Guppies are some cool and colorful little fish indeed, some pretty active swimmers that bring a lot of life to any aquarium. That said, what if you don’t want to have an aquarium, but would rather have an outdoor pond? Can guppies live in a pond?
Yes, Guppies can live in a pond, however, the water temperature needs to be between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, this consistent temperature is essential for their survival so a good heater that is well-maintained is essential if you plan on adding them to your pond.
Can Guppies Live in Cold Water?
While guppies can technically live in a pond, they are not really cold water fish. These little fish prefer warmer temperatures, and if you expect them to survive, this is a must.
Ideally, whether in a pond or in an aquarium, the water temperature for guppies should be between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, or between 22 and 28 degrees Celsius. However, if worst comes to worst, guppies can survive in water as cold as 68 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 20 degrees Celsius.
So, the answer to this question is that no, guppies cannot live in cold water. This means that if you live somewhere cold, if you plan on keeping guppies outdoors in a pond, they will require a good water heater.
Most people would recommend that guppies only be kept in small indoor ponds or in areas where the temperature is fairly stable year round. If you live somewhere like Canada or in the US Midwest, where it can easily drop to double digit negative temperatures, keeping guppies in an outdoor pond may not be the best choice. If your heater gives out, the water will freeze, and you can take a wild guess as to what will happen to your guppies.
The 4 Things to Consider When You Keep Guppies Outside
Technically speaking, yes, guppies can be kept outside, but of course, it doesn’t come without certain risks.
Let’s take a look at the various factors that you need to consider if you plan on keeping guppies in an outdoor pond, four main factors to be exact.
First and foremost, you do need to keep the temperature in mind. If you live in an area where the temperature never drops below 68 degrees Fahrenheit or 20 degrees Celsius, and never goes above 82 degrees Fahrenheit or 28 degrees Celsius, then it should be fine.
You just don’t want the guppies to be exposed to big and constant temperature swings, especially not beyond the temperatures that they can tolerate.
2. Water Parameters – PH & Hardness
Moreover, you do also need to pay attention to the other water parameters, all of the basics that you would also take into account if you had your guppies in an aquarium.
The water hardness and pH level need to be kept within the acceptable parameters, and this also means having a good pond water filtration system to keep the water clean.
3. Possible Predators
Another big consideration to keep in mind when it comes to keeping guppies in outdoor ponds is if there are any predators that may go after them.
The reality is that of course, no matter where you live, whether there are animals like predatory birds, racoons, foxes, coyotes, wolves, badgers, large moles and groundhogs, or any other such animal, there are bound to be some predators to think about.
Unless you wrap some kind of wire cage around or over the pond or keep the pond in a greenhouse-like structure, predators are something that you will have to deal with, and chances are that you will lose some guppies to some hungry mouths at one point or another.
4. Direct Sunlight & Precipitation
The other thing to consider when setting up an outdoor pond with any fish is its location. You don’t want the pond to be in too much direct sunlight, as this may cause excessive algae blooms, which will cause its own set of problems.
Moreover, you don’t want to set up a pond in an area that sees excessive and frequent precipitation, as rain can alter the water temperature and chemistry. That said, a little bit of rain is not a deal breaker.
The 8 Things to Consider When You Raise Guppies Outside
In order to raise guppies outside in a pond, there are a few things that you need to do. Let’s take a look at all of the considerations to keep in mind, and how to raise your guppies outdoors.
Of course, the considerations we spoke of above need to be kept in mind, particularly in terms of the climate and weather where you live. Seeing as we already covered that aspect, we won’t cover it again in this section.
1. Pond Size
The first thing to keep in mind is the size of the pond. Guppies need at most about five gallons of water per fish. Also, guppies should not be kept alone, as they are schooling fish. For an outdoor pond, something like 20 or 30 guppies will work fine. If you are going to provide them with 5 gallons of space per fish (for a school of 30 guppies) a 150-gallon pond would do fine. However, outdoor ponds tend to be comparatively larger than indoor aquariums, simply because you probably have plenty of outdoor space, so pond size should not really be a problem.
That said, a deeper and larger pond is generally best, because the more water volume in the pond, the less susceptible it will be to temperature fluctuations, and the deeper the pond, the less likely fish are to be eaten by predators.
2. Water Parameters
Seeing as guppies require a certain pH level and water hardness level, you will need to treat the water to keep these parameters within the adequate range.
Using some simple water conditioners and pH altering chemicals should be enough to take care of this issue. Just make sure that you keep both of these water parameters as close to the acceptable level as you can. Also, remember that you will need to retest the water for pH and hardness after it rains, as rain water will alter both.
3. Water Filtration
Something that you will definitely need in order to raise guppies in an outdoor pond is a very good pond filter. This is perhaps one of the most important things of all. Guppies are fairly hardy, but they are still susceptible to dirty water, particularly ammonia and nitrites.
This means that you need to have a good filter, one that can filter at least three to five times the amount of water in the pond per hour. Also, the filter needs to engage in all three major forms of water filtration including mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration.
Perhaps the most important type of filtration to have for an outdoor pond is biological filtration to prevent the excessive buildup of ammonia and nitrites.
Generally speaking, one of the best filter options to go with for an outdoor pond is a large external canister filter.
4. UV Sterilization
Another thing that you may want to get for your outdoor guppy pond is a UV sterilizer, or a filter than included a UV sterilizer. A UV sterilizer uses UV rays in order to kill parasites, bacteria, and algae.
This will help prevent the excessive buildup of harmful parasites and bacteria that can be harmful to your fish. It will also help prevent algae blooms from overtaking the pond, a problem that often occurs with outdoor ponds, particularly those exposed to lots of sunlight.
Yes, your guppies will need food. They don’t require different food than if you were to raise them in an indoor aquarium. Make sure to adhere to their dietary requirements, and make sure to feed them enough, but of course not too much, as that always comes with its own set of problems.
6. Protection from Predators & Weather
If you are really worried about predators taking out your guppies, something you could do is to build a fence or wire cage around the pond to keep ground based predators out, although admittedly, surrounding a pond in a cage won’t look very nice.
One of the biggest predators for you to be concerned about are predatory birds, whether hawks, eagles, falcons, crows, or anything else of the sort.
You probably don’t want to put a cage over the pond for aesthetic reasons, but a good idea is to get a scarecrow to keep birds away, as well as to put some bird feeders in strategic locations far away from the pond, although predatory birds may choose to go after live food.
Simply put, predators are something that you will have to deal with, and you have to take into account that some fish may be lost to them. This is the way of nature and there isn’t all that much you can do about it.
7. Tank Mates
Yet another thing to keep in mind when raising guppies outdoors is what kind of tank mates you keep them with. As long as you don’t keep your guppies with other much larger and aggressive fish, particularly ones that may eat the guppies, they should be fine.
Beware that koi, a large type of goldfish that is perhaps the most popular animal to have in a pond, will eat guppies, so koi fish really aren’t an option as far as guppy tank mates are concerned.
8. Plants, Rocks, & Decorations
The final thing that you need to do for your guppies is to provide them with plenty of hiding places, as this will help take care of them being eaten by predators. You want to add plenty of large plants, rocks, caves, driftwood, and other such things into the pond, anything that will help hide your guppies from hungry eyes circling above.
The other reason why you want to have plenty of plants, rocks, and other such things in the pond is simply to provide your guppies with a good place to live that mocks their natural environment.
Is It Cruel To Keep Guppies In An Outside Pond?
This is purely a question of ethics, morals, and what your stance on the matter is. The fact here is that when you keep fish outdoors, there is a good chance that some will succumb to the elements or be eaten by predators.
Some would say that this is cruel because you are the one in control of the fates of the fish, and others would say that this is simply what happens in nature. It’s survival of the fittest. Personally, we would say that it is not cruel, at least if you do it right. That said, if you don’t take the proper steps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your guppies, then it could very well be considered cruel.
Perhaps one of the cruelest things would be if you attempt to keep guppies in an outdoor pond where the temperature regularly suffers from great fluctuations, particularly towards the colder side of things. If you force your guppies to live in excessively cold waters, it will stress them out, make them sick, and eventually kill them. We would absolutely consider this to be cruel. However, once again, if you take all of the proper steps to ensure their health and safety, we would say that it’s perfectly fine to keep guppies in an outdoor pond.
Alternative Fish Ideas for Your Outdoor Pond
Of course, guppies are not the only type of fish that you can keep in an outdoor pond. Let’s take a quick look at some other options that you have at your disposal.
There you have it folks, all of the risks that you need to consider when keeping guppies in an outdoor pond, and everything that you can do to keep them healthy and safe.
Of course, there is a certain risk involved for the fish, yet if you take adequate steps, you should be able to keep them alive for the most part.
Feature Image Credit: Kwangmoozaa, Shutterstock