Do Guppy Fish Lay Eggs?

Becoming a guppy owner comes with the responsibility to learn as much as you can about this fish species. The more you know about its feeding pattern, overall behavior, mating specifics, or disease proneness, the more effective you will become at breeding it.

Today we will be talking about guppies’ reproductive system. Understanding how they reproduce will allow you to make better decisions towards their well-being. This includes facilitating the birth process, protecting and caring for the offspring, and ensuring your guppy population’s health and stability.

Do Guppies Lay Eggs?

No, guppies don’t lay eggs, they give birth to live fry. The “no” answer I’ll give you is probably a paradigm-shifting one. After all, everybody learns in school that fish, reptiles, birds, and snakes lay eggs, and only mammals give birth to live offspring. What few people remember are the exceptions.

You see, the reality is that not all fish lay eggs, but most. Just like snakes. Rattlesnakes give birth to live offspring, just like some species of sharks, stingrays, and even some insects.

Guppies fall in the same category. If you’re still confused as to how that is possible, here’s a term that may shed some light on the matter: ovoviviparous. The term describes animals whose eggs hatch inside their bodies rather than outside. The result is a birth process similar to that of mammals, but only at first glance. An in-depth look will show that the two processes are not quite identical.

So, no, guppies don’t lay eggs. But they do form eggs inside their bodies nonetheless, which will hatch and allow the fry to be born get out of their mothers’ wombs shortly after.

This fact is that much more interesting when taking into account the number of fry a female can produce. A guppy female can give birth to up to 120 fry, which means that at a given moment, she will have up to 120 eggs in her womb. That’s a lot of guppies coming out at once, showing why this species is so prolific and sought-after among aquarium owners.

How do Guppies Reproduce?

The reproductive process has several interesting facts that you might want to remember. These include:

  • The birth results in a lot of tiny fry – By “tiny”, I mean 0.25 inches in length. That’s less than impressive by any standards. It will take the fry around 6 months to reach the outstanding size of 1.5 inches, plus the gorgeous tail that will certainly add to their charm.
  • The tank will become overcrowded fast – The birth process typically lasts a couple of hours, resulting in at least 100 fry if you’re (un)lucky. The situation can quickly get out of hand when considering the not-so-warm welcome that fry typically get from other fish. You might want to consider moving the bearing female into a different tank before the birthing begins. This will protect the fry from adult guppies and other fish that might want to eat them.
  • Guppies only need 3 months to reach sexual maturity – This can be a problem if you plan on only keeping a modest guppy population. One prolific female can ruin your plans fast. You can easily avoid this guppy problem by keeping male guppies in your tank only. And no, it’s not the same with having female guppies only. Some of them may have already been pregnant when you bought them.

How Often do Guppies Get Pregnant?

An even more shocking and relevant question would have been, “Do Female Guppies Need Males to Reproduce?” Because the answer is “not really.” You see, compared to other fish, guppies function a bit differently in the reproductive department. Their unique system is based on the idea of long-term sperm storage.

In other words, female guppies can store the sperm from a single sexual encounter for a lifetime, depending on the quantity. Their bearing duration lasts about 30 days, after which they can get pregnant almost immediately, even if there are no males around. Then the cycle restarts every month.

This doesn’t render male guppies obsolete in terms of reproductive requirements, but they’re getting there. This is another reason why having a female guppy-only tank doesn’t necessarily guarantee a zero reproductive rate.

Ignore this aspect, and your tank could become overcrowded fast.

How to Protect Guppy Fry?

Unlike in the wild, guppy fry don’t have too many areas to hide immediately after birth. The tank only offers them limited protection, rendering them vulnerable to adult guppies who enjoy hunting newborn fry. My recommendation would be to move the bearing female into a different tank, where your guppy fry will be safe during the most sensitive time of their lives.

Once they’ve gained strength and reached a decent size, you can move them to the general tank. If you think that’s too much of a headache, you can just optimize the aquarium to favor guppy fry. More plants and plenty of hiding spots will make for a lusher and safer ecosystem.

This will allow the fry to survive their birth test and avoid adult guppies until they are developed enough to face them safely.

Live-bearing Fish Species are Ideal for Aquariums

Guppies are just one of the live-bearing fish species, but there are countless others available. More than 200 species, to be more exact. While all of them produce live offspring, their birth rates differ, as some will give birth more often than others.

The average lifespan of live-bearing species is between 2 to 7 years, the same as guppies. It rests on you to improve their lifespan by providing them with the ideal ecosystem. This isn’t a difficult task either since you can easily reproduce their natural environment by enriching their tank with a variety of aquatic plants.

Unlike other species, however, guppies prefer warmer waters since they are tropical fish. This means you will need a water heater to provide them with the ideal environment.

Wrap Up

The most important thing to take with you from this article is that a female guppy can get pregnant multiple times from just one sexual interaction. You may have a female guppy producing hundreds of fry over the course of multiple months after one romantic encounter with a rogue male.

If you intend to grow your guppy population, this article has all the answers for you. If you decide that this whole guppy romance is too much of a headache, just play the smart card. Get yourself a male-only tank, and you’re set.

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...

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