Guppies: Tank Setup And Care

what tanks do guppies live in

Guppies are a popular choice for home aquariums due to their bright colours, lively personalities and ease of breeding. They are native to South America and are typically found in freshwater streams, but can also survive in brackish water.

Guppies are social creatures and are often kept in groups. The smallest tank size recommended for a small group of guppies is 10 gallons, with a ratio of one male to two or three females. However, a larger tank of 20 or 40 gallons is ideal, as it offers more space and is easier to maintain in terms of water quality and stability.

Guppies are sensitive to changes and impurities in their environment, so water quality is pivotal to their health. They require clean water, a balanced pH, and a temperature between 72°F to 82°F. Regular water changes are recommended, with 25-30% of the water changed weekly.

In addition to water quality, guppies also require effective filtration, lighting, and appropriate substrates such as gravel or sand. Live plants like Java moss offer shelter and oxygenation, while decorations such as smooth-edged caves and tunnels provide hiding places.


Minimum tank size

Guppies are social creatures and are often kept in groups. The smallest tank size recommended for guppies is a 5-gallon aquarium for a trio of guppies. However, a 10- or 20-gallon aquarium would be more appropriate in the long run, especially given how quickly they reproduce. A 10-gallon tank will comfortably hold a small guppy group of around 5 specimens or up to 10 guppies if you're an experienced aquarist.

Guppies are active and need plenty of space to swim around. They are also sensitive to changes and impurities in their aquatic environment. In a small tank, guppies will feel crowded, and the water parameters are much more difficult to keep stable. Water quality is pivotal for the health of guppies, and these fish are susceptible to several diseases.

A larger tank will ensure there are no crowding issues and subsequent disturbances in water chemistry due to increased waste production and toxin accumulation. It will also be easier to decorate a larger tank with live plants, caves, and other aquarium decorations. Water in a large aquarium is more chemically stable and not as prone to sudden ammonia spikes like a small aquarium.


Water quality

Guppies are a resilient species that can adapt to a wide range of water conditions. However, to ensure optimal health and longevity, it is important to maintain specific water quality parameters. Here are some key aspects of water quality to consider when keeping guppies:

PH Level

Guppies prefer slightly alkaline water with a pH level between 7.0 and 7.8. Regular testing and adjustments are necessary to maintain this ideal range.

Water Temperature

Guppies are tropical fish that thrive in warmer water temperatures. The ideal temperature range for guppies is between 72°F to 82°F (22°C to 28°C). Using a reliable aquarium heater and thermometer will help maintain stable temperatures.

Water Hardness

Guppies generally prefer moderately hard water with a hardness level (dGH) between 8 and 12. However, they can tolerate a wide range of hardness levels and are often raised in brackish water.

Filtration and Aeration

A good-quality filter is essential for maintaining water quality in a guppy tank. Choose a filter that suits the tank size and provides gentle filtration to avoid disturbing the guppies. Aeration is not crucial but can be beneficial, especially in densely populated tanks. An air pump can enhance oxygen levels and improve water circulation.

Water Changes and Maintenance

Regular water changes are crucial for guppy health. Aim to replace 20-30% of the tank water weekly to eliminate toxins and replenish essential minerals. Vacuum the substrate and remove any uneaten food or debris during water changes to maintain good water quality.

Diet and Nutrition

Guppies have small mouths and active lifestyles, so their dietary needs are specific. They require a balanced diet that includes protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Offer a variety of foods such as flake foods, frozen or live foods (brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworms), and vegetable matter. Feed guppies small amounts multiple times a day, typically twice daily, allowing them to consume the food within 1-2 minutes to avoid overfeeding.

Common Diseases and Prevention

Guppies are susceptible to several common diseases, especially in suboptimal water conditions. Ich (White Spot Disease), Fin Rot, Velvet, Dropsy, and Guppy Disease (Flukes) are some of the most prevalent issues. To prevent and treat these diseases, maintain high water quality, quarantine new fish, and provide a well-balanced diet. Over-the-counter medications and salt baths can also be effective treatments.


Water temperature

Guppies are tropical fish, native to South America, and are therefore used to warm waters. They can survive in a wide range of temperatures, but the optimal temperature range for their tank is 72°F-82° F.

Guppies are highly adaptable and can survive in temperatures outside of this range, but their health and lifespan will be affected. At higher temperatures, the oxygen level in the water decreases, and your guppies will start to display symptoms of stress and other health issues. At lower temperatures, guppies are at risk of developing hypothermia, which can lead to starvation, a weakened immune system, and even death.

The temperature of the water also affects the guppies' metabolism and rate of reproduction. At 82°F, guppies will grow faster and produce more offspring, but their lifespan will only be around 18 months. At 72°F, their lifespan may increase to 3.5 years, but they will take longer to reach adulthood and will only reproduce every six months.

If you are keeping your guppies indoors, you will likely need a heater to maintain the water temperature within the optimal range, especially if you live in a colder climate. Hang-on heaters are commonly used for fish tanks, but bright lights can also contribute to the amount of heat the water receives, so this should be factored in. It is also important to place the heater as close as possible to the filter to ensure that the warm water is evenly distributed throughout the tank.

Guppies are sensitive to sudden changes in temperature, so it is important to monitor the water temperature regularly and make adjustments as needed to keep your guppies healthy and happy.

The Giant Guppy Fish

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Guppies are a peaceful, non-aggressive fish species, but they do have a competitive streak in their nature. They are also fast swimmers and tend to nip at the fins of slower-moving fish. Guppies are small, typically measuring 1.5 to 2.5 inches in adulthood, so they should be paired with similar-sized fish to avoid any bullying and to ensure they are not seen as prey.

When it comes to tank mates, it's important to consider size compatibility, temperament compatibility, water parameters compatibility, dietary needs, and swimming zone preference.

Small Schooling Fish

Small schooling fish are those that swim in synchrony in groups, displaying collective movement. They are often chosen for community aquariums because of their vibrant colours and coordinated displays. Examples include:

  • Neon Tetras
  • Cardinal Tetras
  • Rummy-Nose Tetras
  • Ember Tetras
  • Harlequin Rasboras
  • Galaxy Rasboras
  • Zebra Danios
  • Leopard Danios
  • White Cloud Minnows

Peaceful Bottom Dwellers

Peaceful bottom dwellers are tranquil fish that inhabit the lower regions of the aquarium. They often scavenge for leftover food and algae. Examples include:

  • Corydoras Catfish
  • Bristlenose Plecos
  • Otocinclus Catfish
  • Dwarf Chain Loaches
  • Kuhli Loaches
  • Hoplo Catfish

Surface and Mid-water Swimmers

Surface and mid-water swimmers occupy the upper and central portions of aquariums. They are known for their lively demeanour and vibrant hues. Examples include:

  • Platy Fish
  • Molly Fish
  • Swordtail Fish
  • Pearl Gourami
  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Angelfish
  • Female Betta Fish
  • Neon Blue Rainbowfish
  • Ram Cichlids
  • Endler's Livebearers

Non-fish Tank Mates

Non-fish tank mates can add diversity to the aquarium ecosystem and often serve functional roles like algae control or substrate cleaning. Examples include:

  • Amano Shrimp
  • Bamboo Shrimp
  • Electric Blue Crayfish
  • Rabbit Snails
  • Nerite Snails
  • Apple Snails
  • Ramshorn Snails
  • African Dwarf Frogs


Tank decorations

Guppies are native to South America and are found in streams, ponds, and small pools of water. They are highly adaptable and can survive in both freshwater and brackish environments. In the wild, they live in large schools to protect themselves from predators.

Guppies are shy, peaceful fish that enjoy the safety and social aspect of swimming in groups. They are fast, active swimmers and spend most of their time exploring and chasing one another. They prefer to be near the surface of the water but enjoy hiding in caves and plants when playing or feeling threatened.

When it comes to tank decorations, there are many options to choose from. Here are some ideas to create a natural and engaging environment for your guppies:


Guppies enjoy having places to hide and play, and plants are an excellent way to provide this. Live plants, such as Java moss, flame moss, and wisteria, not only offer coverage but also help keep the water clean by accelerating the nitrogen cycle. Java moss is particularly easy to grow and provides excellent cover for baby guppies. Artificial plants are also an option and can add a pop of colour to the tank.

Caves and Rocks

Caves and rocks provide guppies with places to hide, play, and even breed. Stackable rock caves can be arranged to create interesting landscapes, and some even have holes for guppies to swim through. Just be sure to smooth any sharp edges before placing them in the tank. A large rock cave can also be a good addition, providing a tall hiding place for guppies, who often feel most comfortable near the surface of the water.


There are many aquarium ornaments available that can add a touch of mystery or fun to your tank. For example, an ancient rock face house ornament can evoke the beauty of Cambodian temples, while a sunken ship ornament adds a sense of adventure. For a kid-friendly option, an undersea treasure chest with a diver adds an element of playfulness. Just be sure to secure any lightweight ornaments with suction cups or gravel to prevent them from floating away or being knocked over.

Air Bubblers

Air bubblers not only help oxygenate and circulate the water but can also be a fun decoration. Look for bubblers in interesting shapes, such as a dinosaur skull or a Groot-like figurine from the Guardians of the Galaxy. These can often be connected to an air pump to create a stream of bubbles, providing both functionality and entertainment.

Natural Stones

Using natural slate stones, you can create elaborate landscapes, caverns, or caves within the tank. These stones typically range from 3 to 5 inches in size, and while they may have some sharp edges, these can be filed down if needed.

When choosing tank decorations, it is important to select items that are non-toxic and safe for your guppies. Rinse all decorations thoroughly before placing them in the tank, and be sure to secure any lightweight items to prevent them from floating away or being knocked over by the current. With a bit of creativity, you can design a tank that is both functional and visually appealing for your guppies to explore and enjoy.

Frequently asked questions

The smallest tank size recommended for guppies is 5 gallons, but a 10-gallon tank is ideal for a small group of guppies.

A 40-gallon tank is ideal for a larger group of guppies.

Guppies thrive in water temperatures between 72°F to 82°F.

Guppies are sociable fish that should not be kept alone. Suitable tankmates include platies, swordtails, mollies, otocinclus catfish, and cardinal tetras.

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