Guppy Pregnancy: Spotting The Signs

how to tell if a guppy fish is pregnant

Guppies are fascinating fish that reproduce through internal fertilisation. If you have a mix of male and female guppies, you will likely end up with pregnant guppy mamas. To identify whether your guppy is pregnant, you should closely monitor its behaviour and appearance.

One of the clearest signs of pregnancy is observing the mating process firsthand. Before mating, you will likely see the male chasing the female. Once close enough, the male impregnates the female with his anal fin. However, as guppies are extremely fast, you might miss this process.

Another indicator of pregnancy is the presence of males and females together in the same tank. Guppies give birth almost every 30 days, so if you have both sexes in your tank, one of them is likely pregnant.

- Belly bulge: The female guppy's belly will grow larger, like it's being inflated. Monitor the belly over several weeks to determine if it's pregnant or just bloating.

- Changes in the gravid spot: The gravid spot, located near the guppy's butt, will get darker after about two weeks of pregnancy. It may start as orange or dark and change colour throughout the pregnancy. When you see small dots in the gravid spot, it means the baby guppies' eyes are visible, and birth is imminent.

- Body contractions: The appearance of body contractions is another sign your guppy is in labour. You will notice the tightening and relaxing of the muscles on the guppy's body.

- Swimming in one place: Pregnant guppies often appear to be swimming in the same place, and they may try to hide from sight as they seek a secure and comfortable place to give birth.

- Aggressive behaviour: Pregnant guppies, especially towards the end of their pregnancy, may exhibit aggressive behaviour towards males that persist in attempting to mate with them. This can include chasing and fin nipping.

- Changes in breathing: You may notice faster breathing in your pregnant guppy, especially as the pregnancy progresses.

- Hiding behaviour: Pregnant guppies will try to hide from other fish in the tank to avoid disturbance and potential violence while they are vulnerable during labour.

- Changes in eating habits: Pregnant guppies may lose their appetite or spit out food. However, it is important to feed them a well-balanced diet throughout their pregnancy to avoid nutrient deficiencies.

Characteristics Values
Belly size Grows larger, may become boxy in appearance
Gravid spot Darkens, may change from orange to black, tiny dots (baby guppies' eyes) may appear
Body contractions Tightening and relaxing of muscles
Swimming behaviour May swim in one place, or swim in place
Aggression Increased aggression towards males, may chase or fin nip
Appetite Decreased appetite, may refuse food or spit it out
Breathing Faster breathing
Hiding May hide from view or other fish

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Belly size increases

A tell-tale sign of pregnancy in guppies is a bulging belly. The belly of a female guppy will expand as the pregnancy progresses, and this is one of the most obvious physical signs of pregnancy. The change in size does not happen overnight; it is a gradual process that takes several weeks. The belly begins to bulge and may even take on a boxy shape. Just before giving birth, the belly might look somewhat angular.

It is important to note that a bulging belly is not always due to pregnancy. Diseases like dropsy and swim bladder issues could be the cause. Therefore, it is crucial to observe the guppy's belly over several weeks to determine if the size increase is due to pregnancy.

The gravid spot, a darkened skin area of the womb located just behind the anal fin, is another key indicator of pregnancy. This spot is usually visible, whether the guppy is pregnant or not, due to their semi-transparent belly skin. As the pregnancy progresses, the spot will become more prominent and darker, and it may be orange or black. Right before birth, the area is almost black, and you may even see tiny dots in the gravid spot, which are the eyes of the babies inside!

In addition to the physical changes, pregnant guppies may also exhibit behavioural changes. They may become more aggressive, especially towards male guppies that persist in attempting to mate with them. This aggression may manifest as chasing or, in more serious cases, fin nipping.

As the pregnancy progresses, female guppies may also experience changes in their eating habits. They may lose their appetite and avoid eating altogether or spit out food after a few bites. This behaviour is often observed shortly before birth.

In summary, a bulging belly, a darkening gravid spot, behavioural changes, and changes in eating habits are all signs that your guppy is likely pregnant. However, it is important to monitor your guppy's behaviour and appearance over several weeks to confirm pregnancy and ensure the health and well-being of your fish.

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Gravid spot changes colour

The gravid spot is a triangular-shaped spot located under the tail of the guppy, near the anus. It is exclusive to livebearing female guppies and is usually visible whether the guppy is pregnant or not due to their semi-transparent belly skin.

When a female guppy is pregnant, the gravid spot will expand and change colour. Initially, the spot may be orange, reddish or a little dark. As the pregnancy progresses, the spot will become darker and thicker, turning a deep orange, brown or black. The change in colour is caused by the eyes of the developing baby guppies, with the orange tinge being caused by their jelly-like eggs. The spot may also become bloated and the colour of the guppy's body may begin to fade.

The gravid spot will turn completely black when the female guppy is very close to giving birth. At this point, you will also be able to see the eyes of the baby guppies through the gravid spot.

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Body contractions

The body contractions are involuntary actions that occur towards the end of the gestation period, which is usually between 21 and 31 days, but can be as long as 35 days. The gestation period depends on factors such as water temperature, food availability, and the health of the fish.

In addition to body contractions, pregnant guppies will also experience laboured breathing. They may also remain very still or start shivering due to the contractions.

It's important to monitor a guppy closely when it's in labour, as female guppies are likely to eat their fry. They should be removed from the tank immediately after giving birth.

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Swimming in one place

One of the most common behavioural characteristics of a pregnant guppy is that it will swim in one place. This is a sign that the guppy is about to go into labour.

The pregnant guppy will look like it is swimming, but it will remain in the same spot in the tank. This is one of the most obvious signs that your guppy is pregnant.

A guppy in labour may also try to hide from view or display aggressive behaviours, such as fin nipping. They may also experience labour pains, which can cause their muscles to tighten and then relax.

If you notice your guppy swimming in one place, it is a good idea to get a breeding box to safeguard your pregnant guppy. However, breeding boxes can cause stress for pregnant guppies, so the shorter time they spend in the box, the less stressed they will be.

You can also minimise stress by keeping the tank clean and stable. Guppies can give birth in standard tropical tank conditions, but things need to remain stable to ensure the mother's health.

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Hiding from view

As the gestation period winds down, you may notice your pregnant guppy hiding or becoming "missing in action". This is because she is looking for a peaceful spot to give birth, away from the threat of other fish. Guppies are vulnerable to attack when giving birth, so they seek out quiet areas to avoid issues from other fish.

You can help your pregnant guppy find a suitable hiding place by providing live plants, rocks or other decorations. They are more likely to stay away from any disturbance during stress, so the more coverage and security you can provide, the better.

Plants like Java moss, hornwort, and guppy grass are great options, as they provide plenty of coverage and security for fry. Guppies also tend to hide at the bottom of the tank, so you could consider placing some of these plants at the bottom of the aquarium.

However, if you notice your guppy hiding at the bottom of the tank during the day, sickness could be the cause. Guppies may sink to the bottom of the tank when they are unwell, so if you notice this behaviour, you should check toxin levels in the aquarium. There may be a spike in ammonia levels, and your fish may be experiencing ammonia poisoning.

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Frequently asked questions

The most obvious sign is a bulging belly, which will get bigger over several weeks.

Yes, the gravid spot near the guppy's anus will get darker during pregnancy, and you may even see the eyes of the baby guppies in this spot.

Pregnant guppies may become more aggressive, especially towards male guppies. They may also lose their appetite and seek out hiding places in the tank.

The gestation period is usually between 21 and 31 days, but can be as long as 35 days.

Guppies can give birth to anywhere between 10 and 50 babies, but this depends on factors like genetics, food availability, and the mother's health and age.

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