Like any other Pet its always good to Research & Learn about Guppies before getting them home. Guppies are tropical fish, they like warm water, they are Native to South America & were introduced to other parts of the world mostly to control mosquito population, as they eat mosquito larvae in their natural habitat. Guppies like to hang around in shallow waters & move in groups looking for food. They can live for about 3 years & can grow up to 2 inches, as they can easily adapt to most habitats which makes them common fish in most Home Aquariums.
Guppy Fish are also called "Million Fish" as they can reproduce quickly. The Female Guppy can reproduce in 3 to 4 months of age & can have a brood size of 2 to 60 or more, which means 3 generations of fish in a year (that's a lot of fish). Male Guppy reach maturity in about 7 weeks & are smaller than the females, they can grow up to 1.5 inches in length.
Guppy Fish is also called "Rainbow Fish" due to multiple colors & patterns seen on them. The male Guppies are usually the ones carrying brighter colors and patterns. Guppy Breeders over the years have introduced some amazing breeds through selective breeding, their colors & patterns is a treat to watch.
Visual differences between Male & Female Guppy Fish
Male Guppies are usually smaller than Female Guppies; they have a modified cloacal fin under belly called gonopodium, this is used for mating. Fins of the Male are always longer in most strains.
Female Guppies are much larger than Males but the fins are smaller; they are some what rounder in shape at the belly area. Coloration is also a little dull on females in most types of Guppy fish strains.
Guppy Fish Aquarium Care
Guppy fish is a great option for beginners in the hobby, they are hardy & they make great compatible tank mates for various similar sized & temperament freshwater fish. They can be housed in a Nano Tank & also in small ponds outdoors. They demand very less maintenance, I have housed them in planted tanks, aquarium with artificial plants, rock-scape & outdoor pond & they seem to thrive in all the setups. They can be included in community aquariums with other live-bearers, few types of tetra's & barbs. Male Guppy fish is aggressive only to other Males of their species, as they see them as competition for breeding with females. Since Guppies are prolific breeders they are housed in all Male Guppy Tank or all Female Guppy Tank to avoid breeding .Below information will help understand their requirements in an aquarium.
What your Guppy Fish needs
Things to buy & Why?
Aquarium : The rule of 1 inch fish needs 1 gallon (3.78 liters approx) is safe to apply for small fish like Guppy. Remember Guppies will be happy only if they are in a community tank, they should be kept in a ratio of one male for every 3 to 4 females. Ideal tank size is highly recommended so that, you can create a replica of their natural environment for them to have enough place to swim, hide or simply rest. Since they should be kept in a group an aquarium of minimum 10 gallon is recommended.
Heater : Ideal Temperature should be around 72° to 79° F (22.2°to 26.1°C). Guppies are tropical fish ,they like warm water. If the temperature in aquarium is not steady or drops below the ideal temperature it might affect their health.
Substrate, Plants & Rocks : Aquatic plants is a good idea for a tank with Guppies. Get your plants, substrate & rocks in a way to make your Aquarium attractive. Floating plants are recommended as they create nice resting areas just under the surface for Guppies to rest. Guppies are surface dwellers. Create enough place for your Guppies to swim & also few resting places like dense plant area. Avoid small gaps between rocks, you don't want Guppies to get stuck. They seem to like water lily plant which grows to surface from tank bottom, they hang around the leafs of this plant.
Thermometer : This will help you monitor the temperature. Remember there should never be drastic changes in water temperature, always maintain a steady temperature. Ideal Temperature is between 72° to 79° F (22.2°to 26.1°C). Lower temperatures can cause serious damage to their immune system.
pH test kit : Most Aquarist's advice pH level to be around 7.0 to 8.1 for Guppies, however pH level should never change drastically. Guppies like hard water & are known to live in Brackish water.
Lights : If you are planning on live plants in your tank, make sure you get suitable light for your plants. If you get artificial plants any light will do. Just make sure the light does not heat up the water in the tank too much. Remember to turn the light on & off everyday at the same time or as required by the plants you have in the aquarium.
Filter/Air pump : Filter will help you keep the tank clean & an Air pump will keep the tank nicely oxygenated. Remember the water movement caused by the filter & air pump should be minimal. Guppies spend lot of time close to surface & lesser water movement would make it easier for them to hang around.
Water conditioner : Tap water in most places are treated with chlorine. This is not good for fish. So get a water conditioner & make the water Guppy safe.
Guppy Fish food : In the wild Guppies mostly eat Algal remains, insect larvae etc. However you can buy Flakes or shrimps from any Pet store, its advisable to feed them twice a day, feed only as much as they can consume in 2 or 5 minutes. Any leftover Fish food has to be removed from the tank. Guppies eat vegetables like cucumber, zucchini & spinach as well. Feeding varied food is good for Guppies.
Fish net, Magnetic brush & Aquarium vacuum/Gravel cleaner : In case you have to move your Guppies out of the tank you would require a fish net. If you try to pick them with bare hands you might hurt him. Gravel cleaner is easier & effective way of cleaning the tank bottom. I find gravel easier to clean than sand. Magnetic brush helps clean the algae on the glass without putting your hands inside the tank.
Breeding Tank : Guppies are Prolific Breeders, if you are getting Guppies both Male & Female you might need a Breeding tank & make sure its big enough to sustain the fry. The brood size can be on an average of 60.
Tank Mates for Guppy Fish
Guppy fish is a great option for beginners in the hobby, they are hardy & they make great compatible tank mates for various similar sized & temperament freshwater fish. These fish have wider pH range, temperature range than most freshwater. This makes Guppy a prime option in a community aquarium, I have seldom seen them mess around other fish. Guppies are shoaling fish they hang around in groups usually at the surface area, you would always see a male chasing a female to mate.
Male Guppies sometimes are aggressive to other males, sometimes fights can get serious with damage to fins. This can be avoided with the right male to female ratio of one male for every 3 to 4 females; tank size & tank decoration also matters.
In case you want to set up a community tank with Guppy fish in it, make sure the aquarium is at least 10 gallon or bigger. With the right tank mates there will not be much aggression.
I've included Guppies with a variety of tank mates like, Molly Fish, Swordtail Fish, Platy fish, Dwarf Gourami, Rasbora, Threadfin Rainbow fish, Neon Tetra, Black Diamond Tetra, Black Neon Tetra, Glowlight Tetra, Cherry Barbs, Corydoras, Shrimps, Apple snails & the list goes on. Any same sized non- aggressive fish can be kept with them, even though aggressive fish like Betta can be kept with Guppies, however most Betta see Male Guppies as competition & go after them.
Breeding Guppy Fish
Guppies are Prolific Breeders as it ensures the survival of their species in the wild. Captive breeding of Guppies has changed their natural colors, the size & shape of fins, however even the Fancy Guppies remained Prolific Breeders. The Female Guppy can reproduce in 3 to 4 months of age & can have a brood size of 2 to 60 or more, which means 3 generations of Guppies in a year. The Female Guppy is most likely to be pregnant when purchased at the pet store as most pet stores keep the Males & Females in the same tank. Female Guppies can store the Male Sperm for up to eight months after mating once. Most Aquarist avoid unwanted breeding by keeping the male & female Guppies separately.
Gestation period for Guppies is 21 to 30 days, sometimes a little longer. Brood size is usually small if the Female Guppy is giving birth for the first time. Female Guppy needs to be separated from other fish & kept in a Breeding Box or Nursery Tank with Plants & Rocks which provide hiding places for the fry. The Female would look more "Boxy" in shape at the abdomen as she is nearing to give birth, a increasing Black spot known as "Gravid Spot" is visible on the Females abdomen. The Female Guppy has to be Fed well during this time to avoid the Female eating its own fry.
Guppy Fry are on their own after birth, the fry can swim as soon as they are out of their mothers body. Female has to be separated from her fry immediately after she is done giving birth. Guppy Fry has to be raised separately further until the fry are big enough to be introduced with the adults in the Tank, this usually takes approximately 30 to 45 days. Small Guppies are bullied in the Tank by adult Guppies initially this has to be monitored closely.
Guppy Fry Care
Baby Guppy fish need a little extra care for optimal growth and good survival rate, to achieve this they must be raised in a separate Nursery Tank Or Breeding Tank; tank size can be 5 gallon to 10 gallon depending on the size of the brood. You need good filtration system, so use a sponge filter which is fry safe. Add live plants floating or something live Java Moss or Moss Balls, heater maybe required depending on your location.
Once the Guppy fry are born they would feed on the yolk sac by observing it for a day or two, after which they are ready to be fed fish food. Brine shrimp, micro worms are their favorite, you can simply crush fish food you feed the adults small enough to fit in their mouth or simply buy micro pellets for fry from Pet Store or order it online. First week is crucial you would see fatalities, the weaker guppy fry may die, strongest would survive; usually by day 3 or 4 the fry start consuming fish food.
Few things that needs to be followed for at least 6 to 8 weeks caring for the Guppy fry in the Nursery aquarium would be maintaining water parameters, I follow 25% water change every 3 days, I feed 3 times a day which is crushed flakes, mini pellets, brine shrimp, micro worms or mosquito larvae.
Temperature should be on a higher side 78 to 82 degree Fahrenheit for Guppy Fry. Guppy fish prefer alkaline water condition around pH of 8. This plays an important role in keeping the Guppy fry healthy & gaining a optimal growth rate.
Lights for Guppy fry is important as it helps their natural pigmentation. Lights should be off for at least 8 hours for the Guppy fry to sleep, good sleep also helps with the growth rate.