5 Actions You Must Take When Your Guppy Is About To Give Birth

Do Guppies Give Birth at Night?

5 Actions You Must Take When Your Guppy Is About To Give Birth7 mins read

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5 actions you must take when your guppy is about to give birth
Image from Flickr

Are you unsure what to do with a guppy about to give birth? Guppies are an extremely popular freshwater fish species in the Aquarium that are copious and eager breeders. The Guppy females are one of a few freshwater Aquarium fish species that give live birth to their young.

Whether you are breeding Guppies intentionally, or one or more of your females have “accidentally” become pregnant, it is vital to take proper precautions. With a guppy about to give birth, it is vital to ensure both the female and her young are safe.

If you are wondering ‘how long does it take a guppy to give birth’ or want to know how to help a guppy give birth safely, read on for some simple tips. This guide will also give you a broader understanding of the pregnancy and gestation process.

5 Actions To Be Taken When Your Guppy Is About To Give Birth

Actions to be taken when your guppy is about to give birth
The breeding tank will need to be cycled more regularly to keep the water optimally clean and keep to the proper water parameters. Image from cnnindonesia.com

With a pregnant guppy about to give birth, refering to general breeding and birthing requirements given can help a lot.

However, you can take the following essential steps to help a Guppy who is giving birth and to ensure that the fry survive:

1: Remove the pregnant female

This is more a precaution to be taken once your notice the pregnancy, but always ensure that your pregnant female is removed from the communal tank after she shows signs of pregnancy. You can wait two weeks into her pregnancy, sooner is always better.

Why is it important for a guppy about to give birth to be in a separate tank?

Pregnant female fish are particularly vulnerable in some specific ways. As they are more sensitive, it’s important to remove them and give them an individual tank. Some of these reasons include:

  • Other fish might harass them
  • They may not get enough food due to competition
  • Too much stress can lead to early birth and complications
  • other males may try to impregnate them again

2: Set up the breeding tank properly

Place the properly set up breeding tank in a quieter and more secluded place in your home away from noise and disturbances.

What parameters does the breeding tank need to help a guppy give birth?

  • slightly warmer temperature than your regular tank. warm conditions help your guppy give birth more easily. A good idea is to keep the water about one degree warmer than your usual tank.
  • tank quality should be very clean. don’t clean too much or you will stress your fish. however, you can clean twice a week as opposed to once
  • always test the water for pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels beforehand

3: Cycle the breeding tank regularly

The breeding tank will need to be cycled more regularly to keep the water optimally clean and keep to the proper water parameters.

This involves having a stronger filter. Guppies are not the strongest swimmers, but upgrading to a filter that cycles 5 times the capacity per hour as opposed to 4 can make a big difference

You can also add a bubbler to ensure oxygenation, plus plenty of live plants as these help absorb nitrate and nitrites

4: Feed your female guppy a protein-rich diet

This should consist of brine shrimp, insect larvae, and blood worms. At this time, it’s best to avoid egg yolk and minced beef as they quickly dirty the water. Feed her more regularly in smaller amounts that she can easily finish.

What other foods can I feed my pregnant female guppy?

  • daphnia
  • tubifex worms
  • glass worms
  • very small amounts of vegetable matter

5: Ensure that there are some hiding places.

Goof hiding places include plants or caves for the pregnant female to give birth without any stress. However, your general tank setup can help your fish feel less stressed. Here are some top tips:

  • planting plants in clumps or groups helps your guppy feel safe and secure within them
  • include a variety of heights of plants so your guppy has both cover and open space
  • you can stack or pile rocks to create more sheltered corners for your fish

How To Know When Your Guppy Is About To Give Birth

What to do with a guppy about to give birth? For starters, always provide a safe and comfortable environment for both the mother and baby guppies (fry). When the fry are ready to emerge, a pregnant Guppy will show the following signs:

  • Hiding – Guppies are generally social and outgoing. However, females who are close to giving birth will start to hide or look for a safe and secluded area to give birth.
  • Loss of Appetite – Because giving birth is quite stressful for Guppies, the female will be reluctant to eat, in which case more of her favorite protein-rich foods should be provided.
  • Belly Form – A couple of days before the female gives birth, her belly will have a more angular shape, than the regular round shape.
  • Body Contractions – Right before giving birth the female will display what is known as contractions. She will repetitively flex her spine, in such a way that her tail is raised, almost resembling shivering or swimming in a single spot. At this stage, she will be moments away from giving birth.

What to do with a guppy about to give birth:

In the actual moments that the contractions start, you may be nervous and not know what to do. This can be especially tricky if it is your first time breeding.

However, it helps to stay calm and remember what your fish will need at this time. Here are some tips:

  • Check the tank temperature. the contractions put a lot of strain on your guppy’s body. A slightly warmer temperature than usual will help this process go more smoothly
  • Stay by the tank, or in the near vicinity. If you’ve done everything right, remember these are hardy fish. however, complications can occur and if you are present, it may be possible to fix (for example if your guppy gets sucked near the filter)
  • Ensure cats, dogs, and other pets are not present. These animals can stress your fish out, which can cause complications in the pregnancy

Afterbirth Care

The mother Guppy will be completely exhausted after pregnancy and birthing. Therefore, it is ideal to give her a separate tank to relax and recuperate in for a week or two. After this, you can introduce her back into the communal aquarium.

Guppies do not make the best mothers and will eat their young. Thus, you cannot leave them in the breeding tank with their fry. Moving the new mother Guppy can be stressful, so ensure that the water parameters are similar to that of the breeding tank at first. Then, gradually decrease the temperatures to that of the communal tank.

How Long Does It Take A Guppy To Give Birth?

A female Guppy typically gives birth to up to 200 babies, known as fry. Howver, the birth process may take anything between four to 12 hours at most. In most cases this is just around 2-6 hours.

In rare cases it has been documented that females gave birth to small batches of fry pausing for several hours, and sometimes even a day or two, before the next batch is born. When guppy fry emerge, they are curled into small balls as they were in the mother’s belly.

When the Guppy finishes giving birth there will be no noticeable gravid spot, her tummy will be flat, and she will start swimming around normally again.

How To Help A Guppy Give Birth Faster?

Interestingly enough, you can help your Guppy give birth a bit sooner (within a healthy time limit). By raising the temperature of the breeding tank to around the mid-levels of 77°F and 79°F. (25 ̊C – 27 ̊C). The warmer water along with a high protein diet will induce labor sooner than the expected 28 days in general.

Breeding Guppies

Breeding Guppies
Guppies give live birth, and to ensure a healthy batch of fry and a healthy postnatal mother, some extra care is required, which will be conferred further on. Image from Flickr

As mentioned, breeding Guppies is quite an easy endeavor as they are prolific breeders that will breed regardless of whether you want them to or not. Though it must be said they have cannibalistic tendencies towards their young, it is vital to separate the fry from adult Guppies, and other fish species in a communal tank, that may have similar tendencies.

Guppies give live birth, and to ensure a healthy batch of fry and a healthy postnatal mother, it also helps to know about the breeding process as a whole. This will give you more knowledge of what it looks like when things go wrong and allows you to prepare confidently when your guppy is about to give birth, so read on.

Determining Gender

Before considering breeding, it is necessary to start with a proper male and female ratio of three females per single male. Both males and females need to be sexually mature, and it is quite easy to determine genders.

  • Females – Mature females tend to be larger, duller in color, with short tails and fins. Juvenile females have what is called a gravid spot (a dark pigmented area in the anal spot), which is not visible in males.
  • Males – Mature males will be smaller, with brighter colors and larger fins than females. Juvenile males have a thickened anal fin, no gravid spot, and more vibrant colors even when young.

Juvenile males need to be kept with young females to learn proper sexual behavior, as males alone kept together may exhibit homosexual behavior.

Creating A Breeding Tank And Mating

Now that you have selected the male and female suitors, it is important to provide the proper care steps for successful guppy breeding:

  • Select your breeding pairs according to color and tail shape of preference.
  • Create a separate 10 to 20-gallon breeding tank with temperatures of around 77°F and 79°F. (25 ̊C – 27 ̊C) that is ideal, and a water pH of 7.0 to 8.0, not more or less.
  • Add both low-floating plants and tall-floating plants. You can also add spawning moss, Java Moss, or rooted plants that are dense enough for young fry to hide in. You don’t need a substrate, as this makes it easier to clean the tank.
  • Place the Male and female Guppies in your breeding tank, providing them with more regular feeds in smaller amounts. It’s best to use mostly protein-based foods.
  • Now it is all up to letting nature take its course for Guppies to mate.

How To Know When Your Guppy Is Pregnant

Once you are certain that the female, or females are pregnant, you can return the males to their original aquarium. Females will display a much larger and darkened gravid spot on their abdomen if they are pregnant. Similarly, their bellies will become larger and rounder as the pregnancy progresses. Keep in mind there may similarly be a slim chance that your female guppy is infertile.

According to research, the average gestation period for guppies is 22 to 26 days. However, there are cases where it takes up to 20 days. Much of the gestation period depends on water cleanliness and temperatures.

Caring For The Fry

After removing the female Guppy from the breeding tank, the fry will need a clean tank with regular water changes, and constant temperatures of around 78 degrees F (25.5 degrees C.) until they are fully grown.

You can siphon water from the bottom of the tank, and replace it with new conditioned, and properly heated water every three days or so. Feed your Guppy fry baby brine shrimp, micro worms, and powdered flakes in small amounts at first, and at a later stage, you can give them more variety. Once mature you can move the fry to their new home.

General Care Tips

guppy breathing end of life
Guppies are omnivores, and slow eaters preferring a greater variety of foods.

One thing that makes Guppies so popular is the fact that they are so easy to care for, so long as you follow the correct care guidelines.

However, if you want a successful birth and pregnancy, your fish must have a high standard of care overall.

It is extremely important to create a comfortable and suitable living environment along with proper care for Guppies in general. This is even more so for breeding, and when caring for pregnant females. The care tips given below are basic and you can follow a care guide for more details:

Aquarium

For two to three Guppies a 20-gallon tank is best, with an additional 5 gallons per extra Guppy or other fish species added. Guppies prefer water temperatures of around 78–82°F (25.5 – 27.8°C), and need a tank light or indirect sunlight, indicating day and night. They thrive in water conditions with a pH of between 6.5 and 8.5 and prefer slightly brackish water.

You can decorate their tank with fine gravel or sand substrate, toys for enrichment, and hiding spaces, such as caves, Rocks, Shipwrecks, and Driftwood. Synthetic or Live, rooted, or floating plants are ideal. Keep in Mind Live plants help to clean water and provide extra oxygen.

Feeding

Guppies are omnivores,. They can also be slow eaters and prefer a greater variety of foods. You can feed them meat-based foods such as Brine Shrimp, daphnia, insect larvae, Bloodworms, cooked beef mince or egg yolk, and plant-based foods consisting of blanched green vegetables. A staple of quality pellets or flakes is best overall.

Suitable Tank Mates

In the event of a communal tank, it is crucial to ensure that you choose suitable tank mates. These should have similar water parameter requirements and a peaceful nature. A few suitable species include:

Bottom Feeders: 

  • Pygmy or Cory Catfish
  • Kuhli Loaches

Mid-Water Fish: 

  • Platies
  • Neon, Ember, and Black Tetras
  • Mollies

Other: 

  • Most types of snails or shrimps

Guppy Mating Behaviour And Temperament

Guppies are known to be “individual” and have personalities of their own. However, in general, they are sociable and peaceful. Guppies are extremely eager breeders, so it’s best to always have a ratio of three females per male to prevent females from the stress of constant pursuits by males.

Common Health Issues

Though quite hardy, Guppies are prone to the typical freshwater fish health conditions:

  • Ich – A parasite causing white spots on the fins and skin of your Guppies.
  • Fin or Tail Rot – A bacterial infection as a result of physical damage or ammonia burns from dirty water.
  • Swim Bladder Infection – The infection may be fungal or bacterial, which will determine the course of treatment. You will notice your Guppy floating or struggling to stay upright.

You can treat most of these conditions using a quarantine period in clean. Then, you can add medication for the specific ailment. To prevent disease, always quarantine any new plants or fish, and keep water conditions at clean, and peak levels.

Final Thoughts

Do Guppies Give Birth
Guppies are quite easy and eager to breed. Image from Flickr

In conclusion, Guppies are quite easy and eager to breed. It can be a rewarding and fascinating endeavor regarding the different types and color variations of Guppies, to perform selective breeding. Nevertheless, as noted in the female Guppy, giving live birth takes much strain, and in many cases does not survive the birth. In this case, she must be given proper care to ensure her health and well-being, as well as that of her fry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Guppies Give Birth at Night?
Most Live-bearing fish ideally prefer to give birth at night when it is quieter and more relaxed.
What to Do if My Guppy is Struggling to Give Birth?
In most cases, Guppies that are struggling to give birth are either stressed or too weak. In both these cases, the results can be because of poor water conditions and inadequate feeding. External stressors such as aggressive tank mates, and improper hiding spaces can similarly cause stress. By following the above-given guidelines, you can help your Guppy to give birth.
What Happens if My Guppy Gave Birth in a Community Tank?
If you found some young Guppy fry in your community tank it would be advisable to move them to a separate tank with the proper set-up, as other Guppies and fish species may eat them. If you are unable to do this it would help to add a few smaller hiding spots or dense plants and to raise the water temperature slightly and gradually to accommodate them.
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Tal Halperin

Tal is an avid fish keeper and has been raising ornamental fish for decades. As a little boy, he drove his father crazy to buy him an aquarium with all the necessary equipment. Now, after a career in the field, he has set up Your Aquarium Place to offer the most comprehensive guide to ornamental fish keeping available and share his passion for the different species he has looked after.