a beautiful guppy with a mesmerizing pattern on its tail


Guppies are the world’s #1 fish recommended for beginners. They are economical to purchase and own, and are happy to breed right in the tank. Robert John Lechmere Guppy, a geologist and researcher, is credited with first discovering the fish in Trinidad in 1866 and, hence, the fish gets its name from him. This fish is also known as Millions Fish, due to the ease with which they will propagate, and Rainbow Fish from the broad range of colors they display. All Guppies have colorful tails, with some being fan shaped.

Many Guppies will happily inhabit a tank, requiring only one gallon of water per fish. This fish is quite active and has a varied diet. As omnivores, they will eat anything you give them. If you do decide to breed your Guppies, a separate tank or enclosure is needed for the babies, as the adults are known to eat their young. Considered to be low maintenance, Guppies require only a suitably large tank, a good filtration system, adequate food, and warm water. This fish will provide endless hours of relaxation to the new hobbyist. Guppies in captivity will live from one to five years with adequate care.

Information about Guppies

  • Average length: 0.6 – 2.4 inches
  • Colors: Leopard spots, black, neon blue, red, orange, silver, platinum colors, and red
  • Attention Needs: Low
  • Good tolerance to Heat and Cold: Yes
  • Good Pet: Yes!
  • Good with Other Guppies: Yes
  • Good with Other fish species: Yes as long as they’re peaceful species
  • Suitable for First-Time fish Owners: Yes
  • Training: Guppies can learn simple tricks like following objects and jumping over loops
  • Weight Gain: Normal
  • Health Concerns: Stress easily kills Guppies, the Guppies Disease is also common, and the White Spot Disease
  • Average Life Span: 2 – 5 years

Physical Appearance of Guppies

Guppies exist in different colors, fin types, and pattern variations. The fish has a small head with an elongated body and the mouth of the fish points upwards. The males have smaller bodies with large fins and very vibrant colors. Females have bigger bodies but have more plain colors.

Female Guppies in the wild have grey colors while the male ones have all imaginable colors. In most cases, the top part of the fish appears to have a paler look while the lower one has bright stripes. Some scales have a metallic color while others are translucent.

The color variations on the tail fins range from plain colors, leopard spots, and grass like appearance, to mosaic. Some Guppies have swords like tails, round ones, triangular, spear like, and others are fan-shaped.

You can expect to find multi-colored Guppies or plain colored ones. Breeders are continuously mixing different varieties of Guppies and each day a different type with a different color is taken to the market. There are even mutt Guppies that are obtained from a mix of different crossbreeds.

Temperament of Guppies

Guppies are peaceful fish that can live as a community. The fish are very active,you will see from the way they are always moving around in the aquarium. If you have a male in the tank, it often wiggles its tail in a bid to attract the females in the tank. It’s not advisable to have more than one male in the tank because they can become aggressive towards each other while trying to reclaim dominance over the community.

Guppies live very well with other non-aggressive fish species. As you choose tank mates for your Guppies, the rule of thumb is to look at the mouth of the species. Look for any fish with a mouth that a Guppy could not fit into. This should ensure that your Guppies aren’t eaten by bigger fish. 

a guppy with a rainbow of colors from head to tail

The Guppies also enjoy jumping in water as a natural instinct. It’s common to find Guppies jumping from their tanks if left open. It’s recommended that you keep your lid closed on the tank when you are not around to prevent them from jumping out.  Your fish could die or even get eaten by pets in the house. 

a guppy swimming near some aquatic plants

Tank Conditions

Tank size

Guppies are very small with the largest only getting to about 2 inches and they don’t release a lot of bio load into the water. The fish therefore don’t require very large tanks as long as you have a gallon of water for every inch of fish. The minimum tank size for guppies is a 5 gallon one.

Water pH

In their natural habitats, Guppies live in close to neutral waters with a pH of about 7. It’s recommended to maintain the pH in your fish water as close to 7 as you can.


Guppies thrive in fresh warm waters with temperatures ranging between 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. A water heater within the tank is necessary to ensure the correct water temperature at all times. 

Experts recommend that aquarists place the water heater at one point of the aquarium and a thermometer at the other end. This is because the water must travel all the way to the other end of the tank, making sure you have a consistent temperature throughout the tank.


Filtration is an important aspect of a guppy fish tank and the size of the filters depend on the size of the aquarium. Guppies are not known for creating a lot of waste within the tank. With that in mind, you don’t need to invest in an expensive filter if all you have are Guppies.  Since Guppies are tiny fish, the intake of the filtration system should have a mesh to avoid sucking up your pets.


You should place decorations of live or plastic plants, hollow loops, and substrate for your fish to play with. Remember Guppies are active fish that could easily get stressed if they don’t have things to hide and play.

Tank Maintenance

You should clean your fish tank once in a week to maintain healthy water conditions. 25 percent weekly water changes are also ideal at ensuring good water quality for your fish and minimizing illnesses. 

Other than cleaning and water changes, Guppies don’t really require much for attention.  They’re known for being great pets if you’re a busy person.  

a guppy with a tail that looks like a swordtail fish
a silver guppy with a red tail that flairs out

Best Tank Mates for Guppies

As Guppies are community fish and hardy they can get along well with several species. Here is a list of best tank mates for the Guppies –

Many also keep Angelfish along with the Guppies but it is not a great practice. This is because larger Angelfish can eat the Guppies. Endler’s Livebearers are also great tank mates for the Guppies but they are known to crossbreed with the Guppies. Crossbreeding can lead to the birth of weaker offspring and this is why Guppies and Livebearers are not kept together. Aggressive or large species like Cichlids and Goldfish should also not be kept with the Guppies as they will eat them.

Health Issues

Guppies are susceptible to common illnesses discussed below. The good news is that, despite Guppies being prone to illnesses, most of them are curable if detected early enough. In this section, we’ll also discuss preventative measures to prevent spread of common sicknesses.

Most Guppy illnesses can be controlled or prevented by doing the following:

  • Regular water changes in the tank
  • Maintaining a stable water temperature
  • Feeding the fish quality food and not overfeeding
  • Reduction of stress due to overcrowding or lack of hiding areas
  • Quarantine any new fish for about 2 – 3 weeks before introducing it into the tank

White Spot Disease / Ich

Ich is one of the most common diseases found in Freshwater fish. The disease is caused by a parasite that affects the gills and fins of the body. Poor water conditions and stress are major reasons that can lead to the fish catching this disease. When a fish becomes infected with Ich, it tends to rub against hard objects such as decorations, rocks and the substrate.

a gold and black guppy swimming near some aquatic plants

Symptoms include white spots on the body, breathing difficulty and fish rubbing against hard surfaces. In comparison to other fish diseases, these symptoms make it easy to identify if your fish is infected. 

A major concern is that this disease is highly contagious and can easily spread to other fish in your aquarium. If not treated early on, it can even cause respiratory issues. 

Treatments include slightly increasing the water temperature, adding medication to the tank and performing a large water change. If you have a community fish tank then it is suggested to move the infected fish into a quarantine tank and then treat them.

Fin and Tail Rot

Fin and tail rot is a common freshwater disease that is named after what happens to the fish that have it. Fish infected with fin and tail rot will have fins or tails that appear frayed, or parts of them missing. The disease may also cause white milky areas on the body, especially on the tail or fins.

Symptoms of Fin and Tail Rot

  • Fins or tail appear to have frayed or abnormal edges
  • The fin or tail edges have turned white
  • A part of the fin or tail is missing

Like Ich disease, fin rot is also a result of poor water conditions and high stress levels. Fin and tail rot can be caused by fungi or bacterial infection. Identifying the cause of the disease, bacteria or fungi, is important to treat them because both are treated differently. Infected fish should be quarantined and treated in a separate tank. 

The easiest way to prevent your fish from catching this is to keep their water as clean and healthy as possible. After that the next biggest causes are stress, or attack from other fish. Try not to keep fish that can attack other fish, and give your smaller fish plenty of places to hide with plants or decorations.

Antibiotics will be needed to treat any fish that have this disease.

Guppy disease

This illness mainly affects Guppies and is caused by a protozoan. The protozoan attaches itself on the skin of the pets and slowly penetrates through the skin to affect the blood stream. Guppy Disease occurs as a result of unstable water temperatures or lack of a heater in the tank.

There are many drugs such as the Formalin or Copper Medicine that can treat the disease. To prevent this from happening again a reliable water heater must be installed in the tank to keep the water temperature consistent.  Then perform 50 – 70 percent water changes.

fish food

Feeding Guppies

Guppies often fall victim to problems of overfeeding because they won’t stop eating as long as food is offered to them. Offer your fish food that they can finish within 20 to 40 seconds once or twice a day. Guppies have tiny stomachs and overfeeding leads to obstruction of their intestines.

The quality of food given to Guppies determines the vibrancy of their colors. Guppies are omnivorous and can therefore eat almost any food.

The best commercial foods are fish flakes as opposed to pellets. Remember Guppies are very small bodied and pellets can easily choke them to death. Several pinches of fish flakes during feeding times should be just fine for your fish.  Shredded vegetables such as lettuce, carrots, and peas are also good for your Guppies.

Other than the flakes, you should also supplement your pet’s diet with live foods or frozen foods. Some of the best frozen or live foods are:

  • Brine shrimp
  • Bloodworms
  • Daphnia

Feeding Fry

Probably you’re wondering what a fry is. The term simply refers to baby Guppies.  If you have some fry you’ve bred, avoid giving them live food because the food could be too big for their mouths. You can however cut the live foods into small bits for the young ones. The high protein quantity in live foods helps them grow much faster.

Related Questions:

How long can I leave my Guppy unattended?

With most pets an owner might feel bad being away for a long weekend without giving them fresh food. With Guppies, you can be away for a whole week and still find your fish healthy. Guppies can go without food for one week but you need to have automatic filtration and a reliable water heater to maintain their water while you are away.

C&R Family Pets logo
Quick Links