Why did my Pregnant Guppy Die Before Giving Birth?

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Breeding guppies is one of the biggest advantages that make the guppy fish one of the most popular fish species out there. Guppy owners often buy separate tanks to start breeding guppies and maybe sell them for profit, or keep them on their own and start another guppy tank.

Whatever your reason for breeding guppies might be, it is certainly one of the best things about guppies.

Guppies are livebearers, which means that they carry their fry inside their bodies until they release them and give birth to small guppies that then grow.

It can take a few weeks or months before they grow up, but these fry then require special care to let them grow. Watching them grow and develop into big guppies can be a satisfying thing to watch.

But like with all things in life, there is also a downside to breeding, and that is the fact that guppies can die during birth. It can be a sad moment for any guppy owner to see their beloved fish die during birth.

There are some things that you can do to minimize the risk, but the fact is that it can occur if something didn’t go right during birth.

In this article, we will take a look at why pregnant guppies can die before or during birth, and if there is any way to prevent this.

Stress During Pregnancy

One of the biggest reasons why guppies die before or during birth is because of very high-stress levels. You see, pregnancy is a very stressful thing for female guppies. When they are pregnant, their stress levels go up naturally, and there is nothing you can do about that.

Maybe your guppy fish died because of the excessive stress levels, which can be exacerbated by additional external stress or improper maintenance or care.

Due to the already high levels of stress, it is recommended to keep your female guppies as comfortable as possible during pregnancy, and that means making sure that the tank conditions are 100% correct.

That is especially important if you move them to another tank during pregnancy – try to keep the water parameters the same as before.

Another thing that can make matters worse is too much external stress, which can come from you or other people in your home, or due to bad water conditions, or bad living conditions in general, or even due to other fish in the tank.

That can happen if the fish doesn’t have enough space in the tank during pregnancy, or because they are threatened by other fish in the tank. Make sure that it gets enough space and freedom in the tank.

The signs of stress during pregnancy are low energy, erratic swimming, refusal to eat, swimming near or sitting at the bottom of the tank, and other behavioral changes you might notice.

Check for the behaviors constantly and if you notice them, check all the above-mentioned specifics in your tank.

Bad Water Conditions

Poor water conditions and irregular parameters can have a significant effect on guppy fish, especially during pregnancy. Not only water quality, but also (and especially), water parameters are very important during pregnancy.

Problems can arise if you move the pregnant guppy to quickly and into a tank where water parameters and conditions are different than in the previous one. That can cause a shock to the fish, and with the already high levels of stress due to pregnancy, they can skyrocket after the tank change.

That alone can cause death during pregnancy, so be very careful with that and make sure that the water conditions are the same in the breeding tank.

Of course, poor water quality doesn’t help. That includes dirty or unfiltered water, which can alleviate stress in guppies. Quick changes in water parameters can also play a role in premature death, as the guppies are not used to those conditions.

The first problem is very much connected to this one, and it can significantly increase stress levels in pregnant guppies. The best thing you can do is get a heater to make sure that the water parameters are adequate for pregnant guppies, and also check for ph levels and softness levels.

Your best bet is making sure that if you move a pregnant guppy, you move it to a well-designed tank for the guppy to be comfortable.

Female Guppy Was Already Sick

Chances are, if your guppy fish died during pregnancy or right after giving birth, that the fish was sick before birth. If that is the case, then it can be caused by various things, like poor care, poor water conditions, and wrong water parameters, and stress levels can also play a role in this.

If you bought the fish from a pet store where it was already pregnant, there is also a high chance that it contracted the disease there already. In any case, sickness can cause death during pregnancy.

That is why it is very important to acquaint yourself with all possible sicknesses that guppies can contract, not only during pregnancy but in general, and how to treat them.

Some sicknesses, if caught in their early stages, can be treated and your fish will be able to give birth normally. If left untreated, the fish may die, even before giving birth or right after.

So, an important thing that you can do is to check the fish for symptoms even when you are buying one, and do this constantly during pregnancy as well. Any weird behavior can be an indicator of disease.

Treatment and especially prevention, are very important. Sometimes, knowing how to treat the illness can help you. In any case, you can always go to your local vet and consult them if you notice signs of disease.

Other complications might arise during birth or pregnancy that can cause death, and they are not necessarily health-related. These problems include fry getting stuck in the birth canal due to a pre-existing condition, various labor complications, and more.

How to Care for Pregnant Guppies?

Pregnant guppy care is very important for developing healthy guppy fry and then healthy guppy fish that will live for longer. You can do many things before and during pregnancy, but most of these tips apply to care for guppy fish at all times.

You can take care of pregnant guppies in many ways, such as reducing stress levels, providing a high-quality diet, keeping the right water parameters, and having good tank conditions in general.

You must know that guppies are called the million fish; guppies can breed at crazy rates, and one might become pregnant even right after they give birth. So this care for your pregnant guppies can be a constant thing if you own guppies, and you can learn it over time.

Firstly, you must take care of the guppy by keeping the stress levels as low as possible. That includes enabling good living conditions, enough space to live, good food, good general care, and don’t move them into a tank with bad or improper conditions. Also, other fish, especially aggressive ones, can increase stress levels through the roof.

Next, you should make sure that the water is clean and clear of unwanted materials and chemicals, and that the filtration works properly. Water parameters should be kept at ideal levels at all times, and you should not make rapid changes in that regard.

Diet is also important. Ensuring that they have a high-quality source of food during pregnancy is mighty important, and that alone can prevent a lot of bad things, like diseases.

Good care during pregnancy can prevent deformities in guppy fry, and can make the pregnant guppy much healthier and you can significantly lower the chance of death before or during pregnancy.

Another thing you can do is to get rid of fish with deformities, as these can be passed onto further generations, and that is, of course, not desirable, as it can cause more deaths in pregnant fish or a bad batch of guppies in general.

Can a Dead Guppy Give Birth?

It can happen, especially if the death occurs right before birth is given. But if they die before birth (a few days or weeks), then the fry will generally die with it as well. That is, obviously, a very sad occurrence, but it can happen.

Sadly, sometimes there is nothing you can do, as some fish are simply genetically predisposed to death during pregnancy. But you can do many things to prevent this from happening with things that you can control, like water quality and general tank conditions.

If the guppy dies right before birth, then the fry can spawn in some numbers, while some may die during the process.


Guppies are exceptional breeders, and with pregnancy, problems might arise if they are not given proper care.

Making sure that all conditions are as good as they should be and that you feed them good food and make sure that the water parameters are right is vital for a lower chance of death happening.

Updated: April 7, 2022
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