Do Guppies Have Menopause?
Many guppy keepers will sometimes notice that their guppy females will no longer remain pregnant, despite mating with the available males. There may be multiple reasons for that, which include infertility, health problems, or, as we are about to see today, menopause and andropause.
It turns out that guppies, just like humans and most other animals, will reach menopause, where they cannot breed anymore. It’s not something to worry about since this a natural process that will not affect the guppy in any meaningful way.
Furthermore, guppies can live a long time after menopause occurs, remaining healthy and active for the rest of their lives.
Today, we will look into guppy menopause and andropause, analyzing how they can impact their lives and what to expect along the way.
Will Guppies Experience Menopause?
Yes, they will. Guppies, like the majority of the animals, will begin to experience menopause after some time.
Researchers studied the matter and concluded that there’s a peculiarity regarding guppy menopause. In nature, species that don’t care for their young and don’t contribute to their fitness will die soon after giving birth. That’s because, evolutionary speaking, their entire purpose in life was to reproduce and give birth.
Guppies fall into the same category, since females don’t stick around to care for the fry. They will just go through labor, give birth, and swim away, leaving nature to take its course. Why, then, will guppy females keep living after menopause when, from an evolutionary perspective, they have fulfilled their goal?
In humans, the situation is different due to the so-called grandmother effect. Old women remain active to care for their grandchildren as part of a tribal cultural setup that describes all human societies.
Guppies, however, don’t have that. It turns out that the only reason why guppy females don’t die immediately after giving birth to their last offspring has to do with 2 aspects:
- Genetic build-up – Guppies’ bodies break down over time, with some parts and organs deteriorating at different rates. This means that the guppy will remain alive for some time after the menopause sets in. Sometimes, they can live more than a year after menopause or more.
- Domestic life – Guppies who have experienced menopause don’t show much drive for seeking food, for instance. A domestic and controlled environment like an aquarium will provide guppies with ideal living conditions and proper food daily. This will definitely contribute to the guppies’ longer lifespan.
Overall, a female guppy will go through 3 different stages during its sexual life:
- Early sexual phase – This occurs when the guppy is around 3 months old. The guppy has become sexually mature at this age, but its body isn’t fully prepared for pregnancy. If it remains pregnant, the female will most likely only deliver several fry.
- Sexual maturity – At 6 months of age, the guppy is now fully sexually matured. It can deliver around 50 to 100 fry with each pregnancy, potentially reaching over 1,000 throughout their lifetime. Some guppies are more prolific at breeding than others, depending on the strain, genetic makeup, environmental conditions, diet, etc.
- Sexual degradation – This phase doesn’t have a set timeframe when it comes in effect. Some guppies will experience menopause earlier than others, while others will never experience it. Instead, they will just die soon after delivering their last batch of fry.
You can only tell if your guppy has reached menopause by assessing its behavior over time. Guppies are more likely to hit menopause a little over a year into their lives, which is already near half of their entire lifespan.
Will Guppies Experience Andropause?
Yes, guppy males will also experience andropause. There is no standard timeframe for when that occurs, but it pretty much follows that of the females.
The male will typically become fit for breeding at around 1-month old, which is less than ideal for guppy breeders. At 1 month of age, the male is too young for all its traits to be visible yet.
This can result in bland fry, lacking many unique traits that the adult guppy will develop past 6 months. The latter is also the ideal timeframe when most guppy owners will allow the male to breed and pass on its genes.
This precaution is even more important when discussing selective breeding, during which obtaining unique features is the whole purpose.
When andropause kicks in, the guppy male will live its life pretty much the same as a female.
Can I Delay Menopause in Guppies?
There’s something you can do, but not much. As I’ve already pointed out, researchers still haven’t found a relevant menopause pattern in guppies. Some experience menopause earlier than others, while others don’t experience it at all. It seems like a guppy’s predisposition to menopause links to its genetic makeup.
Female guppies will inherit this predisposition from their mothers.
You can clearly use this to your advantage and only keep the most prolific females as your future breeders. This will ensure a healthy gene pool, creating a generation of guppies that are less prone to early menopause.
The water’s quality also matters a lot. It seems like ammonia-poisoned waters will induce early menopause and render guppies infertile before their natural predisposition kicks in.
Just keep the water clean, check ammonia parameters, and select the best guppy strains with the lowest predisposition to early menopause.
Other than that, your hands are tied.
How To Care For Guppies During Menopause?
Guppies at menopause don’t require any special treatment. You should expect your guppies to grow larger after hitting menopause since they no longer need to spend energy with breeding and pregnancy.
To entertain their boosted growth cycle, provide them with a diverse diet and ensure optimal living conditions.
I’ve written several articles detailing the guppy diet and how to maintain their habitat in peak condition. Check those out, grab what’s useful to your particular situation, and come back to share the results in the comment section.
Guppies will experience menopause and andropause as part of their natural life cycle. It’s nothing to worry about, and you don’t need to take extra measures during this period.
Just provide your guppies with a balanced diet, ensure optimal environmental conditions, and only keep those guppies that show delayed menopause. This will refresh the gene pool, providing you with more prolific breeders in the next generation of fry.