Guppy Types and Species

Kelly Roper
Fancy guppy

There are so many types of guppies and different guppy colors that it's difficult to list them all, and breeders are constantly working to create new guppy varieties all the time. You've likely only seen a fraction of what's available, so learn more about them.

Guppy Species

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, guppies are a member of the Poeciliidae family. In this family, you'll find:

  • Poecilia reticulata - This is the common guppy, and this name is widely accepted as the correct name for the species, although it is sometimes referred to as Poecilia (Lebistes) reticulatus by some taxonomists.
  • Poecilia wingei - This is also known as the Endler guppy. It's closely related to the common guppy and therefore able to hybridize with it although most hobbyists believe each species should be kept pure. These fish are not found in pet stores as often as the common guppy, but they are available.
  • Micropoecilia picta - This is a smaller member of the Poeciliidae family that lives in brackish waters.

An Overview of Different Types of Guppies

Guppies have been a favorite of hobby breeders for decades, and many types have been developed through the years. These "types" are also referred to as "strains" by hobby breeders when a particular set of characteristics begins to breed true Look at the types of guppies with pictures to determine the one you want as a pet. When you begin to mix and match all the possible characteristics that are found in these fish, it's easy to understand why there is such an incredible variety to choose from.

Characteristics of Guppy Types

Aside from the fact that guppies are sexually dimorphic, which means you can tell the males and females apart just by looking at them, there are three major characteristics that distinguish one type of guppy from the next.

  • Color - This includes body color as well as fin color, since both might be different.
  • Pattern - This includes body pattern as well as tail pattern since both can vary.
  • Fin type - There are many distinct fin types which you can view in the chart below.

Guppy Colors

red and blue guppies

Guppies come in nearly every color. Some even come in metallic colors. Metal guppies, as they are sometimes referred to, have a particular sheen because they have cells called iridophores. Iridophores are literally color cells that have no color of their own and instead reflect light off their mirrored platelets to create an iridescent effect. Other colors include:

  • Albino - These fish have a white body with pink or red eyes and a pink-shaded face.
  • Bi-color - Must have two colors, other than black. One color needs to be at least one-quarter of the fish. The tail must be a different color than the body.
  • Black - These fish are primarily black though some may have blue and green.
  • Blue - A bright vivid blue with darker and lighter shades mixed in.
  • Bronze - Black scales are required as well as at least a quarter of their body must appear bronze.
  • Dragon head - The tail and fins have an intense orange shade with a dark lower half of the body and paler front half.
  • Golden - Similar to the bronze, must be at least one-quarter gold.
  • Green - The body has green all over with different shades and possibly some blue.
  • Half-black blue - As the name implies, half of the fish is blue and half is black.
  • Half-black green - Half of the body is black and the other half is green with golden hints.
  • Half-black pastel - A fish that is about 50% black with a pastel shade, not including yellow, and often white fins.
  • Half-black red - This fish has a black body with red tails and fins.
  • Half-black yellow - A black body with purple on the fins and tails.
  • Half-black yellow - A black and yellow body with black spotting on a yellow tail.
  • Japanese blue - These guppies have a light blue coloring throughout the body and tail with a gold head and darker coloring on the tips of the tail fins.
  • Koi - The colorings look like traditional koi fish.
  • Moscow - Comes in either black, purple or green.
  • Multi color - A fish with three or more colors, evenly throughout the body and tail.
  • Neon blue - A paler blue than the regular blue guppy.
  • Panda - Looks similar to a panda with dark black shading in the eyes area, fins and tail and half the lower back part of the body, with a different and paler color in the front.
  • Platinum - These fish are primarily platinum, which is a silvery white.
  • Purple - This is a guppy that is primarily purple and has darker purple fins. The fins will have green stripes and they may also have some other colors on the body like green, blue and silver.
  • Red - These guppies have red tails and dorsal fins and the rest of their body may be red as well as other colors like black, gold, gray and even albino.
  • White - A guppy that is mostly or entirely snow white.
  • Yellow - A guppy that is primarily yellow throughout the body.

Multi-Colored Guppies

Guppies can also carry different colors on the upper and lower portions of their bodies. The upper portion of the body, which includes the head and main body, is typically a lighter color, such as a light gray. In fact, this gray is probably the most dominant body color in the species, but you'll also find some gold and platinum bodies, as well as albinos. The thinner, rear portion of the body that leads into the tail is sometimes a different color from the rest of the body.

Guppy Patterns

Some guppies are solid colored, while others display different body patterns.

Body patterns include:

  • Tuxedo - In this pattern, the front and back halves of the body are actually two different colors. The light upper body color and the darker lower body color are reminiscent of a tuxedo suit, especially in the half black varieties.
  • Cobra - This pattern includes some vertical barring as well as rosettes.
  • Snakeskin - This pattern also has some rosettes, but it looks more like a chain-link pattern displayed across the base color.

Guppy Tail Fins

Guppy tail fins can be solid-colored, but they can also come in different patterns that make them look quite exotic. It's interesting to note that patterns often go by different names in different regions. The pattern names listed here are some of the most common.

Tail patterns include:

  • Leopard - This pattern covers the fin in a series of spots that look vaguely similar to leopard spots.
  • Glass - These fish tails look transparent because of a lack of guanine.
  • Mosaic - This pattern is made up of spots that connect to one another to create a somewhat irregular pattern.
  • Grass - This pattern is finer than the leopard pattern and is called grass because the tiny dots resemble grass seed.
  • Lace - This is a fine, web-like tail pattern. It occurs most often on guppies that carry the snakeskin pattern on their bodies.

Guppy Tail Fin Types

Selective breeding has led to the development of a number of distinct tail types. The chart below offers a clear view of different varieties that are currently available. Although each type of tail is listed here, you'll still find that the same type of tail might go by a different name in another region. So much diversity is a good thing, but it can get a little confusing at times. Guppy fin tail types are:

  • Bottom Sword Tail - This tail has a longer edge on the bottom that sticks out like a sword.
  • Crown Tail - These unusual guppies have a tail that looks like the tips of a crown,
  • Delta or Triangle Tail - Their name comes from the triangular shape of their tale.
  • Double Sword Tail - The tail fans out with two longer tips on the top and bottom that look like two swords.
  • Fan Tail or Fancy Guppies - These guppies have a large fan-shaped tail.
  • Fire Tail - Like their name, these guppies have brilliant red tails. The tails may have some orange in as well.
  • Flag or Scarf Tail - This tail is longer than other tails and less spread out, giving the appearance of a long, narrow flag or banner.
  • Halfmoon Tail - A large tail that looks like a semi-circle when fully extended, hence the name "halfmoon."
  • Lace Tail - These tails are long, wide and flowing with markings that are web-like.
  • Lyre Tail - This guppy's tail has the appearance of two sections of tails but they're actually attached. The tail looks somewhat like a sword tail but with shorter "swords."
  • Needle or Pin Tail - A pointed longer section of this tail sticks out in the middle.
  • Round Tail - This is a short tail with a rounded edge that looks a bit like a ping-pong paddle.
  • Spade or Coffer Tail - A tail that looks like a spade tool.
  • Spear Tail - Like the name, this tail looks like a short pointed spear.
  • Top Sword Tail - Like a double sword tail but only the top tail is longer.
  • Veil Tail - The tail is shaped a bit like a trapezoid.
Chart comparing different types of fuppies

Guppy Pectoral Fin Types

Guppies can also have a variety of pectoral fins that set them apart from each other. The dumbo ear or elephant guppy have big fins that look like an elephant's ears on either side of the head.

Red Eye Guppies

While most guppies have dark eyes, some actually have red eyes, There are two types of red-eyed guppies.

  • Real Red Eye (RRE) - These are normal-colored guppies that have red eyes. In most instances, they tend to be a little on the small side, although breeders are working to establish larger, more vigorous strains.
  • Real Red Eye Albinos (RREA) - These guppies have slightly paler red eyes, and they lack melanin, which makes them true albinos.

Mutt Guppies

So-called "mutt" guppies derive their name from the fact that they are mixes of other types of guppies.

There's a Guppy to Please Everyone

Guppies are available in every color of the rainbow, in combinations of colors as well as different patterns and tail types. When you consider the fact that all of these characteristics can be found in practically limitless combinations, there's bound to be at least one guppy that pleases the eye every individual. Whether you are interested in breeding and raising their fry, showing guppies or you just want to keep some as pets, you're going to find at least a few types that really appeal to you. Guppies are popular fish for tropical aquariums and easy to care for, so don't hesitate to give them a try.

Guppy Types and Species