How To Set Up A Guppy Tank (Complete Guide)

Betta ebook-ban

Last Updated on 2023-05-24

If you’re about to get guppies, then one of the most important things to do is set up the tank properly. If you’re wondering how to set up a guppy tank, then wonder no more! Because you have come to the right place!

In this article, you’re going to learn everything there is to know about the correct guppy tank setup, including what size to get, what plants and tank mates you can use, how to set the tank up and whether you should add your guppies right away or not.

So keep reading to find out everything you need to know!

What Size Tank Should You Use?

First of all, before you set up your tank, the first thing you’re going to need to do is to get the right size. While there’s no maximum size that your guppies should be kept in, there’s definitely a minimum.

When you’re keeping guppies, you should go no smaller than 5 gallons. Each guppy needs about 1.5-2.5 gallons of water to be happy, and you shouldn’t keep guppies in a shoal less than 3. Anything less than this, and they’re going to become stressed.

If you want to add more tank mates or different tank mates, you’ll need to consider the tank size they’ll need and purchase accordingly.

(Find out how many guppies you can keep in a 5 gallon, 10 gallons, and 20-gallon tank.)

What Will The Tank Need?

When you’re keeping tropical fish, you’re going to need to make sure that the water remains clean and warm. So the tank itself won’t be enough.

Heater And Thermometer

Aside from a tank, you’ll need to purchase a heater and thermometer. This is because the temperature of the tank will need to remain between 72-78°F. Anything lower than 72°F and your guppies are likely to become sick. Some of the illnesses they may suffer from include fin rot, constipation, and swim bladder disease.

Fortunately, if you buy a decent heater, then it will consistently keep the tank’s temperature where it needs to be. And the thermometer will help you easily check that something hasn’t gone wrong.

In some cases, you may also need a fan to make sure that the tank’s temperature doesn’t become too hot.

(Here’s everything you need to know about why your guppy tanks need a heater.)


Another extremely important piece of tank equipment that you’ll also need is a filter. Filters perform a number of important functions that help keep your guppy happy and healthy.

Of course, the main reason you’re going to want a filter in your tank is to keep it clean. Filters are essential for removing any build-up of debris and chemicals in the tank and housing beneficial bacteria that remove ammonia.

But this isn’t their only purpose. Having a filter in your tank is also going to keep the water moving. Guppies are used to swimming in streams and rivers, so this water movement is going to feel natural to them.

And lastly, water movement is also going to increase the amount of oxygen going into the tank by increasing the surface area of the water. Obviously, guppies need oxygen to breathe, and this helps keep the oxygen levels in the tank high.

(Find out more about using a filter in your guppies tank and whether you should also use an air bubbler.)


Decorations are also essential as they’re going to keep your guppies entertained. Depending on what your tank looks like, there are so many different decorations to choose from.

However, just make sure you’re adding lots of decorations that give your guppies hiding places as well as lots of plants. Plants are going to help oxygenate the tank and make it feel more natural for your guppies.

When you’re choosing plants, you should choose some that will suit your guppy and make them happy. A few great plants include:

  • Anubias Nana – This is a great plant that is comprised of large leaves that your guppy can hide between and underneath. It also stays quite small, so it will have no problem growing in a 10-gallon tank.
  • Duckweed – Floating plants are great for guppies because they help them to feel safe, and the roots also give them something to swim between. If you’re planning on keeping your guppy fry alive, then they’re also going to be a great hiding place for them while they’re growing. And if it ever grows out of hand, it’s incredibly low maintenance because you can just scoop some out.
betta care facebook group


While technically, it’s not essential, you should definitely consider adding some substrate to your tank. A substrate is going to give your plants somewhere to put their roots, as well as helping the tank feel natural for your fish.

The good thing about substrate is once you’ve put it in, you’ll never have to get rid of it. It will just sit at the bottom of your tank forever. However, you will need to use a gravel vacuum on it regularly to make sure it doesn’t become too dirty.

Biological Supplement & Water Conditioner

When you’re first starting out, you’re going to want to add a biological supplement to your tank to help the beneficial bacteria grow faster. And you’ll also need a water conditioner every time you add new water to the tank to make it habitable for your fish.

Fortunately, both are relatively cheap, and they’re going to last a long time. The water conditioner I bought has lasted my 10-gallon tank for over a year!

Now you have a basic understanding of all the items you’ll need to get your tank started!

How To Setup A Guppy Tank

Now you know everything you need beforehand, the next step is to begin setting up your guppy tank. Here are the steps you need to take.

Remember, this is the most efficient way to set up your tank, so you don’t waste lots of time and energy. Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do.

Wash The Tank And Check It For Leaks

The first thing you should do is wash the tank, and while doing this, simultaneously check it for leaks. When you’re washing your tank, take it to the bath or outside and completely fill it with water.

Once you’ve done this, use a sponge on the inside to clean the glass. Just make sure you use the soft side, so you don’t scratch it.

While you’re doing this, you should also be keeping an eye out for any leaks. These will normally happen around the seams of the tank.

Now, this is the important part. Once you’ve cleaned the tank and checked for leaks, remove all of the water before moving your tank. If you try to move the tank while the water is still inside, then you could end up smashing the tank. So use a gravel vacuum or cup to get all of the water out.

Tank Placement

Next up, you’ll need to choose where you’re going to keep your tank. Once you’ve placed your tank, it’s going to be very hard to move it again.

There are a couple of things to remember when placing your tank. First of all, it’s often best to avoid places that are in direct sunlight. Direct sunlight is going to massively increase the amount of algae growth in the tank as well as potentially heat the tank up.

Carrying on from that, you should also make sure you’re placing the tank somewhere the temperature doesn’t fluctuate too much. This means avoiding places near the sun, as well as radiators, and anywhere with a draft.

The smaller the tank, the larger a temperature fluctuation will affect it.

Begin Decorating

Now it’s time for the fun part. You should begin decorating your tank however you wish. If you’ve got substrate, then make sure you place it first before adding any plants and decorations that you want.

If you’re going to add plants to your tank, then you’ll need to use a spray bottle to keep them wet until you’re ready to fill the tank with water.

And if you do want to add substrate, then generally, around 1.5-2″ of the substrate is the normal amount.

Fill The Tank With Water

Now it’s time to fill your tank with water. If possible, you and someone else should use a hose to fill the tank, as this is the easiest way. However, if this isn’t possible, then a bucket will do as well.

When you’re filling your tank with water, don’t pour the water directly into the tank. Doing this will massively disturb the substrate and your decorations.

Instead, what you should do is use a plate or something similar and let the water glide off it.

Also, make sure at this point you use a water conditioner to remove the chemicals in your tap water.

Adding The Rest Of The Equipment

Now it’s time to add the filter and heater to the tank. If you’ve bought an aquarium kit, then there’ll often be a space specifically for them to go. However, if not, then you’ll have to place them anywhere you want in the tank. Normally at the back is best.

When you add them into your tank, the filter will work straight away; however, the heater will take some time to warm the water. This is also the time you should add a thermometer to the tank as well.

Cycling The Tank

The last thing you’re going to need to do is to cycle your tank. There are two types of tank cycling that people follow. The first one is a fish-less cycle (recommended), and the second is an in-fish cycle.

Fish-less Cycle

A fish-less cycle involves letting the bacteria in your tank grow without having fish in the tank. When your tank is cycling, the ammonia levels are going to rise and fall rapidly, so keeping a fish in the tank when this is happening can often become fatal.

To do a fish-less cycle, you should add a biological supplement to your tank (the bacteria needed to keep ammonia levels low) as well as adding fish food to the tank, which will rot and produce ammonia.

Normally, you’ll do this for 3-4 weeks before the ammonia levels will balance out. So test the water regularly, and when the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels have stayed consistently low for a few days, it’s safe to add your guppies.

In-fish Cycle

The other method is an in-fish cycle; however, it’s definitely not recommended. It’s riskier, as your guppies may die, and it’s also cruel to keep them in water with high ammonia levels.

If you’re going to do an in-fish cycle, then you should have an ammonia detoxifier ready in case the ammonia levels become too high. Ammonia detoxifier works by turning ammonia in the tank into ammonium which is harmless but what the beneficial bacteria in your tank can still thrive on.

As well as this, you’ll also need to perform frequent water changes, potentially every day.

Just with a fishless cycle, you’ll also need to add a biological supplement to the tank to help grow the beneficial bacteria colony as well.

And lastly, you’ll need to test the water at least twice a day to make sure that the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels are all good.

As you can tell, this can be very stressful for your fish, and it’s always best to be avoided.

(Find out whether guppies are hardy enough for an in-fish cycle and which other fish may be a great choice.)


As you can see, proper planning is the key to a good guppy tank setup, and if you plan beforehand, you’re going to save yourself a lot of time and energy later on.

Remember, when you’re setting up your guppy tank, you should make sure that you have a heater, filter, substrate, and decorations ready.

Ultimate Betta Fish Care Guide
About the author

Hey! I'm Nicolas from Iguane Media !

Blogger and Owner of the betta care fish guide
Thanks for reading this blog

I'm an Animal Lover