Guppies' Aquarium Setup Guide

what kind of aquarium set up is best for guppies

Guppies are a popular choice for aquariums due to their brilliant colours, lively personalities, and ease of breeding. They are also easy to care for, making them a great choice for beginners.

To set up an aquarium for guppies, you will need a tank, a filter, a heater, and a dechlorinator. The tank size should be at least 10 gallons, with a general guideline of providing one gallon of water per inch of fish. Guppies grow to an average of 2 inches, so a 5-gallon aquarium is the smallest size recommended for three guppies. However, given their quick reproduction rate, a 10- or 20-gallon aquarium is more appropriate in the long run.

When setting up the tank, it is important to use an external power filter, especially for beginners. Rinse the aquarium gravel and substrate thoroughly before adding them to the tank, and fill the tank halfway before adding any decorations, such as plants, rocks, and ornaments. These provide hiding spots for the guppies, reducing their stress levels.

Additionally, an air pump is necessary to oxygenate and circulate the water, and a light with a timer is essential to provide light and dark periods for the guppies' development. The water temperature should be maintained between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and dechlorinators should be used to remove harmful chlorine and chloramine from the water.

Before introducing guppies, it is crucial to cycle the tank by developing beneficial bacteria to maintain water quality. This process can take a few weeks, but it is vital to ensure the health and happiness of your guppies.


Water temperature

Guppies are tropical fish, native to parts of South America, and they thrive in warm water. The ideal water temperature for guppies is between 74 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit (23 to 28 degrees Celsius).

Guppies are hardy fish and can survive in a wide range of temperatures, but their life span and rate of reproduction will be directly impacted by the water temperature. Keeping the water temperature at 76 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 27 degrees Celsius) will give your guppies an average life span of two to three years.

If you want your guppies to grow faster and produce more offspring, you can increase the water temperature to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius). However, this will reduce their life span to around 18 months. On the other hand, lowering the temperature to 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius) will increase their life span to 3.5 years or more, but they will take longer to reach adulthood and will only reproduce every six months.

An aquarium heater is recommended to maintain the desired water temperature for your guppies. Choose a heater with an adjustable thermostat that attaches to the glass with suction cups. It is important to monitor the water temperature regularly to ensure it remains within the optimal range for guppies.


Tank size

Guppies are small fish, growing to an average length of 2 inches. They are social fish and should be kept in schools, so the minimum recommended tank size is 5 gallons for a trio of guppies. However, given their quick reproduction rate, a larger tank of 10 or 20 gallons is more appropriate in the long run. As a general rule of thumb, provide a gallon of water per inch of fish.

For a 5-gallon tank, 3-4 guppies are suitable, while a 10-gallon tank can house 5-7 guppies. A 15-gallon tank can accommodate 10 guppies, a 20-gallon tank can hold 13, a 25-gallon tank can fit 17, a 30-gallon tank can manage 20, a 35-gallon tank can handle 23, and a 40-gallon tank can support 27 guppies.

It is important to note that these numbers are the maximum and depend on the filtration system. Overcrowding the tank can lead to increased maintenance requirements and potential health issues for the fish. Additionally, guppies are livebearers and reproduce rapidly, so starting with a larger tank or upgrading to one is often necessary.

When setting up a guppy tank, it is recommended to use an external power filter, especially for beginners. The filter should be sized appropriately for the tank, with a minimum flow rate of five times the tank's volume per hour. For example, a 10-gallon tank requires a filter that circulates 50 gallons per hour.

In terms of substrate, a layer of gravel or sand can be added, but it is not essential. If using gravel, a depth of 2-3 inches is sufficient. Avoid using coarse or sharp gravel, and opt for a smooth medium-grained sand instead. The substrate should be rinsed thoroughly before adding it to the tank to remove any contaminants.

Decorations, such as rocks and plants, can be added to provide hiding spots for the guppies, which helps reduce their stress levels. Live plants, like Java moss, are particularly beneficial as they filter toxins and add oxygen to the water. When placing decorations, ensure they are firmly set in the substrate to prevent them from falling over and harming the fish.

An air pump is also recommended to oxygenate and circulate the water, and some filters require an air pump to function properly. Additionally, a heater is necessary to maintain the ideal water temperature for guppies, which is between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. An adjustable heater with a suction cup attachment is ideal, allowing for precise temperature control.

Lastly, lighting is an important consideration. Guppies need periods of light and darkness to develop properly, so a light with a timer is recommended. Ensure the light is turned off for at least eight hours each day to provide a dark resting period for the guppies.

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Tank mates

Guppies are peaceful fish that get along with most other fish species. However, their small size makes them a target for aggressive fish and a food source for large fish. Therefore, it is important to choose tank mates that are small, peaceful, and non-aggressive. Here are some suggestions for suitable tank mates for guppies:

  • Cory catfish
  • Neon tetras
  • Bristlenose plecos
  • Mollies
  • Swordtails
  • Danios
  • Platy fish
  • Ghost shrimp
  • Cherry shrimp
  • Amano shrimp
  • Cory catfish
  • Siamese algae eaters
  • Rainbow fish

It is important to provide hiding places for guppies, such as plants and caves, as they like to play and hide when they feel threatened or want to mate. Guppies also prefer to swim near the top of the tank, so choose tank mates that swim in the middle and bottom of the tank to avoid overcrowding.

In addition, guppies are adaptable and can survive in both freshwater and brackish environments. They are hardy fish that can tolerate a wide range of water conditions, but consistent tank conditions with proper water parameters are necessary to reduce the potential for disease and stress.

When selecting tank mates for guppies, it is crucial to avoid aggressive or large fish that may bully, injure, or eat them. Guppies should be kept in a group of at least three, and the tank should be adequately sized and maintained regularly to ensure the health and well-being of all its inhabitants.



Guppies are a great choice for beginner fish keepers as they are easy to care for and can survive in most environments. However, there are some important steps to follow when it comes to filtration to ensure your guppies remain healthy.

Firstly, it is recommended to use a common Hang On the Back (HOB) filter. This type of filter is ideal as it allows you to reduce the current's flow with a simple touch and customise the media to fit your needs. When choosing a HOB filter, look for one with a basket that contains all the necessary media, such as the Aqua Clear 20 or 30. It is important to note that you should never run an aquarium filter dry as it will ruin the motor. Always ensure there is water in the filter before plugging it in.

When it comes to the substrate, it is best to use smooth, medium-grained sand as opposed to coarse or sharp gravel. This is because guppies are known to play and hide amongst pebbles and caves, and you want to ensure their environment is as safe as possible. Additionally, if you plan on adding live plants, check the label before purchasing gravel to ensure it can support plant life.

The type of filter you choose will depend on your level of experience. If you are a beginner, it is recommended to use an external power filter rather than an under-gravel filter as it requires less maintenance. Choose a filter that is powerful enough for your tank size—it should filter your water at least five times per hour. For example, if you have a 10-gallon tank, you will need a filter that circulates 50 gallons per hour.

It is also important to maintain your tank regularly to keep your guppies healthy. This includes changing 20-30% of the water weekly, cleaning the glass of your tank with a sponge or brush, and cleaning your filter every other week. It is crucial to never perform complete water changes as this will kill all the beneficial bacteria, resulting in high ammonia levels which can be toxic to your guppies.

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Guppies are not picky eaters and will graze on algae growing inside the aquarium. However, it is still important to feed them a healthy and balanced diet.

Adult Guppies

Adult guppies should be fed once or twice a day, as much food as they can eat in one minute. It is easy to overfeed guppies, which can lead to constipation and other health issues. Guppies will continue to eat or search for food even when they do not need it, so do not feed your fish an additional meal because they appear hungry.

Guppies can be fed flake food, but it is important to choose a high-quality brand that contains both protein and vegetable matter. Flake food intended for tropical fish often includes natural colour enhancers that will make your guppies appear brighter and more colourful. It is also a good idea to replace the occasional flake food meal with more nutritious treats. Guppies can be given baby brine shrimp, bloodworms, mosquito larvae, earthworms, shucked peas, shredded lettuce, or finely chopped cucumber.

Baby Guppies

Baby guppies, or fry, need to be fed more frequently than adults—between three and eight times a day. Fry have tiny mouths and high protein requirements, so they must be fed separately from the adults. They can be fed baby brine shrimp, microworms, finely chopped beef heart, and/or a mash of egg yolk and water. Vegetable matter can also be included in smaller quantities.


Overfeeding is common with guppies due to their small stomachs but large appetites. Signs of overfeeding include tubes of waste dangling behind the fish and adult male guppies developing a "potbelly" or bulging chest. If your tank water gets cloudy and dirty frequently, excess food or waste may be the cause.

Frequently asked questions

Guppies are social fish and should be kept in groups of at least three. The minimum recommended tank size is 5 gallons for three guppies, but a 10- or 20-gallon tank is more appropriate if you plan on breeding them. As a general rule, provide a gallon of water per inch of fish.

You will need a filter, heater, and air pump. A light with a timer is also recommended to ensure your guppies get a regular light and dark cycle.

Guppies like to play and hide, so include caves, plants, and other decorations. Live plants like Java moss, flame moss, and wisteria are particularly good as they offer coverage for guppies and help keep the water clean. Guppies also like to swim among pebbles.

Guppies thrive in warm, cleanfreshwater with a pH of 7.0 or above and a temperature between 75 and 80°F (24-27°C). Use a dechlorinator to remove harmful chlorine and chloramine from tap water.

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