I’m often getting asked the same questions by beginners who want to keep guppies in their aquarium:
How long do guppies live for? What is the lifespan of a guppy fish? Do male guppies have a shorter lifespan than female guppies? Do guppies live less in aquariums than in the wild? How to improve the longevity of my guppy fish?
In short: the life span of a guppy fish depends on multiple factors. Generally, guppies live for 1-3 years, but I had guppies that were 5 years old. Good guppy genetics, feeding quality food, good water parameters and lack of stress can help with extending the lifespan of your guppy fish.
How to Improve Guppy Fish Longevity?
In the following, I would like to give you some useful tips that I practice for a very long time, on how to improve the lifespan of your guppies.
You can do whatever you want if your guppies have bad genetics. In most cases, guppies with poor genetics will die before reaching the adult stage.
Buying your guppy fish from experienced guppy breeders who care about breeding healthy fish with good genetics is a good start to improve the life span of your fish.
Pet stores are also a reliable source to buy your guppies because they usually sell good quality fish, however fish keepers have reported on various forums, that guppies bought in a pet store tend to live way less than guppies purchased from breeders.
Feeding Quality Food to Your Guppies
Besides good genetics, your guppies require quality food to thrive and live a longer life. I wrote a detailed article about guppy food here, please read this article.
Guppy fish will eat almost anything you give them. You can feed them with commercial as well home-made food. It is important to feed them a variety of food.
If you choose to feed commercial food, choose a reputed brand. You can find a wide range of guppy food in pet stores or online such as veggie pallets, spirulina tablets, freeze-dried brine shrimp, frozen bloodworms and freeze dried tubifex worms.
If you prefer to prepare your fish food at home, make sure you give your guppy fish the necessary vitamins and minerals. Guppies love fresh as well cooked vegetables such as cucumber, spinach, carrots, green beans and others.
Live food, such as daphnia, vinegar eels or brine shrimp, is a great way to raise and keep healthy guppy fish. Though, the cultivation of live food is not easy.
Whether you feed your guppy fish commercial or home-made food, make sure you offer them a high variety and never overfeed them.
Giving the Right Water Parameters
Water parameters are probably the most important factor for keeping healthy and long-living guppies. Guppy fish are very hardy and can support a wide range of water parameters. Here are the ideal water conditions for guppy fish:
- Water temperature: 72-82 °F (22-28 °C )
- Water pH: 6.8-7.8
- Water hardness (dGH): 8-12
- 0 ppm ammonia, 0 ppm nitrites, maximum 10 ppm nitrates
In most cases, tap water is great for keeping guppies. But be careful with the tap water. Tap water contains heavy metals, chlorine and chloramine in low quantities, which is safe for human consumption but are very dangerous for your fish.
Use a water conditioner when doing water changes to eliminate the toxic substances from the tap water. I use Seachem Prime to eliminate the harmful elements from the tap water.
Read my detailed article about how to care for guppy fish, where I explain everything you need to know about how to maintain a healthy guppy colony.
Just like humans, guppies can be stressed. There are actually many factors that will cause stress in your guppy fish. Here are the most common stress factors for guppies:
- Bad tank mates
- Poor water conditions
- Lack of hiding space
- Overcrowded fish tank
- Too much light
- Inadequate male to female ratio
If you keep your guppies in a community tank, other fish might stress them out. Angelfish or tiger bars are very aggressive fish, which I don’t recommend keeping together with guppies, because they will harm or eat your guppy fish.
Poor water conditions such as low or too high water temperature, ammonia in water, radical changes in water parameters can be a huge stress factor for your guppies. Try to give them the best conditions possible in order to minimize stress.
When they feel safe guppies do not really hide. However, it is a good idea to give them some sort of hiding space. Female guppies can be very stressed by male guppies, and they need rest. They will hide between plants or other aquarium decoration. Having live plants in your aquarium helps the survival rate of guppy fry too. Aquarium plants are very beneficial in improving the quality of the water.
An overcrowded tank can also be a huge stress factor for your guppies. I use this simple method to determine the number of guppies I can place in a fish tank: 1 guppy / 1 gallon. This works very well for me.
Guppies do sleep. They need to rest and they need darkness for this. Too much light will cause stress and eventually death. If you use artificial light on your guppy aquarium, make sure you turn it off for at least 6 hours a day. You can set it up on a timer if you usually forget to turn the lights on and off.
I recommend one male to three females ratio in order to minimize stress in your female guppies. I know that male guppies are more beautiful and people tend to buy more males than females. This is a bad idea. Too many males will harass and stress the females so much, that the female guppy will die. If you buy guppies for their vibrant colors, buy only males.
Female or Male Guppies – Which Live Longer?
I did not found any research proving the fact that female guppies live longer than male guppies, or vice versa. From my experience, both females and males live longer if they are kept separately.
Female guppies can have a shorter life span if they bearing young all the time. Male guppies will have a shorter life span if they will mate with females all the time.
Lifespan of Wild Guppies
What about wild guppies? Do wild guppies live longer? What is the life expectancy of guppy fish in the wild?
Male wild guppies usually mature at around 6-7 weeks, while female wild guppies at 9-10 weeks. They typically live around 2 years, just like pet guppies. However, there are many factors that will affect the lifespan of guppies in the wild.
For example, in the wild there are many predators that will hunt down guppies. Bigger fish or smaller birds will eat guppies.
Extreme weather conditions such as too much rain, floods or multiple days of cold weather will certainly make wild guppies suffer. Wild guppies are hardier, than pet fancy guppies, but they can’t tolerate extreme weather.
Although guppies can survive without food for 1-2 weeks, a shortage of food will affect the population of wild guppies for sure.
Chemicals dumped in the water, oil or pesticide can kill off entire wild guppy populations.
Do Guppies Live Longer with a Filter?
When it comes to keeping guppies, I get some really strange questions. One day someone asked me the following question:
How long do guppies live in an aquarium without a filter?
Filtering the water is a good thing, because it helps to remove the ammonia and nitrites from the water faster and in a more efficient manner. Though, it is possible to setup a guppy aquarium without a filter too.
So the lifespan of guppies it is not directly affected by the filter itself. Rather the water parameters and other conditions play a bigger role in the life of guppy fish.
If you can provide your guppies with the necessary water conditions without using a filter, you should not be worried about their lifespan.
In this article will not go into details on how to setup a guppy aquarium without a filter. But, I will write a guide soon on this topic.
Hopefully, my article has helped you in your journey in expanding the life span of your guppies and raising or maybe breeding healthy fish.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below. If you want to learn more about guppies, please read my other articles.
Featured Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tartaruga33/466509365/