Guppies are one of the world’s most widely distributed tropical fishes. They’re also known as rainbow fish or millionfish. They’re one of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish species. Guppies are mostly native to northeast South America, including Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, Barbados, Jamaica, etc. But these days, guppies have been introduced in most parts of the world, thanks to their mosquito repellent abilities.
Guppy Fish Maturity
The body sizes of the guppy fish are correlated with their age. And their size at maturation highly depends on the predation risk of their habitats. The females are in color while the male sport different spots, stripes, and splashes of colors all around.
The female guppies are usually longer than the male species. The males are typically 1.5-3.5 cm long while the females are 3-6cm long.
Guppy fish is a well-developed fish species and is well capable of independent existence without parental care since birth. And they learn to protect themselves from predators, most of the time their own parents.
Birth of a Guppy Fish
Guppy fish do not lay eggs. They are highly prolific live-bearers. A guppy’s typical gestation period is between 21-30 days. Guppies are polyandry fishes, which means the females mate with multiple male guppies. Female guppies are, however, very specific when it comes to mating. They’re usually attracted to brightly colored males, typically the ones with orange spots. Orange-spotted males are usually considered superior in terms of better physical fitness and their ability to swim loner in a strong current.
Reproduction in a guppy fish continues throughout the year. A female guppy becomes ready for conception quite promptly after giving birth. They even sexually mature at a pretty young age, i.e. around 4-6 months. And since they are livebearers, they directly give birth to live fry instead of laying eggs. Upon mating, a female guppy has the ability to store sperm in their ovaries and gonoducts. And the egg continues to fertilize ova up to eight months. A female guppy, at a time, gives birth to about 20-60 fries. And due to their storing abilities, female guppies can give birth even after the male guppy dies.
Usually, guppies give birth once every thirty days. And the cycle continues until they’re 2-2.5 years old.
How Do Guppies Give Birth?
A female guppy can be in labor for a couple of hours or even days before giving birth. And when they’re ready to drop the fries, the guppy usually hides in a safe place.
In the wild, two or three generations of guppies occur every year. However, it is a totally different process in the aquarium. The fries often are in a risk of being eaten by the adult fishes, so specially designed livebearer birthing tanks are available in the market for aquariums. Thus, it provides protection to the newborn fries as well as act as a shield to the pregnant females from attracting attention from the males.
At birth, guppy fries are deformed and inactive. But within a short period, the baby fries start swimming and looking around for food.
However, due to extensive breeding, guppies might suffer inbreeding depression. It has also led to other issues like susceptibility to diseases and affecting fertility as well as their body size.
Guppies are very tiny which can be both good and bad for the fish when it comes to survival. Since they’re tiny, it’s easier for them to avoid and hide from their predators. However, the same feature, as well as their bright and shiny bodies, make them prone to danger. Guppies have lots of predators, mainly birds and larger fishes. Thus, to avoid predation, guppies often school together in larger groups. It not only makes them safer but also help them in finding food easily.
Brightly colored guppies have a higher risk of being attacked by predators than their duller male counterparts. And in a high-predation environment, male guppies evolve to be duller and have smaller spots.
However, guppy fries have quite a difficult life. They’re actually in danger from the moment they’re born. Guppy fries have a higher risk of being eaten by their parents if they’re not well fed. This is why most people keep a separate aquarium for breeding fish. But they still have a risk of being eaten by bigger fishes in the aquarium.
Guppy Fry’s Safety
Saving a guppy fry is a very delicate process, however, it’s not impossible. But you need to make sure that you’ve taken the right measures. The best thing to do when trying to save a guppy fry (in an aquarium) is to get a separate breeding tank. And make sure that the female guppy is away from the male. Male guppies have a tendency to attack pregnant females. And keeping them in a separate tank ensures their safety. Thus, the survival of guppy fries is also high when kept in a separate tank.
However, it’s not always possible or feasible to own a separate tank for breeding purposes. And even though it might be a little risky, but you can still save the guppy fries without a breeding tank.
How to Save A Guppy Fry?
Here’s how you save a guppy fries from predators and their parents.
- If it’s not possible to keep the female guppy in a separate tank, there are breeding boxes available for purchase. You can get one of these breeding boxes that’s made out of plastic or mesh. Insert the box into your fish tank and place the female guppy inside it. After the birth, separate the female from the box but keep the fries as it is. But females tend to have a miscarriage if put in too early, so keep an eye to make sure when they’re ready.
- Another good alternative to a separate tank is a bigger glass jar container. But make sure that you separate the female only when she starts giving birth.
- Finally, a simple way you can save guppy fries is by providing hiding places for the newborns. Since they’re tiny, fries don’t really need bigger hiding spaces. Live plants like java moss, guppy grass or hornworts will do. If you can’t find these plants, roots of water lettuce are a great alternative to increase their survival rate.
Feeding a Guppy Fry
A guppy fry might be tiny, but they have a huge appetite. Even though they’re only around 6mm when they’re born, their digestion cycles is about 20-30 minutes. So, they’re ready to eat almost every 30 minutes. However, it doesn’t mean that you need to feed them every 30 minutes. But, to make sure they’re healthy and have a speedy growth, you should feed guppy fries from 5-10 times in a day.
Feeding a guppy fry in terms of schedule might be a hassle. But when it comes to the actual food, guppy fries are pretty easy to feed. They eat whatever the adult guppies eat. But since they’re tiny, crushing the food into smaller pieces is important.
You can feed flake food items to your fries but only after crushing them into tiny pieces. But the best food to feed the guppy fries are live food. Some live food items to feed the guppy fries are micro worms, baby brine shrimp, vinegar eels, and daphnia. But if you don’t have access to fresh live food, it’s okay to feed them dry or frozen food as well.
It’s also a great idea to feed egg yolk to your guppy fries as it is a great source of protein. Make a paste out of the egg yolk of a hardboiled egg and feed a tiny amount of the paste to your fries twice a day. Or you can also get a special powder food that’s high in protein and feed them according to the instructions on the packet.
Make sure that you feed your fries a variety of food that is rich in vitamins and minerals necessary for their growth.
Guppy Fry Maintenance
The perfect water temperature that guppies prefer during reproduction is around 72-79 F (22.2-26 C). And if you’re keeping the adults and the fries together, make sure the adults are well-fed and happy. This speeds up the growth of the fries and keeps them safe.
But if you decide to keep the fries in a separate tank, then there are a few things you need to take care of.
- The water temperature should be at 80 F for better metabolism.
- Freshwater benefits the growth of fries so changing water on a regular can be helpful. Make partial water changes two times a week for faster growth.
- Lights help in better development of the fries. So, its important that you provide them with an abundance of light. Keep the lights on for about 12-16 hours a day. But the fires also needs to rest. So, a minimum of 6-8 hours of darkness will give them enough time to rest.
It’s not an easy thing to be a guppy fry’s “parent”. The tiny fishes need lots of care and protection, especially during the first few months. So, it’s important that you take good care of the fries and keep them safe. Providing them good quality food and keeping the living conditions better is crucial for the growth of guppy fries. So, whether you’re raising them as a hobby or for profit, it’s important that you learn the basics before you begin. And as you go along the way, there are plenty of things to learn.