Guppies are probably some of the most common household fishes in the world. They’re small, active, energetic, and will fill up your tank with life. Overall, they are the ideal fish breed to have, no matter your tank size or format.
However, just like with any other pet, they do have their weaknesses, and that’s their breeding. Guppies don’t have much of a parental instinct, with mothers often leaving their fry or even eating them in many cases. This brings us to this article’s core topic – how you can care for guppy fry, making sure your guppies reproduce successfully.
How do Guppies Breed?
Unlike most fishes, guppies don’t lay eggs. Instead, they give birth to live offspring, which immediately scatter for safety. Female guppies give birth once every 30 days and have between 20 to 60 fry at once. With many of them perishing to predators, sickness, or their own parents, it’s safe to say that guppies are not particularly prolific, sexually speaking.
This means that caring for the young and providing them with a safe environment to grow is essential for their survival. This is where the tank’s layout comes into play. To secure as many guppy fry as possible, make sure your aquarium’s layout thrives in vegetation and “natural” hiding spots. Guppy fry will seek them out of pure instinct. This is to protect themselves from other fishes in the tank and their own parents.
Guppy adults often attack and eat their own offspring, making your guppy-loving life that much more difficult. Which brings us to the next point.
3 Ways to Save Guppy Fry
Okay, so your female guppy has developed an impressive belly, waiting to pop. Knowing guppies’ cannibalistic nature, you are now concerned about the fry’s chances to survive the immediate period following the birth, especially if your aquarium is rich in diverse life. Other fishes nearby will see your guppy fry as little slippery nuggets and will hunt them down immediately after birth. The same goes for the fry’s mother in the vast majority of cases.
To prevent these unfortunate scenarios, you have 3 tools at your disposal:
Get a Separate Tank
A separate tank would be ideal for your problem. With that out of the way, you can also use any placeholder in case you don’t have an additional tank just laying around specifically for your problem. A plastic or glass recipient should do the trick just fine. Guppies generally go into labor around 2 hours before birth.
Several telltale signs indicate that your guppy is about to give birth. These include the guppy going still in the tank, seeking a hiding place, refusing food, or undergoing visible shaking and contractions. When that happens, remove it from the tank and move it to another recipient. You can then move the mother back in the original tank once she delivered to keep the fry safe.
A Fish Breeding Box
The breeding box is a special device that goes into your main tank. It usually includes a special material allowing water to circulate through. The holes in the material are large enough to allow water molecules to go through but small enough to retain everything else, really, including guppy fry. You can move the mother guppy inside the breeding box once the labor begins and move it out once the fry are born.
The breeding box is probably the most common method of protecting the fry and other fishes in case the tank becomes a warzone suddenly. Which tends to happen occasionally.
Provide Natural Hiding Spots
This is not only a guppy breeding solution but a general guppy life rule as well. Like we’ve already mentioned, fry instinct will activate as soon as they’ve popped out of their mother. They will immediately rush for hiding, seeking any crane or crevasse they can find. Make sure your aquarium has plenty of java moss, guppy grass, or other plants that can hide the fry.
This will ensure their survival tenfold. It’s probably the less effective method out of the 3, but it’s clearly better than nothing. Ideally, you should pair this latter method with one of the previous 2 to ensure your fry’s safety and keep your guppy population healthy and growing.
What do Guppy Fry Eat?
Generally speaking, everything adult guppies do, but on a smaller scale. Despite their small size and even smaller mouths, however, guppies tend to eat a lot. Their digestive cycle goes for a whopping 30 minutes, meaning that they’re ready to eat pretty much around the clock. Fortunately for you, this doesn’t come with the obligation to feed them as often.
You can, but only if you plan on breeding guppies for profit. Otherwise, feeding them once or twice per day should suffice. Some of the guppies’ favorite foods include live creatures like daphnia, micro worms, or baby brine shrimp. They find plenty of it in nature and thrive on it, so having some regularly for them is optimal. If you don’t, there are other options as well.
These include flake foods, egg yolk, and even specific guppy food that comes in the form of protein powder. You can find plenty of other food options available with a quick search, keeping your guppies fed and healthy.
Maintaining Guppy Fry Tank
The tank’s layout, cleanliness, and maintenance status will deeply impact your guppies’ health. If you want your guppy population to thrive, you need to start with the fry. There are two aspects to consider here.
What works for most adult aquarium fishes, works for adult guppies – Guppies generally don’t need special treatment in terms of water PH, temperature, cleanliness, or ambient light. What works for most fishes will also work for guppies, which is why they function so well when mixed with other fish populations.
What works for adult guppies also works for guppy fry – This is another good news, telling you that guppy fry don’t need special attention, compared to the adults. If they all live in the same tank, the same rules apply to all.
The problem with the second part is that, as we’ve seen so far, keeping the fry in the same tank as the adults isn’t always the smartest choice. If you’ve decided to separate the fry from the adults, here are some tips to consider when setting the ideal tank for them:
- Water temperature – First thing to remember – warmer waters stimulate fry’s growth cycle. They will eat more and more often, leading them to grow faster. This is ideal whether you’re growing the guppies as a hobby or for profit. So, try to aim for a temperature of 80 F. Don’t worry if it’s not the bullseye. Just be in the ballpark, and everything should be fine.
- Changing the water – The fresher the water, the healthier, cleaner, and more nutritious the environment will be. Guppies and fish, in general, thrive in clean waters, which is twice as true for guppy fry. The ideal approach would be to change approximately 50% of the water twice per week. This percentage will obviously vary depending on how many fry you have and the tank’s size, but you get the point. As a professional breeder, you may need to change 100% of the water daily.
- Work with the lights – Guppy fry love light since it stimulates their growth. No, they don’t need it for photosynthesis, but it does help with growing a healthy spine, for instance. Guppy fry should have approximately 12 to 16 hours of light per day, with the rest of the time being reserved for resting.
Having any type of pet demands involvement, responsibility, and some effort. Although guppies aren’t the most cuddling creatures, they can make for great pets, provided you know how to care for them.
To summarize things:
- Separate guppy fry from the adults or other fish to ensure their survival
- Provide the fry with the optimal environment to thrive, including light, food, water temperature, and cleanliness
- Pay attention to their food and make sure they’re getting all the nutrients they need
- If you’re aspiring to become a professional guppy breeder, the parameters provided in this article may not apply to you
In short, if you’re a fish lover, you need to get some guppies to enrich your tank. If not, getting guppies anyway will most likely turn you into one.