Male Guppies Prefer Familiar Colors in Female Model Guppies

Sara Martin, Jacob Osborne, Ashton Mason, Scott Goeppner


Past studies have shown different patterns of how guppies select their mates. We aim to determine how a relationship between food color and model guppy color may affect sexual selection. The sensory bias hypothesis explains that individuals may be attracted to a stimulus initially for no apparent reason to do with mating: having the same color as the color of their food. We tested five male guppies in five different fish tanks over the span of three weeks using an orange model guppy, a grey model guppy, and a red, model flag to observe the male guppy’s behaviors towards the models. The red flag was 32.1 x 2.6 x 10.8 millimeters, and the orange and control models were 39.9 x 6.4 x 13.7 millimeters. Each guppy was exposed to the orange and grey models for five minutes and the time that the guppy spent with each model was recorded, as were numerous behaviors such as: Gonopodial swings, Sigmoid curves, Fin Fanning and Biting. We chose the color red because it is the same color as the guppy’s food and we thought there would be a pre-existing bias for the guppy to be attracted towards the color red. Within our results, very little mating behaviors were observed in each tank. The male guppies in each trial appeared to have little to no interaction with the models. Our hypothesis was not supported, as there seems to be no correlation between food color and model color in the sexual selection by the male guppy. The male guppies appeared to recognize that the models were not prospective mates.

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