Guppies are a small tropical species which are easy to care for and add a rainbow of colour to the freshwater aquarium.
The first written material on Guppies came from Wilhelm Peters, who observed the species in South America in 1859. Some years later, in 1886, the species were discovered in Trinidad by Robert John Lechmore Guppy and were given the scientific name Girardinus guppii in respect of his findings. The scientific name for the species has since changed several times, and currently Poecilia reticulata is considered the most accurate.
Guppies are native to Trinidad, and regions of South America including Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, Guyana, Tobago, the US Virgin Islands and Venezuela. However, the introduction of the species as a form of mosquito control and through accidental release has led to their presence in waterways around the world. In some countries it was hoped that Guppies would eat mosquito larvae, helping to reduce the spread of diseases such as malaria. Unfortunately, in many cases the fish have had a negative impact on the natural flora and fauna in these areas.
The fancy tail fins and colour variations found in guppies has made them extremely popular with breeders, who seek to accentuate favoured aspects to create their own varieties. Amongst the many colour variations available, you’ll find shades of red, green, blue, yellow and purple, as well as metallic forms, and like snowflakes, no two guppies are the same. Males of the species tend to display brighter colours and more developed fins than females, although they are considerably smaller, with the average female reaching around 6cm in length when fully grown.
The hardy species are an excellent choice for beginners as they need no special care and do well in all types of aquarium. The ideal water temperature for guppies is between 18-29°C and they adapt best to alkaline conditions. The most important aspect is to keep temperatures and P.H levels stable to avoid putting the fish under stress.
Guppies need plenty of open swimming space, as well as foliage to hide and rest in, and are at their happiest in groups. One thing you may need to bear in mind when stocking your tank with guppies is that they are famously prolific breeders, which bear live young. Female and male guppies are normally kept separated as just one encounter between male and female can led to the production of several hundred fry. The best way to tackle this is to choose to keep an all male or all female tank – in small groups the males guppies may become territorial and nip others, but given a large enough tank should experience no problems.
Guppies are omnivorous and enjoy a variety of vegetable and animal origin foods. It is beneficial to feed your guppies small amounts, three times a day, with a selection of quality flake food and live or frozen protein boosters like brine shrimp and plankton.