Betta vs Guppy: Battle of the two royal fish breeds

With a marvelously colorful body, eye-catchy body patterns, and streamlined figure, fish make attractive pets. It is often hard to believe that this colorful organism capable of setting a whole new vibe in your premises is alive and not carved out of plastic. They come in several varieties of colors, shapes, and sizes. But the common thing about all of them is, they are low maintenance. 

As compared to a fur parent, your experience with fish will be hassle-free. These aquatic creatures are less demanding of your time and money; they are easier to be taken care of. All that you need to do for them is set up a clean environment for them to live in, and feed them. In return, a fish will soothe your atmosphere with a calming effect and make all the stares from your visitors worth their while! 

As opposed to a barking dog or sophisticated cat, a fish tank is soothing to have, maintain and flaunt. In fact, just like furry pets, fish can be trained and taught tricks such as following your finger, passing through hoops, jumping under and over water, and swimming through an obstacle course. 

When you talk about teaching your fish to mimic or follow the finger, it largely depends on the breed that you want to train. Some breeds such as the Guppy and Betta are fairly intelligent and easier to train than the other breeds. Besides that, these two fish tend to come up with their own ‘personality traits’ as they grow older. They begin showing traits of care and belongingness for their young ones and personal spaces within their reach. Hence, with a similar level of intelligence and a contrasting yet similar characteristic, comparing the two can be quite a task!

If you are planning to treat yourself with a new aquatic member as an addition to your family, you may want to weigh in all the available options. But fish lovers do have their biases split equally between the Betta and Guppy. 

If you are to pitch both these breeds against each other in a battle breed, who would take home the title of ‘aquatic favorite?’ Let’s take a look at how these two ‘most favorite’ pet fish size up against each other!

Betta vs Guppy Fish: Genetics

To understand and exercise the best choice among the two, it is necessary to crawl back to the history of their genetics. 

Male betta fish
Male Betta Fish

The Betta fish have evolved significantly from their wild ancestors. There has been a lot of science in the picture that has brought about this transformation, the most important one being the genetics behind the evolution and the transformation. Several years of selective cross-breeding has resulted in several new and varied Betta fish strains. Nearly 27,000 strains have been recorded so far, thanks to amateur fish hobbyists. The Betta skin is primarily made of four layers of different pigmentation. The iridescent layer forms the topmost layer, followed by the black, red, and yellow layer. Every Betta has these four layers that have their individual set of genes and genetic material that form the visible color traits, also known as phenotypes. Iridocytes are another genetic and characteristic trait of the Bettas. The metallic and crystal-like structure is due to the presence of these iridocytes. Crossbreeding this fishy creature is a time-consuming yet addictive hobby. 

guppy fish variant
A type of Guppy Fish

On the other hand, the Guppy fish is easier to breed and is believed to be one of the most color-polymorphic vertebrates. The variation also significantly depends on the gender of the Guppy. For instance, it is known that the male Guppy fish shows far more variations than the female Guppy species, due to the sexual and natural selection procedures. Studies have shown that male Guppy species have phenomenal body patterns that are strikingly different from one another due to their choices for mating, environmental interactions, and predator choices. Guppies have been showing remarkable and unique features which is also a result of significant mutations that have been occurring rapidly ever since their existence. Such factors have also helped them in easily adapting to any kind of fast-changing environment. Studies have named the Guppies ‘evolution in action.’

Betta vs Guppy Fish: Attributes

1. Body and tail

Bettas are known for their beaming appearance. Also known as the Siamese fighting fish, male Bettas are known to possess aggression for their counterparts. An average male Betta would range around two-and-a-half inches in length excluding its tail. Whereas, a female Betta would possibly grow up to 2.25 inches. What distinguishes male Bettas from females is that the latter has a shorter fin located at the anal. Another difference is the tail, which is seemingly thinner than those of the males. 

On the other hand, Guppy males are around 1.4 inches in length and the females can grow up to 2. 6 Inches. Their bodies are rounded, heavier, and larger than a male Guppy’s body. Male Guppies have streamlined and longer bodies that are very bright and colorful against the dull appearances of a female Guppy. They have slightly longer dorsal fins that enable them to easily swim underwater. 

It is safe to say that Bettas are semi-aggressive in nature as compared to Guppies. However, if you want a bright fish tank or aquarium, Bettas are your first choice. 

2. Life expectancy

On average, both the Betta and Guppy fish can live up to four years. Genetics plays an important role in life expectancy. Besides that, as an aquarium and fish hobbyist, you can control their survival and extend their longevity by ensuring they are placed in a clean environment, fed well, and are provided with timely and regular visits to the aquaculture veterinarian. If you have taken care of these factors, the genetic factor will have a lower impact and both these breeds can live up to six years healthily. 

3. Food requirements

Betta fish are carnivorous in nature. Wild Bettas often hunt for themselves and find prey in meaty creatures such as worms, shrimps, mosquitoes, and other fishes much smaller in size than them. They require high amounts of proteins for their survival. 

When held captive, you can feed them with frozen constituents of the same that are easily available in any pet store. You have to ensure that they get sufficient meat that is protein-rich. You can also look for Betta fish pellets that ensure your fish gets all the required nourishment. 

On the other hand, Guppies are omnivorous aquatic organisms with an excellent appetite. When in the wild, they eat a variety of invertebrates, shrimps, and fish that are tinier than them. A large part of their diet is believed to include plant and vegetable matter including algae. Captive Guppies gulp in store-purchased food products as well as live worms and insects. However, it is recommended that a Guppy’s diet must consist of plant and animal-based protein food from multiple sources. 

Both Bettas and Guppies are delightful eaters. They tend to eat up all the food that is diced down into the tank. When they eat a lot of it, they appear to seem bloated, which causes complications in their digestion. Hence, as fish parents, you need to monitor the food intake of both these breeds to avoid digestive complications. You can feed both of them twice a day, Drop-in fish food, and let it be in the tank for 4-5 minutes. If any excess remains, filter it out from the tank. 

4. Mating characteristics

Every organism has its way of showing that it is mating. In the case of Betta fish, a fascinating dance (video below) is performed by the mating pair. At the onset of the mating ritual, male Bettas become less aggressive but more fierce in order to woo their female counterparts. Both the male and the female perform a dance by moving around each other whilst waving their fins and touching their noses against each other. 

Once the female Betta lays eggs, the pair is separated and the male Betta weaves a bubble nest around the eggs. Typically, the eggs hatch within three days. However, Male Bettas can also be persuasive. They try to persuade the female Bettas to mate. Although reluctantly, the female Bettas agree but simultaneously try to find hiding spots away from the males. When placed within the same tank, it gets difficult to avoid the pursuant male Betta, and the results are usually fatal. 

Similar to Bettas, Guppies also perform their pre-mating rituals and dance(video below). The male Guppy will revolve around the female Guppy and perform some spine chilling moves by bending over its spine towards the female and jiggling and flaring around them. The mating process is quite simple. The male Guppy will tap its gonopodium onto the female and fertilize her. The gestation period of every fertile female lasts about 25-30 days. Over a hundred eggs can be released in the same fry, however, not all survive because adult Guppies tend to eat the younger ones. 

So be it either the Guppy or the Betta, it is best to shift the pregnant female of either species to a different fish tank just before delivery. 

5. Tank requirements

Betta Fish in a tank
Betta Fish in a tank

Tank requirements are one of the most important factors that determine the age and longevity of your fish. Irrespective of the size, a Betta would need a tank that can accommodate at least three gallons of water. If you have more than one Betta, make sure you add a liter more water for every 1-inch of the fish that you want to house. Make sure the water is dechlorinated. Fill the bottom layer with gravel and keep away from direct sunlight. The temperature of your tank must remain within 74-82 F. 

guppy fish in a tank
Guppy Fish

Guppies like living in groups of three. It keeps them cheerful and stress-free. Hence, for a group of three Guppies, a 5-gallon water tank suffices. But given how quickly these fish mate, it is recommended that you have a tank with a 10-gallon capacity. It is also wise if your house plants like the java moss to avoid smaller Guppies being eaten away by the adults. Java mosses will form excellent spaces for hiding. The water temperature must remain around 72 F.

Betta vs Guppy: Our Verdict

Guppies and Bettas largely differ in their characteristics. Bettas make for an aggressive breed that chooses to persuade its female for mating, while the Guppies are rather peaceful. Bettas are territorial in nature, which is why you will find them remaining on the surface of your tank. On the other hand, Guppies are extremely hyperactive and love to keep swimming around. 

Since the aggressive nature of the Betta is known, a wise head up here is that Bettas do not like to see anything bright other than themselves. They like dominating that way. So having a bright Guppy in the same tank can trigger your Betta. Yet, the option of having Betta and Guppy within the same tank is not far from reality. 

You can bring home the ‘not-so-vibrant’ species of the Guppy. It will not hamper the aggression of the Betta and also keep them away since the Guppies like staying underwater, and the Bettas prefer staying afloat.

Wrapping up,

Whether you choose the Betta, the Gummy, or both, you will have to be cautious about feeding habits and the size of the tank. Also prefer choosing less aggressive Bettas and smaller Guppies. Place live plants and pebbles within the tank, not just for looks but to keep younger Guppies safer and away from other breeds/adult Guppies. 

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