Are Guppies Good for Beginners? 6 Things to Consider

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Guppies are the go-to choice for most fish lovers when looking to set up an indoor tank. That’s generally due to the fish’s notoriety and exhilarating look; they’re not called the rainbow fish for nothing.

But are guppies the best choice for beginners, and how can we tell? I would say that guppies are great for people who’ve never owned a fish tank before. Guppies are easy to care for, breed extensively, and come in an astounding diversity of colors and patterns.

So long as you provide them with optimal living conditions and adequate food, your guppies will live long and healthy lives with minimal intervention from your part.  But what are the essentials to know about breeding guppies?

Let’s have a look!

Are Guppies Easy to Care For?

Yes, guppies are easy to care for even by beginner fish keepers. Guppies are easy-going, adaptable fish, capable of coping with a variety of environmental variations, so long as they are not too extreme.

If you’re ready to set up a fish tank today, I recommend getting your guppies from a reliable source. Fish shops don’t put too much price on guppies having the ideal genetic makeup. This excludes brick and online fish shops right from the get-go.

This can provide you with guppies prone to various conditions, with compromised immune systems, or subpar genetics.

You should, instead, get your guppies from experienced breeders with a history in selective breeding. They will provide you with the best specimens with pristine health and unique features.

Do Guppies Die Easy?

Not that easy, but they can die in some situations. Guppies are generally hardy fish that can cope with a variety of environmental changes and unexpected situations. However, some factors may affect your guppies, leading to sickness and even unexpected death.

These include:

  • Incompatible tank mates – Many beginners aim to build diverse and packed tanks with too many fish and mix incompatible species. The latter include snail breeds that foul the water, larger and more aggressive fish, smaller but territorial fish breeds, etc. These aggressive species can attack and bully guppies or even kill and eat them.
  • Poor water oxygenation – Low water oxygen will hurt your guppies, causing them to exhibit specific behavior like swimming near the water’s surface, gasping for air, or displaying low levels of energy. If the oxygen levels drop too much, your guppies may asphyxiate.
  • Dirty tanks – The tank will become dirty with time due to the accumulation of fish waste and the growth of harmful bacteria. This can cause a significant spike in ammonia levels, causing your guppies to experience deadly ammonia poisoning.
  • Illness and parasitic infections – There are a variety of fish disorders to consider, including TB, dropsy, ick, etc. Some of these conditions are contagious and will aggravate fast. Untreated, they can wipe out an entire guppy population within several days.
  • Drastic temperature fluctuations – As tropical fish, guppies don’t do well in too cold or too hot waters. They thrive in temperatures between 72 and 82 F, preferably with not much variation outside these limits. If the water is colder than 70, your guppy will begin to display visible discomfort. If the temperature goes too low, your guppy’s immune system will drop, leaving the fish vulnerable to sickness and parasites. On the other side, the warmer the waters get, the lower the oxygen levels. And we’ve already discussed what that leads to.

As you can see, you have quite a few parameters to balance if you’re to build a stable and thriving environment for your guppies. Just make sure to get a water heater, a reliable filtering system, and an air pump, and you should be good.

How Many Guppies Should You Start With?

This is a key aspect to discuss, seeing how most beginners tend to overcrowd their tanks. The minimal guppy-to-water volume ratio is 1 to 2. That’s 1 guppy for 2 gallons of water. A 10-gallon tank will hold 5 guppies, a 20-gallon tank will hold 10, and so on.

If you’re new to the whole guppy breeding business, play it safe and start with a 10-gallon tank. You can move on to a larger one once you’ve figured out the essentials.

A key point to make here – calculate the tank’s size accurately. The 1-fish-per-2-gallons rule won’t allow you to have 5 guppies in a 10-gallon tank. That’s because you won’t have 10 gallons of water available. The tank can hold 10 gallons of water but nothing else; and your tank will contain a variety of things.

These include the fish themselves, plants, substrate, a filter, various aquatic decorations, and caves, etc. These will diminish the available volume of water dramatically. Calculate the space accordingly to prevent overcrowding, which can prove deadly over time.

How Do You Take Care of Guppy Fish?

There are several aspects to mention here:

  • Set up the tank – You need a water filter, an air pump, and a heater, preferably. I also recommend having a substrate, whether it’s sand, rocks, or whatever you see fitting. Plants are a must. I recommend either Guppy Grass which controls the levels of ammonia and nitrates, keeping the water clean, or Java Moss, boosting oxygen levels and providing a lot of hiding places. You should also add caves or driftwood decorations to make your guppies feel like home.
  • Understand guppy diet – Guppies are omnivores. They thrive on diets comprising of animal and plant-based nutrients. I suggest feeding guppies a mix of live food, veggies, and pellets or flakes once or twice per day. Only feed your guppies what they can eat within a minute and never more than twice per day to prevent overfeeding. You should also control their protein and fat content; adult guppies don’t need as much fat as the fry.
  • Watch for signs of sickness – Guppies will sometimes fall sick, at which point you need to quarantine them. This will prevent the disorder from spreading to other guppies, keeping your guppy population healthy and safe.
  • Control their breeding – Female guppies will typically give birth to a new batch of fry every 30 days or so. They can deliver between 20 and 200 fry, which can overpopulate your tank fast. To prevent that, I suggest moving the pregnant female into a different tank until it delivers the fry. This will also allow you to decide which fry to keep and which to discard.

I recommend reading some of my other articles on these topics for additional information on guppy breeding, feeding, or any other aspect.

Can You Keep Guppies in a 5-Gallon Tank?

I will say no to that. Remember, a 5-gallon tank should contain water, fish, plants, substrate, etc. At most, you will have maybe 2,5 to 3 gallons of water available. That’s enough for 1 fish, and keeping one fish in a tank is both sad and a death sentence for the fish.

I recommend a 10-gallon tank at least and go from there. If you have the available money and space for it, going for a 20 or even a 50-gallon would be ideal. This will allow you to play with many variables, add more fish, mix multiple fish species, and craft a unique-looking aquatic environment with plants, caves, etc.

Can You Keep a Single Guppy Fish?

No, you can’t. In the best-case scenario, you can probably keep the guppy for a short while until it gets sick and dies. Guppies are social creatures, displaying schooling behavior (swimming in tandem and sticking together as a group). They are the most healthy and active when in the presence of other guppies.

A lonely guppy won’t die of loneliness, but it will experience accumulating stress over time. This will affect its immune system, opening the door to infections, parasites, and various health problems. And this is what can kill your guppy with time.

If you can’t have a 10-gallon tank to keep at least 1 male and 2-3 females, postpone the whole deal. At least, this is my recommendation if you’re trying to have a thriving and healthy guppy population.


Guppies are great for beginners since they are relatively easy to care for. That being said, you do have to put in some work to help them thrive.

If you need guidance with anything related to guppies, I’ve written several articles on selective breeding, ideal tank conditions, dieting, compatible tank mates, etc. Give those a read and, if you still have questions, you can find me in the comment section.

Updated: December 9, 2021
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