Can You Keep Apistogramma with Guppies? We’ve Got the Answers! is supported by our readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission.

The guppy fish (Poecilia reticulata) has been a staple in the aquarium trade since its first discovery in South America around the 1860s. This readily available livebearer gained popularity due to its brilliant colors, active personalities, and ease of breeding.

As an Apistogramma owner, you may be wondering if you can house Apistogramma with guppies together. 

We’ve got the answers. Keep reading to learn more about this interesting topic.

Can You Keep Apistogramma with Guppies?

Apistogramma with Guppies can live together in the same fish tank- but only on a short-term basis if you want both fish to thrive. Common reasons for these two species can work in some situations include:

Different Tank Levels

Like bettasgouramis, and many livebearers, guppies are middle-to-top swimmers rarely found at the bottom of a tank. Apistogramma dwarf cichlids (or Apistos), on the other hand, will spend most of their time in the lower regions of the aquarium.

Keeping guppies and Apistos in different water levels assures them each plenty of space to swim around, feed, and even breed without interference from the other. This can greatly increase the chance of success when mixing these two species, resulting in a peaceful, visually appealing community tank.

Guppies Are Hardy Fish

Guppies make fantastic beginner fish because they are quite low-maintenance and tend to be very forgiving. To date, these fish have been highly inbred in captivity to get stunning colors, so most guppies sold in the aquarium trade can thrive in a wide range of water conditions.

As a side note, try to purchase guppies from a reputable local breeder with good strains. Quite often, many sellers will offer unique color morphs found nowhere else, which are the result of persistent inbreeding, and these fish can be fairly weak.

Reasons Why Apistogramma with Guppies Make Poor Neighbors

Despite the fact that Apistogramma and guppies can get along under the same roof for a short period of time, it is generally not a good idea to have them cohabitate long-term.

Here’s what you need to know what is wrong with the coexistence of Apistogramma species and Guppies?

Water Requirements Difference

As a general rule, it’s not recommended to mix fish from various habitats in one aquarium, since each species typically has unique water requirements for optimal growth and survival.

Apistogramma and guppies are native to freshwater in the north of South America, but the water parameters of their natural environments differ significantly.

Guppies are often found in hard, more alkaline water, some even from brackish to full marine environments near the coastline. Apistos, on the opposite side, come from small shallow streams and tributaries with soft, acidic water in the rainforest.

To provide good amounts of essential minerals for guppies, such as calcium, iron, and magnesium, most aquarists usually add buffer solutions to the water in their aquariums.

Unfortunately, this can greatly increase the alkalinity and pH levels of the water to a point where Apistos become less colorful and are less likely to breed. This reason alone should discourage you from mixing these two species long-term.

The Guppy’s’ Tail Will Be Ripped Off

lyretail guppy
Flickr: Gemma Whalley / photographybyambrose

Depending on the variety, some guppies have long-flowing tails and fins, such as swordtail or lyretail guppies. While their unique appearance may be quite attractive, the tails can easily become a target for Apistogramma cichlids.

Guppies are not faster swimmers, and Apistos will not hesitate to rip off a guppy’s tail if given a chance, even though they are not known as fin nippers. This can cause serious injury or even death for your poor fish, which is something you should absolutely avoid.

Aggression Issues

Apistogramma dwarf cichlids can be extremely territorial when breeding and may attack guppies if they come too close to the Apisto’s cave, eggs, or fry.

While some aquarists might get lucky and avoid serious issues in a well-structured tank, mixing these two species can easily become a recipe for disaster if you are not prepared to observe them closely, particularly in small aquariums. 

Guppies Tend to Be Noisy for Apistogramma 

Naturally, guppy males tend to be more boisterous and curious, which can be a bit distracting and stressful for the Apisto.

Guppies’ constant movement and active behavior can also push out the apistos’ from their favorite spots and make them uncomfortable.

A brooding Apistogramma will not be happy in the presence of a tank full of guppies, so it is best to avoid this situation if you want to breed them successfully.

Apistogramma Will Eat Guppy Fry

Another reason guppies make poor tank mates for Apistogramma is that Apistos will not hesitate to munch on some guppy fry if available.

Guppy fry are small enough to fit into the mouths of dwarf cichlids, so they can become easy snacks if they do not have enough places to hide.

Final Thoughts

Apistogramma and guppies are wonderful fish species that can bring lots of joy to the aquarium. Separately, they make great candidates for small to medium-sized planted aquariums.

However, mixing them is not recommended for long-term success in most cases due to the differences in water requirements, aggression issues, and territoriality.

If you decide to do so anyway, ensure you provide your fish with enough hiding places and plenty of room to move around freely. Remember the golden rule: “Out of sight, out of mind” when it comes to dealing with fish aggression.

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Ivan Yeoh
Ivan Yeoh

I’ve been working with fish for the past 12 years, and I can honestly say that it has never been a dull day. In my time, I’ve worked at the largest fish farm in Singapore – so you could say I know a thing or two about keeping things running smoothly in watery environments.

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