Breeding fancy guppies is easy, doesn’t take a lot of space and you don’t have to be an expert. Don’t be too surprised if you get hooked on raising these colorful little guys and end up with a houseful of guppies and tanks. They’re addictive.
Select a trio of fish, one male and two females, that have the color and other characteristics you want. Start with virgin females, so that you know they haven’t mated with another male. Female guppies can hang onto unused sperm and then use it to fertilize multiple batches of babies, so the genetics can get a bit confusing if she’s been with other males.
Place the fish you want to breed in a 5-gallon or larger tank of their own, away from any other fish. A box filter in the tank will keep the water clean and aerated. It’s up to you as to whether or not you add gravel and plants. While you may think your fish won’t be happy without these extras in the tank, the International Fancy Guppy Association offers the advice that a bare tank is perfectly fine for guppies, and easier to keep clean. Keep the tank’s temperature at about 78 to 80 degrees.
Move each female to a birthing tank well before she gives birth. This gives her a chance to adjust to the change with a minimum of stress. Stock the tank with plenty of plants, especially floating plants, for the babies to hide in. Make sure she is well fed, to reduce the likelihood that she’ll eat her young. After she gives birth, put her back in with the male.
Watch the babies as they grow, and keep only those that have the characteristics that you want. This will help strengthen those qualities in your fancy guppy line.
Separate the sexes before they are old enough to breed. Once the male’s gonopodium develops, at around 2 to 3 months, he is capable of inseminating females. You’ll see the triangular anal fin under his body begin to lengthen and narrow as he approaches this stage.
Establish new breeding trios by placing the next generation of fancy guppies in their own breeding tanks, choosing those that show the characteristics you want your guppies to have. The most straightforward grouping is to use a male from one of the first groups of babies and two females from the other groups. Another grouping is to place the original male in with two of his daughters, or else put a new male in with the original females.
Items you will need
- Guppy trio, 1 male and 2 females
- 5-gallon aquarium setup, with filter
- 2 3- to 5-gallon baby tanks, stocked with plants
- Tank thermometer
- Fish net
- Be prepared to cull all the fish that don’t meet your standards, or you’ll quickly be overrun with guppies. Some breeders give them away, but others use them as feeders for larger fish such as Oscars and goldfish.
- Inbreeding can strengthen desirable characteristics in your guppies, but it may also bring out negative traits, so use care when making close crosses, such as brother-sister or father-daughter.
- Tropical Fish Magazine: Back to the Basics: Breeding Guppies
- International Fancy Guppy Association: Beginner’s Guide
- Guppies, Mollies, and Platys: Everything About Purchase, Care, Nutrition, and Behavior; Harro Hieronimus (pg 58-87))
- Aquarium image by crossgolfing from Fotolia.com