A beginners guide to keeping guppies

Can I have just one guppy?

As guppies are usually seen in groups, many new fish keepers wonder whether they can keep one guppy on its own.

It’s absolutely fine to keep one guppy alone, particularly if you own a very small tank which would cause cramped conditions if you were to keep several. The size of your tank is something that needs to be taken into consideration when you are buying fish, and although they are small, guppies are no exception because they breed very easily – before you know it, four guppies could become eight and then twelve, and so on.

When buying a singular guppy, many small tank owners opt for a male to rule out the possibility that the fish may be pregnant and carrying babies already.

Do I need to balance out the male to female ratio?

While guppies are a friendly species, males tend to harass females.

They chase them around the tank and show off their colours in an attempt to impress the females and mate. Unfortunately all this attention can make the female guppy fish ill as a result of stress.

Therefore, it’s important to have more female guppies than males, so that attention is divided between females and to minimise harassment. A good ratio to live by is 2:1, so two females to each male.

Male guppies are the most colourful of the two sexes, and so many aquarists only keep males, so that their tank looks lively , without the risk of harassment and stressed fish.

What will I need in the tank?

Like most fish, guppies love having lots of gravel to poke around in and lots of places to hide – this is why plants and decor can come in handy.

Before investing in plants and gravel though, you need to ask yourself whether there is enough room. It’s a bad idea to fill your tank with accessories if it’s just going to make it crowded. You also need to take cleaning into consideration, you’ll need to clean up the waste that gets trapped in between the bits of gravel in the tank, more often than you’d have to clean a tank with a bare base.

Guppies tend to prefer sleeping near the bottom of the tank, and so it can come in handy to have no gravel at all so that it is more comfortable. If comfort is something that you deem to be a priority, but you don’t want the tank to look bare, then sand can be a great option as it is softer, looks good and is easier to clean than gravel.

Do I need a filter?

A filter is not compulsory as guppies don’t produce as much waste as other fish such as goldfish do. Nevertheless, many guppy owners swear by filters, saying that they help to maintain water quality and keep the guppies healthy. At Swell, we do recommend keeping a small filter in the tank. If you decide to keep your tank filter-free, it’s even more important to do regular water changes to avoid pollution.

What do guppies eat?

Guppies can eat a wide range of fish foods, anything from Baby Brine Shrimp to Daphnia and various types of worm such as shredded earth worms, blood worms. Some people even like to feed their guppies egg yolk – for that added protein boost!

How long do guppies live?

Guppies can live as long as four or five years if they’re looked after properly. However, it’s more common for them to live between just one and two years.

If you want to maximise your guppies’ life span, you’ll need to maintain excellent water quality, make sure the water is cool and feed them a nutritious and varied diet.


  • Ruby Posted 15/05/2018 at 7:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’d like 2 male guppies for my first fish however, my tank is only 20L. I have a filter, gravel, a plant and one ornament but does it matter if I don’t have a heater?

  • Kevin Posted 13/07/2018 at 7:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    New to fish keeping. I have introduced 6 guppies into my tank. It is 57 litres. 2 make. 4 female. Is it normal for them to keep close to the top of the tank. ?

  • Deena Young-Kenyon Posted 26/09/2018 at 9:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

    So my friend has 1 female and a heap of males. Her guppie has had babies but she can’t tell if they are a boy or girl

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