Guppies are the perfect fish for beginners because it’s very easy to keep and breed, even in a small tank like a 10 gallon aquarium. They are livebearers which means they don’t lay eggs but give birth to live offspring. Guppies are also an extremely hardy fish well suited to the community aquarium.
- How to breed Guppies – 5 steps
- Some tips for breeding Guppy
How to breed Guppies – 5 steps
Select your breeding stock
For you first attempt at breeding guppies, fish purchased from your local aquarium will be perfectly suitable. As you get more serious or if you are interested in breeding for show then breeding stock can be purchased directly from a specialist breeder.
Aquarium brought fish are generally bred from the same gene pool by aquarium shop owners, this can lead to undersized and dull fish as you continue to breed from the same gene pool, you can avoid this by purchasing your fish from different sources.
The male guppy should be your most striking guppy and the specimen you would most like the new offspring to resemble. Females should be compact with a thick tail and brightly colored tail fin. If the fish you have chosen to breed are related the offspring will resemble their parents more than if the fish where not related.
Setup the breeding tank
The best tank size for breeding Guppies is around 10 gallons, you could go as small as a 5 gallon fish tank if you don’t have the room for a larger tank. Guppies should be kept in water temperatures of 65-68 degrees F (18-20 degrees C) but for a breeding tank the temperature should be increased to 74-78 degrees F (23-25 degrees C).
Leave the base of the tank gravel free and install some floating plants like Java Moss for the newborn fish to hide as mothers often eat their own young. Cover the filter with panty hose as they can easily suck up the small newborn fish. See more: filter for 10 gallon fry fish tank.
Breeding Guppies in a 10 gallon aquarium with Java Moss
If you don’t have the space or money for a dedicated breeding tank you can use a floating breeder box. Floating breeder boxes are small plastic containers that you can place in an existing fish tank. They have a V shaped groove at the bottom with a small slot that allows newborn fish to slip into, this prevents the mother fish or any other fish in your tank from eating the young.
Place breeding fish into tank
Once you have established your breeding tank place your selected male fish and 2-3 females in the tank. You are best to put 2-3 females as this will stimulate the male more than having a solitary breeding partner and a selected pair of fish may not always become a compatible mating pair. When mating is about to commence you will notice that the male performs a dance like movement in front of the females to attract their attention. The fish will then come together and the male will insert its anal fin into the female for fertilization.
You will be able to tell when a female has become pregnant as the dark spot on the fishes belly will become larger and darker in color. This spot is known as the ‘gravid spot’ and is in fact the eyeballs of the young fry inside the mother. Once you have confirmed that a female is pregnant you should remove the male fish from the tank. The gestation period for a guppy is about 30 days, the female will generally give birth around 3 weeks after you notice she is pregnant.
Prepare tank for birth
To prepare the tank for birth you should remove about 50% of the water and check that your water temperature and pH levels are correct. Ensure the expecting females are well fed, worms and brine shrimp are good sources of fish food. Once the female has given birth they should be returned to there regular tank to keep the fry safe.
Raising the guppy fry
The newborn fish will be looking to feed almost immediately, the best food at this stage of their life is the ground up fish flakes. Once the fish have grown slightly it is good to introduce more nutrition into their diet in the form of newly hatched brine shrimp and small blood worms. A cooked egg yolk finely diced is also a good source of protein for growing fish.
Any fish that don’t survive should be removed from the tank as soon as possible to prevent disease. Once your new guppies are around 1-2 months they should be large enough to safely place in the tank with your other fish.
Some tips for breeding Guppy
Here are some tips to follow when breeding guppies.
Solitary male guppies may not always be interested in breeding, you can sometimes spark their interest by adding some competition. Add a divider to your breeding tank and place another male guppy into this divided area (separate from the breeding male and females). The threat of this new male will often encourage your breeding male into action.
If you are using a plastic breeder box do not place the female inside until you are sure she is close to giving birth. While the gestation period for guppies is usually about 28 days it can sometimes be up to 40 days. As you cannot be exactly sure when a female is going to give birth an extended periods in the breeding box can be stressful to the fish, this is one of the downsides to using a breeding box as opposed to a dedicated tank.
Feed your newborn fry less more often, that is, give your fish numerous small meals throughout the day as opposed to one large meal.
Even if a female guppy has given birth and has not been in contact with another male guppy they may give birth to additional batches of newborn. This is because guppies are capable of giving birth multiple times from just one fertilization by a male.
You should purchase your male and female guppies from different stores to prevent inbreeding. Unfortunately the quality of guppies sold at aquariums is of a lower standard than in the past due to large amounts of inbreeding. You can help widen the gene pool by sourcing your fish from different suppliers.
You should sterilize nets or any other implements that will be in contact with your tanks water. The best way to do this is immerse them in boiling water. Sterilization is even more important when dealing with newborn fish as they are for more sensitive to changes in water conditions.
Guppies can sometimes give birth of up to 50 babies. You need to be prepared for this scenario by having a place for all your new fish to live. If you don’t have the tank space to accommodate all of your new fish you can give them to friends or some pet shops/aquariums may even give you cash or store credit for your donation.
Java Moss is the best plant to provide hiding spots for newborn fry. It has low light requirements and as it is a floating plant does not need to be planted in gravel.
Certain types of aquarium filters can be dangerous to newborn fry. To prevent small fry from being sucked into a filter you can cover the inlet holes with some panty hose.