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Guppies Care Sheet

Guppies Care Sheet

Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.


This care sheet covers a variety of freshwater semi-aggressive species, including:



Poecilia reticulata, Poecilia wingei

Guppies are native to South America in places like the Amazon—as well as Venezuela, Brazil, Guyana, Trinidad, Tobago and Barbados—and come in a fascinating array of colors, patterns and tail shapes. Used to help control malaria, these community schooling fish prefer to inhabit the upper level of the aquarium and are captivating to watch. Like other freshwater live-bearers, guppies give birth to live young and can rapidly reproduce.  Guppies are highly adaptable, thriving in a range of water conditions and recommended for beginning aquarists.


Typical appearance and behavior 

  • Guppies are a social, schooling species and do best in groups of three or more of the same species; they should not be kept singly 
  • Females are usually larger but less colorful than males, who come in a variety of bright colors, patterns and fin shapes 
  • They enjoy hiding in live plants and other décor; plants also offer darker areas for guppies to rest and a place for babies to feel safe
  • Guppies can jump rapidly and leap 7 times the length of their body 
  • Guppies like stable water temperatures that mimic their natural habitats


Care Difficuty Beginner
Average Life Span 3+ years with proper care
Average Adult Size Up to 2 inches long
Diet Omnivorous
Minimum Habitat Size 5+ gallons, depending on species
Water Temperature 72-82°F



Habitat size

Keep aquatic life in an appropriately sized aquarium based on the species selected, which can range from 5 gallons for smaller species to a much larger aquarium for a school of guppies.

Building your habitat

  • Water health
    • Provide proper filtration to ensure optimal water quality to help maintain health
    • Provide slow to moderate water circulation to mimic water currents and high oxygen levels found in a guppy’s natural habitat
    • Stable water quality (pH, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite) and water temperature are critical to the health of aquatic life; if you are unsure of your water quality, bring a sample to Petco for free testing
    • An aquatic heater should be used to stabilize water temperature, ensuring it does not fluctuate more than 2 degrees in either direction in a 24-hour period
    • Many guppies will benefit from the addition of freshwater salt to the aquarium; the specific gravity should be kept at 1.004
    • Always research your species-specific needs before adding freshwater aquarium salt
    • Do not allow specific gravity to fluctuate more than 0.001 in either direction in a 24-hour period. 
  • Decor -  Provide plenty of space for swimming, as well as plants, rocks or décor for hiding places



A well-balanced guppy diet consists of:

  • Flakes, pellets, freeze-dried or frozen foods
  • Avoid exclusive food that is not nutritionally complete

Things to remember when feeding your guppy:

  • Depending on species and size, feed small amounts 1-3 times daily, no more than fish will eat in 1-2 minutes
  • Thaw frozen food before feeding


Guppy care

  • Maintaining great water quality with regular water changes and adequate filtration is important to help keep your guppy healthy
    • Daily: Check filter, water temperature and other equipment
    • Weekly: Test water quality at least once a week
    • Weekly to monthly: Change 10–25% of the total volume of water every 2–4 weeks, or as needed; change filter media monthly
  • Avoid overcrowded conditions; they are a major cause of stress and disease 


Where to buy mollies

Guppies are available for purchase at Petco online and in-store, availability varies by location. If visiting your local Pet Care Center location, please call ahead to check availability. 




Tank mates 

Introduce new inhabitants to the aquarium gradually. Guppies are a community species and will do well with most community species, such as:



Signs of a healthy guppy

  • Clear eyes
  • Healthy appetite
  • Bright, even coloring
  • Clean in appearance
  • Free of parasites or disease

Red flags (If you notice any of these signs, contact your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian)

  • Loss of color or appetite
  • Spots or fungus on body or mouth
  • Erratic swimming
  • Frayed fins
  • Labored breathing
  • Weight loss
  • Bloating
  • Cloudy eyes or pop-eye
  • Listlessness


Common guppy health issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health IssueFin rot Symptoms or CausesFrayed or disintegrating fins; the base of the fins usually reddens. Suggested ActionImprove water quality; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.
Health IssueIch Symptoms or CausesWhite spots appear on fins and body; fish rubs against hard objects or swims erratically; rapid respirations Suggested ActionQuarantine fish immediately; add freshwater salt and use a commercial ich remedy as directed;. consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.
Health IssueFungus Symptoms or CausesWhite cottony growth and/or discoloration of the eyes. Suggested ActionQuarantine fish; use a commercial antifungal remedy as directed; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.
Health IssueBacterial infections Symptoms or CausesCloudy eyes, open sores and/or reddening of the skin. Suggested ActionImprove water quality; add freshwater aquarium salt; use a commercial antibacterial remedy as directed; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.
Health IssueCottonmouth or columnaris Symptoms or CausesCottony white growths along the body and/or gills, frayed fins and gills turn brown and necrotic in late stages; caused by bacterial infection. Suggested ActionQuarantine fish; improve water quality; lower aquarium temperature to 72°F to deter bacteria from growing; medicate as directed; consult your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian for treatment.



  • What are guppies? Guppies are a small, live-bearing fish species native to South America in places like the Amazon, as well as Venezuela, Brazil, Guyana, Trinidad, Tobago and Barbados.
  • How long do guppies live? Guppies can live 3+ years, with proper care.
  • How big do guppies get? Guppies reach an average adult size of 2”. Females typically grow slightly larger than males. 
  • What do guppies eat? Guppies are omnivores and can be fed an assortment of flakes, pellets, freeze-dried and frozen foods.
  • How can you tell if a guppy is pregnant? Typically, you will see a dark spot by the anal fin at the back of the stomach. 
  • Can guppies live with bettas? Guppies can technically coexist with a betta, but this will be dependent on the temperament of the betta and the size of the aquarium. If the guppies have bright, flowing tails, this could cause aggressive territorial behavior from the betta.  
  • Can guppies live with goldfish? Guppies and goldfish can theoretically coexist, but this is not recommended. Guppies are a tropical species who prefer warmer waters, while goldish prefer cooler environments. Also, goldfish can get large and easily swallow smaller guppies. 
  • Can guppies live alone? Guppies are a schooling species and will not do well if isolated from a group their own. Guppies do best when kept in groups of three or more. 


Additional care sheets

Notes and resources

Ask a Pet Care Center partner about Petco's selection of products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all aquatic life are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as atypical mycobacterium and salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your aquatic life and/or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of diseases.

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing and/or caring for aquatic life and should consider not having aquatic life as a pet.

Go to the Centers for Disease Control at for more information about aquatic life and disease.

The information on this care sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please contact your veterinarian as appropriate.