Guppy: Definition of Guppy

Guppy Definition of Guppy

Very few compete with the life and beauty that a well-maintained aquarium can add to a room, and getting started with one of your own needs is not as difficult as you might imagine.

There are many fish species to choose from, but the humble guppy (Poecilia reticulata)—also known as the millionfish— is perhaps one that stands out for not only its vivid colors, but also the ease with which it can be kept in a home aquarium.

There are many reasons why the guppy is so popular. Not only is this little fish inexpensive but also its small size, lively manner and hardy nature make it an ideal addition to a community tank. These characteristics also make it an excellent choice for those looking for an introduction to fish keeping that won’t cost a lot and will be easy to maintain.

Not only that, but breeding guppies is rewarding in itself because guppies breed easily and quickly, and the satisfaction of watching the fry grow up and become as brilliantly colored in gemlike hues as their parents is immense.

The guppy belongs to a family of freshwater live-bearing fish known as Poecilliidae—this means that they give birth to live young instead of laying eggs. Other fish that belong to this family, that you may be familiar with in an aquarium environment, include mollies, platys and swordtails, which are also easy to keep.

Native to Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Brazil, Guyana, Jamaica, the Netherlands Antilles, Trinidad and Tobago, the US Virgin Islands and Venezuela, guppies were discovered by the British-born naturalist Robert John Lechmere Guppy in 1866; these fish were originally named Girardinus guppii in his honor.

They have since been introduced to other countries and continents, though not Antarctica, sometimes unintentionally but often as a form of mosquito control.

There is a big difference in appearance in male and female guppies—sexual dimorphism—in that the males are often smaller, have longer fins and are more colorful than the females. Wild-type females are generally gray while the males are characterized by a wide variety of markings and many colors—most commonly red, green and blue.

Some of the variations that occur include veiltail, lacetail, lyretail, flagtail, bottom and double swordtail, longfin, fantail, red tail, triangle tail, rounded, fancy, tuxedo, glass, grass, mosaic, king cobra, snakeskin and peacock.

Although guppies are by their nature generally peaceful fish and can be kept in a community aquarium, they can become targets for other species that may display aggressive behavior toward them, like nipping tails and fins. What you can consider is keeping guppies together in a species tank, where they will most likely form shoals, which can be pleasing to watch.

Before you rush off to set up your first tank, however, it’s important to get to know the make-up of your guppies, as well as how they interact with the world around them—which will help you when you plan your tank.

As a species, guppies are perfectly suited to their environment. Their physical traits include a protective mucous on the outside (which traps and kills bacteria while reducing friction through the water), scales (which protect against injury and disease), and long, powerful fins (to help with movement).

Male guppies’ fins include the dorsal, pectoral, caudal, and anal fins. The dorsal and caudal (also known as tail fin) are usually much larger and more colorful than those of the females. Their anal fin has a rod-like shape and is also known as the gonopodium.

Female guppies’ fins include the dorsal, pectoral, caudal, anal, and pelvic fins, but they also have a darker area near the anal fin that is known as the gravid spot, which becomes darker when they are expecting fry. Their anal fins are fan-shaped.

Their wing-like fins aid them in navigating through moving water while their dorsal fin helps keep guppies swimming in the desired direction. Their other fins aid with guiding, ascent and descent.

Guppies have a swim bladder, which is an organ which is filled with gas that allows the fish to move higher or lower in the water, thereby assisting it in saving energy while swimming. Your guppy’s liver aids in its digestion of food, by creating bile and purifying the blood.

Gills rich in capillaries help guppies breathe underwater. Whenever they open and close their mouths, water flows over the gills and oxygen is absorbed into their bloodstream. It stands to reason that you need to take extra special care to ensure that the water in your aquarium is of a high quality.

Stagnant or contaminated water will not contain much oxygen and will, consequently, have a negative impact on your fishes’ overall health. (And can be compared to standing in a crowded room without any windows open—you won’t feel particularly great after a while.)

Guppies are visually aware and can see bright colors and movement, but they are also sensitive to vibrations in the water, and both these senses are employed in their navigation. In low light conditions, guppies’ lateral line (a system of sense organs made of hair cells) comes into play. In this way, guppies can pick up minute vibrations in the water.

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