With so many articles on how to keep guppies thriving in an aquarium, people have developed the notion that guppies are sensitive and frail fish. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
I, myself, have written numerous articles on guppy dieting, ideal water temperature, oxygenation levels, etc., and how drastic fluctuations in these parameters will hurt guppies. The truth is that guppies are quite hardy fish, capable of adapting to a variety of environmental conditions.
Sure, they can’t withstand severe environmental fluctuations, but they’re not as sensitive as people make them out to be. Many other tank fish species are way more sensitive than guppies.
Today, we will look into what makes guppies so adaptable and resilient and how you can preserve that feature.
What Makes Guppies Hardy?
In short – their genetic baggage. Guppies live in tropical areas in relatively stable environments. Their habitat, however, will change parameters throughout the year, forcing guppies to adapt to the new conditions.
These natural trials have eventually seeped into the guppies’ basic gene pool, and you can see that in domesticated guppies too. For instance, the ideal water temperature for guppies sits between 72 to 82 degrees F. But guppies can withstand temperatures as low as 60 °F. Granted, not without some issues along the way, but it won’t kill them.
The same goes with water oxygenation and other variables. They can even go without food for several days, up to 2 weeks, in extreme scenarios.
So, guppies are not as frail as you may have thought. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care about your guppies’ comfort. As hardy as they may be, they still need stable environments to thrive and feel comfortable throughout the years.
Keeping Your Guppies Super Hardy
As a guppy keeper, your goal should be to provide your guppies with the perfect living conditions. This will keep them healthy, active, and comfortable and boost their reproductive rates along the way. It will also boost their lifespan by a significant margin, since guppies kept in perfect conditions can live up to 2 and a half years.
In this sense, here’s how to set up the perfect conditions for your guppies to thrive:
– Always Buy Your Guppies From Reputed Source
Fish shop guppies are unreliable. There, I’ve said it. The sad part is that most guppy enthusiasts will get their guppies from fish shops, not realizing the risks. These are generally mutt guppies with a little-to-no background check, coming with shady or unknown genetics.
You don’t know the guppies’ parents, you can’t know their gene pool, and they may also be already sick when you buy them.
To prevent these problems, I advise getting your guppies from experienced breeders, especially if you’re passionate and ready to care for them properly. Sure, it will cost you more than shop guppies, but hear me out. Once you’ve got your selected guppy pairs, you can breed them to ensure a clean and balanced gene pool.
You don’t need to buy any more guppies if you choose to breed your own. Plus, all acknowledged and experienced professional breeders will provide quality warranties. You know that the guppies will be healthy, with good genes and parents and outstanding features. After all, they are the result of selective breeding.
– Treat Diseases in Time
Guppies can contract a variety of diseases along the way. This isn’t the end of the world, so long as you take timely measures. Some of these disorders are curable in their initial phases, while some are not. Learning to make the difference may save the sick guppy and will definitely save the guppy population.
Here are some of the most relevant guppy disorders to watch out for and how to manage them before aggravating:
- Velvet Disease – Treatable via copper medication, according to your vet’s recommendations
- Ick (White Spots) – Increase the water temperature to about 80 degrees F, pour aquarium salt into the tank, and perform more extensive water changes more often. There’s also specific medication to consider that will work in most cases.
- Fin Rot – This condition is the result of bacterial infection and may be difficult to diagnose. You should quarantine the fish at the first sign of Fin Rot and use an antibiotic as recommended by your vet.
- Dropsy – This is a potentially contagious disease that will make your fish appear bloated. You can treat it with copper medication, but the first step to take is quarantining the sick fish. This will prevent the disorder from spreading.
Many disorders are curable if treated in their early phases, but not all are. In that case, euthanasia remains your only option if you want to protect the rest of the guppy population.
– Frequent Tank Maintenance
You will need to do regular water changes, at least once per week, changing around 35% to 50% each time. This will ensure proper oxygenation and will keep the water clean with low TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) levels.
You should also clean the tank of algae, remove dead or decaying plants and plant residues, and clean the substrate. These measures are necessary to ensure your guppies’ comfort and prevent any health issues along the way.
Food residues, for instance, may decay in the tank, raising the ammonia levels and leading to ammonia poisoning. The same thing will happen with the dead fish left in the tank.
– Feed High-Quality Food
As omnivores, guppies require a varied diet consisting of animal and plant-sourced nutrients. They also require, more or less, precise amounts of protein and fats since adult guppies are sensitive to overfeeding.
But what most people ignore when it comes to guppy feeding is the food’s quality. Fish food of commercial provenience is sub-optimal, to put it bluntly. Sure, you may have some flakes and veggie pellets around, but don’t make them your guppies’ sole source of nutrients.
You should also consider feeding guppies live food since it mimics their natural diet a lot better. It’s also fresh and nutritious, and your guppies will love it.
A well-balanced and nutrient-rich diet will work wonders for your guppies, strengthening their immune system, boosting their growth, and enhancing their coloring.
Just make sure you don’t overfeed them. Adult guppies should have 1 to 2 meals a day on average.
– Eliminate Stress and Bullying
Your guppies may experience stress for a variety of reasons, bullying being the most obvious one. Bullying is a more prevalent behavior in mixed tanks, where you have guppies coexisting with either larger or more aggressive fish species. Sometimes, they are both larger and aggressive at the same time.
Guppy males will also bully each other and the females, so you need to watch that as well. I’ve already written an article on preventing bullying behavior in guppies. Check it out because it has a lot of useful tips.
Constant bullying can cause your guppies to become stressed, which will sabotage their immune system and leave them vulnerable to diseases. To prevent this problem, verify your tank’s dynamics and look for signs of aggression and bullying.
You can remediate the issue by increasing the tank’s size, adding plants and hiding spots for the bullied to hide, controlling the number of males, and ensuring everybody eats properly.
Are Guppy Fish Low Maintenance?
Yes, guppies are low maintenance, compared to most tropical fish. Guppies don’t ask much of you to remain happy and healthy. Here’s how to keep your guppy population stable and thriving:
- Provide guppies with a regular and balanced meal plan – Adult guppies need 1 or 2 meals per day at most. Feed them whatever they can eat within 1 minute and remove the leftovers. Unconsumed food will accumulate one the substrate and decay, poisoning the water.
- Perform weekly water changes – Changing around 50% of the water every week is essential for preserving the water’s cleanliness and boosting oxygenation. It will require minimal effort on your part, but the benefits are enormous.
- Perform regular tank maintenance – The frequency of the tank maintenance depends on the tank’s size, setup, and number of fish available. Cleansing the tank regularly will eliminate algae growth, lower the ammonia levels and keep your guppies happy.
- Maintain adequate water temperatures – Guppies are tropical fish that love warm and stable water temperatures. Their ideal temperature range is between 72 to 82 degrees F. They can handle some fluctuations, but not much, and not for extended periods of time. Keep the water within the acceptable parameters, and your guppies will thrive.
Other than that, keep a healthy male-to-female ratio of 1 to 3 and ensure stable tank dynamics, and everything should be fine. I also recommend setting up a filter and monitoring the ammonia and nitrate levels constantly.
This will allow you to detect any anomalies in time and act before the situation goes out of hand.
Are Guppies Good For Beginners?
Absolutely, guppies are a good choice for beginners. Guppies are the go-to breed for all fish lovers for a variety of reasons. These include:
- A peaceful, calm, and friendly temperament
- Arrive in a wild variety of colors and patterns
- They breed every month, producing a lot of offspring with each pregnancy
- Guppies get along just fine with a variety of other fish species
- They are a hardy breed, able to cope with a variety of environmental fluctuations
- With proper care, guppies can live up to 2.5 years
- Guppies are relatively cheap (you can buy mutt guppies for as low as $0.10 per specimen)
There are numerous guppy strains available at reasonable prices, providing unique features and solid genetics
Guppies are also ideal for people who don’t have a lot of time on their hands. You only need to feed them once per day and cleanse their tank every week. Other than that, guppies don’t ask much of you. This makes them extremely low maintenance, great for novice tank owners who will inevitably make a lot of mistakes along the way.
If that’s the case, get some guppies; they can handle mishaps better than any other breed.
Other Hardy Fish Species
If you’re not a fan of guppies but plan on setting up an aquarium anyway, here are other fish breeds that you can rely on:
- Mollies – These are colorful, peaceful, and friendly fish, much like guppies. They are also omnivorous and will thrive on a diverse diet or spirulina, veggies, and live food. The minimum tank requirement is 10 gallons since mollies can grow up to 4 inches, which is double that of a guppy. They also have twice the lifespan of a guppy, capable of living up to 5 years in excellent living conditions.
- Platies – Platies grow up to 3 inches, live up to 5 years, and have a predominantly omnivorous diet. Their hardy nature and peaceful temperament make them perfect for beginners.
- Swordtails – Swordtails belong to the Poeciliidae family, similar to guppies. They are a resilient breed, coming with a variety of colors and patterns. The swordtail will grow up to 5.5 inches and live up to 5 years in good conditions.
- Neon Tetra – Small, colorful, energetic, and highly adaptable. This is what qualifies the Neon Tetra as the go-to breed for novice fish breeders. Their peaceful nature allows them to coexist with a wide variety of fish breeds.
- Zebra Danios – The Zebra Danios will reach around 2 inches in length, similar to guppies. They are omnivores, easy to care for, and will thrive in a plant-rich environment.
- Betta – The Betta fish is one of the most popular tank breeds, alongside guppies. Their most distinguishable features are their large, free-flowing fins, making the fish appear larger than it is. The Betta may require more care and maintenance than other breeds.
Guppies are highly resilient and will withstand a variety of environmental fluctuations if necessary. However, don’t overestimate their adaptability power. Sudden or drastic temperature changes, for instance, will affect them. The same goes with dirty tanks, poorly oxygenated water, or improper diets.
If you’re ready to start your first tank, rely on guppies as your first breed. You won’t regret it.