Guppy, Poecilia reticulata Peters 1859

Other Names: One-spot Livebearer

A pair of Guppies, Poecilia reticulata, from the Darwin Hospital drain, Northern Territory, 2017. Source: Dave Wilson / License: All rights reserved

This popular aquarium fish has been introduced from South America via the aquarium trade. Guppies have been released into the wild in several Australian states and territories, where they out-compete many native fishes. 

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2020, Poecilia reticulata in Fishes of Australia, accessed 26 May 2024,

Guppy, Poecilia reticulata Peters 1859

More Info


Introduced from South America (via the aquarium trade). Recorded from North West Cape, Western Australia, the Darwin area and the Gove Peninsula, Northern Territory, and from Cairns to Brisbane, Queensland. Guppies have also been recorded north of Robe, South Australia. The species has also been released on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island in the eastern Indian Ocean, and on Norfolk Island in the Tasman Sea.

Guppies form shoals in warm, slow-flowing or still freshwaters near pool margins, usually amongst aquatic vegetation.


Dorsal fin 7-8; Anal fin 8-10; Gill rakers 13-16; Horizontal scales 25-29.

Body stout and compressed towards tail; back arched in front of dorsal fin and belly deeper in front of vent, particularly in females; mouth small, upturned and protrusible, lower jaw a little longer than upper, eyes large; gill rakers slender and well-spaced.

Scales on head and trunk large; lateral line absent.

Single, soft-rayed dorsal fin just behind middle of body, small and angular in female, but longer, almost flag-like in males; caudal fin rounded and may also be enlarged and flag-like in males; anal fin origin below dorsal fin.  


Females to 6 cm SL; Males to 3 cm SL


Female are silvery grey with dark scale margins, giving a hatched appearance; somewhat darker dorsally, belly silvery white; fins transparent to greyish, sometimes with fine speckling; a darker grey-black blotch on lower abdomen before vent. The brightly-coloured males are highly variable with irregular and varied markings of green, turquoise, blue, red, orange and yellow with a pearly iridescence and black spots.


Omnivore - feeds on a variety of small terrestrial insects and aquatic invertebrates.


Live-bearers. The front rays of the male’s anal fin are modified to form a gonopodium which is used to internally fertilise eggs. The fertilised eggs develop inside the female and the young are born after 3-4 weeks gestation and mature in a few weeks. If males are absent from a population, one or more females may become males.


In Australia, wild guppy populations were established prior to the 1970s, due to the release of aquarium fish.

Species Citation

Poecilia reticulata Peters 1859, Mber. K. Preuss. Akad. Wiss. Berl. 1859: 412. Type locality: Guayre River, Caracas, Venezuela.


Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2020


Atlas of Living Australia

Guppy, Poecilia reticulata Peters 1859


Allen, G.R. 1989. Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Neptune, New Jersey : T.F.H. Publications 240 pp., 63 pls. 

Allen, G.R., Midgley, S.H. & Allen, M. 2002. Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 394 pp. 

Corfield, J., Diggles, B., Jubb, C., McDowall, R.M., Moore, A., Richards, A. & Rowe, D.K. 2008. Review of the impacts of introduced ornamental fish species that have established wild populations in Australia. Prepared for the Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. 277 pp. 

Hammer, M.P., Adams, M. & Foster, R. 2012. Update to the catalogue of South Australian freshwater fishes (Petromyzontida & Actinopterygii). Zootaxa 3593: 59–74 

Harris, J.H. 2013. 11. Fishes from elsewhere. pp. 259-282 in Humphries, P. & Walker, K. (eds). Ecology of Australian Freshwater Fishes. Collingwood, Victoria : CSIRO Publishing 423 pp. 

Johnson, J. 1993. Fishes of the Brisbane River. Fishes of Sahul, Journal of the Australian New Guinea Fishes Association 8(1): 347-352 

Lake, J.S. 1971. Freshwater Fishes and Rivers of Australia. Melbourne : Nelson 61 pp. 

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293 

Merrick, J.R. & Schmida, G.E. 1984. Australian Freshwater Fishes Biology and Management. Sydney : J.R. Merrick 409 pp. figs 280 col. figs. 

Morgan, D.L., Gill, H.S., Maddern, M.G. & Beatty, S.J. 2004. Distribution and impacts of introduced freshwater fishes in Western Australia. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 38: 511-523 

Peters, W.C.H. 1859. Eine neue vor und fügte Mittheilungen über einige andere neue Fische des Zoologischen Museums. Monatsberichte der Königlichen Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin 1859: 411-413 See ref at BHL

Rosen, D.E. & Bailey, R.M. 1963. The poeciliid fishes (Cyprinodontiformes), their structure, zoogeography and systematics. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 126(1): 1–176

Webb, A.C. 2007. Status of non-native freshwater fishes in tropical northern Queensland, including establishment success, rates of spread, range and introduction pathways. Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales 140: 63–78

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37244004

Fishing:Aquarium fish


Max Size:6 cm SL

Native:Introduced, invasive

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map