Guppies make good pets because they are fairly low maintenace, and they are really pretty to look at. If you’re new to guppy fish keeping then one question you may be asking yourself is “do guppies lay eggs or give live birth?”
This is not a silly question, and many guppy enthusiasts have asked at one point or another. That’s why we thought it was a good idea to put together this helpful guide.
Do Guppies Lay Eggs?
Guppies do not lay eggs. Guppies are what are called “live-bearers” – they give birth to live young instead of laying eggs.
The majority of fish species lay eggs, with only 2% of fish species giving birth to live young rather than laying eggs.
Basically, the guppy eggs live inside of the mothers body and hatch inside her body. Only then are they released.
So, rather than laying eggs and waiting for them to hatch, a female guppy releases live guppy babies (called guppy fry) into the water.
A female guppy can give birth to between 10 and 120 guppy fry in 6 hours. That is a big range, and the amount of guppy fry depends on the individual mother.
Guppy Reproduction…How Does it Work?
Guppies reach sexual maturity at around 3 months of age. At this point, a guppy is ready to reproduce.
The gestation period of guppies, or the length of time that they are pregnant, is about 21-30 days.
As mentioned previously, one guppy can give birth to 10-120 guppy fry at one time.
All of these facts add up to guppies reproducing quickly, and often! They become mature enough to reproduce quickly, are not pregnant for long, and then can give birth to potentially a hundred babies at once!
Guppy have a tendency to eat their fry. Guppies do not care for their offspring like many animal parents do. Once the guppy fry are born, they are on their own!
It is likely that most, or all, of the fry will be eaten by the mother or by the mother or other inhabitants of the tank. Some of the fry may survive if there are enough hiding places in the tank.
How often Can Guppies Give Birth?
Guppies are also somewhat unique in the sense that from a single encounter between a male and female guppy, the female guppy can store sperm in her body for her lifetime, which allows her to reproduce even if there is not a male in the vicinity.
Once guppies give birth, they can theoretically give birth again about 21-30 days later if they mate with a male. As mentioned previously, their gestation period is about 21-30 days.
This means that your female guppy may give birth as often as once a month. If you have more than one female guppy per tank, you may be seeing hundreds of guppy fry every month whether they are mating with males or just using stored sperm at a later date!
How to Control Guppy Population
Since guppies can reproduce so effectively, you may be concerned about limiting the guppy population in your tank.
For the most part, even if you have females who are giving birth to fry every month, the population is likely to limit itself provided that you have a few things in place.
Separate males and females
This is the most effective way to limit guppy reproduction. If guppies cannot mate, they are less likely to reproduce.
However, we know that this is not 100% foolproof. You may buy female guppies that are already pregnant, or ones that have stored sperm away for a later date.
So even if you get a tank of all females, they may have the potential to give birth!
Have only a male guppy
If you want to avoid guppy fry all together, see about getting just a male guppy.
If you want several male guppies however, you may run into problems. If several male guppies live together without females, they can become aggressive and start fighting.
Introduce a predator
Introducing a predator fish, such as a betta fish, will help to limit the population even if females do give birth.
The betta fish will eat many of the guppy fry which will help to limit the total population.
If you do go for a betta fish, be sure to get a single female. Males can be more aggressive and may bother the adult guppies, but a single female will help to limit the population without bothering the adult guppies.
Introducing a fish that is sure to eat it’s tankmates may sound mean, but it is all part of the circle of life.
Get rid of hiding places
The guppy fry will survive if they have places to hide away from predators.
By limiting the hiding places (like live plants), the guppy fry won’t be able to get away from predators and the adult guppies (or betta if you decide to get one) will make food out of them.
Sell the guppies
If all else fails and you end up with a high population of guppy fry, you can try selling them.
Other people would probably love to buy your guppies, so try listing them for sale on your local buying and selling website.
Guppies can reproduce often and give birth to potentially a hundred offspring per month.
Female guppies can give birth to over a hundred guppy fry at one time, and can become pregnant immediately afterward.
They have a short gestation period and can also store sperm for later use – so even if you have a tank of only females, they may give birth at some point!
For the most part, adult guppies and other predators in the tank will control this population by eating the guppy fry. Yes – adult guppies will eat their own babies!
But, if you let the guppy population go unchecked, you could theoretically end up with thousands of guppies in your tank in a short period of time!
Guppies make popular pets because they are so eye catching and usually make good tank mates. It might be worth it to get a single male guppy to add in to your tank to see how you like them at first! Then you can move on to adding female guppies and see how they do!