Guppies are peaceful, adaptable, and resilient creatures that grow in a variety of colors and patterns. They are the most sought-after aquarium fish on the market for good reasons.
However, their health, happiness, and lifespan will depend on the living conditions along the way. You want to keep your guppies safe and thriving, and this requires you to rely on specific strategies that have been tested and proven to work.
Here are the essential 10 things that will allow you to build a stable, healthy, and thriving guppy population:
1. Buy Guppies From Well-Known Sources Only
Guppies come in a variety of prices, from $2 to $100 or more per specimen, with variations on both ends. You can even get some mutt guppies for free if you’re looking to minimize your investment. However, I don’t recommend doing that.
Shop guppies and those bought from unverified and inexperienced sellers can come with a variety of problems. The most common 2 worth mentioning here are:
- Poor gene pool – You have no idea who the guppy’s parents were. I mean, yeah, the guppy’s parents were other guppies, but you don’t know their gene makeup. Maybe they were predisposed to illness, showed weakened immune systems, or were prone to various deformities and subpar traits. All these issues will transmit to the fry that you will eventually buy, making the problem obvious.
- Hidden diseases – That’s right, you could buy sick guppies without even realizing it. Some diseases show no obvious symptoms in early phases, causing you to introduce the sick guppies to an already flourishing population. Next thing you know, other guppies will contract the disease, often with dire consequences.
To prevent all these problems, only get your guppies from reputed sellers. The investment may be slightly steeper, but the price will also bring you comfort and peace of mind.
2. Choose the Right Tank Size
Many novice fishkeepers tend to crowd too many fish into too small tanks. This common mistake stems from people’s desire to diversify their fish population without investing in a larger tank. The results are often grim in the long run.
Having too many fish in a tight space will lead to overcrowding, quickly turning into a deadly problem. We are talking about excessive fish waste accumulation, increasing the levels of ammonia and nitrates, and poisoning all aquatic creatures.
The fish will also experience stress and show higher levels of aggression when overcrowded. This is clearly an issue you don’t want to face.
3. Get a Good Water Filter
Guppies need a water filter to remain happy and thriving. The filter will oxygenate the tank water, lower the levels of harmful nitrates and ammonia, collect food residues, fish waste, and dead matter, and harbor cultures of beneficial bacteria.
In essence, a good filter will improve the tank water’s quality, providing your guppies with a safe, comfortable, and healthy environment. It’s a must-have no matter your tank’s size or how many guppies you own.
4. Feed High-Quality Food
Guppies are omnivorous and will require a varied diet to remain healthy and active. They also need high-quality food, preferably homemade. This includes having live food cultures, allowing you to control the quality and prevent diseases and parasites.
Compared to buying it, the main pro of using homemade fish food is the freedom it gives you. You can use various ingredients to personalize your guppies’ food according to their tastes and needs.
I have written several articles on fish food and provided severe recipes that you can use. It’s not difficult to obtain a nutritious paste containing shrimp, fish meat, vegetables, spirulina, algae, blood worms, and daphnia, which you can use for weeks on end. Just make sure you don’t overfeed your guppies or provide too much protein and fats since it can hurt your adult guppies long-term.
5. Change Water Regularly
Having a filter won’t guarantee the water’s quality forever. You will have to perform regular water changes to maintain the water’s quality in the long run.
Regular water changes improve oxygenation, clean the water, and stabilize your guppies’ environment. The frequency and amount of water change depend on your guppy population and tank’s size.
You should ideally perform a 10% to 20% water change once per week. Anything more or more often than that can destabilize the bio-habitat, killing of the beneficial bacteria.
6. Substrate Vacuuming
The tank’s substrate will harbor a variety of harmful matter, including unconsumed food, fish waste, harmful bacteria, dead plants, etc. Vacuuming the substrate regularly is necessary to protect the environment and keep your fish healthy over the years.
The frequency generally depends on how many fish you have. A big enough fish population will inadvertently make more mess, requiring you to clean the substrate more often.
I suggest monitoring the tank’s substrate to know when your intervention is necessary.
7. Filter Maintenance and Cleaning
The tank’s filtering system also needs regular cleaning. If the filter clogs, it will underperform and fail to preserve the habitat’s stability. Just as with water changes, the frequency of cleaning the filter varies depending on the tank’s size and how many guppies you have.
A general rule states that you should clean the filter once per month, no matter the filter’s size or type.
8. Reduce Stress and Aggression
This is a common issue in guppy tanks, despite guppies being rather peaceful and friendly fish. However, several factors can spike guppies’ aggression, leading to stress and even injuries along the way.
Among the most common causes for guppy aggression and stress include:
- Male and female territorial behavior
- The mating season, making males more aggressive
- Pregnancy periods when females tend to enter in a more aggressive state
- Poor tank conditions and dirty water
- Insufficient food, leading to competition against guppies
- Establishing pecking order
As you can see, these peaceful and friendly fish can find a multitude of reasons to bully and fight each other. These fights are generally benign, but they can lead to problems along the way.
Guppies may experience stress and even physical injuries that can infect and put the fish’s life at risk.
I suggest dealing with these problems by monitoring the tank dynamics, identifying the cause, and applying an adequate solution.
9. Try To Build a Natural Aquarium
The best way to ensure a stable, thriving, and healthy environment for your guppies is to have it resemble the fish’s natural living conditions. Guppies thrive in lush environments with plenty of rocks, plants, algae, and flowing waters.
Try to mimic these factors as much as possible, providing your guppies with a healthy and comfortable habitat where they can thrive. There are plenty of tank decorations you can use to keep your guppies safe, many of which will also enrich your tank’s aesthetic potential.
You can place caves, rocks, driftwood, oak leaves, and numerous plants that will nourish and protect your guppies. These natural decorations will also serve as hiding spots for weaker and smaller fish that could fall prey to bullying.
Guppy fry will use these spots to avoid guppy adults who tend to hunt and eat the little fish. Cannibalism isn’t really a problem within the guppy community.
10. Act Fast With Diseases
Guppies can struggle with a variety of diseases, many of which can turn deadly fast. The problem is that not all these health issues are visible in their starting phases. Many conditions have no visible symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose them in a timely manner.
Many others do, however, and you need to act fast upon identifying any related signs. If not, not only the sick fish may die, but they can also infect the rest of the guppy population. Another core aspect to note is that some fish diseases can also transmit to pets and humans, like fish tuberculosis.
The first step to take when identifying any signs of illness is to quarantine the sick fish. This will protect the rest of the guppy population and allow you to apply adequate treatment. You don’t want to medicate the main tank since certain medications may affect weaker fish.
Your guppies aren’t too picky. They can adapt to a variety of environmental conditions with certain obvious limitations. But I believe that guppies don’t have to just survive in the aquarium but thrive.
Your goal should be to provide guppies with a natural, stable, and clean environment where they can feel safe and live long and prolific lives. A healthy and diverse diet, combined with clean water and ideal living conditions, will greatly boost your guppies’ reproductive rates.
Keep your guppies safe, show them love and care, and they will reward you with a breathtaking, colorful, and active population.