As a beginner guppy keeper, the best thing you can do for your guppies is learning about their natural habitat, natural diet, and preferred living conditions. This is how humans have domesticated guppies and other animals; we learned about their natural behavior, dieting, and environmental conditions and tried to replicate that.
Today, we will discuss guppy habitats. The goal is to learn more about the rainbowfish and see what we can extract and use to make your guppies’ lives better.
What is the Natural Habitat of Guppies?
Guppies are widespread throughout the world, mostly preferring tropical areas with warm waters and free-flowing currents. The guppy’s origins lie in the Caribbeans and throughout South America, populating small ponds and streams, preferably in relatively shallow waters.
Guppies are small fish and can’t handle fast streams or temperatures below 70 degrees F. They are also adaptable and hardy fish with an omnivorous diet, adept at killing and eating anything smaller than them.
One of their preferred meals consists of mosquito eggs and larvae since they inhabit the areas where mosquito females lay their eggs. This has led humans to use guppies as natural deterrents against mosquitoes.
Humans have relocated guppies all over the world in an attempt to control rampaging mosquito populations, and it worked. This has led the guppy to inhabit a variety of environments and even adapt to previous adverse conditions.
Today, it’s not uncommon to find guppies living in swamps and small pools of water, so long as the temperatures are within the ideal range.
Where Can I Find Wild Guppies?
You can find wild guppies pretty much anywhere in the tropical region. One of the main requirements is the water temperature remaining stable between 72 to 82 degrees F. Massive temperature fluctuations will hurt guppies, which is why they only populate tropical areas with stable temperatures throughout the year.
Look for any water source, whether fresh or brackish and even salty. You are highly likely to find guppies in large numbers, especially if no natural predators share the same environment.
I would, however, advise against getting wild guppies for your tank. Some of the problems that you could face include:
- Infections, diseases, parasites – You have no way of knowing the guppies’ health status when getting them. They might have parasites, various fungal or bacterial infections, or even contagious diseases. These can quickly spread to the entire tank, infecting the entire guppy population and the rest of the tank’s inhabitants.
- Incompatible environmental conditions – Your guppies’ wild habitat might be vastly different than the one present in the tank. Not all guppies can live in the same habitats. Some breeds populate swampy areas and brackish waters, while others only prefer clean waters in moderate streams. These habitats offer varying environmental conditions that will only accommodate that specific breed. Without knowing these environmental differences, you cannot hope to create the ideal domestic environment for your guppies.
Where Do Fancy Guppies Come From?
First, a disclaimer. Guppies are not the same as fancy guppies, despite people using these 2 terms interchangeably. Unlike common guppy strains, including wild guppies, fancy guppies are slightly larger and have bigger tails with various shapes, colors, and patterns.
Fancy guppies are generally the result of selective breeding, so they’re not typically found in nature. Although nature has been known to create different guppy strains occasionally, just not as often or as proficient as humans do it.
That’s generally because of the constraints of each environment that guppies inhabit. They don’t have the opportunity to leave their environment and visit another, populated by a different guppy strain. All the mating and breeding occur within the same strain, adding some variation to the gene pool but not enough to create fancy guppies.
So, if you want to get your hands on a pair of fancy guppies, your best bet are professional breeders with vast experience in the field. It also helps if they’re renowned on the market and can account for a lot of satisfied customers.
Don’t rely on common fish shops to deliver anything more than mutt guppies with bland traits and doubtful health status.
Where Do Swamp Guppies Come From?
As the name suggests, the swamp guppy inhabits marshy areas with brackish waters throughout South America. This is a small breed, smaller than other strains, with males reaching 1 inch in length, while females can go to 1.5 inches.
They are very fond of vegetation-filled environments and will share the same environmental conditions as regular freshwater guppies. This includes a temperature variation between 78 to 82 F, a pH level of 7.5 to 8.5, and an omnivorous diet.
If you want to breed the swamp guppy in a tank, remember to fill up the tank with vegetation. This will make the swamp guppy feel more comfortable to breed and live a long and healthy life.
Where Do Endler Guppies Come From?
Endler guppies share similar habitats to the common guppy, although there are some noticeable differences between them. The common guppy will prefer freshwater habitats with free-flowing water and moderate currents, while Endlers prefer warmer, lentic environments (sluggish waters).
Endlers are smaller than regular guppies but will still come with a lot of color and pattern variety. They are also adaptable and hardy and can breed with common guppies to create various strains in the process. This makes the Endler guppy fairly popular among aquarists.
What Do Guppies Eat In The Wild?
Guppies eat both live food and plants to get a mix of nutrients, including animal fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Wild guppies will eat whatever live food they can find. This includes mosquito larvae, bloodworms, maggots, various insects, etc.
They will also consume algae and spirulina, along with various other environmental plants occasionally.
If you want to maintain your guppy population healthy and happy, I suggest providing them with a varied diet. They should consume both live food and plants and veggies regularly to remain strong, healthy, and active.
A good, diverse diet will strengthen the guppies’ immune system, boost their coloring, and accelerate their breeding rates.
I’ve written many articles on guppy feeding and dieting, providing insight into the different feeding tactics. I also have several recipes to offer if you wish to focus on homemade food rather than commercial options.
How Long Do Wild Guppies Live?
Wild guppies will typically live around 2 years, with some variations here and there. These variations are often triggered by factors like the guppy’s strain, how long their parents lived, the food’s quality in the area, etc.
Wild guppies are also more predisposed to diseases and parasites compared to domestic ones, which live in carefully-maintained tanks (usually).
On the other hand, Aquarium guppies will live slightly longer, between 1 to 3 years, sometimes even more. Some guppies can reach 5 years of age under the right conditions. It all comes down to dieting, environmental conditions, regular tank maintenance, disease prevention, etc.
Predators of Guppies in the Wild
Guppies will fall victim to a lot of natural predators, which include any fish larger enough to eat them. Some birds will also actively hunt guppies since these fish are easy to spot due to their intense coloring, especially males.
To counter these problems, guppies have developed a strong schooling behavior. This is a social behavior consisting of guppies gathering together and swimming in tandem to scare of predators. Guppies create the impression of a single, larger organism instead of multiple, smaller ones crowded together by coordinating their swimming.
Many animals use schooling behavior to similar effects, including other fish species, birds, and even insects.
Knowing all these things, you should always choose compatible tank mates for your guppies. Larger fish species will always bully and even eat the smaller ones, and guppies are small fish. There are few fish species smaller than 1.5 – 2 inches.
Fortunately, guppies are peaceful and friendly fish, capable of socializing with a wide variety of tank mates. So, find them tank mates similar in size that will share their feeding preferences and thrive in similar environmental conditions.
Overall, there is no critical difference between wild and domesticated guppies. When I use the term ‘domesticated,’ I only do so to distinguish between guppies living in the wild and the aquarium ones. Biologically and behaviorally speaking, however, there isn’t much difference between the two.
Humans partially domesticated guppies; they are still largely feral, even after generations of selective breeding.
This means that tank guppies thrive in similar conditions to their feral counterparts. Provide your tank guppies with water conditions and food similar to what they would experience in the wild, and your guppies will thrive.