Guppies are a very easy-to-breed fish species. They also adapt quickly to their environment and this is what makes them perfect for beginner aquarists. They do not require special living conditions and suitable food is easy to find and very affordable, so their upkeep is very inexpensive also.
They can be found in any pet store that sells tropical fish and come in a wide range of shapes and colors. As for the main categories, there are fancy guppies, kept for displaying their beautiful colors, and feeder guppies, used as food for larger carnivorous fish, like cichlids, Piranhas, and others.
Breeders are constantly trying to develop new varieties through selective breeding, so it is very difficult to have a complete list of guppy types, but some specific features can still categorize them: color, pattern, and fin type.
Males are usually more brightly colored than females, a main distinguish between different genders. There are many different strains based on the main coloration, including metallic, albino, and uni-colors.
Metal Guppies get their metallic shades from special pigmented cells, Iridophores. These cells reflect the color of their surroundings instead of having their own solid color and create an iridescent effect.
Solid colored Guppies are the most common strain with greens, blues, reds, and yellows being the most available. This category also includes the newly developed Moscow strains (like Moscow greens or Moscow purples), where fish are of the same solid color, yet their bodies are very large and sturdy.
Albino Guppies are recognized by their red eyes and lack of black melanin. They still come in many colors, especially reds and yellows.
Patterns are another distinguishing mark of the different guppy strains. They can be located on the body or fins, and include Tuxedo, Cobra, Snakeskin, Leopard, Mosaic, or Lace.
Snakeskin Guppies have a vertical chain-link pattern over the base color of the body, but individual rosettes can also be placed randomly across the body. The stripes sometimes resemble those of a tiger.
Cobra Guppies have horizontal stripes, sometimes combined with rosettes. The chaining is usually also horizontal and the base color is usually solid.
Tuxedo Guppies have bodies divided in two different colors. The upper one is lighter, usually white or yellow, while the lower one is very dark, sometimes very close to or even black. They are also known as Half-Black Guppies. The fins and tail are usually another color such as white or red.
Leopard tail guppies have round spots on their tails, resembling leopard coats, while the body may be a solid color or have a cobra or snakeskin pattern.
Grass tails have small spots, resembling the Leopard varieties, but the spots are much smaller. This pattern usually has a very uniform look.
Mosaic tails show an irregular connection of darker and lighter spots. Fish with solid body colors tend to have thicker lines, while snakeskin or cobra varieties usually have thinner stripes on their tails.
Lace, frequently seen on guppies with the Snakeskin pattern, displays a sheer, web-like pattern on the tail. This pattern resembles the Mosaic one, with lines being very thin and looking almost like a maze.
During successive selective breeding, many distinct tail shapes can be formed. Names can vary depending on the region they are found in, but generic labels include Fan, Delta, and Veil tails, flared, triangular-shaped, sword tails (including double sword and top or bottom sword), Lyre tail, which is a combination between the double sword and Delta tails, Pin/Needle tail, Spear tail, recognized by a pointy middle prolongation, and round tail guppies.
A Guppy for everyone
As guppies come in all shapes and colors, as well as many pattern combinations, by finding these features in countless combinations, you can actually find an appealing guppy. If not, you can try breeding fish with the features you like, until finding the perfect guppy. You can also try to give them away and sell them if you think you can do best while breeding, as ones you find more or less appealing could certainly attract the eye of other people. Whether you want to show them or just keep them as pets, guppies are quite fascinating fish and very easy to care for, so you can give it a try and prepare to be amazed by genetics.