How to Care for Guppies


The Guppy (Poecilia reticulata) is one of the most popular freshwater fish species and there are plenty of reasons for their popularity.

They are colorful, lively, extremely fun to watch, and are adaptable to a great variety of conditions.

However, one thing that certainly sets them apart as a species is the fact that they are much easier to keep than most other species.

But this feat should not be abused considering there are many things you can do to help 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.

Aquarium Size Suitable for Guppies


Guppies are very small fish whose bio-load is also very small so they don’t really need much space to live normally.

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.

When it comes to guppies, you can follow the general rule based on an estimate that one gallon of water is enough to support one inch of fish.

Experienced experts recommend your guppies should always be held as trios if there are both male and female guppies in the tank.

Starting from these three, they should be provided with 4 gallons of water and for any additional guppies, you should stick to the 1:1 ratio rule, which is at least one gallon of water per guppy.

For instance:

  • 4 gallons of water for 3 guppies
  • 6 gallons of water for 6 guppies
  • 9 gallons of water for 9 guppies and so on.

The Best Male to Female Ratio

male and female guppies

When it comes to keeping guppies, there are two ways to keep them in your tank.

If you don’t feel like breeding your guppies or having both sexes in your aquarium, you should definitely think about keeping males only.

Males are more colorful than females as well, so you will not miss out on keeping males only.

On the contrary, if you choose to keep both sexes of guppies, there are some guidelines on how to decide which ratio is the best.

Experts recommend at least a 1:2 male to female ratio for guppies because male guppies tend to harass females and chase them around too much if alone.

If you decide to adhere to this rule, the best way to do this is to keep your guppies in threes.

For example:

  • 1 male and 2 or more females
  • 2 males and 4 or more females
  • 3 males and 6 or more females and so on.

Water Temperature

Guppies breeding

Guppies are known for their hardiness and great ability to adjust to different environments, but if you really want your guppies to feel comfortable, there are some general recommendations for making your aquarium the best place for their exact needs.

The easiest way to do this is to mimic the atmosphere from 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 10⁰- 29⁰Celsius (50⁰F – 84⁰F).

One thing particularly important is consistency; too much fluctuation in temperature can cause significant health issues, specifically if the temperature drops suddenly and drastically.

Water Parameters and Changing Water

guppy care

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; everything above 7 signifies the water is basic (alkaline).

Guppies prefer close-to-normal 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.

Learn more about aquarium water in our Freshwater Aquarium Water Guide.

Feeding Guppies

male guppy

Perhaps the most important thing when keeping guppies is feeding.

There are so many factors you need to take into consideration in deciding how to feed them properly.

The best foundation for your guppies’ diet is guppy flakes.

You should always pay attention to how diverse the food is you are giving them.

Always supplement fish flakes with other types of food for a varied diet.

Pellet fish food can also be used; however, you should ensure the pellets are small enough for their mouth.

The best choices are the special smaller pellets, designed for smaller fish such as guppies.

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.

Additionally, 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.

You should read my post on Fish Feeding Schedule to learn more.

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.

Wonderful addition to your aquarium

male guppies

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.

37 thoughts on “How to Care for Guppies”

    • They can, but it is better if the guppies that are with the betta are feeder guppies. Fancy guppies are able to live and thrive among male and female bettas, but fancy guppies, having larger more colorful fins, can look like a small male betta. This poses a risk to keeping them together, but more often than not the bettas will be just fine with them. Did that answer your question?

    • Idk, we have Berta fish at home, but my class cares for guppies, this is an assignment to care for guppies that were doing

    • Betta fish are amazing pets, they have a bad name because they almost always fish a new betta fish or a more intimadating fish immediately. However i have a 20 gallon tank where i keep my 3 betta fish and they all live in harmony. I leave the clear bag in the water long after theyre done adjusting so they can get all aggression out before i release the fish and put them together. You never want to danger your fish so keep in mind if they still go at the bag between them for more than 15 minuets seperate them because it causes unnecessary stress to the fish. It creates a beautiful tank when you keep bettas in a community tank i would recomend it if they can live together with no fin nipping.

    • Almost always. That said, we added two female bettas to a 20 gallon high that only had three guppies in it. One betta was very chill, while the other one chased the guppies. As the female guppies were all pregnant, they didn’t need the extra stress of being chased. The “aggressive” betta lives by herself now.

      Still, this is usually considered a safe combination. Perhaps with more guppies, we will not have that problem.

  1. Hi! I have a few questions. I am staring a Guppy tank as a gift for my fiance and I would like to have another breed of fish in addition to my guppies. What fish are the best tank mates for them?? I have been looking around and I am just not getting consistent answers. This text was pretty informational and I was wondering if you could maybe help me out a bit??

    • Corydoras (often called just Cory’s) are small catfish that eat food that has fallen to the bottom. Most types of corydoras do not get any larger than about 2”. If you get Cory’s, buy two (or more) because they really don’t do as well alone. Stay away from Chinese algae eaters as they can be aggressive, they get too large for most beginner aquariums and they eat less algae as they grow. Also, most stores have ‘sharks,’ who are not really sharks, but like real sharks they can be very aggressive and will quickly grow out of most aquariums.

      Either a male or female Betta (not both) would be a good addition. Occasionally, you might have a guppy who likes to nip at any long tails, whatever species they are. If that’s the case,that guppy could quickly chew up a betta’s beautiful fins. On the other hand, I have never had a Betta that was aggressive towards any other species.

      Small tetras like neons or cardinals are also a good choice. Larger tetras, rams and barbs can all be biters. Danios might be okay if you have 5-6 so they “play together,” but you need a larger aquarium for their fast chases,

      Lastly, the best way to keep a peaceful tank other than choosing the right fish is to not put too many fish in it. Besides the constant battles to be waged to keep the water quality safe, an overstocked aquarium causes stressed fish and stressed fish easily become either aggressors or victims. Enjoy the guppies. While some people say they are “disposable fish,” I think they are fun to watch because they never slow down. Many of those with the wide tails have the ability to swim backwards, sometimes for 3-4 inches,

  2. Will guppies sometimes bite each other’s tails? I have a beta fish in the tank, too, but he really is not mean. The guppy tails are still being bitten, but I haven’t seen which fish is/are biting.

  3. I have had my tank set up for about 1 month now and my Guppies used to swim all around the top, middle and bottom of the tank but the last couple of days my Guppies are staying near the top of the tank way more than they use to. Is there a reason for this that I am unaware of?

  4. I had 9 guppies, I don’t know how many males and females there were (they were given to us). We had them in a gallon tank, then just recently moved them to a 2 gallon tank. I know 1 was huge, like, ready to have babies… Yesterday all the guppies were dead except for about 5/6 babies on the bottom of the tank. what could have caused all the adult guppies to die and the babies are still there?

    • I am also wondering about a similar situation. I only had 2 guppies in my 10 gallon tank (1m & 1f). My male is gone (no body to be found) but we have babies! Is he hiding???? Eaten????

    • 9 guppies in a 1 gal is way too many fish. Look at the suggested guidelines per guppy to amount of water.

      9 guppies should at least be in a ten gallon. With moving your fish and the amount of space, I would bet lack of space and oxygen was your problem. Moving fish can be very stressful on them. Then not having enough space would do the same.

      If you live in the US, I would suggest going to the store that has 1 gal = 1 dollar. Then upgrade to a 10 gal or 20 would even be better.

  5. you should have at least a 10 gallon tank if you have 9 guppies.

    Also, the water parameters could have been different between the two tanks, and it could have caused the fish to go into shock.

  6. Well a 1 or 2 gallon tank is really to small for 9 guppies. My guess for the sudden die off, drastic change in water parameters. The babies were born in the water so no change for them.

  7. I have a 55 gallon tank. My amonia is a bit high .25 so I’m doing daily 10% water changes to bring it down. My PH is 7.8. I recently planted a bunch of plants which might have caused my parameter changes. My poor Guppies are now hiding in the plants and only swim to feed then go right back to hanging in the plants. What can I do to them go back to swimming around. I also have a bubbler going.

  8. I recently bought two guppies not knowing they are both males. They keep on fighting and decided to separate their tanks. My friend told me i bought a fighter guppy. Should i buy 4 females and keep them all in one tank? Please advise. Thank you ?

  9. hi! im new with the guppy thing. I put them in the tank with a black sand(manganese). I got the sand in the beach of course. Is the guppy can live with it ?

  10. Hello, I have a betta in a 5 gallon tank. I also have a couple of baby guppies, 9 to be exact. I know you should only have a max of 4 guppies in a 5 gallon tank and I was wondering what I can do with the other 5. I ordered the fish online and the seller send 9 fish. So, do I take the extras to a fish store or what do I Do? Thanks.

  11. I have a 2 gallon fish tank with 2 guppies I change 50% of water about how many drops of prime should be added


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