How to Care for Fancy Tail Guppy Fish

Guppies thrive in an aquarium.
Guppies thrive in an aquarium. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

A freshwater fish, the fancy tail guppy sports distinct colors that differ dramatically between individuals. The male has a long, graceful tail but the female's shorter tail usually displays a brighter coloration. House adult guppies in a 10-gallon aquarium for best results. Each fish should have at least a gallon of water per fish to thrive. Prolific breeders, the guppy gives birth to live young. The fry will require immediate separation from the parent fish to keep them from being consumed. Catch the fry using a fish net and house them in another aquarium while they grow.

Things You'll Need

  • 10-gallon aquarium
  • Water pH test kit
  • Aquarium heaters
  • Aquarium thermometer
  • Box or sponge filter
  • Air filtration system, such as an air vibration pump
  • Fine gravel
  • Live or artificial plants
  • Guppy flake food
  • Brine shrimp
  • Micro shrimp
  • White worms
  • Fish net
  • Aquarium siphon vacuum
  • Non-iodized salt

Maintain the aquarium's water temperature at 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a tank heater to help keep the temperature constant. Keep the aquarium's water pH at 6.8 to 7.8. The International Fancy Guppy Association suggests that the ideal water pH for fancy tail guppies is 7 and the perfect water temperature is 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

Use a water pH kit to test the water each week when cleaning the tank. Attach an aquarium thermometer to the tank to monitor the water's temperature.

Install a box or sponge filter on the aquarium to offer water filtration for the guppies and keep the bacterial count within the water under control. Equip the tank with an air-filtration system, such as an air vibration pump.

Turn the lights on the aquarium on for 10 to 14 hours per day. The fish will benefit from having the lights turned on one hour before the first feeding in the morning. Turn the lights off about one hour after the last evening feeding to replicate the guppy fish's natural environment.

Place a variety of live or fake plants for the guppies to nibble on and swim through. The vegetation also provides hiding places for fry so they can seek shelter immediately after being born because the parent fish will often consume them. Using live vegetation will benefit the guppies by providing natural oxygen in the water. Live aquatic vegetation can also naturally help remove nitrates in the water and create a more stable environment for the guppies.

Line the bottom of the aquarium with about 3 inches of fine aquatic gravel. The gravel will help secure the plants to the bottom of the tank and keep them from floating to the top.

Feed adult guppies two to three times per day. Young fry benefit from being fed small amounts six to eight times per day. Use guppy flake food daily.

Read the commercial fish food's label and try to choose food that contains spirulina, spinach or algae. The food should also have a source of meat protein, such as shrimp or fish. Consider supplementing the flake food with fresh brine shrimp, white worms or micro worms for a special treat for the guppies.

Siphon out 30 to 40 percent of the water each week and replace with fresh water. Use an aquarium siphon vacuum to clean the gravel of all accumulated fecal matter and remove old food. Siphoning the water from the bottom of the tank will also help remove any ammonia that may have built up in the water.

Clean the box or sponge filter at the time of the water change. Follow the manufacturers directions on how to clean the filter system.

Tips & Warnings

  • Organizations and clubs exist in many locations in the world where fanciers can exhibit their fish.
  • A female guppy can give birth to 30 to 50 fry every 28 to 30 days.
  • Cull any deformed fancy tail guppy fish.
  • Breeders often perform daily water changes instead of weekly to keep the ammonia levels low in the tank. They siphon off only 10 percent of the water and replace it, according to the International Fancy Guppy Association.
  • The swamp guppy lives best in slightly brackish water, according to Wet Web Media. Consider adding 1 teaspoon of non-iodized salt to the aquarium after each cleaning to create a slightly brackish water environment.
  • Fancy tail guppies live in schools, but will often nip the fins and tails of other fish varieties in the aquarium.
  • Avoid using water treated with chlorine and ammonia in the aquarium. If the local water company treats the water with such chemicals, then use a commercial water cleansing product to remove the chlorine and add ammo-chips to a box filter to reduce the ammonia.
  • Guppies can suffer from white spot known as ich. If the fish exhibits white spots on its fins or body, consider purchasing a commercial white spot fish medication. Follow the directions on the label for application instructions.
  • A guppy suffering from velvet will have gold-colored spots on its fins or body. Promptly treat using a commercial fish medication to prevent the fish from perishing.
  • Protozoan fin rot causes the fins of the guppy to rot and take on a ragged appearance. Treat the condition with nitrofurazone or tetracycline. Use the medication for seven days for the best results and follow the directions on the label to determine how much to apply to the water.
  • Guppies often suffer patches of gray fungus, which can prove deadly if not promptly treated. Treat using nitrofurazone for seven days. Follow the directions on the medication's label for application instructions.

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