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Guppies are one of those fish species that are instantly recognizable to just about everyone. Although they have been a staple in the aquarium hobby for over a century, many fish keepers don’t realize just how many types of guppies there are.
That’s why I’ve written this article to introduce 21 of the best types of guppies in the hobby. If you’re interested in keeping and breeding fancy guppies, make sure to read until the end to learn everything you need to know to get started.
Let’s get excited about guppies again!
What Is a Guppy Fish?
Guppies are small fresh and brackish water fish from the Poeciliidae family. There are many popular aquarium fish in this group, including mollies, plays, and swordtails. They are livebearers, which means they do not lay eggs but rather give birth to live free-swimming fry.
Read on to learn all about guppies, their care, and the different types that you can keep and breed!
What Makes Them Such Great Pets?
Guppies are probably the best beginners fish in the hobby, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t excellent for experienced fishkeepers too.
- Very affordable
- Highly attractive
- Easy to care for
- Easy to breed
- Active and fascinating to watch
Guppies seem to have it all!
In Their Natural Habitat
Guppies are adaptable to a variety of natural habitats in their native distribution. They prefer slow-moving or still waters and are most at home in pools of streams and rivers or ponds and swamps. These fish are mostly found in freshwater although they have been recorded in brackish water too.
Guppy fish have also established populations all over the world after being released into the wild to control mosquito larvae. They also populate local waterways when they are released from fish tanks or escape from ponds. Who knows, there could even be some wild guppies near your home!
The History Of Guppy Keeping
The guppy was first sent to Europe from the Caribbean island of Trinidad. The name of the man responsible for introducing this fish to the hobby was Robert John Lechmere Guppy, and the year was 1866. The fish was officially named Giradinus guppyi1.
He was not the first European to discover the fish, however, that honor goes to a German man named Julius Gollmer who found these fish in the wild many years before. Guppies have been kept for over 150 years, and they are just as popular as ever!
The International Guppy Associations
Fancy guppies are bred and kept all over the world. International associations have been created to bring hobbyists together and attempt to standardize the hobby. The International Fancy Guppy Association (IGFA) is one of the best examples.
IGFA was founded in 1965 and has developed show standards for the various breeds of fancy guppy. They are also a great resource for keepers who would like to learn more about the fascinating world of guppy breeding.
The IKGH is another very important international association that was formed in 1981. They have been active in the guppy breeding hobby ever since, holding regular shows and competitions all over the world.
3 Types by Species
There are many wild guppy fish species, but the three most commonly kept types are listed below.
1. Micropoecilia picta
- Common name: Scarlet livebearer, swamp guppy, painted guppy
- Adult size: 1.2 inches
- Origin: South America, Caribbean
- Temperament: Peaceful
- Water type: Fresh/brackish
- Minimum tank size: 15 gallons
The scarlet livebearer is a brackish water species that is found in the Caribbean and Countries like Brazil and Guyana. They are also known as swamp guppies or painted guppies.
They have red or orange overall color but are also boldly marked with various other colors. Females swamp guppies are larger than males. They are a hard water species and they are at home in slightly brackish water.
2. Poecilia wingei
- Common name: Endler’s livebearer, Endler’s guppy
- Size: 1-1.8 inches
- Origin: Venezuela
- Temperament: Peaceful
- Water type: Fresh/brackish
- Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
Endler’s livebearer is an awesome nano guppy species from Venezuela in South America. Endler guppies reach a maximum size of about 1.8 inches. The males are much smaller and more colorful than the females.
3. Poecilia reticulata
- Common name: Common guppy, fancy guppy
- Size: 1.5-2.5 inches
- Origin: South America, Caribbean
- Temperament: Peaceful
- Water type: Fresh/brackish
- Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
The common guppy is one of the most popular aquarium fish on the planet. These fish are available in a huge variety of breeds known as fancy guppies.
They are native to the northeastern parts of South America and the Caribbean islands. They grow to about 2.5 inches in length, with females growing larger than males.
21 Types by Variety
Now that you know a little more about guppies and their history, it’s time to learn about some of the amazing fancy guppy varieties out there in the hobby. I’ll provide a brief explanation of the most important features of each type.
Before we get started, here are a few important terms to know:
- Dorsal fin: The fin on the back of a fish. The shape and length of this fin are important for identifying many of the fancy guppy breeds.
- Pectoral fin: The pectoral fin is located on the side of a fish’s body, just behind its head. There is a pectoral fin on either side of the body.
- Caudal fin: Caudal fin is the technical name for a fish’s tailfin. Tail shape and tail patterns vary pretty extensively between the different guppy types.
Now that we’re all up to speed on the fancy fishy words, let’s jump right in and meet some fancy guppies!
The fantail guppy is a very common breed that is easy to find. The males have large, beautiful caudal fins that are about as long as the fish’s body! The standard for the breed is a long, triangular tail with straight edges.
The dorsal fin is also a distinctive feature of this breed. It should sweep back to about the first third of the tail.
2. Delta Tail
The delta tail guppy (video source) is also known as the triangle tail guppy. They are very similar to the fantail guppies but the outer edge of their tail is slightly convex (rounded outwards). Delta tail guppies come in all sorts of different colors and patterns.
Lyretail guppies have very interesting tail shapes. In case you were wondering, a lyre is an ancient U-shaped musical instrument, and that’s where these fish get their name.
This tail shape is similar to the double swordtail, but the extensions curve outwards slightly, instead of being straight and parallel.
Round tail guppies (video source) have a circular tail fin with a diameter about half the length of their body. Their dorsal fin is pretty long and has a rounded end. The round tail guppy breed is available in a huge range of different colors and patterns, so there’s a round tail to suit any fishkeeper’s eye!
5. Half-moon Tail
The half-moon tail guppy (video source) is similar to the round tail but has a larger, fuller caudal fin. The tail is semicircular, starting at 90 degrees (right angles) to the fish’s body.
The tail is not quite as long as the body but can be even taller than the fish is long! The dorsal fin on halfmoon tail guppies is also large and overlaps the tail a little.
6. Spear Tail
The spear tail guppy is another interesting fancy guppy breed. These fish have rounded tails that form a point in the middle, just like a spear tip.
The dorsal fin shape of this breed is also a great feature. It starts at nearly 90 degrees to the body and sweeps back to about a third of the length of the tail fin.
7. Pin Tail
The pintail or needle tail guppy (video source) has a small circular tail shape with a sharp point extending from the middle. It is very similar to the spear tail guppy in this respect, but the pointed caudal fin is even more prominent in this breed. The dorsal fin is also quite long and sharply pointed, creating a bold and dramatic-looking fancy guppy.
Tuxedo guppies (video source) are very elegant little fish, just as their name suggests! This popular breed was first developed in Germany.
The tail half of their body is black or another solid color. The tail and dorsal fin will also be a different color to the dark half of the body, but without any spots or patterning.
9. Sword Tail
There are a few different varieties of the swordtail fancy guppy breed. The swordtail breed of the fancy guppy should not be confused with the swordtail fish (Xiphophorus hellerii) which grows much larger.
Double swordtail guppies have both the top and bottom of their tail fins elongated to form a sword shape. They can also be found in top or bottom swordtail forms where only one end of the tail is pointed. The middle section of the tail should not be colored, and this really makes the ‘swords’ stand out.
Cobra guppies come in a variety of colors, but it is their markings that set them apart. These amazing fancy guppies have a combination of reticulated markings and often have darker vertical bars too. The markings on their tails are often bolder than those on their bodies.
Lace guppies have incredibly intricate markings on their body and fins. They are similar to cobra guppies but lack the vertical bars on their body. Lace guppies are available in various colors, including red, gold, black, and many others.
12. Mosaic Tail
Mosaic tail guppies have amazing markings on their tails and dorsal fins. The markings are similar to those of the lace guppy, only much bolder. The tail coloration of this breed becomes darker and more intense from the start of the fin to the back.
Albino guppies lack pigment, which makes them pinkish-white overall. This makes for a tropical fish that really stands out in the aquarium.
Their eyes are also a pinkish color, which differentiates them from other white guppies. Albino guppies can have some color though, they often show some red, yellow, or blue markings on their bodies and fins.
14. Japanese Blue
Japanese blue guppies (video source) have a metallic dark blue to sky blue color on the tail half of their bodies. The head is often golden or reddish in this breed. The Japanese blue swordtail guppy is a particularly popular tail shape form of this breed.
Green guppies are one of the best color schemes if you ask me. They are considered relatively rare, but available in many different patterns and tail shape types.
Yellow (video source) is a very cheerful color, and a bunch of sunshine-colored guppies can make for a great display. Yellow guppies are available in various breeds including yellow tuxedos, and yellow cobra guppies.
17. Half Black Green
The half-black green guppy has a black back half of its body and a green front. There are many different half-black color combinations, but green is one of the rarest forms.
This fancy guppy fish breed is named after another popular fish. Like their larger namesake, koi guppies usually have a combination of white, red, and black colors.
The panda guppy (video source) is mostly black/blue and white in color. The tail half of the fish tends to be dark while the front half is a silvery color. These fish have dark pectoral fins and dark eyes too.
Dragon guppies have one of the most dramatic color schemes of all the breeds. These fish are known for their fiery red fins with a half-black guppy body.
21. Dumbo Ear
Dumbo ear guppies (video source) have huge pectoral fins that look almost like the ears of an elephant! Even though their name sounds kind of goofy, these fish take finnage to the extreme and they are incredibly graceful and beautiful to watch.
Other Notable Types
Just in case you’re interested in even more types of guppies, here’s a list of some other popular types that you can look for!
- Half black purple guppy
- Half black blue guppy
- Half black yellow guppy
- Half black pastel guppy
- Blue guppy
- Red guppy
- black guppy
- Neon blue guppy
- Purple guppy
- Bronze guppy
- Glass guppies
- Flag tail guppy
- Fire tail guppy
- Leopard tail guppy
- Grass tail guppy
Keeping and Caring
After looking at all the amazing types of guppies in this article, you might have already chosen a favorite and be thinking of adding them to your collection. Read this section to learn the basics of caring for these fantastic fish!
Guppies can be kept in a tank as small as 10 gallons. Such a small tank would only be appropriate for a small group of male fish, however.
The last thing you want is for these fish to start breeding and overpopulating a small tank, so I would suggest going up to a 20-gallon or larger if you plan on keeping a mixed group.
Adequate filtration is really important for keeping tropical fish healthy, and guppies are no exception. There are many makes and models available, and any type that is rated for your aquarium size or larger will do.
You don’t need the most expensive filter to maintain healthy guppies, but I would recommend running a slightly oversized model. An even better choice is to run two filters. Not only will this provide you with a safety net should one fail, but it will also allow for the increased bioload once your fish begin breeding. A power filter is the best combo of filtration capacity and budget when it comes to guppies.
Guppies are hardy fish that are comfortable in temperatures down to the lower 70s (Fahrenheit). Pregnant female guppies have been reported to be more susceptible to ich at lower temperatures, however, so maintaining breeding fish at 78-80°F is advised. Using an aquarium heater will make this much easier!
Guppies do not have any special lighting needs. Standard fluorescent or LED lighting will suit them just fine. You will only need to look into high-quality lighting if you wish to grow a lot of live plants.
Provide your guppies with a regular light period of 6 to 8 hours a day. Using a timer will make keeping regular timing much easier.
Guppies thrive in planted aquariums and the cover that plants create provides a great place for guppy fry to hang out. Plants are also very useful for increasing oxygen levels and taking up nitrates from the water column.
Although guppies will nip at decaying plant material and eat microorganisms from your plants, they generally do not damage live plants. Guppies prefer hard, alkaline water, so your choice of plants is slightly more limited.
Here are a few easy plants that you can grow in your aquarium:
Guppies are not fussy when it comes to ornaments and decorations. They are confident and active little fish that do not hide out too much. Choose your decorations based on the style or theme of the aquarium you are putting together, and don’t be afraid to use your creativity!
Remember though, only use aquarium-safe decorations and make sure you wash them carefully before adding them to the tank.
How To Care
Guppies are very easy fish to care for, but there are still some important things you should know before bringing them home. Read on for more information.
Perform a partial water change at least every second week in your guppy tank to keep nitrate levels down. If your tank is heavily stocked, or you’re feeding the tank frequently because you have a lot of fry, you might want to increase this to once or even twice a week. Remember to use a water conditioner if you are using tap water in your aquarium.
The only way to know whether you’re doing enough tank maintenance is to measure your water parameters regularly. Pick up a liquid or strip test kit for this purpose.
Be very careful when performing water changes if you have a lot of fry in the aquarium. I suggest carefully inspecting the water you take out of the tank just in case any fry get sucked up!
Apart from regular water changes, all you really need to do is clean your glass with an algae scraper when necessary and follow the recommended maintenance schedule for your filter.
Important Water Parameters
- Water temperature: 72-80°F
- pH: 7-8
- Hardness: 143 – 536 ppm
- Nitrate: Less than 20 ppm
- Nitrite: 0 ppm
- Ammonia: 0 ppm
Guppies are naturally omnivorous and the modern domestic guppy is not fussy about diet at all. A high-quality flake food is a perfect everyday food source for these fish.
For a more balanced diet, I recommend supplementing their diet with an unprocessed food source like bloodworms, daphnia, or brine shrimp. These are available frozen so they are very easy to use. A small amount of these once or twice a week will improve your fish’s health and condition.
One of the best things about guppies is their peaceful nature. They are confident little fish that are always active and visible in the aquarium. They get along great with many other tropical freshwater fish.
The most important factor to consider when picking guppy tankmates is their water parameter compatibility. Guppies thrive in hard, alkaline water, so their tank mates should be comfortable in the same environment.
Let’s take a look at some good guppy tank mates, and some species to avoid.
Tankmates to Avoid
- Tiger barbs
- Serpae tetras
- Fish that need soft acidic water
- Large cichlids
Health and Disease
Guppies are generally hardy fish, so they are not especially prone to any problems. As a rule, the best way to prevent health issues is to minimize stress. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to prevent guppy illness:
- Perform regular aquarium maintenance for great water quality
- Avoid overfeeding your fish
- Avoid overstocking your aquarium
- Maintain appropriate water parameters
- Avoid aggressive tank mates
Unfortunately, poor health and disease can happen even when you’re doing everything right. Here are some of the most common guppy health issues to look out for:
- Ich (white spot disease)
- Columnaris (Saddleback/ cotton wool disease)
- Hexamita (Hole in the head)
- Camallanus worm
Breeding guppies is extremely easy, so this is a great species to get started with if you’ve never bred tropical fish before. Guppies are livebearers, which means that female guppies give birth to live baby fry. Each female guppy can give birth every month, which means you’re guppy population can grow very quickly!
Female guppies can breed after just 2- 3 months, although it is better to let them grow a little older before they start breeding. Such a short generation time makes guppies an amazing species for breeding projects.
Sexing guppies is very easy because adults are sexually dimorphic. This means there are clear physical differences between the sexes that are easy to spot. Let’s take a closer look at some of these guppy sex differences:
- Body size
Overall size is probably the most obvious difference between male and female guppies. Adult females are significantly larger than males.
- Body shape
Female guppies have a much more rounded body shape than males, especially when they are pregnant. Males have a very slender build.
Male guppies have much larger fins in comparison with their body size. Their fins are usually much more heavily patterned and colored too.
The anal fin of male guppies is modified into a structure known as the gonopodium. It is narrow and elongated in comparison to the triangular anal fin of the female.
Male guppies are much more boldly marked and colorful than females in general.
Pregnant female guppies do have a unique marking that easily identifies them from males, however. Look out for a dark triangular marking on the belly, just in front of the anal fin. This marking is known as the gravid spot and will confirm that the fish is a pregnant female.
Female guppies spend most of their time foraging while males spend a lot of time swimming around the females, trying to get their attention.
Caring for fry
Guppy fry are easy to care for. The fact that they are born live means that you don’t have to worry about egg predation from the other fish in the tank. Unfortunately, adult guppies have no problem eating guppy fry, so it is best to separate them to increase the survival rate of the babies.
Catching all the tiny fry to move them to a separate tank is not going to be easy. Moving a pregnant female over to your fry tank is a much better option! You can go ahead and move the mother fish back into the main tank once she has given birth.
Another great option, which is less stressful on the pregnant female is to add a breeder box to your tank. If you’re not too worried about some of the babies being snacked on, simply growing some floating plants in the tank will provide them with a place to hide out until they are big enough to swim out in the open. I’ve found that water wisteria works great for this, but Java moss will work just as well or even better.
Guppy fry are tiny but hardy little fish. They can be fed the same flake food as the adults, but you’re going to want to crush it up for them. You can use a pepper grinder for this or simply crush the flakes in the palm of your hand.
While breeding guppies may be a fun and fascinating hobby, it is important to have a plan for the fry! The only reliable way to prevent guppies from breeding is to keep only male or only female fish.
Mature females are often already pregnant when you bring them home, so males are a safer bet. When buying female guppies for a breeding project, look for females without very swollen bellies and obvious gravid spots.
Where to Buy
Most local pet stores will sell mutt guppies, and sometimes also a selection of different breeds. For specific breeds, you may need to order online or contact local clubs and breeders.
How many types are there?
There are an amazing number of different guppy types available in the hobby. There are 12 officially recognized tail types alone and combined with the various colors and patterns, the number becomes almost infinite!
Can different types live together?
Different types of guppies can be kept together without any problems. Fancy guppies will breed freely together, so don’t mix them if you’re planning on breeding specific types.
How many should be kept together?
Guppies should be kept in groups of at least 3 or more. If you are keeping both males and females, keep at least 2 or 3 females for every male. This will give the females a break from all the attention.
How many times a day should I feed them?
Guppies can be fed just once a day. These fish will spend much of their time foraging in the aquarium for algae and other food sources. Guppy fry will benefit from more frequent feeding, however.
What is their lifespan?
Healthy guppies will live for 1-3 years in captivity. There are reports of them living as long as five years, however.
I think guppies deserve more appreciation than they get. These fish are the complete package, for all experience levels. The fact that new breeds are still being developed makes this fish even more exciting!
Do you keep guppies? Tell us about your favorite guppy types in the comments below!
Mark is the founder of Aquarium Store Depot. He started in the aquarium hobby at the age of 11 and along the way worked at local fish stores. He has kept freshwater tanks, ponds, and reef tanks for over 25 years. His site was created to share his knowledge and unique teaching style on a larger scale. He has worked on making aquarium and pond keeping approachable. Mark has been featured in two books about aquarium keeping – both best sellers on Amazon. Each year, he continues to help his readers and clients with knowledge, professional builds, and troubleshooting.