Are Guppies Tropical Fish? (Can They Live In An Ocean?)

Image of a cardinal tetra swimming in water

Guppies are known as rainbow fish because of their vibrant colors. They are also known as millionfish due to their breeding capabilities. Aquarists usually keep guppies in freshwater aquariums with warm water. So, are guppies tropical fish?

Yes, guppies are tropical fish. They are native to South America, where the environment is tropical. Tropical regions around the equator are warm as they get more exposure to the sun. So, guppies prefer to live in warm waters while in captivity too. They cannot survive in a cold climate for long.

Let’s talk about this in detail now.

What Is A Tropical Fish?

Tropical fish are those that are found in tropical aquatic regions. The term tropical is related to tropics.

The tropical regions are located between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.

The climate here is mostly warm and humid.

Tropical fish are usually limited to saltwater species.

However, aquarists often keep tropical fish in freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

The best examples of tropical fish are guppies, bettas, swordtails, oscars, mollies, neon tetras, angelfish, zebra danios, loaches, redtail sharks, and many more.

Great! Now you know the meaning of tropical fish. But why are guppies considered tropical fish?

Why Are Guppies Tropical Fish?

Tropical fish are mainly found in tropical areas where the weather is hot.

The climate in these areas is warm throughout the year. The temperature ranges between 77°F to 82°F (25°C to 28°C).

Guppies are from the Poeciliidae family native to the warm waters of South America.

In the wild, guppies are predominantly found in the clear tropical waters of the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago.

They are also found on the South American continent in Brazil, Venezuela, and Guyana.

Tropical fish need water temperature in the range of 76°F to 80°F (25°C to 27°C) for optimum growth.

In captivity, the ideal temperature for guppies is 72°F to 82°F (22°C to 28°C).

They thrive in warm water. It is one of the primary reasons that guppies are tropical fish.

So, it is clear that guppies are tropical fish and that they prefer warm water. But do they need a heater in the tank?

Recommended Further Reading:

Do Guppies Need A Heater?

Like any other tropical fish, guppies are accustomed to live in warm waters.

Hence, they need a heater unless you live in a tropical climate where the temperature does not fall below 60°F (15°C).

It’s not easy nor advisable to manually maintain the tank’s water temperature.

A heater helps keep the water warm and ensures that the water temperature remains consistent.

If the water temperature fluctuates too much, there is a high risk of guppies suffering from life-threatening health issues.

In the absence of a heater, there can be a sudden temperature change in the water.

Due to this, guppies can suffer from the following problems:

  • Guppies will get stressed due to constant fluctuation in water temperature.
  • They may face respiratory problems.
  • They may lose appetite as their immunity weakens.
  • If guppies don’t eat properly, they won’t get the required nutrition. So, they will be prone to sickness.

Related Further Reading:

Can Guppies Live In Cold Water?

Guppies can live in cold water. However, it’s not recommended to keep them in cold water.

Guppies being hardy fish, can survive in mildly cold temperatures. However, it’s not suitable for them.

As guppies are tropical fish, they need heat to stay active and healthy.

They can survive in temperatures up to 60°F. If the water temperature drops below that, it can lead to various health issues.

Some of the issues that guppies face if exposed to cold water are:

  • Guppies are known for their breeding propensity. If they are kept in cold water, it will adversely impact their breeding capabilities. Even if guppies breed in cold water, the chances of their fry surviving are minimal.
  • Guppies may feel stressed in cold water, and their immunity will weaken. Too much stress will eventually lead to behavioral issues such as bullying and aggression.
  • Guppies need heat to remain active. Exposure to cold water for a prolonged duration will result in sluggishness. Their activity will decrease in the absence of heat, and they are bound to become lethargic.
  • Guppies can fall sick when placed in cold water. The colder the water, the more the chances of guppies falling sick. Frequent sickness may weaken the guppies. They may even die in the absence of proper care and medication.
  • Another significant disadvantage of keeping guppies in cold water is that the cold temperature can hinder their growth. Guppies kept in cold water are more susceptible to diseases.

Interesting Further Reading:

Can Guppies Live In The Ocean?

Guppies are generally not found in the ocean.

They are tropical freshwater fish found primarily in rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams.

The natural habitat of guppies is brackish water, which is more saline than freshwater.

However, they cannot survive in salty seawater.

Guppies can survive in a saltwater aquarium for some time provided sufficient care is taken to acclimatize them to the saltwater.

In the wild, guppies are usually found in freshwater habitats.

They are particularly abundant in streams of the coastal regions.

Guppies prefer smaller pools and streams rather than large water bodies.

However, there’s always an exception.

According to a research, the South American guppy (Poecilia vivipara) crossed the distance between the mainland and the Fernando de Noronha oceanic archipelago in Northeast Brazil.

As guppies are usually not found in large water bodies like the ocean, how did they reach this island?

Was there a human intervention or natural colonization?

The researchers could not find the exact reason. However, they mentioned the possibility of human intervention.

According to the team, this might have happened around 60 years ago.

The American military at that time had their WW-II bases positioned at both places, Fernando de Noronha and Natal.

That was the closest continental city.

The reason to introduce guppies to the island may have been to control the mosquito population.

Guppies are placed in water reservoirs to eat the mosquito larvae and eggs.

It is their natural food, and hence they are often used to control the mosquito population.

Guppies were possibly deployed to control the mosquito population.

However, researchers are not entirely ruling out the possibility of natural colonization.

Regardless of their means of transportation, guppies are a great example of how small populations can manage to colonize and thrive in isolated environments.


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