Guppy Species

by Robert Boumis
Members of the guppy family are widespread in the Amazon basin.

Members of the guppy family are widespread in the Amazon basin.

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The common guppy or millionsfish is one of the world's most popular aquarium fish. Many different strains or color varieties exist. Despite this, the vast majority of guppies in pet shops belong to a single species. However, several other species of guppy exist, and on rare occasion, show up in pet shops beside their much-more famous relative.


The common guppy, or millionsfish, has graced aquariums for over one hundred years. It originates in northern South America and belongs to the species Poecilia reticulata. Decades of selective breeding have produced numerous variations in coloration and fin shape. They adapt well to aquarium life. Additionally, the common guppy breeds extremely easily in aquariums. They get along well with most other fish and can share a tank with any freshwater species that won't pick on them and doesn't require extreme water conditions.

Endler's Livebearer

Endler's livebearer sometimes sells under the name "Endler's guppy." Since its discovery roughly a hundred years ago, scientist debated if this fish was a subspecies of the common guppy or a distinct species in its own right. Within the last decade, Endler's livebearer was given its own species name of Poecilia wingei. It comes in several different color varieties, usually including orange, turquoise and black markings. Its care is identical with that of the common guppy, but they should not be housed together since they will readily hybridize in captivity. Endler's livebearer occasionally shows up in pet shops.

Swamp Guppy

The swamp guppy (Micropoecilia picta or Poecilia picta) is widespread in South America up into central America. However, these fish rarely appear in the aquarium trade. The body shape is identical to other guppy species. Their base color is gray, with orange patches and a few black markings. As their name suggests, swamp guppies inhabit the edges of swampy rivers. Since they live over a very wide area, they can tolerate a wide range of water conditions, including brackish water.

Branner's Guppy

Branner's guppy or Branner's livebearer (M. bifurca or P. bifurca) is a rare guppy found in the Amazon. They have the same basic guppy body shape, and can tollerate a wide variety of water conditions. Like most members of the family, males come in a variety of colors. Males usually have orange lines along the side of their bodies and black markings at the base of the tail. Less is known about them than other guppies and they are almost never seen in the aquarium trade.

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    Robert Boumis is a professional writer whose short stories have received five honorable mentions in the Writers of the Future contest and placed on the shortlist for the Aeon Award. He completed his B.S. in biology from Northern Arizona University and works at and attends graduate school at the University of Arizona. His stories appear in "Neo-Opsis" and "Sci-Fi Short Story Magazine."