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The Stages Of A Guppy Pregnancy, And More


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#1 Tokis-Phoenix

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 04:26 PM

Hi there, i have noticed there are an awful lot of threads on people wondering about when their female guppy's are going to give birth, so i have decided to do a thread detailing the changes that a female guppy goes through as she progresses in her pregnancy.

I would say that the most accurate way to tell how pregnant a female guppy is based on the colour of her gravid patch/spot. The gravid patch is a dark area located towards the back of the fishes stomach, as the guppys pregnancy progresses this area will get darker and darker. What makes the gravid patch dark is actually the fry's eyes which are developing in the fishes womb, as the fry develop inside the mother guppy their eye's will get darker and darker and this will show through the thin skin of the mother guppy, creating the gravid patch.
Guppy fry's eyes are usually black, however for example they can also be blue too, this will not create a blue gravid patch though, simply it will appear less dark on the outside. None the less though, i would say the gravid patch is still a very accurate way to see how far along a female guppy is in its pregnancy :thumbs: .
The gravid patch/spot;

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The average guppy pregnancy lasts between 3-5weeks depending on various conditions in the tank, the amount of fry she is carrying, and her age/size etc.
Anyhoo, now we has this clear I will begin- I have used a pale yellow bodied female as an example for this thread as in such a female you are most likely to see the changes that the female goes through in her pregnancy- on darker bodied or coloured females things like the changes in the gravid patch may not be so obvious;

Stage 1

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The female guppy is not pregnant at all in this picture and there is no sign of a gravid patch. She has probably given birth recently, this is the least pregnant a female guppy can get, she has most likely already mated with a male by this stage though, so will starting to get pregnant again. She may even choose to use the sperm of a male she mated with from a previous mating she had before her last pregnancy (as female guppy's can store sperm in them for up to 6-7 pregnancies maximum). She will be growing new eggs inside her at this stage, however she will be very slim at this stage still.

Stage 2

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There is the slightest orangey/pinkish/dark yellowish tinge to the gravid patch area, even though there are no fry in her at the moment, the eggs inside the female guppy are beginning to darken ever so slightly as they grow larger and more in quantity and the first stages of the fry's development start to take place. However, the female guppy is still very slim and is showing no other visable signs of her early pregnancy. If she has no sperm in her to further this stage in the pregnancy, she will just keep on growing eggs in her and the gravid patch will not darken any futher.

Stage 3

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The gravid patch area is certainly getting darker at this stage (although it is still pretty pale in colour), there are certain signs that are beginning to take place like this that this guppy is most likely in the early stages pregnancy now, and she is beginning to look a bit plumper around the stomach area.

Stage 4

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As the guppy's pregnancy progresses, her gravid patch becomes darker and darker and she looks more and more noticeably plump around the stomach area. It looks like she has a darkening jelly inside her womb.

Stage 5

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You will be starting to see the actual fry's eyes through the skin of the pregnant guppy at this stage, although they will still look like little specs surrounded by orangey jelly. The female guppy should only have about a fortnight or less now before she gives birth now.

Stage 6

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The female guppy's gravid patch is getting particularly dark by this stage, you can see how tightly packed in the fry are getting as they grow inside their mother! The female guppy is not only getting continuously plumper around the stomach area, but her "chest" is also getting larger too. The female guppy may be showing the first signs of being ready to give birth at this stage i.e. hanging around on her own in a quiet/subdued mood in densely planted area's in the tank. It is not long now before she gives birth, I would say 1 week or less.

Stage 7

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This is the last and final stage in the female guppy's pregnancy. Her gravid patch is so dark it is practically all black, and she looks very pregnant/fat indeed. She will be displaying behaviour like she is about to give birth (see stage 6 for example), and will be trying to ignore the male guppy's attentions.
However the male guppy's will probably be giving her a lot of unwanted attention at this stage- chasing or following her around, pecking at her business end and displaying towards her to get her attentions. The main reason why male guppy's pay so much attention to heavily pregnant females like this is that they are;
a. Desperate to get the first mating in once she gives birth, so they are most likely to father her next batch of fry, and

b. So they can eat any fry born immediately, which may belong to another males. By eating their competitors fry, their fry will have more of a chance when they are born etc.


The female guppy could technically give birth to up to 50+ fry, but 20-30 fry is a lot more common. A lot of these fry will be eaten in their first couple of days of life, which is why some people prefer to remove the pregnant female to a separate tank away from the main community.
When female guppy's give birth, they express a hormone which stops their appetite and helps prevent them from eating their own fry, however as far as I know this hormone only lasts for up to 12hours, so the fry are only safe for a little while from their mother (this should still give them plenty of time to swim off and hide somewhere though).
Guppy fry will instinctively hide in planted area's and the such like in the tank, so it is good to provide some heavily planted areas with an array of plants.

I would not advise putting the pregnant female guppy In a breeding net/trap at any point unless she is being severely harassed by male guppy/s or other fish in the tank and needs a break from them. Breeding nets are still stressful things though, so you should aim to have the female in the net for as little time as possible as the stress from being in the breeding net could even cause the female guppy to abort her fry.



"My female gave birth to some eggs!?"
This happens occasionally in guppy keeping and is a major sign that something went wrong in the pregnancy. Guppy fry do not all develop at once at the same rate inside the mother, some will be partly developed while some will still be eggs. When female guppy's abort their fry, you will often see some eggs and partly developed fry, the eggs and partly developed fry will not survive outside the mother.
The reason why the guppy aborted its fry is most likely due to stresses the female was experiencing, these stresses could be numerous things, like over-harassment from the males, general bulling in the tank, sickness/disease, water quality problems, lack of space/over-crowding or overstocking etc etc.
When female guppy's experience such stressful conditions, they will either abort their fry, or re-absorb them back into the womb and turn them back into eggs and start the pregnancy all over again. When female guppy's re-absorb the developing fry or eggs it is their way of ensuring that they only give birth in conditions where the fry are not highly likely to die in them, and saves the female a lot of energy too and prevents her from giving birth to fry which probably wouldn't survive etc. However guppy's are such avid breeders, they have been known to breed in pretty terrible conditions none the less- its all part of their instinct to survive and breed, since in the wild they are the favourite food of almost every predatory fish in the local habitat, and so guppy's need to breed quickly and a lot on a large scale to help ensure the species survival.

You should always feed your female guppy's a good diet at any point in their life or pregnancy, a varied diet is the best since these fish are opportunistic little insectivores/omnivores. But feeding a good diet is never more important just before and after the female guppy gives birth, as she will need all the energy she can get during these stages- frozen or live foods are a lot more nutritious and easily digestible than dried ones, things like frozen/live bloodworms, krill and daphinia all make good energy foods for small fish like guppy's :good: .
You should also take care that you have more than enough females per male in mixed gender groups of guppy's, and that the tank is not overstocked nor over-crowded and that the tank is cleaned on a regular once weekly basis at the least etc.

Hope this info/thread helps some people, I will add more pics and info later :thumbs: .

Edited by Tokis-Phoenix, 12 November 2007 - 04:31 PM.


#2 Tokis-Phoenix

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 05:08 PM

With the guppy female which has never been with a male, her gravid patch is most likely natural colouring on the actual skin- i have seen numerous guppys, males and females alike, with "false" gravid patches which are purely just pigments in the skin and nothing more.

http://www.wetwebmed...tallic_male.JPG

Ok, so these examples aren't that great, but if i see better ones i shall post them- its a completely normal thing though with the false gravid patch thing, just pigment etc.

When females are not pregnant though, they will not have a gravid patch- if they have a true gravid patch it means there's fry inside them, as only fry can cause true gravid patches, and thus the female is pregnant.

With the female guppy eating fry after birth thing too, i said the hormone can last up to 12hrs, and not that it always does this. The amount of this appetite suppressing hormone a pregnant guppy produces varys from female to female a lot, but if 95% of your females are eating their fry as soon as they are born though i would suspect that you aren't feeding them enough meals in general, as heavily pregnant female guppys do need more regular small meals than non-pregnant females.

Edited by OldMan47, 22 May 2010 - 10:43 AM.
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#3 lilfishie

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 06:45 PM

great info, but my juvi female is deffinately not pregnant and has a black gravid spot and i have a pic that shows it well. she is about 4 months old and the only male in the tank is not yet fully developed which is how i know she is not pregnant
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#4 Tokis-Phoenix

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 06:50 PM

great info, but my juvi female is deffinately not pregnant and has a black gravid spot and i have a pic that shows it well. she is about 4 months old and the only male in the tank is not yet fully developed which is how i know she is not pregnant
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Its quite posible that young virgin female guppys can have a "phantom pregnancy", however regardless of the cause of the appearance of such a pregnancy, as far as i am aware no virgin births have ever been documented in guppys, they still need sperm to get pregnant, so i doubt much would ever come of such a false gravid patch.

With the guppy fry eating thing, it could be just something to do with the gene's of your females. It is also well documented that guppys learn certain behaviour from each other, so its posible that you females are doing this because they have learnt the behavior from each other.
At the moment i have over 40 female guppys, so its hard for me to keep a track of who's giving birth to how many fry a lot of the time etc, however so far i have no witnessed any of my females being particularly eager to eat their own fry after birth, the majority of mine just stop eating for half a day while they are giving birth in a planted area of the tank etc :) .


Overal, i think a phantom pregnancy would be a good explanation for why young virgin female guppys can show signs of gravid patchs, as far as i am aware there's no reason why guppys cannot get phantom pregnancys, especially considering how highly sexed such fish can be, they've got a lot of hormone's going on in them which could create such symptoms :thumbs: .

#5 mea_caroro

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 01:58 AM

I have a question: my guppy recently gave birth to 30 fry. Some of the fry looked more developed and larger, at least a week older, but were all the same age. They were born with gravid spots, a few of them. When is a female able to become pregnant? I have a few older fry who are now in the adult's tank and are beginning to get color. they now have dark gravid spots and I'm wondering if they could be pregnant. Their brother often messes with them anyway.

#6 Tokis-Phoenix

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 01:25 PM

I have a question: my guppy recently gave birth to 30 fry. Some of the fry looked more developed and larger, at least a week older, but were all the same age. They were born with gravid spots, a few of them. When is a female able to become pregnant? I have a few older fry who are now in the adult's tank and are beginning to get color. they now have dark gravid spots and I'm wondering if they could be pregnant. Their brother often messes with them anyway.




Usually females are mature enough to get pregnant at 3months old, sometimes a little younger. You should separate the females from any males in the tank which are related to them to help prevent inbreeding amoungst them- the more you let each generation inbreed with each other, the weaker the resulting fry from such unions will become.

Inbreeding is a dangerous thing in guppys, it does nothing positive for them at all. Inbreeding can result in guppys with poorer imune systems and growth (both eventual size and how long they take to attain it) and increases the chances of poorer, smaller and weaker batches of fry being born, and the chances of fry being born with bad birth deformities- inbred mature females also have a higher risk of suffering from birthing complications etc.
There are basically many negative ways inbreeding can affect guppys, so you should try to avoid it at all costs whenever posible. Even if your females are not mature enough to get pregnant, to be on the safe side you should remove any young males amoungst them as soon as the males become evident in the group.

Guppys used to be a very hardy type fish in general in the earlier days of fishkeeping, but now they have a reputation for becomming increasingly more weak/fragile as time goes by, the reason for this is due to inbreeding in guppys. When breeders are trying to create new strains of guppys like new tail types/finnages and colours etc, it is a lot easier to come up with such new strains if you inbreed the guppys together. So as time has gone by, guppys have become more and more inbred because of the breeders doing such things like trying to create new strains etc.
The reason why the guppys themselves show no real objection to inbreeding amoungst each other is partly because of their high sex drives, but also because in the wild, wild guppys would exist in very large bodies of water (often going into the thousands of gallons) and in very large numbers themselves. The chances of a single guppy finding a sibling in such an environment is rather slim, so it is generally not an issue for wild guppys and so they have never really evolved to have any instincts not to breed with their siblings or parents etc. So basically it is up to you to stop such things from happening in your tank, as a responsable guppy breeder, preventing inbreeding in your guppys should become one of your top priorities :nod: :good: .

#7 na9la

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 01:39 PM

how old should the fry be to go with the adults they more than a month old almost two.

--------- that is the length of my 2 month fries is that big enough to go to adults?

Edited by na9la, 26 June 2007 - 01:40 PM.


#8 Tokis-Phoenix

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 01:45 PM

how old should the fry be to go with the adults they more than a month old almost two.

--------- that is the length of my 2 month fries is that big enough to go to adults?


At two months old they should be absolutely fine with the adult guppys in the tank, adult guppys will only try to eat fry which are small enough to be caught with ease and swallowed whole, when the fry are too large to be swallowed whole by the adults the adult guppys will stop trying to eat them- its mostly fry which are 2-3weeks or less old who are at the most risk of this happening, at 2months old they will be more than large enough not to get eaten by the adult guppys :good: .

#9 Big Blue

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 06:05 PM

well i can do that easy, i have a few of them so will issolate one or two and see how it goes :good:

I have just been told that when she has babies they eat them is that true
and what do u do to keep them

#10 helterskelter

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Posted 15 July 2007 - 09:52 AM

The gravid spot is a black lineing to the body cavity this is always there, it's just in some fish it more visible then others

#11 monica

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 04:05 PM

I have one 10 gallon with a heater and filter. I also have 2 pregnant females, and 1 male. During the birthing is it okay if I transfer the male and female that are not delivering into another 2 gallon? The 2 gallong does not have a heater or filter. (I used it for my bettas) How long can they go without heater and filter? Is it better just to leave all fish in the tank while she is delivering? And what is better, live plants, or fake ones (for young fry)? I have 2 fake at the moment. Is that sufficient?

#12 Tokis-Phoenix

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Posted 01 August 2007 - 04:54 PM

I have one 10 gallon with a heater and filter. I also have 2 pregnant females, and 1 male. During the birthing is it okay if I transfer the male and female that are not delivering into another 2 gallon? The 2 gallong does not have a heater or filter. (I used it for my bettas) How long can they go without heater and filter? Is it better just to leave all fish in the tank while she is delivering? And what is better, live plants, or fake ones (for young fry)? I have 2 fake at the moment. Is that sufficient?



Its best to leave them all in the same tank, as long as the male is not overly harrassing the heavily pregnant female, she'll be fine :good: . The 2gal tank would probably be too stressful for the other guppys either way with no heating or filtration. It doesn't matter is the plants are live or fake as long as they have lots of fine densely packed small leaves to offer good cover for the fry to hide in, live plants can often be better though as they can help lower nitrate levels in the tank and often offer better cover :good: .

#13 stiffler69

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Posted 06 October 2007 - 10:43 PM

Ive noticed gravid spots on my females but ive found this spot down to the lighting in the tank when i use the lamp the gravid spot is quite clear however when i have the light off over night and put it on first thing in the morning there is no gravid spot until the light has been on for a while maybe its something to do with the uv light and pigments in the fish

#14 electric yellow

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Posted 12 January 2008 - 08:30 AM

Can i just ask...i bought a new guppy today and she is mature. I didnt want a young one because I wanted a mature one. All the rest are still youngens. She is a skin pink colour the whole body and a pasty pink tail and fins. Shes adorable. BUT extremly fat. I cant see 'the spot' on her but she is pretty darn fat. Is it possible she is preg? I know back in the thread some people said that more than likely they are already pregnant when you get them from your lfs.


We had 45Cdegrees here for three days in a row and lost a couple of fish :( I was suprised one of our male guppies went. He was purple and orange and was the most colourfull one. I cant help but think he colouring at birth/fish dyeing would of attributed to his being weak maybe? And therefore not being able to handle the heat? I had air cons pointed straight at the tank and did the best I could do to keep them cool.

I will try to snap a pic of the new guppy tomorrow once they settled it.

#15 Kirstycc

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 10:04 PM

It could have been the temp as the ideal temp is 24-26C

Edited by Kirstycc, 19 January 2008 - 06:55 PM.


#16 rossyboy

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 03:33 AM

i think he meant the weather lol

#17 gems2209

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Posted 30 July 2008 - 01:32 PM

females will hand around at the bottom of the tank or in place on its own when its getting ready to give birth, so shouldnt be much longer. As for starting a new topic, on the forum page where you click on the link to post here, look up the top on the other side and it says "new topic" click on that and you will be able to start your own topic. Hope this helps :good:

#18 freddi264

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Posted 06 October 2008 - 10:58 AM

hello. i have been readin about the phantom pregnacies. i have 2 baby guppies one a boy one a girl they are about 2 months old. she has a huge belly a a dark gravid sopt...is it porssible she might be pregnant or just a phantom?? and what should i do??

Edited by freddi264, 06 October 2008 - 11:01 AM.


#19 nosoup4you

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Posted 06 October 2008 - 11:12 AM

'Tis possible, Guppies reach sexual maturity between 2 and 4 months. Are they in a tank by themselves? Do you have more than one tank? Do you wish to use a breeder box/net or just provide plenty of shelter and hope for the best?

#20 GoNzAlEz

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Posted 09 May 2009 - 11:54 PM

Hi this is a very interesting topic and very helpful. I would like to ask a question also, I have 4 female guppies and 2 males. The females are having the black pregnancy spot every now and then which after few days it's changing to red and after few days back to black, but they are not having any fry. In the aquarium I also have some plants. Anyone knows why the pregency spot is changing colours and no fry are being born?




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