What Do Guppies Eat?

Written by Rebecca Mathews
Updated: September 13, 2023
© panpilai paipa/Shutterstock.com
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Guppies are one of the most popular freshwater tank fish in the world. They are hardy little colorful fish with strong appetites that liven up an aquarium, but what about the food practicalities? Let’s answer the question of what guppies eat and find out if there are any foods they should avoid.

What Is a Guppy?

Guppies’ natural habitat includes Venezuela, Barbados, Antigua, Suriname, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago. Still, because they are hardy and adaptable, guppies were used as a form of mosquito control in many other areas, so they have spread across the globe. The only continent they don’t live in is Antarctica.

There are more than 300 guppy species, and they all look different, but in general, males are 0.5 to one inch long, and females double that. Although the females are larger, they are usually a dull gray color. Male guppies are bright and colorful, often with stripes and spots.   

Baby guppies are called fry. The parent fish don’t nurture them but emerge from their mother’s womb totally self-sufficient and so tiny they are barely visible.

There are more than 300 guppy species, and they all look different.

©Grigorev Mikhail/Shutterstock.com

What Do Guppies Eat?

Guppies are omnivores that eat meat, vegetables, and commercial fish food. This eat-all attitude means guppies are easy to care for and explains why they are such a successful species in the wild.

Let’s take a look at an aquarium guppy’s diet:

Pet Guppies

Captive guppies should eat a wide variety of foods. The basic food is a commercial or homemade food designed for tropical fish. Good quality commercial food can enhance a guppy’s color, so you know if it’s meeting their nutritional needs.

Commercial guppy food is available, pelleted or flaked. Guppy keepers say that pellets are often too large for a guppy’s mouth, so it’s worth pre-soaking them or crushing pellets first if you want to use them.

Other foods you can add to your guppy fish tanks are:

  • Brine shrimp (live or dried)
  • Bloodworms (live or dried)
  • Daphnia (live or dried)
  • Beef (cooked and sliced)
  • Egg yolk (cooked and crushed)

As well as meat, guppies eat vegetation. Here are some great veggies to feed your guppies:

  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Cucumbers

A variety of foods is interesting for a guppy and will ensure they’re getting enough nutrients to keep healthy and live for their full two-year lifespan.

A pair of guppies.
Good quality commercial food can enhance a guppy’s color, so you know if it’s meeting their nutritional needs.


Wild Guppies

Wild guppies are opportunistic feeders that forage and nibble on anything that lives in or falls into the water. Great wild guppy meals are insects, aquatic insect larvae, algal remains, invertebrates, plant fragments, or any digestible detritus that happen to come their way. Because guppies live just beneath the water’s surface, they are able to quickly eat what falls in before larger fish arrive.

What Do Guppy Fry Eat?

Guppy fry needs lots of protein to grow. They will eat small crumbs of whatever you feed adult guppies.

Fry mature within 10-12 weeks if they are well cared for. Sometimes, guppy owners discover their guppies have eaten the fry. This gruesome activity is called filial cannibalism and may indicate the adults are underfed or they are overcrowded. However, some experts believe guppies eat the weak or injured fry to enhance the shoal’s genetics.

Guppy fry
Guppy fry needs lots of protein to grow and will eat small crumbs of whatever you feed adult guppies.

©Tio Gian/Shutterstock.com

How to Make Your Own Guppy Food

If you prefer to make your own guppy food, here’s a quick and cheap method.

Fresh or frozen ingredients:

  • Cucumber
  • Zucchini
  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans
  • One food bag
  • A blender


Blend the vegetables and pour the mixture into a food bag or ice cube tray. Freeze it and remove a chunk when it’s time to feed the guppies.

To make a flake mixture, spread the blend on a sheet of oven-proof paper, bake until it’s dried out, and then crumble it into a bag or a used fish food container.

How Often Should They Be Fed?

Guppies need a sprinkling of flake or pellet food twice a day. Once in the morning and once in the evening to ensure they don’t get hungry.

If you feed extras like bloodworms or vegetables, give them in the evening instead of their commercial food. A morning feed of commercial fish food will make sure the guppies get their nutrients.

Giving guppies enough food is important, but it’s equally important they aren’t overfed. Overfed guppies suffer from blocked intestines, which cause suffering.

Fish keepers suggest if guppies eat all of their food within five minutes, and there’s none left floating, that’s the right amount. Guppies have very small stomachs, so what looks like a tiny amount of food is a feast to them. It’s best to scoop out any remaining food once their interest has waned, or it will pollute the water.

It’s also worth noting that guppies eat less in cooler water, so if your tank is warm, they will eat more.  

What Should Guppies Not Eat?

Guppies are omnivores that will eat most detritus, but there are a few things they should not eat:

  • Bread: Bread has no nutritional value for guppies, and it fills them up very quickly. Regular bread meals can lead to nutritional deficiencies. It also pollutes the water quickly, which may poison the guppies.
  • Oil: As we have seen on the news, water and oil do not mix well. Oily food will foul tank water, sealing the surface so oxygen can’t enter. Guppies will suffocate if oil is added to their water.
  • Processed human food: Processed food has too much salt, sugar, coloring, and chemical preservatives for fish. Not only does it foul the water, it can make them seriously unwell. Processed foods included ham, sausage, pastry, and burgers.

Sometimes, a pellet diet causes an impaction or bloating issue. This is because pellets are dehydrated, and guppies eat them before they have a chance to dissolve in the water. If guppies are pellet-fed, it’s best to crush the pellets first. Impacted intestines often lead to fatalities, so keep your guppies’ digestive system healthy with small amounts of veggies as well.

Panda Guppy
Guppies should not eat bread, oily food, processed human food, or uncrushed pellets.

©NAP Picture/Shutterstock.com

How Long Can They Live Without Food?

Guppies need regular food because they are small and active. It’s unfair to leave them without food for more than a day or two.

Holidaymakers could invest in an automatic feeder to keep their guppies happy. Experts say guppies can live a week or two without food, but it’s not good fish-keeping practice to starve your pet fish.

Automatic feeders are excellent tools for forgetful folks, too.

Do Guppies Eat Other Fish?

Adult guppies eat baby fry if there’s not enough room in the tank or if they are unfed, but guppies are not carnivorous hunters that prey on other fish, so they make good tank mates. Other peaceful fish that coexist with guppies include mollies, angelfish, tetras, and cory catfish.

However, if a fish is unwell or in the process of dying, guppies may nibble at it. Guppies will eat whatever they can fit in their mouths and have no problems eating the carcass of a larger fish if it’s available.

Molly fish can peacefully co-exist with guppies
Mollyfish can peacefully coexist with guppies.


How Much Should I Feed a Guppy Fish?

Give guppies a pinch of food in the morning and the evening. If they clear it in around five minutes, that’s enough. If it’s all gone in a few seconds, they need more.

Guppies browse on microscopic algae and detritus during the day, so there’s no need to leave extra food floating in the tank.

What Do Guppies Eat? Quick Recap

Let’s recap our question: “What do guppies eat?”

We’ve discovered that guppies are opportunistic feeders. In the wild, they eat anything that lives or falls into the water and fits in their mouth. This includes insects, vegetation, aquatic insect larvae, and algae. In an aquarium, guppies eat commercial pelleted or flaked fish food, a nutritious homemade blend, bloodworms, brine shrimp, cooked egg yolk, cucumbers, peas, and lettuce!

On a darker note, guppies will eat their babies and any dead or dying fish in the water, so it’s important to have a good handle on how much food they need to stay happy and healthy.

The Featured Image

Multi color Guppies, on black background
© panpilai paipa/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Rebecca is a professional researcher from England's south coast with special interests in the environment, particularly archaeology and plant species. She spends a lot of time rehabilitating injured wildlife and visiting Greek islands to enjoy the company of cats.

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