The Perfect Guppy: Mating choices based on color in Poecilia reticulata

Toni Cargill, Kainan Always, Christian Brylewski, Sarah Winburn


Male Peocilia reticulata prefer brightly colored females over plainly colored ones (Endler, 1980), but plainly colored fish survive longer because they can evade predators more successfully (Endler 1991). For this reason, we tried to make the “perfect guppy” that was both brightly colored and plainly colored at the same time. We tested this model against a fully brightly-colored model, to see if a male would display mating behaviors towards the experimental model when given the choice between it and a full orange one. We hypothesized that the male guppy would choose to mate with the all-orange model over the experimental one, but would choose the experimental model over the all-grey control model. We tested this by placing the models, two at a time, into a tank with a male guppy and recording the amount of time the guppy spent on either side of the tank and the mating behaviors the guppy displayed to either model. Our hypothesis was only partially supported, while the male guppy spent the most amount of time with the all-orange fish, but displayed the most sexual behaviors towards the experimental model. Future experiments should test to see how predators react to the control, experimental, and all-orange models, in order to reach the final goal of creating the “perfect guppy.”

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