after birth, which means that they do not need any special care.
Why do guppies keep dying?
If you realize that your guppies are dying more often, then you are not cycling your aquarium water tank properly. To make everything easy, start by purchasing an easy start chemical. If the fish continue dying, then that is a huge problem. It might be the biological bacteria that jumpstarts an aquarium cycle. You will have to get it.
What to feed guppy babies?
A guppy fry will measure around 6mm and has a very tiny mouth but they have a huge appetite. The digestion cycle of the young fish is around 20-30 minutes. That means that they will be ready to eat after every 30 minutes.
However, you should not feed them more often than necessary, but to encourage their growth speed, you have to feed them between 5 and 10 times a day. If you are keeping guppies for profit, you will have to maintain a feeding schedule. However, if you are keeping them for fun, it is advisable you feed them once a day.
Your guppy fry will eat the food that you feed the adult guppies. But before feeding them, you will have to crush the food so that it can easily fit in their mouth. You have to provide them with live food such as micro worms, baby brine shrimp, vinegar eels and daphnia so that they can remain happy and healthy.
However, if you do not have any access to such food, you can go for the dry or frozen food and crash it before you give it to the fry. If you choose flake foods, remember to crush them into tiny pieces.
Egg yolk is another important source of protein for the fry. Make a paste out of the hardboiled egg and introduce small amounts into the aquarium tank at least twice in a day. The fry will need vitamins and minerals to grow.
Guppies are colourful and peaceful fish. They are therefore a good choice for experienced and beginner aquarists alike. They are hardy and available in many patterns, colours and tail shapes.
That alone makes them more appealing for the experienced breeders. For them to thrive, you will have to maintain good tank conditions and provide a balanced diet.
That way, you will have many entertaining and active swimmers in your aquarium tank.