Poecilia reticulata






Type Locality

Caracas, Venezuela (Peters 1859).


Etymology/Derivation of Scientific Name

Poecilia, from Greek poikilos (Latinized stem poecil), meaning “variegated, speckled” (Boschung and Mayden 2004).



Lebistes reticulatus, Girardinus reticulatus, Acanthophacelus gupii, Heterandria gupii, Poecilia poeciloides and others (Dawes 1991).



Maximum size: 27mm for females and 21mm for males in (Sublette et all 1990).


Coloration: The females and some males uniformly brownish with scale pockets outlined with melanopores. Base and caudal fin faintly suffused with melanopores, with a distinct dark blotch or unmarked. Males unmarked or, usually, with one to three ocelli on sides and one rounded to irregular spot on caudal base, base of gonopodium with an irregular dark spot ranging from distinct to diffuse, color of aquarium races highly variable (Sublette et all 1990).


Pharyngeal teeth count:


Counts: No lateral line (Hubbs et al 1991).


Body shape: Back slightly arched (Sublette et all 1990). Fewer than 9 (usually 7 or 8) dorsal fin rays (Hubbs et al 1991).


Mouth position: Mouth small, superior, with weakly spatulate to villiform teeth; anterior row largest, rows diminishing in size posteriorly (Sublette et all 1990).


External morphology: Adult males with a modified anal fin forming a gonopodium; third soft ray in anal fin unbranched in both sexes. Caudal fin rounded (Hubbs et al 1991).


Additional info from Hubbs key: Intestinal canal long with many convulsions; teeth not moveable.


Distribution (Native and Introduced)

U.S. distribution: Established in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, California and Florida. Introductions due to escapes from fish farms and released aquariums. (Hensley and Courtenay 1980) Arizona, New Mexico, California, Idaho, Montana, Texas, Wyoming, Florida, and Alberta (Sublette et all 1990). Native to the Caribbean (Hubbs et al. 1991).


Texas distribution: Popular aquarium fish has been introduced widely within the state. An established population in the wild exists only in the San Antonio River near Brackenridge Park (Hubbs et al. 1991).


Abundance/Conservation status (Federal, State, NGO)



Habitat Associations

Macrohabitat: Substrates; silt, mud, rocks, sand, gravel and leaves (Reznick and Ender 1982).


Mesohabitat: Temperature sensitive (Sublette et al., 1991).



Spawning season: Throughout the year (Reznick and Ender 1982).


Spawning habitat:


Spawning Behavior: Ovoviviparous, high intermale competition male display is highly developed as well as polymorphism in male secondary sexual coloration. (Farr 1976).


Fecundity: After reaching sexual maturity, they produce a brood every 3 to 4 weeks (Reznick and Ender 1982).Very prolific species producing broods every 4-6 weeks (Dawes 1991).


Age at maturation: Two to three months (Reznick and Ender 1982).




Growth and Population Structure: The female is usually much larger than the male (Sublette et al., 1990).




Food habits: Feeds mainly on insect larvae (Hensley and Courtenay 1980).


Phylogeny and morphologically similar fishes

The enlarged and swollen pelvic fin and the short gonopodium with a fleshy extension anterior to the third ray in the male will distinguish the genus Poecilia from Gambusia and Poeciliopsis (Sublette et all 1990).


Host Records:

Trematoda and Cestoda (Hoffman 1967).


Commercial or Environmental Importance




Boschung, H. T., Jr., and R. L. Mayden. 2004. Fishes of Alabama. Smithsonian Books, Washington, 736 pp.

Farr, J.A. 1976. Social facilitation of male sexual behavior, intersexual competition and sexual selection in the guppy, Poecilia reticulata (Pisces; Poeciliidae). Evolution 30:707-19).

Dawes, J. A. 1991. Livebearing Fishes. A Guide to Their Aquarium Care, Biology and Classification. Blandforn, London, England. 240 pp.

Hensley, D.A. and W.R. Courtenay, Jr. 1980. Poecilia reticulata (Peters) Guppy pp 550 in D.S. Lee et al. Atlas of North American Freshwater fishes. N.C. State Mus. Nat. Hist., Raleigh, i-r+854.

Hoffman, G. L. 1967. Parasites of North American Freshwater Fishes. University of California Pres. Berkeley and Los Angeles. vii-viii. 486 pp.

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.

Reznick, D. and J. A. Endler. 1982. The Impact of Predation on Life History Evolution in Trinidadian Guppies (Poecilia reticulata). Evolution 36(1): 169-177.

Sublette, J. E., M. D. Hatch, M. Sublette. 1990. The Fishes of New Mexico. Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press.