Do Guppies Die After Giving Birth? 5 Possible Reasons Why

Dec 20, 2020

Do Guppies Die After Giving Birth?

Livebearer guppies give birth once every 30 days for about 20 times throughout their lives. Female guppies are one of the most prolific birthers in the pet fish kingdom. So does this impact their health in any way? Or do guppies die after giving birth?

Do Guppies Die After Giving Birth?

No, guppies don’t die right after giving birth because they do not belong to semelparous species that die after reproduction. However, risks of dying due to pregnancy and labor-related complications are present. Factors like water temperature, energy lost during reproduction, or size at reproduction can kill a female guppy.

Now let’s explore the factors that can kill guppy while giving birth in detail.

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5 Reasons Guppies Die After Giving Birth

Guppies hiding at the bottom of the tank
Guppies hiding at the bottom of the tank.

Factors related to birthing complications and the external environment can cause a female guppy’s death once she gives birth. It could be labor-related complications like fry getting stuck in the birth canal or illnesses like guppy bent spine. Other factors like water’s parameter and the fish’s stress level also play a part.

Labor-Related Complications

After a gestation period of 21-30 days, guppies give birth to anywhere between 2 to 100 fry at a time. And the labor period can last from a few hours to a few days. During this time, a fry may get stuck in the birth canal because of a deformity or an overdue pregnancy.

The mother guppy may then die spontaneously or painfully over a few hours. Unfortunately, there’s no medical intervention you can take at the moment to ease the process.

However, you can still try the following:

  1. Turn off the lights in the aquarium
  2. Offer ample empty spaces in the tank
  3. Increase the water’s temperature slightly (around 72-79° Fahrenheit)
  4. Add a tiny bit of aquarium salt (some aquarists report to have success with this method)

The risks of a guppy dying because of pregnancy-related difficulties can significantly be lowered if you keep a few things in check.

For starters, cold water can elongate the gestation period. So it’s wiser to use slightly warmer water in the tank.

Other than that, you can move her to a different tank with lots of hiding places. This eliminates the chances of bullying and harassment by other fish. In turn, that aids a stress-free labor process.

Wrong Water Parameters

It may seem unlikely, but water parameters are one of the most important factors to consider when pondering do guppies die after giving birth. First of all, the water should be on the warmer side. Other than that, ensure good filtration and oxygenation system for your expecting female guppies.

When moving the expecting guppy to a new tank to give birth, you must mimic the old tank’s water parameters. If there is an imbalance, it will severely shock and stress your guppy.

If the parameters are close to what she was used to, she will be at ease even after moving to the new tank.

So, don’t just try to replicate the temperature but also the tank’s look and setting as much as possible.

High Amount Of Stress

Once a female guppy conceives, she becomes even more vulnerable to stress factors. Consequently, the stress takes a toll on the guppy’s mental and physical health and messes with immunity. Thus, stress can profusely increase the chances of miscarriage and stillbirth during labor while also putting the mother guppy’s life at risk.

The stress in expecting guppies can be induced by various factors. For instance, it can be the shock of shifting to a new tank. It could also be inadequate water parameters, lack of hiding place, and too much brightness.

But most importantly, it could be being outcompeted in the food search, in addition to and the bullying and harassment that goes around in the tank.

To minimize the extent of stress, replicate the original tank’s setting in the new one as well. For this, try to achieve similar water parameters and include a similar kind of decorations.

In addition to that, try to feed protein and calcium-rich diet to the expecting guppy so that her immunity is at its best. It’s going to be a tiresome process to give birth to 100s of guppies at once.

Pre-Existing Conditions

Suppose a guppy has a preexisting condition such as a bent spine or any kind of parasitical disease. In that case, it will inevitably cause birth-related complications. The mother’s health will be at stake, and there’s a good chance that the fry will be born with diseases and deformities.

While some conditions are primarily due to genetics, like guppy bent spine, most diseases in guppies are caused by the tank’s environment and their diet.

If you notice a diseased guppy, make sure to transfer her to a separate tank and start medical treatment immediately. Early intervention can potentially save your guppy’s life.

That way, she won’t just receive proper attention and treatment, but the chances of her mating will be reduced as well.

If it’s a chronic disease with no treatment options available, you may also have to consider the choice to euthanize it. For that, you can opt for the cruelty-free option to add clove oil to her tank. The oil will make her unconscious within 10 minutes, after which she will stop breathing peacefully.

Stress Due To Breeding Box

An unlikely culprit when it comes to gauging do guppies die after giving birth is stress induced by the breeding box. While a breeding box can be incredibly handy, it can also cause your guppy to stress due to its limited size. The lack of hiding places and low water circulation can also add to her stress and directly impact her health.

The best you can do is only transfer the expecting guppy into the breeding box once she nears the end of the gestation period. Guppies are active species that love to swim quite a lot, and pregnant guppies are no different.

A breeding box can severely limit a guppy’s mobility, causing her to stress. If that’s the case, you might want to buy an extra tank.

Now that you do guppies die after giving birth and potential causes behind it let’s delve into additional information you may need on the subject. First of all, let’s begin with:

How To Know If Guppy Is Pregnant?

The area where the pregnant guppy’s abdomen and tail meet is known as the gravid spot. When the guppy is pregnant, this particular area will slowly darken over a few days or weeks. Moreover, the abdomen area will also appear swollen after some time.

During the later stage of pregnancy, you can also see small black dots around the gravid spot, which is actually the eyes of the fry living inside.

The gestation period usually lasts about 21 days to 30 days. If the water condition is not correct or if she is stressed, it may take even longer.

7 Signs Of Pregnant Guppy Ready To Deliver

Do Guppies Die After Giving Birth
A Guppy Laying On Bottom Of The Tank.

A pregnancy experience is different for every guppy. However, most of them express common symptoms like rapid breathing, shivering, and appetite change when they’re all set to give birth.

Here are 7 signs of pregnant guppies:

  1. Gravid spot turns maroon or black
  2. She is continually looking for hideouts
  3. The abdomen has a boxy, squared-off look
  4. Change in eating habit or loss of appetite
  5. Shuddering and shivering motions during contraction
  6. Increased breathing
  7. Constantly staying at the bottom of the tank

How Do Guppies Give Birth?

Once the labor kicks in, your guppy will start by giving birth to a few fry at a time, with stops of several hours or even days within birth. Usually, birth happens one at a time. But since it occurs in quick succession, it may appear as if multiple fry are being born at a time.

When born, baby fry are usually curled into small balls—retaining the same position they were in when in their mom’s abdomen. In a matter of a few seconds, they will then quickly uncurl and start swimming.

If the fry are swimming in an upward direction, it means they are healthy and will survive.

On the other hand, the weak fry will experience trouble swimming and often sink to the bottom.

Here’s an interesting video of a guppy giving birth. She even snacks on one or two of her offspring. Watch now!

Do Guppies Experience Menopause?

Given that guppies are such fertile birthers, you may wonder if they experience menopause. Yes, guppies experience menopause just like humans and many other species. Researches have shown that once the guppy reaches old age, it will skip litters or even avoid reproducing for more extended periods—consequently stopping to reproduce after a certain age.

Final Say On Do Guppies Die After Giving Birth

No, guppies do not die after giving birth since they aren’t semelparous creatures that die right after reproduction. That being said, we cannot rule out the possibility of a guppy dying while giving birth.

This can be caused due to several preventable and unpreventable factors.

Preventable issues like the water’s parameter and stress level can cause both mother and fry’s death. For this, you need to ensure that the water parameters are optimum, the temperature’s on the warmer side, and your fish isn’t stressed.

However, there are a few unpreventable issues that can’t be resolved despite your intervention. For instance, fry can get stuck in the birth canal due to deformities and overdue pregnancy. Other than that, if the female guppy has preexisting conditions like bent spine (caused by scoliosis or tuberculosis) or parasitical diseases, the chances of her dying during childbirth are heightened.

Relevant Readings:

What is The Best Guppy Male to Female Ratio? Urbanfishkeeping

Do Guppies Sleep? | Your Ultimate Guide on Guppy’s Sleep Cycle

How The Guppy Got Its Spot? This is What Science Says.

rohit gurung author at urbanfishkeeping

About Rohit Gurung

My never-ending love and fascination with Aquascaping started when I received a red-eared turtle for my 10th birthday.

Apart from researching and writing, I spend hours gazing at my 3 turtles. And yeah, I bask alongside them too.