The role or purpose of filtration system in an aquarium or a pond:
Clean water is an indispensable factor for any fish species to thrive and live to their optimal age, and the Guppies are no exception to this. The role of a filter, as we normally see, is to clean or filter the water. However, there is more to filtration than just filtering.
Filtering Solid Wastes:
Removing solid wastes such as decaying leaves and other plant parts, leftover food, fish poop, fish scale, and other body parts debris in an aquarium or a pond.
Removes dissolved chemical components:
A filtration media removes or clears the dissolved tannins released by the driftwoods and other natural decors and aquarium chemicals. Though tannin is good to reduce the pH of the aquarium water, it can turn the water brown and murky; with time stains the aquarium tank making it unappealing.
An activated carbon media in a filtration system can absorb the excess tannins and dissolved chemical components from the water.
Fixes Oxygen in the aquarium tank:
Dissolved oxygen is a crucial factor for any aqua life to survive. Lack of oxygen in the water can lead to fish drowning. Filtration helps to churn the aquarium water, and the churning helps to move the surface water and thereby fixes oxygen in the aquarium.
One of the essential purposes of filtration in an aquarium is to provide Bio-media. Decomposition of fish poops and wastes, plants, and other debris produce ammonia; ammonia is poisonous to all the fish and invertebrates. Even for a short time, the presence of ammonia can poison your fish, known as ammonia spike. Which eventually leads to the death of your fish.
A well-established aquarium with a filtration system houses beneficial enzymes or bacterial colonies. These enzymes digest ammonia and produce another deadly by-product, Nitrite. Nitrites are digested by another beneficial bacterial colony and turn into Nitrate. This process is called Nitrogen Cycle.
Ammonia and Nitrite’s level at any given point should be 0; however, Nitrate a less poisonous component, and the level can go up 20 ppm. A regular complete/partial water change can dilute the level of Nitrate at its minimum.
Do Guppies need a filter?
Guppies are native to Brazil, Guyana, Jamaica, Venezuela, and the other North-eastern countries of South America. It is a Poecillidae family member and a live-bearer. However, today Guppies are all around the world. They are hardy and highly resilient; adapt themselves to varied environmental and habitat conditions.
They are one of the few species which produce very little waste. In the hands of experienced aquarists, Guppies can live without a filter. Even a novice aquarist can keep the Guppies in a tank or a bowl without a filtration system if you follow all the necessary routines properly.
Nonetheless, we recommend a filtration system to keep the water parameters in line with the species requirements. Clean water is crucial for Guppies to thrive and live to their optimal age of 4 to 5 years.
How to create and maintain a Guppy tank without a filter?
Guppies can live in a habitat without a filter if you can maintain the water parameters for them. Although Guppies produce minimal wastes, nevertheless when it accumulates pollutes the water. Moreover, the leftovers and plant debris pollute the tank water further.
To set up and maintain a Guppy tank if you want to keep Guppies in a tank without a filter:
Aquarium Tank size for Guppies:
When you envisage keeping Guppies without a filter, the first factor to consider is an aquarium tank’s size. The water chemistry is unstable in a small water body; the possible chance for an ammonia spike is very high even with a filtration system in place.
Hence, it is important to choose the right size tank for your Guppies without a filtration system. You could go with a minimum of 10-gallon (appr. 40 liters) tank for a trio of Guppies as they very quickly reproduce.
How many Guppies per Gallon?
In general, 1 gallon (appr. 4 liters) for every 1 inch (2.5 cms)of fish length; Guppies grow to 2 inches (5 cms), for every 1 Guppy 2 gallons (8 liters) of water. This calculation is good for a tank with a filter.
In a filterless tank, you wouldn’t want to overstock; overstocking will cause all the problems an aquarium could have: water pollution, depletion of oxygen, increased ammonia toxins, etc. which is unhealthy for the fish and attract all the illnesses, and eventually Guppies will die well before its optimal age.
Complete a Nitrogen Cycle:
Nitrogen Cycle plays a significant part, although it’s not the only factor in maintaining a healthy aquarium tank. Hence, it’s crucial to complete Nitrogen Cycle before adding your fish to the tank.
Firstly, treat your tap water with a conditioner to remove chlorine and chloramine; add a small amount of high-quality commercial flakes and pellets on an everyday basis.
After a few days, you will notice ammonia starts to build up, and then Nitrites start to build up while the level of ammonia goes down. After a few days, Nitrates will start to appear while Nitrites start to deplete. To test this, you would need a good quality test kit.
Once the nitrates start to appear, your nitrogen cycle is complete. Nitrates are less poisonous and dangerous to all the fish and invertebrates; however, you would want to keep nitrate level below 20 ppm with your regular tank maintenance.
Maintaining filterless Guppy Tank:
By changing 25-50% of the water every week, removing all the leftover and debris produced by the plants, your fish are a necessary part of maintaining a fish tank.
There is no hard and fast rule for the percentage of water change; you can correct the volume and frequency of water change by regularly monitoring the water parameters with a test kit.
You would want to be careful not to deplete the bio-media presence in the water to perform the Nitrogen cycle. To aid the Nitrogen Cycle you could add an Ammonia neutralizer.
Maintaining a filterless Guppy tank is a lot of work; I would recommend investing in a filter.
Substrate for Guppies filterless tank:
Basically, Guppies have no concern for their substrate as they occupy the top half of the tank. However, the substrate becomes a concern in a filterless tank.
Since there will be plants in the tank, you would want to choose a substrate that holds nutrition; so, sand and gravel substrates are out of the question—a specialized aqua soil substrate, which holds live bacteria/enzymes to complete the Nitrogen Cycle.
The presence of sufficient live plants makes an aquarium complete, not just for an aesthetic reason; plants absorb wastes produced by your Guppies and fix oxygen in the water.
Live plants such as java moss house first fry food infusorian; it nourishes them while sheltering them.
Aquarium plants give tough competition to algae proliferation. Excessive algae will deplete dissolved oxygen in the water, which leads to drowning or suffocation of your guppies.
Plants also help in dealing with anaerobic bacterial activities as the root absorbs carbon-di-oxide from the substrate.
Some of the best live aquarium plants are Java moss, Java Fern, Anubias nana, Amazon sword, Water Sprite, Cryptocoryne, etc. You would want to avoid the plants that need extra fertilizer dosing; it will throw the balance of water chemistry in the tank.
Do Baby Guppies need a Filter?
Guppy fry needs much more attention and care as they are much more vulnerable than the adult Guppies. They are highly susceptible to parasites, bacterial and fungal infections.
It is crucial to maintain appropriate water parameters for the fry to grow healthily and thrive into adulthood. It becomes even more challenging to maintain the Guppy tank without a filter when there is Guppy fry.
The Guppies produce very little waste, and the Guppy fry produces even less waste; you would need a small filter to maintain the appropriate water parameters.
Do Guppies need an Air Pump?
An Air Pump fixes oxygen in the water by injecting air into the water. By injecting air in the water, it keeps moving the water that helps break the surface tension, a thin film on the still water’s surface. The film forms a platform for dust, insects, and bacterial growth.
The water movement prevents the film from forming, thus reducing mechanical, biological, and chemical loads for the filter and the bio-media present in the aquarium tank.
Dissolved oxygen in the water is not just for the fish to breathe; it also oxidizes the COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) and BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand) present in the aquarium tank. Prevention of the surface film from forming keeps the oxygen molecules longer in the water; oxygen molecules find a better use for themselves to oxidize than wasting it on excess load from the surface film.
I would certainly recommend having an air pump for any aquarium tank; especially, when you are keeping Guppies without a filtration system.
Do Guppies need a filter? – Final Thoughts:
To answer the question, do Guppies need a filter? No, Guppies can survive without a filter by following routines mentioned in this article daily.
However, I would certainly recommend you have a filtration system installed for the Guppies tank. A filtration system is multi-purpose in an aquarium; it filters out solid and dissolved particles.
A filter provides bio-media to digest the bio loads in the aquarium; activated carbon absorbs unwanted and harmful residual chemical components from the medicines and the excess tannins present in the aquarium water.
On top of all, it keeps the tank water aerated and oxygenated, which is crucial for the survival of any aqua life.
Do Guppies need a Filter to thrive – I most definitely recommend having a small filter as they produce very little waste.