Can Different Types of Guppies Breed?
Guppies are popular for many things, including their intense and diverse coloring, pattern profile, cute personalities, and ease of care. But if there’s one area where they reign supreme, that has to be their breeding proficiency.
Guppies will breed monthly for over a year, with the female producing more fry with each session. This high breeding proficiency is the reason for this fish species’ amazing diversity. After all, many types of guppies today are the result of human-guided selective breeding.
So, let’s get into the meat of everything. Can different types of guppies breed successfully, and in what conditions?
Why Would You Breed Different Guppy Types?
I would say there are 2 primary reasons why most aquarists breed different types of guppies. The first one is more prevalent for obvious reasons:
– Esthetic Reasons
This one is pretty self-explanatory. It all comes down to pure esthetics. Guppies display an amazing variety of physical characteristics based on:
- Color pattern
- Fin size and shape
- Tail size and shape
- Body size and shape
In this sense, you have over 300 different species of guppies divided by a variety of metrics. For instance, you have 12 different groups of guppies divided by tail shape, like Flag Tail, Round Tail, Veil Tail, Fan Tail, etc.
You also have a multitude of guppies based on color pattern, like Tuxedo, Snakeskin, Cobra, etc. Or based on the tail color pattern. Like Glass guppies, Mosaic, Leopard, or Lace.
The point should be fairly obvious by now. People breed different types of guppies to obtain various physical characteristics. The problem is, obviously, the fact that this is not an exact science. Nature has a lot of to do with the outcome.
To be clearer, let’s say you have a Halfmoon guppy, and you want to pair it with a Tuxedo to mix the 2 main features – tail shape and color pattern. The result is almost always uncertain since you cannot manipulate the fish’s genetic code.
All you can do is breed them and hope that Mother Nature ‘chooses’ to combine those 2 features in the exact package you’re expecting. But that’s rarely the case.
This is why esthetic-based selective breeding requires a lot of trial and error to garner the expected outcome. And that’s why some guppies are more expensive than others, based on their unique features and how difficult it was to achieve them.
Those that displayed desirable features via the grace of the selective breeding Gods turned into categories of their own. This is how we ended up with so many guppy categories today.
– Biologic Reasons
The problem is that the selective breeding process is not an exact science. It’s based on heavy trial and error, which will often deliver subpar results. However, you may run into the beautiful-but-unfit problem.
In other words, selective breeding or interbreeding (which I don’t recommend) can result in a gorgeous guppy but with biological problems.
Maybe they can’t breathe well due to deformities in their gills or respiratory system. Or can’t swim too effectively due to deformed fins or body shape. But you really like the guppy’s color or pattern. What do you do? You breed the guppy with other species to try and preserve the features you like. And hope that Mother Nature will fix the biological issues along the way.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. When it does, the result may be a unique type of guppy that can sell for quite a bit. This is how the business works in terms of selling guppies for profit.
So, if you’re interested in any of these 2 aspects, you should get into the art of breeding different types of guppies.
Can Guppies Breed with Their Siblings?
Yes, guppies can breed with their siblings, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. Inbreeding works similar for guppies as it does for any other animal. It greatly increases the risk of malformations and genetic faults that will result in unviable offspring.
Those that do survive will experience difficulties adapting to their environment. Most will also live shorter lives and get sick more often than genetically fit specimens.
When it comes to inbreeding, guppies show an interesting duality. It appears that guppy males produce more sperm, filled with more active swimmers when in the presence of their sisters than unrelated females. One potential explanation is breeding availability.
After all, their sisters have been right there by their side since the time they were born. It’s natural for males to prioritize them over unrelated females, which they have to seek and convince to breed. So, does this mean that inbreeding is common among guppies?
Not quite. That’s because the female’s behavior and biological makeup allows it to counteract the male behavior. The female does so via 4 primary means:
- Biological measures – Researchers have discovered that guppy females produce a thicker ovarian fluid which counteracts the males’ faster-swimming sperm. This means that, even if the male mates with its sister, the likelihood of successful fertilization is significantly lowered by the females’ biological protection.
- Actively avoiding inbreeding – Females are biological set up to avoid interbreeding. Males are not. Males are actually biological predisposed towards favoring interbreeding, which is rather peculiar in the animal kingdom. So, it falls on the female to counterbalance the issue by prioritizing breeding with unrelated males over their brothers. It doesn’t always work, especially since there are no unrelated males around, but the female will at least try.
- Multiple partners – The guppy female will breed with several partners to ensure sperm diversity. This results in offspring belonging to a more diverse gene pool, minimizing the impact of interbreeding.
- Sperm storage – This is an ingenious mechanism, allowing the female to avoid interbreeding quite effectively. In short, the female will mate with a male and store its sperm in a special cavity inside its abdomen. The female can then use that sperm to self-inseminate every month for up to 10-12 months. This mechanism is useful when there are no males around, allowing the female to keep producing offspring anyway. It’s also a good tool for avoiding interbreeding.
These measures are by no mean failproof. But, at least, they do something to counterbalance the guppy males’ predisposition towards interbreeding.
In short, try not to interbreed your guppies. Doing so increases the risk of genetic malformations that will decrease the offspring’s quality of life and shorter their lifespan altogether. It’s not worth it.
Can Fancy and Endler Guppies Breed?
Yes, fancy and Endler’s guppies can breed, should they find themselves in each other’s presence. But there’s a problem with that. First, let’s determine the main differences between the 2.
Fancy guppies are those resulting from selective breeding in the aquarium world. They aren’t necessarily found in the wild, and when they are, they got there via humans releasing them. Fancy guppies haven’t evolved naturally but are the product of human intervention.
On the other hand, Endler’s guppies have evolved naturally and are the result of a bit of controversy. They were first observed in nature in 1937 in South America and have found their way into the aquarium business ever since. These fish weren’t classified as guppies for the longest time due to their differences.
Endler’s guppies are smaller, more vividly colored, and thinner than normal guppies.
It wasn’t until 2009 when they’ve been classified as Poecilia Wingei, This is where the problem rests.
Because Endler’s guppies are genetically different from fancy guppies, their marriage is bound to produce subpar results. Their offspring are seen as hybrids, which is another word for ‘genetically unfit.’ Many aquarists advise against breeding the 2 since the resulting hybrids are genetically inferior to either of their parents.
This means that, if they breed, they will pass on their genetic weaknesses, further producing unfit offspring and weakening the guppies’ overall gene pool. It’s also prohibited by law to release hybrids into the wild for the same reasons.
So, if you do decide to breed them, at least make sure you’re doing it for yourself and not for profit.
Can Guppies and Mosquito Fish Breed?
No, guppies and mosquito fish cannot breed. They might look similar, but that’s where their compatibility ends. These are different fish species with different gene pools.
An important note here – breeding isn’t the same as mating. This distinction is important because you might observe your guppy males mating with mosquito females. This is natural behavior since guppy males are always ready to mate, and every swimmer with a pulse will attract their interest. However, they are not compatible with the females, so their union won’t result in offspring.
Can Guppies Breed with Other Fish?
Believe it or not, yes, guppies can breed with other fish. This is atypical behavior in the animal kingdom but not unheard of.
Guppies tend to be more compatible with mollies out of the bunch, but, even then, their success of producing fit offspring is rather low. The resulting fry qualify as hybrids, which is another word for ‘genetically unfit fish.’
So, it’s not necessarily a problem if your guppies breed with other fish species when placed in a community setup. Just make sure to remove the fry from the tank. Or just keep them there, and adult fish will eat them. Whatever you choose to do, don’t:
- Sell the hybrids for profit
- Release them into the wild
- Pass them on to someone else who will refer to any of the previous points
Selective breeding can produce a virtually infinite pool of guppy types. Feel free to experiment, provided you avoid interbreeding and hybridization.