It is completely true that your guppy’s most important time is from birth to three months old. If fry do not get the right nutrition, are constantly stressed, or endure bad water conditions with large amounts of bacteria, the problems and deformities that the fish sustains will be irreversible. In other words: you can’t make up for a bad guppy childhood later in life- they are set. The problems they get from bad treatment as babies will never go away. On the other hand, if you provide well and caringly for your fry then you are likely to have some lovely, healthy adult guppies!
To start with, feed your baby guppies right. I always start my guppy fry out with feedings of live baby brine shrimp 4 times a day. After 3 days I alternate the brine shrimp feedings with a brand of fish food by HBH called “Baby Bites”. It is specifically formulated to carry the right nutrition for baby guppies, and is also vitamin fortified. I have tried many different types of fry food over the years and I have found that I get the most colorful, healthy guppies when I use live infant brine shrimp and HBH Baby Bites.
As I mentioned in Part 1, bad water conditions can ruin your guppy fish fry for life. Something really harmful that needs attention is bacteria. Ensure that your guppy fry live in a tank with low bacteria levels. There are several steps that you can take to reduce the bacteria population.
First, have a filter in your tank. This may seem simple, but you would be surprised how many guppy fish owners think that they can just keep the baby guppy fish in a little glass fishbowl. We are not living in the 1920s, so we should not keep fish like we are! There have been important scientific advancements in fish keeping since that time, and one of those is the fish tank filter.
Besides just having a filter, you need to clean it out every two weeks to a month depending on your filter. There is a really useful filter that I use for all my guppy fish tanks, it is called an AquaClear. The reason I use the AquaClear is because:
• You can set the water flow with a little switch, so in baby guppy tanks you do not have to worry about babies getting sucked into the filter, just turn it to the lowest setting.
• It hangs on the outside of the tank, so the only thing taking up room in your tank is the little water intake tube.
• The filter media comes in layers in a little basket. This is super handy because you can wash out or change parts of the filter at different times, so your beneficial bacteria do not get wiped out! (Read Good Guppy Bacteria? If you have no idea what this beneficial bacteria stuff is).
• The water comes out in a little waterfall, so it is not only very peaceful, but it aerates the baby guppies’ water too.
• There are several layers of filtration, not just one bag of carbon like most filters, the AquaClear uses mechanical (removes chunks), chemical (carbon) as well as biological (good bacteria) filtration all together.
You can also add extras like a little phosphate remover bag in there between the carbon and biological filter (that is what I do). I have tried lots of other filters (believe me on that one) and I now use AquaClear on all my guppy fish tanks because it is the most useful.
Many professional fancy guppy fish breeders also do not use gravel in guppy fish tanks. If you are wondering why, it is because bad bacteria can be removed way easier if it is on a flat glass surface. Just think of the fact that the surface area of every gravel rock is more space for bad bacteria to grow. That is not to say that you have to have a bare- bottom tank, but if you choose to have gravel, you have to be very diligent about vacuuming it for fish waste and completely cleaning the gravel every three months or so. The extra work can be a pain, so many professional breeders go the bare- bottom route.
Besides making sure your baby guppies have a good diet and are not exposed to lots of bacteria, you also need to ensure that their aquatic home is the right temperature. Average adult guppies can be kept anywhere from 68- 82 degrees Fahrenheit successfully. When it comes to baby guppy fish, however, you want to maintain a temperature of 76- 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
The reason for this is that guppy fish are cold blooded, so their bodies will be the temperature of the water. The higher a guppy fish’s body temperature, the faster their metabolism is, and the colder the water, the slower. A faster metabolism means growing faster too. You want to raise your baby guppies to be adults, right? So the sooner the better! If you keep your water at a higher temperature, your guppy fry will grow quickly. If you do not have your fish room at 76- 80 degrees Fahrenheit, you will need to buy a tank heater to go in your tank. Do not forget though, that a faster metabolism means they eat more! That is why you feed baby guppy fish 4-5 times a day and adults once or twice.
Of course, with the higher temperature comes the danger of tank overheating. Do not let your tank get too hot! Your guppy fish will all get cooked in an overheated tank, and all your hard work would be ruined. Keep a little thermometer stuck to the side of or inside your tank to constantly monitor heat. Also if you live in a hot climate, there may be no need for a tank heater at all. The water will be room temperature, so you might actually need an air conditioner in your fish room.
By ensuring a good stable temperature for your baby guppy fish, you will be sure to have healthy and fast- growing little fishies. There is still one more thing that you need to do for your baby guppies though, and that is water changes.
Every two weeks you should perform a water change in an established guppy fish tank. The usual volume of water that should be replaced is 25%. Only change out more water if it is an emergency, because changing too much water can be very stressful to guppies and can result in death. If you have very sensitive guppies, then I would recommend only changing 10% of the water every week, instead of a larger change every 2 weeks.
In order to perform a water change in a baby guppy fish tank, you will need several things:
• A bucket for water to go out
• A bucket for new, clean water
• A siphon to get water and waste out of the tank
• Prime to condition the new water going into the tank
• A thermometer, to check the water temperature
Your two buckets should only be used for your guppy tanks! Do not use the same bucket you use to hold soapy water to wash your car, for example. You want these buckets to be free of contamination of any kind, especially the bucket with the new water for your tank.
In an adult guppy tank, you could just put old water down a drain, so I bet you are wondering why you need an extra bucket when you are doing a water change in a baby guppy tank. This is because baby guppies are tiny! It is so easy to accidentally suck one up when you are trying to siphon out tank waste. If your waste water is going into a bucket, you can just check the bucket for baby guppies when you are done and put any escapees back into the tank.
Changing water in a baby guppy fish tank is much like changing water change in an adult guppy tank, this is how to do it:
• You will want to put the tube end of your siphon in your out water bucket and the other in your tank.
• Jiggle your siphon (in the tank) up and down to get water flow started
• Suck out tank waste at the bottom of the tank
• Stop when you hit your desired percentage of water removed (I put a mark on my tank so I can easily see 25%)
• Fill your in bucket with fresh, new water, use your thermometer to ensure the water temperature is the same as the tank temperature
• Measure out your Prime and add it to your fresh water (I usually stir it a bit with the end of a fish net to get it mixed better)
• Let your fresh water sit for a minute or two while the Prime works it’s magic
• While your Prime is conditioning your new water, check your out bucket for any babies and put them back in their tank.
• Slowly pour your new water into your tank and you are done!
Keep an eye out for guppy fish stress. If you see your fish looking stressed out after your water change, I would recommend changing less water more often.