​​​​Guppy Care Basics

The Guppy (Poecilia reticulata) is one of the most popular freshwater fish species and there are plenty of reasons for their popularity in the aquarium hobby. They are extremely colorful, very lively, fun to watch, and are adaptable to a wide range of conditions. Although they are much easier to keep than most other species are very adaptable, that does not mean that there are not 'optimal' conditions under which you should attempt to maintain your guppies in order for them to be happy and remain healthy. Your goal should always be to assure that your guppies reach their full potential and thrive in your aquarium.

Here are some key factors to consider when it comes to taking exceptional care of your guppies. First, guppies are very small fish whose bio-load is also very small so they don’t really need much space to live comfortably. However, they still need a reasonable amount of space and you will have to make sure that your tank is big enough for them to thrive.

You have probably heard that the safest way to maintain a healthy tank is to stick to the general rule of one inch of fish body for each gallon of water. While this is certainly a very safe ratio, it is a rule of thumb that was developed in the early years of the aquarium hobby, before the advent of various mechanical aids to improve the overall progress of fishkeeping. If you are employing any combination of air stones and filters and are doing frequent water changes and maintaining a spotlessly clean substrate, there is no reason why that number can't safely be doubled, tripled or even quadrupled. Of course you should not resort to such measure if not absolutely necessary and without a high degree of experience, but I mention this only to illustrate that when someone tells you that you 'can't' keep more than one guppy per gallon of water, nothing could be further from the truth.

A 10 USG Tank Housing 40 Healthy, Young Adult Multi Guppies

Generally, guppies are purchased and kept in pairs. For breeding they are generally kept as trios with the ratio being one male per two females. Males can be incessant in their attempts to breed and can easily stress a female out due to constant pestering. Having more females than males lessens the chance of this happening.

Depending on what your aim is, there are many different ways in which you can keep guppies. If you are keeping them strictly for enjoyment purposes you pretty much have carte blanche as it pertains to ratios and strains. You can keep males and females of different strains or one strain. You can keep all males from one strain or mixed strains. It's not until you want to start breeding that the method in which you segregate your fish begins to be of tantamount importance.

Even though guppies are known for their hardiness and great ability to acclimate to different environments, if you really want your guppies to feel comfortable, there are some general recommendations for making your aquarium the best place for recreating their exact needs by replicating their natural biotype as closely as possible.

The goal should be to mimic to mimic the conditions of their natural habitat in the waters of the Amazon River or rivers and lakes all across South America.

The ideal water temperature for guppies is anywhere between 50º F – 84º F (10º - 29º Celsius). Even though these temperature ranges can be tolerated, you will have less issues in maintaining healthy guppies if you make a concerted effort to keep your guppies in a temperature range of 70º F – 80º F. Of particular importance is maintaining consistency of the temperature you decide to keep your guppies at. Too much temperature fluctuation can cause significant health issues, specifically if the temperature drops suddenly and drastically.


Water hardness and pH levels are both very important. The pH levels range from 1 to 14, with pH values between 1 and 7 considered acidic and pH of 7 means the water is neutral and everything above 7 signifies the water is alkaline. Guppies prefer close-to-normal (mid-range) pH levels. The ideal pH level for a guppy ranges from 6.8 to 7.8, the value found in their natural habitat.

The ideal water hardness for guppies is dGH 8-12. The correlation between water hardness and pH is very important. Usually, the higher the water hardness, the higher the pH level is.

The general rule for most species is to change half of your water every week so it always remains fresh and clean. You can do this in many ways; some people recommend changing 10% of your water every day in order to keep your water in great condition. If you do not have enough time for this technique, then you should change around 30% of your water every five days. Many experts consider changing the water weekly (every 7 days) as suboptimal.


Probably the most important aspect of keeping healthy guppies is your feeding regimen. There are myriad factors to consider in deciding how to best feed them properly. If you are just looking to keep a display tank of guppies or fancy guppies than a good foundation would be a high-quality flake food. Beyond that, the occasional treat of any of the frozen foods that are available at your local fish store will go a long way toward keeping your fish healthy. Guppies can also enjoy live or freeze-dried food in their diet. Popular live or freeze-dried foods suitable for guppies include brine shrimp, daphnia, mosquito larvae, and bloodworms. Guppies are partial to vegetables such as lettuce, peas, and cucumbers.

Feed your guppies only one or two times a day in small amounts at a time. Never add more than your fish can eat. The most important thing when feeding your guppies is to NOT overfeed them. This happens very often and can lead to a variety of bad issues for your guppies.

If your fish do eat too much, it can block their intestines. A sign to watch for is a trail of poop behind your fish signifying you are overfeeding your fish. Moreover, the food your guppies leave uneaten will rot and may pollute the water in your aquarium. Make sure not to overfeed your guppies in the first place, but if you did that – remove any uneaten food as soon as possible.

Guppies can be a wonderful addition to any aquarium bringing color and excitement to your tank. If keeping guppies, be sure to feed them properly and to keep the right combination of guppies together to avoid issues and you will enjoy this small acquisition.