Pregnant Guppies: The Dark Band

what is the pregnant band in guppies

Guppies are live-bearing fish, meaning they give birth to live young. The best way to tell if a guppy is pregnant is to look for changes to the female's gravid spot – a darkened patch of skin on the womb, where eggs are fertilised. In pregnant guppies, this spot grows larger and darker as the pregnancy progresses.

Other signs of pregnancy include changes in eating habits, with some guppies becoming ravenously hungry and others eating very little or stopping feeding altogether. Pregnant guppies may also become more aggressive or skittish.

Characteristics Values
Changes in the gravid spot The gravid spot is the darkened skin of the womb where the eggs are fertilized. It grows larger and darker as the pregnancy progresses.
Belly size The belly of the pregnant guppy will become larger and box-shaped as the pregnancy progresses.
Eating habits The eating habits of the pregnant guppy may change. Some guppies will eat voraciously while others will eat very little or stop feeding altogether.
Behavior The pregnant guppy may become more aggressive or skittish. She may isolate herself, spending more time in the corners of the tank or hiding among plants.
Coloring The coloring of the guppy will fade.
Gills The gills of the guppy will remain partly opened.
Swimming The guppy will have an arched back and will appear to be pushing. It may also have difficulty swimming normally.
Temperature preference The guppy will stay in the warmest part of the aquarium, even residing near the heater.

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The gravid spot

In the last few days before birth, you may even see the eyes of the baby guppies through the gravid spot, if the female is carrying a large number of babies or if she is an especially large female.

As the gravid spot changes, so does the female guppy's behaviour. As birth approaches, she may begin to shun food and isolate herself, spending more time in the corners of the tank or hidden among plants. This is to provide as much protection for her babies once they are born.

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Guppy mating

Guppies are ovoviviparous, meaning they mate and give birth to live young, rather than laying eggs. They are one of the few species of fish that reproduce by internal fertilisation. The male guppy's anal fin develops into a gonopodium, a sexual organ used to transfer sperm into the female's cloaca. The gonopodium has hooks on the end to secure the male to the female during breeding.

During mating, the male guppy chases the female until she is exhausted, or sneaks up on her. The male then erects his anal fin and inserts it into the female's underbelly to inject sperm. The male can then swim away. Mating can happen very quickly and often goes unnoticed by owners.

Female guppies are unique in that they can retain sperm in their genital region in special folds, allowing them to produce several broods without male insemination for each batch. Guppies can store sperm for up to 10 months.

To identify whether a female guppy is pregnant, look out for a belly bulge. Like humans, female guppies will get larger as if they are being inflated. This can sometimes be bloating, but if the belly continues to get bigger over time, the guppy is probably pregnant. When the female is very large and has a boxy appearance, she is close to delivery time, which takes about a month.

Another sign of pregnancy is the gravid spot—a spot near the butt of the guppy. It will take a couple of weeks for this spot to darken, but when it does, it proves that the guppy is pregnant. It may be orange or dark at first but can change between these two colours during pregnancy. When you can see little dots (the baby guppies' eyes) in the gravid spot, the guppy is very close to giving birth.

You can also look out for behavioural changes. The pregnant female may begin to shun food and isolate herself, spending more time in the corners of the tank or hiding among plants. She may also swim in place, remaining in the same spot in the tank.

The gestation period for guppies is around 24–35 days, depending on water temperature, health, and food availability.

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Guppy gestation period

Guppies are ovoviviparous, meaning their eggs are fertilised internally and hatch before the female gives birth to live young. Guppies are prolific livebearers, giving birth to between five and 30 fry, though under extreme circumstances, she may give birth to only one or two or over 100. The gestation period of a guppy is typically 21–30 days, but can vary considerably. The gestation period can be anywhere from 21 to 35 days, with the average falling between 22 and 28 days. The delivery may take longer if the water is cold or if other fish in the tank are causing the mother stress.

The area where a pregnant guppy's abdomen meets the tail is sometimes called the "gravid patch" or "gravid spot". When pregnant, there is a slight discolouration that slowly darkens—from yellow to brown to deep orange—as the pregnancy develops. The patch first has a yellowish tinge, then brown and become deep orange as the pregnancy develops. This patch is where the fertilised eggs are stored and grow. The darkening is actually the eyes of the developing baby guppies and the orange tinge is their jelly-like eggs.

During pregnancy, the female guppy's belly will continue to get bigger over time. You may also notice body contractions, which will look like a tightening and then relaxing of the muscles on the surface of the fish's body. The female may also shake or shiver and rub itself up against things in the tank, such as the wall, leaves and decorations.

Guppies can get pregnant about once a month under optimal conditions. Warm water and plenty of food will encourage mating.

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Guppy pregnancy diet

Guppies are live-bearing fish, which means they don't lay eggs but give birth to free-swimming baby guppies. The gestation period is typically less than a month, and they can give birth to between 5 and 50 babies at a time.

What to Feed a Pregnant Guppy

It is important to feed a pregnant guppy a well-balanced and nutritious diet to ensure she doesn't get a nutrient deficiency. Feed her small meals throughout the day so you don't overload her, and include a variety of foods such as:

  • Live or frozen brine shrimp
  • High-quality flake food
  • Spirulina flakes
  • Freeze-dried bloodworms
  • Fish food pellets
  • Algae discs
  • Krill

What Not to Feed a Pregnant Guppy

Avoid overfeeding a pregnant guppy, as she won't be able to eat very much due to the space the fry take up.

How to Care for a Pregnant Guppy

Pregnant guppies should be kept in a stress-free environment, as stress can cause the mother to absorb the babies or miscarry. Use a breeding box to isolate the pregnant guppy, but only for a short time as it may cause her stress. Keep the water temperature between 76°F and 80°F, and perform regular water changes to keep nitrate levels down.

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Guppy birthing tank

Guppies are live-bearing fish, which means they give birth to live, free-swimming young. They don't lay eggs. Guppies can have up to 200 babies at a time, though not all will survive.

A pregnant guppy will display certain physical symptoms, such as a swollen belly, a darkening of the gravid spot, and body contractions. They may also behave differently, swimming in place, hiding, or displaying aggressive behaviours.

If you want to protect the offspring, you can move the pregnant guppy to a separate breeding tank or net breeder. This will give the mother a quiet space to recover her strength and prevent other fish from eating the fry.

  • Choose a separate aquarium that is around 10 gallons in volume.
  • Set up the tank with hiding places, such as fake rocks and caves, or aquatic plants that appear in their natural habitat. Guppies like to mate and reproduce in caves or under plants.
  • Consider whether to have a bare bottom tank, which is easier to clean, or a tank with a gravel or sand substrate, which is better if you don't have much time for cleaning.
  • Install lights in the breeding tank to help the guppy fry grow faster and be healthier. Keep the lights on for 12 to 16 hours a day, but make sure to give the guppies at least 8 hours of darkness to rest.
  • Use a sponge filter to prevent the fry from being sucked into the filter.
  • Maintain the breeding tank by regularly changing 20 to 30% of the water each week and cleaning the tank and filter.
  • Keep the tank at a temperature between 72-79 degrees Fahrenheit, and clean it regularly to prevent the buildup of waste, which can make the fry sick.

Frequently asked questions

The easiest way to tell if a guppy is pregnant is to look for a dark spot under her tail toward the backside of the stomach. This dark spot is called a gravid patch. As the babies grow, this guppy gravid spot will increase in size while also becoming darker. In the final stages of pregnancy, the spot will become black, and the guppy will look very bloated or fat.

The gestation period for guppies is typically 21-31 days, but it can be as long as 35 days.

Female guppies normally give birth to 30-60 young, but on rare occasions, the number could reach 200!

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