Sunday, 16 February 2014


The guppy scientifically known as Poecilia reticulata, also known as the million-fish, is one of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish species in the world being a small member of the Poeciliidae family. The fishes come in all varieties, and most are pleasing to the sights.

Robert John Lechmere Guppy discovered this tiny fish in Trinidad in 1866, and the fish was named Girardinus Guppii in his honor by Dr Albert Karl Ludwig Gotthilf Gunther later that year. Over time guppies have been given a variety of physiological names, although Poecilia reticulata is the name currently considered being valid. Guppies are native to Barbados, Brazil, Guyana, Netherlands Antilles, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela. However, these wild guppies have been introduced to many different countries on all continents, except Antarctica. Sometimes this has occurred accidentally, but most often as a means of mosquito control as in Bangladesh, the hope being that the guppies would eat the mosquito larvae slowing down the spread of malaria and dengue.

Guppies are generally very peaceful and hardy as they tend to tolerate a range of different water conditions, though poor condition of water hampers the guppies in several ways. Guppies are livebearers, so gives birth to live babies which are vulnerable to be eaten by other inhabitant fish and its parents. In an aquarium, a male guppy can sometimes be aggressive towards another male and can nip or be nipped. This happens when a tank consists of two or more strong males that try to dominate other males in order to fertilize all the females in the tank. This fight for dominance can sometimes be very fatal.

Generally a male guppy is 1.5 inch long when adult, and females are relatively 2.5 inch long. Male are brilliantly colorful, whereas females are colorless. Males have a large, colorful tail. Selective breeding has now led to various different tail shapes, such as lyre-tail, veil-tail, sword-tail, delta-tail, pin-tail, flag-tail, round-tail and many more.  Females are bigger and much fuller than males. Females may be half-colored starting from their midst to the caudal fin (tail). These characteristics may sometimes be deceiving. The best way to distinguish a male is to identify its anal fin, named the gonopodium. The anal fin or gonopodium is an elongated fin near the end of its belly. Females have a fan-shaped anal fin, and to be more distinguishable a female has a dark spot at its belly area. This is called a gravid spot.

Choosing a fish between about a hundred of other fish can be very difficult, confusing and perhaps will get you a rude comment from the LFS keeper.  When purchasing a male always keep your eyes open for the following things:
1.            Avoid getting a fish with ripped or torn fins.
2.            Get the fish which looks very active and perhaps test this by tapping lightly on the glass, an active fish will love to explore near your taps.
3.            Avoid a fish with any sort of disease like, white spot, swollen belly, pop eye, and dropsy, twisted or bent spine. Diseased fish will probably not withhold the stress of displacement.
4.            Get the fish with similar pattern and color on both its dorsal fin and caudal fin. This fish will give rise to a pure strain of its base color in its offspring.
5.            Keep a sharp look for a straight and pointy gonopodium, a guppy with deformed gonopodium can never breed.
6.            Get a medium sized male guppy, bigger guppies may reach there age limit and will not breed due to old age.
 7. Get a guppy that keeps all its fins wide open, especially the caudal and dorsal fins.

When purchasing a female always keep your eyes open for the following things:
1.            Avoid getting a fish with ripped or torn fins.
2.            Get the fish which looks very active and perhaps test this by tapping lightly on the glass, an active fish will love to explore near your taps.
3.            Avoid a fish with any sort of disease like, white spot, swollen belly, pop eye, and dropsy, twisted or bent spine. Diseased fish will probably not withhold the stress of displacement.
4.            Never get a fish that seems to deliver babies with 24 hrs, its too stressful for the fish to give birth in a totally different environment.
5.            Remember to get the female to be slightly larger than the male.
6.            Remember a female that has a dark gravid spot is already containing babies which may be of another male. It may continue to give birth for 3-5 broods
7.            Avoid fish with clamped fins or fish that may have difficulty in swimming.
8.            Get the fish with a thick and smooth caudal peduncle. A female with a strong caudal peduncle holds more babies each brood.

It sometimes may happen that everything mentioned above might not be applicable for a single fish, at this time consider the health of the fish rather than its ability to breed or external appearance.

When aiming to breed guppies overcrowding the tank should be strictly prohibited. A 10 gallon  tank is best set up to hold 8-10 adult guppies, where the ratio of male  and female should be 1:2 for example if there is 3 males there should  be 6 or 7 females. The tank should be heavily planted with either plastic or live plants. Live plants are preferred but are hard to maintain and take care of. Floating plants are most preferred as they provide very good cover for new-born fry. Guppies naturally live in water slightly acidic water at about the pH of 6.5-7. The temperature should be no more than 82degree F. The female can give up to 80 fries at a single delivery which may take up to 24 hrs. At an average a female will give 5-40 fries within 4 hrs. An average gestation period should be approximately 24-40 days.

The key to breeding guppies is patience and very keen observation. It is very hard to tell when a female will deliver babies but a close guess can be given. When the female is ready  to give birth it will become listless and will show shivering moves, it  might also skid and scratch on hard surfaces which can also be a sign of weak immunity, at this point the fish needs intensive care because it  is vulnerable to disease. A little bit of prevention is much better than a lot of cures. The gravid spot will darken as the babies come near to birth. The gravid spot is formed by the developing fry bodies inside the female. The gravid spot is filled with fluids that acts as the protection for the babies and also provides food for the growing fry. At the early time of the day, the fluid gets clear and the eyes of the babies are sometimes visible if looked closely. The fluid darkens with time which mistakenly is said to be the eyes of the babies wholly. A female guppy ready to drop her litters, when looked at a front view or a rear view will have box-like shape that is the gravid spot gets bigger and squared with the grown babies.

Guppies needs a very peaceful surroundings to give birth, it can abort or hold its delivery for 20mins to until it dies. This is a commonly faced problem that a guppy dies when it is very near to giving birth. This is caused mainly by an unfriendly surrounding and that leads to stress. Your guppy needs to be completely stress-free, if it is required to give healthy growing babies.

Guppies are not very good parents as they tend to feast on their own babies, it is a healthy and tasty meal for them, but for us; a nightmare! How will you save the babies? Move the female which will give birth in a breeding trap as said in various sites? I personally would not do so; a guppy at the state of giving birth is already too much stressed, I would never like to give it more stress by moving it into a smaller place. What I do is move all other fish into another tank trying not to disturb the mother female. I try to stand-by and remove the babies into a new tank as soon as they are moving and jolting around dodging its hungry mother.
There are several breeding techniques but I would like to discuss about Selective Breeding only. Now the hardest part and I mean it, is selective breeding. This is a technique that breeders use to obtain a new strain and healthier babies. A female purchased from a LFS of Bangladesh are already having babies of a male which you are unable to identify. A female can store the male’s sperm for about 4 consecutive broods. This is called superfetation. To obtain the fries of a selected male, it is necessary for the male to fertilize the eggs inside the female just after it has dropped a brood of litters. A touch of the gonopodium on the female’s vent while it is stationary is all that is needed.

This breeding technique is best adapted after having successful experience in keeping guppies, and growing the babies into adults. Crossing between different heredity can provide fries that are much stronger and healthier, but sometimes also with fries that are fragile and need intensive care to grow them. This breeding technique is used to obtain distinctive patterns and color strains, which can be a matter of time, hard work and experience.

Once you have successfully retrieved baby guppies, you are required to straighten up and be a regular feeder. The first 4-5 weeks of a guppy fry is very crucial period. At this time the food is utilized in developing the muscles and internal organs of the fish. The maximum energy, after 1 month of growth, is used to develop the reproductive organs and the fins. The guppies will start to show off its color now.  The guppies sexually mature in 2-3 months depending on many factors, which includes the water conditions, feedings, and also the genetics and heredity of the particular guppy.
A new-born baby is about 5-6mm long, at its 1st week it will grow to 6-7mm long, if the babies are not stunted and are fed well. On the 2nd week it will grow to 8mm and within 4 weeks or a month the fry should be 1-1.2cm long. Within 6 months the guppies will reach its size limit to 1.5 inch in males and 2.5 inch in females.
There are many food accepted by the  baby guppies, but what I feed is dissolved yolk of a hard boiled egg for  the first week, 8 to 10 times a day with big meals in the morning and  at night. Take as much yolk required (never overfeed, or spoil the water) and dissolve it in a little amount of tank water in a cup, feed the paste with a dropper. A varied meal is always welcomed by the fries.  My guppies willingly accept powder milk, crushed wheat, and a pinch of Maida (however do not make it the basic food), this are fed to baby fishes at hatcheries. I would like to ask you to make a schedule with 2 dry feedings, 4 liquid feedings and 2 can be newly-hatched baby brine shrimp that is only if u can provide with.
These feedings can be  continued to maximum 6 months, it is best to change the diet and feed  the adolescent guppies with flakes, live tubifex worms and frozen food,  which is continued for the rest of the life of the guppies.
Water Changes
Regular water change is like a religion we fish-keepers follow blindly. This helps spur growth in baby guppies. I suggest changing 10% water everyday and 25% once a week. Please remember to use aged, anti-chlorinated tap water.
Tank Temperature and Lighting
Temperature is a major factor in a guppy’s life. Guppies tend to grow much faster in higher temperature like 80degree F, as the higher metabolism rate causes more hunger and thus growth. But a disadvantage is that higher temperature decreases the life span of a guppy. Though the guppies grow slowly at low temperature like 72-74degree F, but they tend to live longer.
Lighting is also a major factor. Low or dimmed lighting can cause a deformity on the guppies, such as bent spines or stunted growth. I successfully use minimum 14 hrs to maximum 18 hrs of lighting per day. The wattage is not a crucial matter to worry about.
Almost all filters do well with guppies but filtration is best managed according to the tank size and the amount of babies in it, along with water changes.
I personally do not do this inhumane practice. But separating deformed fries and caring for them as well can be rewarding too.

 I have been enthusiastic about fish but found myself greatly indulged in caring, breeding and rearing on guppies. This article is based on my experience and knowledge from the last two years working solely on guppies. I am still working with guppies and successfully nurturing their fries. There have been many failures and mishaps all due to inexperience and also weak informative support. This is what I believe, “Be a fish to know a fish”, to understand your pet better you need to think and feel the way it thinks and feel.