Extremely popular with both beginners and seasoned aquarists, guppies are relatively easy to keep and bring amazing color diversity to the tank. Best known for their ability to reproduce faster than the speed of light, guppies are reputedly really tough to kill. But let’s see if this is true!
So, are guppies hardy? Guppies are one of the hardiest fish you are likely to keep. However, due to years of inbreeding, some strains are less resilient and don’t live long. While there isn’t much you can do about genetic diseases, buying from a reputable breeder and proper care will boost your guppy’s resilience.
I know this is a rather short answer, but it will do for now. However, you can continue reading to find out what are the most common guppy diseases and what factors affect a guppy’s resilience.
How Hardy Are Guppies?
By nature, guppies are very hardy, and some types are virtually indestructible! However, the sad fact is, the majority of the most popular fish species, including guppies, are highly inbred now.
Like any other farmed fish, guppies are kept in such great numbers that it’s impossible to prevent siblings and parents from mating with each other. This inbreeding inevitably leads to the expression of more recessive genes and genetic diseases.
Furthermore, due to selective breeding more and more guppies have oversized tails, which although gorgeous, come with a hefty price for the fish.
Fancy guppies have shorter reproductive life, their spine angles down under the weight of the tail, and they struggle to drag those enormous fins around.
Besides inbreeding, inadequate care can make guppies less resilient and more prone to common diseases.
When it comes to guppies, most people believe that they are super easy to care for and really don’t need much to thrive, but there is no such thing as a low-maintenance pet!
Like any other species, guppies need certain conditions to stay healthy and happy, otherwise, they can become sick and die without any apparent reason. So, if you want tough guppies, provide ideal living conditions and pay close attention to any signs of illness.
What Are The Most Common Guppy Diseases?
Like any other fish, guppies can get sick. Stress is the leading cause of disease, but it’s also possible that the guppy was already sick before you brought her home.
Thus, you should keep any new fish in a quarantine tank for three to four weeks before introducing them to the main tank. This way, if any new guppy is sick, it won’t get the chance to spread the disease to other fish as well.
Let’s take a look at the most common guppy diseases:
1. Ich – White Spots
Ich is one of the most common diseases seen by aquarists and is not deadly if diagnosed and treated in time. It is caused by an ectoparasite and manifests as tiny white spots on the guppy’s skin and fins.
An infected fish will start rubbing itself against rocks, plant leaves, decorations, or sides of the tank, and may experience loss of appetite. Treating ich isn’t very hard and includes raising the water temperature and adding medication to the tank.
The video below shows another way to treat ich in pet fish.
The protozoan is a small parasite that can be harmful to other fish species, but it mainly affects guppies. This parasite is usually seen in unheated tanks with poor water quality.
The parasite attaches to the guppy’s skin and slowly enters its body until it reaches the bloodstream. Treatment includes heating the tank and using malachite green or formalin in the early stages.
Note, since protozoan is often found in unheated tanks and dirty water you can easily prevent it by adding a heater to the tank and performing regular water changes.
3. Fin & Tail Rot
Fin and tail rot is usually caused by a bacterial infection in guppies, however, it can also be the result of a fungus that grows on nipped fins. Sick guppies usually look like their fins are stuck together and a part of their tail can be missing.
To treat it, you must know for sure if the rot is caused by bacteria or fungus and use appropriate medication.
Poor water quality and ammonia burns can also cause rotting tail in guppies, thus check the water quality regularly and perform partial water changes.
4. Bent Spine – Scoliosis
Scoliosis, also known as bent or crooked spine is commonly seen in guppies and is in most cases a genetic disease.
This condition is fairly easy to spot and affected fish are usually weaker, experience slower growth and have trouble swimming. As a result, these guppies are often bullied by other tankmates and generally have a shorter lifespan.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for scoliosis, but an affected guppy can still have a normal life if properly cared for and fed with high-quality food.
Being that this is a genetic disease, the only prevention is excluding sick parents from the breeding programs.
Tips For Keeping Your Guppies Hardy
Most first time aquarists get guppies just because they are advertised as easy to keep and low-maintenance. As a consequence, most guppies live in small tanks with one plant and end up getting sick or die in no time.
Like any other living being, guppies need things to stay happy and healthy, and they certainly won’t be hardy if you don’t meet their basic needs.
Here are some:
Guppies are omnivores, which means that they can eat both plant and animal matter. You can feed high-quality fish flakes, veggie pellets, freeze-dried brine shrimp, or bloodworms.
Here are a couple of our articles that will help you feeding your guppies correctly:
- Can guppies eat betta food?
- Can guppies eat goldfish food?
- Is brine shrimp good for guppies?
- What to feed guppies when out of fish food?
Regular Water Change
Doing regular water changes is a must if you want to have healthy guppies. Changing 20 – 30% of the water once a week will remove toxins from the tank and keep your guppies out of harm’s way.
Regular Tank Maintenance
You will have to clean the filter and the whole tank once or twice a month depending on its size. You should also vacuum the substrate at least once a month to remove leftover food and feces.
Cycle The Tank
As with any other fish, you will have to set up the tank correctly and cycle it properly before you place guppies in it. A cycled tank will have appropriate bacteria that will convert harmful compounds into less harmful ones.
Get A Heater
Guppies are freshwater tropical fish and need a heated tank in order to stay healthy. Hence, you will need to invest in a heater and keep the water temperature between 72 and 82° If not kept in a heated tank, guppies will become less resilient and susceptible to various diseases.
Size Of The Tank
Although they are small, guppies can’t live in bowls or decorative vases and need a 5-gallon tank, at least. However, if you have enough room get a 10-gallon tank from the start to give your guppies enough room to swim and explore freely.
In this article (click here), we explain more on the correct tank size for guppies and the dangers of keeping guppies in a very small tank.
Plant your guppy tank with live plants, add decorations, rocks, and substrate to create a cozy environment. Hornwort and Amazon Sword Plants are ideal for guppies and will also help keep the tank oxygenated.
Added decorations and rock will make the tank visually more interesting, and also encourage your guppies to swim and explore.
Recommended articles to read:
Are your guppies dying?
If your guppies are dying and you just don’t know why we highly recommend reading our article on that here: 20 reasons why your guppies are dying!