Guppies are one of the most peaceful and most colourful fishes. In the wild, they are commonly found in tropical freshwater particularly the rivers and lakes of South America. Several types of guppies are spread throughout Brazil, Venezuela, Antilles, Netherlands, and so on. Do Guppies have predators in the wild?
Guppies and guppy fry have numerous predators in the wild. Their predators include larger fish, birds and some mammals. Specific examples of guppies’ predators in the wild include kingfishers, blue acara (Andinoacara pulcher), killifish (Anablepsoides hartii) Pike cichlids (Crenicichla alta), piranhas, catfish, angelfish, and so on. In general, any carnivorous fish with larger bodies and big mouth will feed on guppies. In fact, guppy fries are more susceptible to a wider range of predators than the adults.
Although guppies are known to live up to 3 years in the aquarium, they live slightly less in the wild due to a lot of factors including predators. Guppies feed on mosquito larvae and hence are seen as a method of controlling mosquitoes in many areas. Even though guppies are peaceful on their own, their unaggressive nature and bright colours make them an easy target for predators. Guppies have numerous predators in the wild that terrorises them, particularly the male guppies because of their brighter colours and smaller bodies.
Certain features and behaviours of guppies make them highly vulnerable to predators. However, Guppies also have smart behaviours that make them get away from predators in the wild.
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Predation Susceptibility Of Guppies In The Wild
Guppies have several predators in the wild, particularly larger fishes. They have certain features that make them easy prey for their predators. Likewise, the male guppies and fry are at larger predation risk than the female guppies.
Guppies’ bright colouration is one of the major reasons why they are easily targeted by predators. This is because their bright colouration makes them easily noticeable by predators from afar, even at night. Like many other fishes, guppies are aware of their vulnerability and hence often school together to avoid predation. However, the males are more susceptible than their female counterparts because of their brighter colours.
Similarly, another reason why guppies are easily preyed on in the wild is their smaller bodies. Guppies generally have smaller bodies than other animals found in the same habitat. Predators love going after easy targets that they can easily overpower and feed on. Again, this factor also put males at higher risk because they have smaller bodies when compared to females. Likewise, guppy fries are also at great risk of predation.
Also, the unaggressive and peaceful nature of guppies is one of the reasons why predators go after them. Guppies are known to be one of the most peaceful species of fishes both in the wild and in aquariums, and they often have a tough time coping with aggressive members in their environment. As a result of their peaceful nature, guppies don’t fight predators. Instead, hey most often run away and avoid them.
How Do Guppies Cope With Predators In The Wild?
Guppies are aware of their vulnerability to predators, and consequently develop both behavioural and physiological changes that help them stay safe in their habitats. One of those behaviours is schooling. Guppies often school together to avoid predation, and this schooling is favoured by evolution especially for those under high predation pressure. This pressure is measured by either predator type or predator density.
Likewise, the colours of guppies can evolve differentially to predation. The bright colour of guppies put them at the risk of being easily noticed by predators, particularly male guppies. The predator pressure in their environment than cause them to evolve from their bright colours to duller ones.
Male guppies especially can evolve to be duller in colour and have fewer, smaller spots under intense predation. Similarly, this evolution can also cause female guppies in high predation environment to develop a preference for dull coloured male for mating.
Behavioural Adaptation During Predation
Also, guppies exhibit risk-taking behaviour that can help them get away from predators. This behaviour is known as predator inspection. This predation inspection involves guppies going close to their predators or other possible threats in order to figure out how to get away from them. This behaviour is evolutionary, and it can be stabilized if most of the guppies in that environment have altruistic behaviour.
During predator inspection, once a guppy encounter potential predator it approaches it to access the danger. This move will enable the guppy to gather information about the potential predator. The inspector guppy also avoids the mouth region of the predator in order to reduce risk. They approach the potential predator from the side or back and watch out for proximity. Although evidence shows that predators are less likely to attack an inspector.
Guppies inspect their potential predators on the first move and sometimes have co-inspectors. Likewise, guppies from high predation environments also form a group for protection and co-inspection. However, the predation inspection behaviour of guppies is a very risky one because of the proximity of the guppies to the predators. Nevertheless, avoiding the mouth region of the predator and attacking from the side or back put them at a lower risk.
Guppies are at great risk of predation in their natural habitat because of their peaceful nature, bright colouration and small body. Male guppies and guppy fry at a higher risk of predation when compared to their female counterparts. This is because male guppies have smaller bodies and brighter colouration than their female counterparts.
However, guppies develop behaviours, mechanics and evolutionary traits to keep them safe in the wild. Predator inspection, schooling, and forming group for protection are some of the behaviours guppies exhibit to keep themselves safe.
Likewise, guppies (male especially) in high predation environment can evolve to develop duller colour. These duller colours and fewer spots make them less noticeable by the predators. These evolutionary behaviours can be stabilized if it is exhibited by mot guppies in that environment.