Bluegills and sunfish are common freshwater fish found in North America's streams, ponds, and lakes. Unlike…
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Adding an aquarium to your home or office can brighten any room, especially if you have filled the aquarium with bright, beautiful fish. That’s why guppies are a great addition to any aquarium. But how long do guppies live?
On average, guppies will live between two and three years, but it’s not uncommon to see a guppy in captivity live as many as five years, especially if the aquarium is well-maintained with a clean environment with little stress. But before you add guppies to your aquarium, let’s go over some more information about what guppies are, their life cycles, and how to care for them.
What Are Guppies?
Guppies are tropical fish from the scientific species name Poecilia reticulata. They are sometimes called rainbow fish or millionfish because of their bright colors shown in stripes, spots, or splashes.
Male guppies are more colorful than female guppies. Female guppies are often gray with a few splashes of color, while male guppies can have a body made up entirely of one bright color with splashes of another.
Guppies come from the tropical waters of the Caribbean Sea and South America. They were discovered by Robert John Lechmere Guppy in 1866 in the streams of Trinidad, which is how the guppies got their name.
Lechmere Guppy sent the first guppy he found to London for it to be observed and studied when it was discovered that guppies could thrive in an environment similar to the tropical streams near South America. This is how guppies became highly desirable aquarium fish.
How Do Guppies Reproduce?
Guppies are live-bearing fish which means the female guppies retain fertilized eggs inside their body and give birth to free-swimming babies. Female guppies can birth as many as 50 baby guppies at a time. A baby guppy is known as a guppy fry. Wild guppies will eat their young after giving birth, so the guppy fry must stay in a safe area protected from the adults.
When a female guppy gives birth, the guppy fry can be protected from the adult guppies by using a live-birthing tank in the aquarium. This will keep the adults and the guppy fry safe before and after the birth.
How Long Do Guppies Live?
As we mentioned, guppies can live up to three years and potentially longer if they are taken care of properly, and their environment is well-maintained, clean, and stress-free.
While guppies tend to get along with most other fish, a stressful environment can cause a guppy’s lifespan to shorten, and you may only have your guppy for two years at the most.
A guppy will grow to a maximum length of approximately 2 ½ inches. It takes a baby guppy approximately six months to grow to a full size.
The Average Guppy Life Cycle
- Fry guppy—from birth until 1 month old
- Juvenile guppy—1 to 2 months old
- Young guppy—2 to 6 months old and can begin reproduction for breeding
- Adult guppy—6 months old and older
What Type of Environment Does a Guppy Need?
Guppies aren’t true saltwater fish, so they don’t need the complex setup of a saltwater aquarium. However, a little salinity is good for the guppies. In fact, they can tolerate as much salt as 58% in their environment, but no more than that, or it can hurt them. Try to keep the water in the tank between 72°F and 78°F. You will likely need a water heater to regulate the water temperature, especially during winter.
If you only plan to have two or three guppies, you can choose a 5-gallon tank for your guppies. However, if you plan for the guppies to reproduce, you will quickly need a bigger tank, as female guppies can birth as many as 50 baby guppies at one time.
Because of this, we recommend choosing a 10 to 20-gallon tank, but only if you plan for the guppies to reproduce or if you’ll have other fish living with the guppies.
Guppies also need their habitat to be heavy with plants. This gives the guppies a place to hide and will make them feel more comfortable. Guppies are hardy fish that prefer levels between 8 to 12 dGH. The optimal pH level for guppies will be around 7.5, but this number can go up if the hardness of the water increases.
The best fish to have in your aquarium with guppies are platy fish, mollies, and tetras. They provide the most color and will be the most peaceful fish for your guppies to be around. Never put a betta fish with your guppies.
Though betta fish look similar to guppies, they are not the same, and they do not need to live with other fish, including guppies. Betta fish are aggressive towards guppies and can kill them.
Finally, when feeding your guppies, try to feed them a combination of flaky fish food and live food. The best live fish food for guppies is mealworms. You should do this regularly to keep them as happy and healthy as possible.
What Happens if My Guppy Gets Sick?
Unfortunately, guppies can suffer from guppy disease, which is derived from a parasite. There is no cure for guppy disease, but you can help your guppy recover by changing their water and continuing to feed them healthy quality food.
Make sure you don’t overfeed your guppies, as this can harm them and cause them to get sick. Guppies don’t always eat their food if they’ve been overfed so the fish food will sit on the bottom of the guppy tank. This causes the guppy tank to become contaminated and begin building up ammonia which is deadly to fish.
Make sure you don’t overfeed your guppies. If you do, immediately clean out the tank to prevent ammonia from building up.
How Long Do Guppies Live? Final Thoughts
Guppies will live between two and three years, but you can extend their lifespan to as many as five years by keeping them happy and comfortable in a peaceful environment.
Make sure to feed the guppies a healthy balance of vegetables and proteins through fish flakes and mealworms. With a balanced diet, good water quality, and a water tank temperature between 72°F and 78°F, your guppies will live a long, happy life and remain healthy fish.