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Keeping and Breeding Guppies


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To avoid hi-jacking Phil’s panda guppy tread, I thought I should start a new tread about how I breed my guppies.

I currently have 4 strains that I would say semi established and 2 new ones I am experimenting with.

When I purchase guppies I automatically assume even if superficially a male and female might appear to be from the same strain chances are they are not of the same line. This is really important as genetically two different lines might produce phenotypically (looks) same offspring.

When starting a strain and purchasing stock a few assumptions are in place:

Assumption 1: Fish breeders/farmers do not sell the males and females of the same line at the same time; or even if they do they send the males to one part of the world female to the other

Assumption 2: There are different lines of the same strain being bred by different breeders/farmers. Looking similar on the surface is no guarantee of genetic similarity.

The above two assumptions ensure that I stay focused and do not assume all I have to do is to put a male and a female together to establish a strain.

My guppy tanks

*The breeders currently get a generous size tank where they can have a number of fry with them.

*Fry are regularly moved to fry raising tanks.

*Once the fry are sexable; at a few weeks of age the females can be identified by a dark mark at the vent area, the fry are separated into male only and female only tanks.


Selection of breeders

It is really important that I select the characteristics I want to establish in a strain very carefully as one needs to selectively breed for this character for 2-3 preferably 4-5 generations. If one changes the eventual goal after each generation chances of not quite establishing the desired character in the strain is quiet high.

I select my best male that carries the desired characteristics I want. I then select two other males that are second best and third best. These are my back-up breeder males in the event of a disaster with the best male.

I select 6 to 8 females first looking for characteristics that I would like to be carried on to the male, always remembering it might not be physically apparent on the female but carried genetically carried. As of secondary importance I select for physical appearance of the females. I personally like the female to display as much colour and form as possible.

I usually wait until the fish are 4 to 6 months old before selecting breeders, so that I can observe all the characteristics I am after and the fish have attained a good size. (hope this bit answers your question Michael/Bettarazi!). So when my females give birth to their first batch they are about 6 to 7 months old.

Breeding tank

When I am breeding in a focused manner, I only use the best male and two females in a 25 to 40 litre bare bottom tank with sponge filter and java fern. Each drop is removed 3 days after birth into their own tank of same size with the label stating date of the drop and the female they are from. In this focused breeding I know exactly which female is the mother.

When I am breeding in a less focused manner, I use a 2 to 3 foot tank with the best male with upto 6 to 8 females. I remove the fry as they are old enough to sex, at approx. 1 to 1.5 cm in length. The fry go into separate male only and female only tanks. This less focused breeding I do not know the mother of the offspring.


I do not separate the pregnant female to ‘rescue’ the fry from hungry parents, as I train my guppies to ignore the fry.

I achieve this by introducing young guppies that are a few weeks old into the breeding set-up that are two big to eat. The breeders get used having small fish in with them and ignore the new born fry. I use juvenile females only as I do not want to risk an early developing male to ruin things.

General maintenance

I feed the guppies as often as I can, with as little food as you can. Frequent small amounts of feeding is tons batter than once a day large feeding.

Water change as often as I can, doing small water changes. I am not as disciplined on this as I would like.

I feed Tim Addis’s granular and powdered food, brineshrimp, occasional feeding of blackworms and crushed good quality tropical flakes.

All guppy tank whether breeding or holding I do not have any other fish in with them. On occasion I might have bristlenoses or corydoras catfish in my growout and holding tanks.

When you have a breeding program going it is important to have a place you can pass on your surplus stock. Once you pick your next breeders get rid of all the other adult guppies of the strain to keep yourself focused and to prevent yourself keep going back to check if you have selected the best breeders. Your best decisions are always the best ones. I have a local shop that prefers getting my culls over imported guppies as my guppies are raised in the local water conditions and of decent quality. Do not expect any shop to get your surplus stock if they do not know you already and you are not their customers. There is a real risk of introducing diseases so the shop owner needs to be very vary. So develop a long lasting relationship with a shop before you even start talking about them taking your surplus stock.

Once you started on establishing a strain stop shopping around for new and exciting guppies. Most guppy breeders overseas suggest 8 dedicated tanks per strain. As most of us do not have the luxury of dozens of tanks, try to stay focused. I currently have 16 dedicated guppy tanks.

This is pretty much how I have been keeping, breeding and improving my strains.

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Great info Serkan!!

I think i will use my panda male and one of the females that grow up from my tank of fry so that way i can use your method and be assured taht the females havent been bred with before :thumbs:

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Hi Sam,

Yes you are 100% correct the modified anal fin is the surefire way to sex guppies; and other livebearers.

The method I am refering to allows me to sex young guppies about 4 weeks before the boys develop the modified anal fin, which is called gonopodium. Once you know what you are looking for it is a very reliable method to sex young guppies.

The young female fry develop a dark region just above the vent area. The young male fry do not develop the same dark spot.

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I use the same method as Serkan to sex my guppies. It's important if you're trying to line breed guppies to have virgin females. Being able to remove the females early, before their brothers have developed gonopodiums is the only way to achieve this. The dark spot on the females is quite distinct. More distinct, I find, than the developing gonopodiums on their brothers. I've read that the males can impregnate females as soon as their gonopodiums start to form. This is fine if you were planning on doing a sibling cross but not very good if you wanted to control the parentage of the fry to an absolute certainty. When I separated my last batch of guppies, apart from the gravid spot on the females, it almost looked like I had two tanks of females. Only one or two males had developed gonopodiums. But 3 weeks later most of the males have started to colour up and only two of them haven't yet got their gonopodiums. If I waited until now to separate, some of those females would already be impregnated. Here's a picture of my female guppies. The dark spot we're talking about is a lot clearer in real life.

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Oh I SO have to get back into guppies, I had forgotten how much fun they are! I'm not sure if I could manage 8 tanks, but I can probably swing something :thumbs: And here I was thinking that it was simpler than bettas!

Great instructions Serkan :lol:

Are there guppy standards available anywhere?

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I had to separate more guppy fry today and I'm not sure about the size thing. It wasn't the larger ones that were female. But this batch really isn't a proper gauge. Half of them were in with the bettas fry for a while. They were training the bettas to eat TA. Worked really well but I think they're the larger ones.

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  • 2 months later...

Hello KillerOrCory

I wanted to PM you but cannot, perhaps due to being a new member...so I am jumping in on this thread and hoping that the message reaches you. In an even older thread you mentioned that you had black Guppies with serious tails...

"The Black Moskows... I got the moskows from a friend here who has been working on them for 3-4 generations. The tails are amazing almost HM No worries carrying the tail but the body size is small."

Those sound like the ones I got a couple of years ago, but can no longer find anywhere in Sydney. Do you know where I can get them please?..or any *quality* Guppies as you describe, with almost half moon tails?



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hmmm i like it but i disagree with the way you sex them i find that that is not the best way to do it

I use the anal/ventral fin method to sex them ( males have a pointy 1) but hey each to there own


Problem is, by the time you can identify the gonopodium, the males are pretty much sexually active... but the dark 'gravid' spot shows on the female earlier as her organs develop inside her body...

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