Most fish lovers have heard of guppies, but few understand the complexity associated with this breed. As you may already know, guppies come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, but nothing can prepare you for the intricacies we are about to analyze.
Today’s article will look into guppy complexity and assess the different guppy types available. This will be, by no means, a complete list, mind you.
What Types of Guppies Are Out There?
Guppies separate themselves into multiple types, depending on the metric used. In this sense, we have:
Guppy Types By Species
Guppies all belong to the Poeciliidae family, which encompasses 3 main species:
- The Common Or Fancy Guppy (Poecilia Reticulata) – This is probably one of the most widespread guppy species both in the wild and domestically. Fish keepers prefer them thanks to their color diversity and quick and easy breeding in captivity. They are also highly adaptable and will thrive in enclosed aquariums or ponds, provided they get optimal living conditions.
- The Endler Guppy (Poecilia Wingei) – The Endler guppy is just as adaptable, colorful, and easy to care for as the fancy guppy. The only difference is that they are not as widespread as the latter. Other than that, they share the same diets, water requirements, and even temperament. The difference is that Endler guppies are more difficult to come by since not all pet shops have them.
- Swamp Guppies (Micropoecilia Picta) – This breed prefers swamp waters, unlike most guppies who live in freshwater streams. They are also omnivores and can come in multiple colors. Unfortunately, swamp guppies aren’t that popular on the market; if you want to buy a pair, you’ll most likely get it from professional breeders.
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Guppy Types by Tail Size and Shape
Wild guppies, evolving naturally over millennia, show little variation in their tail size and shape. The immense variation we see today among aquarium guppies is the result of continuous selective breeding. In other words, these are manmade guppies – the result of breeders selecting the most impressive genes to create different gene pools based on unique looks.
If we are to separate guppies by tail size and shape, we have 13 different lineages to consider. They have pretty suggestive names, so it won’t be difficult to picture them:
- Fan Tail guppies – This look is typical for most fancy guppies, showing small ventral fins and more elongated dorsal ones. The tail will generally resemble an open fan, hence the name, and will vary in size and coloring.
- Delta or Triangle Tail guppies – The Delta guppy comes with a wide, triangle-shaped tail, giving the fish a majestic look. This lineage can present with vivid colors and varying color patterns and combinations. It is wildly popular among guppy lovers for good reasons.
- Veil Tail guppies – The Veil Tail is where things begin to take a turn for the eccentric. This guppy’s tail resembles a trapezoid and may come in one color or multiple. The ventral fins are always thin and elongated, sometimes stretching over the entire tail’s length. Dorsal fins are also longer, but not as much.
- Flag or Scarf Tail guppies – This guppy’s tail shape resembles that of Delta. The difference is that the margins are closer, almost transforming the triangle into a rectangle. The narrower edges give the guppy a more hydrodynamic look, while the coloring is just as impressive.
- Double Swordtail guppies – The tail’s upper and lower portions are elongated, creating the impression of two sword blades. Have just one elongated side, and you get a different lineage altogether, as we will see shortly.
- Top Swordtail guppies – This time, only the upper portion of the tale is elongated. This will provide the guppy with an asymmetrical yet appealing look, causing the fish to resemble a genuine swordtail. Miniature swordtails with crazy coloring patterns and vivacious movements.
- Bottom Swordtail guppies – The key difference is that the sword blade is located in the bottom portion of the tail. It provides a different asymmetrical look but a similar visual impact.
- Lyretail guppies – The Lyretail is a variation of the Double Swordtail, except the sword-like edges are not as prominent. The entire tail is ‘meatier’ and fluffier, providing the guppy with a fluid look as it swims through the tank. Lyretails are highly sought-after for their graciousness and astounding color patterns.
- Needle or Pin Tail guppies – This breed’s tail begins wide and ends in a pin-like shape. It has a pointy, sharp end, resembling a needle and providing the fish with a unique look.
- Spade or Coffer Tail guppies – The Spade tail shape is judged at guppy competitions where the tail size and shape can distinguish between winning and losing. While it may not be such an appealing trait for regular guppy keepers, the Spade Tail is highly valued by competition-oriented owners.
- Spear Tail – The tail will resemble the head of a spear and will vary in size. Generally, you should expect the Spear Tail guppy to display average-sized tails with only some lineages ranking on the higher end.
- Roundtail – Despite its seeming simplicity, the Roundtail manages to deliver a unique and exciting look. The tail is perfectly round, and it’s often transparent, showcasing the delicate inner structures. The Roundtail makes for the perfect material for selective breeding if you’re aiming to obtain unique variations.
- The Halfmoon Tail guppies – The Halfmoon takes the cake in terms of visual impact. This is a large, fluffy, and wide tail with intricate color patterns and astounding diversity. It is one of the most exhilarating lineages that most guppy breeders will prefer for selective breeding. Thanks to its impressive look and impeccable features, it will definitely make a fine addition to your guppy population.
Guppy Types by Body Pattern
Here, we have 3 major distinctions:
- The Tuxedo guppies – The Tuxedo guppies are simple but elegant, showcasing two different colors. The front part of the body will display a different color than the backside. The backside will generally be darker – a binary look that reminds that of a tuxedo.
- The Cobra guppies – Vertical color patterns, combined with rosettes, providing the guppy a distinct look. Males will bring a more thorough and well-defined pattern, but females will also display it. Except for a lot of color variety, often leading to amazing combinations and patterns.
- The Snakeskin guppies – Gold, orange, and black, all mixed in vertical patterns, spread throughout the body. The Snakeskin guppy is one of my favorites thanks to its exquisite look and color pattern that spreads all over the body, from head to tail.
Guppy Types by Tail Pattern
This is another metric that breeders use to assess a guppy’s uniqueness and desirability. While tail shapes can create some unique looks, tail patterns will exacerbate those looks, providing them with a different vibe.
Here are the tail patterns that stand out the most:
- Glass Pattern – Glass guppies’ bodies fail to produce guanine, which is the genetic component that typically reflects light, making the fish opaque. With that out of the way, the tail’s structure will become transparent, providing an exquisite look with amazing color patterns.
- Leopard Pattern – Just as the name suggests, Leopard guppies showcase dark spots contrasting with lighter colors on their tails and dorsal fins. These provide them with a leopard-like look that never ceases to attract attention.
- Mosaic Pattern – Mosaic guppies resemble Leopard guppies but only at first glance. The Mosaic tail is different, displaying intricate color patterns combining seamlessly for a rich and unique effect. It’s not uncommon to encounter several colors as well, providing Mosaic guppies with glorious tails that few other lineages will display.
- Lace Pattern – Lace guppies, generally have the snakeskin pattern already. The tail Lace pattern complements the Snakeskin by displaying a delicate flow of colors with vibrant tones. The Lace pattern will shine in clean waters.
Guppy Types by Color
The color is the most important metric you can use to separate different guppy lineages. Few guppy breeders will choose their preferred lineage by tailor body pattern. Most will look for coloring and color patterns since these show the most potential for diversity.
Next, we will look at the most widespread guppy color schemes that you should consider getting for your tank:
- The White Guppy – This guppy is different than the Albino. Unlike the Albino breed, the White guppy is not transparent. It’s just a snow-white color covering the entire body, head to tail. This makes it appear fuller and meatier, with no color variations anywhere on its body. White guppies can make quite a visual impact in a color-filled tank with multiple guppy lineages packing powerful patterns.
- The Black Guppy – The Black guppy is even more impressive than what its name suggests. The black is so powerful that it completely darkens almost the entire body, especially the tail and fins. The belly may come with a lighter shade, but everything else will appear ink-drenched. In rare occasions, you may see other colors as well, often in subtle hints.
- Electrical Blue Guppy – The Electrical Blue guppy is one of the most valued specimens in the breed. Its blue shades generally mix with other colors, providing the fish with a slight metallic shine. It should be a must-have addition to your tank, thanks to the visual diversity it brings.
- Neon Blue Guppy – The Neon Blue guppy comes with lighter shades of blue that reflect light, causing neon-like sparkles. It is a unique-looking specimen that will enrich your tank’s color palette significantly.
- Japanese Blue Guppy – The Japanese Blue guppy is typically the swordtail, but exceptions do exist. The difference between the Japanese Blue guppy and other Blue guppies is that the former displays a different coloring pattern. The blue shade is the strongest at the tail but fades away towards the head.
- The Green Guppy – The Green guppy is another stunner, with shades of metallic green splattered asymmetrically throughout the body. The Green guppy will display a wide variation of color patterns, where the green can also mix with shades of blue. The immense pattern variety and outstanding visual impact make the Green guppy one of the most expensive specimens on the market.
- The Red Guppy – Red guppies, will also come with various color patterns and color intensity. The color is more predominant in males, and its intensity can be quite overwhelming. Males can reach whole-body blood-red with the color even taking over its eyes. It’s an impressive sight, making the Red guppy a highly sought-after lineage. The most expensive and popular ones are those with no color variation, just pure, bloody red covering its entire body.
- The Yellow Guppy – Yellow guppies may not be as impressive at first glance, but they’re difficult to breed. The yellow coloring is actually quite rare and tricky to obtain, requiring multiple sessions of selective breeding. The color variation will also provide you with a large pool to choose from. However, if you want a pure yellow specimen, you may have to invest money and time into finding one. Your best bet is professional guppy breeders.
- The Purple Guppy – The Purple guppy is probably one of the most visually striking specimens with an astounding variety of color variations. The purple variation can range from dark purple with neon-like glowing to slight shades mixed with blue, pink, or green. There’s a reason why purple guppies are some of the most expensive fish on the market.
- The Bronze Guppy – Bronze guppies, have unique color patterns, with bronze nuances that vary between dark brown and blood-red. You will also find specimens displaying golden bodies with some black scales, fins, and tails. Many specimens will showcase bronze nuances, creating the appearance of metallic skin.
- The Golden Guppy – The Golden guppy’s majestic look is truly unmatched. You will find extensive variations ranging between full gold to color mix-ups for a more varied look. The fish needs to display at least 25% gold to be accepted as belonging to this lineage.
- The Half-Black Blue Guppy – This specimen might sound confusing or not impressive at best. The reality couldn’t be any more different. The Half-Black Blue guppy is one of the most visually striking lineages you can get. The rear half of its body looks like it has been submerged in ink. The intense blue mixes with the dark tar-black for a unique and exhilarating look.
- The Half-Black Green Guppy – This is another variation that looks unique and appealing. The Half-Black Green guppy will display a mix of black, green, gold, and other colors, especially in the front half of the body. The rear half will showcase a powerful mix of green and black.
- The Half-Black Red Guppy – This strain has a unique color blend compared to the previous strains. This time, the black and the red don’t usually mix. The black will remain localized in the rear half of the body, while the red will only imbue the fins and tail. I suggest getting a large-tail strain like the Halfmoon to experience the full magnitude of the Half-Black Red guppy.
- The Half-Black Yellow Guppy – This strain is similar in pattern to the Red variation. The black will only cover the rear half of the body, while the yellow will only cover the fins and tail. Some variations come with full-body black and yellowtail and fins, while others display leopard-like dark spots tainting the yellow.
- The Half-Black Purple Guppy – If you liked the Purple guppy, you would also enjoy this one. This strain comes with wild color shading and variations, with the purple intensity varying from light with blue shading to deep purple with black nuances.
- The Half-Black Pastel Guppy – This strain follows the same pattern, with the half-black body and differently-colored fins and tail. In most cases, these will showcase shades of white or yellow, but you can also have a variety of other colors.
- Solid Colored Guppy – This strain is characterized by one solid color, covering the entire body, fins, and tail. There are a lot of color variations to consider, including yellow, red, black, or blue, all represented in powerful shades.
- The Bi-Colored Guppy – This guppy strain will display a base color and a secondary one that will typically only cover up to 25% of the body. This can lead to a variety of interesting combinations, including bronze-red, green-blue, purple-blue, and others.
- Multi-Colored Guppy – These guppies will generally display at least 3 colors, each in proportions of 15% or more. This strain can come with some unique coloring variations, some of which are more sought-after than others.
- The Metal Guppy – This strain’s name is a bit deceiving; a more relevant name would’ve been the Chameleon guppy. That’s due to this guppy’s ability to camouflage when predators are around. This ability is possible thanks to the iridophores pigment, allowing the guppy to mimic the coloring of its environment. This pigment will render the guppy invisible, increasing its survival chances when facing deadly threats.
- The Koi Guppy – The Koi guppy has a pretty suggestive name since its appearance resembles that of a Koi fish. You could even mistake one for a genuine Koi if guppies wouldn’t be smaller than them. If you’d like a Koi but can’t afford the real deal, the Koi guppy is the next best thing.
- The Panda Guppy – Black eyes, black fins and tails, and white front half of the body – are the usual Panda Guppy features. The coloring reminds of a Panda, and the guppy can also come in variations of blue, red, and albino red.
- The Moscow Guppy – This strain can come in a variety of colors, but that’s not what makes it stand out. Its most elegant features include the wide and flashy tail and dorsal fin that will outshine most of the other lineages.
- The Platinum Guppy – Just as the name suggests, this strain features a platinum-colored body which varies in nuances between white and light grey. The tail and dorsal fin are always large and fluffy, providing the guppy with an elegant look.
- Dragon Head Guppy – The Dragon Head guppy features a half-darkened body and varying tail and fin patterns. The coloring can come in interesting and even unique variations depending on the strain. What, you thought I was going to explain where the Dragon Head name comes from? Yea, no relation to an actual dragon. It’s just a name that sounds cool.
Other Types of Guppies
Other types that you might want to consider include:
- Mutt Guppies – These are hybrids of multiple strains and are generally the result of either improper or unsuccessful selective breeding. This will lead to irregular colors, patterns, and traits that most guppy owners deem unfit to fall under a specific strain. They are also the cheapest and most popular types of guppies that you can easily buy from fish shops all over the world.
- Dumbo Ear Guppies – This strain’s name comes from the large pectoral fins located near the ears. They can make for quite a sight when the fish swims and flaps its fins in all directions. Color-wise, the Dumbo Ear guppy isn’t special by any means. It will, however, display various colors and patterns, somewhat similar to the Mutt guppy.
- Red-Eye Guppy – The Red-Eye guppy resembles an albino, except it will display an orange-red pattern instead of white. Its eyes have the same color as its body, fins, and tail. The Red-Eye guppy is a rare strain that can also come with a hefty price tag.
- Albino Guppy – The Albino guppy is transparent-white with red eyes. This color pattern is similar in all Albino animal species, with some features varying slightly. The transparent aspect, for instance, isn’t present in rabbits or humans. That would be a disturbing sight, to say the least. It looks great on the guppy, however, providing it with a delicate and elegant look. The Albino guppy comes in several color variations, including all-white, soft-pink, reddish-white, and yellow-white.
The guppy world can deliver an astounding variety of colors, body patterns, and traits that are sure to satisfy any taste. There are tens if not hundreds of variations with potentially hundreds more to be discovered.
If you’re not picky by nature, you can purchase different strains from pet shops or experienced breeders. If, however, you want something unique, you can engage in selective breeding.
This is a complex process that takes time and discipline.
In the end, I believe that guppies offer the widest diversity in the aquarium fish genre. If you wish to learn more about guppies like breeding techniques, dieting, overall care, or tank mates, my other articles on these topics can assist you.