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Breeding Guppies? 11 Things You Must Know to Be a Successful Breeder

If you are just thinking about breeding guppies or if you have some experience of breeding guppies under your belt, still, the things I’m going to mention in this article are critical to be a successful guppy breeder.

In this article, I’m going to answer the most important question regarding guppy breeding.

Let’s start with the most commonly asked question.

11 Things You Must Know to Be a Successful guppy fish Breeder

How hard is it to breed guppies?

guppy fish image with guppy fry and text overlay "breeding guppies difficult"

Guppies are very easy to breed. If you just keep the male and female guppies together in a fish tank then after some time they are most likely going to mate and produce offspring.

You just need to maintain the ideal water quality for guppies, maintain a 3:1 (female-male) ratio, and create hiding places for the guppy fry so the fry can survive in the tank.

One of the reasons guppies are considered very easy to breed is because they are livebearers.

The fry of livebearer fish are generally bigger in size compared to the fry coming out from an egg layer fish.

The fry of livebearer fish are also independent i.e. once they come out they don’t need any parental care. They can survive on their own.

The things you will need to do to take care of guppy fry is keep them in a large enough tank, maintain the water temperature and feed them the size of food that can actually fit into their mouth. And provide them with a lot of hiding places so they can hide from their parents.

Creating a lot of hiding places in a guppy breeding tank is important, especially if you are keeping the parents and fry together in the same tank because guppies are not good parents. They eat their own fry.

Are guppies livebearers or egg layers?

guppy fish image with text overlay "livebearers or egg layers"

Guppies are livebearers. They don’t lay eggs. The fry comes out swimming freely from the mother’s belly. 

Guppies belong to the Poeciliidae family. Almost all the freshwater aquarium fish that belongs to this family are livebearers. Examples include guppies, mollies, swordtail fish, and platyfish.

Guppies have an ovoviviparity reproduction form which basically means that the female guppy stores eggs inside her body and the eggs have an embryo inside.

Fry comes out of female guppies’ bodies once the eggs are hatched inside her body.

How do I know when my female guppy is ready to give birth?

female and male guppy fish image with text overlay "do male guppies kill female guppies"

There are a few signs that you will need to look out for if you want to know if your female guppy is ready to give birth

  • Once you are female guppy get pregnant then it can take anywhere between 21 to 30 days for the female to release the fry. That’s why it is a bit tricky to know the exact delivery date.
  • As the delivery time comes closer and closer the body of the female guppy gets bigger and bigger. Just before giving birth the body of the female guppy becomes bulging. And its abdomen becomes angular or square-like.
  • Female guppies when get pregnant develop a gravid spot. It is basically a dark spot located at the end of their abdomen near the anal fin. As the delivery time comes closer and closer this gravid spot will get darker and larger. Sometimes you could also see the eyes of the guppy fry through that thin layer of gravity spot.
  • When your female guppy is about to give birth, it will isolate itself and generally stay near the corners of the tank or hide near the live plants if you have any in your tank. At this stage, you will also notice that the female guppies will get very aggressive towards other fish especially male guppies if they try to mate.
  • When your female guppies are about to give birth you will notice that they will start breathing very heavily. And they generally come to the surface of the water gasping for more air. This is a very strong sign that your female guppy is about to give birth.
  • If you are keeping female and male guppies together in the tank then as the delivery time comes closer and closer you will notice that the male guppies will start continuously chasing and bashing the female guppies. This behavior of male guppies also suggests that your female guppy is about to give birth.

Are my guppies fighting or mating?

guppy fish image with text overlay "Fighting or Mating"

Generally, if your male guppies are continuously chasing each other and bashing each other then it is a sign of aggression among the males.

However, if you noticed a similar behavior among males and females then generally this is a sign that they are either mating, or if the female guppy is already pregnant then it is a sign that your female guppy is about to give birth.

As the delivery time comes closer and closer or when the female guppy is about to give birth, it is very common to see male guppies continually chasing female guppies. 

This is because guppies are not good parents. Both the male and female will eat their own babies. 

So male guppies will start chasing the pregnant female guppy so they can eat the fry as it comes out of female guppies.

Here’s the video showing different mating behavior in guppies.

Why do male guppies chasing pregnant female guppies?

When male guppies are continuously chasing pregnant female guppy then it is a sign that your female guppy is about to give birth.

Guppies are not good parents. When the female is about to give birth male guppies chase them so that once the fry comes out of her belly, they can eat the fry.

Do female guppies get aggressive when pregnant?

When female guppies are about to give birth, generally, they isolate themselves and stay near the corners of the fish tank or near any ornaments like driftwood or the live aquarium plants if you have any in the fish tank.

At this stage of pregnancy, female guppies also get very aggressive if any male guppy tries to mate.

Why are my guppies not giving birth?

There are a few reasons your guppies may not be giving birth

  • If your female guppies are not giving birth then probably they are not even pregnant. In that case, below is a video that shows the difference between the pregnant guppy and the non-pregnant guppy.
  • So, if you are already keeping male guppies with your female guppies and your female guppies are not pregnant then, in that case, you can replace the male guppy you have in your tank with another male guppy.
  • Generally, young female guppies that are going to give birth for the first time take longer time than the average. The average gestation period for guppies is about 21 to 30 days.
  • If the temperature of the water in your fish tank is very low then this can slow down the gestation period. Guppies are tropical fish so they need warmer water temperatures. The ideal temperature for breeding guppies is between 72°F to 78°F (22°C to 25°C). So if the temperature in your system is lower than 72°F (22°C) then this can increase the gestation period.
  • If your female guppies are very old or sick then they may not give birth.
  • If your female guppies are very stressed then this could also be the reason they may not be giving birth. If the females are very stressed then they can abort the pregnancy and absorb the fry.
  • If you are not maintaining good water quality in your guppy fish tank then this can stress the fish. If the female guppies are continuously stressed in your tank due to poor water quality then this could be the reason your guppies are not giving birth.
  • Not feeding enough food to your female guppies could also be the reason your guppies are not giving birth. In the wild, guppies give birth to fry according to the availability of food. So if you are not feeding them sufficient food then this may be the reason your guppies are not giving birth. If you are breeding guppies for profit then, ideally, you should feed small amounts of food three to five times per day to your pregnant guppies. If you are breeding guppies for fun then feeding small amounts of food two times per day to your pregnant guppies is sufficient.

How often should you feed baby guppies?

guppy fish image with guppy fry and text overlay "how often to feed"

The newborn guppy fry are very small. They are around 6 mm. And their mouths are very very tiny.

As guppy fry are very tiny they require a small amount of food. But you will need to feed them more frequently than adult guppies.

This is because, at this stage, guppy fry are in the growth stage and they need more food to grow unlike adult guppies who are already grown up and they need food just to maintain their weight.

Besides, the digestion cycle of guppies fry are is around 20 to 30 minutes. So after every 30 minutes, they can accept food.

Now, you don’t have to feed them food after every half an hour.

However, if you are selling your guppies for profit you want them to grow as fast as they can so you can sell them early.

Then, in this case, you will need to feed them at least 5 to 10 times every day. Generally, the more you feed them the better the faster they will grow

However, if you are breeding guppies just for fun then you don’t really need to feed them that often. You can feed them only twice a day.

How do you feed baby guppies?

Newborn baby guppies are very small and they have very tiny mouths. That’s why when you feed guppy fry you will need to feed them the size of food that can actually fit into their mouths.

There are a lot of special guppy fry foods that you can just throw in your fish tank. And it will fit into your guppy fry mouths and they will happily consume it.

Special guppy fry foods

Guppy fry fish foodPrice
Northfin Fry StarterClick here to check the price at Amazon
Hikari Tropical Fancy Guppy Fish FoodClick here to check the price at Amazon
Micron Nature – Fry FoodClick here to check the price at Amazon
New Life Spectrum Grow Fry StarterClick here to check the price at Amazon

Or you can feed them adult guppy fish food. You just have to crush the food and make it small enough that it can fit into the mouth of your guppy fry.

For example, you can feed the adult guppy flake food to your baby guppies. Just make sure to crush the flake food before feeding it to the guppy babies.

One neat trick to feed other types of adult fish food to your baby guppies is to fill up the fish food into a pepper mill and then feed the fish food through the pepper mill.

Peppermill will do its job of crushing the adult guppy fish food into small sizes (enough to fit into the mouth of your baby guppies).

Besides, you can also feed daphnia to your baby guppies. Daphnia is very small in size so it can easily fit into the mouth of your baby guppies.

I recommend this daphnia fish food (link to Amazon).

You can also feed baby brine shrimps to your guppy fry.

I recommend this baby brine shrimp product (link to Amazon).

Here’s the video showing how to feed it.

You can also feed cyclops to your baby guppies.

I recommend Ocean nutrition frozen cyclops. 

It comes in small cubes so every time you need to feed your baby guppies you can just put the cube into a small jar containing dechlorinated water let the cube breaks up. And then just pour down the fluid into the guppy fry tank.

The size of this fish food is small enough to easily fit into the mouth of your guppy fry.

Also, the adult guppies will enjoy it if you are keeping adult and guppy fry together in the same tank.

How long can baby guppies go without food?

Guppy fry can live up to 2 to 3 days without food. Guppy fry has very small body mass so they cannot survive longer than three days without food.

The age of the guppy fry will also come into play when it comes to how long the fry can actually survive.

The older guppy fry will survive more than 3 days because it will have sufficient body mass to keep it alive without food.

If you frequently skip the meals for the guppy fry then this can result in sick fish and/or deformities in the fish.

If for any reason, you are not able to feed your guppy fry for more than 3 days then in that scenario, you should set up an automatic fish feeder.

Using an automatic fish feeder, feeding your guppy fry only once a day will be enough to keep them alive.

Do you need a license to sell guppies?

guppy fish image with guppy fry and text overlay "need license"

You do not need a license to sell guppies on a small scale to individuals and to your local fish store.

However, you will need a license if you are doing business of breeding guppies and selling it to big businesses like pet chain stores such as Petco and PetSmart.

Whether you need a license or not to sell guppies even on a small scale is also going to be dependent on where you live.

For example, if you live in Florida then you will need a license to sell guppies because breeding and selling is a big industry in Florida.

So you will need to look into your local laws.

If you do not have a business license then big chain stores like Petco and PetSmart are most likely not going to buy guppies from you.

But your local fish stores may buy from you. Generally, they don’t give you cash. Instead, they will give you store credits.

However, if you regularly provide them high-quality guppies then they may eventually consider giving you cash for the guppies.

Generally, local fish stores do not accept guppy fry. Most likely they will have a lot of guppy fry in their fish tanks. And they use them to feed their adult guppies.

Even if they accept your guppy fry, they will not give you a lot of money because they could sell that guppy fry for only 10 cents.

Your local fish Store local fish stores generally want high-quality Juvenile guppies. What I mean by high quality is guppies without any deformity and with good colors.

Besides, if you are selling guppies and you are earning money from it then you will need to pay income tax for it.

Do male guppies kill females?

guppy fish image with text overlay "do male guppies kill female"

Male guppies do not kill female guppies. But they can harass female guppies to the point they get so stressed that they get sick. And ultimately they will die.

One of the most important things you can do to avoid this from happening is you should maintain a ratio of at least 2:1 or 3:1 (female-male) ratio.

For example, if you want to keep two male guppies with females then you should have at least 4 to 6 females in your tank.

This is important because if you keep fewer female guppies then the male will harass the female guppies so much that they will get stressed out. And it can result in diseases and ultimately they will die.

Besides, you should also create a lot of hiding places in your guppy fish tank. So if the male guppies harassed the female guppies then the female guppies could hide, relax, and recover.

You can easily create a lot of hiding places in your guppy tank by adding some live aquarium plants in the tank. Here’s the list of the best live aquarium plants for guppies.

Besides, you should follow the general best practices like you should maintain the ideal water parameters in your guppy fish tank and keep up with the regular maintenance of the guppy fish tank, and regularly feeding sufficient food to all the guppies in your guppy fish tank.

Here’s the table showing the ideal water parameters that guppies need in their tank.

PARAMETERSVALUES
FISHGuppies
SCIENTIFIC NAMEPoecilia reticulata
CARE LEVELEasy
MAXIMUM SIZE2 inches
AVERAGE LIFESPAN2-4 years
DIETOmnivore
WATER TEMPERATURE64–82° F
WATER pH5.5–8.0
WATER HARDNESS10–30
MINIMUM TANK CAPACITY5 gallons
BREEDINGLivebearers

Conclusion

So these were the answers to the frequently asked and critical questions you need to know if you want to breed guppies successfully. 

I hope you found this article helpful.

If you do, please share it.

Good luck with breeding your guppies!

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