Guppies are an adorable and affordable option for beginner fishkeeping. However, many end up falling in love with these charming, nondemanding pets. Guppies are popular with kids for several reasons. They are easy to take care of, come in a plethora of brilliant colors, and have some of the cutest fishy faces you’ve ever seen.
For all of those reasons, guppies remain quite popular with adults, as well!
Fascinating Facts About Guppies
The common guppy, which is what we’re talking about in this breeding for beginners’ article, is also known as Poecilia reticulata. They are often chosen by adults as a gift for children. Indeed, the variety of colors, endurance, overall beauty, and ease-of-breeding makes them a great choice for those just starting out with fishkeeping in general.
At the same time, many like to keep guppies long after establishing a better understanding of how to care for fish. Guppies can easily coexist with many other species, and they also have the benefit of always being an extremely affordable addition to your tank. Their overall peaceful nature means they can get along with a wider range of aquatic roommates than just about any other fish.
They also have a reputation for being some of the most social fish you could ever own. They can often be seen swimming around, drawing attention to themselves. This gives your tank an appealing, consistent state of aesthetically-pleasing activity.
A Quick History Of Guppies
Native to South America, guppies have been a staple of fish tanks for more than a century. You will find that guppies are commercially bred all throughout the water. This is because they can put up with a lot more than many other kinds of fish. That doesn’t mean they are invincible, but they are generally hardier fish as a rule.
There are also some who believe that guppies can be used as a means of controlling mosquito populations. However, nothing conclusive has been found in this arena, and it has historically been unsuccessful when tried.
Let’s get started on breeding guppies. This doesn’t entail anything too complicated, but there are still a few things you need to keep in mind.
Choosing Your Guppy Tank And Filtration System
While there are still a few more things about guppies specifically to cover, this is a good time to start gathering your supplies and tools. This extends to not only picking the right guppy tank for your babies, but also making sure you have a reliable filtration system.
Your breeding tank needs to be AT LEAST ten gallons. This ten gallon tank from Aqueon is a good example of what we are talking about. However, many experts believe a 20-gallon tank is in fact the best option for a beginner. We would agree. Twenty gallons gives you plenty of room to grow your interests. It also ensures plenty of room to move around for a modest collection of guppies and other fish, among the different components of your tank.
There are sizes larger than 20 gallons, in case you’re wondering.
Sponge filters are considered ideal. There are also uncovered systems that can be hung along the back of the tank, but these can actually kill guppies. A sponge filter not only offers mechanical and biological filtration capabilities simultaneously, but they won’t suck up any of your fish (cannisters and uncovered systems can do this).
Decorations And Substrate For Guppies
The next step will be to get your substrate, and then figure out the best/most enjoyable decorations to fill the space.
The substrate refers to the material that will be lining the bottom of your cage. Because guppies are such a durable species, the substrate can honestly be whatever you please. They do as well with gravel or sand, as they would with tile substrate products. You can even leave the bottom of the tank completely bare, if you please.
Just keep in mind that guppies often eat food that has fallen to the bottom of the tank. To that end, do not choose anything that is so fine, the guppies might eat it with their food.
In terms of decorations, you can mostly make your own choices in this arena. Males are notorious for harassing females, so we would suggest at least three or four large decorations. Not only does this give the females somewhere to hide, but it also breaks the line of sight between two different fish in the tank. This is important, as the males can actually harass the female guppies to death.
A Word About Saving Fry
Now, as a hopeful guppy breeder, you may want to make the following decision now: What to do about the baby guppies that are born in the tank, particularly in terms of the threat posed to them by adults.
Also known as fry, baby guppies are often mistaken for bits of food, after they are born. There are two basic responses to this fact. You can establish fry traps, which can help you to catch the babies before they’re eaten, or you can put down decorative plants. These tightly-knit areas can consist of java moss or something called guppy grass. Subwassertang is also very popular. Any of these can give you hiding spaces the adults won’t be able to reach.
The second option refers to something known as a fry trap. You can purchase your guppy fry trap outright, or you can learn how to make your own. Regardless of what you choose, you need to make a decision quickly, if you are going to breed. Check your solution regularly for any fry you need to move to another tank.
Some also choose to simply remove the mother, after she has given birth. This should be fine, as mother guppies do not contribute much of anything to the raising of their offspring. If anything, they can cause more problems.
Establishing Water Parameters
Water parameters are always important, when it comes to the fish you’re going to put in your tank. The high tolerance of guppies can shine here, but you should still keep certain essential water parameters in mind.
As a general rule, you should try to keep your ideal water for guppies pretty hard. The higher your pH levels, the harder the water is likely to be. The average pH for tap water is around 7.6. That is an ideal number for a guppy. You should also try to maintain a high degree of calcium with your water. This is essential for females in particular, as they need the calcium to remain strong while going through their breeding phase.
Don’t forget that a prime female gives birth to upwards of 30 fry in a single month. Crushed coral is a popular source of calcium.
Being able to measure your water accurately is important. Your TDS, also known as Total Dissolved Liquids, will tell you the amount of minerals and material (such as salt) that are in your water. Your gH refers to General Hardness more specifically measures the amount of magnesium and calcium in your water. 15-30gH is the ideal range. Then you have kH, which refers to carbonate hardness. This should be around 8.
Thankfully, testing kits for home aquariums make it easy to maintain the ideal levels. The temperature of the tank should always strive to be somewhere between seventy-eight and eighty-two degrees.
Time To Pick Your Breeders!
More likely than not, this is the part you have been looking forward to the most!
Once your tank has been properly cycled, with approximately 4ppm ammonia becoming nitrate within twenty-four hours, you can start shopping around for guppies. The first thing you need to keep in mind with this is that under no circumstances should you get just one male and female guppy. As we mentioned before, the males can chase a female to death.
However, you still need to keep a certain number of males and females in the tank at any given moment. Females guppies tend to be much larger overall than their male counterparts. The males tend to be more colorful, and this is particularly true in their tails.
An ideal guppy ratio for prospective breeders if two-to-one. That means two female guppies for every male in your tank. If you have a ten-gallon tank, start with approximately 1-2 male guppies and 3-5 female guppies. Even just a tank containing one male and two females can a good starting point. In fact, some experts say that’s exactly where you should begin.
“Which guppy strains are best for breeding?” is probably your next question. This is worth understanding, as well as other qualities you may want to be on the lookout for.
Are There Any Particular Guppy Strains Or Qualities To Look For?
You can decide ahead of time what you want to breed guppies for. Do you want to breed for color? Size? The shape of their fins? Some combination of the two? You don’t have to answer these now, particularly if you are new to all of this.
Our advice would be to use this guide to set up conditions for a beginner breeding experience. Gain some confidence, before you start aspiring to the most lucrative guppies to sell.
In general, you should look for guppies that offer the following characteristics:
- Bright, appealing eyes.
- Fins which are completely intact.
- Coloration which could be described as bright or varied.
These are all indicators of a good strain. These are qualities you should look for regardless. However, if you are breeding with specific qualities in mind, there are a handful of other components which can be added to this fact.
Basic Breeding Tips For Guppies
Guppies are an example of a livebearer. This means that they do not eggs. They will actually keep the guppies going inside of themselves, until the point in which the guppies are strong enough to swim and survive largely on their own.
Breeding is really quite straightforward. Once you have your guppies, and once your tank has been brought to the appropriate conditions for breeding, you can begin. After a day or two with 1 breeding male and approximately 2 breeding females, you should begin to see results. If you opt to have more than this number in your tank, it can get tricky to get fry which will offer the traits you’re trying to work towards.
Once your female guppy or guppies begin to give birth, they will probably continue to do so for anywhere from several months, to a full year. Remember that guppies menstruate, which means they will continue to live after their breeding prime has come and gone.
If the fry reveal the strain or qualities you desired, then there is nothing more to do than care for them. However, if you are breeding guppies for sale, and the strain you’re trying to recreate goes down in popularity, have those males and females separated at once!
It is also a good idea to try and get your males and female from the same strain. This is going to save you a ton of time. Even so, breeding for a specific strain can be challenging. You may want to do some research beyond what we’ve discussed here.
How To Take Care Of Your Guppies: When To Change Water
Although the hardiness of guppies is always appreciated, care is still important for healthy and happy guppies every step of the way. For example, how often should you change your water? This is essential for getting rid of the waste your guppies produce, which in turn can be extremely toxic to then.
If you only have a few guppies to start, you only need to change around thirty percent of the water in the tank once every week. Tap water should be fine, but a water conditioner attached to your tap is just as important to their health. A filter can get rid of undesirables like chlorine and assorted heavy metals. The water should also be at the same temperate point as the water in the tank.
How To Take Care Of Your Guppies: Feeding Time!
Feeding guppies is one of the most enjoyable aspects of keeping them in your space. The sight of dozens of adorable, flashy, alert guppies coming to the surface of the water for a tasty snack is one many owners love.
Learning how to feed guppies is pretty straightforward. For one thing, they enjoy a nice variety of food. The list currently includes frozen or live foods, vegie flake bits, or spirulina tabs. Some guppy owners even swear by giving them raw vegetables.
A good variety of the foods we mentioned above is perhaps best. They generally only need to be fed once per day, per the directions listed on the products you buy. Hikari USA Tropical Fancy Guppy For Pet Health, TetraMin Nutritionally Balanced Tropical Flake Food for Tropical Fish, and Omega One Super Color Flakes are all great examples of popular foods for guppies. Overfeeding can kill your fish with an abundance of ammonia.
How To Take Care Of Guppy Fry
If you don’t want to buy a water filter, consider changing out as much as fifty percent of your water each week. A thick substrate, as well as the presence of live plants, can also eliminate the need for a filter.
At this point, you should be ready to take care of your fry.
If you want to be a bit of a fanatic about feeding your fry the best food possible, consider freshly-hatched brine shrimp. As they are omnivores, guppies of any age will do best when maintain a good mixture of veggies and meats. Maintaining the best possible water tank conditions for guppies, which we have already discussed, will also go a long way.
If anything, getting guppy fry is a lot easier than managing an overpopulation problem. Too many guppies from breeding is a common problem many come across. This is certainly true in the beginning. If you need to get some population control measures enacted as quickly as possible, there are a number of potentially useful options you can explore.
What Do I Do If My Guppies Are Dying?
If you have a commonplace guppy strain, known for its hardiness, and the fry are dying off in great amounts, you have a problem.
In such a situation, you may find yourself dealing with bacterial infection or parasitic infection. Do you see any adults with unusually small stomachs? Do you see any small patches of white on them? These are two of the most common indicators of a problem. Broad spectrum medications, including antibiotic and antiparasitic options, are your best bet.
What Do I Need To Know About Chilling?
Ich or ick is a condition that comes with a high mortality rate. It can cause a decrease in appetite, as well as the behavior of rubbing their skin against rocks. The females becoming too cold can cause such an outbreak, so it is vitally important to keep those tank temps as high as possible.
These are the basics of guppy breeding and upkeep! Good luck and have fun!