Female Guppy Died After Giving Birth – 5 Possible Reasons

Fish keepers are used to fish dying on them, for various reasons. This includes the death of female guppies after giving birth. Novices, on the other hand, will need an explanation for this phenomenon, and that’s what this article is for. I’ll talk about the reasons female guppies die after giving birth, how you can prevent this, and more.

Some of the reasons include stress, water conditions, complication during labor, sickness, and so on. At times, the labor period may go smoothly but external factors may negatively influence the health state of female guppies, leading to death.

To understand why female guppies die after giving birth, stick with me until the end!

Pregnancy-Related Stress

Pregnancy elevates the stress levels of any living mammal in the world, including guppies. During pregnancy, females need to feel safe and all risk factors need to be eliminated completely. Furthermore, stress is a very broad term when it comes to guppies.

Even moving females to another aquarium can be a significant source of stress. If the water parameters are different from the original tank, the stress is even higher. The situation becomes even less manageable when other fish are disturbing the female during pregnancy.

To help with this, make sure the secondary aquarium has the same water parameters (temperature, ammonia and nitrites levels, alkalinity, and pH) as the original tank. You should also put plants in the new tank that will serve as cover for females. This will alleviate their stress further.

While you’re at it, take aggressive fish out of the secondary tank. Despite this, your female may still be stressed, and it’s good to know the telltale signs for this:

  • Erratic swimming
  • Refusal to eat
  • Fading colors
  • Swimming at the bottom of the tank

These aren’t the only signs of stress, though. Others may not be as specific as what I told you but any change in normal behavior can be a sign of stress. Nutrition is very important to pregnant female guppies, as well. Make sure their food is high-quality and rich in nutrients!

Complications During Labor

Do you know how lengthy the guppy birthing process is? Multiple hours, sometimes even a day or two. Guppy females give birth to hundreds of fry at once. Naturally, complications may occur, given the absurd circumstances. Female guppies only become able to give birth at three months, and the two signs of pregnancy include:

  • Gravid spot on the belly – When pregnant, female guppies have a dark spot under the tail that becomes enlarged during pregnancy
  • Enlarged and bulkier abdomen

Pregnant female guppies will gestate between 21 and 30 days, and during this time, they need perfect water conditions. Temperature, in particular, is critical for healthy birthing. Females usually need a temperature of 72-79 degrees Fahrenheit in the water. If the water is colder than that, the gestation period will be longer.

However, even if all the conditions are perfect, giving birth to hundreds of fry at once puts immense strain on the body of the female guppy. Complications may appear for a variety of reasons:

  • The female guppy is stressed because you’ve handled her incorrectly or recently moved her to a new tank
  • Fry becomes stuck in the birthing canal because of deformities or overdue pregnancies (due to stress, females will choose to postpone birth)
  • Bad water conditions may lead to labor complications

Fortunately, there are some things you can do if you notice that the female guppies are struggling to give birth. You can try turning off the lights in the tank to make the females feel more comfortable. Alternatively, you can try adding aquarium salt to the tank, as this seems to calm the females down.

I recommend keeping the water clean at all times. Make sure there are various plants and decorations in the tank, to keep the females safe and comfortable. Female guppies often hide in hard-to-spot places when giving birth because it gives them a feeling of safety.

It’s also better to keep the pregnant female guppy in a breeding tank where no fish can disturb her. No stress, no bullying, no inter-species cannibalism – you can solve so many problems by isolating the female from other guppies. However, you should also remove the female from the tank as soon as she gives birth.

Many females will eat their fry after giving birth.

Existing Medical Condition

Pregnant female guppies may also die because of existing medical conditions. This is especially the case when you buy female guppies from a store. Guppies may also become sick if kept in improper conditions. As I said, the water parameters are very important for pregnant female guppies.

If the temperature is too high or too low or if the water is unclean, the female guppies may develop a bacterial or parasitic infection. Clearly, this will lower their lifespan considerably, and death is a common occurrence during the highly stressful birthing period.

But most medical conditions can be prevented with adequate countermeasures. This is especially the case if you notice the disease during its early stages. Treatment may be necessary, so I recommend consulting with your veterinarian if you believe the female guppies are sick.

Improper Water Parameters

If it wasn’t clear enough, bad water quality negatively impacts your guppies. If you move the female guppy to another tank with different water parameters, the resulting stress may easily lead to complications during birth.

Death is not an uncommon result either. Fortunately, it’s easy to prevent this problem. Simply match the water parameters between the two tanks.

That’s it. Once you move the pregnant female guppy to the new tank, she’ll barely feel the difference. If it has enough plants and hiding spots available, the pregnancy should take place without accidents. Try moving her quickly and without disturbing her too much, though.

Stress Caused by Breeding Box

A breeding box is a handy solution for when you can’t afford a new tank. After you place the pregnant female inside the breeding box, you only have to wait. After she gives birth, relocate her to the old tank, and keep the fry in there for about two weeks. That’s the entire process!

But what you may not know is that a breeding box is very stressful for pregnant female guppies. If the box is too small and there aren’t enough hiding places, the stress is even higher. That’s why I recommend keeping the female in there only until she gives birth. Afterward, take her back to the regular tank!

If you keep her inside the breeding box for longer, she’ll eventually become so stressed that she may start eating the fry. With insufficient hiding spots available, the fry won’t be able to escape their mother’s clutches.

How To Care for Pregnant Female Guppies?

By now, you should understand how important it is to keep pregnant female guppies comfortable during gestation and pregnancy. Proper care involves sickness prevention, prevention of labor complications, and keeping the water parameters optimal. There aren’t too many things to do, fortunately.

One of the most problematic situations is when the female guppy becomes pregnant shortly after giving birth. Why do you think this species has been dubbed the “million fish?” Their prolific abilities are far beyond any other mammal on Earth. Most times, female guppies retain some of the sperm from males and may become pregnant multiple times.

To care for pregnant guppy females, you need to keep the water parameters stable, provide nutritious food, monitor for any diseases, and reduce the overall stress as much as possible. Moreover, try to prevent any pregnancy-related complications to maintain the health of your fish.

Moreover, you shouldn’t let deformed or sick fish mate. Their offspring will likely inherit the genetic abnormalities and the result is less than favorable. If the fish breed excessively, that will lead to a lot of stress, as well. The lifespan of the fish will shorten significantly as a result.

Wrap Up

There are many reasons why pregnant female guppies may die when giving birth. To recapitulate, any pre-existing medical conditions will worsen during the birthing process. Labor complications such as fry becoming stuck in the birth canal are another cause of death among female guppies.

Lastly, inadequate keeping conditions (improper water parameters) are the final nail in the coffin. Like I said before, to prevent most of these issues, make sure your guppies are properly taken care of. Ensure healthy water conditions, offer a healthy and diversified diet, and minimize their stress during labor and birth.

Only buy female guppies from reputable breeders, as well. If you buy pregnant females from shops, chances are they’ll be sick and may even die during birth. Moreover, you don’t know what genetic makeup the fry will have. Perhaps the other parent is impaired or malformed, and these genetic markers will be transmitted to the fry.

You don’t want sick or malformed fry, so I recommend mating the fish you have instead of buying pregnant females. By doing this, you’ll be able to control their genetic makeup.

If you have other questions, leave a message down below and I’ll reply as soon as possible!

Guppies   Updated: September 16, 2022
avatar I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets.
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