How many batches of fry can a mutt guppy have in their lifetime? How about wild types? Kept track of a single female's total progeny?

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AdoraBelle Dearheart

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There's probably tons of misinformation out there about guppies - kinda hoping livebearer keepers, hobbyists and breeders like @emeraldking can share their experiences of typical lifespans and the average number of batches of fry a female guppy can produce in a lifetime. Like to hear about the rare cases, but also the typical lifespan and amount of live births a female can handle.

Obviously the general health and hardiness of store bought, mass farmed guppies seems to have declined a lot compared to their hardy, beginner friendly, and almost invincible reputation guppies used to have 30-40 years ago. What caused the change?

I ask this because when I began maintaining my dad's tank and then set up my own, all I wanted was a happy little community of guppies and some shrimp, snails. But had a really hard time getting store bought guppies to survive. I'd buy a trio, see the females getting more and more gravid, then lose one, two, or all of them, usually before birthing any fry. My tank was cycled, well planted, testing perfectly with the API master test kit -I'd done everything I possibly could to make it perfect, but they'd up and die on me. I felt like a fish murderer, and almost gave up the hobby before I'd really started, because I felt awful about burying all these guppies (I don't bury fish anymore, I only dispose of fish in general waste now, as sad as that is, but thinking pathogens and ecosystems) and couldn't work out why I was failing to get the fish with the easiest breeding rep to survive long enough to have fry!

It was only when I came here, and went to some other groups on reddit and FB, and learned about how store bought guppies aren't the hardy fish the once were. But I did eventually succeed when I got some healthier, bred by a hobbyist guppies, had tons of fry because I'd lost so many, I bought all six beautiful females they had and some lovely males.

But when I began, I kept a tank log for each tank, and recorded everything for a long time. Mainly trying to work out when my tank would be ready for fish, then trying to work out why they kept dying on me. I logged every birth, every death, every water change and water test. Wouldn't always get a headcount for the fry, but would do a rough count and guestimate. Generally, once wormed and getting to 2/3/4 generations they were hardier and lived longer than the parents did, females had an big range of how many batches they produced, and once they'd had a lot of fry, the adult females seem to show signs of becoming worn out - does anyone know what I mean? Often start to develop a bend in the spine after many births, swim more lethargically, generally start to look aged and occasionally, a birth would go badly and I'd lose the female, or the female and fry if she passed during labour.

I'm guessing both general health, lifespan, and ability to produce lots of fry for a long time will vary a lot between wild type, fancy, and mutt guppies? But I don't know for sure. Kinda hoping you've written an article or two about it @emeraldking ! :D ;) Please link it if so!

I ask because I short-sightedly adopted the unwanted fish from a tank that they swore were only male guppies, since I didn't want to breed them anymore - but when they arrived there were 10 or 12 male guppies, a ton of molly fry and adult trio - and a single, young, rather stressed female guppy! So I moved her to a different tank so she didn't get "male guppied" to death and tried to rehome her before she began popping out fry, but then parents falling ill and passing, my tanks were pretty neglected and on their own for a while beyond basic maintenance, so this single female popped out loads of batches of fry. I don't keep a log anymore and that tank is now packed with guppy/endler hybrids. A very rough estimate is about 200 offspring between her and her daughters, and there likely would have been more if I was taking better care of the tanks and feeding more live food/more water changes etc.

I got fond of my plain single female guppy, named Susan - and she's still identifiable as the OG largest female, and has been happily popping out fry for over a year now I think. Just today I noticed she's starting to bend a bit at the spine, and is swimming slower and resting more. Just not zipping around as fast, but also still seems to be the matriarch tank boss, and won't tolerate being hassled!

No sign of illness in her or any of the others, water parameters are fine (0/0/20, W/C due Wednesday) she isn't fin clamped or hiding in one spot, still eating, and looks gravid again... may surprise me and keep popping out more fry for another year or two, but I'm sad at seeing the signs of a worn out female who has gone through birthing 30 odd fry every month, and it's taken a toll, does that make sense?

But it's got me curious about other people's experiences, and any studies done!
 
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There's no exact reference on lifespans of wild and breeding forms of guppies to start with. Can a guppy reach 3 years of age? Yes, it can! But there are so many factors that are in play to let a guppy reach such an age. Fish farms bred specimens live shorter due to a couple of factors. If they come from Asian fish farms, they are bred and raised in a very short time period (so, they look like adults but are way younger which results ina shorter lifespan), and in water that contains much more salt then we would use, and water that has been treated with more meds as a preventive treatment and there's hardly culling involved. Which means that there's no standard in quality left anymore. Then moving them from brackish water to freshwater at the wholesaler/importer. And then again, moving to the retailer and also in water with other water parameters. All that's been mentioned won't do any good to the health and lifespan of a guppy once it reaches a household.
Raising guppies in a very short time period is something that is done by those Asian fish farms to ensure the continuity of salesof the desired strains.
But newborn fry from such commercial fish farmed bred guppies in your own tank, will be stronger. Young fish (fry and juveniles) will adapt easier to new circumstances when it comes to other water parameters. Especially, when they are born in water one keeps, such fry will be much stronger then their at the lfs purchased parents. That's normal.

Wild guppies are way stronger than any kind of breeding forms of guppies. And generally, they live even longer and have a better tolerance in fluctcuations of water parameters than their breeding forms.

And when we consider breeding forms, the short finned strains are stronger than the large finned strains.

It's normal that female guppies when having large broods or too many broods will die sooner. Despite of the fact that there's no maternal feeding taking place during the pregnancy, it's the weight that takes a lot of energy of the female. And when the skin is stretching too much because of a huge belly, that may affect the lifespan in a negative way as well. One of the symptoms is a bend spine. Or that it has taken so much energy of her that she has used her muscle tissue that the body absorbs to go on. But once she's done dropping those fry, she will look quite thin afterwards. Or she may look very lethargic afterwards. This is normal in female guppies.

Mutt guppies are generally spoken more stronger than linebred breeding forms. This is because of the gene pool diversity.

How many broods a female guppy can have is so diverse per individual specimen and the same goes for the total amount of fry she's able to deliver. Whether it concerns a wild guppy, a mutt guppy or a specific breeding form of a guppy.
 
There's no exact reference on lifespans of wild and breeding forms of guppies to start with. Can a guppy reach 3 years of age? Yes, it can! But there are so many factors that are in play to let a guppy reach such an age. Fish farms bred specimens live shorter due to a couple of factors. If they come from Asian fish farms, they are bred and raised in a very short time period (so, they look like adults but are way younger which results ina shorter lifespan), and in water that contains much more salt then we would use, and water that has been treated with more meds as a preventive treatment and there's hardly culling involved. Which means that there's no standard in quality left anymore. Then moving them from brackish water to freshwater at the wholesaler/importer. And then again, moving to the retailer and also in water with other water parameters. All that's been mentioned won't do any good to the health and lifespan of a guppy once it reaches a household.

You folks who have been in the hobby for decades and have witnessed the changes in the hobby are invaluable! My parents owned an aviaries and aquatics business in the 60s, 70s, 80s and early 90s, so I learned old school style fishkeeping from them - but I don't know where they got their stock from besides the animals they bred themselves, and the birds that were openly traded in the bird hobby that are now endangered and on the CITES list... they had a lot of guilt about being involved in the trade after that, even though they produced a lot of their own stock for sale from their own place, and also bought and sold birds and fish around the UK and Europe, along with imported wild stock.

I imagine it was the same when most pet shops and fish stores were owned and run by people who were into the hobby themselves, and needed to build a trusty reputation by selling healthy stock, trading with breeders in the UK and Europe, giving real advice and had books and equipment etc that people bought from LFS rather than now, when everything is available online, supermarkets selling pet food and eventually, pet superstore chains, that forced prices down and encouraged this force fed, mass farmed in brackish water, not culled or chosen for health or quality fish?

I know that that's the reason my parents had to close their shop and home business, since privately owned local fish/pet shops couldn't compete against the big supermarkets and chain pet superstores. Same reason my closest LFS that had been there for years under various ownership, eventually closed down for good, and there are now only two privately owned LFS in my relatively large city, but plenty of large chain pet stores that will sell a tank and fish on the same day or within a week, not informing people about cycling etc...

Rant for a different day, perhaps!





Wild guppies are way stronger than any kind of breeding forms of guppies. And generally, they live even longer and have a better tolerance in fluctcuations of water parameters than their breeding forms.

There is a livebearers association event happening near me very soon, and I'm so tempted to go! Can't afford to buy fish or fish stuff right now though, but I at least want to go and see! After having all the mutt guppies/endler mixes, and enjoying them when they survive, it would be interesting to experience keeping a wild type and seeing the difference personally.
And when we consider breeding forms, the short finned strains are stronger than the large finned strains.

Makes sense. Like bettas, those tails are heavy and cause a lot of drag. I know the larger tailed male guppies I've had certainly struggled more to swim than the shorter finned ones, of course... but they seem to sag almost when they get a few years old and start showing the signs of aging... But then I've also had elderly fish of a few species now, and I'm often surprised at how long they often survive and keep going, while looking visibly aged, or no longer producing fry for the elderly females.

My current mix seems to have a variety of tail shapes.. a few large(ish) delta tails, but some shorter finned and more Endler like.

It's normal that female guppies when having large broods or too many broods will die sooner. Despite of the fact that there's no maternal feeding taking place during the pregnancy, it's the weight that takes a lot of energy of the female. And when the skin is stretching too much because of a huge belly, that may affect the lifespan in a negative way as well. One of the symptoms is a bend spine. Or that it has taken so much energy of her that she has used her muscle tissue that the body absorbs to go on. But once she's done dropping those fry, she will look quite thin afterwards. Or she may look very lethargic afterwards. This is normal in female guppies.
Thank you for this! I often get attached, especially once you've had particular ones for years, and they pop out lots of pretty babies, but then the big momma starts to fade. But it does make sense. Carrying and birthing all those fry is hard work, reproducing requires a lot of energy, and labour is hard work and risky in any animal that gives birth, or produces eggs. Makes sense that the large female guppies who have been having large batches of fry often are more likely to have problems in labour eventually, and it does take a lot of energy out of them. Same for animals that lay eggs, whether they care for the offspring or not.

Eventually when my LFS closed and I wanted to stop breeding livebearers because finding homes for them all would be a nightmare, I had a tank of the elderly "stud" males I'd named and wanted to have live out their lives with me, and one for retired females so at least they wouldn't be hassled by the males, even though of course they had stored sperm packets and would continue popping out the odd batch now and again, but it slowed down when I only had elderly, original ones left.


Mutt guppies are generally spoken more stronger than linebred breeding forms. This is because of the gene pool diversity.
I'm disappointed to hear that! There's someone near me who has some stunning looking blue moscow guppies I want, and some that are more green, and some purple/blue ones that are gorgeous and I really want some!! But I also don't want to be drowning in fry all the time... *sigh* help! They're really pretty, and I was hoping since they're bred by a hobbyist in my city with the same water, they might be stronger and do better. But I understand that line breeding causes issues if done wrong or too inbred...

Maybe I need an outdoor pond for guppies, then bring them inside in Autumn to overwinter them. Hmm. Long term plan to consider...

I want guppies. But I don't want to be overwhelmed with them! :( :lol:
 
Wow!! Thankfully mine isn't quite that packed! I gasped when I saw how many guppies were in the tank, but when he scanned to that huge canister filter with really good flow, and beautiful healthy fish, plants and fry... I imagine a fresh water system or frequent large water changes too?

I kinda love that video! He's overdue for bagging up and selling some youngsters I think, but can't deny they look well and thriving, and that huge filter and healthy, fast growing stem plants helps a lot!
 
Virtually any common livebearer (especially guppies) imported from Asia and sold by pet shops will carry intestinal worms, gill flukes and usually have external protozoan or bacterial infections. We used to see this all the time in the shop and importer/ quarantine facility and it happened every time we got new fish in. The fish might be good but more often they were sick when we got them. We put them in their own tank and load them up with salt, then see how they go over the next 24 hours. Sometimes they needed more than salt and they regularly got a broad spectrum medication that killed bacteria and protozoan infections and this was used with salt. Once the fish were disease free, they became available for sale.

When I was younger and breeding livebearers, (never kept guppies at home but did have the other types) I used to get 20-150 young per batch from swordtails, platies and mollies. The younger females usually dropped a batch about once a month but there were fewer young in each batch (around 20-50). The older bigger females would drop a batch every couple of months but you got a lot more fry (70-150 young per batch).

In the shop the female guppies would sometimes give birth and there would be anywhere from 10-50 fry. It's possible there were more fry but some got eaten. We had separate tanks for males and females and the other females might have eaten some of the young, but guppies don't normally eat their young if the adults are well fed. The females in the tank were all young females from Asian fish farms so probably less than 3 months old.

The quality of most aquarium fishes has gone downhill over the last 20 years and guppies, angelfish and goldfish are at the top of that list for poor quality specimens caused by inbreeding. If you buy a group of guppies (or any fish) from a pet shop, chances are they are related and from the same breeder. They have probably been inbred for many generations and will be weak and usually die prematurely from various issues, many of which will be internal issues. If you can get unrelated fish and breed them, you get much stronger offspring that live longer and don't have as many health issues.

This isn't a new problem and has been going on for more than 50 years, but it's become noticeably worse during the last 20 years. Many fish farms have been using the same inbred stock for decades and very few add new bloodlines because it interrupts the breeding program for a few years while they inbreed the new stock to get the colours back.

If you want good quality fish with few health issues, try to get wild caught or get fish that are unrelated and cross them to get new genetics into the weaker fish.
 
If you buy a group of guppies (or any fish) from a pet shop, chances are they are related and from the same breeder.
A lot of people think that when they buy fish from more than one store that those fish ain't related. But if they came from the same wholesaler, they could still be related. And more wholesalers could use the same fish farm as a provider. Don't forget that either...
 
A lot of people think that when they buy fish from more than one store that those fish ain't related. But if they came from the same wholesaler, they could still be related. And more wholesalers could use the same fish farm as a provider. Don't forget that either...

That's why I like trading fish/plants with other hobbyists when I can. Joining local fishkeeping groups online and even better, ones in person and events like the livebearers association thing happening here soon, and my cities tropical fish club has bring and buy events every three months. Not a huge amount of sellers and foot traffic at those latter events, but can get some gorgeous, healthy, home bred fish.

Not forgetting to still QT though!
 
Just.
Buy.
Boys.

:lol:

I know, I know! I did stick to that rule for about a year! Happily.

But that one adopted/rescue guppy female means I now have a ton of fry, and I kinda love and want to keep breeding them :blush:

Plus the guy selling the stunning blue/green/purple guppies sells them in trios... I'd have to get females too... not my fault! ;):lol:
 
There will never be more than the food given can support, if you firmly keep it at the same amount. they will never overcrowd the tank.

Firmly keeping it at the same amount... Very, very, very tough... Loll, When you see them competing, and with time you see the losers dies and all the frys that get munched and have a super hard start in life...

But the ones that makes it to adulthood are the slickest fastest meanest and hardiest guppies I've ever seen.
 
There will never be more than the food given can support, if you firmly keep it at the same amount. they will never overcrowd the tank.

Firmly keeping it at the same amount... Very, very, very tough... Loll, When you see them competing, and with time you see the losers dies and all the frys that get munched and have a super hard start in life...

But the ones that makes it to adulthood are the slickest fastest meanest and hardiest guppies I've ever seen.

Definitely too hard for me to do! I'm guilty of being an overfeeder and often having to battle snail population explosions as a result!

Trouble is that I've normally always had them in community tanks with something that needs algae, biofilm, microcritters etc to graze on, like otos, shrimp, plecs, and lots of live plants - and encourage things like seed shrimp and daphnia, so currently they're finding plenty of food around the tank! I could probably vacation and leave them alone for a month and still have a good population of them when I returned!

Unless the losses happened quickly and caused an ammonia spike and tank crash of course.

So keeping the grazers fed keeps the guppies fed too! I feed the guppies and pygmy cories first, then drop a wafer for the otos, but the otos mostly graze tank walls, plants, decor etc.
 
Well it depends on your learning curve and who's the prof...

Today I realize that my early skills in fish keeping was thought to me by the Schutzstaffel and this tank was a concentration camp. loll.

I was too young to realize all what was going on...

But was fascinated by the extremely tough hierarchy imposed by the Alpha's, the way they treat each other in open water. And the way they could follow a chosen bride for days, fighting off all other males from approaching her until she's ready.

And they could do all that, while remaining the first at feeding time, bully all other smaller males they encounter and parade as the king of the place.
 
That's why I like trading fish/plants with other hobbyists when I can. Joining local fishkeeping groups online and even better, ones in person and events like the livebearers association thing happening here soon, and my cities tropical fish club has bring and buy events every three months. Not a huge amount of sellers and foot traffic at those latter events, but can get some gorgeous, healthy, home bred fish.

Not forgetting to still QT though!
I bet you'll gonna love this upcoming event...
 
I bet you'll gonna love this upcoming event...

I still want to go, just to see them... but sadly, absolutely broke right now and have a big vet bill coming up, so I definitely cannot budget to buy anything :( So would be frustrating! Undecided if I'd benefit just from window shopping and seeing them all, I'm sure, and meeting other hobbyists. Networking is great.

But will be hard not to spend any money! I'll just have to be strong and resist. Should be able to at a later date, just can't buy yet!
 

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