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Do Guppy Fry Need An Air Pump? (And Which One)

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Growing guppy fry can be complicated, as they can be eaten easily. That is why many aquarists choose to grow them in a separate tank. But doing so raises another question; do guppy fry require an air pump in their new environment?

Guppy fry need an air pump. While they can survive without them, air pumps will make the environment more sustainable in terms of oxygen deficiency. Air pumps will also allow plants and algae to flourish. These are essential for fry as they provide both food and hiding spots.

As we move forward, I will elaborate on why air pumps can benefit guppy fry and their environment. Then, I’ll discuss what steps you should take if you don’t want to invest in this device. I’ll also share my recommendation for an air pump suitable for guppy fry.

Still curious? Feel free to check my complete guide on guppy fry. There, I discussed how to care for guppy fry, what they eat, how often to feed them, their growth stages, and much more.

Do Guppy Fry Need An Air Pump?

Every guppy care guide you visit will encourage you to add air pumps, air stones, and bubblers to your tank. But do you need these devices? Can guppy fry survive without them? As with all questions, it depends. Consider the following:

1. Are Air Pumps Essential For Guppy Fry?

Technically speaking, adult guppies don’t need air pumps. Their babies are more vulnerable because they are still developing. That being said, they can survive without an air pump as well.

Baby guppies require an abundance of oxygen. But oxygen levels won’t necessarily plummet simply because the aquarium lacks an air pump. More importantly, an air pump is not the only source of oxygen in an aquarium.

Air pumps are essential for new aquarists because they are still learning the ropes. They typically find it challenging to maintain the appropriate conditions and parameters. 

Even with an air pump, a beginner’s aquarium can still develop oxygen deficiencies. They need all the help they can get, which is why their tanks require air pumps. But if you have experience in this field, your guppy fry can survive without one.

How much trust do you have in your abilities? You can forego these devices if you have sufficient confidence in your knowledge and experience. Otherwise, don’t hesitate to buy one.

2. Can Air Pumps Benefit Guppy Fry?

Guppies cannot breathe air. They extract oxygen from the water. That oxygen enters the water via a gaseous exchange at the surface. The gaseous exchange maintains a balance by ejecting carbon dioxide and introducing oxygen.[1]

Air stones encourage that gaseous exchange by generating bubbles that disturb the water’s surface. Air pumps perform a similar role. They agitate the water, which, in turn, allows them to perform various functions, including:[2]

  • Oxygen – First, they will increase the oxygen in your breeding tank. Because guppy fry are vulnerable, they are more likely to survive in a tank with an air pump because their oxygen supply is guaranteed.
  • Filters – Certain types of filters (Corner and Undergravel) cannot function without an air pump because they need the air the device generates to drive their operations. And without doubt, filters are essential for fish, with fry in particular.[3]
  • Decorations – Air pumps are decorative tools. They improve the aesthetic value of an aquarium. For instance, you can get it in a shape of a treasure chest which is opened once air bubbles pop out. But more importantly, guppy fry can use those as hiding places.

You don’t have to decorate a tank that houses guppy fry because you will most likely transfer the creatures to the main tank once they mature. That being said, you need the air pump if oxygen deficiencies concern you.

What Happens If You Don’t Have An Air Pump?

The biggest concern is oxygen deficiencies. Oxygen deficiencies have numerous sources, including:

1. Plants And Algae Won’t Grow Properly

Plants add oxygen to the water, but only during the day. At night, in darkness, they do the opposite. They produce CO2 while consuming oxygen. If you have too many plants, the oxygen concentration will plummet.[4]

Algae are another concern. Algae can deplete the oxygen in a tank, especially when they die and the bacteria break them down. The process consumes oxygen.

Plants and algae are essential for guppy fry survival. Plants serve as hiding spots in which guppy fry can get behind to avoid predators. Algae serve as a food source. It is a perfect fit for their tiny mouths.

2. Wrong Temperatures Will Be More Problematic

If your breeding tank is next to a window, the direct sunlight will raise the temperature. The same thing will happen if the ambient temperature rises in a room without sufficient air conditioning.

Unfortunately, high temperatures reduce oxygen levels. Hot water holds less oxygen than cool water. Guppy fry in a hot region are more likely to struggle with oxygen deficiencies in the absence of an air pump.

3. It Will Be Harder To Apply Products

Guppy fry are just as prone to illnesses as their adult counterparts. Unfortunately, some medications initiate processes in the water that reduce oxygen levels. Anti-algae products are known for this issue. 

4. Fewer Fry Will Survive

As I previously discussed, you should keep guppy fry separated for about 6 to 8 weeks. That is essential, especially if your tank doesn’t have enough hiding places. But besides being eaten by other fish, a lack of oxygen will also lower their numbers, which are already pretty low.

The more fry you have, the more oxygen they consume. If your breeding tank is crowded, they will use the oxygen faster than the gaseous exchange can replenish it. If you don’t have an air pump, the fry will suffocate. 

5. You Will Have Stagnant Water

Oxygen enters the tank through the gaseous exchange at the surface. That gaseous exchange only occurs when you agitate the water. If the water is stagnant because you don’t have a filter or air pump to disturb it, the oxygen levels will drop.[5]

6. Fish Waste Will Cause More Issues

The bacteria that break waste down consume dissolved oxygen. Therefore, guppy fry in a dirty tank with large amounts of waste are more likely to die from oxygen deficiencies, especially in the absence of an air pump.

How Can I Grow Guppy Fry Without An Air Pump?

1. Get A Filter That Works Properly

People install air pumps because they increase the gaseous exchange by agitating the water. Therefore, you can maintain the appropriate oxygen concentration without an air pump if you stir the water.

A filter can perform this function. Filters create a current in the aquarium. If your filter is sufficiently strong, it will prevent stagnation by agitating the water.

2. Conduct More Frequent Water Changes

If you don’t want an air pump, you can simply perform daily water changes. First of all, a water change keeps the tank clean, removing detritus, waste, and any other pollutants that typically lower the oxygen concentration when they rot.

Secondly, water changes introduce new water to the tank, and that new water has oxygen. Therefore, the simple act of adding water to your breeding tank via a water change will increase oxygen levels.

3. Use A Spray Bar

You don’t have to perform a water change to increase the oxygen concentration. You can simply pour water into the tank from a high point. The water will acquire oxygen from the air as it descends.

But you have to ensure that the new water matches the parameters in the tank. A more practical solution is a spray bar. They distribute the oxygen evenly throughout the tank. Additionally, you can use a spray bar to lower the temperature.

4. Adjust The Amount Of Water

When growing guppy fry, I highly suggest that you avoid overcrowding. Bear in mind that you typically need a minimum of 5 gallons of water. The more fry you have, the more space you need.

Ideally, when the guppy fry are under one month, it is best to use half a gallon for each fry. For example, ten fry will require five gallons, and twenty will require ten. After a month, you’ll need one gallon for each fry.

It takes between four to six months for guppy fry to grow and reach their full size. Therefore, it is best to have the largest tank possible upfront. 

5. Focus On Hygiene

As guppy fry are born, they should be fed four to eight times a day. That can quickly turn a well-maintained tank into a big mess. The debris and leftovers can easily contaminate the water and alter the chemistry.

For that reason, you should take extra measures to keep the guppy fry tank clean. Filters and water changes are not enough. If you see dead organisms, remove them.

What Is The Best Air Pump For Guppy Fry?

Even if you have the experience to utilize all the methods mentioned above, an air pump is still your best option. What if you have to travel for a few days? You can’t change the water or lower the temperature when you’re away. 

And even if you have a filter, an air pump will give you peace of mind. I personally got the Tetra Whisper Air Pump (link to Amazon). That is probably one of the quietest air pumps out there.

At first, I had no idea which air pump to buy, so I went on and read reviews online. After spending hours researching, I decided to go with the Tetra Whisper. It also has dozens of positive reviews on Amazon.

If you found this article helpful, these may also interest you:

Pro tip: If your guppies breed frequently, you’ll need to know a little more about that process. Feel free to check my complete guide on pregnant guppies.


Generally, I suggest that you introduce an air pump for your guppy fry. That will oxygenate the water and allow your guppy fry, plants, and algae to flourish. You can use the air pump in the original tank, but make sure you have plenty of hiding places.

If you wish to avoid air pumps, make sure you replace the water frequently. When adding new water, pour it from above. That will increase the amount of oxygen dissolved in the water.