guppy-fish-live-without-food

How Long Can Guppy Fish Live Without Food?

Keeping guppies as pet is a lot of fun. But what can you do, when you have to leave for few days or maybe weeks? You can’t just take your guppies with you. How should you feed them or how to change water? What happens if you don’t feed them at all? For how long can guppies survive without food anyways?

In this article I will answer all the above questions, and will give you some really good tips too.

Adult guppies can survive without food for up to 2 weeks. However there are few things to consider before leaving your tank for such a long period of time. Though, guppy fry will not survive more than 3 days without food.

In the following I will highlight some of the things you need to prepare before leaving your guppies for two weeks.

Prepare Your Aquarium Before Leaving

Maintaining your tank regularly is key if you want to raise and keep healthy guppies. Here are few things to do before you are leaving your aquarium for a longer period:

  • Do filter maintenance few days before leaving
  • Do a bigger water change (50-70%) one day before leaving
  • Put aquarium lights on a timer
  • Remove decaying plant matter or dying fish

Filter Maintenance

Doing regular filter maintenance is necessary anyways.

A lot of fish waste and debris can build up in the filter overtime.

This has to be removed, because it can be a huge source of nutrients and ammonia.

If you use sponge filter, you should only rinse the sponge in a bucket with aquarium water few times, and it is good to go back in the tank.

If you have an internal or a canister filter, you should clean the mechanical filter and remove all the built-up muck. You should not touch the biological filter media, because you want to keep the nitrifying bacteria alive.

You can clean your filter just few days before you are leaving your guppies.

Water Change

One day before you leave your guppies, you should do a bigger water change. I usually change 30% of water weekly.

I change this amount of water weekly; because I want to keep the nitrate levels less than 10 ppm. I’ve measured my tanks and they reach this nitrate level in about one week.

When you leave your fish for weeks, I recommend doing 50-70% water change.  Through this amount of water you will remove a lot of nitrates and other fish waste from the water. It will take much more time for the nitrates, toxins and hormones to build up to toxicity level.

When doing such a big water change, I also add nitrifying bacteria to help keep the colony stable. I use the API Quick Start which I get from Amazon.

Aquarium Lights on Timer

Should you keep the lights on or lights off while you are gone? I recommend using a timer for your aquarium lights. You can get one from Amazon for just few bucks.

If you can’t get a timer, it is better to leave the lights off, than keeping the lights on 24/7. Though, make sure that the aquarium is not blacked out completely. Some sort of natural light is still needed, especially if you have plants with your guppies.

Remove Decaying Plants and Dying Fish

Removing decaying plant leaves is a great way to reduce water pollution.

Dead leaves will decay and will turn into nitrates. Although, some of the nitrates can be absorbed by the live plants, some will still remain in the water.

Before leaving your aquarium, you should also inspect your fish. Dying or sick fish should also be removed from the tank. A dead fish can produce an ammonia spike, which will result in more dead guppies. And the chain reaction begins.

It is unfortunate, but if you want to save your colony of guppies, sometime you need to sacrifice some of them.

Should You Use an Automatic-feeder for Your Guppies?

Automatic feeders are a great option to feed your guppies. Though, they are not always a good choice. I would rather not feed my adult guppies anything for two weeks than setting up an automatic feeder.

For guppy fry, however I would setup an automatic feeder, and I highly recommend you do as well.

I use the Eheim automatic feeder (click to check it out on Amazon) to feed my guppy fry while I’m away from my tanks.

How Long Can Guppy Fry Survive Without Food?

When it comes to feeding, guppy fry are more sensitive than adult guppies. Their survival rate drops significantly after 3 days without feeding them.

If you have guppy fry in your tank, it is a good idea to setup an auto-feeder (I use the Eheim automatic feeder) with powder food to feed the fry once a day. Feeding them just a tiny bit of food once a day is enough to keep them alive and will not pollute the water too much either.

In a well-established tank, where microfauna and algae are present, guppy fry can survive for much longer. The fry will graze on soft algae and will eat seed shrimps, daphnia and other small creatures that live in the water. These will provide them with a complex diet and don’t need additional food.

For instance, some people (including myself) keep and breed guppies in outdoor ponds in the summer. I rarely feed my outdoor guppies any food. They will breed and survive for months just consuming the mosquito larvae, algae and bugs that fall into the water.

Conclusion

To sum it up: guppies can live without food for weeks if the water conditions are good. So if you are going on a longer trip, just do bigger tank maintenance before leaving and your fish will be just fine.

If you have guppy fry, you need to feed them at least once a day. So keep that in mind.

Hope this article helped you. If you might have any question regarding this topic, do not hesitate to leave a comment or send me an email.

4 Responses

  1. Edgar Caasi says:

    believed it or not, I went to emergency leave for 7 days, something gone wrong ang my leave was extended up to 1 month ang 4 days, shockingly and luckily my 3 15 gallons aquarium of guppies were suprinsingly all alive and kicking

    • avatar Fabian says:

      No food, no water changes? This sounds fantastic. Glad all your guppies survived. Do you use a filter on your tank? I bet you do!

  2. Hector says:

    You may not believe this but some of my guppies survive without food and water change when I left for 6 weeks. Some of them died but others survived especially the fries. One thing amazed me is that the water doesn’t smell foul, but of course half of the tanks water evaporated. The only thing is that their color turned pale. I left them because I’m on my 6 weeks holiday and nobody could take care of them.

    • avatar Fabian says:

      Wow, this is very surprising. It seams that you had a well established tank which could take care of the excess ammonia produced by decaying fish bodies. I was wondering if your tank has algae in it or what did your fish consume during this period. It is really fascinating how hardy guppies are…

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