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What Do Guppies Like in Their Tank?

With their beautiful colours and lively personalities, guppies are a freshwater favourite among many aquarium hobbyists. Easy to breed and care for, they’ll thrive in almost any community tank, provided they’re kept in the ‘right’ environment. Right now, you may be wondering to yourself what exactly do guppies need (and like) in their tank? Well, I have the answer for you below:

Guppies like a lot of space in their aquarium to swim freely. They also prefer planted tanks with lots of hiding places, especially if they’re kept with larger fish. They do best with peaceful fish as tank mates and in warm, hard water – with a temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius) or higher and a pH of 7 or greater. They also like a variety of (both plant- and animal-based foods.

Now that you know what is needed for guppies to thrive in an aquarium, let’s take a closer took at this further and in more detail. We’ll discuss what their ideal water conditions are, whether or not filters and/or heaters are required, what types of plants/decorations work best, what kind of food they like, which fish make the best tank mates, and if they prefer sand instead of gravel.

So, if you’re ready to learn more about keeping guppies happy and healthy, then let’s get started!

What Do Guppies “Need” in Their Tank?

For guppies to survive in an aquarium, the bare minimum they need is a water heater, food, and a spacious tank. Providing them with surroundings as close to their ‘wild’ habitat as possible will keep them calm and content. Therefore, adding live plants is recommended as it not only mimics their natural environment but also helps improve the water quality.

Do Guppies Like Other Guppies in Their Tank?

To provide your guppy fish with a safe, happy environment, then be sure to add others of the same species to their tank. Though not necessarily a schooling fish, guppies are social creatures and like to be kept together in groups. They don’t do well on their own so even if you choose not to raise them in a trio (2 females and 1 male), be sure to add other small, peaceful fish for companionship.

Guppies like to be kept with bottom dwellers like shrimp and plecos as they stick close to the substrate, giving the guppies ample room to swim about in the tank. If you see your guppy fish actively swimming about for most of the day, that’s a usually good sign that they’re both happy and healthy. On the other hand, hanging out lazily near the substrate could be a sign of illnesses.

Do Guppies Need a Light in Their Tank?

While guppies don’t need a light in their tank to survive and grow, they should receive some ambient light throughout the day – similar to the amount they’d get from the sun or moon in their natural habitat. If you choose not to install an aquarium light, be sure to place the tank near a window or lamp for at least 8 hours during the day. At night, turn off the light or move the tank into a dark room.

Do Guppies Need a Filter in Their Tank?

While a filter isn’t required in a guppy tank (since they’re small and don’t produce much waste), it’s recommended to help improve the water quality and keep the tank cleaner. A clean tank is a healthy tank and therefore the fish will be healthier as well. Doing partial or 25 per cent water changes every 2 weeks is necessary, especially if you decide not to install a filter.

Do Guppies Need a Heater? (Can Guppies Live in an Unheated Tank?)

Guppies prefer warmer water (between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 and 27 degrees Celsius) so they’ll require a heater in their tank if they’re to thrive. They can survive in a colder aquarium (between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 18 and 21 degrees Celsius) but will ultimately become less active and stop breeding.

If you increase the temperature of the aquarium to 82 degrees (28 degrees Celsius), the fish will grow faster and breed more frequently. On the other hand, if you lower the temperature in the tank to 72 degree Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius), you can increase their lifespan by 3 years or longer but it’ll take longer for them to reach adulthood and likely only breed once every 6 months.

What Kind of Water Do Guppies Need?

Guppies like water with an almost neutral pH level around 7 or greater. The also prefer harder water with a higher mineral content including calcium and magnesium. The ideal water hardness is dGH 8 to 12. Well water is especially good for guppies. It provides them with the essential minerals they need to breed and thrive.

What Type of Food Do Guppies Like?

Guppies love to eat! They’re not finicky and will devour any and all food given. If you overfeed them, however, they’ll suffer from constipation and other digestive issues. Adults need only be fed once (maybe twice) a day with as much as they can eat in 1 minute. Since guppies are omnivores, they enjoy a  variety of food including dried fish flakes, pellets, mosquitoes, blood worms, and brine shrimp.

Do Guppies Like Heavily Planted Tanks?

Since live plants help emulate the natural environment wild guppies are born into (brackish, freshwater streams in South America), they feel at home in a heavily planted tank – especially when surrounded by larger fish. Java moss and java fern are great for guppies. And, because guppies are small and peaceful, it’s best to keep them in a planted tank with other docile fish, such as cory’s, tetras, mollies, and platy’s.

Do Guppies Need Hiding Places?

If guppies are kept in a tank alone, they don’t necessarily need hiding places. Hiding places provide safety and comfort for them when kept in a community tank with other larger fish. Plastic aquarium ornaments, ceramic pots, PVC piping, rocks, driftwood, and silk or live plants provide the best hiding places for guppies.

Do Guppies Like a Strong Current?

Guppies don’t like a strong current because it affects their ability to swim freely. They’re very small and have a tendency to get swept up in fast moving water. Even their long fins, which improve their mobility in slow moving or still water, can’t sustain rushing water.

Do Guppies Prefer Sand or Gravel?

Many aquarium hobbyists prefer to use sand as substrate instead of gravel. Since guppies like plants, greenery tends to grow better in sand than gravel. Sand is also softer, looks better, and is easier to clean. If your guppies like to swim or scavenge near the bottom of the tank, sand also provides them with a safer, more comfortable surface.

Do Guppies Require an Air Pump?

Like most fish, guppies don’t ‘breathe’ air – instead, they absorb oxygen through their gills while swimming. Guppies need well-oxygenated water to survive so if it’s lacking in the tank – which is often the case with warm water aquariums – you’ll need to install an air pump. If you notice your fish swimming lethargically near the surface of the water, then chances are the oxygen level is too low.


To conclude, guppies like a ‘big’ aquarium (10 to 20 gallons) with lots of room to swim about. They also prefer planted tanks with lots of hiding places, especially when sharing it with other larger fish. They are happiest when they feel safe so consider smaller, more docile fish – like cories and tetras – as potential tank mates. Guppies thrive in warm, hard water and like a variety of both plant- and animal-based foods.

Hopefully, this article has been of help to you. Thanks for reading. Good luck and happy fish keeping.

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Will Guppies Overpopulate a Tank?

Do Guppies Need Other Guppies?

How Do I know if My Fish are Happy?

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