The Ultimate Guppy Guide: Everything you need to know about Guppies


If you have not done so already, you will at some point get some guppies for your aquarium.

The ultimate guppy guide below give you all the information you need to successfully breed and keep guppies.

Guppy: Basic Facts

FactGuppy Requirements
Scientific name:Poecilia reticulata
Life expectancy:3 to 5 years
Size:males up to 4 cm, females 5 to 6 cm
pH value:5.5 to 8.5
Water hardness:5 ° to 25 ° dGH
Temperature:18 to 28 ° C
Behavior:peaceful, slightly hectic
Origin:Central and South America
Diet:flake and granulated food (plant-based), as well as frozen food and live food
Aquarium size:from 54 liters
Decorations:lots of plants, floating plants like

Guppy: Origin and Natural Habitat

The origin of the guppy can be traced back to the waters of Venezuela and Guyana.

The natural habitat of the guppies includes rivers and freshwaters of northern South America and all of Central America. They are also rarely found in salty water, for example at the mouth of the ocean. The largest populations live in northern Brazil, in Venezuela and Guiana. Guppies are also native to islands off the coast of South America.

These mainly include islands such as Barbados, Trinidad, Grenada, St. Thomas, Antigua, the Leeward Islands and the Netherlands Antilles.

Due to migration over the years, humans have shipped guppies around the world and also deposited them in natural waters. That has made guppies one of the world’s most popular freshwater fish. Many guppies have been released in rivers and lakes around the world.

Guppies were often used to control mosquito larvae in freshwater aquariums.

Because of their particularly good breeding characteristics, guppies reproduce rapidly. This has:

  • Contributed to their faster worldwide spread
  • Made their domestication very easy and widespread

Guppies in the wild

Guppies in colder regions are mostly offspring of released farmed fish and have little in common with the wild form of the guppy. As a tropical fish species, the guppy is dependent on constant water temperatures between 22 and 27 degrees.

It is not possible for the guppy to spread nationwide in rivers and lakes that are susceptible to frost. Its freedom of movement is limited to water that does not freeze, as can be found naturally in thermal springs and also around industrial plants that store heat.

Guppy Aquarium

Where can you spot guppies in the wild?

Guppies have often been spotted in brackish water and sewage.

  • Wastewater at a temperature of 30 degrees from sewage treatment plants
  • Near thermal power stations
  • In botanical gardens.

For your home aquarium, guppies are mainly found in pet shops and among fish farmers.

Wild forms of the guppy still exist in their original range. Non-native fish can mostly be traced back to farmed fish and wild crosses.

Guppy: Keeping Guppies

Guppies are extremely adaptable. In nature, they can be found in a variety of water types. They can be found in fresh water as well as in brackish water and are therefore hardened beginner fish that are quite forgiving of small keeping mistakes.

Guppy: Ideal Water Conditions

Irrespective of the fish species, you should always make regular water changes (especially for ornamental fish such as the guppy) It is vital to make sure that the water change takes place at regular intervals to avoid accumulation of pollutant in the aquarium.

To make sure that the guppy in your aquarium survive:

  • Make sure that you change around a quarter of the pool’s contents are changed every two weeks. Although this procedure does not completely remove the metabolic products, it significantly reduces them.
  • Use a filter to additionally clean the water and provide sufficient oxygen
  • It is very important to maintain the pH of the water between 6 and 8
  • Because guppies are cold-blooded fish, you should make sure that the water temperature is constantly between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius which is the ideal temperate for a guppy. If the temperature is not set correctly, the fish develop strong reactions. In a pool that is too warm, the little swimmers grow too quickly and much more slowly when the temperature is too low. At the same time, a warm pool promotes mortality
Guppies in a tank with air bubbles

Guppy: Feeding and Ideal Diet

Although guppies are not particularly demanding, they still have a varied diet.

The basis for this is dry plant-based feed or conventional flake feed. Small mosquito larvae in the form of live food are also popular. Saline shrimp – also known as Artemia or micro-worms – are a special treat.

What foods can you feed guppies?

  • Flake or granulated food (ideally based on plants)
  • Mosquito larvae, water fleas, etc. (live or as frozen food)
  • For rearing: Artemia or special rearing dust food

Guppies also eat the remains of carrion, some of which are floating in the tank. The surface fish grabs the food preferably at the top of the water. The fish eat up the supply completely. They do not care how often and in what quantity the food “flows in”.

However, one should always note that too much of a good thing not only affects the water quality but also the colorful aquarium inhabitants. Overfeeding is often the main cause of fish dying! As a guide, it is recommended that regular feeding be carried out once to a maximum of twice a day.

Guppy: What else should I consider?

  • Make sure that you set up then aquarium appropriately and add the right plants.
  • The necessary green not only ensures the breakdown of pollutants itself, but also serves as a hiding place and retreat for the guppies.
  • Appropriate equipment with UV radiation should also not be missing. In bright light, the animals develop their colors much better. At the same time, it also ensures a positive sense of wellbeing. The UV light can also be balanced out by the bright sunlight. With this variant, however, there is a risk that algae will develop rapidly. In principle, a lighting duration of around twelve hours is optimal.
  • Make sure that you lower the temperature to ideal levels which has a positive effect on the biorhythm of the guppies. It increases both well-being and lifespan. A reduction of two to three degrees Celsius is completely sufficient!

Guppy: Breeding Healthy Guppies

Breeding guppies is relatively easy and straightforward.

Regular and targeted copulation is not necessary at all, as the females store the so-called sperm packets for a longer period of time and can access them during their sexual maturity.

The fish reproduce very regularly. If kept properly under optimal conditions, the female guppies reproduce every four weeks, whereby the number of young fish per litter can be up to 100. The little ones are able to swim immediately after birth and fully grown after around four months.

Ideally, 1 male guppy and 2 to 3 females are used for breeding.

Mating stress from excess male guppies

Please make sure that you follow the following guidelines when breeding guppies to avoid mating stress:

  • To make sure that the male is not stressed, you should use more than 1 female for breeding. This way, the male will distribute attention to all the females equally instead just 1
  • The tank that is used for breeding should ideally have a capacity of at least 30 and a maximum of 75 liters of water
  • It is recommended to cover the filter with a permeable material (nylon stocking), otherwise the brood would be attracted too strongly. Since the guppy parents tend towards cannibalism, the fry must be able to hide. You can accomplish this by adding extra plants close to the ground

Signs of imminent guppy birth:

  • The pregnancy of a female guppy can be easily recognized by a dark point on the lower abdomen
  • If this is the case, the male can immediately be returned to the original aquarium. The females carry the offspring inside for about 26 to 31 days. If the guppy barely moves, the birth is imminent
  • A typical sign of labor is shaking the whole body, and the female likes to spend time on the heating rod during birth

Guppy Fry

  • In order to achieve a strong and healthy brood, high-quality fish food with a high nutritional value is recommended.
  • In the first few days after birth, the fry usually do not need any food, because they then feed on their yolk sac for a while. However, since some of the little guppies use up their yolk sac a little faster than their siblings, it is advisable to give food from the second day after birth.
  • Because the little ones also have a very fast metabolism in the first phase of life, they should be fed at least twice a day.

Guppy: Determining Gender

The gender identification of the guppy is very easy compared to other fish. You can usually tell at first glance whether it is a male or a female.

There are, however, isolated specimens in which the coloring is generally less pronounced, so that the detection must be done in another way.

Male and Female Guppy

Using color

  • Male guppies have brightly colored scales
  • Female guppies are usually much less colorful

However, this is now dependent on the breed and no longer a clear guarantee for determining the sex – there are now a few very colorful specimens among the female guppies.

Using other Marks

  • A female specimen of the guppy also always has a gestation mark under the belly. This arises from around the fourth week of life of the animal and enables reliable gender identification on the guppy
  • In addition, the female always has an anal fin in the form of a fan. In the case of the males, on the other hand, it looks more like a stick that tapers to a point. Based on these characteristics, the gender of the popular fish can usually be determined very quickly

However, if it is still unclear, there are other aspects that can indicate gender.

Using general body shape

The general body shape of the guppy also plays a major role in determining gender.

  • Female specimens have a round belly that offers enough space for any offspring
  • Males, on the other hand, are usually much slimmer and can move a little more agile

The harmony of the aquarium is largely related to the number of fish and their gender. You should make sure that you are aware of the exact gender of the desired aquarium inhabitants when determining the optimal fish composition.

Determine pregnancy before buying

It is also very important that you determine whether then female fish you acquire have already been fertilized and thus carrying offsprings.

Since the animals become sexually mature from the third month of life, this often plays a major role.

However, pregnancy is not as easy to identify as the gender itself, so a professional breeder should be consulted here who has a trained eye for a possible pregnancy of the fish with it.

Guppy: Characteristics – Color and Shape

The guppy is still very popular – not least because of its unique appearance, which creates enthusiasm in the aquarium and among all viewers.


  • The main characteristic of the guppy is, of course, its dazzling splendor of colors: the various subspecies of the guppies shine in all the colors of the rainbow.
  • Sometimes individual species are kept in dark tones, others have intense red colors and still others shine in a hearty blue.
  • Every guppy enjoys a unique and individual color scheme that cannot be found a second time.


  • An average guppy is between 3 and 5 centimeters long on average – both males and females.
  • The males are considered to be slightly larger than females.
  • The general shape of the animal is primarily related to the exact type and breed of the animals. The caudal fin in particular comes in a wide variety of shapes and designs, depending on the subspecies. The same applies to the dorsal fin, which can also vary depending on the breed. There are both short and effective fins, as well as decorative, long fins that are ideal for courting the females.
  • Another factor that becomes a unique identifier for all guppies is the shape of the head. It merges seamlessly into the back line and thus forms an almost straight overall picture of the fish. The head itself has a small, pointed mouth through which the food can be taken.
  • In addition to the already known colors, shapes and patterns, the guppy is constantly gaining new diversity, as many new designs and motifs are created in the context of new breeds and crossings, which always put the guppy in scene in an appealing way and become a real highlight for Become a lover of the species.

Guppy: Wild Guppies

In addition to the numerous breeding species, each with their own peculiarities, there is of course also the original guppy, which can still be found in the wild.

Here only the male specimens have a colorful variety, the females are generally more likely to be found in shades of brown or gray.

Male guppies living in the wild have significantly longer tail and dorsal fins. The specimens that live there also usually get older.

Wild guppies living in captivity have a life expectancy of around 2-4 years. Some of them can also live to be up to 6 years old.

Guppy: Types of guppies

The guppy belongs to the ray fins, more precisely to the subgroup of the new fins. Within this species a distinction is again made in the context of the various subspecies. So there are both large and small fins among the guppies.

The best way to distinguish between guppies is by looking at

  • The shape of the caudal fin
  • The colors

In order to maintain variety of guppies, it is not advisable to keep different guppy species together or even to cross them. This leads to long term issue such as:

  • Increased incidence of diseases
  • Destruction of species-related diversity
Guppy standards: Large fins: A – Flag tail | B – Triangle tail | C – Fan tail | D – Veil tail / sSword fins | E – Double sword | F – Upper sword | G – Lower sword | H – Lily tail / Short finned | I – Spade tail | J – Spear tail | K – Round tail | L – Needle tail

Large fins – these are the larger variant of the guppies

The large fins include various sub-species of the guppies, including the

  • Flag tail
  • Fan tail
  • Ladder tail
  • Top and bottom sword
  • Triangle tail
  • Double sword

How to tell the large fin guppies apart

  • All these different sub-species differ only in the shape of the fins but not in their color. While this becomes wider and wider towards the rear in the triangle, fan and flag tail species, it tends to decrease in lower and upper sword guppies, as well as in veil tail guppies, sword fins and double sword guppies
  • In most cases, the different species can be identified much more easily using a male, since the main focus here is on the male guppies. Female specimens, on the other hand, usually only differ in terms of the color pattern on the fin itself. In large-fin guppies, the front fins are usually much larger and more prominent

Small fins – smaller specimens with more exotic breeding

The types of fins in the small fins are very unusual. The small fins guppy includes the following sub-species:

  • Needle tail
  • Spade tail
  • Spear tail
  • Round tail

All of these guppies have an individual shape of the caudal fin. In the case of small fins, this usually becomes very wide at first, but slowly decreases again in the form of a pointed end. Small fins also have very small front fins.

Endler Guppy

The Endler guppy (Poecilia wingei) is a small and peaceful aquarium fish native to that prefers areas of calm flowing waters near the banks with soft, muddy subsoil and brackish water. Endler guppies feel at home in almost any water with widely varying water values.

  • Aquariums from 40 centimeters in length are suitable for the Endler Guppy
  • The Poecilia wingei feel particularly at home in densely planted aquariums
  • The pH value should be in the range from 5.5 to 8.5
  • They thrive in waters with an ideal hardness is 5 ° to 25 ° dGH
  • The optimal water temperature is between 18 and 28 degrees Celsius
  • Only a small flow of water is recommended, but there should be sufficient root hiding places in the aquarium

Body structure

  • Compared to their larger relatives, Endler guppies are smaller and more compact.
  • The males reach a maximum size of two to three centimeters, while the females reach a size of up to four centimeters.
  • The wild guppies belong to the family of viviparous tooth carps (Poeciliidae) and live for a maximum of two years.


The robust aquarium inhabitants are also known as the” multiply million fish”, as they reproduce very quickly.

The female can give birth to up to 30 young fish at intervals of 30 to 40 days.

Since the mother follows the fry immediately after birth, the fish larvae should be separated from the parent fish.

 After three months the fry are already sexually mature. In a small aquarium this quickly leads to inbreeding and degeneration, so fish from other breeds should be used regularly.

Ideal aquarium setup

  • Endler guppies thrive in groups.
  • An aquarium with Endler guppies should have more females than males
  • The maximum group should be 6-8 specimens.
  • The easy-care, adaptable and perennial fish are suitable for community tanks and species or shrimp tanks.


  • They are omnivores and like to eat live food as well as algae and flake food.
  • The Poecilia wingei only need small amounts of food, but should be fed several times a day.

Other features

  • Endler guppies are slim with an elongated physique
  • The males have an extremely variable body color, which is characterized by brightly colored spots and bands
  • The shiny metallic females are grayish in color and without any other colored patterns
  • Male fish are clearly recognizable on the gonopodium (the anal fin that has been transformed into a copulation fin)
  • The larger and fuller females have a visible gestation mark

Guppy: The Ideal Aquarium

Although the guppy is a fairly undemanding fish that is also forgiving of minor mistakes, there are a few points to consider when setting up the aquarium so that the fish feel really good and stay healthy over the long term.

Size of the aquarium

The minimum recommended size for guppies is 54 liters, so the aquarium should be around 60 x 30 x 30 cm.

However, a larger aquarium not only ensures greater well-being for the fish, but also better water quality.

The smaller the aquarium, the more often the water needs to be changed. It is therefore recommended to use an aquarium with at least 100 liters especially for beginners.


Guppies have no special requirements when it comes to the substrate.

The only important precaution that you need to take is to make sure that no light is reflected from the bottom. This tends to irritate the guppies.

Dark gravel is recommended because it is visually very appealing and brings out the colors of the fish nicely.

Alternatively, you could use quartz sand instead of gravel.


Guppies do not need a lot of light

A cheap fluorescent tube is sufficient for lighting.

The lighting time should be about 12 hours. This corresponds to the natural day-night rhythm.

To prevent strong algae growth, the aquarium should not be in direct sunlight.


Although guppies do not need specific plants, it is important that there are enough places to hide and retreat in the aquarium.

In principle, artificial plants would also be possible as a supplement to rocks and caves. However real plants also improve the water quality and should therefore be preferred.

Floating plants such as Riccia or the waterweed are recommended because they thrive very well even with low light intensity.

Guppy: FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions About Guppies

How do I know if the guppy is pregnant?

You can tell whether a guppy is pregnant by looking at the fish’s waistline.

  • Female guppies get fatter and become boxy in shape over several weeks
  • After about a month, the female guppy’s belly is already very large and the brood is ready for birth
  • Females become even larger towards the end of the gestation period. This results is a slight change of color
  • When the female is about to give birth, it retreats between plants or to a quiet corner of the aquarium, where she swims almost motionless in the same place.
  • Occasionally, the pregnant female guppy also shows aggression, rubbing against the wall or leaves, or swimming under the surface of the water. These are signs that it is about to give birth

How long is the gestation period in guppy females

Guppies are one of the few fish that don’t lay eggs, but rather give birth to live young.

The females of this species become sexually mature at the age of two to three months.

A specialty of the female guppies is that they are able to store the male’s semen. This is also the reason that they can be mated before they reach sexual maturity. Once the female has stored the male semen, this supply is sufficient for up to eleven broods.

This allows the female to give birth to offspring every 23 to 30 days.

The number of boys is between ten and a hundred. This depends on the age of the fish and the water temperature in the aquarium.

Things to remember:

  • Due to the mass reproduction, it is advisable to look for buyers for the fish before breeding
  • It is also important to separate those fish that are not intended for breeding into sexes in good time. Otherwise the guppies can easily multiply explosively

Do I need a spawning tank for guppies?

Spawning tanks are perfect to nurture the young guppies.

With normal development, the young guppies stay in the spawning tank for about two months.

The spawning tank is the best protection for babies from external interference.

In the first two days after hatching, they have to get used to their surroundings.

Since they still feed on their own yolk sac, the little ones do not need any food during this time. Nevertheless, one should offer some food supply because the young animals develop at different speeds. Some of them use up the yolk sac faster than others.

  • Micro-worms, Cyclops or some freshly hatched saltwater crabs (Artemia) serve as starting food.
  • Fine flake food is also possible over the next few days. It is especially tender when rubbed between the fingers.
  • You can also feed them live food or frozen food. However, it must be thawed outside of the spawning tank and rinsed under clear water before feeding.
  •  Special rearing feed is also available for beginners. Its ingredients are specially tailored to the organism of the young fish. It also contains all the important nutrients that are necessary for the optimal development of the small guppies.

After a period of 6 to 8 weeks, the young guppies can be moved to their own or their parents’ tank.

Gender determination for young guppies is only possible after another five weeks.

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