Guppies typically live anywhere from 1 to 3 years. Some guppies have even lived to be 5 years old with great care, strong genes, and good health, though this is not the norm. Guppies in captivity have the best chance of living a long life.
The rest of this article will discuss some factors that influence the lifespan of a guppy, as well as cover what steps you can take to help your guppies live as long as possible.
How Long Do Guppies Live in Captivity?
Guppies usually live longer in captivity than they do in the wild, meaning they can more easily reach the 3-year or even 5-year milestone. This makes sense because of how unstable life in the wild can be for fish: predators around each corner, diseases, etc.
When a guppy lives in captivity, it has a more secure environment that can offer a longer, healthier life.
When properly cared for, a tank-kept guppy has access to high-quality food, no predators, and proper water conditions. While so much is up to fate living in the wild, a guppy in captivity can have its life expectancy extended, due in part to its ideal living environment.
But no matter how meticulously they are cared for, some guppies don’t live long, even in captivity.
What Factors Negatively Affect A Captive Guppy’s Lifespan?
While some of these factors are within a guppy caretaker’s control, some are not. Even if they are unchangeable, knowing what can cause a short lifespan for a guppy can help you decide how best to take care of them.
So what can harm your guppy’s lifespan?
Like all living species, genetics are important when it comes to a guppy’s lifespan. Guppies who are sickly and weak will produce babies who are also sickly and weak. Genetics play such an important role in character traits but also in life expectancy.
This is especially true when guppies inbreed. When guppies breed with other guppies they are related to, the chance for health issues increases exponentially.
Unlike genetics, this is a factor more easily controlled by humans. If a guppy is living in an overcrowded tank, one that’s too small for its size, or if the water isn’t set to the right conditions, they will become stressed. Under stress, a guppy is more susceptible to disease.
Though stress isn’t always immediately noticeable, it can play a huge role in how long a guppy lives.
Guppies are great reproducers. With a gestation period typically ranging from 21 to 30 days, it doesn’t take long for your tank to be filled with guppy babies, called fry.
Unfortunately, breeding is very stressful for female guppies. Since they get pregnant so often, it can wear down their bodies quickly. Because of this, male guppies typically live longer than females.
An improper diet
Guppies need a specific diet to stay as healthy as possible. Along with regular fish flakes, guppies need to be able to forage on plants or algae in their tank. They are omnivores, so they also need baby brine shrimp or microworms one to three times a week.
Feeding your guppies too infrequently–or the wrong types of food–will risk stressing them out and cause illnesses.
What Can Help Improve a Guppy’s Lifespan?
While there are things guppy owners can do to inadvertently shorten their guppy’s lifespan, there are also steps an owner can take to help their fish live a long, healthy life.
Buy from a Breeder, Not a Pet Store
One of the easiest ways to make sure your guppy lives a long life is to buy from a breeder with a good reputation. While breeders are passionate about improving the breed, pet stores sell fish strictly to make money.
If you buy your guppies from a positively-reviewed breeder, you are going to receive strong fish with great genetics.
Give Them the Right Amount of High-Quality Food
It’s important to feed your guppies small portions more than once a day to simulate the feeding frenzies they would experience in the wild. Though they can survive up to 2 weeks without food, not providing them with food on a regular basis will make them stressed and prone to illness.
Keeping your tank filled with aquatic plants will give the fish foraging options between feedings, helping offer variety in their diet to give them the nutrients they need.
Use a Big Enough Tank
To keep guppies from becoming overcrowded and stressed, they need to have enough room to move around. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you have two gallons of water per guppy.
Guppies are social fish who need companions, so you should plan on having at least a 10-gallon tank to house 3-5 guppies.
If you have male and female guppies, make sure to have at least two females for each male. This will help keep the females from being over-bred, which will cause them extreme stress.
Offer Hiding Places
Guppies need places to hide and rest. If you have both male and female guppies or fry, providing hiding places is even more important.
Female guppies need a place to hide from males when they are exhausted from breeding. Fry need a hiding place so that they aren’t eaten by the adult guppies in the tank.
Guppies can be skittish and shy, so it’s important for them to have a place to hide where they feel safe. Floating plants, rocks, and cave-like structures are all great options to give guppies their own space.
Guppies are hardy, beautiful fish that are fun to keep. While they can survive tough conditions, they won’t live a long life if they become stressed and sick.
There are simple ways to help your guppies live a long life. Buying them from a respectable breeder, giving them the space they need, and providing ample amounts of high-quality and varied food will all help to keep your tank stocked with healthy, happy guppies for years to come.