How Often to Feed Guppies?
There are a lot of factors heavily influencing a guppy’s lifestyle, including water quality, tank conditions, tank dynamics, oxygenation, and dieting. Any significant disruption in any of these areas will affect your guppies, causing stress, illness, and even death.
Today, we will discuss about guppy feeding habits. How much should you feed them? What do they typically eat? What will the ideal diet consist of? What happens if you overfeed guppies?
Today’s article will seek to answer all these questions to help you understand more about your little swimmers.
How Much Should You Feed Adult Guppies?
To know how much adult guppies eat, think of the feral strains. In the wild, guppies don’t have access to as much food as they do in captivity. It may sound counterintuitive, given how larger and diverse their natural environment is. Most guppies will swim through heavily populated rivers filled with insects, larvae, and other tiny creatures that make it onto their menu.
The problem is that, in the wild, the competition for food is fierce. While an average 20-gallon tank will hold up to 10-12 guppies, wild guppy groups can reach in excess of 100 members. This can lead to fierce competition for food, females, and territory.
As a result, wild guppies will only eat live food occasionally. They will generally nibble on plants, algae, and some occasional insect larvae, providing them with low-to-moderate access to protein and animal fat.
Their diets in captivity need to replicate their natural tendencies, which means you will have to feed your guppies once or twice every day. This can vary slightly in some cases, as some guppy keepers feed them three times per day.
I suggest assessing your guppies’ overall behavior and temperament throughout the day. If your guppies will leave unconsumed food behind, they are most likely full and can cope with less food throughout the day.
As a general rule, you should adapt the feeding schedule to how many guppies you have and their overall appetite. Having a lot of guppies (over 20, let’s say) will lead to some eating more than others. You will have to make sure that all guppies get their fair share of food.
Ideally, you should stick to feeding your guppies up to two times per day and start from there.
How Much Should You Feed Guppy Fry?
Guppy fry will eat typically the same things as adults. The only difference is that they tend to eat more often and prefer more protein and fats.
Guppy fry will start to eat as soon as they’re born as they require a lot of nutrients fast. Unlike adults, the fry will benefit from more animal-sourced protein and fats. A high protein diet will boost their growth, aiding their development during the first several months of their live.
You should feed your guppy fry between 3 to 4 times per day and ensure a balanced diet of protein, fat, minerals, and essential vitamins. The fry’s feeding needs will gradually decrease over time; one month in, you can cut the feeding schedule by half.
The same happens 3 months down the line when your guppies will basically become adults. At this point, they will mostly eat once per day. It’s also not an issue if you only feed them once every 2 days, provided the fish are comfortable with it; and most guppies are.
The key thing to take from here is that overfeeding will affect the guppy fry just as much as it does adults. Guppy fry who eat too much too often will tend to swim near the water’s surface for prolonged periods. This can affect their swim bladder, leading to potentially fatal health complications.
What Are The Best Food Options For Guppies?
Guppies are tropical and omnivorous fish, which means that their diets consists of both animal and plant-based foods. This opens the door to a multitude of food options, many of which you can make at home.
Here are the most relevant food options, providing your guppies with essential nutrients throughout the day:
- Soilent Green Algae – This is a manmade food that comes as a gel, containing a variety of nutrients and protein. It is a must for guppy fry, who typically require a surplus of animal and plant-based nutrients. Guppy fry can consume Soilent Green algae as soon as they’re born. I recommend keeping this food on their menu at least until they reach 3 months of age.
- Vegetables – There are plenty of options in this area. You can either buy dried flakes or pellets commercially made for guppies and other fish or rely on homemade recipes. A veggie paste is simple to make, nutritious, and handy since you can freeze it and use it over several days. When it comes to the paste’s content, the sky is the limit. You can add a variety of vegetables, including cucumber, zucchini, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, spirulina, algae, etc. The more ingredients you’ll add, the higher the nutritional value that your guppies will enjoy.
- Shrimp – If you don’t have live food, frozen shrimp will do just fine. One of the main advantages of frozen shrimp is that it’s cheap, and you can save it for later use. The shrimp provides guppies with a lot of protein and fats, satisfying their needs fast. This means that you only need to feed them moderate amounts since adult guppies don’t need as much protein and fat as fry. You can even turn the shrimp into a nutritious paste, mixing it with vegetables or other animal-sourced foods.
- Bloodworms – You don’t see this option listed as much anymore since bloodworms are typically difficult to come by. I recommend purchasing them online and setting up live culture to grow them at home. Bloodworms are easy to grow and will provide you with unlimited food for your guppies, so long as you keep the bloodworm culture up and running. Bloodworms will offer essential protein and vitamin B12, which is key to fish disease prevention.
- Pellets – This commercial food option is often worth all the money. These are ready-to-eat food options that you can store for later use. The key point to take from here is that you need to get high-end pellets from trustworthy brands. This will provide your guppies with the best nutrient mix that low-end fish food can’t deliver.
- Flake Food – This is another versatile food option that allows you to provide guppies with essential nutrients and minerals. Flak food is easy to store and use, and it is a comfortable feeding option. It works great for guppy keepers who don’t have the time or disposition necessary to entertain a live food culture or cook guppy food at home.
- Protein Paste – A well-made protein paste will cover all your guppies’ nutrient needs with only little effort on your part. The goal is to mix preferably live food like shrimp, daphnia, vinegar eels, and even fish meat with veggies into one cohesive protein paste. The resulting product will contain all the nutrients, minerals, vitamins, protein, and fats that your guppies require to remain healthy and energetic throughout the day.
- Live Food – Live food imitates your guppies’ natural feeding habits perfectly. If you really want to put in work for your guppies, I recommend keeping several live cultures. You can find the equipment online and learn how to set it up in a matter of minutes. You can have cultures of daphnia, brine shrimp, vinegar eels, or bloodworms, providing you with an unlimited source of fresh food. The only downside here would be the need for daily involvement since you will have multiple hatcheries to care for. The upsides are enormous, especially if you’re breeding guppies professionally.
- Beef Heart and Egg Yolk – Both these products are amazing in terms of protein content. The problem is that they are also very high in fat, which is less than ideal for your adult guppies. Guppy adults don’t need as much protein or fat since they can disrupt their biology. I would recommend only feeding beef heart and egg yolk in moderation as treats and feeding them primarily to the fry.
As side notes, I should add that egg yolk, in particular, will foul the water fast. Only feed your guppies small amounts of boiled egg yolk to make sure they eat everything. You should also cleanse the remains to keep the water clean and safe.
The same applies to any other food type. Overfeeding is an issue, since the uneaten food will accumulate on the substrate and decay with time. This will lead to the accumulation of harmful bacteria, boosting the ammonia levels and poisoning the water. Your guppies will experience drastic behavioral changes and health problems, risking a lower immune system, illness, and even death.
Benefits of Live Food For Guppies
One of the primary benefits to mention is that guppies are genetically programmed to prefer live food. This is what they typically eat in the wild, so they will like it instinctively.
Live food options like daphnia, brine shrimp, or vinegar eels will provide your guppies with consistent protein and fat, which is both good and bad. It’s good because it ensures a steady flow of nutrients that guppies need to remain healthy and stable.
It’s bad, however, because guppies are more voracious in nature. They tend to eat fast and a lot at once. This is mainly due to their genetic makeup molded over multiple generations that have lived in the wild where food is scarce.
This has led guppies to eat whatever they could as much as possible since live food was so difficult to come by.
This isn’t the case with domestic guppies since they now have full access to as much food as they want. The problem is that their brains haven’t yet adapted to opulence; hence, we get to the problem of overfeeding.
If you’re feeding your guppies primarily live food, it’s up to you to limit the intake of protein and fats. Remember, guppies will eat more than they need to, which can quickly lead to health issues as a result.
Benefits of Pellets For Guppies
Pellets are good for two core reasons. One is their affordability. Food pellets are generally cheap, which means you can buy a lot at once.
Another plus is the nutrient mix. Unlike live food, pellets will contain a lot more nutrients overall that other food options might lack.
There are also some downsides that we should discuss. For one, pellets can be trickier to come by. They are not generally available in all fish shops, so you will need to go online to get them. Then there’s the problem of protein deficiency. Pellets don’t have as much protein content as other food sources.
My advice would be to combine pellets with other foods to provide your guppies with a well-rounded and healthy diet.
How Long Can Guppies Go Without Any Food?
Studies show that, on average, guppies can go without food for around 5 to 7 days without any significant health problems. In some scenarios, batches of guppies have been seen to go without food for 14 days. This is, of course, an exception since most guppies will face health issues when starving for too long.
The guppies’ ability to withstand long periods without food comes from their genetic predisposition. Guppies don’t always have access to food in their natural environment, which eventually forced their bodies to adapt. Their bodies will manage the resources they have as best as possible until new eating opportunities arrive.
This information can be useful for guppy keepers who occasionally leave home on vacation or business trips. The ideal thing would be to get someone to look after your guppies while you’re away. It may be a family member, a close friend, or someone trustworthy in your entourage. You can even hire a guppy expert to take over your obligations during your absence.
Just know that if you’re only missing for several days, your guppies will be fine. Make sure you feed them before leaving and change at least 50% of the water.
On another note, you should check for dead plants or fish to prevent them from decaying in the tank. This can increase the ammonia levels and hurt your fish in the process.
Who Eats More – Male or Female Guppies?
The answer is simple – females. That’s because females are larger than the males and require more food as a result. Their nutritional intake may also increase slightly during pregnancy.
You should also remember that not all guppies eat the same. Some may prefer some foods, while others will enjoy different ones. They will also vary in appetite, with many guppies being satisfied with one meal per day, while others need 2.
The idea that I’ve tried presenting in this article is that guppy feeding isn’t an exact science. You should take any feeding advice with a grain of salt and adapt it to your guppy population.
Assess your guppies’ feeding pattern, understand what they like and dislike, and go from there.
As a general rule, you should avoid overfeeding and make sure that your guppies get all the key nutrients that will boost their growth and keep them healthy. And don’t forget that the fry’s nutritional needs will vary compared to those of adults.
If you still have questions about guppy feeding or guppy food options, check my other articles on the subject, or simply comment below.