Guppies are incredibly popular in the freshwater fishkeeping hobby. Their popularity hasn’t really dropped since the 1960s when they were first introduced into the hobby. One of the things that make guppies so popular is the ease with which we can breed them at home.
I have been keeping and breeding guppies for nearly 30 years. Over that time I have set up multiple dedicated breeding tanks and I have tried numerous different setups. In this article, I bring all that experience together to help you set up the best guppy breeding aquarium.
What Size Tank To Breed Guppies?
If you are considering setting up a dedicated breeding tank, the first thing you will need to decide is what aquarium size. The size aquarium you go for will depend on your long-term goals. Essentially, bigger is always better. For ease, we will assume we are setting up an aquarium for a pair or trio (1 male and 2 females) of guppies.
For a pair or trio, a 10 gallon (45 liters) aquarium will be perfect. 10-gallon aquariums are large enough to cope with a small number of fish but small enough they don’t take up too much space.
Substrate Or Bare Bottom In A Guppy Breeding Tank?
Once we have chosen our breeding aquarium, the next decision we need to make is should we have a substrate or keep the tank bottom bare? There are pros and cons to both options.
Leaving your aquarium bottom bare does look very clinical, but makes maintenance much easier. Without gravel or sand, we can quickly siphon any waste off the bottom with a piece of hose. Removing the fish poop helps keep your aquarium water in good condition.
Gravel or Sand
I will agree that using gravel or sand in a breeding aquarium does make it look much nicer. It gives a natural feel which we as aquarists usually find more appealing. There are some technical benefits to having gravel, but they usually aren’t enough to make it a must.
If you are not sure how much substrate your guppy breeding tank will need, check using my article How Much Substrate Does My Aquarium Need?
If you are planning on growing live aquarium plants in your guppy breeding tank, try using Fluval Stratum as a substrate. It is a great choice for any aquarium which has live plants.
I prefer to leave my breeding tanks bare-bottomed. I find it makes maintenance much easier.
Filter, Heater And Lights For Guppy Breeding Tank
Filtration in a guppy breeding tank is essential. Before choosing what sort of filtration, bear in mind, anything too powerful will suck babies in. Canister filters and hang-on-back are well known for sucking babies in through their intakes. Needless to say, those babies are never seen again.
My first choice of filter for a guppy breeding tank is always a sponge filter. Sponge filters, which run off an air pump, are cheap to buy, cheap to run, and offer gentle by effective filtration. I would always recommend choosing a sponge filter for a breeding tank.
Lights are not critical for your guppy breeding tank unless you have live plants growing. Providing your guppies receive some light so they have an idea of day and night, they don’t need a dedicated light.
An aquarium heater is a must in the guppy breeding tank. Temperature plays a massive part in healthy guppy development. If the water temperature fluctuates, your female guppy may abort her babies before they are born. The heater only needs to be a small one if you are using a 10-gallon aquarium.
Decor And Plants In A Guppy Breeding Tank
On the face of it, decoration or plants may not seem necessary in a breeding tank. The reality is, guppy babies are very tasty! Adult guppies will happily eat their own babies.
We can reduce the number of babies that get eaten by adding as many hiding spaces as we can. It doesn’t matter what you use to create the hiding spaces. Personally, I like to use a large clump of Java Moss. The Java Moss fills about half my 10-gallon aquarium and allows the baby guppies to hide right inside it away from the adults. When it comes to guppy babies not being eaten, out of sight is out of mind!
I have also had great success in the past using fake plants in my breeding tanks. These ones that I ordered from Amazon were the best value I found.
Maintaining A Guppy Breeding Tank
Remember, a guppy breeding tank will need the same maintenance routine as your main display aquarium. It is essential that you change a good quantity of water each week to prevent the levels of nitrate from building up.
In my guppy breeding tank, I change between 30% and 50% of the water each week depending on how many babies I have at the time.
Should You Leave Guppy Parents In The Breeding Tank?
Another decision that needs to be made is whether or not to leave the adult guppies in after the babies are born.
Personally, I take the adults out. I then have an aquarium full of babies, all of which have the same food requirements. I am lucky that I have multiple tanks, so it is much easier to have a dedicated tank just full of guppy babies.
If you only want to dedicate the one tank to breeding guppies, you can leave the parents in, providing there are ample places for the babies to hide.
Raising Guppy Fry
Once you have some baby guppies you will need to feed them the correct diet. Luckily, guppy babies are relatively unfussy when it comes to food. I often add a small pinch of flake food 3 or 4 times a day. I lightly crush the flake between my finger and thumb as I add it to the tank.
Guppy babies will also eat newly hatched brine shrimp and frozen cyclops. Feeding little and often is much better than feeding them 1 big meal a day. I wrote this article about the best food for guppy fry.
Breeding guppies is one of the best parts of the hobby. Setting up a dedicated breeding tank seriously increases the number of babies you can raise to adult guppies. Whether you want to increase your guppy population or raise some fish to sell, a dedicated tank will make you more successful.