The ideal feeding frequency for guppies is 1-2 times a day for adults and 5-8 times per day for fry. If you are going for a vacation, you want to ensure you don’t starve your fish. So, how long can guppies really go without food?
Guppies can go without food for up to 2 weeks depending on their age, size, and water conditions in the tank. Guppy fry can live without eating for a maximum of 3 days, so if you’re going on vacation for a few days, they’ll be fine if they’re not fed.
I highly recommend you set up an automatic feeder if you’ll be away for more than 3 days.
Pro tip: The amount of food and the frequency of feeding your guppies also affects the bioload in your aquarium. If you feed your fish too often, you might want to cycle the water quite often to reduce the accumulation of ammonia in the tank.
Can female guppies go longer without eating?
Female guppies are almost twice as big than male guppies. This difference in size means female guppies last longer without food than male guppies because they have more fat deposits under their skin that they will digest during starvation. The fat can sustain them until you return from your vacation.
However, remember to feed your guppies as soon as you get back.
Do not starve guppy fry longer than 3 days
Guppy fry are about a quarter of an inch long and more vulnerable to starvation than adult guppies. They can only go for two to three days without being fed and are at a higher risk of acute malnutrition due to their small body mass.
Starving your guppy fry deteriorates their skin’s barrier function, making the fish susceptible to disease and death within days.
Guppy fry have much less fat than adult guppies. If you don’t feed them for long, their body fat reserves deplete within hours.
Their metabolism will resort to protein as their only energy source, so if you don’t feed the young fish by the third day, you might lose all of them.
When feeding starved guppies, avoid giving them a lot of food at once. Increase the food proportion gradually until you reach their recommended daily feeding routine.
Gradual rehabilitation and feeding help your guppies avoid overeating and refeeding syndrome, which may cause severe electrolyte imbalance and complications to the fish.
How to feed guppies while away on vacation
There are various feeding options for keeping guppies well-fed when you are away on vacation or traveling for a few days. While you can space out the feeding schedule a little while away, you want to keep your pet fish healthy with a proper feeding schedule.
Here are great ways to feed your guppy fish while away on vacation:
1. Use an automatic feeder
If you’re going to be away for more than 2 weeks, I recommend that you use an automatic fish feeder to avoid your guppies going too long without food. Pre-fill its chambers with guppy food so that as it rotates on a clock-based mechanism, it feeds your fish at predetermined intervals.
I use and recommend the Petbank Automatic Fish Feeder because of its rechargeable timer.
Automatic fish feeders will help you avoid starving your fish while on vacation and also overfeeding the fish.
2. Add live fish food to the tank
Live food is probably the most recommended guppy food when you go away for a few days. Live food such as daphnia and brine shrimp will continue to live in the aquarium days after the guppies feed on their organs.
As such, your guppies will always get fresh food to eat later.
3. Leave them with a pet sitter
If you don’t have an automated fish feeder, the next best option is to have a pet sitter feed your guppies while on vacation.
Ask a family member or friend to look after your aquarium for the period you’ll be away to ensure the fish are provided for and the aquarium is well maintained.
However, while this may seem an easy task to you, it may not be for someone who has never taken care of fish before. I recommend you leave them with proper guidelines on feeding guppies while you’re away.
Pro tip: Guppies are not nocturnal fish. Feed them in light or semi-darkness conditions.
How often do guppies need to be fed?
It is recommended to feed guppy fry up to four times a day; adult guppies will thrive when fed once a day. In their natural habitats, guppies feed at dawn and dusk. Therefore, I recommend feeding your guppies in the morning and evening hours.
Although you can feed them using flakes and pellets, ensure one meal of live food such as earthworms or bloodworms.
Guppies also prefer newly hatched brine shrimp and infusoria. However, they will also eat human food such as lettuce, cucumber, cauliflower, kale, potatoes, and rice. Remember that human food remains can rot in the aquarium and quickly alter water chemistry.
Stocking too many guppies in the tank can lead to increased competition for food and, consequently, starvation. If you notice the once bright guppies turning dull, give them more flakes and live foods.
Consequences of not feeding fish
Here’s what you risk when you don’t feed guppies for too long:
- Weight loss and possible death from starvation
- Increased lethargy and susceptibility to illnesses
- Risk of attacks due to sluggishness
- Increased aggression in the tank – starving guppies may attempt to eat their fry
If guppy fish die from starvation, the water’s chemistry will be affected, and the aquarium will be infested with springtails and other pests, putting more pressure on healthier guppies.
- Rajaei, M., Nematollahi, M. A., Bahmaninezhad, A., & Lotfizadeh, A. (2012). Behavior of feeding in guppy: Poecilia reticulata. Journal of Research in Animal Sciences, 1(1), 1-6.
- Washington University in St. Louis, Arts & Sciences (2022). Sneaky male guppies affect food web dynamics. Natural Science & Math, Research.