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January 03, 2014

Happy New Year!

Not every newsletter needs to be about the super rare and unusual. I’ve covered some of the more common items such as Tanichthys albonubes “White Cloud Mountain Minnows”, Puntius tetrazona “Tiger Barbs”, and even Danio rerio “Zebra Danios” (see archived spotlights on our webpage). This week, I would like to talk about another common aquarium pet that, at one point in our lives, we’ve all kept – Poecilia reticulata, more commonly known as the “Guppy”. By now, I’ve probably lost a lot of your attention, but before you look at all the pretty pictures and move on to look at the fish list, let me enlighten you on some information that many of you may not know about are fanned friends.

Poecilia reticulata "Platinum Blue"

For instance, can you tell me what continent the guppy originated from? Even my guess of Southeast Asia was incorrect - this assumption being based on most of our stock coming from this area. I was more than surprised to learn that the fish had originally been collected by Wilhelm Peters in 1859 in the country of Venezuela, located in South America. In 1861, De Filippi described his finding as Lebistes poecilioides from the island of Barbados (a small island just north of Surinam). Gunther would name the fish Girardinus guppyi in 1866 in honor of Robert John Lechmere Guppy. In 1913, Regan would reclassify them to Lebistes reticulatus. Around the time of 1963 they would be placed back into their original genus, Poecilia reticulata, with “guppy” sticking as their common name.

Poecilia reticulata Albino "Naked" Male

Poecilia reticulata Albino "Naked"

Their distribution around South America not only covers the countries of Venezuela, Guyana, and Brazil, but also the Islands around the Southern Caribbean. In addition, they are now found in many parts of the world because guppies were introduced to many countries in order to help with the prevention of malaria. Scientists had hoped that the guppy would feed on the larvae of the mosquito and this would help control this disease. Unfortunately, the introduction of these fish has seemed to have little to no impact on the mosquito populations around the globe, and is actually negatively impacting existing fish populations.

Poecilia reticulata "Flamingo"

Did you know that they are also known as the “millionfish”? I could not find a source to this common name, but I would guess that it’s because of how many babies they are capable of having during their lives. Guppies are part of the livebearing family and from the time they are born they are fully capable of caring for themselves. The fry will typically form anti-predator tactics by gathering in larger numbers. Females will start reproducing between 10-20 weeks and continue to do so until 20-34 weeks of age. The males will start reproducing around 7 weeks and typically live around 2 years of age. Wild type guppies usually do not have gigantic “fan-like” caudal fins, but rather have smaller tails that are “splashed” with color. The larger tails that we’re all used to seeing has been achieved through years of selective breeding. Now here is the cool part about the guppy. Guppies have 23 pairs of chromosomes, just like humans! This means that the color of the males will pass down to his fry. This makes selective breeding easy to obtain the ornate color patterns that we all love!

Poecilia reticulata "Half Black Yellow"

In the aquarium, guppies will prefer hard water (pH above 7.0 with 7.6-8 being more ideal) and the temperature around 78-82°. They are a shoaling species that prefers to be kept in large numbers. Having one or two individuals often leads to a shortened lifespan. They can also tolerate up to 150% salinity in their environment, which means that they can adapt to pure salt water conditions! I would probably not keep them long term like this, but it is amazing what they are capable of adapting to and living in. Their diet should ideally be a variety of foods. We prefer to give them more on the green side of things as opposed to a high protein diet.

Poecilia reticulata "Ice Flame"

Poecilia reticulata "Black Dragon"

So there you have it. A little bit about one of the most kept aquarium pet, the guppy! Be sure to check our current stock list for all of the different colors we have available. Check out all of our other social media with Pinterest,  http://www.pinterest.com/thewetspotstore/, Google+, www.plus.google.com/+WetSpotTropicalFish, and Facebook,www.facebook.com/pages/The-Wet-Spot-Tropical-Fish. I’ll see you all back here next week!

I hope you all had a wonderful and safe holiday like I did!

Anthony Perry