Guppy Fish: Housing and Feeding Behavior

The guppy fish (Poecilia reticulata) is a beautiful and popular aquarium fish. It belongs to the family Poeciliidae under order Cyprinodontiformes of class Actinopterygii. It is native to Northeast South America, but now it is found all over the world. It prefers to live in smaller streams and pools.

Systematic Position

Phylum: Chordata

Subphylum: Vertebrata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Cyprinodontiformes

Family: Poeciliidae


Species: Poecilia reticulata

Physical Description

In nature, the body length of a guppy usually does not exceed 6 cm. Females and males vary significantly in size, shape, and color.

Female guppies are much larger than males, and their body length is on average 5.5-6.0 cm (maximum 8 cm), the abdomen is round, dull, usually gray, brownish or olive; near the anus, a large dark spot is seen. They have rounded and transparent fins.

They have a brightly colored body, and their fins bear speckles of a black, yellow, and reddish color during the breeding season.

The average length of males does not exceed 3 cm. They have a small, narrow, brightly colored body. A pattern of spots of various shapes and colors are seen on the back part of the male`s body. These spots turn up to the caudal fin. The fins are small and rounded, but in some cases, the size of the caudal fins exceeds the length of the body of the fish. Dorsal fin can be rounded, triangular, rectangular, and ribbon-shaped.

Guppy Fish (Poecilia reticulata)

Guppy Fish (Poecilia reticulata)

In nature, several color variations of male guppies are known. From wild species of guppies, the males have a small rounded fin, breeds having a ribbon-like, fan-shaped, xiphoid, lyroid, daisy, subulate, and other forms of the tail or caudal fin. Dorsal fin can be rounded, triangular, rectangular, and ribbon-shaped. At the present time, a large variety of forms of male guppies is derived from the efforts of breeders. They vary greatly in size and shape of the caudal fin and coloration. In the Venezuelan population, the color of the body is predominantly green; in Barbados, the male color is red-black, while in the Trinidadian community, the male is golden-green, blue, and violet.

Female guppy becomes sexually mature at the age between 10-20 weeks and the male at the age of 7 weeks. They can live up to 2 years or more with proper care.


Guppies are the most unpretentious aquarium fish. A pair of guppies can be satisfied with the volume of the aquarium of 1.5-2 liters; the male needs 0.5 liters of water, and the female about one liter. For large breeds of guppies and species with veil tails, aquariums should be two to three times larger.

For keeping a long time in the aquarium, water should be 1.0 – 1.5 liters for each male, and for females, it should be 2-3 liters. The optimal water level for guppies is 35-40 cm. To prevent fish from jumping out of the water, the aquarium is not topped up, leaving 5-6 cm free, and the top is covered with a cover glass. The length of the aquarium for the selected forms of guppies should be at least 40 cm.

The water temperature should be between 15 and 36° C. However, it should be borne in mind that the growth and development of the guppies depend on temperature. At a very high temperature (over 26° C), the development of fish occurs at an accelerated rate, they mature early and become sexually mature quickly. At the same time, their breed qualities usually do not gain full strength. At lower temperature (less than 20° C), the fish feel good, but their color becomes less intense. The optimal water temperature for guppies is 20-25° C. It is desirable to ensure a constant temperature regime by equipping the aquarium with a heater and a thermostat.

Water for guppies should be clean, stable for two to three days. Once a week, you need to clean the aquarium from excrement, rotted leaves of plants and dirt. During each cleaning, a part of the water is replaced with a freshwater of the same temperature. In large, not densely populated aquariums, it is sufficient to replace one-tenth of the water volume. In small aquariums, it is necessary to change the volume of water within a week gradually.

The sharp addition of a large amount of fresh water to the aquarium leads to damage to the dorsal and caudal fins of the veil male guppies. Guppies can live in soft and hard water with a pH of 6.8-8.5. The optimal pH of water for guppies is 7, while the hardness is 8-15 ° dGH. In this case, mild and acidic water is undesirable for them.

To keep your fish healthy, table salt or sea salt and iodine should be added to the aquarium water. In this case, for every 10 liters of water, add one teaspoon of salt and one drop of 5% alcohol solution of iodine. The salt and iodine improves the health of fish but also prevents the development of many harmful microorganisms.

Weekly cleaning of the aquarium and substitution of part of the water should be required. If you keep a large number of guppies in one aquarium, 24-hour aeration and filtration of water in the aquarium are mandatory.

The bottom of the aquarium should be filled with a soil of dark coarse sand and fine gravel. In the case, sand and soil should be rinsed and boiled before laying it. To maintain a good environment in a tank, general cleaning is carried out twice a year. In this case, soil is removed from the aquarium and washed well under running water.

The aquarium should be lighted for 12 hours a day. The required lighting power should be 0.75 watts per 1 Litter of water in the summer and 1.25 watts per 1 Litter of water in the winter. The total duration of the aquarium lighting should not exceed 14 hours. 24-hour lighting of the aquarium leads to the infertility of fish.


Food for guppies should be nutritious (contain all the necessary nutrients) and varied. The best food for guppies is to live small invertebrate animals such as bloodworm, tubifex, daphnia, cyclops, artemia, corethra, drosophila, etc. The tubifex should not be given to pregnant females. Dry crustaceans are given only as an addition to the main live food.

To keep fish healthy, it is necessary to enrich with vitamins. To do this, add one drop of pure fish oil (no flavor additives) to 20 cm3 of dry food. The prepared feed can be used no more than three days, and the remaining part must be discarded. Sometimes in the diet of guppies you can include crumbs of white bread and steamed oat flakes, beef meat, sea fish fillets, fresh, low-fat cottage cheese of instant cooking.

Guppies must need plant food in addition to animal food. In this case, filamentous algae are suitable. It is useful to feed guppies grated carrots mixed with Enchytraeus albidus.

Feed the usual breed groups guppies once a day. Breed group veiltails that are sensitive to environmental conditions. In this case, they should be fed at least twice a day. Uneaten food after feeding is removed from the tank by means of aspirator.

Fianl Remarks

Guppy is a peace-loving fish, and it does well in the aquarium along with a variety of fish and other animals. It is important that the aquarium neighbors should not be aggressive. Predators can pick guppies tails, and large animals can eat guppies entirely. Under favorable conditions, guppies are sick very rarely. But sometimes it is susceptible to mycobacteriosis, fin rot, red scab disease, scoliosis, etc.

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