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Do Guppies Need a Filter to Survive?

Recently I just started getting into guppies because of the large diversity there are in varieties of guppy fish. You can buy a guppy with a plain looking body and fins or you can get some with the most beautiful colors and markings. My interest has peaked lately when I started learning about how easy guppies are to breed. One thing I know though is when it comes to breeding, the water quality and temperature is everything for the fish to spawn. One way to have improved quality fish tank water is to have an aquarium filter hooked up and running.

Guppies need a filter to survive as the best quality water is important for a healthy life in a fish tank. Filters provide mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration all at once. Filters provide a home for beneficial bacteria and help to clear out any larger pieces of debris in the tank. Aquarium filters also cause water flow and surface level agitation which is vital for oxygen to enter the tank’s water which improves the guppies and other inhabitant’s overall health. 

Unless you have a dark water tank filled with plants and have many years experience caring for a tank like that I would say you better have a filter on your guppy tank. If you have male and female guppies make sure you have some type of aquarium foam over the inlet part of the filter as you do not want guppy fry (baby fish) to get sucked up into the filter.


What Filters are Best for a Guppy Tank?

First off congrats on researching what filters are best for guppies. You should have much success in this hobby.

In general guppies will do much better in a tank that has moderate flow. They can withstand a stronger current but will need somewhere in the tank to get away from that flow, once in a while.

Personally, I like an HOB or hang on back filter for guppy tanks. You can adjust the flow with HOB filters, and they aren’t going to be so strong that your fish have a tough time maneuvering. If you need a bit of extra current either turn up the filter flow or add a small powerhead strategically in the tank (which is a great idea regardless just to move debris around).

**I would recommend this Aqua Clear Hang on Back Filter for any guppy tank** 

guppy in fish tank

Do Baby Guppies Need a Filter?

Baby guppies just like older guppies should have a filter setup on their tank.

If you are using a fry net which hangs inside the tank then you can keep your guppy fry in the same tank as the older fish without worry of them being eaten or sucked up into the filter.

If you are using a separate tank, I would suggest having a fry tank running at all times, especially if you own guppies. It doesn’t have to be very big to accommodate the tiny fish. In fact, if you have a 1.5 gallon it will be plenty big enough to house the fry until they are big enough to go into a fish tank with other larger fish.

Having a filter on a fry tank will ensure the little guys are getting the best water quality possible so they have the best chance of surviving and thriving.

Make sure the inlet tubes of any filters are covered with foam or something else to ensure the fish don’t get sucked up.

Once the guppy fry, are bigger than the older guppies mouths, and any holes in the filter inlet tubes you can place them back in with the rest of your fish. This could take 6 to 8 weeks.

Can Guppies Survive Without a Filter?

Technically yes, a guppy could survive without a filter.

Heavily planted tanks are growing in popularity over the past 10 years and for good reason. Having a planted tank helps replicate the natural bodies of water that a lot of tropical fish originate from.

Living freshwater plants in aquariums helps to absorb nitrates and other harmful elements in the tank’s water. They also provide much needed oxygen for the inhabitants.

Probably the most important aspect of having a successful tank whether it has filtration or not is performing regular water changes. Water changes take nitrate and other harmful things out of fish tanks. When you perform a water change by vacuuming up the substrate you are also taking out decaying fish poop and dead plants. This also helps to keep your water quality as good as it can be.

Even though you can get away without a filter I would not recommend you try it unless you have a couple years experience in running fish tanks with no water issues.

Make sure you have a heater and good lighting for the guppies and plants if you go this route.

Different Types of Filters for Your Guppy Tank

There are a few very good filters you can purchase for your guppy tank. I prefer HOB and Canister filters. For smaller tanks, a HOB filter works great. I have used HOB filters with power heads to move more water around in tanks up to 55 gallons with great success.

**Check out this HOB filter on Amazon**

If you have large aquariums which I would say is anything larger than a 50 gallon I would recommend investing in a Canister filter. They are very quiet, and very powerful. Typically, you don’t need powerheads when you have a Canister filter hooked up. Why? Because you can place the inlet tube and the outlet tube in strategic locations of the tank to maximize the water flow.

**Check out this Marineland Canister filter on Amazon**

You could also use an internal filter or a corner filter. I am not a fan of these filters however some hobbyists swear by them. They are also more economical than the HOB and Canister filters. These filters would probably be fine for your guppy tank as well.

If you use a corner filter and run it off an air pump you also get the added bonus of the air bubbles agitating the surface water helping to increase the exchange of carbon dioxide in the water with oxygen.


Now we know, not only should guppies have filtration on their tanks but the benefits of using an aquarium filter. There is a movement with some more experienced hobbyists to have self-sufficient tanks that cycle and filter themselves because of the live plants and minimal water changes.

These filter-less tanks should only be started by experienced fish owners. They seem straight forward, but if something is going wrong in the tank that puts your fish or plants in danger you might not be able to identify the problem soon enough. That could be fatal to the inhabitants of the tank.

I am recommending you have a filter on your guppy tank or any tank for that matter. Some people question everything, in this case I would say just do it.

I hope I was able to help you see why your guppies need a filter on their tank.

Related Aquariums at Home Articles

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HOB VS Canister Filter – Which is Best for You?

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Do Planted Tanks Need Filters?

What Do Guppies Need to Breed?

Are Guppies Easy to Keep?

Can Guppies Live in Tap Water? (What Water Should You Use for Guppies?)

Are Sponge Filters Good Enough for Aquariums? (Everything You Should Know)

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