The Guppy is a selectively bred member of the Poeciliidae family. They have quickly become one of the most popular color varieties of Guppies within the aquarium hobby due to their striking red appearance. Guppies are very hardy, with the ability to thrive in a wide variety of water conditions and aquarium setups. They are very tolerant of small changes in water chemistry, and can be conditioned to live in aquariums that range from planted freshwater aquariums all the way to peaceful community saltwater aquariums. The Guppy is a highly prolific live bearer species, with an average gestation period of about 20 to 30 days. Females are capable of breeding within hours of giving birth to their previous litter, combined with a fast growth rate allow their numbers to multiply quickly. Guppies have been introduced to many different locations around the world as a form of natural mosquito control. Their incredible hardiness and adaptability have enabled Guppies to thrive in their newly introduced homes, thus Guppies are now living in the wild on all of the worlds continents with the exception of Antartica. However, most Guppies available to freshwater aquarium hobbyists are selectively bred variants that are born and raised on commercial fish farms supplying the aquarium hobby.
While the Guppy is capable of living in a wide variety of water conditions, they prefer aquariums with hard water (1 tablespoon of salt per 5 US Gallons) and warmer water temperatures between 78°F and 82°F. Guppies will sometimes nip at each other and other top swimmers like Platys and Swordtails, they are a very peaceful species that should be housed with other equally peaceful community fish species. An ideal aquarium environment for the Guppy would have plenty of plants, moderate water flow and smaller peaceful community fish tank mates.
As with all Guppies, the Guppy is a prolific breeder that is capable of reproducing in a variety of water conditions and aquarium setups including both freshwater and marine environments. Males use a gonopodium (modified rounded anal fin) located just behind the ventral fin to inseminate the female. After insemination, the female guppy will exhibit a dark colored area near her anus, which is known as the gravid spot. When the female gives birth, the offspring emerge from the female one at a time over the course of about 1 hour resulting in between 5 and 30 fry. The female is capable of being impregnated in just a few hours after giving birth, which contributes to their ability to breed rapidly. Both parents will potentially eat the young fry if not well fed. However, most breeders remove the parents from the breeding aquarium so that they do not eat the young. In larger aquariums with plenty of dense vegetation the fry can use the dense vegetation as protection from larger fish. The fry will consume algae, crushed flake foods, baby brine shrimp or small pieces of uneaten food produced by larger fish when they feed.
The Guppy is a product of many years of selective breeding, in which breeders work to produce specific colors and patterns. Male wild guppies are often gray, brown or a dull black color combined with some blue, red or yellow colored spots and long brightly colored tails. Wild females are typically just a dull gray or brown color, with smaller fins and either no or very muted patterns. The brightly colored selectively bred guppies are always males and are almost always infertile.
Guppies are omnivores that should be fed a varied diet containing both meaty and vegetable or plant based foods. In nature Guppies eat algae, small worms, mosquito larvae and other similar items. When kept within the aquarium environment, the Guppy will consume a vary wide variety of food items including: vegetable and meaty flake, freeze-dried and mini pellet commercial foods, live and freeze-dried worms and cyclop-eeze, brine shrimp and algae based flakes.