Two things make breeding fish as a hobby all worth it: watching fish swim and watching them eat. There’s an innate pleasure in watching your fish hunting the little food flakes you throw in there that no fish owner will be able to explain. But they all experience it daily.
Feeding your guppies, however, goes more than the aesthetic alone. It’s a necessity because it’s what keeps your guppies healthy and energetic throughout the day. This is where most beginner guppy owners get into a territory of uncertainty.
What do guppies eat, what are their favorite foods, how many times do they eat per day naturally, and how many times should you feed them? Let’s begin!
What do Guppies Eat?
Wild and domesticated guppies share the same food preferences because they are all omnivores.
In the wild, guppies tend to enjoy a mix of live food and plants, which provides them will all the nutrients they need. Some of their most preferred foods include:
- Mosquito larvae – Mosquitos only lay their eggs in wet places, preferably lakes. A female mosquito can lay up around 500 eggs during its first brood, a quantity that will drop with time. This means that, at the right time, there could be thousands or tens of thousands of eggs, resulting in a similar number of larvae on the edges of the lake. This creates an abundance of food for guppies which are mosquitoes’ natural predators, at least in larvae form. They are so effective at cleaning mosquitoes larvae that they are sometimes relocated to malaria-infested regions to cleanse the area.
- Brine shrimp – The brine shrimp is one of the tiniest arthropods, measuring approximately 0.30 inches in length. It’s also extremely rich in nutrients and protein, making it a preferred food for adult guppies. It would be optimal if you could feed brine shrimp to your domestic guppies, at least occasionally.
- Guppy fry – If you’re new to the guppy breeding hobby, cannibalism is the first thing you should know about guppies. They tend to eat their babies soon after birth, which is why caring for the fry is key during their first days or weeks of life.
- Algae and leaves – Guppies eat both algae and decaying leaves falling into their habitat. Although these are not highly ranked meals for them, their fiber-rich content still makes for a good addition to their diet.
- Food leftovers – Wild guppies, are opportunistic. This means that they will be more than happy with leftovers from bigger fish or water creatures feasting in their vicinity.
Domesticated guppies won’t have access to their natural foods, but there are plenty of substitutes that fill the gap just fine.
- Live food – Brick or online fish shops offer plenty of live food options to choose from. These may include brine fish, mosquito larvae, daphnia, and bloodworms. Although, you should only rely on the latter on occasions since it’s not exactly ideal for them. Works as an occasional snack, though. You also shouldn’t base your guppies’ diet around live food.
- Commercial food – This is where we’re entering the realm of all possibilities. There are plenty of options available out there, but I recommend flakes above everything else, including pellets. Flakes are generally easier to consume and digest and, just like pellets, contain all the key nutrients that your guppies need to grow and remain healthy. You can also check the other food options available and read the label to make sure they have the vitamins and minerals your guppies need.
- Plants – Guppies will usually feed on some of the algae growing in the tank over time, but that’s not always enough for them. I recommend having additional plants in your aquarium and supplementing their diet with nutrient-rich commercial foods that also have plant-based nutrients.
How to Feed Guppy Fish?
The first thing to remember, as a beginner guppy passionate, is that guppies seem always hungry. They will storm the food without fail, no matter how many times you feed that. This is where overfeeding comes in. Feed them too little, and they will develop health issues due to a lack of proper nutrients. Feed them too much, and the result is pretty much the same. For optimal results, you need balance in all things.
Domesticated guppies will thrive on a once or twice-a-day meal plan, so long as the food is rich in nutrients. I recommend dividing their meals into smaller portions that they can easily consume within 20 to 40 seconds. For a balanced nutritional plan, I recommend checking the previous chapter, talking about the types of foods available.
Commercial Food for Guppies
Commercial foods are a God-given for any pet owner, thanks to the comfort factor involved. Many people lack time to prepare food manually for themselves, let alone their pets. Or guppies, in this case. Commercial foods provide you with ready-to-serve nutrients, eliminating the stress of preparing the food yourself.
The problem that arises next is also common but easy to solve – How to choose the ideal commercial food for your guppies? There are many alternatives out there, and not all will live up to the same quality of standards. Here are a few points on selecting the optimal commercial food for your fish:
- Fresh food only – Pay attention to the expiration date. While expired food won’t necessarily hurt your fish, especially when the expiration day had just passed, it will deprive your guppies of the necessary nutrients. Expired food will lack a good portion of vitamins and minerals that your guppies need to stay healthy, which is why you should always check the label before using it.
- Protein-rich foods – Protein-rich foods are ideal for your guppies since they mimic guppies’ natural food. Only settle for quality flakes even if they fall on the more expensive side. It will be worth it.
- Veggie pallets – Veggie pallets contain plant and algae-based nutrients, along with calcium, iron, and vitamins B, C, D, and E. You can find several types of similar products, providing your guppies with various nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
- Live food – There aren’t as many options for live food for domestic guppies compared to the wild ones. Wild guppies live in a rich habitat, where food opportunities are all over the place. You can’t provide your guppies with that environment, but you can bring some of it to your aquarium. This includes life food like brine shrimp, dried bloodworms, or tubifex worms. The latter should not be in a live state, though, since they usually carry dangerous bacteria capable of killing your guppies. A good tubifex worm is a dead tubifex worm.
Homemade Food for Guppy Fish
Okay, so you are a dedicated guppy passionate, willing to take matters into your own hands and make them the food yourself. To pull it off, you need a mix of knowledge, patience, and commitment. If you’re ready to put in the efforts necessary, here are some of the best fish food options to consider:
- Brine shrimp – As I’ve already mentioned, brine shrimp is guppies’ natural food, rich in protein and containing more than enough carbs and fats. We’re talking about live shrimp, obviously, which means you need a brine shrimp hatchery kit. This will allow you to grow shrimp cultures which you will use to feed your guppy population pretty much indefinitely.
- Egg yolk – Egg yolk is extremely nutritious, rich in fats, and abundant in vitamins like A, C, D, B-12, and several minerals like Magnesium and Iron. The only problem to consider is the fat content that isn’t necessarily beneficial for your guppies. Feed them egg yolk moderately, both in frequency and in quantity.
- Daphnia – This is another natural source of food for guppies, and you can find it in a frozen state in stores. If you want the real deal, I recommend growing daphnia at home. It’s not as much of a drag as it may sound. Daphnia feed on algae and bacteria mostly, making them easy to breed and grow. I recommend growing them outdoors, however, due to the specific smell involved.
- Beef heart – This food is better served to guppy fry, not adults, due to its high-fat content. You can also mix it with shrimp, spirulina powder, egg yolk, etc., to boost its nutritive qualities.
What to Feed Guppies When Out of Food?
The time will come when you will have nothing to feed your guppies with. And by nothing, I mean nothing pre-prepared. This means that you will have to improvise. In times of scarcity, you can use a veggie blend to feed your guppies. This may include veggies like cucumber, spinach, carrots, and broccoli, which you will blend, freeze, and cut to pieces when necessary.
You use a thermal process to produce flake food using the same mix. This requires you to cook the blend in the oven at about 250 degrees F and then dry it out completely. The end product will be a flake pie which you will then cut into smaller portions and feed to your guppies.
Best Food for Guppy Fry
The good news is that guppy fry will eat pretty much anything adults will. Their diet is even more permissive in some aspects, since they also tolerate beef heart with ease, while adults struggle with it due to its fatty content. The bad news is that the feeding pattern should be different for guppy fry compared to adults.
First, you should remember to keep the lights on for more than 12 hours per day to boost your fry’s metabolism. Then, you should adopt a feeding pattern similar to this one:
- 6:00 AM – Rise and shine. Turn the lights on
- 7:00 AM – First meal – brine shrimp
- 10:00 AM – Second meal – flake food or dried bloodworms
- 1:00 PM – Third meal – Live food (daphnia, micro worms, vinegar eel)
- 4:00 PM – Fourth meal – flake food preferably
- 7:00 PM – Lights out
Another key point to remember is to change your fry’s water more regularly than you do with adult guppies.
How to Feed Baby Guppies?
With guppy fry, the key is consistency and diversity. I guess that makes for two keys, but you get the point. Since baby fry are in full development, they will need consistent meals regularly, so keeping a strict feeding schedule is a must.
To ensure an optimal feeding pattern, feed your guppies several times per day, at fixed hours. You should also include several food types into their diet and smash them into smaller pieces so they can chew on them.
How Long Can Guppies Go Without Food?
The good news is that, like any creature on Earth, guppies can survive without food for some time. The even better news is that “some time” translates to two weeks for adult guppies and approximately one week for the fry. That’s a consistent amount of time if you plan on going on a vacation or simply can’t get home to feed them for objective reasons.
However, you can prevent the entire situation simply by getting and setting an auto-feeder. The device can feed your guppies up to 8 times per day, ensuring the optimal food servings. They work on batteries that have a longer-than-necessary lifespan, which means you can set one up even before leaving on vacation.
Just make sure you avoid putting flakes in the device since it tends to jam because of it.
Your guppies’ diet and eating patterns are essential for their health and survival. As a beginner, you have a lot to process in terms of feeding your guppy population.
If there’s anything useful you should take with you from this article, that would be:
- Do not overfeed your guppies
- Use varied foods to provide them with optimal nutritional intake
- Provide special attention to guppy fry
- Get an auto-feeder