What Do Guppies Like in Their Tank? Tips for providing the perfect environment

When it comes to setting up the perfect tank for guppies, there are a lot of factors to consider. From water temperature to tank size, each element plays an important role in creating an environment that is both happy and healthy for these colorful fish. One of the most important factors to consider is what guppies actually like in their tank.

Guppies are tropical fish, so they prefer warmer water temperatures between 72-82°F (22-28°C). They also thrive in a tank environment that has plenty of hiding places, such as plants and decorations. In addition to providing a safe haven for these fish, hiding places also simulate their natural habitat and allow them to exhibit their natural behaviors.

The Ideal Tank Size for Guppies

Many beginner aquarists often struggle with determining the ideal size of their tank for keeping guppies. While guppies are relatively small fish, they require ample space to swim, play, and thrive in a healthy environment.

The general rule of thumb is to have a minimum tank size of 10 gallons for a small group of guppies. It is recommended to add at least an additional 2 gallons of water to the tank for every additional guppy. Therefore, a group of 5 guppies would require a 20-gallon tank.

It’s important to keep in mind that the more space guppies have, the healthier and happier they will be. Not only does a larger tank size provide more swimming space, but it also allows for better water filtration and maintenance.

In addition to the size of the tank, it’s also important to consider the tank’s shape and height. Guppies are very active and love to swim near the water’s surface, so tanks with a longer length and shallower depth are ideal.

Keeping a large group of guppies in a small tank can quickly lead to overstocking, which can cause health issues and poor water quality. Overstocking occurs when there are too many fish in a tank, and the filter isn’t able to keep up with the amount of waste produced.

The Right Water Parameters for Guppies

Maintaining the right water parameters is crucial for keeping guppies healthy and happy in their tank. Here are the key factors to consider:

  • Temperature: Guppies thrive in warm water, with a temperature range between 75°F and 82°F (24°C – 28°C), with a preference for the higher end of the range. If the temperature drops too low, it can slow down their metabolism and make them more susceptible to diseases. On the other hand, if the water temperature is too high, it can lower the oxygen levels and cause stress.
  • pH Level: Guppies prefer slightly alkaline water, with a pH range between 7.0 and 8.5, with a preference for the upper end of the range. pH levels that are too low or too high can cause stress and lead to health issues such as fin rot and fungal infections.
  • Hardness: Water hardness refers to the amount of dissolved minerals in the water. Guppies prefer slightly hard water, with a range between 8 and 12 dGH. Harder water can be beneficial for their health and coloration, while softer water can make them more susceptible to diseases.
  • Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate Levels: These compounds are toxic to guppies and can cause serious health problems if they accumulate in the tank. Ammonia and nitrite levels should be zero, while nitrate levels should be kept below 40 ppm. Regular water changes and the use of a good quality filtration system are crucial for maintaining healthy water parameters.

Best Substrates for Guppies

Guppies are freshwater fish that thrive in an aquarium environment. One important aspect of setting up an aquarium for guppies is choosing the right substrate. The best substrate for guppies include gravel, sand, and soil/clay substrate.


Gravel is a popular choice for aquarium substrates because it is readily available and comes in a variety of colors and sizes. It also provides good filtration because it allows water to flow through it easily.

Additionally, gravel can be used to anchor live plants in the aquarium. However, there are some disadvantages to using gravel as a substrate for guppies.

Small particles can get trapped in between the rocks and become difficult to clean. Additionally, some types of gravel may have sharp edges that can harm delicate fish like guppies.

When choosing gravel for a guppy tank, it is important to select smooth stones that will not harm the fish or trap debris. Rounded pea-sized gravel or larger river rocks are good options.


Sand is another popular option for aquarium substrates because it provides a natural look and feel to the tank. It also mimics the soft sandy bottoms found in many natural habitats where guppies live.

Sand is easy to clean and does not trap debris like some other substrates. However, there are some disadvantages to using sand as a substrate for guppies.

Sand can be easily stirred up by fish and equipment which can make the water cloudy or even clog filters if not cleaned properly. When choosing sand for a guppy tank, look for grains that are fine enough so they do not trap debris but not too fine that they clog filters or cause issues with water clarity.

Soil/Clay Substrate

Soil or clay-based substrates are less common but have various benefits for planted tanks. They provide a high level of nutrients and can help to maintain a stable pH level in the aquarium. Additionally, soil-based substrates are highly recommended for shrimp aquariums because they promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.

There are some disadvantages to using soil or clay substrate as well. They can be more difficult to clean and maintain than other substrates, and the initial set up process may require soaking or rinsing before use.

When choosing soil or clay substrate for a guppy tank, it is important to select a product that is specifically designed for use in aquariums. These types of substrates often have added fertilizers and minerals that are beneficial for aquatic plant growth.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Substrate

When choosing the best substrate for your guppy tank, there are several factors that you should consider. This includes the nutrient content and pH level of the substrate, cost and availability, appearance and design, as well as ease of maintenance.

  • Nutrient Content and pH Level: The type of substrate you choose can have a significant impact on the nutrient levels in your tank. Gravel, sand or soil/clay substrates can provide varying levels of nutrients depending on their composition. It is important to choose a substrate that will not alter the pH balance of your tank significantly. Guppies thrive in a slightly alkaline environment with a pH range between 7.0 to 8.5.
  • Cost and Availability: The cost and availability of substrates can vary depending on where you live and what is popular in your area. Some types of substrates may be more expensive than others due to their rarity or source location. It is important to compare pricing before making a final decision so that you can get the best value for your money.
  • Appearance and Design: The aesthetics of your guppy tank are also an important consideration when choosing a substrate. The color, texture, and size of the substrate can impact the overall look of your aquarium setup. Some aquarium owners prefer natural-looking substrates while others opt for colorful or decorative options.
  • Ease of Maintenance: The ease with which you can clean and maintain your chosen substrate is another crucial factor to consider when making this decision. Sand has been known to trap debris at its surface making it challenging to clean while gravel is easier since debris sinks down into it but requires constant cleaning since waste gets trapped within its small spaces. Ultimately, the best substrate for your guppies will depend on your personal preferences and the needs of your aquarium. Take time to research and compare different options before settling on one that will provide optimal conditions for your guppies.

Decorations and Plants That Guppies Love

Guppies are known for their love of planted aquariums and beautiful decorations. They live in densely planted streams and rivers in the wild, so plants and hiding spots are important to them. Adding the right decorations and plants to their tank will not only make them feel more at home but will also provide them with the stimulation they need to thrive.

  • Natural plants: Guppies love natural plants that provide cover, nourishment, and a place to rest. Live plants also help maintain the water quality by absorbing nitrates and carbon dioxide. Some best natural plants that guppies love are, Java Moss, Java Fern, Amazon Sword, Ludwigia, and Anubias among many others.
  • Hiding spots: Providing hiding spots helps to reduce stress in guppies. Small structures such as driftwood, small caves, and overturned flower pots offer places to rest and hide.
  • Sponge filters: Sponge filters serve as both decoration and a useful tool for keeping the water clean. They are gentle on guppy fry and do not generate a current that can be harmful to them.
  • Brightly colored items: Guppies are attracted to bright colors, so decorative items such as plastic plants, brightly colored pebbles, and ornaments will make their tank more appealing. However, make sure any decorations used are safe for fish and are not sharp or able to trap small fish.
  • Floating plants: Floating plants provide shade and cover which reduce stress in guppies. They also offer a place to rest on the surface. Water lettuce, duckweed and azolla are three great options for floating plants.

By incorporating these decorations and plants in the guppy tank, owners of this beautiful and energetic fish can provide an ideal environment. It’s important to keep in mind that while guppies enjoy a decorated tank, it’s essential to maintain water quality and ensure there is enough swimming space for them to move freely.

The Best Lighting for Guppy Tanks

Providing the right lighting for guppies in their tank is essential for their health and well-being. Since guppies are tropical fish, they require a consistent and moderate amount of light to thrive. Here are some factors to consider when selecting the best lighting for guppy tanks:

  • Type of Lighting: There are several types of light bulbs available on the market, including fluorescent, LED, and incandescent bulbs. LED lights are the most recommended for guppy tanks as they produce minimal heat, are energy-efficient, and have customizable color options.
  • Intensity of Lighting: Guppies thrive in moderate lighting conditions, so it’s essential to avoid creating too bright or too dim light in their tank. Ideally, you should aim for a range of 2-3 watts of LED lighting per gallon of water.
  • Lighting Duration: Providing a consistent lighting schedule is crucial to maintaining a healthy environment for guppies. It’s recommended to keep the lights turned on for 8-10 hours a day and turned off for the remaining time. This mimics their natural habitat where the sun rises and sets at a consistent time.
  • Color Spectrum: While guppies don’t require a specific color spectrum from their lighting, certain colors can enhance their natural beauty and vibrant colors. For example, blue lights can bring out the iridescence in male guppies, while red lights can help with algae control.

Guppy Tank Mates to Avoid

Guppies are a popular and easy-to-care-for fish species that are known for their vibrant colors and playful behavior. However, not all fish make good tank mates for guppies. Some fish are known to be aggressive or territorial, which can lead to stress, injury, or even death among guppies. In this section, we will outline some of the fish species that you should avoid adding to your guppy tank.

  • Betta Fish: Betta fish, commonly known as Siamese fighting fish, are notorious for their aggressive behavior. They are known to attack and kill other fish, especially those with long fins, such as guppies. Even if the betta fish does not attack the guppies directly, its presence alone can stress out the guppies and lead to health problems.
  • Cichlids: Cichlids are a diverse family of fish that include many species known for their aggressive behavior. While some cichlids may be compatible with guppies, many are not. Larger cichlids, such as Oscars and Jack Dempseys, are particularly known for attacking and killing smaller fish like guppies.
  • Goldfish: Goldfish are a common choice for beginner fish keepers, but they are not a good match for guppies. Goldfish have a high waste output and require different water parameters than guppies. Additionally, goldfish have a tendency to nibble on the fins of other fish, which can cause stress and injury to guppies.
  • Arowanas: Arowanas are large predatory fish that are not suitable tank mates for guppies. Arowanas can easily swallow guppies whole, and even if they do not attack them, their presence can cause stress and anxiety among the guppies.
  • Angelfish: While angelfish are generally peaceful fish, they may become aggressive towards smaller fish like guppies if they feel threatened or territorial. Additionally, angelfish require different water parameters than guppies and may not thrive in the same tank.


Understanding the preferred living conditions of guppies can help ensure their health and well-being in your home aquarium. Maintaining a consistent water temperature and quality, incorporating live plants and decorations, and providing ample space are vital factors in creating a healthy habitat for these tiny fish. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the beauty and vibrancy of your guppies for years to come.

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