Short tail guppy

Guppies (Poecilia reticulata)

Guppies (Poecilia reticulata) were scientifically described by Wilhelm Peters in 1859, when a few live specimens were brought to the Natural History Museum in Berlin. Where did the common name “guppy”, recognized among aquarists around the world, come from? Well, a few years later, similar fish arrived at the British Museum in London, where they were studied by prominent ichthyologist Albert C. Günther. He concluded that it was a different species from P. reticulata. He gave it the name Girardinus guppii in honor of Robert John Lechmere Guppy, who brought the fish to London from Trinidad.

Interestingly, due to the wide variation in coloration, guppies were also classified under other Latin names. In the end, however, it turned out that all these fish belonged to a single species, for which the valid scientific name since 1963 has been Poecilia reticulata. However, the common name “guppy” has stuck to this species ever since.

Where guppies come from?

In the wild guppies live in South American waters, north of the Amazon River (Guyana, Venezuela, Northern Brazil) and on the islands of Trinidad and Barbados. They are also observed in Central American waters, as well as in Australia, Asia and Europe, where it has been introduced. They inhabit small rivers, streams, ponds and even ditches. Thanks to its high flexibility regarding the physical and chemical parameters of water, it can be found even in heavily polluted waters.

Varieties of guppies

Aquarium guppies are farmed fish that differ in coloration and fin shape. Clubs of breeders from more than 20 countries are affiliated with Internationales Kuratorium Guppy Hochzucht (IKGH). At the national and international competitions they organize, guppies are judged according to the guidelines of the International High-Breeding Standard (IHS). Currently, the IKGH recognizes 13 guppy standards classified into three groups: long tail, sword tail and short tail.

Sword tail guppy

Sexual dimorphism and reproduction

Females are silver-olive in color and larger than males. In sexually mature females you will notice a distinctly rounded abdominal area. In contrast, the much smaller males are extremely colorful and have a gonopodium. It is a copulatory organ that developed from the transformation of the anal fin. With it, the male introduces sperm into the female’s reproductive tract, where the eggs are fertilized.

Guppies (Poecilia reticulata) are ovoviviparous species. This means that embryos develop in eggs in the female’s reproductive tract. When the young hatch from the eggs, they are delivered. Pregnancy lasts an average of 30 days. During this time, you can observe how the female’s belly rounds out and how the so-called pregnancy spot, visible above the anal fin, enlarges and darkens.

Adult fish usually eat their offspring. Therefore, if you want to raise the young, you need to use a special mesh isolation box. You can also place the female in another aquarium for the duration of the birth. In a general aquarium, the young will survive if there are plenty of plants, including floating plants.

How to set up an aquarium for guppies?

The minimum aquarium capacity for a small group of fish (2 males and 4 females) is 50-60 liters. The decor of the aquarium is not important. What is important is that the tank has a swimming area and a planted zone. It also must be equipped with a heater and efficient filtration. We recommend buying filter designed for a larger tank. Guppies like oxygenated water, so use aerator as well. Decorate the tank with roots and stones.

Long tail guppy

As a substrate, use fine gravel that does not affect the chemical parameters of the water. If you want to encourage plant growth, consider using a special substrate that is placed under the gravel. It is a source of nutrients for plants.

It’s also a good idea to stick the background, preferably black or blue, to the back wall of the aquarium. It will make the tank more appealing.

What plants for an aquarium with guppies?

The aquarium with guppies (Poecilia reticulata) should be densely planted with plants. You can choose epiphytic species (microsorum, anubias, bolbitis), which are not planted in the substrate but attached to roots or stones. Cryptocorynes, vallis and lesser water-plantains are also a good choise. In the case of the latter, use a thicker layer of substrate (at least 5 cm), as these plants produce a strong root system. You can also plant waterweeds, water prim-rose and bacopas.

Plants with delicate foliage, such as water milfoil or cabomba, can be nibbled on by guppies, which thus diversify their diet. Be sure to use floating plants, such as floating crystalwort or spongeplant, which will provide shelter for young fish. To enjoy beautiful plants, ensure proper fertilization with Tropical Aquaflorin Potassium and Tropical Ferro-Aktiv. Once the plants are planted, don’t expect spectacular results right away. They are living organisms. They need time to acclimate.

Water parameters for guppies

Guppies (Poecilia reticulata) are pretty flexible when it comes to chemical parameters of water, provided that they are gradually accustomed to them. It is best to keep the water pH in the aquarium between 6.5-7.5 pH, and the total hardness at 8-16°n or higher. Breeders also recommend the addition of sea salt at 0.5 g/l of water. The water temperature should be in the range of 22-28°C. You can check the basic chemical parameters of water with the Tropical 6 in 1 Test strip test or drop tests: Tropical NO2 Test, Tropical NO3 Test, Tropical GH/KH Test and Tropical pH Test 6,0-7,8.

Aquarium care

In a mature aquarium, 30% of the water in the tank should be changed every week. The smaller the aquarium, the more likely that water parameters will deteriorate faster and more frequent water changes will be needed. Every tank is different. That’s why you need to work out the frequency of water changes on your own, controlling the concentration of nitrates in the water. Treat water for water changes with Tropical Supreme and use Tropical Bacto-Active and Tropical Nitri-Active with bacteria.

Long tail guppy

Companionship for guppies

Guppies can be kept with other fish of similar size and gentle disposition, such as: Corydoras, Loricariids, small species of rasboras, danios and other livebearers. Fast, active fish, such as Tiger barbs, are not a good choice, especially since they can bite the fins of guppies. Angelfish or other larger cichlids will treat young fish as a snack.

Foods for guppies

Guppies (Poecilia reticulata) are omnivorous fish which eat insect larvae, small crustaceans and algae in the wild. In the aquarium, feed them specially composed flake food Tropical Guppy or the universal foods e.g. Tropical Insect Menu Flakes, Tropical Insect Menu Granules size XXS, Tropical Supervit Mini Flakes, Soft Line America size S. It is necessary to supplement their diet with algae-enriched foods e.g. Tropical Super Spirulina Forte, Tropical 3-Algae Flakes, and to increase their immunity by providing foods with garlic –Tropical D-Allio Plus and probiotic – Tropical Pro Defence XXS. Adult fish should be fed 1-2 times a day in small portions. You can feed young fish with crushed flake foods or use powdered foods, such as Tropical Mikro-vit Basic and Tropical Pro Defence Micro Size.

Ph.D.Eng Aleksandra Kwaśniak-Płacheta

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