Originally from South America, guppies are extremely popular tropical fish for many reasons. They’re easy to care for, easy to breed and come in an amazing assortment of colors and sizes to brighten your aquarium.
As guppies are live-bearing fish capable of having up to 100 or more fry monthly, a few males and females can have your tank bustling with activity in no time.
It’s safe to say that guppies are a prolific breeding species, which is why they’re commonly known as the “million” fish.
Within its lifespan, a female guppy can birth as many as 2000 fry – and that’s just one mama fish.
If it’s not your intent to breed your guppies, you’d do best to keep the moms and dads in separate tanks, otherwise, nature will take its course and you’ll have no choice but to contend with their countless offspring.
Although guppies are natural breeders, every now and then you may face the problem of a pregnant guppy not giving birth due to internal complications or external conditions.
Having babies is the norm for guppies, but factors could come into play to delay the birth of fry or, in extreme cases, prevent it altogether, due to the mother guppy’s untimely demise.
Problems with your female guppy’s health, pregnancy or breeding environment can impact the birth of her fry.
Why Is My Pregnant Guppy Not Giving Birth?
Typically, a female guppy’s pregnancy lasts between 21 to 30 days, with some pregnancies extending a bit longer. If your pregnant guppy’s labor extends beyond 35 days without signs of delivery, it could be due to several reasons.
Female guppies are particularly prone to stress, especially during pregnancy. If your female guppy is stressed out for any reason, it can impact the birth of her babies.
A normal two to six hour labor and delivery can turn into a 12 hour ordeal or longer for a stressed female guppy to deliver her babies.
Unfortunately, stress can also lead to a pregnant guppy’s unexpected demise. In addition to pregnancy stress, external factors can exacerbate a pregnant guppy’s stress levels, resulting in delays in birthing, stillbirths or a mother’s untimely demise.
Poor diet during pregnancy, hidden sickness or disease or improper maintenance and care of the fish’s environment are sure to impact your guppy’s pregnancy and delivery.
Other fish in the community aquarium can stress out a pregnant mom before delivery, causing her to become aggressive or uneasy.
Pregnant guppies should be isolated from other fish shortly after showing signs of pregnancy.
This can be done by putting them in a breeding tank within the aquarium or shifting them to their own tank for delivery of their babies. If the water parameters, temperature or conditions in the new tank aren’t the same as the old one, however, it can stress out the mother-to-be, which could delay the birthing process.
Sometimes the shock of moving a fish too quickly to a new environment can stress out a pregnant fish, resulting in its demise during pregnancy.
How Can I Help A Pregnant Guppy Not Giving Birth?
Birthing tanks are conducive to your pregnant guppy having a safe, stress-free, successful delivery. A warm, peaceful environment away from other fish will help reduce your guppy’s stress levels so she will give birth naturally.
Your guppy’s new tank environment should mirror the one in her community aquarium as much as possible to help her make a smooth transition.
Before switching a pregnant guppy to a new tank, check the water to ensure it’s free of chemicals and debris, check the water temperature to ensure it’s not too hot or cold for your pregnant guppy and check water parameters to ensure it’s similar to what your mother-to-be is used to.
As a pregnant guppy’s stress levels are already high due to its condition, keeping your female safe and comfortable during pregnancy should be a priority.
The first step towards helping a pregnant guppy have a successful delivery is preparing the breeding tank for the mother-to-be.
If your pregnant guppy hasn’t given birth after 24 hours of isolation, return the female to your community aquarium as isolating a pregnant fish for too long can impair the growth and development of her unborn fry.
Raising the water temperature in the community tank a few notches so that it stands between 25 and 26 degrees Celsius could help in stimulating the birthing process.
As water temperature, water parameters and water quality can impact your pregnant fish’s gestation and delivery, be sure to monitor these conditions carefully.
Once the mother-to-be shows signs she’s ready for delivery, carefully return her to the breeding tank so she can try again. A stable breeding environment will encourage a safe and natural delivery.
Should I Be Worried If My Pregnant Guppy Is Not Giving Birth?
If your pregnant guppy continues to struggle with the delivery after you’ve fulfilled all the conditions for a stress-free birthing environment, try adding a little aquarium salt to the breeding tank as this often helps in stimulating birthing.
Make sure the tank has plenty of plants where your fish can hide, as your pregnant guppy may prefer giving birth away from prying eyes. Turn off the lights in the breeding tank to give your female more privacy during labor.
Once the conditions are just right, your pregnant fish will release her fry and you’ll be the proud grandparent of dozens of new babies.
Your judicious care of the pregnant mom will pay off in healthy, guppy fry which will grow into healthy adult fish who will one day start a family of their own.
After going through several of these deliveries, you will have gotten the hang of what to do to get positive birthing results from your guppies.
Keep in mind that female guppies can store male sperm for quite a while and become pregnant several times from a male’s single insemination.
That means the female that just gave birth could be giving birth again in three to four weeks, give or take a few days. Hence the nickname of “million fish.” There’s never a dull moment when you fill your tank with tropical guppies!
Guppies are beautiful fish that, for the most part, are easy to care for and easy to breed. A pregnant guppy not giving birth is a bit of an anomaly and not something you should worry about long term. By taking good care of your pregnant female and ensuring she has a safe, clean, healthy environment in which to deliver, you’ll soon be blessed with a tankful of healthy, colorful guppy babies.