Poeciliidae – Guppies (Poecilia reticulata)

Updated on November 20, 2020 by

Undoubtedly the most commonly available species of freshwater aquarium fish, the Guppy is a favourite amongst aquarists worldwide.

Their undemanding and hardy nature makes them perfect for the novice aquarist, and their peaceful temperament makes them an excellent addition to most community aquariums.

Quick stats – Guppy

OriginSouth America
Max size2½” / 6 cm
AquariumMin 10 gallon / 30 liters
Water64-82° F / 18-27° C

KH 10-30, pH 5.5-8.0

Care levelEasy
ColorsRed, blue, orange, etc

Guppy description

Among the freshwater tropical fish species, the guppy fish belonging to the family of Poeciliidae remains one of the most popular fish of the aquarium hobby. They are peaceful species and as such would thrive in a tank with fellow peaceful mates.

Guppy fish is dimorphic and as such, the male and female guppies are quite very easy to differentiate as they both have dissimilar appearance. The male Guppies are brightly shaded with multiple colors and aesthetic patterns while the females are typically grey with black spots.

The male guppies are usually smaller, almost half the size of the females. The size of a male guppy ranges from 1.5-3.5 cm, while the female guppy ranges from 3 to about 6 cm long.

The male guppy has a long and narrow anal fin while the female has a dark spot behind their anal fin which is usually darker when they’re pregnant.

Guppy fish can be easily found in pet shops and fish stores and with just a few dollars, these lovely creatures could find a new home at your place.

Guppy in the natural habitat

The Guppy fish originates from the freshwater rivers and lakes of Guyana and Trinidad of South America, Barbados of North America, Brazil, and Venezuela, to briefly mention their main preferred areas.

As a hardy fish, they are also found in warm brackish water with salinity a bit higher than freshwater, but lower than sea water

Due to its small nature, they are found in slow moving waters with thick vegetation, thus avoiding the fast moving waters.

As a social species, they always swim in groups, and this is greatly influenced by the population of the predators in their habitat. The higher the risk of potential predators, the larger the social Guppy group will be.

Guppy in the ideal aquarium

Poecilia reticulata - Guppy

The aquarium setup of these lovely species should mimic their natural habitat so as to provide them with the comfort of their natural environment.

A slow moving hard water aquarium of at least 10 gallon with temperature between 25.5 and 27.8 C and hardness of 8-12 dH is suitable to house a group of six to ten Guppy fish. Though they can thrive in varying pH levels, the 7.0-7.2 pH level is most suitable for the Guppy.

A filter can be used to remove contaminants and maintain the slow water flow. 20-30% of the water should be changed on a monthly basis to ensure that the quality of the water is maintained.

Due to the fact that Guppy fish live at the top of the middle section of water, no special substrate is required. However, a silty or gravel substrate with thick vegetation would provide the comfort of the natural habitat for the peaceful Guppies.

Guppy fish do not need a lot of hiding spots, as they are active swimmers and always move in groups. As a matter of fact, if the Guppy fish is always hiding, it could mean that they are sick and should be examined. However, owing to the fact that Guppy fish love vegetation, floating plants such as the sword plant and java moss would be appealing to the Guppy tank.

It’s preferable to house the male and female in separate tanks. But if you should keep them together regardless of the sex, they should be kept in the ratio of 2:1. That is 2 male guppy to 1 female guppy, or 2 female guppy to 1 male guppy.

As a peaceful species, the guppy fish would be compatible with peaceful species alike. Mollies, Gouramis, and Platies are ideal tank mates for the Guppy.

Aggressive species such as some of the Tetras should be greatly avoided in the tank. Also fin nippers such as Tiger Barbs are unsuitable for tank mates of the Guppy. Larger fishes such as the Cichlids which could prey on the Guppy fish should be avoided at all.

However, the best tank mates for the Guppy fish are naturally, more Guppies.

Guppy feeding

The Guppy fish are omnivores and can feed both on live food and plant sources. Live feeds such as bloodworms and mosquito larvae are meaty food for the Guppy fish. Lettuce leaves, tomatoes and spinach leaves are also a great source of plant food for the Guppy.

Although they are not picky eaters, their food should be prepared with enough vitamins to provide them with nutrients and vitality at all times.

The Guppy fish are not heavy eaters and should be fed 1-2 times a day with just enough as they could eat in a few minutes. The Guppy fish shouldn’t be overfed as this would greatly affect their intestines and digestive system.

To avoid malnutrition and deficiency, the Guppy fish should not be fed only one type of meal. This requires that their food be alternated between live food, plant sources and even flake foods.

Leftovers should not be left to litter in the tank after the fish are done eating, to generate unnecessary dirt. Leftovers can be easily removed with a net.

Guppy breeding

As viviparous species, Guppy fish are livebearers and as such would give birth to their young ones alive. With or without help, the Guppy fish can easily mate and breed, being one of the easiest freshwater aquarium fish to breed.

After a brief contact between the male and female Guppy fish, the male deposits spermatophores into the female fertilising her. The female therefore becomes pregnant with multiple fry.

A female Guppy fish can have multiple pregnancy from a single fertilisation, this is because the females guppy fish can store excess sperm in their oviduct, allowing them to have multiple fertilisation with or without the male Guppy fish.

However the number of offspring depends on the age and size of the breeding female. A darkened area (gravid spot) behind the anal fin of the female Guppy fish is an indication of pregnancy.

After a gestation period of 21-30 days, the female Guppy fish gives birth to their young ones alive. Sequel to that, for another period of another 21-30 days, the process repeats again, therefore giving birth to another set of young ones. This multiple birth might result from just a single fertilisation.

After they give birth, the fry should be transferred to a separate tank until they are mature Guppy fish and ready to be introduced into the tank. This is because other tank mates including the fry’s parents could prey on little fry enjoying a feast.

Poecilia reticulata - Guppy
Poecilia reticulata - Guppy
Poecilia reticulata - Guppy
Poecilia reticulata - Guppy


To conclude

The Guppy fish remains one of the most popular freshwater fish species. They are social and peaceful, thus will require the tank to mimic their natural habitat with a group of at least six Guppies in the tank.

They are non-picky omnivores and can feed on a large variety of live food, vegetation and flakes. They are not heavy eaters, which requires that they should be fed 1-2 times a day with enough they can eat in about 2-3 minutes.

They are viviparous species and will give birth to their young ones alive. With no special care, they can easily breed. The young fry should be relocated to a new tank until they are mature, otherwise other tank mates or even the parents will surely prey on the new ones.

Guppy FAQs

What is maximum size of Guppies?

The maximum size of the guppy fish ranges from 3.4 to 6.9 cm long.

What species are incompatible with the Guppies?

Bigger species which could prey on them and fin nippers should be avoided.

Do Guppies need a heater?

Guppies are tropical fish and they like warmer water, so therefore if your tank temperature could potentially go below 68 °F (20 °C), then YES, a heater is recommended.

What is the lifespan of a Guppy?

With proper care, they can live up to 3-5 years.

What are ideal tank mates for Guppies?

Peaceful species alike such as Mollies, Tetras, Gouramis and Platies.