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Looking for a colorful, lively little fish that stays at the top of the aquarium? Say hello to guppies! The guppy fish is truly classic around, especially with first-time fish keepers. 

Though they are low-maintenance species and easy to keep healthy, their life expectancy largely depends on the level of care you provide.

Keep reading to find out how long do guppies live, and more importantly, how to make your guppies live longer. 

How Long Do Guppies Live in Captivity?

The average guppy lifespan in captivity is about 4 to 5 years, but this can vary depending on the conditions below.

Many factors influence this number, including water condition, diet, tank size, genetics, stress, and the other fish you keep in the tank. 

In order to keep your guppies healthy and happy, there are many things you can do to their longevity. 

how long do guppies live in the wild

Photo: Trishrg

How Long Do Guppy Fish Live in the Wild?

Wild guppies will live for roughly 2 years in their natural environment. The reason why guppy fish in the wild has a short life span is that there are a ton of predators ready to eat them. 

Guppies live longest when they have good water quality. Unfortunately, the wild guppy fish lifespan decreases today due to high amounts of pollution such as oil or pesticide dumped in their habitats. 

How to Increase Your Guppy’s Lifespan?

The lifespan of your guppy fish is incredibly variable, dependent not only on the breeding of the guppy but the food you give them, your management of the water quality, and also, believe it or not, the mental health of your guppy fish.

It’s common to think of guppies as easy pets because of their notoriously hardy nature and general tolerance to most of the small variances in temperature and water conditions that come with transporting and upkeeping an aquarium of freshwater fish.

This is a short guide to the conditions that improve the health of your guppy fish, as well as what you can do to ensure that these improvements mean longer lives for your little guys.

Right Water Parameters

You may think that since tap water is safe to drink for humans that guppies won’t mind it either. This is true, to a point. Since guppies are a pretty hardy freshwater aquarium fish, they don’t require quite as much diligence as more delicate tropical varieties.

However, tap water can still be too chlorinated for your guppies. So one of the easiest things to do to increase their general health is to buy a dechlorination product from a pet store that will alter the chemical content of your water and make it as safe for your guppies as possible.

Then you need to manage three separate aspects of the water’s condition: pH levels, hardness, and temperature.

The pH level refers to how base or acidic the water solution is. For a guppy, a pH of around 7 to 8 is ideal, which is pH terms basically means as neutral as possible with a small margin of error.

Hardness is a condition inherent in the water that refers to how much calcium and magnesium have dissolved in it. A natural water softener is needed to change this number, which for a guppy’s aquarium should be from 8-12. Maintaining this number is essential to make sure the guppies don’t get overloaded with these minerals.

Finally, you have to maintain a consistent temperature in your guppies’ tank to give them as long a life as they deserve. Guppies are pretty hardy fish, as stated above, so it doesn’t have to be exact, but 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit is a standard measure for healthy fish water. 

Keep in mind that while temperature regulators aren’t necessary, the temperature conditions around the tank can play a role in their safety.

For instance, make sure your aquarium isn’t too close to a source of sunlight that could heat the aquarium and boil the guppies.

Buy Healthy Guppies

Guppies aren’t just bred for color and size. The right food and water conditions over generations of guppies can alter the health of their line, making them more or less susceptible to diseases and, therefore more long-lived.

While most pet stores are pretty good about the genetic condition of their guppies, many collectors have noted that guppies that come from respectable breeders will last much longer than those that come from LFS.

This is due to the practices listed here repeated over generations of guppies to encourage their long life. Sometimes, even unusual characteristics in natural guppies – such as colors in the females – will appear in exceedingly well-bred, healthy fish.

Paying a little extra for higher quality fish can make them last twice as long and improve the health of their children, too, if keeping the fry is part of your long-term aquarium plans.

Feeding Guppies for Health

Guppies are hardy fish, as mentioned above, and they’re not picky eaters. However, an extra dose of protein on top of their normal diet of Baby Brine Shrimp or various worms has been used by some breeders, so they say, to increase the life of their guppies.

They recommend a little egg yolk mixed in with the food for that extra vitamin boost.

One other thing to keep in mind is that if they’re sharing the tank with other fish, make sure the guppies are getting enough food. Pushy or aggressive fish can sometimes starve out smaller or more docile ones.

How Long Can Guppies Go Without Food?

Most tropical fish can go for days without food. The guppy fish is no exception. Healthy adult guppies are quite capable of going for 14 days without feeding. However, this is not the ideal situation. After a short time (3-5 days), the lack of food will increase their stress levels, often resulting in an increased chance of sickness.

As for food, guppy fry are more sensitive than adult guppies. They are so small and fragile that can’t survive without food for 3 days.

There is no need to worry about your guppies being fed if you’re only going on a weekend vacation!

Reducing Stress

There have been many studies done on how humans react to stress. Many recent ones have found that our environment, particularly as it involves clutter and privacy, can cause stress to build up without it ever manifesting outwardly. Nevertheless, this stress can still shorten our lives by putting unnecessary mental and physical strain on our bodies.

It’s actually very similar for guppies. Here are a few specific factors to consider when you want to reduce the stress of your guppies and prolong their lives.

Reduce Clutter

Like humans, clutter stresses guppies out by forcing them to process too much information, affecting their breathing and distracting them. Clutter, in this case, reduces water conditions too and could include anything from too many ornaments to too much floating waste or sediment (thankfully, guppies don’t produce nearly as much waste as comparable aquarium fish, like goldfish, for instance).

Remember, though, that guppy fish are skittish fish and like to hide. Ample hiding spaces in rocks and flowing plants are actually a stress-relieving addition to your aquarium. Just make sure there’s a balance between decorations and open water.

Number of Fish

A single guppy is a lonely guppy. Even though it’s okay to have only one, guppies are schooling fish, meaning they feel more comfortable in a group. Remember that they will freely breed, however, so realize that a purchase of four guppies should be more than enough to get a school going.

This brings us to the counterpoint to the lonely guppy: the overcrowded tank. Suppose your tank accumulates a sizable fish population. In that case, you need to move or get rid of some of them in order to avoid overcrowded water space, diminishing food availability, and fewer hiding spaces from stressing out your guppies.

Also, keep in mind the type of fish that you keep with your guppies. If you diversify the breeds in your tank, do some research first about their temperaments. You don’t want pushy fish breaking up your schools, aggressively eating all the food, or eating your guppies.

Males and Females Guppies

The ratio of males and females guppies in your tank is a huge determiner of how stressed out your guppy population will be.

This is because male guppies tend to push female guppies around, chasing them and trying to mate. In order to minimize this effect, try and keep the ratio of males to females strongly weighted towards female guppies(even twice as many would be good). 

This will allow them to “tag-team” the males’ aggressive behavior and reduce the stress of your guppy fish population as a whole.

Personally, I prefer to keep males and females in separate tanks.

Water Quality

Cleaning the aquarium regularly is obvious advice, but make sure that the sediment you buy works well with your guppy’s activity level. If you notice the tank getting cloudy, you may want to buy something else.

Consider buying a water filter that will get rid of some of the nitrites that pollute regular water and cause harm to your fish over time.

Additionally, when keeping the temperature in mind, you need to make sure that your aquarium doesn’t have too much direct access to sunlight, as this could warm the guppies’ water to dangerously high levels.


Do Male Or Female Guppies Live Longer?

Mostly, males and females guppies have the same life expectancy, about two years. Like I mentioned above, keep them in separate tanks so those male guppies will not mate with females all the time-less stress in the tank will definitely make them live longer.   

How Long Can a Guppy Live Out of Water?

Like all creatures, guppy fish need water to survive; In fact, they will die quickly due to their small body and more fragile gills within a few minutes. 

How Long Can Guppies Live without Oxygen?

Fish keepers who ask this question or “Can I keep guppies without oxygen?” are mainly involved in how guppies get the oxygen they need. 

Firstly, guppy fish can’t survive without oxygen. But, unlike the human, they use gills to take in oxygen through water. The best way to add oxygen into the water is by agitating the surface with an air stone or water pump, which will dissolve more oxygen. 

How Long Can Guppies Live Without Air Pump?

Like most fish, oxygen is essential for guppies. Though an air pump can be more effective in making the oxygen exchange happen, it is not nearly as much of a concern if you have a decent filter with the output stream close to the surface. 

The Takeaway

Guppies are not a delicate fish as aquarium fish go, but that doesn’t mean they are exempt from best practices when it comes to cleaning, breeding, feeding, and taking care of them.

The most urgent matters in your guppies’ lifespans concern their living conditions. This means keeping the pH, water hardness, and tank temperature at reasonable levels, researched for guppy health.

Other than this, the food they eat and the cleanliness of the water can be easily managed by a good filter, regular cleaning, and a varied food supply.

Guppy stress is the most subtle aspect of promoting the long life of your guppies. Managing the plant life in your tank to provide places to hide and distractions from rowdy tankmates can help your guppies keep calm and avoid harassing each other. 

Keeping tabs on the gender population can also make a big difference in terms of how your guppies treat each other.

Managing the cleanliness of the tank and maintaining your guppies’ mental health can go a long way to helping them live as they should. If you want to know more about guppy fish and how to care for them, head over to the guppy fish category for many more guides!

Good luck with your guppies!

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Jeff Colt

Jeff Colt

Hello, I'm Jeff- an aquarium enthusiast with over 25 years of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish, including koi, goldfish bettas, cichlids and more! For me: Aquariums are like jello - there's always room for more!

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