Guppy owners have noticed a disturbing trend after a female guppy gives birth to a batch of fry:
The female guppy will often, but not always, die immediately after giving birth. That’s right, it’s more or less expected that a female guppy will die after giving birth.
This article will focus on answering why female guppies die after giving birth. We will also offer some tips to help you from having your guppies die after they give birth.
5 Common Reasons Guppies Die After Giving Birth
Guppies die after giving birth for a few reasons. Again, it’s not an automatic thing like with house flies, which means that it’s caused by something.
This section will cover those reasons with the hope that you can try and change something to keep your expecting guppy alive.
Birth is Stressful
First things first, birth is a stressful experience for every creature that gives birth. This includes mammals, primates, humans, birds, and even fish.
An entire new organism is getting squeezed out of a tiny birth canal – it’s stressful on the body. And an older or unhealthy body will often die during the birth experience.
Guppies are no exception to this basic law of nature.
Birth Complications Result in Death
Aquarium guppies have a surprising amount of birth complications. Of course, it’s hard to know all the complications that guppies experience during birth because they’re so small. It’s a little different than, say, a dog or cat where you can clearly see a kitten or puppy coming out the birth canal.
Anyway, some common birth complications include deformed guppies getting stuck in the birth canal. The deformity, usually a hunched back, can tear the birth canal and result in the mother guppy dying due to loss of blood.
Other times a guppy may get stuck in the birth canal, which can lead to complications that result in death or result in a small batch of fry.
Those are the two most frequent scenarios that cause a mother guppy to die during birth.
Placing Her in a Breeder Box
This point relates mostly to stress. Guppies, as you probably already know, are extremely hardy fish. They can survive a wide range of temperatures and water conditions.
However, they do not necessarily like or thrive in these conditions. This is especially true of a breeder box.
For those that don’t know, a breeder box is a box that you keep a pregnant guppy inside. This way when she gives birth the baby guppies will have some protection from other fish and the dreaded filter.
The downside of a breeder box is it’s an unnatural environment for a guppy, so it adds stress to the mom’s life. This stress can result in her getting sick (covered later) or being unhealthy, which is never a good thing before giving birth.
Bad or Different Water Conditions
Again, guppies are a hardy fish that can survive in many different water conditions and temperatures. But it does still stress their system when you switch out their water.
Unfortunately, many guppy owners will place pregnant females in a separate tank before they give birth.
There’s a problem with that, though.
Placing a guppy in different water will stress it out. Add in that she’s about to give birth…
That can cause some death during birth.
She Was Already Sick
Finally, if your guppy is sick during pregnancy, then she will most likely die when she gives birth.
That’s just how it works. It’s already difficult enough for a guppy to survive birth. Once you add in a preexisting condition – it’s near impossible for a guppy to survive birth.
How to Prevent Your Guppy From Dying After Birth
Here are three tips to prevent your guppy from dying after she gives birth. These tips are general guidelines.
In other words, you can do everything right and your guppy still might die after birth. You can’t control for every variable!
These tips should help, though.
Keep The Water The Same
First, if you transfer a pregnant female to a separate tank, then make sure that you keep the water the same. This is easy enough to do if you have a larger tank.
All it requires is transferring some of the water from her original tank to her tank before transferring her to the new tank.
You don’t want to transfer the bulk of the water after she has settled into her tank as that will stress her out. And we want to avoid stressing out pregnant females.
Avoid Breeder Boxes
Next, I recommend avoiding breeder boxes.
In fact, I never even owned a breeder box for my guppies. Granted, it was a low maintenance tank that existed for over a decade.
But really, guppies pump out enough babies that it’s not entirely necessary to keep pregnant females in a breeder box. Sure, some fry might get caught in the filter on occasion, but it’s much better to keep a breeder female alive than save one of a couple thousand fry that will be born every month.
It’s a little harsh, but it’s the reality of guppies. They are called millionfish for a reason – they give birth to millions of fish!
Ensure Proper Water Conditions
Finally, you should ensure that you have proper water conditions for your pregnant female. The ideal temperature for guppies is 73F to 78F with a pH from 7.2 to 7.9.
You should also have plenty of plants and some structure that overhangs. Pregnant females have a tendency to give birth under some form of cover. Additionally, the fry will almost immediately search for filter after they pop out of the birth canal.
Well, that covers it for whether guppies die after pregnancy.
Yes, guppies have a tendency to die after giving birth. It’s not supposed to happen, but it’s frequent with aquarium guppies because of the amount of stress that they are under due to bad water conditions, breeder boxes, and being in an unnatural environment.
We offered some tips like keeping pregnant females in a separate tank with plenty of structure and the proper water conditions. But we don’t want to mislead you – your pregnant female guppy is probably going to die after giving birth.
That’s just the way it goes with guppies. The good news is that one dead female guppy is replaced by 20-30 guppy fry, so it’s unlikely your guppies will die off.