Guppy Care Guide & Aquarium Set Up For Beginners

Guppy fish (Poceilia reticulata), are small, vibrant fish native to northeastern South America.

They’re so popular in the hobby due to the electric coloration, activity, and all around attitude. And their ability to adapt to various environments makes them ideal for beginners.

In this article, you’ll discover the exact steps you need to take in order to provide your guppy fish with the right care for a happy and healthy environment.

Guppy Fish Care Overview

Guppy Fish Key Information

Key Characteristics
  • Size: 2-3inches (6.4-7.6cm)
  • Life Span: 2-3 Years
  • Temperament: Peaceful & Sociable
  • Living Zone: Top & Middle
  • Diet: Omnivorous

Water Parameters
  • Temperature: 72°-82°F (22°-28°C)
  • pH Level: 7.0-7.2
  • Hardness: 8-12 dGH
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: Less than 20 ppm

Care Schedule
  • Daily: Feeding and temperature checks
  • Weekly: Water Test (pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate) & 25% water change
  • Monthly: Equipment check, substrate clean, Plant trimming

Scientific Classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
  • Order: Cyprinodontiformes
  • Family: Poeciliidae
  • Genus: Poecilia
  • Species: Poecilia reticulata
Multi-colored guppy fish swimming in planted tank

Ideal Tank Set Up Overview

Tank Supplies

10 gallon tank with lid

Sponge Filter


LED Lighting


Live Plants

Inert Substrate


Water Conditioner

Gravel Vacuum



Omega One Freshwater Flakes

Northfin Community Formula Sinking Pellets

Cobalt Aquatics Ultra Guppy Floating Pellets

Omega One Color Mini Pellets

Zoo Med Spirulina

Brine Shrimp


Guppy Aquarium Set Up

The Nitrogen Cycle

Before you do anything with your aquarium, you must perform the nitrogen cycle in order to ensure your Guppies a safe environment to live.

See our step-by-step guide here.

Aquarium Size

Guppies require to be kept in groups of at least 3. If you’re just having the 3, a 5 gallon tank will surface. However, it’s much easier to maintain water quality in larger tanks.

Having a 10-20 gallon tank will ensure you are future-proofed against any breeding. I would also recommend a lid as guppies are known jumpers.

Related Article: Best Fish Tank For Guppies

Equipment Required


Inert substrate is best as it won’t alter your tank’s water parameters. Sand or fine gravel are suitable. Just make sure they’re inert.

Dark substrate always works well if you want to make your colorful guppies really stand out.

Plants and Decorations

Lots of live plants and decorations like driftwood, rocks, or even PVC tubing for places to hide and swim in and out of would be a welcomed addition in a guppy tank.

Plants I recommend you consider are:

Water Parameters

  • Temperature: 72°-82°F (22°-28°C)
  • pH Level: 7.0-7.2
  • Hardness: 8-12 dGH
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: Less than 20 ppm

Feeding Guppies

Multi-colored guppy fish swimming to the surface of its aquarium

Adult Guppies can be fed once or twice a day. And feed them what they can eat within one minute.

Be careful, like others, guppies will beg and beg for more food, but don’t give in. Overfeeding fish is one of the main causes of water problems. If they’re begging, just leave them. They’ll graze on algae and help keep your tank clean.

Some foods you can try are:

  • Omega One Freshwater Flakes
  • Northfin Community Formula Sinking Pellets
  • Cobalt Aquatics Ultra Guppy Floating Pellets
  • Omega One Color Mini Pellets
  • Zoo Med Spirulina
  • Brine Shrimp
  • Daphnia

Related Article: Best Food For Guppies Compared & Reviewed

Guppy Tank Mates

Many guppy fish in aquarium

Although they may occasionally nip the extremities of fish with longer fins, guppies are peaceful fish. You can keep them with other peaceful species such:

As long as they’re peaceful and match the water parameters, guppies can have them as a tank mate. Just never house guppies aggressive fish as they’ll nip at their fins or eat them.

Breeding Guppies

Thankfully, guppies are incredibly easy fish to breed- even for beginners.

How to Choose the Best Guppies for Breeding

When deciding on which guppies to breed, you should first consider how you want their offspring to look.

This will depend on a number of factors, such as their color, pattern, and tail shape.

Breeding together two leopard guppies, for example, will maximize the chances that the offspring will be a leopard fry.

Breeding a leopard guppy with a tuxedo guppy, on the other hand, may produce offspring that display mixed characteristics from each of its parents.

As well as physical appearance, it’s wise to choose two of your healthiest fish for breeding, since this will minimize the chances that the offspring will inherit faulty genes or diseases.

Signs of poor health include visible fungal infections, fin/tail rotting, and bladder inflammation.

Creating Your Breeding Environment

You can choose to breed guppies in their own separate tanks or in communal tanks. Both have their own pros and cons:

Placing your mating guppies into a separate tank allows you far more control over them and their conditions.

  • You can easily select which parents will mate to produce offspring, selecting the coloration and characteristics of your choice.
  • You can keep a close eye on them and their behavior.
  • No other tank mates will eat newborn fry.

The only downside to this setup is that it requires another tank and, in turn, a lot more space and money.

When breeding guppies in a communal tank, any two fish could breed to produce offspring.

This can be exciting as the coloration and characteristics of their offspring will be random, and you’ll find they often produce some really striking, extravagant shades.

On the other hand, it means that you have little control over which individual fish will mate.

The other major downside (this is where it gets kinda gnarly) is that tank mates are likely to feed on fry.

If you don’t mind how your newborn fish look, and feel confident that your fry will be safe, communal breeding can make the whole breeding process cheaper and less time consuming.

Creating the Water Conditions for Breeding

As guppies are hardy fish and are able to tolerate a range of conditions, there aren’t many specific water requirements when it comes to breeding.

Your water should, however, be between 73 – 83⁰F in order to initiate breeding.

The Spawning Process

When they’re ready to spawn, males will approach females from below and extend their gonopodium (a thin rod near the anus), initiating the mating process.

Females can store sperm inside them for up to 3 months, which is- ahem… damn impressive. It also means that they can have up to 3 births per single mating session.

The gestation period typically lasts for around 28 days but can range from 21 – 40.

Females can give birth to 20 – 200 fry per spawning, depending on her age and size.

Pregnant females develop large, round patches on their stomachs known as gravid spots.

Caring For Guppy Fry

Whether in a communal or isolated tank, fry should have plenty of cover and places to hide for comfort- and to avoid being eaten by tank mates.

Java moss is a thick and dense plant and makes a great hiding space for guppy fry.

Immediately after being born, guppy fry will eat anything and everything they can. Freshly hatched brine shrimp and powdered dry food make for great, nutritious food sources to sustain your newborn fry.

But do remember:

You should always be wary of overfeeding. Excess food can upset your tank’s water quality and kill younger fish.

As your fry grows, you should make an effort to conduct regular water changes in order to maintain water quality and encourage growth.

Are Guppy Fish Right For You?

Guppies are ideal for both beginners and seasoned aquarists. With so many varieties, ease of care, and high energy, they work perfectly in a peaceful community tank.

The only thing which could put you off is the rate they can breed. But, you can manage this by keep the right water parameters and male to female ratios.

How Big do Guppy Fish Grow?

Guppies grow to an average of 2 inches

How long do guppy fish live for?

Guppies live for 2-3 years on average

How can you sex a guppy fish?

Male guppies have wide, long caudal fins that are typically bright in color whilst females have shorter, narrower caudal fins. Females, as stated earlier, also grow far larger than males.

Christopher Adams
Christopher Adams

Hey there, my name is Christopher, and I've successfully ran freshwater aquariums for the past few decades. The mission of this site is to make it simple for anyone to run their own freshwater aquarium.


  1. Thank you Adam, now, i re starting our guppy fish project and info from you, sure would be useful.
    How if we use only 1 pair, not trio, for a breeding tank, it will be problem for the female or the male?

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