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Many different factors can affect how long guppies live. In general, guppies will live for between 1 and 4 years. Feeding your guppies good quality food, keeping them in a stress-free environment, and maintaining proper water parameters can all affect guppy longevity. Other factors that affect how long guppies live include their genetics and the water temperature they are kept in.
Guppies are understandably one of the most popular fish in the freshwater fish-keeping hobby. Their bright colors and easy-going nature make them a great choice for both new and experienced fish keepers.
I first started keeping guppies over 30 years ago when I was given a 10-gallon tank with a small group of guppies. I don’t think there has been a single day from then to today when I didn’t have at least one tank full of guppies in my fish room.
How Can We Improve Guppy Life Expectancy?
There are a number of things we as fish keepers can do to improve our guppies life expectancy. These include;
- Feeding our guppies good quality food
- Keeping them in a stress free environment
- Maintaining correct water parameters
- Souring guppies from a reliable source (good genetics)
Feeding Guppies Quality Food
There isn’t much guppies won’t eat. They are not fussy feeders at all. Whilst at first glance this desire to eat anything and everything may seem like a plus point for the humble guppy, the reality is it can allow us as fishkeepers to become lazy and just feed them whatever happens to be lying around our fish rooms.
The better the quality food we feed our guppies, the better range of essential vitamins and minerals they will receive. I recently wrote an article titled What do Guppies Eat? which looks at the variety of foods we can feed our guppies.
A well-fed guppy will grow better, show better colors and be better able to fight off infections and diseases. Some examples of quality food we can feed our guppies include;
- Live or frozen foods such as bloodworms, daphnia or brine shrimp
- Quality flakes or pellets (I like to use Fluval Bug Bites – read my article about Bug Bites HERE)
- Fresh vegetables including cucumber, green beans and peas
Keeping A Stress Free Environment
We can help prevent our guppies from dying prematurely by keeping their environment as stress-free as possible.
Stress is a massive killer of guppies. Guppies can become stressed when they are kept with larger or more aggressive fish or when kept in an overcrowded aquarium.
Other factors that can stress a guppy include;
- Poor water quality
- Incorrect male to female ratio
- Incorrect water parameters
- Low water temperatures
Poor water quality, including high levels of ammonia, nitrite, or nitrate in the water, can quickly lead to increased stress levels in guppies. I can not stress enough how important regularly testing your guppy’s aquarium water is. If you don’t have one, get yourself an API Master Test Kit like this one ASAP!
We can improve water quality, and thereby lowering stress levels, by keeping up with regular water changes. Changing just 10% of the water in the aquarium each week can have a very positive effect on your water quality.
Getting the male to female ratio correct will also help reduce potential guppy stress. Male guppies are ALWAYS ready to breed.
Unfortunately, this can take a heavy toll on females. If you get the sex ratio right, having 3 or 4 female guppies to every 1 male, the male’s constant attention will be spread across 3 or 4 females, meaning no one individual fish is continually chased around the aquarium.
Maintaining Correct Water Parameters
Correct water parameters are possibly one of the most important factors in keeping guppy stress levels down. The ideal water parameters for guppies are as follows;
- Water Temperature: 72°F to 78°F (22°C to 26°C)
- pH: 6.8-7.8
- Water Hardness: 8-12 (dGH)
- 0 ppm Ammonia, 0 ppm Nitrite, 10-20 ppm Nitrate
Guppies can become stressed if their aquarium water is too cold. In years gone by, guppies were super hardy and could be kept in water as low as 65°F (18°C). Today’s guppies however are somewhat more delicate and require their aquarium water to be somewhere between 72°F and 78°F (22°C and 26°C).
Using a good quality aquarium heater and a reliable thermometer will help ensure your guppy’s aquarium water is always the right temperature for them.
Sourcing Guppies From A Reliable Source (Guppy Genetics)
Guppies are easy to breed. Add water, will breed as the old adage goes. The problem is, it is easy for breeders to churn guppies out by their millions. This means the genetic strength of the guppies can decline if the breeder doesn’t take care.
A genetically weak guppy won’t grow well, may become deformed, and will probably be more susceptible to pests and diseases. Buying your guppies from a reliable, reputable source will mean you get stronger, healthier stock.
This is especially important if you hope to breed your guppies yourself.
Do Male Or Female Guppies Live Longer?
I have been keeping guppies since 1993. In all that time I haven’t really seen a significant difference in life expectancy between male and female guppies. Females do grow larger and therefore probably stronger than males, but they spend almost their entire lives pregnant.
Guppies are constantly breeding. If you keep the sexes apart (so maybe keep male-only guppies), you will probably find they live longer as a result. However, one of the best parts of keeping guppies is the babies, so I say always keep both sexes together.
Guppies living in a healthy, well-balanced aquarium should live for up to 3 or 4 years. Some live longer, others not so long. There isn’t always anything we can do about that. What we can do is strive to keep them in optimal conditions at all times, feed them well, treat them if they get sick, and enjoy keeping one of the most fascinating fish in the hobby.