Do Guppies Eat Their Babies?

If you own guppies, you have probably thought about breeding them. They are a beautiful species of fish, especially the males with their colorful and flowing tails. If you are new to the breeding world, it is natural to wonder if your fry will be safe in a tank full of adult guppies once born. Fish have an awful habit of eating their fry, so there is no surprise if you are worried this will happen when you breed guppies too.

In this article, we will be going into detail about guppies as a breed, why they may try to eat their babies, and how you can help prevent this.

Guppy Pregnancy

It is common knowledge that guppies are a breed of fish that like to breed… a lot. Given this, it is important to not bombard your tank full of males. The males are more sought after due to their beautiful colors and markings. However, if you have too few females in the tank you run the risk of overbreeding and then the females dying.

Female guppies can become pregnant again in just mere hours after giving birth. The female can store sperm in her body for up to a year! If you have suddenly noticed your female guppy is pregnant and there are no males in the tank, this is why. 

Their fertility rate is extremely high and a female can potentially have up to eight pregnancies from just one insemination. This is why it is vital to ensure that you have a higher ratio of female guppies in comparison to males. Ideally, you should have around 2 to 3 females for every male guppy. 

Do Guppies Eat Their Babies?

Unfortunately, yes guppies can and will eat their babies if they are given the opportunity. The act of fish eating their fry is called filial cannibalism. Filial cannibalism is grimly common throughout the animal kingdom, especially with different types of fish. While it is something that is not nice to think about, you can help to prevent this. 

Why Do Guppies Eat Their Babies?

Guppies will eat their fry for several different reasons. Unlike some species of fish such as the tilapia cichlid and angelfish who care for their fry and do not eat them, guppies have no maternal instincts. 

In short, they are awful parents. If they were human, they would be jailed and labeled as the new Hannibal Lecter. As they have no maternal instincts, when they give birth they often mistake their fry for food and eat them. If the guppy is particularly stressed, this can also cause them to eat their fry. 

Another reason could be due to the survival of the fittest. It is thought that female guppies will eat their weakest babies to allow the breed to have a better chance of survival as a whole. 

While there are several reasons why guppies will eat their offspring, mother and father included, there are things you can do to help prevent this. 

How To Prevent Guppies From Eating Their Babies

Guppies are livebearers. This means that they give birth to fry instead of laying eggs. Given this, if you want your baby guppies to live and thrive, there are a few precautions you will need to take.

Breeding Box

A breeding box is a separate box you can place inside your fish tank. It will help to keep the fry safe from other fish in the tank.

When you notice your female guppy is heavily pregnant, it is best to keep a close eye on her. Female guppies will be pregnant for around 26 days A couple of days before she is due to give birth, place her into the breeding box. Once the female has given birth, place her back into the main tank as soon as possible to give the fry the best chance of survival.

It will take some time for your baby guppies to grow. You will want to keep them in the breeding box until they are a significant size before placing them back into your main tank. If you place them in too early and they are still small enough to eat, this will likely happen. Around six to eight weeks is a good time to place them into your main tank.

Separate Tank

If you do not want to place your fry in a breeding box and would prefer to use a separate tank, this is fine. Just ensure that you move the female guppy back into your main tank once she has given birth.

Guppies are temperamental fish when it comes to their environment, so always ensure to use water from your main tank in the separate tank. Allow the tank to reach the correct temperature and let the water cycle before introducing the fish.

This is a more expensive option, but it does allow the fry to have more room and freedom as they grow, in comparison to a breeding box.

Tank Requirements

Whether you are going to use a breeding box or a separate tank, there are a few things you will want to keep consistent. 

Always ensure that you are cleaning your tank and carrying out the necessary water changes. This will help to remove harmful things such as a build-up of ammonia and nitrite. 

You will also want to ensure that the temperature of the tank remains consistent. The tank will need to stay between 76-80℉. A heater is required. 

Placing The Fry Into Your Main Tank

When your fry are ready to be placed into your main tank, ensure that you have plenty of ornaments and live plants for your fry to hide in. This will help to prevent stress and will allow them to take cover if they feel threatened.

Final Thoughts

We hope that this article has educated you on guppies and their babies. While they can indeed eat their fry, all is not lost. If you follow our simple steps above you will give the fry the best chance of survival. 

Although guppies may not make the best parents, our advice will help you to take over their role instead!