Guppies (Poecilia reticulata) are among the most popular ornamental fish and belong to the family of live-bearing toothcarps (Poeciliidae). These popular aquarium fish are especially suitable for beginners and in most cases they are very forgiving of small maintenance mistakes. Originally the colourful fish come from the freshwaters of the Caribbean and northern South America.

What distinguishes Guppies?

Especially striking is their colourful nature. The small fish appear in the most diverse forms and colours. They are so popular because they make hardly any demands on the aquarium and are therefore very easy to keep. This makes Guppies very attractive, especially for beginners. However, also longtime breeders enjoy these fish.

Guppies basically live in shoals and reach a maximum life span of four to five years.

Appearance of guppies

Guppies come in all patterns and colours. Basically the fish reach a size between three and six centimetres. The wild forms of the guppies are a little smaller.

A particularly conspicuous feature of these colourful fish is their dorsal and caudal fins, which also appear in the most varied forms depending on the breed. Often the animals have fins in the form of a double sword or veil.

Sex differences

Guppies are known for their pronounced sexual dimorphism. Females are usually larger than males, although the latter are known for their stronger colouring. The caudal fin can also be much larger in males, depending on the breed.

In wild forms the differences may not be immediately obvious. In this case it is recommended to take a look at the anal fin. This is also called gonopodium and is basically the mating organ of the fish. Male animals have an elongated anal fin, females a triangular one.

Females also have a dark spot above the anal fin. This is also known as a pregnancy spot.

Water values for guppies

In principle, the colourful animals do not impose any special conditions on the aquarium. Nevertheless, a water change should take place at regular intervals. In this way a too high pollutant content can be avoided.

As the natural habitat of the guppies is tropical, the water temperature should always be between 22° C and 27° C. The pH-value of the water should be between 6 and 8.5 and the optimum total hardness within 7 and 20.

The nitrate (NO3) value should be below 50 – nitrite (NO2) is not known.

Feed and nutrition for guppies

When it comes to nutrition, guppies are not choosy. In principle, they prefer plant food, although they also eat animal proteins such as mosquito larvae from time to time.

Owners should therefore pay particular attention to a varied diet. The following animals are therefore well suited as live food:


© Henrik Schneider

At the same time, carotenoids should also be present in the food, as these ensure that the colour of the ornamental fish is even better.

The animals should be fed two to three times a day – young animals up to five times a day. It is advisable not to overwhelm the animals with food, but to feed them smaller meals.

If the animals do not eat the food within five minutes, too much has been used. In addition, it cannot hurt to have a day of fasting. This not only relieves the intestines, but also improves the health of the ornamental fish.

The ideal aquarium for guppies

Every aquarium of these shimmering fish should of course also contain aquatic plants. Floating plants are also recommended, as the small fish are found in all layers of water. These serve the ornamental fish not only as a place of retreat, but also stabilize their community. In addition, the plants ensure that the pollutants are broken down.

To keep the fish permanently, the aquarium should be at least 60 cm long – the minimum size is 54 litres. Guppies are active swimmers, so the larger the aquarium the better.

Guppies do not have any special requirements for the bottom of the tank. However, dark gravel would be recommended, as this not only brings out the colour of the fish, but is also visually more attractive.

Of course, an aquarium should not be without the appropriate equipment with UV radiation. The ideal Lighting duration amounts to about 12 hours, as this is also their tropical home.

Housing conditions

The easy-care fish are particularly suitable for beginners, but there are still special requirements for keeping them. In summary, the following points should be considered when keeping guppies:

  • Varied diet
  • Feeding two or three times a day – young animals up to five times
  • Aquarium size of at least 60 cm
  • Regular water change – especially for small aquariums
  • Water temperature between 22° C and 27° C
  • PH value from 6 to 8.5
  • NO3 Value below 50
  • Total hardness between 7 and 20
  • Lighting for twelve hours
  • Sufficient water plants as a place of retreat


>> Read on: Guppies – Breeding and rearing

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