Guppy aquaponics has the benefit of allowing you to cultivate herbs and vegetables while raising colorful, hardy fish. The guppy fish, also known as the rainbow fish or million fish, is a popular species of live-bearing freshwater aquarium fish. This widely distributed tropical fish originally comes from South America and the Caribbean, and could improve the success of your aquaponics system provided you have a full understanding and knowledge of the species.
Guppy aquaponics: Things you need to know
Interesting facts about guppy fish
Scientific name: Poecilia reticulata
Life expectancy: two to three years
Adult size: two inches
There are about 40 species of guppy fish, the most popular ones being the common guppy and the Endler guppy, which is closely related to the common guppy. The Endler guppy has a peaceful nature and its colors are mostly red, green and silver. It loves warm water, while the common guppy likes cold water with a strong flow.
The female Endler guppy can grow up to 1.4 inches long, while the male stops growing at one inch. Domestic guppies are more colorful and have larger bodies than their wild counterparts. Male guppies have more vibrant colors than females, and some have short, rounded tails while others have V-shaped, elongated tails. The tail fins have a marbled or striped appearance and the fish may have one or two colors.
Always stick to mainstream varieties of guppy fish with well-established lineages. If ever you breed two different strains, the mix can produce surprisingly great colors.
The best temperature range for guppies is around 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. They can tolerate fluctuations in temperature. It is also important to maintain a pH between 6.7 and 8.5.
Guppies mix well with other fish species since they are peaceful and easy-going community fish. You can keep them with other live-bearing fish like mollies and platys; other great tank-mates include the zebrafish. However, some aquaponics enthusiasts prefer a guppy-only tank.
Guppies are low maintenance and great beginner fish. You may need a large tank as they are very active, and they enjoy tanks with soft decor items and plants.
It is ideal to separate males and females and place them in different tanks. The females can store sperm for multiple spawnings, even after separation. To keep unwanted spawning to zero, it is recommended to use two separate tanks.
Guppies are omnivores and they are generally fed with commercially available feeds like micropellets, which hold more nutrients than flakes. You may opt to add vegetables or frozen diets, but this should just be once or twice a week. Feed your fish at least once or twice a day, depending on the tank’s temperature and other tank dwellers.
Start with a bit of food and when the fish have consumed it, add just a little bit more. Repeat the process for a few minutes as you check that your fish are not sick or acting strangely.
Most beginner hobbyists and aquaponics enthusiasts usually start with only one female guppy. It only takes one spawning for a few generations to be born, since female guppies can store sperm. It is ideal to divide male and female guppies to prevent over-stocking. Females can give birth to 50 to 100 wiggling fry per birth.
The newborn fry is usually eaten by other fish, so it may be better to put them in a separate tank or breeding box. You may notice more fish with congenital abnormalities, such as crooked spines or shortened life spans, after breeding many generations of the same population. Inbreeding is a common occurrence, which could also add more diversity.
Can you eat guppies?
Yes, technically you can eat guppies but they are so small that it would be very hard to clean their insides before consuming them. You may contract potential diseases if you do not cook guppy properly, because bacteria thrive inside the fish. You would also need to consume a considerable number of fish, so it is unlikely to be a viable food source for the whole family.
How long do guppies live?
The average guppy fish only lives up to two years in the wild, but in an aquaponics system they can thrive for as long as five years. These fish reproduce very quickly and are also easy prey for many other fish due to their small size.
Guppy aquaponics is a great way to match hydroponics with aquaculture and establish a sustainable method of consumption and income. Guppies are a popular aquaponics option as they are colorful, hardy fish that get along well with other fish such as mollies, platys and zebrafish.
Image: istockphoto.com / Gerlando Lo Savio