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How to Breed Guppies in 3 Easy Steps

Everyone loves the guppy fish, otherwise known as the millionfish. Most people who have an aquarium, have had a guppy at some point. They are relatively easy to keep with fantastic coloration. If you are reading this article, you are probably wanting to make more of this wonderful fish. My goal is to help you be successful in this endeavor.

Step 1: The Aquarium Setup

In order to have success with breeding guppies you will need to have the proper aquarium setup. This will include the actual aquarium, a heater, filtration, substrate, and plants. 

The Aquarium

Guppies do not require a large aquarium. You can use any glass, acrylic, or even plastic aquarium that is available to you. For guppy breeding, I would highly recommend at least a 10-gallon aquarium.


Guppies enjoy warmer water. An acceptable temperature range is about 70-80F. However, I would recommend an appropriate heater in your aquarium set to about 76F. If you keep your house warm, you could probably get away with not keeping a heater in it. However, be sure the temperate doesn’t change too much throughout the day and night. Also, note that guppies will have shorter life spans and breed faster the warmer you keep them. This is due to an increase in their metabolism.


There are about 100 ways to filter an aquarium and practically all of them will work just fine for guppies. The one thing you should be careful about when breeding guppies, is that any intake for the filter should be covered by a sponge. This will keep small fry from being sucked in. One of the easiest and safest filters to use would be a sponge filter.


Substrate is not necessary for breeding guppies, but I would argue that it is very helpful. Gravel is the substrate I would recommend as it helps to grow beneficial bacteria in your aquarium, which in turn helps balance the tank. As long as the gravel is aquarium safe you can use it. Gravel will also help with planting the aquarium. I would not recommend using soils as this will bring the PH down. Sand also is a substrate I would not recommend because it is hard to plant in.


Plants are amazing for breeding guppies! They will help bring balance to your aquarium, remove harmful toxins, and provide plenty of cover for the baby fish. Any plant will work as long as you can keep it healthy. I would recommend using easy-to-keep plants that will grow in thick and allow for good coverage in the tank. 

Some popular aquarium plants used for breeding guppies are aquarium moss (I love java moss.), Guppy Grass, Vallisneria, and Hornwort to name a few. Fake plants can also be used to help provide coverage for the baby fish as well. Just keep in mind that these will not have all of the same positive effects as live plants.

Step 2: Selecting Healthy Guppies

There are two topics to cover for selecting your guppies. First, of course, you must select at least one male and female. Second you want to select healthy stock.

Selecting Males and Females

Thankfully male and female guppies are fairly easy to sex. Males will generally be more colorful and smaller, while females will be larger,  have bigger bellies, and be less colorful in the body. Because the breeding of guppies has improved so much over the years, color is not always the best way to sex a guppy. The surest way to know that you have a male is to look for the gonopodium located under the fish. 

One important tip I would give you when selecting male and female guppies is the importance of having a good ratio of males to females. Most breeders will sell their guppies in trios, but it has recently become popular to sell them in pairs. A general rule of thumb is to have at least two females per male. I would recommend a few more if possible. The reason behind this is to keep aggression down from the males who relentlessly chase females around for breeding.

Selecting Healthy Fish

One of the negatives that has risen with the mass production of guppies is health issues. It is more common to find unhealthy guppies than it is to find healthy ones. One of the main reasons for this is inbreeding and genetics. Inbreeding of guppies is necessary to get many of the color variations we have today. 

The problems arise when poor selection of fish is made for just colors and not strength in the strain. They are less tolerant to water chemistry and temperature changes. The best way to find healthy guppies that will work well for you is to buy them from someone who is breeding guppies locally. If you must buy from a box store, look for guppies that are swimming well and eating well.

I have found that the most common problem I have with guppies is internal parasites. You will find that many guppies have sunken bellies and a loss of appetite. This is also called wasting disease and is caused by tape worms or camallanus worms. Treating all of the new guppies you receive with proper internal parasite medication, can be a safe move to help have success with guppies.

Breeding Guppies
A nice healthy red female guppy.

Step Three: Raising Guppy Babies

If you have a proper tank setup, and you have selected some male and female guppies, the hard part is now over. There are a few things to keep in mind for the breeding process that I have listed below.

When the Female Guppy is Pregnant

Males will chase females around the tank practically all day trying to impregnate them. Hence having a pregnant female guppy is almost always a given. Be sure to feed the female well to have healthy and full batches of fry. I find that female guppies will have an extreme appetite as they get bigger. Lots of smaller feedings are generally better than large less frequent feedings.

One difficult part with female guppies is trying to tell when they are about to give birth. The females will be pregnant for about one month before giving birth, but you won’t know when they started pregnancy. Females will generally get a giant belly with a gravid spot toward their back end when they are close to their delivery date. With some guppies you can even see the developing babies in the mother’s belly.

New Baby Guppies and Their Care

Guppies are known as a livebearer fish species because they are one of the few fish to give birth to live young. This means that when the babies are born they are ready to eat and fend for themselves. There are two aspects to this to consider. 

One is that you will need to figure out how you will protect the babies from being eaten. While some parent will hardly touch their young, many guppies and other fish will happily eat their fry if given the chance. For some that have a big batch, this will not be as noticeable but if you are trying to maximize survivors then you have a few different options. First, you can create lots of covers with plants and decorations in the tank. This works well but fry can still be eaten. Another popular choice is separating the mother when she appears to be ready to give birth. You can do so with a breeder net or a separate tank.

The second aspect to consider is how to feed the new fry. Thankfully guppy fry will eat just about anything they can get in their tiny mouths. Crushed-up fish flakes are my go-to food, however, if you want to grow your fish faster, baby brine shrimp is the way to go. There are also many fry foods on the market that will work well for baby guppies too. Just be sure to not overfeed and dirty the water.


I hope this article helps you with breeding your guppies. They are a very rewarding fish to keep whether you are new and they are your first fish, or you have been in the hobby for years and want to breed your own strain.