Do Guppies Lay Eggs Or Give Live Birth? (Explained Simply)

Image of a pregnant guppy giving live birth

Guppies don’t lay eggs; they give live birth because they are livebearers. Female guppies store the eggs inside their body during pregnancy. Once the eggs hatch, they release multiple guppy fry from their body. The gestation period of guppies varies from 21 to 30 days, depending on various factors.

Understanding how guppies reproduce can help you breed healthy guppies without stressing the mother guppy. So, let’s understand how guppies reproduce along with other related information.

How Do Guppies Reproduce?

Guppies are also known as millionfish due to their breeding capabilities.

The majority of the fish species are egg layers, meaning the male fertilizes the eggs once they are laid by the female fish.

However, guppies are livebearers.

This means the male guppies fertilize and transfer their sperm into the reproductive tract of female guppies during mating.

The offsprings then develop in the female guppies’ bodies until they hatch and the fry are born.

The body of a female guppy has several sacs that hold the eggs.

After mating, the eggs start to develop within these sacs.

When the male guppy fertilizes the eggs, eggs in only one sac begin to develop.

The eggs in the other sacs develop at a later date.

Hence, the guppy population can grow exponentially once the female guppy gets pregnant.

Since several eggs are formed in the female guppy’s body, her body expands and becomes broader and deeper to accommodate all the developing eggs.

As a result, a few days before the delivery, the pregnant guppy develops a bulge below the gills, and the gravid spot enlarges.

This is a clear indication that the pregnant guppy is about to give birth.

Female guppies deliver 2 to 200 fry at a time. It takes them around 2 to 6 hours to deliver all the fry.

After that, the fry are born one at a time and in quick succession with pauses between groups of fry.

In extreme cases, the female guppy can give birth to just a few fry.

It mainly happens if the mother guppy is stressed or underfed.

In such situations, she may only produce 3 to 5 fry.

If the fry are delivered under stressful conditions, most of them are not viable and can die immediately after birth.

How Often Do Guppies Give Birth?

Guppies are prolific breeders.

Moreover, female guppies can store the sperms in their body for up to a year from a single mating encounter.

This ensures that they can reproduce every month even without a male in the vicinity.

The gestation period of guppies varies between 21 to 30 days, the average being 22 to 26 days.

It primarily depends upon the female guppy’s health, tank temperature, and cleanliness.

Alright! So, guppies are basically livebearers. But sometimes, you may notice eggs in your guppy aquarium. How is that possible?

3 Instances When Guppies Lay Eggs

Guppies don’t lay eggs. Instead, they retain eggs inside their body and give birth to live and free-swimming fry.

It’s very uncommon for female guppies to lay eggs. But there are instances when this can happen.

However, in all probability, these eggs will not hatch.

The most common reasons for female guppies to lay eggs are:

1. Eggs are not fertilized.

The eggs fertilize inside the female guppies’ bodies. However, sometimes the eggs form and fail to fertilize.

These eggs are known as ‘dead eggs’. Dead eggs cannot produce offspring.

In such instances, the female guppies will try to release them out of the body.

If they fail to release the dead eggs, it can lead to severe health issues.

If you notice such eggs in your tank, you need to scoop them from the tank and throw them away.

2. Eggs are not formed properly.

The female guppies store eggs inside their body throughout the gestation period.

However, sometimes the eggs don’t form properly.

This can happen if the eggs get infected with bacteria due to poor water quality. This can cause the death of the embryo.

Also, if the pregnant female guppies get stressed during pregnancy, the eggs can become unhealthy.

3. Fry are not formed properly.

Sometimes the pregnant female guppies give birth to fry that are not formed correctly. Hence, the fry remain in the eggs.

When this happens, you can find the eggs delivered by the pregnant guppies in the aquarium.

These eggs are big as there are fry inside, and sometimes you can even notice some movement inside the eggs.

It’s actually a miscarriage. Even if the fry are born, they will not be healthy enough to survive and live a normal life.

Where Do Guppies Lay Eggs?

Guppies are livebearers. They give live birth to fry and don’t lay eggs unless something goes wrong in their pregnancy.

Female pregnant guppies ideally look for hiding places to give birth.

They usually lie at the bottom of the tank during labor. Guppies also use rocks, plants, etc., to hide while giving birth.

If female guppies don’t find any suitable hiding place in the tank, they give birth at the bottom or in the corner of the tank.

Do All Guppies Lay Eggs?

All guppies are ovoviviparous and fertilize internally. They give live birth to their young ones and don’t lay eggs.

During the entire gestation period, female guppies store the eggs inside their body.

Once the eggs hatch, the pregnant female guppies give birth to the offspring by releasing them from their body.

The fry are born fully formed. They are usually born curled as small balls.

After birth, they uncurl themselves and start swimming immediately.

The healthier guppy fry swim upwards, whereas the premature, unhealthy, or stillborn fry sink in the water.

Do Fancy Guppies Lay Eggs?

When it comes to reproduction, fancy guppies are no different than common guppies.

Fancy guppies are also prolific livebearers. Instead of laying eggs, they give live birth to fry.

The gestation period of a fancy guppy varies between 21 to 30 days but can vary considerably depending upon the female guppy’s health.

What Fish Are Livebearers?

Among the freshwater fish species, nearly all members of the Poeciliidae family are livebearers.

Apart from guppies, there are numerous livebearer species. Some of them are:

  • Platies,
  • Mollies,
  • Swordtail,
  • Endlers,
  • Goodeides,
  • Anableps,
  • Halfbeaks and many more.


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