Do Guppies die after giving birth? Is it true?
Female Guppies, after giving birth, suddenly may die; and sometimes, even while giving birth, she might die.
The causes of Guppies maternal death are mainly due to stress, labor complication, poor environment, illnesses, and not to forget genetic memories.
Guppy lovers can prevent some of these above causes by taking adequate care; however, some are beyond your control, such as genetic memories.
Let’s continue reading the article to learn the answer to the question “Do Guppies die after giving birth?” The causes and the preventive measures:
All About Guppy Pregnancy
Guppies are livebearers; meaning, these fish give birth to live, free-swimming juveniles instead of laying eggs like most aquatic species. Therefore, it is essential to understand how the Guppies give birth, which might help you rejoicing your breeding experiences instead of worrying too much about the mother Guppy and the fry.
Guppy Pregnancy Stages
The sexual maturity of female Guppies varies, depending on their evolutionary memory; Guppies evolved with high predation, mature as early as in a few weeks, and have a longer lifespan only by increasing that part of the lifespan where they contribute offspring to the next generation than the one evolved in a low predatory environment.
In general, among the aquatic species, the female deposits eggs, and the male of the species fertilizes the eggs by spraying its milt over the eggs. However, Guppies are livebearers and also known as viviparous, which means they are internally fertilized and bring forth live free-swimming babies that have developed inside the parent’s body.
Signs Guppy is about to give birth:
Experienced hobbyists who breed Guppies know how to recognize the signs of pregnant Guppy; the darkening of the gravid area beneath the tail, change in the shape of the fish, and the weight gain.
The gestation period of Guppy can vary anywhere between 21 to 30 days, depending on the environment in which they live, the water temperature, and other water parameters. Nearing the end of the gestation period, the Guppy will show some indications; but not all the Guppies exhibit the same signals.
Observing, the pregnant Guppy will give away some of the following signs:
- The pregnant Guppy enlarges its gravid area.
- Her body outline becomes almost square.
- Growingly rapid breathing.
- Change in the eating habits; refusing to eat or crackling of the food, etc.
- Looks for hiding spots or remains motionless.
How do Guppies give birth?
A female Guppy can deliver up to 200 free-swimming juveniles in a matter of few hours; she delivers the fry one at a time in succession with pauses between the group of babies. Although generally, it lasts for few hours, if she stresses, the time can span to several hours and some cases, days. The longer the delivery period, the more the chances of maternal death.
Note: All the newborns may not be fully developed; there are unhealthy, pre-mature, and stillborns. Healthy fry will uncurl and swim upwards; the unhealthy and pre-mature ones sink to the bottom of the tank.
In general, only two newborns will live to mature as the mother Guppies don’t stick around to tend the offsprings; most of the pre-mature, unhealthy, and stillborns are devoured by the mother Guppy and the adult members of Guppies and other species.
Why do Guppies die after giving birth?
Mother Guppy might die suddenly after giving birth or during the process. The labor of your Guppy may not go smoothly due to pre-existing problems in the individual Guppy or external factors such as environment, water parameters, etc.
Guppies are livebearers; hence, like human mothers, they are highly susceptible to stress; it is the primary cause of maternal death among the Guppies. You may notice your pregnant Guppy sitting at the bottom of the tank immobile, hiding all the time, refusing to eat, random swimming patterns, agitation are some of the tell-tale signs of stress and anxiety of your Guppy.
Moving the Pregnant Guppy from one tank to another
Suppose the Guppy is already pregnant while purchasing them from the pet store. In that case, the act of moving them from the pet store to your home aquarium can cause illimitable stress to any fish, particularly a pregnant Guppy. It happens due to the changes in their living environment, water parameters, etc.
You would want to leave them undisturbed as much as possible.
Even moving a pregnant Guppy from the primary tank to the breeding tank can stress her out immensely. You would want to take care to match all the water parameters of the tank of origin while moving her to a different habitat or even to a breeding tank.
Lack of covers can stress them too.
Generally, Guppies are curious and funny species; they love to explore every nook and corner. That’s why the aquarists recommend a well planted and decorated habitat for Guppies.
However, a pregnant Guppy seeks a quiet place to rest and hide; lack of plants and hiding places might make Guppy feel exposed and vulnerable; eventually leading to birth complications.
Off-balance Water Parameters
Guppies are one of the least messy fish. They don’t produce much bio-waste; most hobbyists keep them without any filtration. However, a pregnant Guppy needs near-perfect water parameters such as water temperature, pH, and hardness as close to their requirements. Most importantly, Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrates levels in the water.
The fluctuation in the water temperature can highly stress your pregnant Guppy; too high or low pH will create an unhealthy environment and impact their essential bodily functions; this can lead to birth complications and the death of the Guppy during and after giving birth.
Complication During Labor
Guppies are Viviparous, like humans and other mammals; they are internally fertilized and bring forth live free-swimming babies. Hence, like humans, they can experience complications during labor.
There are numerous reasons labor complications could occur: such as fry getting stuck in the birth canal due to overdevelopment or abnormal growth; labor complications can arise out of excess stress due to mishandling and unhygienic water conditions.
A research team from California University found out that Guppy can evolve longer lifespan by increasing the segment of the reproductive period. The researcher experimented by comparing 240 guppies from the high and low predatory environments.
Guppies evolved from the high predatory environment came to sexual maturity earlier than the Guppies evolved from the low-predatory environment.
Supposing your Guppy is one from a low-predatory locality is less virulent and highly sensitive to minute variations in the water parameters and the living environment; might easily succumb to death for any minor issues. However, if your Guppy is the one that evolved from a high-predatory locality, it will be highly resilient, can fight and survive long and laborious labor.
How to prevent Mother Guppy from dying during or after giving birth?
As we have seen earlier, most of the causes for the death of mother Guppy are avoidable.
Adequate Water Parameters
Maintaining adequate water parameters is an essential part of an aquarium hobby, particularly when you have a pregnant Guppy in your tank. The ideal water temperature for a pregnant Guppy is in the range of 72° to 79°F (22° to 26°C), pH 6.8 to 7.8 and the water hardness 8 to 12 dGH; not to mention Ammonia and Nitrite level should 0 and Nitrate <10 ppm.
Live aquarium plants and decorations
Pregnant Guppy needs cover; there is nothing better than live aquarium plants, Java fern, Java moss, Water Sprite, Cryptocoryne, Non rooted Bunched Plants Java moss, Elodea, Cabomba, Red aquarium plants Ludwigia as cover. The live plants provide an excellent place to rest and recover from any stress.
Avoid purchasing a pregnant Guppy:
If you are buying a pregnant Guppy, moving them from a familiar habitat to a new habitat can cause tremendous stress. Moving any fish species from their living condition can stress; a pregnant Guppy is highly sensitive to a slight change in the water parameters and living environment.
Guppies are highly prolific breeders; hence, if you want to breed Guppies, you can do so once they settle down in their new habitat instead of moving a pregnant Guppy from the pet store.
A Balanced Diet and Maintaining Ideal Tank Environment
Adequate water parameters, a desirable tank environment, a balanced diet, and friendly inmates could prevent unwanted complications during pregnancy and labor.
Moving Pregnant Guppy to Breeder Tank
Any change in the water parameters and environment during the pregnancy can escalate stress; hence, if you move the pregnant Guppy to Breeder tank, ensure to replicate the breeder tank as the original tank. It can prevent them from building any unnecessary stress.
When you have a sufficiently large tank, you can use a breeder’s net or box; however, moving the pregnant too early into the breeder’s box or net can spiral unnecessary stress and cause needless complications during the labor.
Helping Guppy Mom
After giving birth, generally, it may last anywhere between two hours to two days, your Mom Guppy a quiet place to recover from the long labor. The best is to keep her in a calm tank with plenty of plants and feed her a nutritious diet for her recovery.
Moreover, if you plan on breeding Guppies, removing the Mother Guppy will prevent her from eating her offsprings. Newborn Guppies, although, can swim, are delicious for the Mother Guppy and other adult members; hence, they are at risk of being savored. Clumped floating plants such as java moss can give sufficient cover and nourish the fry with infusorians which it houses abundantly.
Do Guppies Die After Giving Birth? – Wrap-Up
Numerous reasons why a Guppy fish may die during or after giving birth; some are preventable causes, and others are pre-existing conditions. Conditions such as fry getting stuck in the birth canal due to deformity arise during the labor while others are to do with poor habitat.
You can always minimize the chance of Mother Guppy dying during and after giving birth by eliminating causes of stress and ensuring clean and adequate water parameters with a proper diet and favorable environment.