Guppies are beautiful and colorful fish that love to live in a community. They are very active and like to enjoy swimming with full joy. These vivid and flashy fishes generally swim in the open areas of the fish tank.
This flashiness of these guppies makes them very popular among everyone, especially among kids. Guppies are the first choice of beginner and expert aquarists. Besides, they need very little care. As far as breeding is concerned, guppies are live-bearers. They give birth to live instead of laying eggs and wait to mature.
In this article, we will try to understand how guppies give birth. And how to protect and take care of their new-born babies. It will enable you to help your guppies to enjoy the breeding process without any stress. Subsequently, it will save the life of young guppy fries.
All About Guppy Breeding
To keep a suitable temperature, adequate filtration, and the natural ambiance in the tank help promote the breeding activities among guppies. Guppies are prolific breeders. Following are some points that make the guppies a very popular breeder.
The maturity rate of guppy babies is very high. Babies are fertilized internally in the body of female guppies, and babies are fully formed when they are born.
They start managing themselves from birth. They do not require any help from their parents to look after them. They start feeding on their own as soon as they are born, so they grow and mature rapidly.
The anal fin of male guppy is a specialized and unique sexual organ. It is also known as gonopodium. The gonopodium transfer sperms into the female guppy through her cloaca.
The gonopodium is formed by the fusion of the third, fourth, and fifth rays of the male guppy’s anal fin. There are several hooks on the tip of gonopodium to hold the female firmly during copulation.
Generally, there are twenty to fifty fries in any female guppy’s brood. It depends upon the size of the female guppy. The larger the female, the larger is her brood to keep fries.
You can not imagine the world record created in 2003 by a female guppy at the Chicago Shedd Aquarium, who delivered 244 fries in one litter in a single brood.
The most astonishing part was that out of 244 fries, 238 fries survived. And they also grew healthy.
Female guppies have the unique ability to deliver multiple broods without interruption and even without insemination from male guppies every time.
It happens because female guppies have distinct folds in their genital part to store the male sperms and to use these sperm as and when they need fertilization.
For this process, the expert’s aquarists choose a group of guppies with specific characteristics that they require in the baby fries. These characteristics can be a unique color, a distinct pattern, fin size, etc.
For selective breeding, the hobbyist has to purchase both the male and female of the same strain. It saves a lot of effort and time. Generally, all the traits are visible in male guppies instead of females.
Females carry the genes that represent these traits in new-born babies.
With specific combinations, you may get a perfect creation of your choice. But in extreme cases, you have to prepare for completely new characteristics in the new generation. It may also be due to mutation.
Should I Isolate My Pregnant Guppy?
After selecting the guppies having specific characteristics, you have to place these pairs in a breeding tank together to avoid any disturbance.
Place some floating plants and sponge filters for the protection of newly born fries. Some of the guppy parents are very dangerous to their fries because they eat them swiftly after birth.
The floating plants provide a hiding place for the guppy babies to protect them from their hungry parents. It is suggested to remove the male guppy before the delivery of the fries.
Subsequently, separate the female guppy just after the delivery of the fries. Frequent water change in the breeding tank helps to deliver excellent quality guppies.
Separate Male and Female Guppy Fries
As we already know that with single copulation, the female guppy can produce many broods. Also, guppy fries can reproduce the new generation within a few weeks after their birth.
Hence, it is better to separate the male and female after their birth. The male and female sex can be ascertained by the distance of the anal fin from the pelvic fins.
You can also opt for the inbreeding of guppies. None of the researchers has observed any weakness or damage in inbreeding. Instead, the result of inbreeding is very positive in terms of a robust strain of the guppies.
In some cases, there may be deterioration in the quality of the new generation. In this case, you have to opt for strain change. Always observe the pattern of the newborn for proper inbreeding.
How Long Is Guppy Labor?
Guppies are prolific breeders. Female guppies produce almost 2 to 250 guppy fries or baby guppies in 5-6 hours during the labor process.
The duration of the labor process can go up to 12 hours if the female guppy is stressed. Sometimes females give birth to very few baby guppies in several hours or days. Generally, in these cases, the babies do not survive and die quickly.
Many groups of fries are delivered at some intervals. The delivered fries are curled into small balls just like they were in a female’s womb before birth. After some time, they uncurl themselves and start swimming. If the new-born baby guppies are healthy, they swim upward. An unhealthy or premature fry will sink.
Do Guppies Give Birth At The Bottom Of The Tank?
Guppies rarely give birth at the bottom of the tank unless there are some reasons behind it.
These may include illness, stress, and poor water quality. Some pregnant females that are stressed may also lay on the bottom of the tank prior to giving birth.
Pregnancy Signs & Symptoms of Guppies
As all humans are different, and they possess different behavioral approaches, it is the same in the case of guppies. Every female guppy has diverse signs of pregnancy. But there are some common symptoms that almost every female guppy shows.
These symptoms are as follows.
- The boxy and bulging out abdomen of the female guppy
- Gravid spots become large and dark
- Pregnant guppies search the place to hide, or they stand still in the fish tank
- Low in eating, refusing to eat, or sometimes vomiting
- Shaking or shivering during contractions
- Uneven speed of breathing
When you come to know that your cute guppy is ready to give birth, it is time to move her to a breeding tank. It automatically separates the female from other fishes and reduces her stress to exert herself to hide from them. There are multiple partitions in the breeding tank.
You can move the newly born fries in a separate section for proper swimming space. It also protects the lives of babies from their hungry mothers.
When is Guppy Ready to Breed?
Generally, female guppies are ready to breed within a few weeks after their birth. If any male guppies are in the tank with these female guppies, they can give birth once a month. It continues for several years because guppies are extremely rich in breeding.
We have already discussed some common signs and symptoms to confirm that your guppy is pregnant and ready to give birth to guppy babies. Generally, the gestation period is 20 to 28 days long.
The gestation duration also depends upon the tank surroundings like temperature, hygiene, and mother’s health. At the end of the gestation period, the female guppies give the signal of impending birth.
How To Help Guppy Mother and Their New-born Fry
After completing the delivery process, it is recommended to keep the mother guppy in a separate quiet place to heal herself and recover the energy and health back to the original.
Before joining with the tank mates, a mother should feed well for fast recovery. If the mother delivers many baby guppies batches, she needs at least two to three days for proper recovery. Isolating for more than that too will be stressful for the female guppy.
Protect New-born Guppies in a Communal Tank
Yes, it is a pertinent question, “How to protect guppy fries from other fishes sharing the same tank?” Although new-born guppies start swimming very quickly, they can be eaten by any fish or even their mother.
Many hiding places created by placing floating plants with roots throughout the tank and especially near the birthing place can provide so many places for a new-born to hide and save their life. You can also combine or club two or more plants with each other to give a better hiding place for babies.
These plants can be real or made of plastic. But always remember that even after taking so many precautions, the fries can be eaten by any fish. Or they can die due to some health issues also.
So, remove the dead fry immediately from the tank to avoid toxins formation in the tank. Feed the remaining fries properly for their growth and development.
Maintain Health of Tank
The proper maintenance of the tank is necessary for the healthy growth of guppy babies. The temperature must be appropriate to create a comfortable water condition for the guppy fries.
In general, set the temperature between 71°F to 78°F. Clean the tank regularly to avoid the build-up of waste inside the tank. If you find the formation of algae, clean the tank immediately.
You have to change one-quarter of the tank water every week. You can use a sponge filter to protect fries from getting stuck in the filter. You can also attach a fishnet covering at the filter-openings so that the filter may not suck up fries. Besides, water will pass through this net easily.
One more point to consider is that the tank has enough light for the proper growth of the fries.
Separate Tank For Guppy Babies
Despite providing so many hiding spots to newborn guppies in a shared tank, there are enough chances that other species can eat these baby fries.
For protecting these babies from any danger, you can keep the babies in a separate tank or a different section of the same tank. When a mother has finished the delivery process, you can remove her from the birthing tank and leave the babies to swim safely.
You can also apply some of the following DIYs for the safety of guppy babies:
- Instead of a separate tank, use a bucket and fill it with regular tank water.
- Place some plants in the bucket, like water lettuce, which works as the filter. And, it also creates a natural ambiance all around.
- Place a small mesh piece in the breeding tank to create a separate section for babies to swim safely because mother guppy cannot pass through this mesh.
- A premade mesh box is also available in many fish stores. You can hang this box on one side of your tank. This box keeps the baby guppies safe from other species and allows the water to pass through.
- If you have multiple tanks, then keep the baby guppies in a separate tank. Proper feeding will help them in quick and healthy growth. Feed the babies 2-4 times daily with a small amount of food. Keep the tank clean by changing the water weekly to ensure excellent filtration inside the tank.
- Avoid placing the fries back into a regular tank with other species until they are completely grown and strong enough to protect themselves from other fish.
- Add as many plants as you can to create more and more hiding places for your new-born guppies. Plants are also useful in the growth of guppies
Guppies are very cheerful and joyful community fish. As they are easy to maintain, anyone can boost their breeding by taking some precautions.
Creating a natural ambiance for the breeding pair and placing many aquatic plants to hide new fries can increase the new generation in your fish tank. Besides, you can enjoy their activities, too. Proper feeding and proper maintenance of the tank make the fries grow healthy and strong.