Breeding Guppies: Feeder Fish Reproduction

how do feeder guppies reproduce

Feeder guppies, also known as Poecilia reticulata, are a specific strain of guppies that are selectively bred and raised as live food for predatory fish. They are not typically kept as pets but are instead used as live prey for larger carnivorous fish. Feeder guppies are popular due to their reproductive capacity, rapid growth, and resilience. They have a short gestation period of 26 to 31 days, and females typically give birth to between 18 and 40 fry. To encourage breeding, it is recommended to maintain a higher ratio of females to males, usually with two or three females for every male. This reduces stress on the females and minimises the chances of males harassing a single female.


Guppies are live-bearing, giving birth to live babies, not eggs

The live-bearing nature of guppies is one of the reasons they are such a popular choice for fish breeders and hobbyists. Their prolific breeding capacity ensures a continuous supply of live prey for larger carnivorous fish in the same tank. Guppies are also known for their rapid growth and resilience, further contributing to their popularity as feeder fish.

When a female guppy is close to giving birth, she will display a dark mark near her anal fin, known as a gravid spot. At this point, it is essential to isolate her in a separate breeding tank to protect the soon-to-be-born fry from being eaten by adult fish. Guppy fry are born fully prepared to survive on their own, but they are tiny and require a safe environment with gentle filtration and finely crushed food or specialised fry food to thrive.

While guppies are live-bearing, it is worth noting that they are not typically kept as pets by those who use them as feeder fish. Instead, they are often culled or rejected for breeding purposes and raised in poor conditions, making them more susceptible to parasites and diseases.

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Guppies breed prolifically, making them a good choice for those interested in observing livebearing fish reproduction

Guppies are a great choice for those interested in observing livebearing fish reproduction. They are easy to care for, colourful, and breed rapidly, making them a captivating addition to your aquarium. Here's a guide to help you get started:

Tank Setup:

Guppies are small fish, typically reaching an adult size of 1.5 to 2.5 inches. A 10 to 20-gallon tank is adequate for a small group, while larger tanks can house more guppies. Guppies are active swimmers, so ensure you provide enough horizontal swimming space. Use a fine gravel or sand substrate, and include plants like Java Moss and Hornwort to provide hiding spots and areas for fry to find refuge. Guppies also require a filter and heater, as they are tropical fish that thrive in well-oxygenated, warmer water temperatures of around 62-82° F (16.7-27.8° C).


In the wild, guppies feed on small invertebrates, algae, and organic matter. To ensure their health and vibrant coloration, try to replicate their natural diet as closely as possible. High-quality flake or pellet food formulated for tropical fish is a good staple, but also offer treats such as live or frozen brine shrimp, daphnia, or mosquito larvae to provide essential nutrients and stimulate their natural foraging instincts. Feed your guppies two to three times a day in small portions to prevent overfeeding.


Guppies are known for their prolific breeding. For successful breeding, maintain a ratio of two or three females for every male to minimise stress on the females. Guppies have a short gestation period of 26 to 31 days, and you'll know a female is close to giving birth when she displays a dark gravid spot near her anal fin. Isolate pregnant females in a separate breeding tank to protect the fry from being eaten by adult fish. Guppy fry are born fully prepared to survive on their own, but they will need a safe environment, gentle filtration, and finely crushed flake food or specialised fry food to thrive.

Common Diseases and Health Care:

Like any other fish, guppies are susceptible to certain diseases, including Ich, Fin Rot, and Dropsy. Newly acquired guppies should be quarantined for a few weeks to prevent the introduction of diseases into your main tank. Maintain good water quality by performing regular water changes, monitoring water parameters, and keeping the tank clean and free of debris.

Guppies are an excellent choice for those fascinated by livebearing fish reproduction. With their vibrant colours, ease of care, and rapid breeding, they are sure to provide an engaging and educational experience for beginner and experienced aquarists alike.

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Guppies are typically sold for $1 to $2 per dozen

When setting up a feeder guppy breeding tank, it is important to consider the water conditions and environment that guppies thrive in. Guppies are native to South America and the Southern Caribbean, where they flourish in a variety of ecosystems, especially those with dense vegetation and an abundance of algae and plant matter. They can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures, from the 60s to the low 80s Fahrenheit, but they prefer warmer temperatures between 62-82° F (16.7-27.8° C) with an optimal temperature of around 78° F (25.6° C). Guppies also require clean water and an airstone, and they do best in a tank of at least 10 gallons (37.9 L) in size.

To start a feeder guppy colony, it is recommended to purchase a group of starter fish with a ratio of at least three females to one male. When selecting your starter fish, look for regular breathing, good coloring, active swimming, and overall lively behavior. It is also important to note that male guppies can overly harass females, which can lead to possible death, so maintaining the proper ratio is crucial.

Feeding your feeder guppies a high-quality diet is essential, as this will impact the nutrition that your predatory fish receive. Guppies will eat until they physically can't anymore, so it's best to feed them once or twice a day, or even once every two days. Flake food is typically the best option due to their small size, but they can also be given live, frozen, or freeze-dried foods such as insect larvae, bloodworms, and brine shrimp.

By breeding your own feeder guppies, you can ensure a constant supply of live food for your predatory fish while also saving money on the costs associated with buying feeder fish every week. With their ease of breeding and adaptability, guppies are an excellent choice for those looking to provide their predatory fish with a varied and stimulating diet.


Guppies are native to northeastern South America, including Venezuela, Trinidad, and Barbados

Guppies, scientifically known as Poecilia reticulata, are native to northeastern South America, including Venezuela, Trinidad, and Barbados. They are one of the world's most widely distributed tropical fish species and are commonly found in home aquariums. Guppies were first described in Venezuela by German scientist Wilhelm Peters in 1859 and given the name Poecilia reticulata. A few years later, in 1861, a Spaniard named Filippi discovered similar-looking fish in Barbados and named them Lebistes poecilioides. English botanist Dr. Robert John Lechmere Guppy brought fish from the Trinidad islands to Dr. Albert Günther, who worked at the British Museum. Dr. Günther named the fish Girardinus guppii after Dr. Guppy.

Guppies have since been introduced to many environments worldwide and are now found on every continent except Antarctica. This introduction has sometimes occurred accidentally but is often intentional as a means of mosquito control. While guppies were expected to eat mosquito larvae and help control the spread of malaria, they have had a negative impact on native fish populations in some cases. They exhibit sexual dimorphism, with male guppies displaying colourful spots, stripes, and splashes, while female guppies are typically grey or silver.

Guppies are highly adaptable and thrive in various ecological conditions, including freshwater streams, estuaries, irrigation channels, lagoons, lakes, and reservoirs. They can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, salinity levels, and pH levels, making them well-suited for different environments. Their ability to adapt has contributed to their widespread distribution.

Guppies are live-bearing fish, giving birth to live young after a gestation period of 20 to 60 days. Female guppies can store sperm for up to eight months and can give birth multiple times a year. Guppies are sexually dimorphic, with males being smaller and more colourful than females. They reach sexual maturity at around seven weeks, while females mature in about three months. Guppies have a relatively short lifespan, typically living for around two years in the wild.


Guppies are susceptible to diseases like fin rot and dropsy

Guppies are susceptible to a number of diseases, including fin rot and dropsy. Fin rot is a common issue that can be fatal if left untreated. It is caused by bacterial or fungal infections, often as a result of poor water conditions, stress, or injury. Symptoms of guppy fin rot include red or sore fin tips, colour changes in the fins, tattered edges, and, in severe cases, rotting fins and body parts. It is important to treat fin rot early, as the condition can become more severe and difficult to cure over time. Treatment options include water changes, API Stress Coat, aquarium salt, and medications like API Pimafix or API Furan 2. Prevention methods include regular cleaning, water changes, avoiding overstocking, using a filter, providing high-quality food, and quarantining new fish.

Dropsy is another serious condition that can affect guppies. It is caused by a bacterial infection, often due to compromised immune systems, poor water quality, poor nutrition, injuries, or other illnesses. Symptoms of dropsy include a swollen stomach, protruding scales that form a pinecone-like appearance, a curved spine, behavioural changes, and reduced appetite. Treatment for dropsy involves quarantining the affected guppy, using aquarium salt, maintaining a high-quality diet, and potentially using medications like API Melafix after consulting a veterinarian. Prevention methods include regular water changes, use of filters and heaters, tank cleanliness, avoiding overcrowding, offering a varied and high-quality diet, avoiding overfeeding, and maintaining stable water temperatures.

Both fin rot and dropsy can be prevented by providing guppies with a clean, well-maintained tank, high-quality food, and stable water conditions.

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Frequently asked questions

You'll need a 10-20 gallon tank with a heater and a gentle filter. The temperature should be set to around 77-80 degrees Fahrenheit (25 to 26.66 Celsius). Guppies are sensitive to ammonia and nitrites, so make sure to cycle your tank before adding them.

Female guppies will develop a dark mark on their abdomen called a gravid spot when they are pregnant. When they are close to giving birth, the spot will become noticeably darker and their stomach will be very large.

Remove the female guppy from the tank after she has given birth, as she may eat her babies. Feed the fry brine shrimp, micro-worms, or powdered flakes twice a day.

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