Guppy vs Betta: Which One To Choose? (Key Differences)

guppy vs beta
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Last Updated: March 22, 2023 by Flora Gibbins

Guppies and bettas are common pet fish. These two beautiful fish make great pets and create an amazing appearance for your tank. It’s undeniable, that the two look similar and most people confuse them.

More on that below…

Betta fish is the Siamese fighting fish. Its scientific name is Betta Splendens. Bettas are about 6 cm, but some varieties can exceed 8 cm( giant bettas). They are egg layers.

On the other hand, guppies are small fish around 2-3cm. The larger female guppies can range from 4-6 cm. Their scientific name is Poecilia reticulata, commonly known as rainbow, fancy guppy, or million fish. They are livebearers.

We have compiled this article on betta vs. guppy to help you differentiate between the two fish.

Main Differences Between Guppy and Betta Fish

The main differences between guppies and betta fish are:

  • Guppies are livebearers, whereas bettas fish lay eggs.
  • Bettas are slightly larger and can exceed 8 cm, whereas guppies are small in size up to 6 cm.
  • Bettas mate in a way where males and females spiral around, whereas guppies do it quickly-the male guppy thrust its gonopodium towards the female guppy sac.
  • Guppy fish breed easily and are easy to keep, whereas betta fish take time to breed and are hard to maintain due to their aggressiveness.

Guppies vs Bettas

These two fishes are freshwater fish. However, the two have many differences between them. Some of the differences are morphological, behavioral, and genetic as follows:

Guppies vs Bettas Body and Tail

Bettas feature a variety of colors. Male betta fish are more colorful than female betta. The common colors are green, red, orange, yellow, blue, black, white, and multi-colored. They also appear in different patterns like solid, bi-color, marble, dragon, koi, and multicolor.

Again, they present different tails such as veil tail, half-moon, super delta, crown tail, and plakat. Betta fish also have beautiful fins and nice tails.

multi colored guppies

Guppy fish also have multiple colors and patterns. The colors come in two and three tones: black, silver, blue, green, orange, yellow, pink, and silver. These fish mostly have stripes and spots on their bodies. Male guppies have smaller and thinner bodies with beautiful fins.

Guppy tails vary; they may appear as broad fan shapes, pointed and shaped like a sword. Their common tails are round, flag, spire, veil, and fantails.

Life Expectancy

Both guppy and betta fish have an average life span of four years. Their genetics influence their life expectancy. Again, proper maintenance can make them live longer like a good diet, quality water, and prevention of infections. These fish can live up to six years if you consider these two factors.

Bettas vs Guppies Genetics

betta fish with fresh plants in background

Betta fish is native to Thailand from wild ancestral species. After several years of selective cross-breeding, the new strain of Betta fish emerged. This species has four layers of different pigmentation.

We have an iridescent layer at the topmost, followed by black, red, and yellow. Each of the four layers has its genes, and genetic material causes the visible color traits. They have an iridocyte gene that leads to the metallic and crystal structure(iridescent layer).

It’s very hard and time-consuming to cross-breed this fish species.

On the contrary, guppy fish is the most color-polymorphic (showing multiple colors). Their bodies have blue, yellow, and other numerous colors. It’s very easy to breed this fish, and many breeders have developed a variety of guppies. For instance, we have the exotic strain with snakeskin patterns.

Also, guppies tend to show unique and amazing features due to significant mutations. This factor helps them adapt to any environment and is thus easy to keep. There are numerous studies done to learn the evolution of guppies and their significance.

Guppy Vs Betta Mating Characteristics

The beta fish reproduction process is spawning (female betta release eggs and male betta sperms). Before spawning, the male betta fish will become less aggressive but fierce to impress the females.

They use their dancing moves and their coloration to woo the female betta fish. Later the couple will engage in a fascinating dance. They will swim around each other while waving their fins and touching their noses against each other.

male and female betta mating

After the female’s reception, the male betta will fold onto the female fish. The females release eggs and male sperm and fertilize outside the body. Later, the couple separates, and the male weaves a bubble nest around the eggs, which hatches in 2-3 days.

Guppies also have premating rituals and dances. The male guppies revolve around the females and perform some spine-chilling moves. It bends over its spine towards the female, jiggles, and flares around them.

The mating process is very simple. The male taps its gonopodium onto the female and fertilizes her. Since guppies are livebearers, the fertilized eggs develop inside the fish in 25-30 days. They give birth to free-swimming guppy fry. Guppies lack parental responsibility, and some eat these fries; thus, only a few reach the maturity stage.

Fun Fact: Your kids will surely love having bettas, guppies, goldfish, or any kind of aquatic species as pets! To make their experience more enthralling, check out our post on the Best Fish Tanks For Kids: 5 Great Aquariums For Children, and choose one to your kids’ liking!

Guppy vs Betta Food Requirements

Betta and Guppy show some differences in how they feed in the wild.

However, the two are delightful eaters. As tank mates, they will tend to eat anything you provide for them.

In the wild, bettas are carnivorous. They hunt creatures such as worms, shrimps, mosquitoes, and other smaller fish. They require a high amount of proteins for survival.

The guppies are omnivorous with an excellent appetite. Therefore guppy fish can survive as betta fish tank mates. In the natural environment, guppies eat invertebrates, and plants matter like algae. In aquariums, it’s best if the guppy diet consists of both plant and animal-based protein.

Betta Vs Guppy Aquarium Requirements

Bettas require a fish tank that can accommodate at least 3 gallons of water. The water should be free from chlorine. You should fill the bottom layer with gravel. The betta tank water should remain within 78-82 degrees F and be away from direct sunlight. They can tolerate a pH of 7 and remain healthy.

Guppies are community fish, live in groups of three, and mostly stay up in the open. Therefore, three guppies require at least a 5-gallon tank, though you should have a 10-gallon capacity tank.

Ensure you have java moss plants in the tank to offer hiding places for the smaller fish to avoid being eaten. Keep the water temperatures around 72°F. The guppies require a pH of between 7 and 7.2 to survive.

Fun Fact: You definitely like guppies AND bettas but are quite unsure to place them together in a single tank, right? No worries. Get them together then; however, we suggest reading first our article, Guppies And Betta: Can They Live In The Same Tank (Safely) for better guidance!


Bettas and guppies are ornamental tropical fish. I believe you now can tell the difference between guppies and betta fish. These fish have different temperaments. Guppies are social and are peaceful fish, whereas bettas are territorial and aggressive fish.

Again, both fish can feed on the same food if in a community tank. Guppies being omnivores, they can feed on betta’s food. The best is to combine both plant and animal proteins. Also, these fish can be best tank mates due to excellent appetite, and how they complement each other.

I hope you have learned a lot about these aquarium fish and how to handle them.

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