Guppies are friendly, lively fish with brilliant colors and quite a few variations. They are so popular with people, that the breeding of guppies has increased at an exponential rate. Guppies breed at an astonishing rate, and if you think that keeping the male away from the female will put a stop to the reproduction, here is a fact that will overthrow that belief - guppy females STORE SPERM, so that they can reproduce for at least 3 - 4 months, in the absence of any males! Which means a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 400 guppies, even after separating the males and females! If you decide to get guppies, it is advisable that you acquaint yourself with the know-how of caring for their fry. Given in the following paragraphs is a detailed explanation of how to care for guppy fry.
Caring for Guppy Fry
Guppy fry are tiny! Breeding guppies is quite a pleasurable activity, if you like adorable, cute and tiny creatures, which do not require too much maintenance. Newborn guppies or 'fry' as they are known, are very vulnerable, besides which guppies are known to eat their young ones! So it is very important to keep an eye on the fry, right from the moment they are born. Their care will cover the following areas:
The diet of the guppy fry will play a major role in their growth, and their resistance towards diseases. When they are born, the fry have really tiny mouths, so feeding them flakes will not work. You will have to start off, by feeding them finely crushed fry food. Also, these days there are flakes available in the market which enhance the color of the fry as they grow up. But these flakes are not very healthy for the fry, so instead of making them regular supplements, just give them once a month, if at all.
What to Feed Them
Guppy fry require a protein rich diet, and they can be fed a mixture of dry food and live food, or either of these foods alone. Dry food will include milk powder, plant matter, flakes, bread or cracker crumbs, egg yolk paste, etc., while live food will include worms, small insects, shrimp and daphnia. Fry love white worms, newly hatched daphnia, and vinegar eels. Similarly, these little creatures love feeding on newly hatched shrimp as well. Brine shrimp especially, which contain a lot of proteins that are good for the fry, have been noted to be their favorite. But they need to be fed as a supplement, and not as the main diet food.
How to Feed Them?
Fry need a lot of nutrients in their diet, to ensure proper growth without falling ill or contracting any diseases. So only dry food or only live food will not be enough. They have to be fed both in the right quantities, to ensure their proper growth. This does not lead to the conclusion, that fry raised on any one of these types of food alone, are physically weak. If you want to raise breed quality Guppies that are in perfect health and have perfect growth, a mixture of both these types of food will be a better choice for their diet, instead of restricting their diet to any one type of food. As they grow older, the food can be given as flakes instead of being crushed.
How Often to Feed Them?
During the initial few weeks, you will have to feed the fry as many as 6 times a day. Very young fry tend to have pretty big appetites, and will eat well around 5 - 6 times in one day. As they grow, this will reduce to about 3 - 4 times a day. This will be after a month and a half or two months. Although it is alright to feed the young fry frequently after the first week, take care to not overfeed them every time you give them food. While feeding them, make sure that you are feeding them both dry and live food in a day, while the supplements can be given to them around thrice a week. There is no need to give supplements everyday, and certainly not every time you feed the fry.
Since guppies breed every month and have lots of babies, it is very important to keep the tank clean, besides maintaining its temperature, providing plants for the females to rest under when they are pregnant, maintaining the oxygen levels in the water, and so on.
Cleanliness doesn't just mean removing the dirt that you see floating around in the water. The fry do not consume all the food that is given to them, so some of it settles on the tank floor. Also, their excreta needs to be cleaned. Other dirt and debris, like moss and dead plants also need to be removed. There are vacuuming kits available in the market, which clean out the dirt in the tank effectively.
Temperature and Alkalinity
Guppy fry are not suited to high alkalinity, and prefer almost neutral water to be in. The water should have a pH of 7, or slightly more, since a little alkalinity is suitable. But it shouldn't be more than 8m, at the most. Keep checking the alkalinity of the water at regular intervals, by using any of the reliable kits available in the market. The ideal range is from 6.5 to 8, with 7.2 being the optimum pH. The temperature should be the average normal room temperature of 26ºC, so anything in the range of 22ºC - 28ºC should be perfect for them. Keeping the lights in the aquarium ON all the time, will help.
Places to Rest
All fish require places to rest, especially females when they are pregnant. Since the fry are good food for their parents as well as for other fish, it is necessary to provide enough suitably sheltered resting places for the fry, in the tank. Design the tank accordingly. Have a separate area for the fry, and provide a few small plants so that the fry can rest under their protection, and feel and be safe.
Too many plants will crowd the tank, and add to the dirt and debris in the tank. If you do not want to crowd the tank, then think of other ways to provide resting places. There are so many tiny shells, arches and other decorative and sheltering pieces that are available in the market to decorate fish tanks. They can be used to serve the dual purpose of increasing the attractiveness, as well as helping the fry.
The water in the tank should be replaced frequently. If you cannot change the entire water, then you need to make sure that you are replacing at least 25% of the water in the tank every week, with fresh and clean water. Letting the water in the tank sit for too long without changing it, can make it a breeding ground for germs and bacteria, and the fry susceptible to diseases due to breeding of germs in the water. It is also necessary to ensure that you provide a good filter in the tank. Maintaining adequate levels of oxygen is important for the proper growth of fry.
There are kits available to check the levels of nitrites, ammonia, oxygen, nitrates and other gasses/ compounds in water. Use these to keep a tab on the levels of these gasses/ compounds. The ammonia and nitrites should be absent, i.e., 0 ppm, while the level of oxygen should be adequate, depending on the size of the tank and on how many fish you have in it. Nitrates should be less than 20 ppm.
Identifying and Sorting the Fry
Identifying the fry and sorting them is important, because they do not reach maturity till they are six months old. If the male and female fry are kept in the same tank, then they may breed and you will have to deal with even more fry, which in all probability won't be healthy. Some of the fry may even be deformed. You will be able to distinguish the male and female fry after the first month, at which point it is best to separate them.
While separating the fry, you can either keep them in the same tank with a fine mesh separating the fry from the other fish, or you can choose to keep them in another tank altogether. When they reach six months of age, you can release them into the tank with the other fish.
Also, if you're using a filter in the part of the tank where the tiny fry are, then make sure you cover the opening with a sponge or some other suitable material, so that the fry are not sucked into the filter.
Besides sorting the fry from the guppies, and sorting the male and the female fry, another critical thing is to check the fry to see that none of them have diseases and that they are not deformed. If such fry breed, then the next lot will be of poor quality as well. So, it is better to separate out such fry beforehand. This practice of separating the deformed fry is known as 'culling', which is an essential part of guppy fry care, if you want to filter the batch and remove the low quality fry.
Guppies are prone to quite a few diseases like fungus, bladder problems, sores (mainly due to unfriendliness and aggressive behavior of the fry towards each other), tail rot, fin rot, hemorrhagic septicaemia, etc. They are more susceptible to diseases that are caused by bacteria. It is better to remove the diseased fry from the tank, so that they do not spread the infection to the other fry. Some people add medication in the tank water, but this practice is best avoided, since if the administered dosage of the medicines is more or less than the actual prescribed dosage, it can affect the fry in adverse ways. Maintaining cleanliness in the tank, administering medicines to the fry and feeding them healthy food, will all contribute in keeping the fry healthy and free from diseases.
Guppies are easy to care for and a delight to have! Once you master the basic knowledge of caring for these beautiful, tiny fish, you can enjoy their lively company for as long as you wish.