I think most people can agree that guppies can be one of the most visually stunning fish to look at. Having previously owned guppies myself and only ever seeing them at a pet store, I was curious to know the answer to one simple question – Where do guppies naturally live?
Guppies are native to the Caribbean and parts of northern and northeastern South America. Guppies are indigenous to Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Venezuela. However, guppies are now found in bodies of water all over the world except for Antarctica.
I have searched the wonderful world of the internet to find the most accurate answers for you. So join me as we explore the origin, expansion, and ‘current life’ of the guppy world.
Where Do Guppies Live Naturally?
Guppies are tropical fish that doubles as one of the world’s most popular freshwater aquarium fish species. Although guppies can now be found worldwide except for one cold continent –Antarctica – it had not always been this way.
As tropical, freshwater fish, they prefer warmer climates and environments. However, you could find the original habitat of this fish in the warm waters of the Caribbean and parts of northern and northeastern South America.
Guppies are indigenous to Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Venezuela, to name a few. Additionally, different varieties of guppies have been recorded in several rivers within the Amazon – over 300 different varieties, to be exact.
Having said all this, guppies have shown remarkable adaptability allowing them to thrive in many different environmental and ecological conditions. As a result, guppies can now be found worldwide in various types of bodies of water.
Guppies did not manage to occupy these bodies of water by themselves, though. Instead, humans introduced them to foreign waters deliberately or by accident. One such example of how guppies arrived in unfamiliar waters is as a means of mosquito control.
The guppies were expected to eat mosquito larvae, thus reducing the mosquito population and slowing the spread of malaria. As a result, guppies now inhabit waters previously unknown to them.
What Habitat Do Guppies Prefer?
As previously mentioned, guppies are tropical, freshwater fish that lives in warm, freshwaters. They tend to inhabit smaller streams and shallow pools compared to larger, deeper, or fast-flowing rivers.
Also, Guppies can live in brackish waters. Brackish waters refer to water that is somewhat saltier than freshwater but not salty enough to be considered seawater.
Guppies have also colonized nearly all freshwater bodies available to them within their range. This is especially true concerning streams located near the coastal fringes of mainland South America. Additionally, guppies have colonized some brackish waters, although not native to them.
How Long Do Guppies Survive In The Wild?
The average lifespan of a guppy in the wild is about 1-2 years. However, various environmental and ecological factors determine its lifespan, resulting in a different average lifespan for guppies in captivity and within the wild.
For instance, the presence of predators can largely influence the lifespan of a guppy. And because more natural predators usually surround the guppy in the wild, its lifespan is generally reduced.
The small size of the guppy and its colorful appearance can make it an easy target for prey. For this reason, guppies often school together to avoid predation. Some of the guppy’s predators are larger birds and fish found within its native range.
Stress is another factor that can influence a guppies lifespan. Stress is a big factor in the lifespan rate of both captive and wild guppies. The more stress a guppy has, the more likely its lifespan will be reduced.
What Do Guppies Look Like In The Wild?
As mentioned before, there are over 300 different types of guppies – all of which are different in size, color, weight, and patterns. However, there is a substantial difference to the guppies we see in the pet store or aquarium compared to the guppies found in the wild.
Guppies found in the wild are often less extravagant and smaller than their pet store counterparts. The differences seen are due to the popularity of the guppy, which drove selective breeding, resulting in more colorful, brighter, and exotic-looking guppies.
However, wild guppies differ between sexes. Males often sport color and are a bit more attractive than their female counterparts. The male’s color helps them attract mates, and you can often spot male guppies trying to impress females.
Also, variations of size exist between male and female guppies. Females are often bigger than male guppies and usually have a different body shape. Females tend to grow to about 1.2 – 3.4 inches, whereas males grow to 0.6 – 1.4 inches long.
Can I Release Guppies Into The Wild?
Although it may be viewed as seemingly harmless to free your pet guppy into the wild, the reality is it can cause more harm than good, with some places deeming it illegal to release fish into the wild.
Research has shown that a single female guppy can generate an entirely new population, even without a male guppy. As a result, in conjunction with its breeding rate, the guppy has earned the reputation of being one of the world’s most invasive fish species.
Invasive species can cause havoc in the ecological system. For example, invasive species can compete with native fish species, reduce biodiversity, and introduce exotic parasites and diseases. Therefore, considering all the reasons stated above, it is best not to release any pet fish into the wild.
Guppies have traveled all over the world and into our hearts – cheesy, I know. They have
proven to be adaptable creatures and can survive within many different ecological environments.
We have established that differences exist between captive and wild guppies as well as female and male guppies. Also, we have found that it is best not to release any of our pet friends into the wild.