This article contains everything you need to know about pregnant guppy fish. I will cover every thing you need to know from signs your guppy is pregnant, how to care for your pregnant guppy and more.
Guppy fish can quickly over stock your aquarium tank. It is very important to spot a pregnant guppy and know how to care for her and her babies.
How Do You Tell If A Guppy Is Pregnant?
There are many signs that you can look out for to determine if your female guppy is pregnant. The most popular way is to look if the guppy has a gravid spot, If it does this is a clear indication the guppy is pregnant. The other obvious sign is that the guppies belly is growing.
Below are what you can look out for to tell if your guppy is pregnant.
A clear indicator whether your guppy is pregnant is to take a look at the gravid spot. The gravid spot is located at the bottom of the guppies belly. If the spot is dark and grows larger over time the guppy is pregnant.
Belly Growing Larger
As with any pregnancy the guppies belly will grow larger and larger as the pregnancy progresses. As the guppy fry (Babies) grow larger they need more room and cause mum’s belly to grow.
It is quite obvious to spot a pregnant guppy with a large belly, Below is a picture I took of one of my pregnant guppies.
A guppy with a large belly could also be a sign the guppy has constipation, You should also check the gravid spot to make sure your guppy is pregnant and not constipated. If your guppy is constipated check out this article for more information.
Becomes More Aggressive
Some times guppies become more aggressive when pregnant, this is because their motherly instinct is kicking in and they want to protect their young. They will chase any other fish away that comes near them, male and female.
How Do Guppies Get Pregnant
You might think the answer is obvious, but guppies actually conceive in a slightly different way than most fish. Most female fish will lay eggs and then the male will fertilise the eggs. This is not the case with guppies.
How do female guppies get pregnant? A male guppy can develop their sexual organs as early from three weeks old. The male guppy will deposit sperm in to a female guppy, the female guppy will then store the sperm to use over the course of up to eight months.
Fertilisation of the fish eggs will occur inside the female fish which is a different process from most other fish (Fertilised externally)
Male guppies will typically chase a female around the aquarium when they are ready to mate. The female guppy will try to swim away from the males until they are exhausted and are unable to, it is at this time the mating takes place.
Even when the female guppy is pregnant the males will keep chasing the females. Research has found that the female participates in the mating by squeezing and holding the gonopodium in place.
How To Take Care Of Pregnant Guppy Fish
When your female guppy is pregnant, we want to make her as comfortable as possible to help with a successful and healthy birth. There are many things we can do which are listed below.
Maintain a Comfortable Water Temperature
Guppy fish are actually a tropical fish and thrive in warmer water temperatures. The best temperature for guppies is 72-82 °F (22-28 °C) anything less and the guppies will be less active, more open to diseases, slower to grow.
The best way to maintain a water temperature of around 72-82 °F (22-28 °C) is to use an aquarium water heater. I can recommend the FREESEA Aquarium Fish Tank Submersible Heater from amazon.
For piece of mind I would buy a aquarium thermometer (Shown Below) and place it on the front of the tank so you can monitor what the current temperature of the water is.
For more information about keeping guppies in cool water take a look at this article
A pregnant guppy will need good nutrition in order to develop in the pregnancy phase as well as developing her fry. The female guppy will not be able to eat as much as before because the fry will be taking up space in her tummy.
The best way to feed a pregnant guppy is to increase the amounts of times you feed her a day. I recommend to feed her four to five small meals a day. This way she can eat the food and process it before the next feed.
It is also recommended to feed her high quality fish flakes like TetraColor Tropical Flakes because these flakes will contain both protein and vegetables as well as colour enhancers for the fish.
It is also a good idea to feed her live food such as brine shrimp or blood worms.
Check Water pH Level
It is important for the water in the tank to have the right pH level. pH is a measure of how acidic/basic the water is. The pH range goes from 0 to 14. The ideal pH level for a guppy ranges from 6.8 to 7.8.
I have found the easiest way to check the pH level of your aquarium water is to use a digital pH Meter
Avoid Water Changes
When your female guppy is pregnant try to avoid changing the water, It should be ok to change the water but sometimes it can cause issues.
If you change the water this could affect her in a few ways such as
- Temperature Change : She could react bad to a temperature change as she is fragile at this time.
- pH Change : By changing the water the PH level will change slightly, this could possible affect her.
- Induces Labour : It is well known that a water change can induce labour.
- Brings On Stress : For some fish they get stressed when the water is being changed
If you really want to change the water change about 1/2 of what you normally change. Also try to match the water temperature and PH level of the water in the tank.
Use A Guppy Breading Box
A guppy breading box is a small container that sits inside your aquarium and quarantines off the pregnant female from other fish. Below is a picture of a Senzeal breading box which I have used many times. You can buy from amazon here.
I recommend you move your pregnant guppy to this breading box roughly two days before she is due to give birth. I recommend you check the section below on “Signs Guppy Is Going To Give Birth”
There are many reasons why this is good for the female guppy. First off the female is not going to be harassed by other male guppies which means the female will have less stress.
Once the female gives birth to the fry they will be able to go to the bottom of the breading box where the mother can not get to them. The reason this is important is because the mum will eat her fry if she gets the chance.
Move mum out of the breading box 24 hours after she has given birth. Make sure to feed her as she will be hungry after giving birth.
Move the fry out of the breading box when they have grown larger than your adult guppies mouths, This will mean that the adult guppies can not eat the fry.
It is important that a pregnant guppy does not become stressed as this could cause her to absorb the babies and they will die. Stress will also increase the birthing time from 4-6 hours up to 12 hours.
If it is early in the pregnancy you could move the female guppy to a separate tank. If the guppy is near to her due date I recommend moving her to a breading box.
Supply Hiding Areas
It is common for pregnant guppies to want to hide during pregnancy, especially if they are close to giving birth.
I recommend to add lots of plant and ornaments to your aquarium, These will also help your fry to hide when they have been born.
How Long Are Guppies Pregnant Before Giving Birth?
If you have identified that your guppy is pregnant you will want to know how long are guppies pregnant before giving birth. This period of time when a guppy is pregnant is called the gestation period.
What is the gestation period of a guppy? A typical female guppy will be pregnant for 21 to 30 days but this can vary considerably. A Friend of mine has a guppy that took three months to finally give birth.
So if your guppy has gone past day 30 and had not given birth do not worry.
Signs Of Guppy Ready To Give Birth
If your female guppy is showing two or more of the following symptoms then there is a good chance she is in labour and is ready to give birth.
- Belly Shape Change : When a guppy is in labour their belly changes to a square shape and is bulkier
- Swimming In Place : Is the guppy swimming but not going anywhere? This is one of the most common signs
- Hiding : If the fish is hiding this is a sign they are ready
- Rubbing : Is she rubbing up against things such as the tanks glass or plants / ornaments ?
- Nervous : If you notice that your guppies are getting nervous when they see you it could be because they are in labour
- Flexes Spine : Constantly flexes her spine or moving her tail up
- Refusing To Eat : guppies will refuse to eat if they are in labour or close to labour
- Shaking or Shivering : Some guppies shake and shiver when they are in labour
- Aggressive Behaviour : Showing aggressive behaviour when other fish come near, she will bite other fish during this time
- Gravid Spot Colour : The spot becomes darker and darker as the pregnancy goes on
How Do guppies Give Birth?
guppies unlike most fish will give birth to live fry. Female guppies can give birth to 2 – 200 fry and this typically takes 4 – 6 hours. The birth can take up to 12 hours if the fish is stressed.
The babies should come out smoothly one after the other. In very rare occasions there will be a gap of an hour (Some times days) or so between giving birth to fry. Below is a video I found on youtube which shows a guppy giving birth.
When the fry are born they come out in ball shapes. This is because they were formed in mums belly in this shape. They should very quickly uncurl and start to swim about.
Spotting Premature Fry
A female guppy will ideally give birth after 21 days, If she give birth before that her fry might not be fully developed.
You can tell is a fry is premature if there is a yellow sack just behind its eye. This area should be silver colour. An example of a premature fry is shown below.
Spotting Healthy Fry
A healthy fry will not have a yellow sack behind their eye and will look like the fry in the picture below. Another sign the fry is healthy is that they are active as soon as they have been born. Healthy fry also tend to swim upwards in the tank.
How to Care for Baby Guppies?
Now that the baby guppies have been born it is very important that we do a few things to make sure they will survive.
So how to care for baby guppies? Baby guppies require to be fed high quality fish food, be kept in a healthy and clean environment and have plenty of hiding places so they can hide from adult guppies that want to eat them. Below are my top tips to care for baby guppies.
Feed Quality Food
Baby guppies are very hungry after they have been born and they can eat food at an alarming rate. It usually takes a fry 20-30 minutes to fully digest and process a meal, which means the fry is ready to eat every 30 minutes.
For a few days after the fry have been born I recommend you feed them up to 5 times a day. A good tip is to feed them high quality fish flakes like TetraColor Tropical Flakes but before you put the flakes in the take crush them up so the fry can swallow them easier.
Move Fry To Separate Tank
Adult guppies will eat the fry if they see them (Including the fry’s mum) so it might be a good idea to move the fry to their own tank if you want them all to survive.
Guppies are known as the million fish, they got this name because of the speed they can breed. If you want all of your fry to survive, bear in mind that when they reach six weeks in age they will then ready to breed themselves.
In the section below I will give you some tips for guppy population control.
Hiding Places For Fry
Because the adult guppies will try to eat the fry I highly recommend to add plenty of things to your tank that the fry can use to hide in. You can add plants, ornaments, rocks.
I like to add java moss to my aquariums. Your guppy fry will love to eat this plant and it will help to add vegetables to the fishes diet. You can purchase lava moss amazon here.
Maintain Healthy Water
First of all make sure the water temperature is between 72-82 °F (22-28 °C) this is the perfect temperature for guppy fry to thrive in.
Next check the pH levels in the water. I have found the easiest way to check the pH level of your aquarium water is to use a digital pH Meter
Change 25% of the tanks water two weeks after the fry are born. This will help to make sure the water is fresh for the fry.