Can You Keep Only Male Guppies Together?
Few fish species are more versatile, adaptable, and diverse than guppies. You can keep them in pairs, in small groups, and even in large communities, along with other fish species. Provide them with adequate food, stable water parameters, and peaceful tank mates, and they will thrive.
But, when it comes to guppies, there’s one question that keeps popping out. Can you build a male-only tank? The question is of significant substance since guppy males are larger and more colorful than the females. It makes sense to want to create a male-only environment. But does it work?
Let’s see whether you can have a male-only aquarium and what that entails. But first, we should deal with the most pressing matter.
Is It OK to Keep Only Male Guppies?
I mean, it depends on how we define OK. Guppies don’t exist in male-only communities in the wild, so such a setting won’t come quite natural to them. That being said, yes, you can make a male-only community to work, provided you account for the males’ aggression in the process. All male fish will display aggression towards each other over food, females, territory, and even hierarchical power. The same stays true for guppies.
Placing several males in the same setting is bound to produce some aggression, and there’s no way of avoiding it. You can only mitigate it and reduce its impact. In this sense, you should:
- Increase the aquarium’s size – This is the most obvious solution. The more space your guppies will have, the more escape routes at their disposal. Make sure each fish has at least 2 gallons of water at its disposal. You may even increase this number if you have a larger group of males and require the extra space to add plants and various decorations.
- Add plants – Plants are necessary to any guppy tank as they oxygenate the environment, keep the water clean, and provide the fish with some environmental variety. These will also lower the fish’s aggression by breaking the line of sight between attackers and victims. You have a variety of plant species to use, including guppy grass, java fern, anubias, Amazon sword, moneywort, water wisteria, and many others.
- Water decorations – Guppies don’t necessarily require heavily decorated tanks as they can easily accommodate to a minimalistic tank as well. Furthermore, many decorations may be dangerous for guppies, especially if they have sharp edges that could cause cuts, punctures, or even light skin lesions. These can quickly infect and aggravate, putting your guppy’s life at risk. That being said, some decorations may be necessary to prevent male aggression. Live rocks would be a good option, along with natural or artificial arches and tunnels for the bullied to escape their pursuers.
Generally speaking, guppy males will fight, no matter what you’ll do to prevent that. All the measures I’ve mentioned are meant to lower the males’ aggression, not eliminate it completely. So, you should start your male-only tank with that idea in mind.
Do Male Guppies Fight Each Other?
Yes, quite often. In some cases, their aggression can even lead to indirect death. Guppies can’t hurt each other physically since they’re not designed for fighting. They will, however, bully each other, with the aggressors always being the larger, dominant male(s). When that happens, constant aggression will stress the victims, and fish stress is many times deadly.
Stressed fish will experience weaker immune systems, lowered appetite, lethargy, and other symptoms that will aggravate with time. If the aggression doesn’t stop, the fish may even fall sick, becoming vulnerable to parasites and fish diseases like ich, dropsy, and others. To prevent this, most aquarists will add females to the mix.
Having at least 2 females for every guppy male in the tank will reduce male aggression drastically. However, this will drastically impact your guppies’ number due to all the breeding that’s bound to happen. So, if you’ve determined that you want fry, a mixed guppy population is the best option. If not, it’s most likely the worst.
How Many Guppy Males Should You Keep?
The golden rule is that the more guppies you have in the same habitat, the calmer the population will be. Only keeping 2 males will cause one of them to assault and bully the other, and repeated bullying is never good for the guppy’s overall health. The same problem is made worse by having 3 males since you will most likely have 2 aggressors.
The minimum number of guppy males to have in the same tank is around 5-6. This won’t necessarily eliminate the aggression, but it will even it out. In that setting, all guppy males will sometimes bully each other, which is better than having one fish take in all the violence. I recommend keeping even more males than that, provided you don’t overcrowd them.
Can You Keep 3 Male Guppies?
You can, but you shouldn’t. The problem is that guppy males will always abide by specific social rules. When it comes to fish, the most relevant rule is ‘I’m bigger and stronger, so I’ll bully you, and there’s nothing you can do about it.’ Naturally, guppies don’t use as many words to describe their relationships, but you get the point.
As I’ve already mentioned, keep at least 6 males in a vast, stable, and well-decorated aquarium. This should be enough to minimize their territorial and hierarchical aggression.
How to Reduce Aggression in Only-Male Guppy Tank?
Since we’ve already dissected this topic earlier, allow me to summarize:
- Decorate the tank with a variety of plants to break the line of sight between the males
- Increase the tank’s size to provide the guppies with more roaming space
- Throw in some smooth and safe aquatic decorations for a plus of visual diversity and to keep your guppies occupied
Aside from these already obvious solutions, I also recommend:
- Keeping guppies well fed-up – Hungry guppies are always more irritable, nipping at each other and trying to eat their live plants. They will also become extremely competitive when the food eventually arrives, causing the tensions to spike fast. To prevent this issue, feed your guppies 2-3 times per day in sufficient amounts for all to experience satiety. If your guppies are well fed, their competitive senses will decrease a bit, allowing them to remain calmer and more joyful.
- Eliminate the aggressors – Not all guppies are identical. They have distinct personalities, which means that some may be more aggressive than others. You should always monitor your male-only tank regularly to make sure that the male violence doesn’t spike out of control. In case of male aggression, try to deploy the tactics we’ve already discussed. If nothing seems to work, removing the aggressor(s) from the environment would be the better alternative.
It’s undeniable that male-only aquariums are more colorful since guppy males display more vivid coloring than females. They are also larger, more varied in terms of patterns, and display more explosive personalities.
It all comes down to mitigating the males’ aggression enough to create a stable and thriving environment. And this article has provided the right tools for the job.