Guppy Lifespan? | How To Increase Life Expectancy In An Aquarium

I would hazard a guess that everyone who has ever kept tropical fish has seen or owned a guppy. But how many people actually know how long guppies live for and what’s the average lifespan of a guppy?

Well, let’s get straight to the point and answer that question.

What’s the lifespan of a Guppy? The average lifespan of a guppy is 2-4 years in an aquarium but this can vary due to a number of factors. In the wild, the average lifespan is 2 years. Water quality is the most important factor, closely followed by the quality of their diet. Some Guppies have lived for up to 5 years but this is unusual.

Guppy fish one of the most popular freshwater fish

What Can Affect The Lifespan Of A Guppy?

Like most fish, there are a few main factors that can affect their quality of life and shorten their lifespan. Here are a few examples:

Poor water quality – Poor and unacceptable water quality can increase the chance of disease and poor health. As responsible fish owners, we have a duty of care to provide the best possible water conditions for our fish. Installing a quality filter and performing regular water changes will give them the best chance of living a long and happy life.

Diet – Providing a quality balanced diet is vital for any pet to ensure they receive all the nutrients they need to grow. Don’t just feed your fish a basic diet of dried fish flake. Feed them a variety of foods such as Bloodworms, Mysis Shrimps, Pellets and freeze-dried foods. Small portions, 2-3 times a day of various foods will give them the diet they deserve. Here’s a guide we wrote on What Guppies eat that you may find helpful.

Tank Mates – Housing your guppies with suitable tank mates will avoid unnecessary stress being placed on these peaceful and harmless tropical fish. Many diseases can be caused by physical damage to their fins and body due to nipping. Even without any physical damage from fighting or bullying, Guppies can easily become stressed from being chased around the tank or from being attacked. Stress can cause death within hours in tropical fish and needs to be avoided at all costs. Housing them with similar peaceful fish is essential.

Simple Ways To Increase The Lifespan Of Your Guppy.

There are a number of ways to help your guppy live longer apart from water quality and diet. Here are a few quick wins to help you give your guppy a wonderful and long life.

  • Provide hiding places – It is important to provide shelter for guppies which will help make them feel safe, this in return will reduce stress.
  • Not Overfeeding – Never overfeed your guppy or any fish for that matter. Guppies are greedy fish and will eat constantly which can lead to issues. Feed them regular, small portions. Enough food for them to eat within 60-90 seconds and no more.
  • Not Overcrowding – This can lead to increased stress which as previously mentioned can cause health issues.
  • Dimmable LED Lighting – Guppies like many fish like to rest. Fish do not sleep in the same way as humans do but they do need to rest. A lack of rest can also cause health issues. Providing light for similar hours as they would see in the wild is the best way to light up your aquarium. Modern tanks tend to use dimmable LED lighting these days, they can be dimmed throughout the evening and eventually switched off. If your aquarium has multiple lights, these should be switched off one at a time, slowly reducing the light in the evening and eventually off altogether. This will simulate their natural environment and help them rest.

Which Guppies Live Longer – Wild Or Farm Bred?

In the wild, guppies are independent fish from the time they are born. They swim in large schools and perform anti-predator tactics to survive in a tough environment. Read all about schooling fish vs shoaling fish and find out the difference in an article we wrote recently on this topic.

Depending on the threat of danger will determine the size of the school. Less dangerous areas will see smaller groups as the guppies become braver and more independent.

The average lifespan of a guppy in the wild is 2 years. In captivity, this can be longer due to the lack of predators in a peaceful community aquarium. Unless you introduce a Tiger Oscar then kiss goodbye to your guppies.

Guppies Have Poor Genetics

Guppies are victims of poor breeding which has introduced very poor genetics into the species.

Inter breeding of this species has caused a major problem with illnesses such as bent spine disease. Unfortunately, most guppies have this problem and the only way to avoid it is to buy your guppy fish from experienced breeders who have healthy stocks of guppies with good genetics.

Most Guppies you see for sale have poor genetics and you’ll see some poor examples in some pet stores. Look for any signs of illness or defects in their tails. If you suspect any issues, stay clear as these fish will not live a long or happy life.

If you have a poorly Guppy and it passes away, how will you dispose of it? Flush it down the toilet? This is an area or topic that is a little controversial. Thankfully we have you covered! Read our article on How to dispose of a pet fish with respect and dignity.

image of guppy
These Guppies are a good example of healthy tropical fish

Water Temperature

No surprise here, but guppies are tropical fish and like warm water in the aquarium which is similar to what they live in in the wild.

However, there is a minimum and maximum temperature they should live in. They also suffer from shock easily so you’ll need to ensure they have a constant water temperature. A good aquarium heater is essential to maintain the correct temperature at all times.

The maximum temperature for a guppy is 90 °F (32 °C) but this is a maximum and should not be maintained for long periods. Warmer water also contains less oxygen which in itself can cause issues. Read what issues you may face if your water contains low oxygen levels here in one of our articles covering this topic.

The minimum temperature guppies can withstand is 65°F (18 °C). Guppies can live in these conditions only for a short period of time (2-3 days) before they become at risk from disease.

The perfect water temperature for guppies is 74 °F (23-24 °C). Most tropical fish will thrive in constant and stable water temperatures of 74 °F (23-24 °C), making the aquarium suitable for a variety of tropical fish to live happily.

Do Guppies Live As Long As Other Tropical Fish?

Guppies make great freshwater tropical community fish and can be found in most people’s mixed community aquariums. But how do they compare to other fish in lifespan length?

Let’s take a look at some other popular freshwater tropical fish and compare the average lifespan of a guppy which is 2-4 Years.

Guppy2-3 Years
Neon Tetra7-9 Years
Freshwater Angelfish8-10 Years
Corydoras Catfish5-6 Years
Swordtails3-5 Years
Tiger Oscars15-20 Years
Plecostomus10-15 Years
Rasboras4-7 Years
Betta4-5 Years
Danios3-5 Years
Discus8-10 Years
Goldfish5-12 Years
Koi20-30 Years
Clown Loach15-20 Years
Platies3-5 Years
Mollies3-5 Years
RedTail Sharks5-8 Years
Killifish9-15 Months
Gouramis3-5 Years

As you can see from the list above, Guppies live a relatively short life compared to many tropical fish. However, with great water conditions and a balanced diet, they have been known to live longer. They will never live more than 5 years no matter what you do.

Summary: Guppy Lifespan

Owning Guppies or any freshwater tropical fish and keeping them healthy is all part of being a good fish keeper. If you’re not prepared to give them the best water conditions and a top-quality diet, then you should look for another hobby.

In fish keeping, you will always get sudden deaths and strange illnesses that hit your aquarium no matter how hard you try to maintain a healthy aquarium. It’s just a part of fish keeping.

If you suspect your fish are suffering from any illness, you may benefit from reading our post on Tropical Fish Diseases and how to cure them.

Guppies make great pets and their lifespan is in your hands. If you have a Guppy that has lived longer than 5 years then please let us know. We would love to hear all about how you managed to keep your guppy alive longer than the average lifespan of 2-4 Years.

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