Female Guppy Behavior Before Giving Birth

female-guppy-behavior-before-giving-birth

Disclosure: When you purchase something through my affiliate links, I earn a small commission. read more

If you are keeping guppies in a community tank, probably you want to separate the female guppy from the rest just before giving birth.

You can put the female guppy into a breeding box or a separate tank.

But which is the best time to separate a pregnant female guppy from the main tank? How do you know if a guppy fish is about to give birth? What is female guppy behavior before giving birth?

In this article I will give you some tips, which will help you know when your guppy fish are ready to give birth to young fry.

How to Determine if Guppy Fish is Pregnant?

First of all, you want to know whether your female guppy is pregnant or not. The good thing is that it very easy to know if a guppy is pregnant.

If you are keeping female and male guppies together, most likely female guppies are pregnant, unless they are infertile.

During pregnancy, female guppies will develop a big rounded belly. Their gravid spot, which is above their anal fin, will become darker and bigger.

guppy-female-gravid-spot

Over the next few weeks, their belly will grow, until they release the fry.

Is Female Guppy Fish About to Give Birth?

Female guppies usually give birth 25-35 days after mating with male guppies. It is not easy to determine the exact date when they are going to give birth.

However there are tricks from which you can know that your guppy fish is about to give birth.

Pregnant Guppy Signs of Delivery

Below, I’ve highlighted some of the most obvious signs of delivery of pregnant female guppies.

Specific Belly Form

Few days before giving birth, the female’s belly will get an angular shape. It is very hard to describe the form, but here is a great image to show you:

guppy-female-angular-belly

This shape is a great sign that your female guppy will give birth very soon.

At this stage you can separate the female from the rest.

Female Guppy Hiding

Hiding between plants or staying in a corner of the tank is another sign that your female guppy fish is in labor and ready to give birth. This is not a normal behavior of guppies. So it is easy to spot.

Just before giving birth, she will separate herself from the rest. If you see this, you can remove the female from the rest.

Female Guppy Giving Birth & Eats the Babies

Here is a great video of a female guppy fish giving birth to lots of fry. Unfortunately, she will eat the fry once they are born:

How to Save & Care for Guppy Fry?

If you have lots of live plants in your aquarium, you can be sure, that some of the fry will survive.

However, if you want to save as many fry as possible, you need to remove the pregnant female guppy from the rest.

You can put your female guppy into a breeding box. I recommend using this breeding box from Amazon. This is a hang-on breeding box, which enables you to run aquarium water through it.

Most breeding boxes are designed to hold a certain amount of water, but do not let you cycle water through.

You should not keep your female guppy in a breeding box for too long.

Giving birth is already stressful, and being in a small space can increase stress. Some females might die during labor or after giving birth due to high stress.

If you have the possibility to put your pregnant guppy fish into a separate aquarium, you can avoid using a breeding box.

You should know that guppies will eat their fry.

Adding live plant to the breeding tank such as java moss, guppy grass or frogbit will increase the chance of fry to survive and not get eaten by their mother.

A female guppy fish can be in labor from 15 minutes to up to 1 day.

What to Do with Guppy Fry?

Ok, so the female guppy just gave birth to lots of fry. What should you do with them?

If you used a breeding box, you might want to keep them in it for 1-2 weeks. During this time, you should feed them powder food and change water in the breeding box often. If you used the hang-on breeding box from Amazon, which I mentioned earlier, you can skip water changes.

In two weeks, they will become strong and fast enough to be released in the tank with their parents.

Although the baby guppies are stronger, they can still get eaten by larger fish. So please keep this in mind.

Add lots of live plants in the tank, to give your guppy fry enough hiding places.

If you have multiple tanks, you can use a tank to grow baby guppies separately. Feed them twice a day with high quality food. Do weekly water changes and have good filtration on your outgrow tank.

Adding live plants are big plus when growing guppies.

If you want to learn more about how to care for baby guppies, please read my other article.

Conclusion

Hopefully this article has helped you to learn about the behavior of guppy fish before giving birth.

If you want to learn more about guppies, please read my other article.

Also, if you have any questions regarding guppies, please leave a comment below or feel free to contact me through the contact form.

Updated: March 8, 2020

Questions & Answers

  1. Can i just keep the baby guppies in the tank with other fish ( i have five guppies including the mother, a glass fish and one tetris) when they are born or is that too risky??

    1. avatar

      Hey Avy, you can keep the babies in the mains tank, but the chances are high to get eaten. If you don’t want to risk it, I recommend using a breeding box.

      1. Ginger Green

        Hi I have a guppy that has seemed to be huge for at least 2 weeks now I think she may have had 1 to 2 fry that got eaten and then stopped giving birth but that was over a week ago but she still looks pregnant everytime I move her to a breeder box or smaller tank she lays on bottom and I never see any results is this natural

        1. avatar

          If a female guppy can’t give birth to all fry within 2-3 days, she will die. In this case, I think that she already gave birth to all fry, and you are stressing her without reason.
          Usually, after female guppies give birth, they will get smaller in size, but right after that they will start developing the new fry. Sometimes there is no noticeable change in their size after giving birth.
          I think that all the fry were eaten. Wait a couple more weeks and she will deliver again for sure.

  2. Hi our female guppy is in active labor but it looks like her insides are coming out. Only 1 fish so far and she keeps flipping upside down is this normal?

    1. avatar

      When guppies turn upside down, it is a sign of a problem. This is not normal at all.
      Sometimes female guppies have complications at giving birth (just like humans). In fact one female can die to high stress experienced during labor. This is sad, but it happens.

  3. I have kept the female guppy in a separate bowl already because I cannot understand when she’s due. She’s quite round now. If I keep her there for a few days will it be stressful for her? The bowl is quite big.

    1. avatar

      If the bowl is big enough, it will be ok. I usually do the same when don’t have enough aquariums for new fry. I put the females in 1 gallon containers for 2-3 days with an air stone.

  4. Jan Marie

    Thank you very much very informative and helpful. I love my guppies

  5. Help! My other guppies are following and seem to be attacking my female that had recently gave birth. They think she is a food dispenser. What can I do to help her other than keep her in a separate container?

    1. avatar

      A breeding box could be a good solution for the female guppy while giving birth. This way you could save the fry and also keep her separated without setting up a new tank. I don’t think that the other guppies are attacking here, however the males probably are chasing her, because they want to breed. This can be really stressful for the female, and often can result in the death of the female guppy.

  6. Hi I have my female guppy in breeding box and the female is changing up and down the bottom side to side kind off nose down. Is this sign off Labor

    1. avatar

      She is probably stressed because of the tight space. It not necessary a sign that she is in labor.

  7. Hello! I have a female that is very big but I don’t see that her gravid spot is very dark.. could it be there is something else going on? She seems to be spending a lot of time either at the top or hiding behind some of the plants in the tank. She has been bigger than our other female since the day we got her and i believe she dropped some fry about 5 weeks ago but she never really slimed back down. I did send an email on the contact page with a photo. The top of her back looks to have a slight curve in it. Thanks for any help

    1. avatar

      Hey Jenn. I’ve got your email. From the picture you sent the female guppy look fine to me.
      Though, it is a common thing in female guppies to have difficulties while giving birth. It is also common for female guppies to die after giving birth. If she dropped only 5 fry few days ago, maybe the other fry are stuck in here stomach. I don’t see any sign of disease on the picture you sent, so I think it could be a complication while giving birth. Hope she will release the rest of the fry and will survive.

  8. This article is really well done. Thank you!

    A question: at what age can I put the fry in a tank with substrate?

    1. avatar

      Hey Kelly! You can put the newborn guppy fry in a tank with substrate right after they are born. I recommend using a sand or fine gravel substrate for fry, which can be vacuumed easily.
      Most guppy breeders keep guppy fry in a bare bottom tank, because it is easier to clean, though I like to keep a sand substrate with my guppies.

  9. Hi, is it alright if I have 3 pregnant guppies in a tank but with no coverage yet. they seem to be really still too unlike the other fishes. Is it normal?

    1. avatar

      You can keep guppies without coverage, however the fry will not survive. Your female guppies may be ready to give birth, that is why they are staying still.

  10. stanley Rolle

    I see the shape on the fish so i take it she is in labour. Last Time my fish had fry, i first saw many then only one and no bodies floating. Now I know what happened. The female is staying very still most times and so I will relocate her to another tank. Hope it cause no stress. This article has been most helpful. I am grateful

  11. Shankar

    My guppy have bend back Spain is this guppy will give birth…please tell me about this.

    1. avatar

      Guppies with bent back can also give birth to fry. Though the chances to give birth to deformed spine fry is very high. I would not breed guppies with such genetic problems.

  12. Jess Parkyn

    My guppy has been pregnant for over a month and is getting followed by 2 fishes is this causing stress and does that mean she won’t give birth until relaxed

    1. avatar

      Stress can be dangerous for pregnant female guppy, especially if she is due. You can separate here in a bowl or a breeding box to reduce stress.

  13. My female dropped only 3 fry in the breeder box then stopped. She is still squared with a gravid spot. I put her back in the main tank after 24 hours as there was no further progression. The fry are still in the breeder box and doing well.
    There are dividers in the breeder box, so I can put her back in if she will continue to drop. It’s been 3 days now and nothing.
    She has been pooping non stop though, is this a sign to put her back? Or do you think she’s absorbing the rest of the fry?

    1. avatar

      When female guppies are young, they do indeed give birth to only a few fry. This is totally normal. Their body might also look the same after giving birth.
      Though, if an older female drops only 3 fry, and she looks like never gave birth, then it might be a problem. This can also be deadly, because there might be some complications. Try to not put here through more stress. Just leave here alone and hope she will drop the rest of the fry too. You can add more live plants into your tank to give the fry some hiding space.

  14. hi I just got my guppy two weeks ago and now are pregnant, I was wondering when I could sale them. I already have way too many.

    1. avatar

      You can ask your local pet store if they are willing to buy your fish, or you can try to sell them online – maybe this will be much faster.

  15. oh and do yo know if I put my guppy back in after she give birth, will the other guppies chase her and stress her out.

    1. avatar

      Female guppies are chased by males all the time, especially after they give birth, because the males can “smell” the hormones the female releases. It can be stressful, but if you keep a 1 to 3 male to female ratio, all females should be fine.

    1. avatar

      Keeping multiple pregnant guppies in the same breeding box depends on the size of the breeding box and type. Usually most breeding boxes are made for one fish only.
      Also consider the fact they might eat each-other’s fry.

    1. avatar

      This breeding box is small, though I think it is enough to keep a female guppy fish for couple of hours in it. I wouldn’t keep a guppy in this box for more than a day. It can be stressful to be enclosed in such a tiny space for too long.

      1. I have one female guppy in a tank with an angel fish, a beta fish, a Bala shark and a loach. There was an endler in the tank until August. I found three fry in December and after moving them out I found an older endler fry. I moved it out too as the loach wanted to eat it. She is pregnant again. What are the chances the fry will survive when the father is an endler and how long can she keep becoming pregnant when she has had no males in the tank with her since August?

        1. avatar

          If you cross breed endler guppies with fancy guppies, there is a really high chance that the fry will survive, although their genetics will change. You can’t really know what traits the offspring will have, but the chances of surviving are really good.
          A female guppy can be pregnant for months after mating. So she can give birth to fry 5-6 times after mating with a male.

  16. Danielle

    My female guppy fish keeps attacking the males. She has a lump on her belly but no gravid spot. Should I move her to another bowl

    1. avatar

      Is she only attacking the males when you approach the tank or all the time? Maybe she is just becomes territorial when you are feeding them, so she can get more food. Usually female guppies do not attack the males. Male guppies can fight between each other, but females do not fight usually.

  17. Laura Hutchinson

    I have 4 females all ready to give birth any day now but only one birthing box is there anything else I can use so there not all in 9ne and stressed

    1. avatar

      If you don’t have enough live plants, you can make a guppy breeding mop from acrylic yarn (buy from Amazon). There are lots of tutorials online on how you can make these spawning mops. These are great if you are running a bigger breeding operation, because the breeding mops are reusable.

  18. I’ve separated my pregnant guppy into the isolation box in the tank and from the other two male guppies in my tank. She is just laying under the plant and doesn’t move around much while the two males are like standing guard right next to the box at the top. None of them are swimming around. They have been doing this for a couple of days. Is this normal?

    1. avatar

      This is normal. Please consider, that one female to 2 males ratio is not the best. You should have 3 females to one male ratio. Probably your female is stressed out by the two males.

  19. Abel Ayres

    My female guppy is sitting in the top of the tank and it looks like she has a hole in her gravid spot no fry and she is following the male i am worried because she was pregnant but the male died and I got a new male do you think this caused her stress she has not had any fry but has been pregnant for weeks help!(you should call you self a guppspert in stead of guppy expert.

    1. avatar

      It takes usually 4 weeks for a female guppy, to give birth again. Sometimes the gestation period can take up to 30-35 days, so just be patient. She might be stressed, because the male is stress here out. You should keep a 3 females to 1 male ration, in order to avoid stress in female guppies.

  20. Margaret Petersen

    How can I tell when my mama guppy is done birthing her babies? I don’t want her to start eating them. She’s in a birthing net thingy with a divider with slots that I thought the babies would drop down through but, the little stinkers are staying in the top portion with mama! There are about 15 of them. She still looks very full. My first guppy babies.

    1. avatar

      It is not easy to tell when a female guppy finished giving birth. 15 fry sound good, but there should be more coming, especially if the female looks still big. Once her belly gets flat, it is done and you can remove her from the breeding box.

    1. avatar

      This is a normal behavior among guppies. This is part of their breeding ritual. They wont hurt each other, don’t worry about it.

  21. Hi, i have two pregnant female guppies and this is my first time breeding them. I am not sure how far along they are since I’ve e picked them up a week ago. I was wondering when would be the best time to start putting the separator in the breeding box for the fry so that they don’t get eaten.

    1. avatar

      It is really hard to tell when a female will give birth, when you don’t know the mating date or the prior date of giving birth.
      I suggest that you watch the female behavior. When the female gets inactive, sits at the bottom of the tank or hides between plants or other decoration, most likely she will drop the fry very soon. Also watch the belly of the female. When it becomes more like a square, she is ready to give birth.

  22. Courtney

    I got two male guppies a week ago. It is a new aquarium and I know that can throw things off. I don’t see the black spot on the back of the belly but he is laying on the bottom of the tank with a big appetite. Wondering if he may be a she and it’s pregnant.

    1. avatar

      Adult male and female guppies can be easily distinguished from each other, but there breeds, in which female guppies are also very colored.
      Probably your guppy is laying at the bottom, because the water parameters are not right. In a new tank, which is not cycled yet, there could be ammonia spikes, which will affect your guppies.
      Ammonia poisoning can make a guppy lay at the bottom of the tank. Do a 20% water change and monitor your fish. Hope, all gets back to normal.

      1. Courtney

        So I did this and added an air pump. He is still laying at the bottom and gulping for air. The other guppy is loving the bubbles 😍

Leave a Comment

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