By Frank Schwab
Guppies are generally kept in bare, unfurnished tanks by breeders. This is to assure you of being able to tell how clean or dirty the tank is, and when you need a water change.
One advantage of breeding guppies is that although you will need many tanks, they can be small tanks. Five to ten gallon tanks are ideal for breeding and raising young fish. Older or large fish may require fifteen gallon tanks. It can take a minimum of six tanks for each line of guppies you have.
The Guppy, although a hardy fish, requires regular water changes. It is best to do regular partial water changes. At least one third of the water should be changed weekly. If your tank is heavily populated, you may need to change larger amounts. For a heavily populated tank of fry, you may need to change 75% of the water once a week. Try to change less water in a tank with fully developed males. Lots of new water can damage the tail of a mature fish.
A foam or sponge type filter works good for bare breeding tanks. If you have a large or heavily populated tank, you may want to use two of these filters. When you clean your filters, only clean one at a time if you use two. If you only use one, don't clean your filter the same day you change the water. Wait two to three days after you clean the filter, and then change the water. This will help keep the water from becoming cloudy. If your water is cloudy, you either have a bacterial bloom, or excessive levels of ammonia building up in the tank. This can be from overfeeding, or not changing enough water. When this occurs, do a partial water change and feed only very lightly for a couple of days until the water clears. It is also important to scrub the glass when you clean your tank, as a lot of slime will build up if you don't.
If you are keeping your Guppies in a show tank and not breeding, they can be kept in a decorated tank with gravel and live or artificial plants. I would recommend an under gravel filter with power heads for this type of setup. Power heads will push your water much faster than a small air pump. Use a small power head for guppies so the current is no too strong for them.
The guppy can accept a wide variety of water temperatures ranging from 70 to about 82 degrees. The most important thing is to keep the temperature constant. The warmer your water, the more active the fish will be. This will help your guppy grow and develop faster, but a fish raised in the 80 plus temperature range will tend to die younger than a fish raised in the 70 degree range.
Guppies are best fed small amounts of food at least three times a day. A good feeding routine is to feed a flake food first in the morning. Feed lightly and wait about 30 minutes for them to clean it up. Then feed live brine shrimp. I feed live brine to my adults as well as fry. If you feed the shrimp first, they may not be as eager for the flake food after having eaten the shrimp. They are always eager to eat live shrimp. You may feed more than 3 times per day. In addition to the live baby brine, whcih can be fed twice a day or more, I feed the new decapsualted brine eggs. If you use these, let them soak in a small amount of water for 5- 10 minutes before you feed. Just make sure that you feed small amounts at a time, and that the last feeding has all been consumed before you feed more.
Freeze dried Plankton is an excellent food which will help brighten the colors of your guppies. They also like brine shrimp very much. If you are breeding guppies, you will need to hatch brine shrimp daily for the babies. They will grow much faster on this than they will on flake food alone. As for the flake food, it is best to offer a variety. It is better to buy a small amount of 2 or 3 different types of good quality flake than a large amount of one type that will last a long time. Rotatng the different varieties will help keep them interested. They will get bored with eating the same food all of the time, just as you would. It is important not to feed more than the fish can eat in about five minutes. It is better to feed small amounts more often than a lot at one time. If your fish don't swim up to greet you, don't feed them.
I hope this information will help you with your guppies. For more information than can be listed here, I recommend getting a book like The Proper Care Of Guppies by Stan Shubel. There are also many other books available.