What do Female Guppies do Before Giving Birth?

Guppies reproduce, just like any other biological organism out there. But what do female guppies do before giving birth? What is their behavior? Fish owners from around the world are asking themselves that, and with good reason.

Once born, guppy fry often become prey to other guppies who eat the little nuggets for dessert. Well, I recommend isolating your female guppies from the main aquarium, when they give birth. But how do you know when they give birth, and how does it behave? I’ll give you a general rundown down below!

How Do You Know If a Guppy Is Pregnant?

Before doing anything else, you’ll want to know whether a guppy female is pregnant or just morbidly obese. It’s good to know that pregnant females are easy to spot. Just look for a rounded and dark belly. That’s a clear sign of pregnancy, and nothing else comes close in appearance to this. And when you keep males and females together, females will become pregnant all the time.

Once their bellies grow and become dark, it’s a sign they’re about to give birth. You should isolate them then and there, to avoid any unpleasant cannibalism when the guppy fry are born. It gets nasty when the fry are being viciously hunted by every other guppy in the aquarium, sometimes including their mother. Such is the way of guppy life, unfortunately.

But how do you know the exact date when the female guppy gives birth? Well, it usually happens about 25-35 days after a successful mating with a male. But unless you’re planning on watching your guppies 24/7, then you’ll not know when the mating occurs. However, I’ve got a few tricks that’ll help you figure out when females will give birth, with uncanny precision:

– Belly Shape

This’ll be hard to explain but here we go. When pregnant, female guppies have a rather odd belly shape. It’s like an angular vase pointed upwards. Picture a fish with a big, squared belly that’s clearly out of the norm, and you get a pregnant female guppy. I can’t explain any better so you’ll have to be content with this.

– Hiding Behavior

Unless there are other aggressive fish in the tank, guppies don’t need to hide. Only when females are pregnant will they start hiding between plants and isolating themselves in corners. Internally, she probably knows what happens when the baby fry are fresh out of the baking oven. The feast begins! In any case, when you see a big-bellied fish hiding away in the aquarium, pregnancy is the likeliest explanation.

How Do You Save Guppy Fry from Being Eaten?

It’s not a secret anymore that guppies eat their offspring. Even mothers giving birth will do that. Don’t ask me why. They just do it and that’s that. What matters is how you save those guppy fry from this cruel fate, if you want to keep them. One answer to this problem is live plants. Keep live plants in the aquarium, and the guppy fry will hide until they grow big enough.

But I recommend another solution – remove the pregnant guppy female from the rest of the guppies. Put her in a breeding box or something similar. Breeding boxes can hold just enough water so guppy females can give birth. They won’t cycle water, though, so don’t keep the female there for too long. It’s even better if you have a separate aquarium where you can put the pregnant female.

That way, she won’t become stressed from being cramped up in a small space. Guppies get stressed easily, and stress is the silent killer you should never underestimate. After the female gives birth, you can move her back to the main tank without a problem. In fact, you should do so as soon as possible or she’ll start eating the guppies.

Be sure to put plenty of live plants in the main aquarium, for when you’ll release the guppies inside. Alternatively, you can keep the guppy fry in the breeding box for 1-2 weeks. Feed them powder food, and perform water changes regularly. Guppy fry need daily food, unlike their adult brethren who can starve for many days before becoming sick. Guppies are experts at surviving starvation, after all.

If you plan on moving the guppy fry back into the main aquarium, with the rest of the guppies, I recommend buying some guppy grass, java moss, and frogbit. These live plants will provide many hiding spots for your guppy fry, increasing their survival chances astronomically. Fry are very good at keeping themselves out of harm’s way as long as they can hide.

Plus, adult guppies won’t desperately try to eat fry if they’re well-fed. They may try once in a while but if the fry hide, the guppies will eventually give up. Fry also need to be fed approximately twice per day with high-quality food. If you want to take care of guppy fry in the best possible way, I recommend high-quality food, constant water changes, supplements, and a good water filter.

Wrap Up

Now you know exactly how female guppies look and behave before giving birth. Their big and darker bellies are a dead giveaway of their pregnancy. Moreover, they tend to hide in aquarium shrubbery and among plant leaves or isolate themselves in a corner of the aquarium. That’s also a precise indication of imminent birth. You should separate them from the other guppies in a breeding box or a separate aquarium.

As for what you do with the guppy fry, I assume you want to keep them if you’re reading this article. To ensure they don’t become lunch for other guppies, keep them in the breeding box or the separate aquarium for 1-2 weeks. Feed them twice a day with high-quality food, clean their water, install a water filter, and give them powder supplements.

After they grow up, you can release them back into the main aquarium, with the other guppies. By now, they’ve become big enough so others can’t eat them!

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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