Guppy fish are live-bearing fish that breed easily in the wild and can be successfully bred even in home aquaria even without any conditioning or the need for the aquarist to intervene in any other way than to place both male and female guppies in the same tank.
But can you breed guppies in outdoor ponds or tubs? Yes, guppy fish can be raised and can breed even in an outdoor pond or tub, if you prefer keeping your guppies outside.
While raising guppies outside doesn’t present with insurmountable challenges, there are a few things you should know if you choose this route of breeding guppies.
In this article, I’ll go over the basics of breeding guppies outside including how to set up an outdoor pond for guppies and the equipment you’ll need to ensure that your guppy fish are well off in their outside environment.
Setting Up an Outdoor Pond
Guppy fish stay small during their lives; therefore, they don’t require huge tanks to accommodate their needs.
Even when kept outdoors, they’ll do fine in a patio pond kit that’s set up with aerators, lights, air pump and enough water volume (a foot or two deep).
This unless you want to breed them, then you’ll need a larger pond to accommodate the fry that will be born, and which will take up space in your pond unless you remove them.
Setting up an outdoor pond is not very different from setting up an aquarium, but there are a few extra things you need to be more careful about, like the effect of outdoor air temperature on water temperature.
Water Temperature for Guppies
As tropical fish, guppies can be kept at stable temperatures that are in the 72-82 °F (22-28 °C) range. For short amounts of time, guppies can tolerate temperatures as low as 60-65 °F, but never for extended periods.
Those that are thinking of raising and breeding guppies in tropical climates, where temperatures don’t drop below 68 °F all year round, needn’t worry about taking their guppies indoors.
Those who live in climates where outdoor temperatures vary largely from winter to summer should set up a water heater for their guppy aquariums to keep the temperature stable.
Water heats up and cools down slower than air temperature, therefore, you should keep in mind that the temperature of the water in the aquarium or pond won’t be the same as the outside temperature.
Once water heats up to a given temperature, it won’t cool down as fast during the night, therefore, the water temperature in the tub or pond won’t reach the highs and lows of the day.
It’s important for the tub or pond to be deep enough so that the water doesn’t get heated up too quickly. Shade is also important to protect the pond and your guppies from direct sunlight.
Assuming that the pond is deep enough, there will also be temperature gradients between the top of the aquarium and the bottom of it.
I recommend taking temperature readings multiple times during the day to see how temperatures change in your outdoor set-up and whether you need to add more shade or permit more sunlight to reach your ponds.
This is especially important in temperate climate regions where temperatures can change drastically from season to season and even more so if you have guppy fry in the pond that are more sensitive to temperature changes.
Equipment You Need for Outdoor Guppy Breeding
The equipment needed for keeping guppies in an outdoor pond is more or less the same as the equipment needed for home aquaria, namely:
If it’s your first time setting up an outdoor guppy pond, I recommend that you get a filter for it too. If you’re an experienced aquarist, you can get away without a filter, but it still helps a lot to have a filtration system.
Yes, ponds are large and have a lot of water volume and yes live plants can help keep the water clean, but it’s better for your guppies if they have a filter system in the pond.
Even for indoor aquariums I always recommend having a cover for your aquarium to prevent guppies from jumping out.
Guppies are jumpers and they will attempt to jump out of their tubs of ponds, so I recommend covering the pond with fish net to prevent accidents that will put their lives in danger.
A heater is not necessary if outside temperatures stay within the range acceptable for guppy fish, if not, a heater can help keep the water temperature stable and it can extend the period for which you can keep guppies outdoors.
This is not to say that you can keep guppies outdoors in freezing temperatures, but you can keep them a bit longer if temperatures don’t drop too drastically and the heater can compensate the loss of water temperature due to colder weather.
Fish Net and Small Transparent Container
Part of taking care of guppy fish and their fry is to monitor for health and growth status. A fish net and a small transparent container are needed to do just that.
From time to time, you should check your guppies for eventual health problems and growth rate by scooping them out with a fish net.
Many guppy diseases and nutritional deficiencies can be corrected or treated if they’re caught early on, so I advise you to periodically check up on your fish.
If your pond has a substrate, a gravel vacuum is also useful tool to have around to clean the substrate, which is something you must do periodically to ensure that unwanted debris and dirt is removed from the pond.
For How Long Can You Keep Guppies Outdoor?
If temperatures in your area stay above 68 F all year round, you can keep guppies outdoors all year round. If not, you must take weather and air temperature considerations into account.
In temperate climates, you can keep guppies outdoors between April and October if weather conditions allow it. You can help things along with a heater too, but usually, after October the weather gets too chilly for guppies to continue to stay outside.
When outside temperatures are no longer favorable for guppy fish, you should move them indoors, where you can offer them warmer temperatures.
Therefore, with a little bit of luck and the help of a heater, you can keep guppies outdoors for up to 8 months before temperatures move to the extreme and your guppies will no longer be able to withstand them.
Of course, it all depends on the weather conditions — some years you may be able to keep guppies in your outdoor pond for 8 months, in other years you may not keep them out longer than 5 months.
In conclusion, when setting up an outdoor pond or tub, you should consider the fact that you will have to move your guppies once the weather gets bad.
Do Guppies Grow Faster in Outdoor Ponds?
I love keeping guppies in outdoor ponds so much more than in indoor aquariums. With outdoor ponds you’re not restricted in terms of space, which means you can offer them a larger pond with more water volume and swimming space.
This aspect, coupled with the fact that outdoors guppies will have access to more live foods (e.g. insect and mosquito larvae, mosquitoes, etc.) will help them grow faster and healthier. Not to mention that sunlight is also beneficial for guppy fish.
With more available space for them, access to live foods and sunlight, guppy fish raised in outdoor ponds will grow faster and will also be more colorful than their indoor counterparts.
If you have the space and you’re willing to move your guppies in and out throughout the year, I recommend keeping guppies in an outdoor pond.
Are Guppies more Difficult to Breed Outdoors?
If water conditions are right, guppies will breed just as easily regardless of whether they’re indoors or outdoors.
Therefore, you can breed guppies in outdoor ponds and tubs, and you can raise the fry outside too, if weather conditions in your area allow it.
If you’re breeding guppies, make sure that you have enough space to accommodate the fry whether you choose to raise them separately to prevent them from getting eaten by adults or leave them with the adults and provide them with hiding spaces.
Successful Guppy Breeding Project
In this video you can see how easy is to keep and breed guppies in outside ponds or tubs. Over 100 guppies in a 50 gallon (190 liter) tub:
Guppy fish aren’t difficult to raise or to breed. You can choose to breed them even in outdoor ponds, which in fact may even be better for them considering that you can splurge on larger ponds without being confined to the space available in your home.
When breeding guppy fish, you should observe the correct male to female ratio (1:3) and avoid keeping more males than females in the same aquarium.
Guppy fry should be fed a protein-rich diet that consist of multiple daily feedings with live cultured foods to promote healthy development and fast growth.
I hope my article has answered some of your questions about breeding guppies outdoors and about some of the challenges of keeping these fish outdoors.