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|Scientific Name||Poecilia Reticulata|
|Common Name(s)||Guppy, Fancy Guppies, Guppy Fish, Millions Fish|
|Origin||Central America to Brazil|
|pH Range||7.0 – 8.5|
|Male Guppy Size||1-1.5 inches|
|Female Guppy Size||1.5-2.5 inches|
Table of Contents
Guppy Fish Facts
- Guppies do not lay eggs. As livebearers, guppies give birth to free-swimming baby fry.
- A female guppy can give birth to fry approximately every 28-35 days.
- There are over 50 different types of guppies.
Guppies are one of the most popular fish in the aquarium hobby. They are colorful little fish that are always actively swimming throughout the tank. They are also known for their ease of breeding. In fact, a female guppy can give birth to a batch of 100 or more baby guppies every month. The ease of breeding attracts many beginner fishkeepers, but the art of breeding and developing various strains of guppy makes them attractive to advanced fishkeepers as well.
History of Guppy Fish
Guppies were introduced to aquarists over a century ago. They were named after the English naturalist John Lechmere Guppy. When he brought the fish from Trinidad to England in 1866, the fish was named Girardinus guppii in his honor by Günther, a famous zoologist who was the head of the British Museum at the time. However, guppies were collected by a German zoologist J. L. Peters years earlier in 1859. Peters named the fish Poecilia Reticulata, which takes priority today.
Natural Habitat of Wild Guppies
Guppies originate in the warm tropical waters of Central America to Brazil. Today, due to their prolific and adaptable nature, they have established themselves in almost every region of the world except areas of extreme temperatures, such as Antarctica.
They are found in ponds, lakes, and rivers in the wild. They are small fish, so they will not be swimming in the center of the current. However, they can be found on the water’s edge, where the current is slower. They can swim near vegetation, where there are plenty of insects and other invertebrates to feed on. Since they breed readily, they can quickly establish themselves in new bodies of water.
Guppies are generally hardy fish and relatively easy to take care of. However, while fancy tank setups are not required, proper care and regular maintenance will be necessary.
If you intend to keep guppy varieties with long fins, avoid keeping them with aggressive fish that may become fin-nippers. In addition, the nitrogen level must be kept low to prevent fin rot. For the same reason, guppies should only be introduced to established aquariums.
The average guppy lifespan is 2-3 years. Guppies raised in lower temperatures may live slightly longer. Some guppies are known to reach over 4 years of age. However, guppies mature very quickly and are generally short-lived fish.
Guppy size can vary depending on the strain. On average, a male guppy will range from 1-1.5 inches. A female guppy will range from 1.5-2.5 inches. Some female guppies can grow to over 4 inches.
Guppies can be raised in a basic aquarium setup consisting of an aquarium tank, aquarium lighting, aquarium filtration, and aquarium heater. Guppies are relatively hardy and undemanding compared to other fish in the fishkeeping hobby.
Decorative plants, gravel, and driftwood can be added to the tank. However, these are not necessary.
The minimum tank size for guppies is 5 gallons. However, you can keep only 1 or 2 guppies at this size. Also, a good filtration system and frequent water changes would be required at this size. While many beginners are drawn to smaller tanks, these tanks require more frequent maintenance.
For beginners, a 20-gallon tank is recommended. At this size, the aquarium will be able to handle the fluctuations in the water parameters and self-regulate more effectively. As long as the tank is not overstocked, less frequent water changes will be required. The system would be able to handle the fish’s waste more effectively as well.
The general rule of thumb is to keep only 1 inch of fish for every 1 gallon of water.
Guppies can be great tank mates for a lot of fish. Guppies are compatible with most other fish and would do just as well in a community tank as in a guppies only species tank.
However, other fish may harm guppies. Since many guppies have long fins, fish nipping on their fin would be incompatible tank mates. Larger fish that could swallow guppies would also be incompatible tank mates.
Other peaceful community fish similar in size to guppies would be compatible with tank mates. Some potentially good tank mates for guppies are:
- Betta fish
- Neon tetra
Water pH and Minerals
In regards to water parameters, guppies prefer moderately hard water. A water pH of 7.0 – 8.5 would be great for guppies. If the water in your area is slightly softer 7.0, your guppies may still be able to survive. However, if you wish to have the guppies thrive and reproduce to their maximum potential, the water pH should be 7.0 and above. To harden the water, you can add crushed corals and other additives to the water. Adding products such as Wonder Shell or Equilibrium can help restore the mineral balance in the water.
Guppies require high amounts of minerals, such as calcium, in the water because they are constantly reproducing. They are giving birth to live fry instead of eggs. This requires a lot of minerals out of their body.
When there is a calcium deficiency, the guppies may develop deformities in their spine. Curvature in the spine, also known as a humpback spine, is common in older guppies when there is a mineral deficiency for prolonged periods.
In regards to the temperature, guppies prefer water waters since they are tropical fish. Optimum temperatures are from 72-79 °F.
However, some species of guppies can survive lower temperatures of water than others. Guppies varieties that are genetically closer to the wild guppy strain are known to be hardier and able to survive lower temperatures. For example, Endler guppies can tolerate water temperatures of 60 °F or lower.
Most guppies that are available in local fish stores have been bred on farms for many generations. These farms typically raise guppies in high temperatures above 72 °F. Therefore, most of the guppies will be adapted to the higher temperatures.
Aquarium salt is not always required for guppies. However, many guppies are raised in slightly brackish water. Therefore, if guppies raised in brackish water are suddenly introduced to freshwater, they can suffer kidney problems, fin clamping, and various other diseases. To acclimate fish raised in brackish water, aquarium salt may be useful.
However, remember that many diseases that occur during acclimation are due to the lack of minerals in the new water, not simply the salinity. Checking the pH of the new water and adding mineral additives can solve many of these issues.
Aquarium salt can also be useful in treating diseases such as fin rot. Many bacterial diseases that may harm guppies in freshwater will not be able to tolerate the salinity.
Guppies should be fed sparingly and often. It is recommended to feed once or twice a day as much as they can consume in 2 – 3 minutes. Guppies are omnivorous so that they will appreciate a varied diet. They are not picky eaters and can certainly survive one type of flake food alone. However, a varied diet will aid in raising healthy, happy guppies.
Other than commercial foods, live foods will be greatly appreciated. In nature, they commonly dwell on mosquito larvae and other small insects. Small amounts of live plants such as duckweed may be beneficial as a part of a balanced diet as well.
To distinguish between male and female guppies, look for coloration and body shape. In general, males are more colorful, and their body shape is smaller and more slender. However, this is not always the case. Depending on the strain, female guppies can vary in size and be very colorful as well.
A certain way to sex guppies is by identifying the gonopodium in male guppies. A gonopodium is a rod-shaped anal fin that is used to deposit sperm into female fish. Of course, female guppies do not have a gonopodium. Instead, they have a triangle-shaped anal fin.
Many other livebearer fish can be sexed by identifying the gonopodium in the male fish. This includes mollies, platies, and swordtails.
Guppies are considered one of the easiest fish to breed. If male and female guppies are placed in the same aquarium, the females will quickly be impregnated. In fact, one male guppy can impregnate multiple guppies in a short amount of time. If they are placed in the same aquarium for more than a few days, you can expect the females to be impregnated.
After the female guppies are impregnated, they will release free-swimming fry 28-35 days later. Since they are livebearers, guppies do not lay eggs. On average, a pregnant guppy will give birth to 20-60 fry. However, some larger females can give birth to over 100 fry at once. Labor can take hours or days.
Breeding guppies is not only for beginners. Many experienced fishkeepers enjoy breeding guppies as well. Raising healthy specimens to their full potential takes knowledge and practice. In addition, many experienced breeders develop specific strains of guppies. Guppy strains are developed by selectively breeding guppies and developing the desirable trait over many generations. This process can take many years, if not decades.
Guppy fry, also known as guppy babies, require different care compared to adult fish. When guppy fry are born, they are only ¼ inch in size. To care for the fry, the best method is to raise them in a separate tank from the adults.
Saving Newborn Fry
Newborn guppy fry should be separated from the adults from the beginning since adults will try to eat the guppy fry. All adults, including the parents, will eat the fry. If the adults are hungry enough, they will hunt them down and eat all their fry. Therefore, the newborn fry should be separated from the adults immediately.
One way to improve fry survival rate is to set up a breeding tank. Instead of moving the fry from the community tank after birth, move the pregnant guppy to the breeding tank before she gives birth. There are several advantages to this. First, this will give you the opportunity to feed the female guppy the high-protein diet that she needs during this time. Second, the female will be sheltered from the other male fish that constantly chase her and exhaust her.
Lastly, by placing lots of plants and other hiding places in the breeding tank, the fry will have a good chance of surviving. Instead of chasing after every fry in the tank, you can simply scoop out the female after it is finished giving birth. This is much more efficient. Since the fry will only have to avoid one adult fish instead of multiple adult fish in the tank, most of them will also survive in this setup.
There are other ways of improving fry survival rate during birth. For example, guppy breeder boxes are designed to separate the adult guppy from the fry immediately after birth. The small holes within the box will allow the fry to escape into a separate chamber.
Guppy Fry Care
Guppy fry are approximately ¼ inch in length at birth, and they are free swimming. Unlike other species, guppy fry are much more capable from the beginning. They will look for a hiding spot as soon as they are born. A growing taking with lots of plants will give the fry hiding places. Even if there are no adult fish in the tank, the vegetation can make them feel safer. Since fry are more fragile than adults, it is important to monitor the water parameters and provide a clean environment for them.
Guppy Fry Food
Guppy fry will start looking for food within a few hours after birth. The fry are able to eat what the adults eat, but their small mouths mechanically limit them. Therefore, the food should be crushed into powder form before feeding. To raise healthy guppies, feed quality food with high protein content.
As a fry, they will not be able to eat much food. However, they will process the food very quickly. Their small digestive system will process the food every 30 minutes. Therefore, it is best to feed them in small quantities frequently.
While the fry may be able to survive on only powder food and crushed flake food, feeding live food is also recommended if you wish to grow the most robust specimen. This will allow the fry to consume a varied diet. Here’s a list of food that you can feed your fry, based on their growth stage and appropriate food size:
1. Insusoria and green water
2. Microworms, baby brine shrimp, vinegar eels, and powdered food
3. Grindal worms, moina, crushed flake food
4. White worms, daphnia, larger flake food
Once the fry reaches the final 4th stage, the fry will reach its juvenile stage. At this point, the fry will be much more capable of eating large food, similar to what the adults will eat.
A varied diet consisting of live food and quality dry feed will help grow healthy guppies. Growth speed can be improved as well.
Guppy Fry Growth Rate
The growth rate for guppy fry can vary depending on their genetics and their environment. Some of the environmental factors that can influence growth rate are temperature, water quality, and food.
Temperature: By keeping the water temperature slightly higher, at around 78-80 °F, the fry will be able to grow faster. Keep in mind that higher temperature will increase their metabolism, requiring more frequent feeding.
Keep in mind that growing guppy fry is not a race against time. The goal should be to raise the healthiest specimen, not the fastest-growing specimen. While a good growth rate could be an indication of good health, some breeders prefer to grow their fry at a slower pace. By maintaining the water temperature in the mid-70s, at around 74-76 °F, the fry will be able to grow at a slightly slower pace. Some guppies that grow larger and longer were raised in these slightly lower temperatures.
- Water Quality: Keeping good water quality is very important since fry are more sensitive than adults. Change 10% of the water every day. This will keep the nitrate level down to a minimum. Rather than changing 50% of the water weekly, for example, doing smaller water changes more frequently is much more beneficial. It prevents the water parameters from fluctuating between water changes, and there will be less shock to the fry. By maintaining good water quality, many diseases can be prevented. Be sure to use a water conditioner if necessary.
- Food Quality: High-quality food with protein content should be fed to fry. A combination of dry feed and live fish food is ideal. Annelid worms, such as grindal and white worms, are great protein sources for fry.
- Feeding Amount: Fry should be fed in small amounts frequently. Fry have smaller digestive systems compared to adults. While adult guppy may only need to be fed once a day, fry should be fed multiple times a day.
- Water Current: Strong currents should be avoided in a fry tank since they can exhaust them. If they are required to swim against a strong current constantly, they may not have enough energy for growth. Therefore, an aquarium filter that only produces a gentle current or a sponge filter should be used.
Guppy Fry Growth Chart
Fry growth rate can vary widely depending on genetics and environment. As a general guideline, the guppy fry growth chart below describes what kind of growth you can expect from your fry based on their age:
|Newborn Fry||6 mm|
|One Week Old Fry||7 mm|
|Two Week Old Fry||1 cm|
|One Month Old Fry||1.5 cm|
|Two Months Old Fry||2 cm|
|Three Months Old Fry||2.5 cm|
|Six months Old Fry||3 – 3.3 cm|
|Full Grown Adult||3.5 – 4 cm|
There is an abundance of guppy varieties and types. To start, they come in every color of the rainbow. Some display many different colors at once, while others display a single color throughout their body. Guppies come in different body shapes and fin shapes as well.
Guppies are prone to a variety of diseases and other health issues. There is a great variety of guppies strains; some are more prone to these diseases than others. Some common diseases in guppies include ich, fin rot, fin clamp, spine curve, and tapeworms. Many of these diseases can be prevented by providing a clean environment. However, bacterial disease and parasites can still become issues in well-maintained aquariums.
Once the health issue is realized, it is important to identify the cause of the issue and possible treatment options. The affected fish can sometimes be quarantined for treatment and recovery. Medications are available to treat some common diseases, which can be quite effective if treated early.
Due to extensive selective breeding, some guppies have become less hardy and more susceptible to disease. While selective breeding is required to develop a particular trait, it is important to breed guppies from a gene pool of adequate size. Guppies from different gene pools can be introduced to prevent inbreeding depression as well.