New to the Hobby, Getting Started, Guppy Tips

New to the hobby? By David Macaluso

It has been a year since I have purchased my first trio of guppies and reflecting back I realize just how much I learned in such a short time. I’m not exactly sure why I started searching Google for “show guppy” but I did. I came across the IFGA and began reading everything I could and checking out breeders and clubs. As a young boy in the 70’s I raised many types of animals, all for the purpose of showing. Guess I’m back or reliving my childhood, maybe it just because I turned 50, who knows – but it’s fun.

For those of you who are new to the hobby I hope you find some value in reading this article, and for those who have been doing this for many, many years I hope this brings back memories and a smile.

The first month, not always that easy.

So like I mentioned I started looking on the internet, researching articles and trying to learn all I could about getting into this hobby. I must have read the IFGA “Beginners Guide” a million times. With my son, it was time to get started. We made a trip to the closest big box pet store and got two ten gallon tanks. Then went to Home Depot and got two 2×6 eight foot boards. I thought I was set, I knew exactly what I was doing, thought boy this was going to be easy, not. I took my saw horses from the garage and brought them down to the basement, laid the boards on those, painted the bottoms of the tanks black and placed them on the boards. Now I needed box filters. In today’s mega pet shops I found that no one, I mean no one sells the good inexpensive box filter. I visited place after place only to find one pet shop who sold me some weird air filters that hang on the side, tubing, nets, thermometer, heaters, and a costly air pump that could barely push enough air for two tanks. Ninety bucks later I’m back in the basement with my son filling two tanks with water only to find myself rigging up a most unsafe electrical outlet contraption with extension cords and all, but we are now on our way and moving forward. 

After two weeks I placed my first order for two trios from a very well known father and son team in Michigan. And months later a few trios from another well known breeder in Michigan.

Month two and beyond.

After receiving my first fish, I quickly realized that I’m going to need more tanks and fast. Also realized two boards won’t do the trick. Not that I’m lazy or anything but I did not feel like building racks and instead bought a metal one that holds 2000lb per shelf. I placed six 5 gallon tanks on the top shelf about eye level and four 10 gallons on another, this gave me nine tanks to start with. Since I could not find a box filter, I was able to find a local place on the internet who sold sponge filters and started using those. Plus they also sold Baby brine shrimp eggs at which time I came across how to hatch using 2 plastic soda bottles, salt and light bulb.

Now the fun begins, after a month the females look ready to drop and I placed each in separate tanks. One  evening I witnessed a female giving birth, it was cool, and ran upstairs t get my son. By the time we got down the stairs the fry were gone and I then realized I did something wrong once again. So the following day I looked for plastic pot scrubbers and found them at a local grocery store. Cut and unrolled a few of them and placed in the tank of the other female who was ready to drop. Three nights later I witnessed fry beginning to drop from another female and could not believe my eyes when I saw this female chasing and trying to eat these little guys. She managed to get a few, and there I was with nets and a turkey baster trying to catch as many as possible. Other things went wrong the second month, such as loosing another female jumping out of a small breeder trap, the kind you would get from petsmart and I lost another to over feeding.

 It has now been 12 months in the hobby and I am at 60+ tanks, four varieties, have built a room in the basement, have a self priming water pump with 25 foot hose to siphon and change the water weekly, tripled my BBS hatchery, pvc piping for air, great air pumps, box filters, excellent breeder traps, a space heater, dehumidifier, a wife who thinks I am totally nuts, a son who thinks I’m totally cool and a boat load of knowledge that I’m sure is just the tip of the iceberg. I want to thank the IFGA and the breeders who I have emailed countless times with questions. Below are some of the tips I have picked up from club articles, the ifga forum and from others which may help those who are also just starting on the path. Oh buy the way, I just went on vacation for 7 days, I turned off my lights/timers and went on the family vacation. I had no dead fish when I returned.

  1. Join your local club and the IFGA and our GAIC, too!
  2. Purchase top quality breeding stock from breeders who show their stains. They are always willing to give great advice too. You can see show results and past winners at
  3. Use bare bottom tanks, 10 gals. for guppies over 2 months 5 1/2 gals. for babies. Paint the outside bottoms of the tanks black. This helps in many ways and keeps your show fish calmer at the shows.
  4. Use box filters in your tanks, marbles and filter floss. Sponge filters can also be used. A great source for these and other supplies is.
  5. Change about 20 percent of your water each week, siphoning the debris from the bottom of the tank. The water should be aged or treated with a chlorine/chloramines remover if you have these chemical in your water supply. If you have a large number of tanks a 1/12hp self priming portable utility pump with a garden hose works very well.
  6. Clean the sides and bottom of the tank every two weeks; this will help prevent tail rot and other diseases.
  7. The pH of the water should be in the range of 6.8–7.6 (7.0-7.2 is preferable). It is more important not to swing from one side of the range to the other. Mine happens to be 7.8
  8. The temperature should be between 72–80 degrees. Keep this at a constant temperature without much fluctuation.
  9. Your guppies should enjoy about 12-16 hours of light a day. An automatic timer should be used to turn your lights on and off.
  10. Newborn guppies as well as your older ones should be fed newly hatched brine shrimp twice a day. A variety of flake food should be fed as well.
  11. Your male guppies should be separated from the females at about 4 weeks of age. This must be done as the worst male of the lot can fertilize the females and ruin your stock.
  12. Don’t overcrowd your guppies, twenty guppies per ten gallons (fish that are 5-7 months).
  13. Always cull, cull, cull – pet shops will always be happy to take your culls.
  14. Ask questions, this is a fantastic club with very helpful members.
  15. Most importantly HAVE FUN!

 This hobby does grow on you in many ways. You will have ups and downs, left and rights but as I have found out, you will always have others in this hobby willing to help.