How to Breed LiveBearers Including Swords and Guppies



If you have decided to get started breeding fish, you likely will have the best success with trying to breed livebearers. The most common livebearing fish bred by beginners include guppies and swordtails. They are easy to breed, require little specialized equipment, and their babies are relatively easy to care for! You won’t make much money breeding these common fish but they are a great type of fish to breed to get used to keeping and spawning fish! Plus they are quite colorful and your friends may enjoy some free/cheap fish you bred just for them.

Guppies, swords, platys, mollies, and many other fish are livebearers which means their fry develop within the mother for usually a month or so. When they are mature enough to fend for themselves they are ‘delivered’. This is in contrast to fish which lay eggs which develop outside of the parents’ bodies.

Some basic equipment you will need for breeding livebearers include a breeding net or breeder box, a small fish tank (usually 5 or 10 gallons will do), and a growout tank for the babies (20 gallons likely is big enough). Next you will need a set of breeder fish – either a pair or a trio which should be one mail and

The gestation period for livebearers is usually 28 days but can range from 20 to 40 days.

Place the male and female in the same tank together and they will soon mate. You are probably asking, how can I tell when the female is pregnant? When a female guppy is pregnant she will develop a dark triangular shaped gravid spot near her anal vent. This will get larger and darker as the pregnancy progresses.

If you have a pregnant female, you should start thinking about if you have everything needed to properly care for the baby fish (also called fry). The breeder box is used to protect the babies from being eaten by the mother. They will be transferred to a grow-out tank which should have aged water at the same temperature as that in the adult tank. Baby fish food should be on hand. The best fish include live foods such as microworms or baby brine shrimp.

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Once the fish are born, they will ideally fall through the separator in the breeder box into the safety of the bottom of the box. If they are birthed before the mom is separated, they will try to find safety in the main tank so it is a good idea to have some live plants ready to help provide cover and protection for the fry.

Live foods would definitely be the best way to go, and microworms are easy to culture and provide continual cheap food! Crushed or powdered flake food will be an alternative but will not move around like live fish food does. Try to feed the babies 3 very small meals per day. You will invariably feed too much and the excess food will drop to the bottom of the tank or breeder box. Cleaning excess food from the tank is a must! Use air tubing and carefully siphon out the debris into a jar that can be then emptied into a toilet/sink, or be used to feed houseplants after you check for any baby fish!

Try to perform 25% water changes weekly for your baby guppies. This will aid in the optimal growth of your baby tropical fish. After a few weeks in the breeder box your new babies will soon outgrow their home and you will need to move them either to a new tank or your main tank with a divider installed. By 8 weeks old your baby fish will most likely be able to return to the main tank without a divider. However, it really depends on the size of the other inhabitants in your aquarium. Use your best judgment before releasing them into the main tank.

Likely at first you just want to get good at keeping baby fish alive and getting used to breeding livebearers. Eventually, however, you can try to breed some fish that you could enter into fish shows or sell back to other people who keep fish (or even to pet stores). To do this you will need to do some selective breeding of the parents to improve the chance of high quality babies!

Whether you are going for that one of kind strain or if you simply find small fry swimming in the top of your tank one day after work, please be responsible with your fish. If you have more than you can accommodate you can try trading them or maybe even selling them to a local fish store in your area. Talk to your local pet stores early to see if you can work out some sort of arrangement. You can also use this opportunity to get your friends interested in fish.

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