Guppies Or Tetras? (How To Choose The Best One For You?)

Image of guppies and tetras in an aquarium

Guppies and tetras are popular aquarium fish. Since both varieties are easy to care for, they are highly preferred by fish hobbyists. However, if you had to choose between the two, which one should you pick? Guppies or tetras?

Choosing guppies or tetras depends on many factors like food and habitat requirements, breeding behavior, diseases, lifespan, etc. While both fish are easy to take care of, beginner aquarists usually prefer to keep tetras as they are more colorful, live longer, and don’t breed as much as guppies.

Let’s talk about this in detail now.

How To Choose Between Guppies And Tetras?

Given below are the various factors that will help you choose between guppies and tetras.

1. Habitat Needs

Guppies are tropical freshwater fish. We can trace their origin to South America, where you can find them in slow-moving waters. They are abundant in ponds, streams, and rivers with low currents.

Guppies thrive in water temperatures of 75°F to 82°F. The ideal pH of the water is between 7 and 7.2. They spend most of their time in the middle and upper areas of the tank.

Guppies are sensitive to water parameters and need clean water to thrive. Hence, you will have to perform regular water changes and invest in a good filter if you wish to keep guppies.

Tetras are also natives of South America. However, you can find this fish in parts of Central America and South Africa also.

Most varieties of tetras live in soft, acidic water with a pH between 6.8 and 7.8 and temperatures between 75°F and 82°F. However, certain species like the Buenos Aires tetras need cooler water.

Tetras like mild but steady water current. Like guppies, tetras are also sensitive to water quality. Hence, you will have to perform regular tank maintenance and invest in a good filter to keep them happy and healthy.

Tetras and guppies have similar habitat requirements. Hence, the cost of setting up a good environment for either type of fish is comparable.

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2. Food Requirements

Guppies and tetras are omnivores, which means they feed on both plants and animals. In the wild, they eat algae, decaying plants, invertebrates, fallen fruit, plankton, shrimp, and insect larvae.

Tetras are not fussy feeders and will eat anything that they find. However, they don’t appear to be constantly hungry like guppies.

Although guppies need only one or two feeds a day, they are on a constant lookout for food.

Both fish thrive on good-quality fish flakes with high protein content. You can occasionally treat them to live or frozen food like shrimp and bloodworms.

They will also eat vegetables like lettuce, shelled peas, cucumbers. spirulina supplements, and algae wafers, which help to enhance their beautiful tail colors.

Smaller tetras like neon tetras need small quantities of food every day. Offer them a variety of food to ensure a balanced diet.

3. Behavior And Compatibility

Guppies are peaceful community fish. They don’t fight or cause much commotion in the tank. Since guppies are schooling fish, they prefer to live with their kind.

Guppies may occasionally chase and resort to fin nipping. You will usually notice this behavior in an overcrowded tank where the fish feel insecure or threatened.

Most varieties of tetras are peaceful, friendly fish. They do well in community tanks.

However, a few types, like serape tetras and black skirt tetras, have aggressive tendencies. They tend to fight with their tankmates and stir up commotion in the tank.

Other tetras will usually avoid fighting and stick to their group. They become aggressive only when they feel threatened or have to compete for food and resources.

If you prefer to keep fewer fish, guppies are better than tetras. Guppies will be content in small groups of three or more fish.

Meanwhile, tetras will be miserable without enough company. They will pick fights and become aggressive. They do best in groups of six or more.

A group of tetras can liven up a tank with their lovely colors and also create beautiful formations in the tank.

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4. Breeding

Guppies are notorious for their incredible breeding ability.

Guppy females start having fry from the time they are just three months old. The gestation period is very short, and when the conditions are suitable for breeding, they produce new fry every month.

Guppies are livebearers, which means that their offspring are born with the ability to swim and feed themselves. They are independent right from birth.

Another factor to keep in mind when keeping guppies is that female guppies can have up to fifty babies at a time. So, if you leave things as they are, the guppy population in your tank will explode before you even realize it.

Although tetras can breed in captivity, it’s not at an alarming pace like guppies. Tetras will breed only when the tank conditions are perfect for reproduction.

Hence, it’s not very easy to increase the tetra population in a tank by natural means. Unlike guppies that give birth to live fry, tetras lay eggs. They also tend to spawn in groups.

Both fish don’t take care of their young. While adult guppies will eat any guppy fry that crosses their path, tetras eat their eggs.

The eggs that survive and hatch into fry are still in danger since tetras, like guppies, will eat anything that fits their mouth. Their babies are no exception.

Nevertheless, it’s easier to create a favorable environment for breeding and raising guppy fry than tetras.

5. Diseases And Health Conditions

Guppies and tetras are hardy fish that adapt to most tank conditions. However, their health and well-being will depend on many factors, like water quality, hygiene, stress, exposure to parasites, and quality of nutrition.

Both varieties are prone to stress and diseases. Overcrowding, poor water quality, bullying by tank mates, and poor or inadequate nutrition can cause stress. Stress weakens the immune system and makes them vulnerable to diseases.

The most common diseases affecting guppies are ick, velvet, fin rot, and flukes. Guppies are also sensitive to ammonia levels. Guppies will show signs of distress like gasping at the surface if they are ill.

If you notice any worrying symptoms, you should promptly identify the cause, isolate the guppy, and administer necessary treatment.

Timely care usually helps reverse the condition and nurse a guppy back to health. They respond well to treatment and overcome most illnesses.

Tetras are prone to fin rot, ick, and other parasitic infections. However, the deadliest and most common infection affecting them is Neon Tetra Disease (NTD).

It’s very important to notice the symptoms of diseases early, or it can become fatal. Due to their small size, tetras are highly vulnerable fish.

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6. Lifespan

With proper care, guppies bought from reliable fish stores can live for four to five years. You can keep them alive for as long as possible by offering favorable living conditions and good quality nutrition.

Most guppies will live for at least two years. Overfeeding, underfeeding, poor water quality, stress, exposure to parasites, and loneliness are the primary causes of illnesses that affect their longevity.

On the other hand, tetras have a longer lifespan than most aquarium fish. Under the right conditions, they can outlive guppies.

Tetras survive for up to ten years in the wild. In captivity, they can live for at least five years when you take good care of them.

Hence, they are a good choice if you want pets that will keep you company for a long time. If you offer them clean water, good quality food, and company, they will happily survive for a very long time.

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