Cobra guppy is an ornamental aquarium fish with unique color imprints on its skin. There is no chance that your exclusive pet display matches the ones your neighbour or friend around the world already has.

These fish breed for more than a century to create extreme color variations in them and have been successful in generating extraordinary appearances.

 Many guppies are available in the wild and in captive breeding, which is classified according to their tail shape, eye color, body pattern, shades, etc. But cobra varieties have special recognition in the fishkeeping industry.

We have compiled a complete care guide for these species, which includes breeding procedures, water parameters, availability, and much more.

But before moving on to this factual information, we have first enclosed the briefing on the significant types of cobra guppies.

What are the Prominent Varieties of Cobra Guppies Available

Almost all the guppies in the aquarium market are captive-bred with an intent to form dazzling colors and shapes. These species are usually interbred to create unseen patterns, which attract buyers.

Green Cobra Guppy
Color Greenish-yellow
Size 2 Inches
Price $25
Blue Cobra Guppy
Color Blackish-blue with orange
Size 2.4 Inches
Price $17.5
Yellow Cobra Guppy
Color Black-yellow
Size 2.3 Inches
Price $16
Red Cobra Guppy
Color Reddish-green with black
Size 2.2 Inches
Price $17
Dragon Cobra Guppy
Color Bluish-red with yellow
Size 1.7 Inches
Price $10
Lemon Cobra Guppy
Color Light yellowish-green
Size 2.1 Inches
Price $18
Golden Cobra Guppy
Color Yellowish-gold
Size 2 Inches
Price $22
Koi Cobra Guppy
Color Reddish-orange with white
Size 1.6 Inches
Price $9
Leopard Cobra Guppy
Color Yellowish-blue with black
Size 1.5 Inches
Price $11
Luminous Cobra Guppy
Color Assorted
Size 2 Inches
Price $27

Few more popular subspecies

  1. Cobra Endler guppy
  2. Albino yellow king cobra guppy
  3. Cobra mosaic guppy
  4. Tuxedo cobra guppy
  5. Violet cobra guppy
  6. Blonde cobra guppy
  7. Black cobra guppy

Species Overview

Scientific Name Poecilia Reticulata
Nick Names Million fish, rainbow fish, fancy guppy
Family Poeciliidae
Source South America
Average Age 2-5 years
Max Length 6 cm
Type Freshwater
Color Pattern Multi-colored

Where Have They Originated?

Guppies are widely found in-and-around the central part of South American countries such as Barbados, Venezuela, Brazil, and others.

These were first recognized for their specialties in 1859, and after a decade, they were in the fish trading market.

They traveled all the way to Europe and spread to other parts of the world that covered tropical regions. It can be easily seen in rivers, streams, springs, and other freshwaters on the mainland that are densely vegetated.

Fact: This fish was brought to Australia and America to kill mosquitoes.

What is Their Average and Maximum Size?

Cobra guppies are in demand for being a small, cute package of elegant colors. Originally, these fish can grow up to 2.4 inches as their maximum attained length.

But nowadays, breeders are producing them in confinement, and fishes born in captivity are a bit longer than the ones caught in the wild.

The male species range between 0.6 and 1.4 inches, while the females can range between 1.2 and 2.4 inches.

The Appearance of the fish

There is not just one color, design, or pattern in which the cobra guppy has shown its presence. These are produced artificially in numerous skin shades with blue, green, yellow, and others that are very popular among enthusiasts.

There is usually one leading color on the upper part, known as a cover, along with rosette patterns and vertical bars. They also develop teeth in both upper and lower jaws.

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Their tail fin grows in almost twelve different shapes and sizes. Some of them include spear-tail, sword-tail, round-tail, fan-tail, etc. These are pretty fashionable in characteristics and play a vital role in defining the fish’s personality.

Note: Your guppy pet may display any color on its body, but it is always named after the color of its tail.

What is Their Lifespan?

Unfortunately, this little beauty does not enjoy a very long life. The wild cobra guppies may live up to two years if they manage to escape from the predators, though it easily attracts some with its exuberant colors.

The life of a selectively bred species depends on the climatic conditions where they are born or being sold. Species living in slightly colder temperatures can stay for three years, while those in the warm temperature may not live more than twelve to eighteen months.

Differentiating Male vs. Female

Cobra guppy displays significant differences for its gender identification. That is why breeders find them easy pets for farming in artificial systems.

Here are the crucial dissimilarities accounted for in the male and female species.

  • The males have iridescent shine on their skin, while the females are often in dull or grey shade.
  • The males are smaller, achieving one inch as their average length, while females are comparatively larger and have an average length of two inches.
  • The middle rays of anal fins in mature males transform into the gonopodium organ.It is absent in females.
  • Males become mature to reproduce in about seven weeks, while females take about 12 weeks for maturation.
  • Males generally possess designer and more profound tails than females. However, some fish keepers have managed to produce females with attractive and colorful fin tails.
  • Caudal fins in females develop small patches and spots during spawning season, while males do not show any such display marks.

How Much Do They Cost?

They are widely available in the fish market across the world except for the Antarctica region, and IUCN has never called for concern regarding the extinction of this species.

However, there are occasions when the cobra guppies seem to decrease in population, which may happen due to excess predation.

The specimens of this species are available in the market to fulfill the customer’s demand. Their average price ranges between $13 to $20.

Care Guide

Quick Care Points
Care Level Beginner
Social Peaceful
Temperament Friendly
Diet Omnivore
Breeding Easy

What are Their Feeding Habits

One aspect that makes the cobra guppy an easy pet is their food choices. They do not have any specific preference for food and eat almost anything consumable.

These are natural omnivore species, and while in the rivers and streams, they depend on organic matter from water plants.

They generally eat more food than expected according to their size. You can offer them a variety of food choices, from commercially available tablets to frozen or live organisms.

You can feed them twice a day, but do not stay more than two minutes to avoid overeating.  Feeding for more than 2 minutes comes with the risk of contaminating the tank with leftover food.

 Check out the list of popular food options for cobra guppy.

  • Flakes
  • Pellets
  • Mosquito larva
  • Bloodworms
  • Brine Shrimp

Author’s Note: It is observed that these species show signs of intelligence, as they recognize the owner, and remember their daily schedules such as feeding time.

Are They Social Pets?

Cobra guppies are always suitable for community tanks as they do not pretend to be troublemakers for other species in the surroundings.

You will never find them resting in the aquarium during the daytime, and it seems they are on an exciting journey, sometimes in schools and often all alone.

These are classic examples of ornamental fish, and do well in a designer aquarium with other watchable aquatics. However, there are a few moments when they irritate other fish or nip their fins.

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Breeding Them in Captivity

The fish keeper doesn’t have to work much to get the cobra guppy to mate in fish tanks. These are considered one of the easiest species to breed. However, the problem occurs in the successful reproduction of the fry and its survival.

They are livebearers like few other fish species. Therefore, instead of spawning eggs, they deliver the juveniles after fertilization.

Mating Requirements

Primarily you need to get mature fish species, and it is recommended to put one male with two to three females to enhance the chance of successful reproduction.

Introduce the fish in a 15-20 gallons tank well-fitted with a water filter, and feed them a rich diet. You should also fill the tank bottom with green vegetation where new-born can hide.

Male-female Mating

You do not have to do any extra catalytic activities to provoke mating, as these species mate several times whenever they are together. As the female gets pregnant, its body starts to swell with noticeable markings on the stomach during the gestation period.

Note: It may take almost a month for the babies to come out of the cobra guppy’s womb.

Birth of Fry

Keep feeding the fish in the tank, and monitor the pregnant females, specifically after three weeks when they are about to deliver the babies.

As the fry gets delivered, they need protection from the parents, who are usually desperate to prey on them.

The young ones quickly move into the vegetation, hiding under the leaves. While you can now remove the parents from the tank as they do not show any care towards the babies.

Fact: A cobra guppy female can deliver up to 100 fries in a cycle and are ready to complete another reproductive cycle in 1-2 months of delivery.

You can find more on how to protect new born Fry here.

Do They Face Health Issues

The best part of petting a cobra guppy is that they are among the healthiest fish when dealing with medical conditions.

It means apart from the usual problems of other freshwater fish, they have a stronger immune system to cancel out unusual health issues.

Some common issues encountered in these species are ich and fin rot. These conditions mostly appear due to unsustainable water conditions for them.


Tank Care & Regulation

Capacity 20+ Litres
Water Temperature 68 to 82 F
Water Hardness 10 to 28 dGH
Tank Lighting Moderate
Water pH Level 6.8 to 8.5
Substrate Small gravel stone
Brackish No

Tank Size

These are vibrant tiny species that are highly active in the fish tanks, but unlike many other fish, they do not seek ample space for movement.

An individual or even a pair can comfortably survive in a 5-gallon tank size. But a male and female will soon mate for reproduction, and you may need to increase the tank size by 10 gallons for housing a more significant number of cobra guppies.

Tank Setup

They are easygoing species, and you do not need to worry much about establishing a proper tank setup. However, you can follow our suggestion to decorate the background and make it a soothing living space.


Cobra guppies like to stay around vegetation while in the wild. Greens are also helpful for the fish as well as the fry to hide away from predation or potential threat.

You can use various live plants in the tank to cover the space entirely. Java moss, ferns, soft silk plants, etc., will do the needful in this tank.

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They do not have any specific requirements for lighting. However, you can induce a moderate lighting system that works in particular schedules to differ day and night.

Do not use flashy lights. Regular LEDs will help in systematic metabolism while enhancing the iridescent shades of the fish.


You can induce some gravel stones as the substrate with sand as the base, which will help the plantation of veggies. Additionally, you can put a few rocks and driftwood to help the fish find places to check in as homes.


A water filter system is a vital addition to your fish tank, as dirty water will always cause health problems to the fish.

Though they do not create a lot of waste, they are mostly kept in community tanks or otherwise in groups, affecting the water purity over time.

The filter will also keep the water fresh and oxygenated with minimal wave movements.


Decorative items are not much needed in these tanks with the guppies as most of the space gets filled with vegetation and live plants. But if you want, you can still put a few toys or plastic pipes for the fish to move in and out and enjoy.

Water Parameters

Fish species from tropical water have specific requirements regarding temperature and other essential settings. You can check out the points given below to maintain the parameters of the cobra guppy’s fish tank.

  • They can survive a wider temperature difference ranging between 20 to 28 degrees Celsius.
  • It supports alkaline water with a pH ranging from 6.8 to 8.5 pH.
  • Maintain water hardness level between 10 to 28dGH.
  • Though the fish does not like brackish waters, while in the aquarium, they like a bit of salty water. You can mix 5-6 teaspoons of salt in a 5-gallon tank of water.
  • Change a quarter of the tank water twice a month. Measure and add the salt needed in the changed water. Water also evaporates, and you need to fill the space. In such situations, do not add salt.

Note: Hard water with calcium, magnesium, and other nutritional elements will keep the fish healthy.

Compatible Tank Mates

Cobra guppy is one of the most suitable fish to live with for other tank species. They are harmonious and non-bothering fish that move in their own school and rarely interrupt other fish.

You can easily keep them with other peaceful aquatics of similar size and eating habits. The experts advise avoiding keeping bettas with them, especially if the tank size is low.

One or both of them can nip each other fin and injure themselves in this activity. These species are self-sufficient to provide company to their partner, as they are mostly kept in pairs or in a combination of one male with two or more females.

Here are a few suggestions for tank mares of this fish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will different types of cobra guppies school together?

These species accept the company of other fish, but a more promising fact is that they prefer to school only in their small group. It means that they match their body color with their tank mates, and decide whether to school with them or not.

Do different varieties of cobra guppies crossbreed, if given a chance?

The guppy species are known for mating several times. If they get a chance to mate with a similar species, they will not leave this opportunity to seduce the female for spawning.

How many cobra guppies can be added to a 5-gallon tank?

These species are small in size and easily adjust to the confinement of such tanks. You can add about one male and four females, that is, five specimens at a time, which is in the ratio of one fish per gallon.

Why do most of them die soon after the purchase?

Cobra guppy breeders produce them in bulk by cross-breeding multiple times to generate new designs and shades on their skin. This ultimately weakens the specimen.

The fish’s stress levels increase due to a lack of space with the increasing number of specimens in a small area, which also disturbs the water condition.

So, they are not very healthy when brought home and thus need extra care such as a healthy diet and a soothing environment to recover soon. You can quarantine them for 3-4 weeks before introducing them to the main tank.

Final Words

Since these species are available in many specific shining colors, you can put many small aquariums at different places to showcase their beauty with a contrasting background.

Cobra guppy fish are robust in nature and suitable for beginner-level enthusiasts. They do not require much care from the keeper once they adapt to the environment.

But for a healthy and long-lasting pet life, you must get them from a genuine store and fulfill their basic needs, such as good food, clean water, and friendly tank mates.

About the Author

Shelby Crosby

Shelby is a passionate fishkeeper who has been writing about fish for over 5 years. She is a pro aquarist and holds a BSc Honors Degree in Wildlife and Fisheries. She creates her own beautiful aquarium layouts and loves to share her knowledge of tropical fish with other hobbyists.

Career Highlights:

  • Has worked with several aquarium manufacturers as a consultant
  • Organized and hosted workshops on freshwater fish keeping at retail stores, educational facilities, and libraries
  • Released content for the amphibian community through her writings

Educational Highlights:

  • BSc Honors in Wildlife and Fisheries in 2011 (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Completed her undergraduate thesis on the effects of zoochlorella supplementation on the growth and health of fish.

Writing Experience

Miss Crosby is a Freelance blogger; many of her articles are posted online on various blogs. She has also written a few short articles for "Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine" in the past. She is a regular contributor to Her education, first-hand experience with fishkeeping, and in-depth knowledge in aquaculture make her one of the most competent writers in the industry.

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