What do Wild Guppies Eat?
Guppies have a very diverse diet, consisting of vegetables and protein-based foods. If you own guppies already, you probably know how many food options you have at your disposal.
But what do wild guppies eat? This fish breed originates from North-East and South America in countries like Venezuela, Brazil, or Barbados. They enjoy tropical weather and are highly adaptable, meaning that they can thrive in a variety of other environments.
Their ability to adapt allows us to have domesticated guppies today and even relocate them to other areas similar in climate.
In the wild, guppies show an omnivorous feeding behavior, consuming both animal and plant-based nutrients. Learning what guppies tend to eat naturally will allow you to provide them with a more complete diet to ensure their health in the long run.
Guppies need a mix of protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals in varying proportions to survive and thrive. In the wild, they get all these nutrients from two overarching sources:
Guppies require consistent protein and fats, along with several animal-based vitamins and minerals. Wild guppies get these nutrients from live food like baby brine shrimp, mosquitos, bugs, worms, insect larvae, etc. Guppies will pretty much eat whatever they can fit into their mouths.
They especially prefer larvae, leading to them being used to controlling mosquito populations in malaria-affected countries.
The key aspect to remember here is that guppies can develop health problems from consuming too much protein and animal fat. Which is the main content of their preferred live food. Mother Nature fixes that problem by making prey difficult to catch in the wild. Guppies can even spend several days without any consistent live food sources.
They might eat some larvae here and there, but their natural environment gives them little opportunities to overfeed.
This might cause issues in home-fed guppies, which have, basically, unlimited food at their disposal, and they will eat it. Just as humans, guppies don’t know when to stop eating the foods they enjoy and how much is enough. It depends on you to impose limitations and create a healthy feeding pattern, emulating their natural feeding behavior.
There’s another aspect I would wish to discuss, and that’s parasites and bacteria. If you were thinking about getting wild live food for your guppies, don’t. Some of the insects and worms that your guppies consume may be infected with diseases and parasites that may affect the entire population.
Some of these diseases are transmissible and deadly.
To prevent this situation, I always recommend resorting to live food cultures to feed your guppies. You can get kit setups to organize different cultures, including for brine shrimp, daphnia, vinegar eels, and bloodworms.
This will eliminate the risks of disease and parasitic infections and will provide your guppies with fresh live food.
Guppies will also complement their diets with plant, algae, and animal remains. Plants play a key role in your guppies’ development, providing them with fibers, vitamins, and minerals that they can’t get from animal sources.
At home, you can provide your guppies with algae tabs and spirulina to ensure they get all the essential nutrients. You can also make your own guppy food at home from various ingredients.
To make things easier, I recommend decorating your guppies’ tank with live plants, which are also edible for them so they can nibble on when hungry.
This way, you won’t have to worry about them missing on their vegetables.
It’s also worth noting that your guppies’ food requirements may depend on what that guppy has consumed before acquiring it. Even if it’s good for them, guppies may not eat some plants if they aren’t used to them. Unless they’re hungry, of course. Then, they will eat anything.
How Often Should Guppies Eat?
I recommend feeding your guppies no more than twice per day. They will happily eat more than that, but it will drastically increase the risk of overfeeding. Another problem would be water maintenance. Giving your guppies too much food will result in a lot of it going uneaten.
This will foul the water and increase the ammonia levels with potentially deadly consequences. Your guppies should eat more than once or twice per day and have a varied diet. You should also give them just enough food that they can consume in a minute.
If possible, remove all the unconsumed food to prevent it from polluting the water.
Guppy fry, on the other hand, have different dietary requirements. They need more protein and fats, compared to the adults, more often. They also need more frequent feeding, up to five times per day.
I recommend keeping the guppy fry in a separate container for the first 2 to 3 weeks of life until they grow and can care for themselves in the main tank. Craft a personalized feeding schedule and make sure to provide the fry with a varied diet daily. They need all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals they can get to grow and thrive.
Some great food options for your guppies include:
- Freeze-dried foods – These consist of daphnia, brine shrimp, microworms, or tubifex worms. The main advantage of freeze-dried foods is that they minimize the risk of parasitic infections and fish illness. They also allow you to control the ingredients and provide your guppies with the ideal amount of nutrients.
- Egg yolk paste – This is a nutritious and easy-to-prepare food that can provide your guppies with essential protein and fats. The problem is that it can pollute the water fast. Don’t feed egg yolk paste to your guppies too often and always offer small portions during one sitting.
- Beef heart – Boil it and cut it to small pieces so that your guppies can nibble on it. Beef heart is a rich source of protein and fats, making it ideal for guppy fry.
- Protein paste – Everything goes here. You can add brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworms, fish meat, and even beef heart. You can then freeze the paste and cut pieces off of it whenever you need to feed your guppies.
- Vegetable paste – The sky is the limit when talking about the ingredients that go here. We include spinach, broccoli, corn, peas, carrots, or cucumber, among other options. This is necessary to your guppies’ diet, providing minerals and vitamins that they would otherwise lack from their animal-based food.
Will Guppies Eat Vegetables?
Yes, guppies eat a lot of vegetables as part of their natural diet. Their omnivorous nature comes from the fact that guppies don’t always have access to live food.
They preferred to nibble of plants and algae that are usually omnipresent in their environment when that happened. With time, their bodies changed to their dietary changes, allowing them to extract valuable vitamins and minerals from plant-based foods.
Aside from wild plants, they will also consume household plants and vegetables, like I’ve already mentioned above.
Just make sure to remove any vegetable bits that your guppies haven’t consumed. Guppies won’t be able to smell them, so they can consume them later and will end up spoiling the water.
How Long Do Guppies Usually Survive Without Food?
Unlike other pets, guppies can go a long time without food. In extreme scenarios, they can live up to 2 weeks without any food. This is, however, an extreme case and not all guppies can go so long without eating. It all depends on the environment, the tank conditions, and the guppies’ overall health.
And these are the adults. Guppy fry will only last 2 or 3 days without food. They are in full development and require a lot more food more often to survive and remain healthy.
So, if you’ve made plans for traveling, you shouldn’t worry about your guppies if you’re only missing for several days. If you will be gone for more than a week, I suggest several things:
- Have someone to look after your guppies while you’re gone – A family member or a friend should fill your spot with ease, provided they have some knowledge about guppy care. If not, make sure to leave ample instructions regarding feeding, water changes, water quality monitoring, and other points of interest. If no one’s available, you can always hire a specialist to care for your guppies while away. Although, that can cost you money.
- Clean the tank thoroughly before living – Check the substrate and remove any food residues or dead fish, if any. The decaying matter can pollute the water and increase the levels of ammonia dramatically fast. Next thing you know, all your guppies are dead or dying by your return.
- Change the water – Changing up to 70% of the water before departure is essential to improve water quality, enhance oxygenation, and ensure a safe and healthy environment for your guppies.
You should also clean the filter and remove dead plants to prevent harmful bacterial accumulation.
Guppies’ omnivorous diet demands a variety of food sources, both animal and plant-based in nature. A varied diet is essential for keeping your guppies healthy, energetic and boosting their growth as fry.
You can take inspiration from this article regarding guppy food options or comment below in case you need additional assistance and guidance.