How to Start Your First Guppy Tank?

Setting the ideal tank for your guppies can make a massive difference in their population health, reproductive rate, and lifespan. Often, minor mistakes can lead to devastating consequences down the line.

For this reason, learning how to set your aquarium to meet guppies’ needs is critical to minimize their discomfort and ensure they’re thriving.

This article will update you with the latest information on setting the perfect tank for your guppy population.

Choosing Tank Size

Although you’re dealing with small fish (guppies can reach about 1.5 inches in size), the tank’s size is crucial. This is because a tiny fish needs a specific water volume, which will be much larger than the fish. Throw in a consistent flock of fishes in the mix, and you can see the problem.

As a beginner, you should take it slow and build the foundation first. A 10-gallon aquarium kit should fulfill all your needs for a start. You can find 10-gallon tank kits that come with all the essentials you need to set up your aquarium. The tools you will be getting with a kit like Aqueon Starter, for instance, include:

  • The 10-gallon glass aquarium
  • A hood with LED lighting
  • A heater
  • A water conditioner to ensure the water quality
  • A fish net
  • A thermometer
  • A filter

You should also note that having some type of substrate for your aquarium is key for a variety of reasons, but primarily hygienic. Fish droppings will settle on the substrate, allowing you to collect them regularly with increased ease.

This will keep the water clean and your guppies healthier in the long run.

How to Cycle Your Guppy Tank?

The notion of cycling the aquarium is a foreign notion to many fish breeding beginners. The process, however, is simpler than it sounds but vital in the grand scheme of things. Aquarium cycling is also called nitrogen cycling and refers to the process of cleansing the water of all the harmful ammonia and nitrites. These chemicals are usually the result of accumulated fish droppings and rotten fish food that end up polluting the water with time.

The results can be catastrophic, leading to the death of entire generations of fish. And the most prominent problem is that fish deaths can spike to alarming numbers literally overnight. To prevent that, you need to ensure healthy nitrogen cycling before placing your guppies in their new home.

Furthermore, you need to monitor the ammonia level regularly to make sure it remains at zero. Even a small concentration can have deadly consequences for guppies over time. If you’re unfamiliar with the whole cycling process, here are the main steps to follow:

  • Fill up the tank and use a dechlorinator
  • Add beneficial bacteria to the water to speed up the cycling process
  • Turn on the filter and let it work non-stop for about 5 days
  • Change 50% of the water and add Prime and Stability
  • Repeat the cycle for an additional 5 days, then change another 50% of the water and re-add Prime and Stability
  • Repeat the entire cycle for another 5 days
  • Place the guppies in the tank
  • Perform more frequent water changes for the following 60 days

The nitrogen cycle lasts up to two months, during which you will need to monitor the ammonia levels constantly.

How Many Guppies Should You Keep?

I know the most natural answer that comes to your mind right now is “As many as possible.” The problem with that is math. Like I’ve mentioned previously, a guppy will need a lot more water than you might give it credit for. A measly 1.5-inch guppy will require approximately 1.5 gallons of water. This creates a visible problem that only math can help you solve.

In other words, 10 guppies will require 15 gallons of water. For your 10 gallons, you should have 7 guppies at most. You can easily ignore this rule, but there will be consequences. Overcrowded guppies will get sick, attack or eat each other, and eventually die off. And I’m going to assume there’s no scenario where any of these repercussions would be desirable.

If you want larger fish populations, your only option is to get a larger aquarium that can accommodate more specimens at once. A potent external water filter will also work wonders in keeping the fish-saturated waters clean and oxygenated. So, you should want to look into that if you plan on boosting your fish population soon.

Guppy Tank Maintenance – Pro Tips

Tank maintenance equals guppy population maintenance. In other words, taking care of the tank is taking care of the fish. Keeping the aquarium in pristine condition requires several steps, such as:

  • Regular water changes – You should change some of the water in the tank regularly every week. The quantity generally depends on the tank’s size and the size of your guppy population. For a 10-gallon tank and below, you should change 50% of the water every week.
  • Don’t do full water changes – Changing the entire water will kill off the beneficial bacteria that actually contribute to your guppies’ health. This eventually leads to ammonia build-up, which we know it’s deadly for guppies and fish in general. See the first point, stick to it long-term, and everything should be fine.
  • Add a dechlorinator – Chlorine is just as harmful to guppies as ammonia. A dechlorinator can solve that problem and filter all the chlorine before it affects your guppy population.
  • Clean the algae regularly – Algae deposits will appear on the tank’s walls with time, leading to a variety of issues, depending on the algae’s type. Blue-green algae, for instance, are a form of cyanobacteria that will kill aquarium plants and hurt the fish population. Removing it will only keep the tank clean for a while until the algae returns. Only regular cleaning can protect your guppies long-term.
  • Clean the filter – You should clean the water filter weekly in the tank. Using tap water to clean it will add chlorine to the mix, which we’ve already determined that it’s toxic for the guppies. It will also destroy the beneficial bacteria residing in the filter, which is why you shouldn’t let it dry after cleaning.
  • Cleanse the dying plantsAquarium plants tend to die off from time to time. Rotten leaves will eventually raise the ammonia level in the tank, and you know where that leads. To prevent that, you should remove any dying or dead leaves you can find before the situation gets out of hand. The same goes for removing the guppy waste accumulating on the tank’s substrate. You can clean the substrate at least once a month for optimal results.

Wrap Up

Guppies are generally easy to maintain and grow, but, like with any other pet, you need to follow specific steps to ensure their health along the way. When it comes to guppies, the good news is that those steps boil down to routine more than anything else.

Just make sure you clean the tank regularly, monitor the chlorine and ammonia levels, remove algae deposits and dead plants, and keep the filters clean. These tips will help your guppy population thrive and reproduce, leading you to the next logical step – getting a bigger and more impressive aquarium than ever, ready to house the next generations of guppies.

Guppies   Updated: September 16, 2022
avatar I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets.
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