Poecilia reticulata
Poecilia reticulata
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Poecilia reticulata Peters, 1859

Common name: Guppy

Synonyms and Other Names: Lebistes reticulatus, millions fish

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Distinguishing characteristics were provided by Rosen and Bailey (1963); Sigler and Sigler (1987); and Page and Burr (1991). It is included in keys of Minckley (1973) and Sublette et al. (1990). Photographs or illustrations appeared in Minckley (1973), Axelrod et al. (1985), Petrovicky (1988), Sublette et al. (1990), Dawes (1991), Sakurai et al. (1993), and Wischnath (1993).

Size: Males to 2.5 cm SL; females to 6 cm SL.

Native Range: Southern Lesser Antilles and and northern South America from western Venezuela to Guyana (Rosen and Bailey 1963; Page and Burr 1991), and widely introduced elsewhere (Welcomme 1998).

US auto-generated map Legend USGS Logo
Alaska auto-generated map
Hawaii auto-generated map
Caribbean auto-generated map
Puerto Rico &
Virgin Islands
Guam auto-generated map
Guam Saipan
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: This species is known from Arizona (Minckley 1973; Courtenay et al. 1984, 1991); California (St. Amant and Hoover 1969; Shapovalov et al. 1981; Courtenay et al. 1984, 1991; Dill and Cordone 1997; Moyle 2002); Colorado (Zuckerman and Behnke 1986); Connecticut (Whitworth 1996); Florida (Courtenay et al. 1974; J. D. Williams, personal observation); Hawaii (Brock 1960; Kanayama 1968; Maciolek 1984; Devick 1991; Tilmant 1999; Mundy 2005); Idaho (Linder 1964; Baxter and Simon 1970; Simpson and Wallace 1978; Courtenay 1985; Courtenay et al. 1987; Idaho Fish and Game 1990); Missouri (Keevin 1978); Nevada (Deacon et al. 1964; Bradley and Deacon 1967; Moyle 1976; Williams and Williams 1981; Courtenay and Deacon 1982, 1983; Deacon and Williams 1984); New Mexico (Sublette et al. 1990); Texas (Edwards 1976; Hubbs et al. 1978; Courtenay et al. 1984; Conner and Suttkus 1986; Courtenay et al. 1991; Hubbs et al. 1991; Howells 1992); Utah (F. B. Guttermuth, personal communication); West Virginia; Wisconsin (Becker 1983); and Wyoming (Baxter and Simon 1970; Courtenay et al. 1987; Hubert 1994; Stone 1995; Tilmant 1999). Also introduced in several reservoirs in Puerto Rico (Erdsman 1984; Lee et al 1980 et seq); the U.S. Virgin Islands (Loftus 2004); and Guam (S. Walsh, pers. comm.).

Also introduced in many other regions around the world, including Africa, the Middle East, and southwest Asia (Welcomme 1988; Tongnunui and Beamish 2009).

Means of Introduction: Most introductions probably are fish farm or aquarium releases (e.g., Zuckerman and Behnke 1986; Courtenay and Meffe 1989; Howells 1992; Dill and Cordone 1997). Some California introductions were made intentionally for mosquito control (Shapovalov et al. 1981; Dill and Cordone 1997).

Status: Locally established in warmwater sites in Hawaii (Devick 1991), Idaho (Courtenay et al. 1987), New Mexico (Sublette et al. 1990), Nevada (Courtenay and Deacon 1983), Texas (Hubbs et al. 1991), and Wyoming (Courtenay et al. 1987); reported from California (Shapovalov et al. 1981), Colorado (Zuckerman and Behnke 1986), Connecticut (Whitworth 1996), Missouri (Keevin 1978), Montana (Moyle 1976), and Wisconsin (Becker 1983). Considered established in Arizona by Minckley (1973); however, according to Courtenay and Meffe (1989), populations in Arizona and Florida do not appear to be self-sustaining. Although introduced widely in Texas, the only established population is found in the San Antonio River near Brackenridge Park (Hubbs et al. 1991).

Impact of Introduction: The guppy is considered a threat to native cyprinids and killifishes (Sigler and Sigler 1987). For instance, it has adversely affected the White River springfish, Crenichthys baileyi, in a Nevada spring (Deacon et al. 1964). Two subspecies of this springfish are now listed as federally endangered (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1993), and three others are proposed for listing (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1994). The guppy has also been implicated in the decline of the Utah sucker, Catostomus ardens, in a thermal spring in Wyoming (Courtenay et al. 1987). The guppy has become the dominant species in some warm water springs in the west (Courtenay, personal communication). Courtenay and Meffe (1989) summarized the effect of this species on native fishes. This species also presents a threat because it is a known carrier of certain exotic trematode parasites (Leberg and Vrijenhoek 1994).

Guppies, and other introduced poeciliids, have been implicated in the decline of native damselflies on Oahu, Hawaii. The distributions of the damselflies and introduced fishes were often found to be mutually exclusive, probably resulting from predation by the fish on the insects (Englund 1999). 

Remarks: This species is widely studied as a model species ecology and evolutionary biology, and has had a long and popular history as an ornamental fish. A wide variety of strains differing in color and fin shape have been developed by aquarists (Axelrod et al. 1985; Sakurai et al. 1993; Wischnath 1993). Some fish reported from the United States as P. reticulata actually may represent other species in the genus. In 1989, M. Rauchenberger (personal communication) examined the P. reticulata voucher specimens (UF 91918) taken from Kelly Warm Springs, Wyoming, in 1984 by Courtenay et al. (1987), but she could not confirm that identification and labeled them as Poecilia species. In light of the enormous numbers of guppies produced in aquaculture each year and its prevalence in pet stores and the aquarium hobby, it is surprising that so few established populations exist. The guppy is known to require warm water to thrive, which may explain its inability to establish throughout most of the continental U.S. but other factors, presently unknown, must limit its distribution in suitable locations such as southern Florida.

This species was recorded for Montana by Moyle (1976) and Sublette et al. (1990), but no records are given by Lee et al. (1980) and there are no known voucher specimens. It is likely that these represent erroneous reports.

Voucher specimens: Nevada (TU 94347, 123712, 123718; UMMZ 189548, 189551-189553; KU 14033), Texas (TNHC 8958), Hawaii (ANSP 89312, 91493; UF 119870, 119872, 119876); Wyoming (UF 91918); Florida (UF 171714); USVI (UF 168546, 180978, 180980, 183030, 183252); Guam (UF 182046).

This species is has been shown through experimentation to be an alternative host to glochidia of the native unionid mussels Lampsilis cardium and Utterbackia imbecillis (Watters and O'Dee 1998).

References: (click for full references)

Axelrod, H.R., W.E. Burgess, N. Pronek, and J.G. Walls. 1985. Dr. Axelrod's atlas of freshwater aquarium fishes. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.

Baxter, G.T., and J.R. Simon. 1970. Wyoming fishes. Wyoming Game and Fish Department Bulletin 4, Cheyenne, WY.

Becker, G.C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. University of Madison Press, Madison, WI.

Bradley, W.G. and J.E. Deacon. 1967. The biotic communities of southern Nevada. Nevada State Museum Anthropological Papers No. 13, Part 4. 201-273.

Brock, V.E. 1960. The introduction of aquatic animals into Hawaiian waters. International Revue der Gesamten Hydrobiologie 45(4):463-480.

Conner, J. V., and R. D. Suttkus. Zoogeography of freshwater fishes of the western Gulf slope of North America. 413-456 in C.H. Hocutt and E.O. Wiley, eds. The zoogeography of North American freshwater fishes. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY.

Courtenay, W. R., Jr. 1985. Florida Atlantic University Quarterly Reports for 1985 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gainesville, FL.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and J.E. Deacon. 1982. Status of introduced fishes in certain spring systems in southern Nevada. Great Basin Naturalist 42(3):361-366.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and J.E. Deacon. 1983. Fish introductions in the American southwest: a case history of Rogers Spring, Nevada. Southwestern Naturalist 28:221-224.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., D.A. Hensley, J.N. Taylor, and J.A. McCann. 1984. Distribution of exotic fishes in the continental United States. 41-77 in W.R. Courtenay, Jr., and J.R. Stauffer, Jr., eds. Distribution, biology and management of exotic fishes. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., D.P. Jennings, and J.D. Williams. 1991. Appendix 2: exotic fishes. 97-107 in Robins, C.R., R.M. Bailey, C.E. Bond, J.R. Brooker, E.A. Lachner, R.N. Lea, and W.B. Scott. Common and scientific names of fishes from the United States and Canada, 5th edition. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 20. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., and G.K. Meffe. 1989. Small fishes in strange places: a review of introduced poeciliids. 319-331 in G.K. Meffe, and F.F. Snelson, Jr., eds. Ecology and evolution of livebearing fishes (Poeciliidae). Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., C.R. Robins, R.M. Bailey, and J.E. Deacon. 1987. Records of exotic fishes from Idaho and Wyoming. Great Basin Naturalist 47(4):523-546.

Courtenay, W.R., Jr., H.F. Sahlman, W.W. Miley, II, and D.J. Herrema. 1974. Exotic fishes in fresh and brackish waters of Florida. Biological Conservation 6(4):292-302.

Dawes, J.A. 1991. Livebearing fishes. A guide to their aquarium care, biology and classification. Blandforn, London, England.

Deacon, J.E., C. Hubbs, and B.J. Zahuranec. 1964. Some effects of introduced fishes on the native fish fauna of southern Nevada. Copeia 1964(2):384-388.

Deacon, J.E., and J.E. Williams. 1984. Annotated list of the fishes of Nevada. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 97(1):103-118.

Devick, W. S. 1991. Patterns of introductions of aquatic organisms to Hawaiian freshwater habitats. 189-213 in New directions in research, management and conservation of Hawaiian freshwater stream ecosystems. Proceedings of the 1990 symposium on freshwater stream biology and fisheries management, Division of Aquatic Resources, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Dill, W.A., and A.J. Cordone. 1997. History and status of introduced fishes in California, 1871-1996. California Department of Fish and Game Fish Bulletin, volume 178.

Edwards, R.J. 1976. Relative and seasonal abundance of the fish fauna in an urban creek ecosystem. Unpublished MS thesis. University of Texas, Austin, TX.

Englund, R.A. 1999. The impacts of introduced poeciliid fish and Odonata on the endemic Megalagrion (Odonata) damselflies of Oahu Island, Hawaii. Journal of Insect Conservation 3:225-243.

Erdsman, D.S. 1984. Exotic fishes in Puerto Rico. 162-176 in W.R. Courtenay, Jr., and J.R. Stauffer, Jr., editors. Distribution, biology, and management of exotic fishes. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Howells, R. G. 1992. Annotated list of introduced non-native fishes, mollusks, crustaceans and aquatic plants in Texas waters. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Management Data Series 78, Austin, TX.

Hubbs, C., T. Luciere, G.P. Garret, R.J. Edwards, S.M. Dean, and E. Marsh. 1978. Survival and abundance of introduced fishes near San Antonio, Texas. Texas Journal of Science 30(4):369-376.

Hubbs, C., R.J. Edwards, and G.P. Garrett. 1991. An annotated checklist of freshwater fishes of Texas, with key to identification of species. Texas Journal of Science, Supplement 43(4):1-56.

Hubert, W. 1994. Exotic fish. 158-174 in T.L. Parrish, and S.H. Anderson, eds. Exotic species manual. Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Laramie, WY.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game. 1990. Fisheries Management Plan 1991-1995. Appendix I - A list of Idaho fishes and their distribution by drainage. Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Kanayama, R.K. 1968. Hawaii's aquatic animal introductions. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of Western Association State Game and Fish Commissioners 47:123-131.

Keevin, T.M. 1978. A distributional and faunistic analysis of the small stream fishes of St. Louis and St. Louis County, Missouri. M.S. Thesis Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, IL.

Leberg, P.L. and R.C. Vrijenhoek. 1994. Variation among desert topminnows in their susceptibility to attack by exotic parasites. Conservation Biology 8:419-424.

Lee, D.S., C.R. Gilbert, C.H. Hocutt, R.E. Jenkins, D.E. McAllister, and J.R. Stauffer, Jr. 1980 et seq. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, NC.

Linder, A.D. 1963. Idaho's alien fishes. Tebiwa 6(2):12-15.

Loftus, W.F. 2004. Assesment of heavy rainfall event on the inland habitats and fishes of Virgin Islands National Park, St. John, USVI. Report submitted to the National Park Service, Inventory and Monitoring Program.

Maciolek, J.A. 1984. Exotic fishes in Hawaii and other islands of Oceania. 131-161 in W.R. Courtenay, Jr., and J.R. Stauffer, Jr., editors. Distribution, biology, and management of exotic fishes. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Minckley, W.L. 1973. Fishes of Arizona. Arizona Fish and Game Department. Sims Printing Company, Inc., Phoenix, AZ.

Moyle, P.B. 1976. Inland fishes of California. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Moyle, P.B. 2002. Inland fishes of California. 2nd edition. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Mundy, B.C. 2005. Fishes of the Hawaiian Archipelago.  Bishop Museum Bulletins in Zoology, Number 6.

Page, L.M., and B.M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. The Peterson Field Guide Series, volume 42. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Petrovicky, I. 1988. Aquarium fish of the world. Hamlyn, London, England.

Rosen, D.E., and R.M. Bailey. 1963. The poeciliid fishes (Cyprinodontiformes), their structure, zoogeography, and systematics. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 126:1-176.

Sakurai, A., Y. Sakamoto, and F. Mori. 1993. Aquarium fish of the world: the comprehensive guide to 650 species. Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

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St. Amant, J.A., and F.G. Hoover. 1969. Addition of Misgurnus anguillicaudatus (Cantor) to the California fauna. California Fish and Game 57(2):330-331.

Stone, M.D. 1995. Fish stocking programs in Wyoming: a balanced perspective. 47-51 in H.L. Schramm, Jr., and R.G. Piper, eds. Uses and effects of cultured fishes in aquatic ecosystems. American Fisheries Society Symposium 15.

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Tilmant, J.T. 1999. Management of nonindigenous aquatic fish in the U.S. National Park System. National Park Service. 50 pp.

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Williams, C.D. and J.E. Williams. 1981. Distribution and status of native fishes of the Railroad Valley system, Nevada. Cal-Neva Wildlife Transactions 1981:48-51.

Wischnath, L. 1993. Atlas of livebearers of the world. Tropical Fish Hobbyist Publications, Inc., Neptune City, NJ.

Zuckerman, L. D., and R. J. Behnke. 1986. Introduced fishes in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. 435-452 in R. H. Stroud, ed. Fish culture in fisheries management. Proceedings of a symposium on the role of fish culture in fisheries management at Lake Ozark, MO, March 31-April 3, 1985. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.

FishBase Fact Sheet

Author: Leo Nico, Matt Neilson, and Bill Loftus

Revision Date: 4/26/2013

Citation Information:
Leo Nico, Matt Neilson, and Bill Loftus. 2017. Poecilia reticulata. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL.
https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=863 Revision Date: 4/26/2013

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2017]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [3/30/2017].

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