How do Guppies Breed? Guppy Fish Mating Dance

As you may know, all animals have their specific mating dances and reproductive patterns, including humans and guppies. If you’re not familiarized with guppies’ mating dance or reproductive behavior, I’m here to update you on the matter.

Do Male Guppies Perform a Mating Dance?

Yes, they do, and, somewhat weirdly enough, you can easily tell when they do it. I say weirdly because we can tell instinctively. Or at least some people can, especially those who’ve seen fish behavior in the past. Others may think that their guppy is broken and needs fixing or replacing.

Don’t do that! You can easily tell that your male guppy is flirting by his jiggly body movements near the females. They use to move their bodies somewhat like a belly dancer, trying to capture the female’s attention. This is their mating dance that can last for the entire day with only short eating breaks.

If the guppy female is ready to mate, you might even see multiple males dancing around them. It is an interesting process that will provide some insight into the guppies’ fascinating world and social behavior.

How do Guppies Breed?

The word of the day is gonopodium. This is the equivalent of a penis, except it’s located on the male guppy’s anus. This is what the male will use to impregnate the female after the mating dance. Here are some additional breeding facts that you might be interested in:

  • A 2-second pump – That’s right, male guppies don’t usually need more than 2 seconds to deliver their payload. This fact alone will make a lot of people feel a lot better about themselves.
  • One sex act is enough for months – The male will deliver a consistent amount of sperm which the female will save for later use. She will occasionally use the sperm to remain pregnant again, even months after the initial sex act. This explains why, in a female-only tank, you still have females getting pregnant seemingly out of nowhere.
  • An impressive sex journey – Adult guppies will mate multiple times throughout the day with multiple females. You don’t need to envy them too much, however, due to the next point.
  • The sex can be stressful and draining – It all comes down to competition. Having too many males and too few females can cause unwanted tension in the tank. To prevent that, you should keep a healthy male-to-female proportion of 1 to 3.

How Long Does Guppy Pregnancy Last?

Whether you want to be a regular guppy owner or a breeder, it all depends on how you approach your guppies’ birth rate. Knowing how often they give birth and how many fry they deliver at once is what makes the difference between the two.

Guppies generally give birth every month (25-35 days, to be more precise) and may deliver as little as 20 fry and as many as 60. This rate is ideal for professional guppy breeders since, with optimal care, they end up with hundreds of guppies within several months. As a casual guppy lover, you may not like those numbers, but you shouldn’t stress about it too much.

Not all fry survive their birth since they will be easy prey for other fish in the tank, including their own parents. Yea, guppies, don’t have much of a moral system in place. Or any relevant maternal instinct. Adult guppies will easily resort to cannibalism provided the chance.

If you want to avoid that, you should either provide your guppy fry with plenty of vegetation to hide, move the pregnant female in another tank, or get a breeding box. The latter functions as an extension to your main tank. This will provide the fry with some much-needed protection during the first week(s) of life when they are the most vulnerable.

How to Protect and Care for Guppy Fry?

Needless to say, guppy fry have different needs compared to adults. It’s not to say that they are overly sensitive, in need of extreme special treatment, but they do function differently than adults in some aspects. These include:

  • Feeding behavior – Your newborn fry will only measure around 0.25 inches. By comparison, an adult guppy can span between 1.5 to 2.5 inches. This means that the fry won’t be able to consume the same foods as the adults due to their mouths being a lot smaller. You should provide them with powder food containing essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and protein to ensure healthy growth. The food fat content can be a little higher as well since it can boost their growth rate.
  • Keeping the water fresh and clean – Although this is a rule to follow for both fry and adult guppies, it’s the fry that are more sensitive to the matter. You should change at least 30% of the water every week to ensure optimal oxygenation and a cleaner environment with fewer toxins. This will prevent the accumulation of ammonia and other toxins that may prove lethal for your guppy fry.
  • Breeding boxes aren’t always beneficial – While they may be essential for your fry’s survival during the initial phases of their live, they are not beneficial in the long run. I recommend only using them for around 2 weeks, after which you should move the fry either to the main tank or to another tank, especially for them. The breeding box will inhibit their growth, since it has less space for them to roam.
  • Learn their growth patternGuppy fry will begin to change visibly at around 1 month of age. That’s when they hit adolescence, gain some exquisite coloration, and acquire gender-specific markers. The two-month period marks their sexual maturity, meaning that shortly you will have a lot more guppies to account for. If you’re looking to trim the females, this would be a good time to start. Earlier wouldn’t hurt either.

Wrap Up

Guppies are beautiful fish with interesting social behavior that tells a lot about their interactions, biology, and social status. You now know enough about their mating and reproductive behavior to act accordingly. To summarize:

  • Keep a low male-to-female ratio, where you have one male for at least 3 females
  • Move the pregnant female into a different tank or a breeding box if you want to preserve as many fry as possible
  • Feed the fry enriched powder food to promote growth
  • Move the fry from the breeding box into a larger tank so they can have more room to grow
  • Don’t keep newborn fry with adult guppies since adults are cannibals
  • Keep the aquarium water as clean as possible to ensure good oxygenation and a toxin-free environment
  • Move the fry into the main tank once they’ve achieved adolescence (approximately 1 month after birth)
  • Watch how the new adults will begin their mating dance at about 2 months of age
  • Repeat everything
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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