How To Feed Guppies & Endlers
Updated: Feb 3
Deciding How, When and What to Feed your Guppies is one of the most important and fundamental aspects of successful guppy keeping. In order to master this ancient art we must first understand mother nature and the relationship she has with her beloved guppies.
Fish flake 3–6 times daily : 30 seconds until all food is devoured per feeding.
Daphnia / Baby Brine Shrimp 1–3 times a week.
Natural food source within the aquarium : algae, plants, shrimp, detritus, etc.
Feeding small amounts more frequently (3 - 6 times daily), only what the fish in the aquarium can devour within 30 seconds or less; condition guppies & endlers to thrive instead of survive When feeding fish flake; break the flake into guppy mouth sized pieces with your fingers as you drop it into flowing water. This helps the food spread equally to the colony. Having a natural algae, plants, worms, mulm / detritus as well as neocaridina shrimplets inside the tank act as an organic natural food source in-between feedings.
GUPPIES ARE OPPORTUNISTIC OMNIVORES
In the wild a guppy or endlers survival often depends on their ability to capitalize on the seasons. This drive is related to natural selection and is also why you can kill your fish by overfeeding. They are evolutionarily programmed with the radical ambition to constantly consume and there is nothing you can do to change this. Similar to a goat or a cow, guppies and endlers are constantly foraging whatever is available to them at all times, supplying a steady income of food from a number of natural resources, taking nothing for granted. Too many keepers make the mistake of feeding their fish when it suits them without considering that the consequences are counter intuitive to the benefits of keeping them.
In nature its often feast or famine, but even during famine there is always something they can depend on : Plants & Algae. Conversely, feasting can occur during a swarm of daphnia in the spring, black worms sticking out of the sand during a flood or even a fresh brood of baby shrimp in the foliage. Manufactured fish food is a wonderful resource and a luxury we all take for granted but knowing how much to feed and how often is commonly overlooked.
It is not natural for guppies or endlers to eat once a day, every day without the consequence of being conditioned to cannibalistic survival instincts instead of thriving instincts. I find that feeding small amounts more frequently 3 - 6 times daily, only what the fish in the aquarium can devour within less than 30 seconds or less - condition these species to thrive instead of survive. This simulates a natural competition for food paired with ample opportunity, leading naturally to a thriving hierarchy which in return enhances the genetics, appearance, behavior and overall bond we have with our beloved fisheys.
DIETS ARE SEASONAL
Besides the google.bot, no one reading this is an automated robot and neither is mother nature. Gluttony and fasting are not only natural, they are healthy and we should keep this in mind while maintaining biological homeostasis across the aquarium. We want whats best for our fisheys, thus we get them the best food money can buy, culture all sorts of live foods and often feed them excessively. Pizza is delicious but imagine if you had to eat it every night? Our guppies have evolved to synchronize their diets with the seasons and hence these changes often communicate to our fish instinctually when is the right time to procreate. Although their lives revolve around procreation & will breed regardless - there is a perfect time for everything and the fish know what is advantageous to their procreation. Just how water changes emulate a seasonal rain or a flood / a freshening of the water column; alterations of the diet can also communicate a seasonal change advantageous to procreation. This is why fish breeders across the globe change water frequently and feed live food religiously for nearly every species. While live food comes and goes in the wild, algae and plants are always there to fall back on which is just one of the many reasons your aquarium should be heavily planted.
Competition is vital to the evolution of genetics but in our aquarium we must consistently observe the overall conditions of our fish including their social hierarchy, colors, behavior, abdomens and especially in our fry. One thing that is common is the relationship between alpha males / females and their food intake. Often you will see the largest or most ambitious fisheys get larger bellies than other fish and while this is natural, it loads us with the ability to murder our fish by overfeeding. Many make the mistake of overfeeding first time mothers and when the fry drop and they have crooked backs, they believe that this is some type of genetic mutation. Although this can be true - through my experience, this happens most often to first time mothers as their bodies are discovering the perfect number of fry allowed per potential space in their abdomen to produce safely without deformity. Overfeeding a young mother can totally aggravate this phenomena, so good observation of your guppies abdomen is paramount to the success of minimal deformities. Another thing to consider; is your surface area of feeding proportional to the amount of fish you are feeding? Aka are you feeding all your food in 1 square inch on top of the water or are you spreading the food out over running water so that is goes throughout the aquarium? Very similar to feeding multiple dogs or cats, it is best to space this out and has an effect on the equal and fair distribution of food to the hierarchy.
LISTEN TO YOUR AQUARIUM
What do your fry, snails, plants, water and filters all have in common? They are all indicators as to what the proficiencies and deficiencies are in your aquarium. For instance one of the most commonly overlooked indicators are the number of fry that make it to maturity. Large fry numbers are the ultimate indication of happy guppies in a successful aquarium & happy guppies have a habit of being the most beautiful. Lets say you just started a new aquarium; you put in 1 male guppy and 5 females in & after 3 months only 8 fry have made it to maturity and you have witnessed the females being super aggressive. By the time you see the fry there are only 1-2 left; something is wrong and it could be your lack of consistent feeding tuned to the cravings of pregnant guppy, could be a lack of plants and cover for the fry to hide in a aquarium that is too small or it could even be the breeder you got them from was a cut throat cheapo that treated them to the bare minimum without empathy and they are stuck in survival mode. Quite often its all of the above. On the other hand lets say you start a new aquarium with 1 male guppy and 5 females; 3 months later you have 80 fry reaching maturity but you also have 100,000,000,000 snails, water is yellow, smells foul, algae is out of control; you have succeeded in feeding enough but at the detriment of your water quality ; a lethal eventuality. Its just like the world around us - were all connected and everything is an indication of another; cause and effect. Mother Nature has given us every indicator / resource an eco system needs to thrive which is why plants, algae, snails and shrimp are paramount to any peaceful freshwater aquarium.
HOME IS WHERE WE EAT
Just as there are chickens on the farm, there should be shrimp & snails in every peaceful aquarium. Shrimp & snails are the greatest cleanup crew mother nature has to offer. Their services to the aquatic realms are immeasurable. They will devour anything that dies, plant or fish, eat excess food and turn right around and become a natural consistent food source for your aquarium (insert the Circle of Life by Elton John). The condition of your snails shell tells you about mineral deficiencies in the water, the amount of them tell you whether you're overfeeding. Shrimp are just like our guppies, extremely social, live to procreate and when they do, you're looking at hundreds of fresh tiny lobster tails running around for your fish (natural consistent food source). With a heavily planted aquarium you will have sufficient hiding spaces for guppy fry and baby shrimp to co exist with mutual benefits for the entire aquarium while offering a constant food source for years to come. Take no advice from Petsmart my friends, throw that painted plastic castle and breeder net into the trash and take your lessons from mother nature with a much more beautiful planted aquarium. I firmly believe that our guppies & endlers entire life revolves around procreation. I find great honor in the responsibility of creating a working ecosystem in which they can live their lives to the fullest. You are the driving force behind their world you have created & everything you do or dont do for them effects their genetics for better or for worse. Godspeed.