How To Set Up a Breeding Tank For Guppies?

If you’re the proud owner of a rich and thriving guppy tank, you probably already know that controlling the guppy population can be tricky.

A healthy guppy population will typically have 1 male for every 2 or 3 females, and with 20+ guppies in one tank, pregnancies are bound to happen. And they will happen more often than you would like.

In that case, you might need to set up a breeding tank, providing your guppies with all the space and conditions necessary.

When doing that, you need to consider several things which we will discuss in today’s article. Here are the steps to follow when setting up a breeding tank for your guppies:

Get a Separate Breeding Tank

If you want to save your guppy fry, you need a separate breeding tank. This is necessary for several reasons, including:

  • Protecting the fry from adult fish – Guppy fry are food in the eyes of adult guppies and other fish species. They need a separate, safe environment where they won’t face constant threats and predatory attacks.
  • Ensuring proper fry developmentFeeding the fry in the main tank is tricky since adults will most likely eat everything. There will almost be no food left for the fry. And if they try to get some during the feeding frenzy, they might become food themselves. A separate breeding tank will allow your fry to eat as much as they need to, boosting their growth rate.
  • Useful for selective breeding – Keeping the fry separate from the adults will allow you to select the ones you want to keep. Each fry will come with unique traits and characteristics, and having a separate breeding tank allows you to choose your favorites.

A 10-gallon tank will typically do unless you have a lot of guppies or engage in structured selective breeding. In that case, you might need several tanks. For reference, check out my article on guppy selective breeding.

One keynote to remember: you don’t need professional breeding containers. Guppies don’t have those in the wild, remember? They will breed wherever they can. You only need to provide them with a stable environment with clean and fresh water, and Mother Nature will do the rest.

So, save your money and buy a 10-gallon tank, and you should be fine.

Ensure Sufficient Hiding Spots

Female guppies will always seek hiding places when labor kicks in. These help them feel safer during labor which is a vulnerable period in their lives.

In this sense, you have two options available:

  1. Commercial Hiding Places – These are ready-to-install hiding places that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They mostly feature caves, fake rocks, and small caverns that will shelter both females and guppy fry once they’re born. You can even buy a couple of them, provided your tank has enough room available.
  2. Aquatic Plants – These are a great addition to your guppy tank, thanks to their benefits. Aside from creating the impression of natural habitat, these plants will also hide guppies, especially when placed in front of cave entries.

I recommend purchasing both assets to provide your guppies with a tank environment mimicking their natural habitat. By doing so, you can even allow the fry to be born in the same tank as the adults.

The plants, rocks, and caves will protect them from adults as guppy fry will instinctively hide from other fish.

What Type of Substrate to Use For A Guppy Breeding Tank?

The short answer is none, but it can depend. For instance, you need to consider that a breeding tank also translates to a lot of mess. You will have a lot of fry, which needs feeding around 3 to 4 times per day. This will lead to the accumulation of a lot of fish waste and unconsumed food.

A barebone bottom is easier to clean and maintain, but what if you don’t have the time for that? In that case, you can go with a sandy or gravel substrate, depending on your preferences.

Ultimately, it depends on what you prefer, the tank’s size, and how many fry you will have.

Ensure Optimal Aquarium Lights

Guppies are diurnal fish, which means they need a consistent and reliable day-night cycle. Aquarium lights will allow you to provide your guppy fry with stable lighting for about 12 to 16 hours per day.

You should reserve the rest of the 8 to 10 hours for sleeping and resting. A balanced day and night cycle will boost your fry’s growth and allow them to rest properly.

Get a Good Water Filter

A water filter is imperative in a breeding tank that can hold several dozen fry. The filter will maintain the water clean and oxygenated, providing your fry with the optimal living environment.

However, I suggest opting for a filter equipped with a sponge for several reasons:

  • Controlling the water flow – Guppy fry generally live in slow-moving streams of water, providing them with more stability. A sponge will achieve just that, slowing the water flow and increasing your fry’s comfort.
  • Protect the fry from being sucked in – Guppy fry are generally small enough to get sucked in the filter, which will immediately kill them. A sponge will prevent that.

Ensuring Regular Tank Maintenance

A dirty tank will affect your guppies but will affect the fry even more. You should treat the breeding tank the same you do the main one. Performing regular water changes is key to maintaining a healthy and stable aquatic environment.

I suggest performing at least once per week, preferably twice, especially if you have a larger population of fry. You should change around 30% of the water each time, ensuring proper oxygenation and lowering the number of harmful bacteria.


There’s nothing too complicated about setting up a breeding tank. As a general rule, try to use similar settings to your primary tank. Ensure proper filtering, monitor oxygenation, and ammonia levels, provide the fry with useful tank decorations and plants, etc.

All these measures will help your guppy fry grow healthy and strong while minimizing the risks of illness.

avatar Noah
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. read more...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *