About Guppies

Guppies are easy to care for and come in a wide range of brilliant colors.

One of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish is the guppy. Guppies are noted for having colors and patterns that are very unique and beautiful. No two guppies are exactly alike. Guppies are fascinating to watch, and they are remarkably easy and enjoyable to care for.

Guppies are a species of fish related to the Pike. This publication provides the following information on the origination of the guppy. The guppy is a member of the Poeciliidae family. Wild guppies are found in Barbados, Trinidad, Guyana, and the northern part of Brazil. Wild guppies are also found in the United States, in the state of Florida. This small, freshwater fish usually lives in clear tropical waters, but they can also survive in brackish water.

History of Guppies

Robert John Lechmere Guppy (born August 15, 1836, in London; died August 5, 1916, in San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago) discovered this tiny fish in Trinidad in 1866, and the fish was named Girardinus guppii in his honor by Albert C. L. G. Gunther later that year.
However, the fish had previously been described by Wilhelm Peters in 1859 on material collected from South America. Although Girardinus guppii is now considered a junior synonym of Poecilia reticulata, the common name “guppy” still remains. Over time guppies have been given a variety of taxonomic names, although Poecilia reticulata is the name currently considered to be valid.


Guppies are native to Trinidad and parts of South America, specifically Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Brazil, Guyana, Netherlands Antilles, Trinidad and Tobago, the US Virgin Islands, and Venezuela.

However, guppies have been introduced to many different countries on all continents, except Antarctica. Sometimes this has occurred accidentally, but most often as a means of mosquito control, the hope being that the guppies would eat the mosquito larvae slowing down the spread of malaria. In many cases, these guppies have had a negative impact on native fish faunas.

Ecology & Behavior:

There is a great deal of variety between the populations, many with distinctive coloring or patterning. Those that live in habitats where predators are common to tend to be less vividly decorated as a protective measure. Populations that deal with fewer predators are much more colorful. Recent studies suggest that vividly colored males are favored via sexual selection (Handicap principle) while natural selection via predation favors subdued tones. As a result, the dominant phenotypes observed within a reproductively isolated community are a function of the relative importance each factor has in a particular environment.

Occasionally male guppies may behave aggressively towards each other, engaging in fin-nipping and other bullying behaviors. Guppies live in complex social networks, choosing social partners and remembering them.

Guppies are a seminal species for evolutionary biologists because predation often varies over small geographic areas. Both historical work and recent studies are summarised in Anne Magurran’s Evolutionary Ecology: The Trinidadian Guppy.


Guppies are highly prolific livebearers. The gestation period of a guppy is 22-30 days, with an average of 28 days. After the female guppy is inseminated, a dark area near the anus, known as the gravid spot, will enlarge and darken. Guppies prefer water temperatures of about 28 °C (82 °F) for reproduction. The female guppy has drops of between 2-200 fry, typically ranging between 30 and 60. After giving birth, the female is ready for conception again within only a few hours. Guppies are known to exhibit superfetation, that is, the maintenance of batches of embryos at various stages of development. As a result, a female guppy can continue to give birth for over a month after any males have been separated from the tank.

Differences between Male and Female Guppies

Female guppies are much larger than males, and they have dull-colored bodies with brighter colors enhancing the tail. Male guppies are brilliantly colored, and the pattern and color possibilities are endless. We say a guppie’s beautiful hues develop from very tiny spots of color known as melanophores. The amount and location of the melanophores determine the varying patterns and colors of the guppy. In addition to color and size differences, “Guppy Care” says male guppies can be identified by longer tails and tail fins.
The International Fancy Guppy Association website article entitled “IFGA Guppy Tips” gives specific aquarium and water requirements for guppies. These recommendations are listed as follow. It suggests the use of a ten-gallon aquarium or larger for guppies two months of age or older. For baby guppies, a five and one half gallon tank is sufficient. It is a good idea to have more than one tank so male and female guppies can be kept separate. Doing so will prevent poorer quality male guppies from breeding and reproducing, and separation will prevent unwanted babies.

Guppies Aquarium Maintenance

Approximately twenty percent of the aquarium water should be siphoned out and replaced once a week. Siphoning water from the bottom of the tank is important since removing water from just the surface does not get rid of debris. Most pet stores sell siphons that vacuum out waste and leftover food from the aquarium bottom.

The recommended pH level of the aquarium water needs to be between 6.8 and 7.6. The most desirable range is between 7.0 and 7.2. Kits to test and adjust the pH level of the aquarium water are available in most pet stores. Taking time to check pH levels is an important part of maintaining a healthy tank for your guppies.

Baby brine shrimp are a high protein favorite of the guppy. These tiny eggs can be hatched at home and fed as a supplement to flake fish food. They should not be fed exclusively because they are mostly protein and do not contain other required nutrients. The same article says baby brine shrimp eggs are available in most aquarium supply stores.

Another popular guppy food is white worms. These little worms are often found under stones and in decaying plant matter along the Atlantic coast. Various species of white worms are also commercially bred in refrigerated units that maintain a temperature between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The same article recommends keeping white worms alive with a diet of cracker crumbs, bread crumbs, or powdered milk.

“Guppy Care” recommends providing guppies with several small feedings each day as opposed to one large feeding. This is especially important if there are baby guppies in the tank. Adult guppies that are not getting enough food may eat the babies. The article also mentions that feeding more often will ensure baby guppies are getting the proper nutrition for growth and development.

With regular aquarium cleaning and maintenance, guppies will remain healthy. They are a pleasure to own and add a lot of beauty to an aquarium. Breeding and caring for guppies is a great hobby that can be very rewarding. It is no wonder why guppies are one of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish.

Guppies Fish Care Tips

  • You’ll need an aquarium, an aquarium cover, and an aquarium stand. You can purchase the items you need separately but there are kits available for the beginner.
  • Cool water fish prefer room temperature water and don’t need an aquarium heater. The water temperature for your Guppies should be 75 – 82°F; pH: 5.5 – 8.5.
  • 10 gallons or larger tank is appropriate.
  • A maximum of 1″ of fish per gallon of water is a good rule of thumb for beginners. By this rule, you’d keep 10 inches of fish in a 10-gallon aquarium. For example, five fish each 2″ in length, making a total of 10 inches of fish in a 10-gallon aquarium.
  • You’ll also need a 5-inch fishnet and a bottle of Water Conditioner.
  • Fill the aquarium with tap water from the faucet and add the amount of Water Conditioner that is specified on the bottle of Water Conditioner.
  • Plug your filter into an electrical outlet, and let it run for three days without fish in your aquarium.
  • During the first three weeks, the water in your aquarium may get cloudy or foamy and have an odor. These first three weeks of starting an aquarium is a risky time for fish. The cloudy and foamy water is often called the “new fish tank syndrome”. This is normal and usually disappears naturally after 2-3 months.

Guppies aquarium has white cloudy water

Usually the result of a bacterial bloom that happens in a newly set up tank or when too many tropical fish were added too soon. This situation will correct itself when a sufficient amount of bacteria establishes on your biological filter. This also can happen after the uses of some meds. These can cause your tank into a mini cycle. Adding a lot of flake food at one time has also been known to cause cloudy water as well.

You can help keep your tropical fish from getting stressed by performing 25% water changes daily and feeding them less until the nitrogen cycle has finished.

Green cloudy water in Guppies aquarium

Usually, the result of an algae bloom. The green water will not harm your fish but it is not the most pleasant thing to look at. This happens because of the number of nutrients and the amount of light entering the aquarium. Avoid placing your aquarium where it could receive direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will cause not only algae problems but temperature fluctuations as well. Also having your tank lights on for a long time.

To correct this problem, perform 25% water changes daily and leave your tank light off for a few days or until the water clears up. Run your lights for a shorter amount of time. If you had your lights on for 14 hours then have them on for 10-12 hours after the problem is fixed.

In established aquariums, just as in nature, toxic ammonia from fish waste is broken down by bacteria into nitrite, which is itself broken down by a different group of bacteria into nitrate. In a newly set up aquarium, those bacteria are not present in any quantity, and it takes time – about 4 to 6 weeks under normal circumstances – for those bacteria to multiply to the point of being able to keep up with the waste output of the fish. “New Tank Syndrome” and “The Break-In Cycle” describe the period in which ammonia and then nitrite levels rise to dangerous quantities before being converted into relatively harmless nitrate.

After three weeks if your three fish look healthy, the water is crystal clear and smells clean, you can add another fish. Even better add some ghost shrimp. They will improve water quality by finding and eating small bits of food.

Excellent filtration and massive daily water changes would keep a very small environment healthy almost regardless of the fish load living in it.

Be careful not to add too many fish to your aquarium. Add a couple of new fish every few weeks. A maximum of 1″ of fish per gallon of water is a good rule of thumb for beginners. By this rule, you’d keep 10 inches of fish in a 10-gallon aquarium. For example, five fish each 2″ in length, making a total of 10 inches of fish in a 10-gallon aquarium.

In addition to your aquarium, filter, and lighting, here’s a list of what you need to get started:

  • Gravel: Coated or prewashed is ideal
  • Decoration: Only those designated for aquarium, e.g. live or artificial plants and ornaments
  • Water Conditioner: Dechlorinates tap water to make it fish-safe
  • Net: For transferring fish
  • Gravel Washer: For water changes and cleaning
  • Fish Food: Consult your dealer for a recommendation


  • NEVER attempt to move a full or partially full aquarium
  • NEVER lift an aquarium with wet hands
  • NEVER attempt to lift an aquarium by grasping upper edges or frame
  • ALWAYS grasp and carry an aquarium from underneath, supporting the bottom at all times.
  • Using a damp cloth, clean your tank inside and out prior to setup. Never use soap, detergents, or cleaning agents.
  • ALWAYS place an aquarium in a location designed to support its total weight. An aquarium filled with water and gravel weighs approximately 10 – 12 pounds per gallon.
  • ALWAYS place an aquarium on a flat, level surface…and make sure an electrical outlet is near.
  • NEVER place an aquarium near a heat source or air conditioner.
  • NEVER place an aquarium in direct sunlight. Full or even partial sunlight can cause excessive algae growth.
  • Add 1.5 to 2 pounds of gravel for every gallon of water. Be sure to rinse the gravel thoroughly (water should drain clear) before adding. The gravel bed should slope gradually to the front of your aquarium.

Guppies Fry Care

Perhaps, before your female guppy gives birth, you ought to consider what you’re going to do with the fry.
You’ll need to decide on a couple of things. Do you want to deal with the many fry being born monthly? If not, consider talking with local stores to see if they’ll take the guppy fry. In the US, it is customary for a Local Fish store to take the fry for either trade or monetary payment. Pet supply stores do not take for trade nor for monetary payment. In fact, they will take your fry, but only as a donation on your part. So check your local phone book for Aquarium stores and check there first. Many other countries require you to have a license to sell fish, so check with your area regarding laws.
If you decide to raise the young fry, consider setting up a few tanks to let the fry grow out in. Start any tank immediately, before the young ones arrive so the tank can cycle before the fish are added. Do this “fishless cycling” either by ammonia cycling(adding 3 drops of ammonia per day until nitrite forms), or by taking water from your existing tank and filling the new tank with all siphoned debris and water. The debris starts the ammonia which starts the cycling, and any water provided from the existing tank will have some nitrifying bacteria already in it providing a quick start for the nitrogen cycle. If possible, exchange filtration media from an existing tank to the new tank so the process will be expedited.
In the fry tank, you’ll need to cover any suction devices with material to stop fry from being sucked into filtration.
I suggest you find some fine bridal netting or tulle and cut a piece to cover the suction tube and hold in place with a rubber band. Some suggest using nylon pantyhose, which you can use until you find netting, but I don’t suggest using it all the time as it will interfere with the filtration process. The fry tank can be a simple tank, meaning all you’ll need to provide is filtration, heating, and lighting. I don’t have any type of gravel in my fry tanks as this allows very easy cleaning of the tanks. As the fry mature and are separated, then I place gravel and plants in larger tanks for them to continue growing. Set the temperature to 80F if possible to allow maturation and then as the fry age, you can reduce the temp back to 78F.
After the new tank has cycled when levels are ammonia zero, nitrite zero, and nitrate is 40ppm or less, then you can add the fry.

You’ll need to feed the fry a few times per day. If possible for the first four weeks feed them as often as time will permit. Some feed the fry 5 times per day. The first four weeks of their lives go into building body and muscle tone. Grind the tropical flake food to powder to feed the fry. It would be great if you’re able to hatch brine shrimp to feed the fry a couple of times per week. The baby brine shrimp provide a great source of nutrition to enhance fry coloration. Don’t use color enhancing flakes as the flakes don’t provide correct vitamins the fry need to grow properly.
At the end of the first four weeks, the fry begins to sexually develop into male or female guppies. At the age of 6 weeks, they become sexually active. So, between weeks 4 and 6, you might want to consider separating the fry into a female, male groupings. Do this by taking one fish out at a time and placing it in a small container with water from the tank and with a magnifying glass look for either the gonopodium of the gravid spot. More often it is better to see the gravid spot of a female. Mix-ups do happen and don’t be too worried as the fish can be selected out a put into the correct group. It’s just a bit less to worry about what you’ll be doing with the fry of all the young females if you decide to separate them.

Between the ages of 6 weeks and 6 months, you’ll need to consider putting some of the fry to sleep due to deformities in some of the fry. This is a procedure called culling which means to take out the bad fish. Most stores will take the culled fry off your hands, but don’t expect anything in return, as they are doing you a favor. See the page about putting fish to sleep.


At six months of age, the guppies are then considered adults. So, you’re still going to have to find someone to take them. A donation on your part at this age is considered highly recommendable but think about all the effort you put into raising the fry. If Local fish stores won’t trade or pay you for your efforts, consider asking who their distributor is and get a name and phone number. Check the distributor to see if they’ll take your fish. Distributors pay you more money for larger fish. Meaning, if by week 4 the fry is too much to handle, a distributor will take them, but probably only for a couple of dollars. But if you wait till they’re six months old, you will probably get 50 cents per fish. The same goes for trading or receiving payment from a local fish store. The bigger the better. Remember to check with your area regarding laws.

Guppies FAQs

Q: Is my female gup pregnant?

A: If she has been in contact with a male guppy, chances are that yes, she IS pregnant!

Q: How long until my female guppy has her babies?

A: The breeding cycle takes roughly 3 to 4 weeks depending on the conditions.

Q: What do I do with all these guppy babies!?

A: You can take them to most pet stores and get store credit for them.

Q: How many babies do guppies have?

A: It can range from only about 6 to up to 100.

Q: How can you tell the difference between male and female guppies?

A: Males have a special shaped annul fin called the gonopodium, it points, the female has a fan-shaped annul fin + usually they will have a gravid spot above the anal fin.

Q: What do guppies eat and how much is too much?

A: I feed my guppies a varied diet of earthworm flakes, blood worms, microforms, guppy flakes from Kensfish.com. And only what they can eat in 2 minutes. And if I miss a day, they won’t starve. Most fish die from overfeeding rather than underfeeding.

Q: What do I do, I’m going on vacation and I don’t know how to feed my guppies!

A: Don’t sweat it! Guppies can go for a week easily without food. So if you’re going away for a week, don’t bother feeding them. If you’re going away for more than a week, just get one of those automatic feeders, a vacation feeder, or a trusted person who you know will feed them. It also helps to get one of those weekly pills container from your local drug store and put the amount of food you want your guppies fed that day and tell the person to follow it along as the days go on.

Q: Is it ok if I buy plants for my fry tank and I find snails?

A: Yes. The snails will clean up extra food and won’t spread disease. However, their population will explode so watch out!

Q: What if I have a tank that has algae and I’ve been doing 30% water changes but it doesn’t seem to help? What can I do to stop this problem?

A: There are many ways to approach this problem. Is the tank in direct sunlight? Is there extra food? What are the nitrates like? Let’s say your nitrate levels are normal, your tank is not in direct sunlight but you have extra food. You can one: feed your fish less, or two: get snails and have them clean up any extra particles of food leftover.

Now let’s say your nitrates are normal, no extra food, but direct sunlight. Move your tank out of direct sunlight.

How about no sunlight, normal nitrates, no extra food. You can one: move your water changes to 35%, two: if you have a tank light turn it off, or three: as a last resort you can restart your tank: clean your gravel, wipe down the tank (NO SOAP!), clean all decorations, re-circulate the tank, and put your fish back.

Q: When is it safe to put my fry in the tank with adults?

A: Those hobbyists that are serious about seeing their fry develop to their full potential will not mix fry with adults. Though unproven, it has long been held that older fish release a pheromone which inhibits growth in fry. Also, adult fish produce much more waste than smaller fish, thus causing lesser water conditions than is needed for the healthy development of fancy guppies. Also, growing fish need more food than older fish, and usually find it difficult when forced to compete with adults; feeding more food simply contributes to the problem of poor water quality.

Specifically, however, the question deals with “safety”, which implies that one wants to know when the fry will be able to survive the adult tank. This is the question many people have when they do not keep separate tanks for the fry to mature in. Assuming there are no other species of cannibalistic/aggressive fish in the tank, fry should be able to live with adult guppies when they are large enough so as not to be considered food, compared with the size of the adult guppies. No age can be specified since development in size varies.

Q: What do I feed my fry?

A: Depends on what you have and what you can get. I use powdered flake food, I wet the tip of a toothpick and dip into the crushed food and then into the tank. You can powder it by putting flake food into a plastic bag and roll it in your hands. Some people use fry food, others may take a different path. Use what works for you.

Q: What’s that thing in my tank!?

A: There are a lot of small creatures that live in aquariums besides fish, many of which we don’t put there, mostly these are harmless.

Tiny white worms: there are two kinds that feed of fish foods, the first and most common is the planaria, a tiny white worm about 1/5 of an inch long, fat, sometimes with a sluglike antenna. This creature is usually seen first thing in the morning when the lights are turned on. The other is a free-floating worm that swims in the shape of u and seems to be free-swimming, unlike planaria. these seem to always pop out of the filter at feeding time

Tiny black/brown worms: There is also a species of blackworm that likes to infest gravel, these can be 1/4 inch up to 1 inch for tubifex. These worms feed on detritus and mulm.

With any kind of worm, the usual cause of a large infestation is overfeeding. Its best just to feed fish a little less and let them feed on the worms until the worms have disappeared. A Khuli loach will clean out the undergravel ones. in very small amounts these are a normal part of an aquarium environment.

Tiny white darting things!: Tiny darting things about the size of a full stop. Usually appear to have two tails. These creatures are tiny algae-eating crustacean called a cyclops.

Green spikey caterpillar in a case of live leaves: These can devour live plants if left alone, usually the first sign is tiny bits of a live leaf floating all over your tank. remove all these as they usually contain the caterpillars. Removal of this creature by hand is the best method.

Little jelly creatures with tentacles: These are a kind of anemone called a hydra, they reproduce asexually by budding so can infest a tank very quickly. These can also sting fish and kill fry. Complete removal is best.

Q: How do I know if my guppy is pregnant?

A: Female Guppy abdomens have a dark spot, called the gravid spot, at the rear of the female’s abdomen. The color is caused by the baby guppies (actually their eyes) showing through their mother’s skin. The darker the spot the closer the babies are to birth.

Q: How long is a Guppy pregnant?

A: From 22-26 days but if the conditions are wrong for birth it may take longer.

Q: Do I have to use a breeding trap?

A: The reason to use a breeding trap is to avoid the female eating the babies (fry) when they are firstborn. But if the trap is not in a separate tank the other fish may eat them anyway. So, what I do is to float plastic plants on the surface where the fry can hide. When they are first born they drop a little and then go to the top to try to find somewhere to hide – the plastic plants provide the place to hide.

Q: What do I feed the fry?

A: Baby brine shrimp are good but for most hobbyists just grinding up the flake food between your fingers to make the particles small enough for the fry to eat is a good way to start.

Q: I do not have a male guppy but the female is pregnant. How?

A: Female guppies can accept up to 5-6 packages of sperm. So, after one batch of fry are delivered more may be on the way from meeting a male months ago.

Q: How old is guppy when it breeds?

A: After a month some are ready to breed so think about separating males and females after the fourth week.

Q: Can I dump my guppies into the local duck pond?

A: No, because in most states adding non-native species to local waters is against the law, because guppies or any other fish, reptile, or amphibian could introduce disease, or cause a decline in native species due to overpopulation of the introduced species.

Q: Can I flush my live fish down the toilet?

A: No, in some places it is illegal. Also, it causes a long, painful death for the fish due to all kinds of chemicals.

Q: Do guppies, swordtails, and platies need light at night time?

A:If your fish suddenly go from bright lights to pitch black, it will startle them. They’ll dart around in the dark and hurt themselves by crashing into ornaments.

I always make sure the light is on in the room before I turn off the light above the aquarium, so my fish are not in the dark. The lights in the room provide dim lighting for the fish.

Later I turn off the lights in the room, and the change is not so sudden, so the fish are not startled.

Q: What is the male to female ratio that I should have (for guppies)?

A: 2 females to 1 male

Q: My guppies don’t do well with my goldfish, why?

A: For a number of reasons. Goldfish generally like colder water than guppies. Goldfish also give off more ammonia in their waste than guppies do.

Q: Can guppy fry get pregnant?

A: Yes, they can get pregnant a couple of weeks after being born.

Q: Is a fry getting pregnant at a young age bad?

A: Yes. It can stall growth and possibly forever stunt the fish.

Q: What are some good low light plants to grow in my tank to help keep my guppy fry from getting eaten?

A: Java moss is the easiest to grow and usually cheap & easy to find for sale. It’s low light and can be attached to driftwood or rocks or ornaments or just left to drift around the aquarium. Some other good plants are java fern, anacharis, water sprite, anubias and some of the crypts.

Q: Can fish die from a live plant dying?

A: Yes, it can get quite a few diseases

Guppies Tank Size

  • 10 gallons or larger tank is appropriate.
  • A maximum of 1″ of fish per gallon of water is a good rule of thumb for beginners.
  • By this rule, you’d keep 10 inches of fish in a 10-gallon aquarium. For example, five fish each 2″ in length, making a total of 10 inches of fish in a 10-gallon aquarium.
  • Temperature 75 – 82°F; pH: 5.5 – 8.5.

Guppies Tank Set-Up

This process of starting the aquarium is often referred to as “cycling”, which is the introduction into an aquarium of various types of bacteria which utilize the ammonia and nitrite (both toxic to fish) produced by fish waste. This process is accomplished by reducing ammonia and nitrite to nitrate, which is not toxic to fish. This process (cycling) takes an average of 30 days after the introduction of the fish. It can take as little as 21 days, or as long as 60 days without any apparent reason for the differences. There are live bacterial cultures on the market, which can help “cycle” an aquarium faster. These products do work when bacterial cultures are viable, but fish should still be added very slowly. The following steps are recommendations on how to start a new aquarium while minimizing the hassles and problems:
In the water section, there is a sticky on cycling, so you can decide what type of cycling you want to do.
Decide on the size and type of aquarium you want to have.

Decide on the type of filtration you’re going to use. You can choose from under-gravel filters, hang-on-the-back filters, canister filters, overflow filters, or some combinations of these types of filtration. Ask your pet store associate to help you decide which type of filtration is most appropriate for your aquarium.

Set up the aquarium with all of the equipment and add the water. This will include rinsing the gravel, installing the filtration, and setting the heater to the appropriate temperature. Goldfish and other cold-water fish do well at room temperature, while tropical fish need temperatures around 74-80°F depending on the type of fish.

Run the aquarium for 2-4 days,7 being better before adding any fish.

Use starter fish to begin the “cycling” process. Some excellent starter fish include danios, black tetras, and white clouds. Some other recommendations could include platies, other tetras, or some barbs. Do not use too many fish during this “cycling” process. Invariably beginners ask if it’s all right to start with angelfish, catfish, plecostomus, or other inappropriate fish. Resist the temptation to do this, and you will save yourself a lot of grief and disappointment during the first few months of operation.

When you get your starter fish home, float the bag in the aquarium for 15-20 minutes to equalize the water temperature. This is very important, as fish are very sensitive to temperature changes. After equalizing the temperature, you can add about ¼ cup of water to the bag every 15 minutes for 1-2 hours. The fish can then be released into the aquarium. If at all possible, net the fish out of the bag into the aquarium, rather than dumping the water from the bag into your tank.

Be very cautious when feeding your fish, especially until the “cycling” is complete. Overfeeding is the most common mistake made with new aquariums. A fish’s stomach is probably about the size of its eye, so feed very sparingly. Your fish should eat everything you feed them within 3 minutes. If not, you probably fed too much. Just reduce the amount the next time you feed. Fish only need to be fed once a day.

After about 14 days, you can bring in a water sample to be tested for ammonia and nitrite. This will tell whether the tank has begun “cycling”. It can also tell you when it’s safe to start adding more fish. It is not a good idea to introduce additional fish once the aquarium has started to “cycle”. The ammonia and nitrite levels will typically rise to toxic levels during this process. Because you started with hardy fish, they will often survive these toxic levels. Because the increase happens so slowly, they are able to adapt with no adverse effects. To introduce new fish during this process can be very stressful to the new fish since they haven’t had time to slowly acclimate to the elevated levels of ammonia and nitrite. Unfortunately, they often don’t survive this trauma.

Once the test on your aquarium water determines that your tank is safe, you can begin adding additional fish. Your pet store associate can help you determine which fish are compatible in terms of size and temperament for your aquarium. Add new fish in stages. It’s not a good idea to add a lot of new fish all at one time.1 or 2 fish then wait for 2 weeks then 1 or 2 fish each week after that  test your water the same day after about 6 hrs

Do not be disturbed if your aquarium becomes cloudy of hazy during the first several months of operation. This is normal and usually disappears naturally after 2-3 months.

Routine tank maintenance should begin after the “cycling” process has been successful. Water changes of 20-25% should be performed every week. Fish do not respond well to significant chemical changes in their water. They do much better with small water changes done more frequently, than with massive water changes done infrequently. Adding water to the aquarium to replace water that has evaporated is not a water change. Again, be very sensitive to the water temperature when doing water changes.

Aquarium Don’ts

Don’t use any soaps or chemicals to clean your aquarium or anything that will be in it, as it can and will kill your fish.

Don’t add tap water to your aquarium without treating it first with a water conditioner, to remove chlorine and harmful metals.

Don`t do more than 25% water changes and change your filter media at the same time, this can cause a sprite in your water.do a water change and then a few days later change your media

Don’t make drastic changes to the pH of the water in your tank. This will cause damage to your fish and can kill them. Raise or lower the pH of the water no more than 0.2 within a 24 hour period.

Don’t add new fish to your aquarium if they show any signs of disease. Quarantine the fish in a separate tank, and treat the infected fish before adding it to your own. You should quarantine your new fish for 3 weeks before adding then to your main tank.

Don’t allow your aquarium to be “down” for longer than one hour. The necessary bacteria in your biological filter bed will begin to die off when left without oxygen for a lengthy period.

Don’t add more than 2 small fish (depending on tank size) to a newly setup aquarium. It takes time for your new tank to “establish” and will easily become toxic if too many fish are added before this can happen.

Don’t overfeed your fish. Uneaten food will accumulate in plants, filters and on the bottom of your aquarium; putting your tank at risk of excess ammonia and nitrite which can suffocate your fish.

Don’t place your aquarium in a “sunny” area of your home. Algae will grow to extremes creating more work for you when it is time to clean your tank.

Don’t put too many fish in your aquarium. Overcrowding is a major cause of excess toxins in your aquarium. Follow the rule of thumb…one inch of fish per gallon of water.

Don’t spray any chemicals (ie,.air freshener, deodorants, paints, etc) around your aquarium without covering it first. Even small amounts that may get into the water can kill your fish.

Don’t tap on the glass of the aquarium. This will frighten the fish causing stress.

Don’t completely disassemble your aquarium for cleaning, this will destroy your biological filter bed leaving your tank at risk for ammonia and nitrite build-up, and you will have to re-cycle your tank. Only clean your tank decorations a few at a time.

Guppies Aquarium Water Condition

Water Source: You will have to find out about the quality of your water. You may be using well water. If so, it may have to be treated to reduce the iron content and to greatly raise the pH to near neutral. If it is not well water you have to worry about chlorine or chloramine. Remember, contrary to what you may have heard, rainwater and distilled water are NOT acceptable for raising guppies.

Water pH: pH is a measurement of acidity or alkalinity. If your water is 100% acidic it has a pH of 0. If it is 100% alkaline it has a pH of 14. A pH of 7 has no measurable amount of alkaline or acid. The best pH for keeping guppies is pH 6.6 to 6.8. although I can tell you that most guppy keepers don’t pay much attention to their pH levels. Since the water in my well is 8.0 I plan to pay a certain amount of attention to it. In my experience, the best way to know if you have good “guppy” water is to keep a few sprigs of Water Sprite in your tanks. If it grows well, more than likely, so will your guppies. Always be careful when adding new fish to your tanks. Bear in mind that guppies can stand a pH shock of 0.2 and anything above that difference could kill your fish. The dead giveaway (no pun intended) for pH shock is when your fish hover at the surface and then go back and forth between listlessness and shimmying. Always check the pH of fish you get by mail order to make sure your pH in the tank is close to what is in the shipping bag. Whenever I am shipping fish to someone, a few days before the actual shipment I send the buyer a postcard noting the pH a DH of the water they were raised in. This helps prevent any surprises.

Water DH: DH is a measurement of hardness, or, the dissolved salts contained in your water. Rainwater and distilled water have too few dissolved salts, and hard water, often referred to as lime water, are both dangerous to your guppies and are useless in attempting to raise them. You should have a test kit which is available from your local pet shop to measure the DH or “degree of hardness,” which comes from the German Deutsche Hardness. Your hardness should be between 4 degrees and 10 degrees hardness. If you use gravel in your tanks, be sure to remember that over time it gradually dissolves in the water, building up the DH. If you see a white scum line start to build up at the waterline, this is usually caused by distillates, which are a product of dissolved salts. It is an indication that a water change should be performed immediately and you should try to determine the cause of the sudden rise in your DH level.

Water Treatment: I have always used a commercial water treatment product when setting up a new aquarium, such as Amquel or Novaqua. They are all pretty much the same and there are varying opinions on whether or not they’re useful. I don’t think they are absolutely essential, but they certainly can’t hurt. The only other additive I use in my water is one level tablespoon of kosher salt per gallon of water. This is a good deal more than most people recommend, but I have found it to be the best insurance against many of the most common guppy diseases and my guppies have always thrived in water prepared this way.

Water Temperature: This is another area where you will hear the pros and cons of certain water temperatures. In general, I keep most of my tanks from 78 to 82 degrees. Sometimes if I have a female that’s having a hard time dropping her fry I might raise the temperature to around 86 degrees. There is basically one rule of water temperature – the higher the temperature, the faster your guppies will grow and the sooner they will die. The lower the temperature the slower they grow and the longer they live. It’s called metabolism and there’s no getting around it. I tend to keep my younger fish closer to the 82-degree mark and the older fish at the 78-degree mark. One other thing to remember about higher temperatures is that it can cause increased cloudiness due to elevated bacteria growth.

Water Capacity: For many years in the aquarium there used to be a rule of thumb that you only kept one inch of fish (not counting finnage) for every one gallon of water. That started long before modern filtration and the regimen of water changes became the standard for raising fancy guppies. Again, if you ask 50 breeders you’ll probably get 50 different answers, so again, all I can do is tell you what I do. I will keep up to 100 fry in a ten-gallon tank for the first 30 days, BUT, I will do a 10% water change on the tank every single day, religiously. At the 30 day mark, I will do a major culling and make sure that I have no more than 50 guppies in the tank for the next 30 days, Again, I will do a 10% to 15% water change every single day. By the time the fish is three months old, I will reduce the number to 25 fish and reduce my water changes to 15% every other day.

Water Changes: This is probably the most important factor in raising high-quality fancy guppies. It is a regimen that you must develop and adhere to if you do not want all of your other efforts to go to waste. In general, you should change NO LESS than 25% of your water in each aquarium at least once a week. That is truly a bare minimum. I try to change 20% at least twice a week. It is better to change the water more often at a smaller amount than less frequent but significantly higher amounts. Ideally, when I have the time, I would prefer to change 10% of my water in each tank, every single day. Yes, it’s a real pain in the butt, but your guppies will love you for it and reward you by staying consistently healthy and happy. An important note to all you gardeners. Don’t pour that water down the sink. I’m having my plumber install a special drain to have the water drain into my flower and vegetable gardens I’ll be planting in the spring. The cheapest and best fertilizer you’ll ever get is sitting in your guppy tanks.

Handling Guppies Temperature

Temperature Range
Although guppies will live in water from 55 to 105 degrees, just like you, they prefer something a bit more moderate. The effective range for the successful keeping of guppies is from 72 to 86 degrees, with 78 to 82 degrees being the most commonly accepted.

Average Temperature
Average temperature? Is there really such a thing. Well, yes and no. If you were to poll a group of guppy breeders you would get a range of answers as to what is the “average” temperature at which they keep their guppies. Although I use many different “set points,” I do have a temperature that I use when I am not trying to accomplish something and I am using the water temperature as part of the process. I try to keep all of my tanks at exactly 80 degrees.

Cooler Temperatures
I use cooler temperatures to slow the growth and aging process of fish when they are approximately 3 to 4 months of age. Generally, I will keep these fish at a temperature of 72 to 74 degrees. This has no ill effect on the fish and greatly reduces their metabolism. I have had guppies live to be two years of age at these temperatures and I think anyone would agree that that’s a pretty long life for a guppy.

Warmer Temperatures
For the first 30 days, I keep my fry tanks at 84 to 86 degrees. This greatly speeds up the metabolism of the young fish and makes it that much sooner than you can sex them and do your first cull. One of the major problems in keeping your tanks this warm is bacteria blooms which will oftentimes cause your water to be cloudy and if you are not diligent in your water changes you will have a greater risk of disease in these tanks. Also, the warmer the water the less oxygen it will contain, so I generally have an air stone putting out bubbles at a high rate of speed. Remember, it is better to have a fine air stone producing many bubbles, as opposed to a coarse air stone with fewer, larger bubbles. This will increase oxygen exchange at the water’s surface. Another reason for warmer temperatures is for medicinal purposes. Certain medications suggest raising the temperature a few degrees and lastly, there is one other time that I will greatly increase the water temperature. If I have a female that appears to be in distress in attempting to drop her fry, I will slowly raise the temperature to aid her in the delivery process. I have used this technique on many occasions with excellent results.

Light for Guppies

Q: How Much light do they need?

Provide 10-16 hours of light a day and use an automatic timer to turn your lights on and off.

Q: Do guppies, swordtails, and platies need light at night time?

Because it is almost ALL dark just a tiny bit of light but when I turn off the aquarium light they go crazy and hit the rocks.

A:If your fish suddenly go from bright lights to pitch black, it will startle them. They’ll dart around in the dark and hurt themselves by crashing into ornaments.

I always make sure the light is on in the room before I turn off the light above the aquarium, so my fish are not in the dark. The lights in the room provide dim lighting for the fish.

Later I turn off the lights in the room, and the change is not so sudden, so the fish are not startled.

Lights Effect On Breeding

In the guppy (Poecilia reticulata), effective courting by a male requires visual contact with the female. Therefore, the environmental light intensity may affect male display behavior, particularly the initial courtship distance. We found that male guppies courted at exact and predictable distances from the female given a particular light level, both infield and laboratory studies. In lower light levels ), for example at dawn, dusk, or under heavy canopy, males court females at closer and less variable distances (<3 cm). At higher light levels, which occur during most of the day and with less canopy cover, males often court from twice or three times further out. Light levels over guppy streams change over relatively short time periods and ranges, correlating with variation in courtship distances. Laboratory manipulations of irradiance confirmed that courtship distance depends on illumination. Hence, courtship distances may be set by the effect of lighting on signal efficiency, minimization of energy or time expenditures, or predation risk.

Plants for Guppies

Choosing plants for your aquarium is mostly a choice of how to display your guppies in a natural and pleasant environment. You can mix plastic and real plants or go all real or all plastic for the look and care requirements you are trying to achieve. But there are some things you should keep in mind when choosing plants for the guppy tank.

Guppies especially enjoy hiding in floating plants. When they are first born they naturally seek out floating plants. In fact, many breeders will choose a dense mat of plastic plants floating on the surface over a breeding trap as less stressful on the mother guppy and a way to protect newborn guppy fry in a more natural way then the plastic or net traps that are sold.

Guppies have not planted destroyers so you can safely use some exotic plants in the guppy tank if you desire to grow them. For example, guppies are not going to tear out your expensive live Madagascar Lace plant (Aponogetum fenestral) to make room for a nesting site like some cichlids.

On the other hand, guppies need some plants in their food and good quality guppy food will include some algae is the most frequent plant listed on the label for guppy food.

The choice between no plants, live plants, and plastic plants involves depends on your reason for setting up a tank. I like to use live plants when the tank is in a public area where the lights will be on a set schedule that is long enough to keep green plants happy. In these instances, the light should be on at least 10 hours a day. If you are not sure you will get enough light use plastic plants. What you will give up in the benefit of natural oxygen and carbon dioxide balance will be more than compensated in better appearance and avoiding the possibly harmful effects of plant decay which can rob a small tank of oxygen.

If the tank is for breeding purposes most breeders use only floating plants in tanks where fry are expected or no plants at all.

The choice is yours, but with the few cautions we mention above guppies will flourish with or without plants as long as you change their water regularly and use a filter to provide good water quality.

What fish can I put with my Guppies?

Here are fishes that are community fish and are generally safe to put them with your guppies.

  • Barbs and Rasboras: These are an active and colorful addition to any community tank. Not all are peaceful, and some grow quite large, but the species listed opposite are ideal for the general community tank.
  • Corydoras catfish: Cory’s are small, peaceful catfish that are ideal for the community aquarium. The commonly available species are generally hardy and easy to breed.
  • Danios: Hardy, active shoaling fish with no special requirements. Some types of danios will nip at fins [need to be in schools] some type does not go in community tanks like Giant Danios.
  • Dwarf Cichlids: Unlike many of the larger cichlids, the dwarf cichlids from South America, and some from Africa, are generally peaceful, and only become territorial when a pair are spawning. Most only grow to around 2″ (5cm) long. Keep in mind, most cichlids ( because they are generally really good parents ) will generally kill off of mame other fish in the area when they are breeding.
  • Livebearers: The commonly available and very popular Livebearers are generally hardy and easy to breed ( Guppies, Platies, Mollies)
  • Loaches: The peaceful loach species make an interesting addition to the community aquarium. Note that some other species of loach can be aggressive.
  • Rainbowfish: Rainbowfish are colorful and active shoaling fish, which are often overlooked as community fish, probably partly because the juveniles seen in the fish store are not showing their impressive adult coloration. Dwarf species are suitable for smaller tanks.
  • Suckermouth catfish: The suckermouth catfish, Hypostomus plecostomus, is a tropicalfish belonging to the armored catfish family (Loricariidae), named for the armor-like longitudinal rows of scutes that cover the upper parts of the head and body (the lower surface of head and abdomen is naked). Although the name Hypostomus plecostomus is often used to refer to Common plecs sold in aquarium shops, most are actually members of other genera.
  • Tetras: A small shoal of tetras will contribute little to the waste load of the tank. There are many smaller, peaceful species that are suitable for the community tank where there are no fish large enough to eat them. There are also a few larger tetras suitable for the community tank.

Food for Guppies


Water, which to us appears crystal-clear, when observed through a microscope is seen to be teeming with a wide variety of tiny living organisms. Although we cannot see them with our naked eye, the guppy sees them, eats them and thrives on them.

It is for that reason that infusoria (tiny plant, animals or forms having characteristics of both) is ideal as a food for small fry. In summer, unless there is a severe dry spell, ditch water is found everywhere filled with infusoria; in winter it may be cultivated. Infusoria thrive on decaying vegetable matter. Some alfalfa hay with its fairly high protein content, decaying lettuce, and plenty of sun or artificial light makes a culture quickly. As portions of this green water are poured into a tank, the opaque material is seen to diffuse into the clear tank water and the fry appear to attack it. Obviously what we cannot see in detail is either visible to the fry or they find it “with their noses.”

Many people make nets of thin muslin and go infusoria collecting, but in reality it’s much easier just to “grow you own” at home. Once you have an infusoria culture started, you can use it to “seed” your next batch. In summer you can set tubs in your back yard to breed infusoria, and in the winter use flat pans on window sills with a southern exposure where sunlight strikes them most of the day. There is probably no better starter food for guppy fry than infusoria. Be careful though. If allowed to stand to long without proper care, the odor may become quite objectionable. The culture is ready to be used long before it reaches that stage of “ripeness.”

Baby Brine Shrimp

Guppies of any age relish baby brine shrimp. The brown roundish tiny eggs may be purchased in any tropical fish store, but it is much more economical to purchase them in one pound cans if you have any fairly large size breeding operation. Hatching brine shrimp is a fairly easy process and requires a minimal investment in time and money. There are a few very important things to keep in mind about feeding your guppies, especially fry, large amounts of baby brine shrimp. There is definitely a “too much of a good thing” factor in doing so. In my experience, feeding a diet too high in baby brine shrimp has the opposite effect of a proper ratio of their quantity in your guppy’s diet. Baby brine shrimp are extremely high in protein and very little else. Over feeding them can result in stunted growth of guppy fry.

Also, when and how you choose to feed them to your fish is very important. I never make baby brine shrimp the first meal of the day for my guppies. If fed as the first meal of the day they have a tendency to gorge themselves which can result in intestinal binding. I always feed flake food, high in vegetable content as my first meal of the day. Since my guppies are hungry in the morning there is less likelihood that they will turn their noses up at it. I will use baby brine shrimp as the second or third meal of the day, depending on the age of the fish, and again, I will always follow it with more high vegetable content flake food. This assures a well rounded diet containing the proper amounts of animal and vegetable ingredients needed to assure the health of your guppies, and the sandwiching of the brine shrimp with flake food keeps the intestinal track moving without binding up your fish.

Micro Worms

The next larger live food useful in feeding the guppy fry is the microworm. It is just large enough to be visible. These small worms were introduced to the world from Sweden. The females are about one-twelfth of an inch long; males a little smaller. The female bears about fifteen live young at a time which mature in a few days. They grow in many media; a mixture of bread and yeast kept almost liquid and inoculated with a starter culture will soon be teeming with these whitish creatures. It is best to maintain them in a covered glass jar with smooth sides as they tend to crawl up the sides of the container when the population in the medium becomes too dense, and they then can be scraped off with a knife blade and fed to your fish by dipping the blade into the aquarium water. Guppy fry generally has to be trained to eat them, but once they learn the taste, they eat them with relish and grow very well on them as part of their diet.


It may amaze some guppy breeders to read that many top experts do not regard the daphnia the best guppy food. Many use them as a large part of their diet regimen. The commercial sources for live daphnia have all but disappeared and are they are quite expensive when you do find them. They do not live long and must be fed to your fishes as soon as you get them home. Daphnia exhaust the oxygen from their containers and need to be kept cold and thus inactive if they are to live as long as possible without food. Most stores now sell frozen daphnia, but in my experience you wind up paying for a lot of ice and not much daphnia. I’d avoid it. Raising daphnia is not a very difficult thing to do and, it’s a lot of fun. There are many commercial sources of daphnia starter kits which can be found in the classified section of any tropical fish magazine.

There are about 50 different species oh daphnia but the two most common and most appropriate for feeding to your guppies are daphnia magnawhich is many times larger than the smallest species and daphnia pulex, which is the most common.

One word of warning! Do not put a heavy feeding of daphnia into a tank of guppy fry. The daphnia not only tend to exhaust the oxygen supply from the water, but they also eat the infusoria that the fry need to maintain proper health and growth.

Mosquito Larvae

Mosquitoes throughout the spring, summer, and fall lay eggs on the surface of any water they can find, especially water which has some decomposing organic matter in it. The eggs are deposited in tiny rafts and hatch into small wigglers which develop in a few days into sizeable dark-brown larvae – a prime delicacy for mature guppies. For small fry, it is advantageous to collect the rafts which can be found floating on stagnant water. If these little rafts, which contain larvae, are left floating in the fry tank, the fish will consume the tiny larvae as soon as the latter hatch and swim downward in the tank.

Wigglers come to the water’s surface and stay there breathing through a tube pushed up into the air. The slightest jar or disturbance will send them scuttling downward. To collect the larvae it is necessary to plunge a net in and scoop them up before they have had a chance to dart downward. Mosquito larvae stand crowding in a container because they are not dependent on the oxygen in the water. On the other hand, it never pays to catch more than one’s Guppies can eat in a day or two because if they are not promptly fed to them, the larvae will turn into mosquitoes and you will have a room filled with flying, blood-sucking pests. Again, frozen mosquito larvae are available commercially, but you’ll get more ice than mosquito larvae so I just don’t feel that this is an economical way to obtain this treat for your guppies.

Tubificid Worms

CAUTION! Feed Tubifex worms to your guppies at great risk!

These worms are for sale in almost all fish supply stores and are common residents of fresh and brackish water. They live in tubes in mud in either still or running water, sometimes in such quantities as to form reddish patches on the mud where they wave their hind-ends in the water. The usual species used by hobbyists is Tubifex tubifex, a worm of about 60 segments and about one and a third inches long. However, of the Tubeficidae there are about 133 known species, several of which can be useful as guppy food. Tubefex can sometimes be found in large numbers in the shallow water below a sewer, and this, of course, is where the danger in feeding them to your fish originates.

A good many so-called tubefex worms are actually not of the tubifex genus, but are limnodrilus of which about 28 species are known. Very little preference is shown by guppies for one over the other. Both are members of the Tubificidea family for which reason it has been suggested that they are discussed under the appellation of tubefacids, not tubifex.

Here’s the bottom line on feeding these creatures to your guppies. Nothing, and I’ll say it again, nothing puts size on a guppy faster than regular feeding of tubifex worms. Guppies attack and devour them as if they were possessed. There are very few sights like watching a two-week-old guppy wrestling with a tubie twice as long as he is. It really is something to watch. I used them for years, and as long as there’s no problem, well, no problem. Every so often you will get a batch of worms that has the potential to completely wipe out your fish room, virtually overnight. It’s not a pretty sight. Tubifex worms carry bacterial, protozoal and nematode diseases and should not be used as guppy food,

White Worms

Many small worms are white but what has come to be called white worms by fish enthusiasts belong to the genus Enchytraeus, of which there are about 40 species. E. albidus is one of the best. In Europe and America, this is a common worm. It is found in the U.S. from Maine to New Jersey along the seashore near the high-water mark. Sometimes a nice lot can be found in decaying seaweed or under stones. It is thin and nearly an inch long. It breeds best at fairly low temperatures for which reason it is often raised in refrigerators at 45 to 50 degrees F. It lives on decaying organic matter and fresh food. Bread, cracker crumbs, dried milk, all make excellent food for these worms.

Blood Worms

Many of the larvae of a mosquito-like insect, the midge, are sometimes blood-red in color and jointed, living in silty or muddy places though oftentimes caught in daphnia nets in fairly clear water. Blood worms will live a long time in cold water but let the water warm up and the worms will soon develop into winged insects. Bloodworms are available live from most fish supply stores, as well as frozen and freeze-dried, also. They are an excellent food for your guppies.

Earth Worms

Guppies will eat shredded earthworms but few people seem willing to shred them. Everyone has seen earthworm castings on lawns. The worms eat huge amounts of organic matter mixed with soil. They digest and absorb but a small proportion of what they ingest. Therefore, earthworms, shredded tend to muddy the water unless they are kept unfed for a day or two, or long enough for them to disgorge, or they may be shredded and placed into a fine net and rinsed.

To quickly gather a cup of earthworms without having to dig for them, put enough potassium permanganate crystals into a pail of water to make it a deep pink. Pour this solution on a patch of grass and the worms will start coming out of the ground in a few minutes. Although a bit messy, they are excellent guppy food.

Glass Worms

When netting for daphnia in a woodland water-hole, especially in shady places, it is not unusual to bring up hundreds of long, almost transparent creatures, pointed at the ends and half an inch long, with darkened areas near each end. They lie level with the surface of the water. These are the larvae of aquatic insects. They are frequently netted under the ice in winter and sold in fish supply stores. They stand crowding remarkably well, but not heat. They are good live food for your guppies, but by no means at the top of the list.

Black Worms

Since tubifex worms have fallen out of favor, you will now find that most of your fish supply houses are carrying black worms, which appear identical to tubifex worms except they are darker in color. I must be honest and tell you that I do not currently know if these worms can cause the same type of problems that tubifex worms are notorious for, but in the next week or so I plan to do some research and inquire from some experts in the field if these worms are a safer alternative. At that time this section will be updated with that information. I have used these worms in the past with no problems, but that does not mean that the potential for problems does not exist.

Wingless Fruit Flies

Wingless fruit flies are a great food that you never hear mentioned very much. In its natural habitat the guppy is primarily a surface feeder, hence its upturned mouth. All of the previous foods mentioned (except mosquito larvae) are either free-swimming or bottom dwellers. Raising wingless fruit flies is extremely easy and when sprinkled atop your aquarium water your guppies will practically fling themselves out of the tank as they attack the flies. They are an excellent “change of pace” food for your guppies and are available in inexpensive starter cultures from many commercial sources. I suggest that you try them on your fish. They are a good nutritional food source and your fish will find them to be a welcome treat.

Guppies Breeding Strategy

Breeding Objectives

Breeding guppies takes no special skills, simply leaving a male and female guppy in a tank together will produce results, but breeding superior fish with very fixed qualities of color, finnage, and vigor is a different matter. Quality requires great dedication, detailed record-keeping, the ability to make sound judgments based on your results and a degree of luck for the random nature of genetics.

 Your prime objectives should be producing fish in good health and vigor. There is sure to be a compromise between health and your desired characteristics but never allow that to happen unless there are no other options you can make. In which case make health the priority once you’ve achieved your characteristic objective.

Limit Your Objectives 

As an ambition breeder you will have many goals, but try to limit your to a few at first. You may want to improve fins and coloration, as well as have examples of the different varieties. But the more varied your goals the less success you may have with color, fins, vigor or conformation. Once an understanding of genetics is gained this comment will be appreciated, especially when it comes down to a large number of offspring that would become involved. Keep it simple at first. It is important if you keep a number of varieties in the same display tank to concentrate your breeding program on a small number of objectives. Remember if you do keep a mixed variety display tank that you shouldn’t use the females from that tank for breeding. A number one rule that is important to remember is that a female guppy is able to store sperm that can be used to fertilize numerous broods You’ll never be able to be sure of the father unless you use a virgin female with a specific male. This fact makes guppy breeding more complicated that breeding any other animals.

Achieving Objectives 

There are two ways in which you can go about improving your guppies. One is by assessing a number of features together, then selecting from those fish that meet your overall standard. The other is to concentrate on one or two features at a time, then concentrate on other features only when the desired result in the former is achieved. Progress is slower when you are developing a number of features than if you limit your results to one or two. But either option achieves your objectives. It’s your choice, but it’s always best to start simply. When tandem breeding ( one feature at a time) is your method, be careful that, in moving to the next stage of your priorities, undue deterioration in the standard of the feature has been improved upon and is not a consequence. To limit the possibilities of this happening a “line” breeding program is encouraged but there are other methods you can use.

Breeding Techniques

Line Breeding/Line Crossing: This method is also a form of inbreeding, however here you start by keeping the fry from two females (either from your new trio or chosen fry from a drop) separate so that they form two distinct lines. Since you cannot mix batches, this takes more tanks. It is best to choose breeders differently for each line; for instance, in one line, you may pursue a large body mass, and with the other, you may concentrate on finnage. The purpose is to help maintain your established strain since each line becomes distinct and more distantly related;  also, you can have your own two lines to cross occasionally. When you want to increase the size in your fish, for instance, or make an outcross to avoid too much inbreeding, taking someone else’s line to do this with is risky and you may lose the traits in your line that you have worked hard to achieve, as well as losing the homozygous quality of your guppies.

Inbreeding: This is basically keeping a strain pure. The fish are kept closely related and brother and sister, father and daughter are routinely bred. A breeder will do this sometimes to fix a trait, such as a particular color or shape. Mostly, you take the best male and female from the drop and breed them. Doing this can provide beautiful fish for years, provided the fish that you start out with is quality and you are lucky enough to choose not only the most attractive fish but to pick fish as breeders that do not have an invisible weakness-for these will show up in the form of genetic defects, often looked upon as simply the result of “too much inbreeding”. Take great care in choosing breeders; many times a strong body is the most desirable trait to keep an inbred line strong.

Out Crossing:
This is the opposite of inbreeding – the mating of fish that are unrelated to others. This creates what is called a “hybrid” guppy. “Hybrid” vigor may be seen in such fish-outstanding size, color, and health. The genetic patterns of the parents are scrambled/mixed up, and such fish may be good for show but not for breeding. An outcross with a fish that itself is only a few generations ahead of an outcross may produce beautiful fish for a few generations, but the loose gene patterns will turn them eventually into a fish resembling the small, original wild guppy usually sold as feeders in pet stores. Although this is, of course, how new strains are produced, it takes much time and knowledge of genetics to create a pure strain. Thus, it is not advisable for the novice to attempt an outcross in order to fix a strain.

Most breeders stick with line breeding and do their best to choose fish to breed with that have the characteristics which they think will improve their lines while keeping their guppies breeding pure.

It’s important to remember that guppies react differently with various methods of care, water conditions, and breeding methods.  What works for one person may not work for you when trying to breed the exact same line of fish.  Every strain varies in its own needs and rate of development, as well.  It takes years of attentive care and analyzing breeding techniques to find out just what works for you and your guppies.  This is what makes guppy breeding the fascinating hobby it is!

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