How To Selectively Breed Guppies (And Can You?)

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An Overview of the Types of Guppies

Guppy enthusiasts have been breeding guppies for decades to produce different types of strains with specific characteristics that breed true.

There are no standard breeds of guppies and the names for different types vary by region.

While there are countless types of guppies, there are a few characteristics that differentiate strains of guppies.

A recent study found that male guppies with the rarest patterns are preferred by females and have more offspring.

This brief guide will introduce you to the different types of guppies and characteristics you can breed for.

Guppy Colors

Guppies come in countless colors and every shade of the rainbow.

Some of the most desirable guppies are often called “metal guppies” because they have a unique sheen due to iridophore cells.

These color cells do not have their own color but instead reflect light off mirrored plates for a beautiful iridescent appearance.

Some guppies have the same color across their entire body but guppies can also have different colors on the lower and upper parts of their body.

The upper part of the body is usually a light color.

Guppy Patterns

Guppies also come in a wide variety of patterns from solid to tuxedo, snakeskin, and cobra.

Snakeskin guppies have a unique chain-link pattern across a base color while cobra guppies have vertical barring and rosettes.

Tuxedo guppies have two colors on the front and back that resemble a tuxedo suit.

The tail fins can also have a pattern of their own. Common tail patterns include:

  • Lace, a web-like pattern that’s often paired with a snakeskin pattern on the body.
  • Leopard, a pattern of spots that resembles a leopard.
  • Mosaic, comprising of dots in an irregular pattern. 
  • Grass, a pattern of fine dots that look like grass seed.

Albino Guppies

Albino guppy fish have a recessive albino phenotype with red eyes and no black melanin.

If you breed albino guppies, be sure to separate the fry quickly because they have very poor eyesight at birth and make easy prey.

Not all guppies with red eyes are albinos. True albinos lack melanin while Real Red Eye (RRE) guppies have normal colors and red eyes.

These guppies are usually smaller than average. Albino guppies come in many colors.

You can learn more about selectively breeding guppies for color and shape here.

How to breed perfect guppies?

Interested in breeding guppies for unique color patterns?

It’s believed that females select males with rare patterns to avoid mating with closely related guppies.

What Is Selective Breeding?

  • Getting Down to Basics: Selecting The Guppies
  • Set Your Goal
  • How Many Guppies Should You Start With?
  • How Many Tanks Will You Need?
  • Knowng your Strain
  • Setting Up The Tank
  • Record Keeping Task
  • Methods Of Guppy Breeding : Line Breeding
  • What To Do With Unwanted Guppies

Breeding guppies: Selecting color and shape

When you begin breeding guppies, it is a good idea to decide upon the specific characteristics that you would ultimately like your breeding lines to possess, and tailor your breeding programs to achieve them.

There are various different factors to take into consideration here, including the shape of the tail and fins, the coloration of the fish, and the patterns that your guppies display.

When you begin breeding guppies with your very first fish, it is a good idea to aim for just one or two specific traits,

and as time goes by and your lines become more established and reliably produce good examples of those traits, move on to more complex combinations of details.

In this article, we will provide a basic run-down of the different strains of guppy that you can choose between and selectively breed to achieve.

Guppy tail shape

There are a great many different tail shape and size variants in the guppy, and the tail is one of their most defining features.

Selecting a desirable tail shape and sourcing guppies that possess it will ensure that your fry – and subsequent lines of guppies – will stand an excellent chance of displaying that trait.

12 main known guppy Tail shapes:

  • Fan tail
  • Triangle tail
  • Veil tail
  • Flag tail
  • Double sword tail
  • Top sword tail
  • Bottom sword tail
  • Lyre tail
  • Pin tail
  • Spade tail
  • Spear tail
  • Round tail

Guppy coloration

Male guppies are generally much more colorful than females, so picking a male with good, strong color and appealing appearance is important, but do not overlook your females either!

Remember that the genes present in the female will affect the coloration of the subsequent fry, both male and female,

so ensure that both sides of the parentage are good examples of the color variety you hope to achieve.

As coloration is genetically determined, it is also important to take into account the dominant or recessive traits of coloration.

Dominant genes are much more likely to show traits in the offspring than recessive ones.

With recessive genes, usually, both parent fish must possess the gene in order to provide a reasonable chance of the offspring sharing that trait.

Here is a run-down of some of the basic guppy colors and the genetic traits that enable them:

  • Gray: Dominant
  • Bronze: Recessive
  • Blonde: Recessive
  • Albino: Recessive
  • Lutino: (a yellow gene mutation): Recessive
  • White: Recessive
  • Silver: Recessive

Reds and blues are commonly seen guppy color schemes, but there is not any one definitive answer as to whether they are dominant or recessive!

This is because there are several different gene combinations that are responsible for producing blue or red colors.

The color will depend on which of these combinations are in play- something that you can only find out through trial and error!

The same applies to related colors that contain elements of red or blue, such as green, orange, purple, or pink.

Patterns and markings in guppies

There are 7 main pattern styles in the guppy, and most other pattern variations come about as a result of selective breeding to produce a new variant.

  • Snakeskin guppies have a pattern like chain mail across around 85% of their bodies and fins.
  • Lace guppies have a pattern similar to snakeskin, but this is rather fainter and less pronounced.
  • Grass guppies have delicate black dots on their dorsal and caudal fins.
  • Leopard guppies have rosette spots across their tail, body, or both.
  • Mosaic guppies have a tail pattern that forms a random and irregular arrangement of spots or mesh.
  • Moscow guppies are particularly interesting to breed, as their color and pattern intensity changes depending on how they feel! The Moscow guppy is sometimes known as the “chameleon guppy” for this reason.
  • Tuxedo guppies have a graduated body color going from light on the head and chest to dark on the main part of the body.

There are thousands of different guppy color, pattern, and tail shape combinations and many more selectively bred mutations and fusions of different types.

It would be impossible to list all of them without writing a book of several hundred pages long, but hopefully, this introduction has provided a good base to get you started!

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