Basic Guppies Guide

Guppy fish, also known as the “rainbow fish,” or the “millionfish” is scientifically called Poecilia reticulata. They are one of the world’s most widely distributed tropical fishes. And also one of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish species.

Guppies are native to northeast South American region. But since they’re highly adaptable, guppies can thrive in different ecological and environmental conditions. Guppies mostly feed on aquatic plants like benthic algae and insect larvae.

Guppy Fish Diet

In the wild, guppies usually feed on a variety of food sources. The most prominent ones are insect larvae and benthic algae. Other food items that guppies feed on are plant fragments, diatoms, algal remains, and invertebrates. While they feed on a lot of different types of food, algal remains add up to the biggest proportion of wild <LINK>guppy’s diet</LINK>.

However, algae are less nutritious than other food sources. So, the guppies that feed on algae have poor diets compared to the ones feeding on invertebrates. But guppies show a diet switching behavior depending on the abundance of food. Their diet preference can deeply relate to the presence of competitors. If there is a large variety of species in a particular area where guppies live, the competition for invertebrate prey is higher. Thus, the guppies in such areas have a smaller proportion of invertebrates on their diets.

While adult guppies survive on the food mentioned above, guppy fires have a slightly different diet. Fries do eat whatever their parents do, but since they’re very tiny, processing it might be difficult. However, do not be fooled by their size. Despite being tiny, guppy fires have a huge appetite. Even though they’re only around 6mm when they’re born, their digestion cycles is about 20-30 minutes. So, they’re ready to eat almost every 30 minutes.

If you’re a guppy fry owner you can feed flake food items to your fries but only after crushing them into tiny pieces. But the best food to feed the guppy fries are live food. Some live food items to feed the guppy fries are micro worms, baby brine shrimp, vinegar eels, and daphnia. But if you don’t have access to fresh live food, it’s okay to feed them dry or frozen food as well.

It’s also a great idea to feed egg yolk to your guppy fries as it is a great source of protein. Make a paste out of the egg yolk of a hardboiled egg and feed tiny amount of the paste to your fries twice a day. Or you can also get a special powder food that’s high in protein and feed them according to the instructions on the packet.

Make sure that you feed your fries a variety of food that is rich in vitamins and minerals necessary for their growth.

Variation / Types of Guppy Breeds

Guppies come in a different variety. And when I say different varieties, I mean more than 50+ varieties. This is actually the result of selective breeding, which we’ll be talking about in a minute. But first, let’s explore the different and colorful varieties of guppy fishes.

  • Poecilia Reticulata (Common Guppies)

These are the commonly found guppies. And the most hardy and adaptable livebearer. They are easy to breed and raise and widely available all around the world.

  • Poecilia Wingei (Endler Guppy)

The Poecilia Wingei are also known as the Endler Guppy or Endler’s Livebearer. They are a close relative of the common guppy breed. However, they’re not as easily available. And there are high chances that they can cross-breed. Their striking color is what separate them from the common guppies. And these peaceful species is easy to care for if you have them as pets.

Poecilia Wingei Guppy
  • Micropoecilia Picta (Swamp Guppies)

The Micropoecilia Picta are also known as the Swamp Guppy or Scarlet Livebearer. And unlike unlike the other two types, they’re not exclusively fresh water fishes. These guppies are mostly found in brackish marshes and coastal swamps.

Micropoecilia Picta guppy

These are tiny fishes native to South and Central America. And they’re usually not meant to keep as pets.

Guppy Types Based on Tail Shape

There are around 13 types of guppy fish based on the shape of their tail. And as the selective breeding grows, so does the variety of guppy fish and their tails.

Fantail Guppies

As the name suggests, fantail guppies have tails resembling an open fan. They can be of one solid color or have multiple patterns. And their ventral fins are usually smaller while the dorsal fins are elongated.

Triangle Tail Guppies

The Triangle-tail guppies are also known as the Delta tail guppies. Their tails looks like a triangle, thus the name. Their ventral fins are usually smaller while the dorsal fins are long and flowy. Their beautifully impressive tail showcases amazing patterns or bold and beautiful colors.

Triangle Tail Guppies

Veiltail Guppies

The veiltail guppies have tails resembling an isosceles trapezoid. Both their dorsal and ventral fins are long and flowy. And their tails can have multiple colored patterns or a single bold color.

Flagtail Guppies

The Flagtail guppies are also called the Scarftail guppies. They have a much narrower edges compared to the other guppies. Yet, the beautiful colors and patterns on their tails still make them pleasant to look at.

Top Swordtail Guppies

Top Swordtail Guppies

The top swordtail guppies have a tail that’s elongated on the top of its tail base. They may be tiny but their tail type gives them the resemblance of a swordfish.

Bottom Swordtail Guppies

The bottom swordtail guppies are just like the top swordtail guppies. But, unlike the top swordtail guppies, their tails are elongated on the bottom. And the top part of the tail that’s not elongated resembles the tail of a flagtail guppy.

Double Swordtail Guppies

As the name suggests, the double swordtail guppies have, you guessed it, two elongated tails on the edge. Their beautiful elongated tails sets them apart from all the other counterparts. And they come in variety of colors or patterns.

Lyretail Guppies

The lyretail guppies have a striking resemblance with the double swordtail guppies. As a matter of fact, they’re actually a variation of the former. On first look, they might look like a double swordtail guppy. But on a closer look, you can see a small transparent membrane connecting the upper and lower parts of the tail. They also come in beautiful variations of colors and patterns.

Halfmoon Tail Guppies

Halfmoon Tail Guppies

The Halfmoon tail guppies are probably the most amazing looking guppy species out there. With their impressive tail that’s shaped like the Halfmoon (hence the name) and an even more impressive range of colors and patterns, they’re easily a treat to the eyes.

Speartail Guppies

The tail of a speartail guppy resembles a spear. They don’t particularly have long tails compared to other guppies. But the uniqueness of the tail is what gives them a reputation.

Spadetail Guppies

The spadetail guppies are also called Cofertail guppies. They have a paddle shaped tails that resembles a spade. They also belong to the short tail category. And the spadetail guppies are usually mostly featured in the judging standard for World Guppy Contests.

Roundtail Guppies

As the name suggests, the roundtail guppies have a well-rounded tails. And they come in some unique and impressive colors and patterns perfect to make you aquarium have an aesthetic of its own. They’re usually shorter but distinctly shaped.

Roundtail Guppies

Pintail Guppies

The pintail guppies are also called the Needle tail guppies. And their pointy, elongated tail goes perfectly with their name. They are a bit smaller than the spear tail guppies. And their tail is much more wider at the base. But as you go up it becomes much more slender and as it reaches the pin section, it narrows out. Hence, getting the name.

Guppy Types Based on Color

Solid Colored Guppies

The guppies that have one solid color fall into this category. Some of the examples of a solid colored guppy are white, black, red, blue, yellow, and green. They are made up of only one color that fills their entire body including tail and fins.

Bi-Colored Guppies

Bi-colored guppies come with a clear base color, which can be any primary color. Where as the secondary color covers up at least 25% of their tail. And is completely different from the primary color that makes up the base.

Albino Guppies

An Albino Guppy’s body is mostly white in color with hints of other colors allover the body. Their eyes and face can be either soft-pink or red. Since these type of guppies don’t produce black melanin pigment in their bodies, they don’t have bright and vibrant hues.

Albino Guppies

Multicolored Guppies

While the albino guppies have a pale white color covering their bodies, the multicolored guppies are the exact opposite. They are filled with at least three vibrant colors.

Panda Guppies

These guppies have a dark black color circling their eyes just like a panda does. And it even covers the dorsal fins and the tail.

Metal Guppies

Metal guppies probably have the most amazing ability. These types of guppies are able to change into the colors mimicking their environment. This is because of the iridophores pigment present in their bodies. And it is an excellent way to hide themself from the predators.

Dragon Head Guppies

Dragon Head Guppies

These guppies have an amazing color scheme and tail pattern. They sport an amazing bright red-orange color with tails that looks like fire, hence the name.

Jarawee Lazuli Guppies

These guppies get their name from the aquamarine blue color of the lapis lazuli gemstone. These guppies sport a blue colored head that comes from an additional color gene on it’s Y-chromosome.

Koi Guppies

It’s clear from the name that Koi guppies resembles the color scheme of a koi fish. They have a white body with a red face and tail.

Female Guppies

Almost all the types mentioned above are usually male guppies. The male guppy fish is much more vibrant and colorful compared to their female counterparts.

The female guppies don’t really have a lot of colorful pigments around their bodies. They’re usually pale with larger bodies and fins than males.

Breeding Guppies

Guppies are polyandrous beings, meaning the females will have multiple mates. Guppies mature pretty quickly and start their reproducing at 2-3monts old. Their pregnancy lasts for about 25 to 30 days. And since they are livebearers, they give birth to swimming young guppy fries rather than laying eggs.

Guppies when left on their own breed very rapidly. So, its important to take care of everything beforehand. However, this very phenomenon is one of the reasons why guppies are so popular for breeding. And as guppy fires are born fully-formed, they don’t need their parents to take care of them or feed them.

Male guppies fertilize the eggs inside the female body. The courting begins when a male plays out a S-formed stance known as a sigmoid display. Then, sperm gets transferred by gonopodium (a modified anal fin).

After the fertilization, eggs starts to develop inside the oviduct and are held by the female until it’s time to hatch. When the female guppy is pregnant, her stomach area extends and a gravid spot creates on the guts (becomes darker and darker closer to the birth).

Female guppies also have the ability to store their mates’ sperm. So, even in the absence of male guppies, female guppies can reproduce.

Types of Breeding

There are notably four types of breeding that occurs in a guppy fish: Inbreeding, Line breeding, Out-Crossing, and Back-Crossing.


Inbreeding is a process where two guppies that are the first-degree relative mate. It, however, has negative impact when it comes to guppies’ health and a loss in their genetic diversity. Due to the inbreeding depression, guppies have evolved mechanisms to avoid it.

Line Breeding

Line breeding is a process where two guppies that are distant relative mate. It can also include guppies belonging to two different lines branching from their original trio.

This process help guppies overcome the loss of genetic diversity and also keeps the guppies healthy.


Out-crossing is the process where two different compatible pure strains mate. Here, the guppies are completely unrelated but it adds or corrects a gene to your strain. This is a very complicated process. And if not done right, can mess up the purity of the strain.


Back-crossing is the process where hybrid guppies are made to mate with a parent or with guppies that are genetically similar to the parent.

The main aim of this type of breeding is to restore the strain of the guppy to its original format with a fixed trait. 

Tank Mates of Guppies

Guppies are very tiny in size; males are 1.5-3.5 cm and females are 3-6cm. It means that they are easy to fall prey to the larger fishes. So, the best tank mate for a guppy fish would be more guppy fishes.

However, there are few other fishes that can be the best tank mates for this tiny creatures.

Here are some requirements:

  1. They need to be peaceful with minimum amount of behavioral issues.
  2. They should thrive well in the same water conditions that is preferred by guppies.
  3. Similar diet habit is also a must.
  4. There shouldn’t be much of a difference when it comes to their size.

Here are a few fish that are compatible to be a guppy fish’s tank mate.

Platy Fish

Platy fishes and guppies are a match made in heaven. They’re both colorful and vibrant and posses the livebearing capabilities. They also have a similar requirement when it comes to surviving in a tank.

Sword Fish

Sword fishes can also be an amazing tank mate for guppies. They’re both tiny with vibrant colors. And the sword fish somehow resembles the swordtail guppies.

Molly Fish

Molly fishes are also an excellent match to keep as a mate for guppy fishes. They’re both tiny freshwater fishes. And again, both of these fishes are livebearers.

Apart from that, both the fishes have a similar water parameters, diet, and temperament.

 Cory Catfish

These tiny little friendly fishes can be a perfect tank mate for guppies. Their friendly and peaceful nature makes them gel well with the guppies. And they’re scavenger fishes that feeds off of leftovers and also clean the tank.

Rasbora Fish

Guppies can get along really well with Rasbora Fishes. Fishes like Clown Rasbora, Harlequin Rasbora, and Brilliant Rasbora are some of the most compatible fish species for guppies.

Tetra Fish

Tetra fishes like Rummy Nose Tetra, Neon Tetra, Lemon Tetra, and Rosy Tetra are excellent tank mates for adult guppies. However, some tetras tend to eat guppy fries, which is not a good sign.

Guppy Aquarium Tank Setup

These tiny, colorful, and vibrant fishes are also perfect to keep as pets. Even if you’re a beginner, these fishes would be a great option to keep. Guppies are a peaceful and easy keeper. So, if you’re planning to get an aquarium full of fishes, you may want to start with guppies.

Here’s all the information you’ll need setting up an aquarium for guppy fishes.

Water Temperature and Parameters

Guppies are hardy fishes and they prefer hard-water aquarium. The temperature of the water needs to be between 25.5 and 27.8 °C (78 and 82 °F). And the salt level needs to be equivalent to one tablespoon per 19 L (5 US gal).

But there are things that you need to know and take care of. Most importantly, the presence of chlorine in the water can be deadly for guppies. It poisons and suffocates them. Therefore, using a product to get rid of the chlorine is highly recommend.

For reproduction, guppies prefer water temperature between 22.2 to 26.1 °C (72 to 79 °F).

Water Filtration

Guppies, as any other fish creates bioload. And their feces can produce a lot of ammonia. And not getting rid of it is dangerous for the guppies. So, the best way to tackle any ammonia-related problem is by getting a proper filtration system.

You need to make sure that the system is double the size of the tank. There are many different choices available in the market when it comes to water filters for fish tanks. And all you have to do is to choose the one that serves you the best.


Having a fish tank water heater is very important when it comes to guppies. They favor water temperatures somewhere 25.5 and 27.8 degrees Celsius. And sometimes the guppies require a warmer temperature. So, getting an adjustable water heater is the best option for your aquarium.

Keeping the water temperature lower than the favored settings will affect their metabolism. Hence, it diminishes their consumption habit and hinder their development. However, the temperature on the warmer end will accelerate their digestion and help with development.

Furthermore, the warm temperature also help pregnant females relax  during their pregnancy.

Tank Decorations and Fish Toys

The guppies are already one of the prettiest fish species to keep in your fish tank. Their colorful and vibrant bodies are surely a treat to the eyes. However, watching them swim in an empty aquarium is such a shame.

Therefore, it is always a great idea to decorate your guppy aquarium with various tank decorations.

Guppies are not specific to what is on the bottom of the tank. They’re more of a mid-area roamers, so you can put any thing at the bottom.  You can have it bare, or put in tons of gravel, or sand. Regardless of what you choose to put on the bottom, make sure that it’s properly cleaned.

Guppies need hiding places and favor areas where they can stow away in. Similarly, as long as the holes in your embellishments don’t have sharp points on or won’t let guppies get stuck in them, they will appreciate it.

Aquarium plants are incredible to have in your guppy aquariums. It offers a sense of beauty to your aquarium. And also a hiding place for the guppies. Live or counterfeit plants will help give hiding spots for fries if you plan to let females conceive in the same tank. Plants additionally help with some hiding spots with the greater fish, particularly those that are being bullied by other fishes. Or a female that is getting bugged by a male and needs some break.


Lights play an important role in growth and development of the guppies. As they don’t get natural lighting when in aquarium, it’s crucial to provide them with abundance of light.

If you own a complete tank set then it’s a good idea to use the lights that come with the tank. If it’s not available, any usual LED light would do.

It’s also important that you keep a healthy balance between the period where you keep the lights on and off in the tank.

The light should be on for about 12-16 hours in a day. This allows the guppies to have enough time to be active and move around. Similarly, you should let your guppies rest for about 8 to 10 hours. During this period, you should turn the lights off and let them sleep and gain back their energy to start another day with plenty of rest.

Tank Size and the Number of Guppies in a Tank

The size of the tank clearly depends on the number of guppies you plan to keep. Since guppies are very tiny, a large tank will fit a lot of them. However, it’s not a very healthy choice to do so.

If you go by the rule of thumb while filling the guppy tank, you’ll need a gallon of water per inch of fish. Hence, at least two gallons of water is enough for one adult guppy to survive.

The problem with guppies is that they can get depressed easily. They’re social fishes and thrive well if they have companions. So, it’s better to have at least three guppies together in a tank. And for three guppies, a 5-gallon fish tank is a perfect choice.

Be that as it may, if you have plans to keep <LINK>male and female guppies together</LINK>, you need to prepare for more guppies than three. Because when the time comes, there will be mating and there will be tiny little fries swimming around the aquarium.

At one time, a female guppy can give birth to 1-100 fries. However, figuring out if the female guppy is pregnant is pretty easy (as they change color). And they take a while before giving birth, you have plenty of time to prepare for it.

It’s a great idea to get a separate breeding tank for pregnant guppies. This not only gives them enough space, but it also provides security to both the mother and the offspring.

Maintenance of the Aquarium

If you plan to keep guppy fishes as pets, you should first know the importance of maintenance of the aquarium. It’s not really difficult to maintain your guppy fish tank. However, it’s also very crucial to do so.

The first thing you should do is dechlorinate the water in the tank. There are a couple of ways you can do it. You can either let it sit with the cover open for about seven days to allow the chlorine to vanish, or you can purchase a dechlorinating pack. It’s essential to dechlorinate your aquarium, and any water you add to it later on.

You can purchase the supplies at a nearby pet stock store. You will likewise need to get a chlorine testing pack, just to ensure the water is totally free from chlorine before putting on your fish. For best results, follow the guidelines on the dechlorination bottle.

Try keeping the pH level in your tank between 8/10 guppies like higher level pH so focus on around 7.5pH. Its also an excellent idea to add crushed coral in order to keep the pH level high.

Another important thing to keep in mind is always use a filtration system for your guppy fish tank. Usually fish tanks come with a filtration system. But in case yours doesn’t, there are plenty of filters available in the market.

Every time you clean the tank, keep an eye on the color of the filter media. You need to change is immediately as it begins to turn brown. Ceramic Media is a great choice for beneficial bacteria. It will help keep your tank healthy as well as clean. And to make sure that you’re not stripping your fish tank from all the good bacteria, only replace half of your media at one time.

Common Guppy Diseases and its Remedies

Fishes are living beings too. So that means they’re also prone to diseases. Despite their ability to tolerate different water temperatures and pH levels, guppies can easily fall sick.

There are many common diseases that can infect the guppies. And if proper treatment isn’t provided, they die pretty quickly. Here are a few common guppy diseases and it’s remedies.


Dropsy is a common disease that affects guppies. It is caused due to fluid build-up inside the body. The bad bacteria and poor quality food is what gives rise to this disease. It gives swollen bellies to the guppies and they lose their appetite. They also start forming loose and unstructured scales.

In order to cure Dropsy you need to get proper guidance from an expert as soon as possible. As the disease is spotted at a pretty late stage, it’s better to take precautions.

However, if guppies do get dropsy, you should immediately separate them from the tank to stop them from spreading it to others. Place them in a safe and separate tank and do as the doctor tells you.

Ich/White Spot Disease

Ich, also known as the white spot disease is a parasitic disease that occurs in many guppies. It affects the gills of the fish reducing their oxygen intake and respiratory function.

Ichthyophthirius Multifils is a kind of parasite that creates while lumps in the guppy’s body. They come from dirty water infecting the fishes in your tank.

So, the best thing to do to avoid guppies to catch Ich is cleaning the tank on a regular basis. Make sure that the water parameters match the guppies’ requirement. And use chemicals like Malachite Green or Formalin to kill the parasite.

Fins or Tail Rot

Fins rot is a pretty common disease with a lot of freshwater fishes. And since guppies are one of them, they’re also prone to it. Bacteria is a common cause of this disease that damages or rots fins and tails of the fishes. Another cause might be the aggressive tank-mates nipping the tail or the fin.

And you can prevent this disease by regularly changing the water. Or by making sure that the guppies’ tankmates are compatible. However, if they do get infected, you can apply antibiotics that are easily available in the market.


Fish fungus, also known as Saprolegnia fungus infects the internal parts and tissues of a fish’s body. They also infect the eggs. And the main cause behind It is extremely cold water.

You can see a white, cottony growth on the fins of a guppy if they suffer from this disease. And it also causes discoloration of fins, tails, and scales.

In order to avoid the development of fungus in guppies, you can use anti-fungal medicines recommended by the experts. Make sure to increase and maintain the water temperature to keep the guppies comfortable. And replace two-third of the aquarium water with dechlorinated water.

Guppies’ Behavior

Guppies are usually calm and peaceful fish species. They normally prefer being in a group and absolutely love swimming and moving around a lot. The male guppies chase around females showing off their vibrant and colorful bodies. Sigmoid Display is a courtship behavior that male guppies showcases where they flex their bodies into an S shape and vibrate rapidly.

Guppies also possess Predator Inspection behavior where they approach the predator to assess danger upon encounter.


How long does Guppies grow?

Ans: They will grow to full size in about six months, which is 1.5 inches long for males, and 2.5 inches for females, not counting the tail.

What is the life span of a Guppy Fish?

Ans: The normal life span of a guppy fish is 1-3 years.

What is normal Guppy behavior?

Ans: Guppies are normally peaceful and calm and do great when kept in groups.

How do I know if my guppies are happy?

Ans: If the fins of your guppy fish are in good condition, they will not be clamped to the fish’s sides, they will be clear rather than cloudy, and they will show no white spots or growths. Check in on your guppy fish several times throughout the day to gauge their behavior.

What fish can I keep with my guppies?

Ans: Perfect tank mates for guppies include swordtails, mollies, platies, Cory catfish, and few others I mentioned in this article. With some fish like Bettas and Angelfish, you must take various precautions if you’re planning on keeping them together to avoid fights and injuries.

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