Breeding Guppies: A beginners step by step guide to breeding guppies

Guppies, also known as “millionfish,” are popular aquarium inhabitants known for their vibrant colors and fascinating behaviors. Breeding guppies can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor, allowing you to witness the beauty of new life unfolding in your own tank. In this step-by-step guide, we will explore the intricacies of breeding guppies, including expert tips to ensure a successful breeding experience.

Setting Up the Breeding Tank

Creating the right environment for your guppies is the first crucial step in successful breeding.

1. Selecting the Ideal Breeding Tank

Choose a smaller tank, around 10-20 gallons, separate from the main aquarium. This isolation reduces the chances of other fish preying on the fry (baby guppies) and makes it easier to control the breeding conditions.

2. Water Parameters

  • Temperature: Maintain a stable water temperature of 78-80°F (25-27°C) to keep your guppies comfortable and encourage breeding.
  • pH Level: Guppies thrive in slightly alkaline water with a pH range of 7.0-7.5.
  • Hardness: Keep water hardness around 10-15 dGH (degrees of General Hardness).

3. Filtration and Aeration

Install a sponge filter or a gentle filtration system to avoid strong currents that may harm the fry. Guppies also appreciate aeration, which can be provided through an air stone or sponge filter.

4. Substrate and Decorations

Add fine-grained substrate and some plants for cover. Live plants, such as Java moss or Amazon swords, provide hiding spots for fry and help maintain water quality by absorbing excess nutrients.

Selecting Breeding Stock

To achieve the best results, choose healthy and genetically diverse guppies for breeding.

5. Careful Selection

Select adult guppies with vibrant colors and attractive tail patterns. Avoid fish with any signs of illness or deformities.

6. Maintain a Proper Male-to-Female Ratio

For every male guppy, have two to three female guppies. This minimizes stress on the females and reduces the risk of overbreeding.

Conditioning Your Guppies

Conditioning your guppies before breeding can enhance the chances of success.

7. High-Quality Diet

Feed your guppies a well-balanced diet rich in protein. High-quality flakes, live or frozen foods like daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworms, are excellent choices.

8. Separating the Guppies

Keep the male and female guppies apart for a couple of weeks before breeding. This period of separation primes them for reproduction.

Triggering the Breeding Process

Once your guppies are in prime condition, it’s time to induce breeding.

9. Raising Temperature

Gradually raise the water temperature by 2-3°F (1-2°C) to simulate the onset of the rainy season, which naturally triggers guppy breeding in the wild.

10. Introducing the Females

Place the females into the breeding tank, making sure they have plenty of hiding places among the plants.

11. Adding the Males

Introduce the males a day later. The females should display receptive behavior, which can be seen as the male’s vibrant colors and fin displays attract them.

The Courting and Mating Process

Observe the interactions between your guppies closely.

12. Male Courtship Behavior

Watch for the male’s courtship displays, such as “flaring” their fins and colorful displays, which signal their interest in the females.

13. Female’s Receptive Behavior

The female guppies may initially avoid the male’s advances. However, once they are receptive, they will allow the male to approach and mate.

14. Mating Process

Mating typically occurs when the male positions himself parallel to the female, arches his body, and fertilizes the female using a specialized fin called the gonopodium.

15. Remove the Males

After mating has taken place, remove the males from the breeding tank to prevent excessive stress and potential aggression toward the females.

Caring for Pregnant Guppies

Guppy females are known to be livebearers, meaning they give birth to live fry. Proper care during pregnancy is essential.

16. Gestation Period

The gestation period for guppy pregnancies is usually around 28 days, but it can vary depending on factors like temperature.

17. Isolation Box

Consider using a breeder box, which is a separate compartment within the breeding tank, to protect the pregnant female from potential aggression by other fish and ensure the safety of the fry.

18. Nutrition

Provide the pregnant female with a highly nutritious diet. Specialized fry foods, such as crushed flake food or powdered fry food, can be given to supplement their diet.

19. Monitor Stress Levels

Stress can cause pregnant guppies to abort their fry. Keep the environment peaceful and ensure water quality remains stable.

Caring for Guppy Fry

Once the female guppy gives birth, it’s crucial to care for the fry to increase their chances of survival.

20. Separating the Fry

As soon as the fry are born, remove them from the breeder box to prevent the female from consuming them. Place them in a separate rearing tank.

21. Fry Food

Fry are very small and require appropriate food. You can feed them finely crushed flakes, powdered fry food, or newly hatched brine shrimp.

22. Water Changes

Perform frequent, small water changes to maintain good water quality in the fry tank. Use a siphon to remove debris without disturbing the fry.

23. Gradual Introduction to Adult Diet

As the fry grow, gradually introduce them to the same high-quality diet that you provided for the adult guppies.

24. Monitor Growth

Keep an eye on the growth and development of the fry. Separating them by size can prevent larger fry from outcompeting smaller ones for food.

Common Challenges and Troubleshooting

Breeding guppies may encounter challenges, and it’s essential to be prepared for potential issues.

25. Dealing with Aggressive Females

In some cases, female guppies may become aggressive towards their fry. Separating them or providing ample hiding places can help mitigate this issue.

26. Identifying and Treating Diseases

Be vigilant about common guppy diseases, such as fin rot and velvet. Quarantine any sick fish promptly and consult a vet if necessary.

27. Fry Cannibalism

Cannibalism can occur among the fry if there is not enough hiding space or if the fry are too small. Ensure they have plenty of hiding spots.


Breeding guppies is a fascinating and rewarding experience for aquarium enthusiasts. By providing the right environment, selecting healthy breeding stock, and following these step-by-step guidelines, you can enjoy the beauty of new guppy life in your tank. Remember to maintain stable water conditions, monitor the health of both adults and fry, and provide proper nutrition to ensure a successful breeding experience. With patience and care, you can create a thriving guppy community in your aquarium.