Gorgeous Guppies: Your Go-To Guide

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Guppies are some of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish species in the world.

As an avid aquarium hobbyist, I have kept and bred guppies for many years.

Their stunning coloration, fast breeding rate, and easy care make them a great choice for both beginner and experienced fish keepers.

Also known as millionfish and rainbow fish, guppies are members of the family Poeciliidae and are live-bearing.

In this article, I will discuss the basics of guppy care, including their diet, breeding, and lifespan.

I will also provide tips on how to create a healthy and thriving aquarium environment for your guppies.

Whether you are new to the aquarium hobby or a seasoned aquarist, this guide will help you keep your guppies healthy and happy.

History and Origin

The captivating history of guppies can be traced back to their native habitats in South America, where they thrived in the freshwater environments of Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Venezuela.

These enchanting fish have not only become a favorite among aquarists worldwide but also have an intriguing backstory that adds to their charm.

The guppy was first discovered in 1866 by a British naturalist named Robert John Lechmere Guppy, who came across the fish during his travels in Trinidad.

As a result of his discovery, the fish was named Girardinus guppii in his honor.

Later, the guppy’s scientific classification was changed to Poecilia reticulata.

Despite this change, the common name “guppy” stuck and continues to be used today.

The guppy belongs to the Poeciliidae family, which includes other popular aquarium fish like mollies, platies, and swordtails.

Since their discovery in the mid-1800s, guppies have been transported around the world, both intentionally and accidentally.

They were first introduced to Europe in the early 1900s, and their dazzling colors quickly made them a hit among aquarium hobbyists.

As the popularity of guppies grew, they were brought to other countries as well, including the United States and various parts of Asia.

As guppies gained popularity among aquarists, enthusiasts began selectively breeding them for their vibrant colors and diverse patterns.

Over time, this led to the development of countless color and pattern variations that we see today.

In the 1920s and 1930s, breeders began to experiment with crossbreeding different strains to create unique and appealing combinations.

This ongoing pursuit of new and exciting guppy varieties has led to a multitude of distinct strains, including the fan-tailed guppy, snakeskin guppy, and tuxedo guppy, to name just a few.

Guppy Fish

Appearance and Size

These fish have a minnow-like profile with a pointed snout and upturned mouth.

But after the caudal fork, a burst of flowing beauty emerges!

The guppy has a fan-shaped fin that’s considerably large compared to the rest of the body.

You might see similar colors and a flowy texture to the other fins, but the tail fin is where most of the details are.

Guppies have been line bred to countless color variations and fin shapes.

However, it’s only the males that have beautiful and colorful fins.

Females have a duller coloration and a smaller tail fin.

There is a noticeable difference between male and female guppies when it comes to size and color.

Males are generally smaller, measuring around 0.6 to 1.4 inches in length, while females tend to be larger, reaching 1.2 to 2.4 inches.

Males are also more brightly colored and have more intricate patterns than females, making them easily distinguishable.

Males have a unique, modified anal fin called a gonopodium, which they use for reproduction.

Females, on the other hand, have a more standard, fan-shaped anal fin.

Colors and Patterns

Guppies come in a dazzling array of colors, ranging from brilliant blues, greens, and yellows to vibrant oranges, reds, and purples.

Some guppies may even exhibit iridescent or metallic shades.

Their colors can appear as solid, gradient, or even in combination with other hues.

Patterns on guppies are just as diverse as their colors.

Some common patterns include spots, stripes, marbling, mosaic, grass, and snakeskin-like markings.

Many guppies have a base color, with a pattern superimposed on it.

The combination of colors and patterns can result in striking and unique appearances.

Guppy Care

Popular Strains and Varieties

As a result of selective breeding, there are numerous guppy strains and varieties available today. Some popular strains include:

  1. Cobra Guppy: Known for its distinctive snakeskin pattern, the Cobra guppy often features dark, contrasting colors against a lighter background.
  2. Tuxedo Guppy: This variety is characterized by its dual-colored body, with the front half being one color and the back half another, giving the appearance of a tuxedo.
  3. Snakeskin Guppy: As the name suggests, the Snakeskin guppy has a pattern resembling the markings of a snake going down their bodies and tails.
  4. Moscow Guppy: Moscow guppies are known for their deep, solid colors, which can range from blue, purple, and black to red, green, and gold.

The extensive range of colors and patterns in guppies is a testament to their enduring appeal and the creativity of breeders who have carefully cultivated these stunning varieties over the years.

The endless array of options ensures that there is a guppy to suit every fish keeper’s taste, making them a true gem in the world of fish keeping.


On average, guppies live between two and five years.

However, the level of care you provide can significantly impact their longevity.

A well-maintained tank can help your guppies live longer and healthier lives.

Factors such as water quality, temperature, and diet can all play a role in their lifespan. In addition, genetics can also be a factor.

Some individual guppies may have a longer lifespan due to their genes.

When it comes to diet, it’s important to provide your guppies with high-quality food.

A poorly maintained tank with a bad diet can reduce the life expectancy of your guppies drastically.

I recommend feeding them a varied diet that includes both dry and live foods.

This will ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients to live a healthy life.

It’s also important to note that guppies are social fish and thrive in groups. Keeping them in a community tank can help reduce stress and increase their lifespan.

However, it’s important to ensure the tank is not overcrowded and that there is enough space for each fish to swim freely.

Tank mates guppy

Behavior & Temperament

These little fish have some of the most interesting and unique behaviors of any aquarium fish.

Guppies are known for their active and social nature, and they are a great addition to any community tank.

One of the most fascinating behaviors of guppies is their love of exploration.

They are constantly on the move, darting in and out of plants and decorations.

They are very curious and will investigate anything new in their environment.

Guppies are also known for their schooling behavior.

They feel most comfortable when they are in a group, and will often swim together in a tight formation.

This behavior is not only fascinating to watch, but also provides a sense of security for the fish.

When it comes to temperament, guppies are generally very peaceful and easy-going.

They rarely show aggression towards other fish and are a great choice for a community tank.

However, it is important to note that male guppies can sometimes be aggressive towards each other, especially if there are not enough females in the tank.

Guppies are also known for their playful nature.

They love to chase each other and playfully nip at fins. This behavior is not harmful and is actually a sign of a healthy and happy fish.

Guppy Fish Care

Creating a comfortable and suitable environment for your guppies is essential to their health and happiness.

By understanding their natural habitat and replicating those conditions in your aquarium, you can ensure that your guppies thrive.

In this section, we’ll explore the habitat and tank requirements for guppies in more detail.

Guppy Diet

Natural Habitat

Guppies are native to the freshwater environments of South America, specifically in the countries of Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Venezuela.

They can typically be found in slow-moving rivers, streams, and ponds, where they have access to plenty of vegetation and hiding spots.

The water in these areas is usually warm and slightly alkaline, which is crucial to keep in mind when setting up an aquarium for guppies.

Tank Size

When it comes to tank size for guppies, bigger is always better.

I recommend a minimum tank size of 20 gallons for a small group of guppies.

However, if you plan on keeping more than a few guppies, then you should consider a larger tank.

Guppy fish are active swimmers and need plenty of space to swim around.

Additionally, a larger tank will help to dilute any toxins that may build up in the water.

Water Parameters

Guppies are very hardy and adaptable, but they still require certain water conditions to thrive.

The ideal pH range for guppies is between 7.0 and 8.0, and the water temperature should be kept between 75 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s also important to keep the water clean by performing regular water changes.

I recommend changing 10-20% of the water in the tank every week to keep the water quality high.

Guppies are accustomed to slow-moving waters in the wild, so it’s essential to recreate this environment in your aquarium.

When selecting a filter, opt for one that creates a gentle water flow, avoiding strong currents that may stress your guppies.

Guppies disease

What To Put Inside Their Tank

To replicate the guppies’ natural environment, include live plants, rocks, and driftwood in your tank.

Live plants not only provide oxygen and help maintain water quality but also offer hiding spots and a place for guppies to rest.

Some suitable plant choices for a guppy tank include Java moss, Hornwort, Amazon sword, and Anubias.

Rocks and driftwood can create additional hiding spots and contribute to a visually appealing aquarium setup.

Be sure to leave open areas for swimming, as guppies are active swimmers and enjoy exploring their surroundings.

Food and Diet for Guppies

Guppy Fish are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals.

In the wild, they eat small insects, crustaceans, and algae.

I like to feed my Guppy Fish a mix of commercial fish food and live or frozen foods.

Some good options for commercial fish food include flakes, pellets, and granules.

Look for fish food that is specifically formulated for Guppies, as this will ensure that they get all the nutrients they need.

In addition to commercial fish food, I also like to feed my Guppy Fish live or frozen foods.

Some good options include brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia.

These foods are high in protein and other nutrients that are important for Guppies.

I usually feed my Guppy Fish live or frozen foods once or twice a week.

It’s important not to overfeed them, as this can lead to health problems.

I usually feed small amounts two times a day.

If there is any uneaten food after a few minutes, I remove it from the tank to prevent it from polluting the water.

Overall, feeding Guppy Fish is relatively easy.

Just make sure to provide them with a variety of foods and not to overfeed them.

With the right diet, your Guppy Fish will be healthy and happy.

Tank Mates

When choosing tank mates for guppies, it’s essential to select non-aggressive, similarly-sized fish that thrive in similar water conditions.

Here are some ideal tank mates for guppies:

  1. Tetras: Small, peaceful tetras like Neon Tetras, Ember Tetras, and Cardinal Tetras make excellent tank mates for guppies. They share similar water parameter requirements and have a peaceful temperament.
  2. Platies, Mollies, and Swordtails: These livebearers are also part of the Poeciliidae family and are compatible with guppies in terms of temperament and water conditions.
  3. Corydoras Catfish: These bottom-dwelling fish are peaceful and can help keep your tank clean by scavenging for uneaten food. They get along well with guppies and are a great addition to a community tank.
  4. Rasboras: Small rasbora species, such as Harlequin Rasboras and Chili Rasboras, are peaceful schooling fish that make good tank mates for guppies.
  5. Otocinclus Catfish: These small, peaceful algae eaters can help control algae growth in your tank and are compatible with guppies in terms of temperament and water conditions.
  6. Dwarf Gouramis: These colorful, peaceful fish can coexist well with guppies as long as the tank is large enough to provide ample swimming space for both species.

Tank Mates to Avoid

When selecting tank mates, avoid keeping guppies with large, aggressive, or predatory fish, as these can cause stress or even prey on your guppies.

Some examples of fish to avoid include:

  1. Cichlids: Most cichlid species are aggressive and territorial, making them unsuitable tank mates for guppies.
  2. Angelfish: Although they may seem peaceful, Angelfish can be territorial and may prey on smaller fish, including guppies.
  3. Goldfish: Goldfish have different temperature and water requirements compared to guppies and can also grow quite large, making them incompatible tank mates.

Common Possible Diseases

As a guppy fish owner, it is important to be aware of the possible diseases that your fish may encounter.

Here are some of the most common diseases that guppies can get and how to identify and treat them.

1. Fungus: Fungal infections are common in guppies and can be identified by white or gray cotton-like growth on the fish’s body. To treat this, you can use antifungal medications or give the fish a salt bath. It is important to maintain good water quality and keep the tank clean to prevent the recurrence of fungal infections.

2. Ich: Ich is a parasitic disease that is common in freshwater fish, including guppies. It is characterized by white spots on the fish’s body and fins. To treat this, you can use medications such as malachite green or copper sulfate. Raising the temperature of the tank can also help to speed up the healing process.

3. Dropsy: Dropsy is a bacterial infection that causes the fish to become bloated and swollen. The scales may also protrude, giving the fish a pinecone-like appearance. To treat this, you can use antibiotics such as tetracycline or erythromycin. Dropsy is normally an indication that the water quality is poor.

4. Swim Bladder Disorder: Swim bladder disorder is a common problem in guppies that can cause the fish to swim upside down or have difficulty swimming. This can be caused by overfeeding or poor water quality. To treat this, you can try fasting the fish for a few days or adding aquarium salt to the tank. If the problem persists, it may be necessary to seek veterinary care.

5. Columnaris: Columnaris is a bacterial infection that can cause skin lesions, fin rot, and other symptoms in guppies. To treat this, you can use antibiotics such as tetracycline or erythromycin.

By being aware of these common diseases and their symptoms, you can take steps to prevent and treat them in your guppy fish.

It is important to maintain good water quality, feed your fish a balanced diet, and monitor their behavior and appearance regularly to catch any potential health issues early on.


Breeding guppies can be an exciting and rewarding experience for aquarium enthusiasts.

Known for their prolific breeding habits, guppies are relatively easy to breed, even for beginners.

In fact, you don’t even need to do anything for them to breed.

Just make sure there are two females for every male and nature will take it’s course.

Although it’s possible for guppies to breed in a community tank, setting up a separate breeding tank can increase the chances of successful breeding and ensure the safety of the fry.

Guppies are livebearers, which means the females give birth to live, free-swimming fry instead of laying eggs.

Load the tank with lots of floating plants which will help protect the fry from predators.

Why You Should Consider Guppies

If you are looking for fish that are easy to care for and come in a wide variety of colors and patterns then the guppy is the perfect choice.

Their peaceful nature, hardiness, and adaptability make them ideal choices for both beginners and experienced aquarists.

Photo of author


Irma Bense is the founder of BetterFishkeeping.com. She has over 42 years of experience in keeping fish.She has kept both freshwater and saltwater fish through the years.She has extensive knowledge in breeding numerous species of fish from Show Guppies, Cory Catfish, German Blue Rams to Apistogrammas.You can learn more about Irma on the 'About' page.

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