What To Do When Your Guppy Female Is Expecting Fry

4,444 42

It’s hard to know for sure when a female guppy will drop her fry. I’ve had pregnant females who are relatively small drop fry, while other much bigger females hold onto them for ages until they look like they’re just about to burst!

Preparing for the fry

If the mother is going to be kept separate from the community tank, she should be moved early on to avoid stressing her out too close to the birth. Sometimes the females choose not to drop all or any of their fry if they become stressed. They will then reabsorb them and turn them back into eggs to use the next time. You will know if this happens as she will begin to shrink in size back to her original ‘pre-pregnancy’ shape.

It’s very important that the water parameters of the new tank be the same as the community tank, or as close as is possible. Also, make sure there are plenty of floating plants (plastic or real - doesn’t matter), so the fry have somewhere to hide after they are born to avoid being eaten by their mum.


Fry in breeding boxCreative Commons License courtesy of maxxum

From there it’s really just playing the waiting game. A good sign that the female is heading towards dropping the fry is that she will spend lots of time near the filter or in the plants sitting quietly and will not be very interested in food. You may also see that she begins to ’shiver’, which is contractions beginning.

Guppies usually begin to give birth late at night or early to mid morning so make sure that she has a day/night cycle (12 hours of light, 12 hours of dark) which will help her feel at ease and hopefully bring on the babies, as well as keeping the chance of her aborting the fry down.

If you find that the mother is beginning to eat her fry or even showing interest in chasing them, you will need to either move the fry or separate the mother from them. Sometimes offering her some food is enough to stop her eating them but sometimes it isn’t so make sure you keep an eye on her to see if she keeps after them.

Personally, rather than risk losing any fry, I always have a small tank set up and cycled with the same water parameters and temperature as my birthing tank. As the fry are born, I move a few at a time to the new tank and away from possible danger. When removing the fry however, make sure to move slowly with the net and avoid distressing the mother by going too close to her.

PICT8682Creative Commons License courtesy of maxxum

After the birth

I usually wait 6-12 hours just to make sure the mother has completely finished dropping her fry before I return her to the community tank. Sometimes they can stop for a while, then drop the last couple later on.

I make sure I offer her some food every couple of hours so that she can regain some strength before having to go back to fighting her community mates for a feed.

Good luck and feel free to contact me if you need more information!!

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment or give me a


  • Vale: If the mother is in a separate tank, should she be put back into the community aquarium right after she drops the fry?
  • mintymintymid: I usually wait 6-12 hours just to make sure she’s completely finished before I return her to the community tank. Sometimes they can stop for a while, then drop the last couple later on. I make sure I offer her some food every couple of hours so that she can regain some strength before having to go back to fighting her community mates for a feed.
  • Vale: Ok, thanks!
  • Shakeyourtailfin101: Great blog. Helpful.
  • Snowman: Nice blog! Answers a number of questions new guppy owners always have.
  • Dana: Hi, this is my first e experience with livebearers. Most of my fish are mouth brooding cichlids. I have a pregnant guppie that I was going to put in a breeding net, but Im not sure when to put her in it... and im afraid catching her to put her in the breeding net is going to stress her out too much. There are only a couple of other fish in the tank, should I just move THEM into different tanks so she can be alone? I have a couple of other tanks that would be appropriate for her tankmates. I’m a little nervous that even catching the other fish while she’s in there will cause her stress... she’s probably not smart enough to know that I’m not targeting HER with the net. Thanks in advance for any advice. Dana
  • mintymintymid: How many other fish are in with her?
    If there are only one or two, I would leave her in there. Keep the other fish well fed until she has finished dropping the fry to help stop them eating the offspring.
    Make sure there are some floating plants of some sort for the fry to hide in and make sure you check regularly and remove any fry you find into a raising tank to avoid them being eaten.
    If there are more tankmates, I would probably move them, rather than her. Even if moving the others out, there is a risk that she will choose to abort the fry as any change in the environment can cause stress and some fish are more reliant on the companionship of their tankmates than others who don’t seem to notice at all.
    When catching the other fish, try to avoid the area where she is completely, even if it means coming back to get the last fish or two later when they’ve moved away from her.
    Good luck!!!
  • Dana: Thank you for your response. I already moved the other fish out of the tank. There was only a pleco and another guppy in there, but it was a boy, and he was harassing her. I caught them pretty easily, so hopefully I didnt disturb her too much. She ate normally the first time I fed her after they were moved. I already have a breeding net in the tank with a couple of molly fry in it that the girl at the LFS gave me a couple weeks ago, so she does have a little company. All the other conditions you suggested have been met, so hopefully things will go well... Im still wondering exactly how I got roped into this guppy thing. I already have too many tanks!! My dad kept reminiscing about how he and my uncle used to breed guppies, so I figured "I’ll just get a couple guppies and put them in one of my quarantine tanks to keep it cycled" haha, now she’s got the whole thing to herself, and it looks like Im gonna be spending a lot more time and effort on guppies than I thought. Oh well, Im sure I’ll enjoy them! Thanks again.
  • Dana: Just one more quick question... I was reading that you usually move the fry a couple at a time to another tank. I could definitely set up another tank easily enough, but I am always really nervous about hurting fry when I net them... even more so when I am releasing them from the net... are you using a regular net? Or do you use a shrimp net? I feel like my baster might be the most gentle way to move them... is there a need to be overly concerned about hurting them, or are they relatively sturdy when they are first born?
  • mintymintymid: They are very fragile at birth, especially their spines and tails. Best bet would be using a small net, preferably soft material. It doesn’t really matter how many you move at once, as long as you move them quickly. As far as moving them to new water conditions, as long as they are at the same temperature and roughly the same chemical composition, its pretty safe. In fact, I find fry and juveniles to be very hardy when it comes to water conditions compared to the adults which don’t handle them well at all.
    Anything with suction such as a baster could damage them so probably best to stick with a net. I’ve never had a problem moving fry with a net.
  • Dana: Really? I feel like I could be much gentler with the baster, i use mine quite a bit... it doesn’t really "suck", and they wouldn’t even come out of the water... oh well, net it is... maybe i will get a shrimp net, ive been meaning to get one anyway. Mouth brooders fry are relatively sturdy by the time the mother (or father in some cases) release them. Im assuming the guppy fry are going to be more similar to the molly fry I had... I think I damaged some of them when I inverted the net to release them. :S I’ll be more careful! Thanks again for your help!
  • mintymintymid: When using the net with fry, I just scoop them up, move the net into the new tank, and gently swish it back and forth until they swim out.
  • Dana: Ahhh, so u dont flip the net inside out the way you do when you move a bigger fish. That makes sense. Thank you so much. Really. I’ll let you know how it goes.
  • mintymintymid: I do that even with bigger fish. They seem to be less stressed when they can come out ‘at their leisure’ LOL
    Do let me know! :)
  • Snowman: I have hundreds of different livebearers and would like to mention that this is a great discussion, all the right questions are being asked! These fish are much tougher than they seem, genetics are their main liability, predisposing them to some problems. Moving them isn’t an issue, they accommodate well as long as water hardness and pH aren’t much different and they aren’t somehow smashed in the process. I’ve moved entire colonies with siphon hoses, nets, pouring out tanks, etc. As long as the landing is fairly gentle, no problem. Fry stick to nets, but once they’re wet again, slide right off. Shrimp nets are definitely better for handling, but harder to move through water. Don’t worry too much about net entanglement, just let the net float open by itself or wave it gently to unfold it, it’s possible to pinch a fish trying to remove it. If, somehow a fish jumps onto the floor, side a piece of paper or plastic sheet under it and drop it back in the tank, I’ve never seen one damaged that way.
    You guys are good parents! :)
  • mintymintymid: Thanks for the advice Snowman! I have had a couple of fry damaged using a siphon hose so I stick to using nets now, but maybe that was just the hose I used.
    Thanks again :)
  • Snowman: Siphoning works ok IF: the receiving bucket is not too low, just enough to keep flow going; someone else is watching the bucket so you don’t have to take your eyes off the fish to be sure it doesn’t overflow; A plain hose is used, meaning it has to be started with your mouth; the hose diameter is either small enough so a fish can’t get in sideways or large enough that it doesn’t matter.
    I was siphoning tank water once and a female apisto sneaked up under my hand (stupid!) and shot into the hose I was using. Cool, except I do pwc’s with a 3/4 in ID hose and the bucket was 3 feet below the tank. Water comes out of that set up like a garden hose, fortunately the bucket was almost full and she was fine. I scooped her out with my hand and back into the tank she went. They swim that fast anyway, right?! Actually, we were both quite lucky, I think. :)
  • Dana: Haha! Sometimes they seem so fragile, and sometimes their resilience is amazing. The most recent tank I set up is a 55 gallon African (lake tanganyika) cichlid tank. I use a wet/dry underneath the cupboard, and I made 2 overflows from 3/4 inch PVC. Its mostly hard plumbed, but it has a section of corrugated hose at the end that leads to the mechanical filtration section. The overflows barely keep up with the pump, so the current near them is pretty strong. At lunchtime headcount, i realized that someone was missing...( it was before I had a chance to make the "cage" to cover the inlet) one of my baby Duboisi took a ride down the DIY overflow slide, and landed in the polyfil. When i took the top off, he was laying there right under where the water comes in getting pelted with water. I keep a real close eye on them when i first start a new tank, but he could’ve been there for a couple hours. He was really pale when I got him out from being so stressed,, but he made a quick recovery. Same little guy just had malawi bloat :(, but he’s better now. Metronidazole to the rescue!
  • Snowman: Just in time, it seems!
    I had an ADF disappear once, we thought he jumped out but couldn’t find him. I had cleaned the tank two days before and it suddenly occurred to me the canister filter strainer fell off while I was cleaning. I literally ran to the filter, shut it off and opened it up expecting a mess, but froggie was alive, spread eagle clinging to the sponge pre filter, no broken bones, nothing but a little waterlogged. Two days he was there! I had always thought ADF’s were a little strange, they swim like a monkey in a space suit, but he was renamed SuperFroggie that day and gets everyone’s respect no matter how random he acts!
  • babymollys: my preganent molly went into labor last night at six pm and still has not given birth and now its the next day and its 6 38 pm when should i be expecting
  • mintymintymid: Not sure about Mollies as I’ve never had them. Maybe check a post specifically for them.
  • babymollys: well when you guppys go lnto labor how long are they ln labor for before they have there fry?
  • mintymintymid: It can be as little as a couple of hours to a day or two
  • babymollys: ok thx she also seems stressed out how can l calm her she keeps palclng the tank and shes not wlth any other flsh
  • mintymintymid: They usually like to keep to themselves while birthing. Try to keep away from her and make sure its relatively quiet as that should help the stress levels. I know you want to check on her a lot but its better for her if you leave her alone for three or so hours between checking on her and, when you do check on her, move slowly and don’t spend too long there or poke/prod in the water. At the end of the day, there’s not much you can do to help her apart from keeping the environment as peaceful and stress free as possible
  • babymollys: ok thx
  • babymollys: ls lt common for them to abort babys because of stress?
  • mintymintymid: it is quite common, either to abort them, or to stop labour until they feel safer and less stressed
  • babymollys: but can she stlll abort lf shes close to glvlng blrth
  • mintymintymid: yes
  • babymollys: ok thx and how wlll l be able to tell shes havlng the babys soon
  • mintymintymid: You can’t tell until you see them :)
  • babymollys: ok thx for all the help
  • mintymintymid: no probs. good luck :)
  • pinky putri: can I know if the guppy fry can eat the adult food?
  • Snowman: if you grind it into a powder.
  • ThreeBoysAndSomeFish: Great post. Thank you!!
  • Guppyquestioner: What kind of guppy is the mother?
  • Carley: The author hasn’t been on here for a year.
  • Trinity C.: You mean, hasn’t been on the site, or deleted their account?
  • Carley: Last online 07/07/2014.
  • mintymintymid: I’m here guys lol.
    As far as I’m aware the only difference between guppy breeds is that some are more sensitive to environmental change than others and don’t cope as well in water that isn’t perfect for them.

Add Your Own Comment:

By clicking 'Submit' you agree to the Site Terms
By entering this site you declare you read and agreed to its Terms, Rules & Privacy and you understand that your use of the site's content is made at your own risk and responsibility.
Copyright © 2006 - 2016 My Aquarium Club