Do Guppies Really Eat Their Babies?

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Guppies are a very popular freshwater fish to keep as a pet. No doubt because they are one of the most widely found tropical fish in the world. Unlike some other fish, guppies give birth to their babies rather than laying eggs. This is where some problems can occur. 

You may have heard the rumors. You may ask – Do guppies eat their babies? Really? Yes. Under the right circumstances, guppies will eat their own babies.

There are many different theories as to why guppy fish practice this act, known as filial infanticide. Let’s look at some of those theories about why they do this as well as how you can prevent your guppy fish from eating its babies.

Why Do Guppy Fish Eat Their Babies?

Food Scarcity

In the wild, guppy fish practice infanticide to ensure that there is enough food for everyone. Guppy fish may decide to eat their own babies even in captivity as a carryover from when they were in the wild. Of course, they do not realizee that as their owner you control the food.

Forgetfulness

It has been observed in guppy fish that once the children are born, the parent makes no effort to raise the child. Some theories claim that the fish simply forget that their children are their children and therefore eat them as easy prey. At least they don’t realize.

Selective Breeding

It has also been suggested that guppy fish eat their own young as a form of selective breeding. If they can tell if their child is not strong enough or does not exhibit the right characteristics, then the parent may decide they are better off as food rather than passing on their genes. Poor child.

Keeping Hold of Resources

There is a theory that guppy fish naturally keep a control on their population density, meaning the total volume of their population takes up in a space. Therefore, rather than increasing their population density by creating more and more, the parent will eat the young as a food source.

Whichever theory, or combination of theories is true, there’s no escaping the fact that guppies will eat their babies. 

How To Stop It Happening

If you want to breed your guppies and watch the little ones grow into adults, you will need to make some changes to how they are looked after. Here are some tips…

  • When the female guppy is about to give birth, separate the female into a separate tank. Once she has given birth, remove her back into the main tank, leaving the babies behind. You can then feed and nurture the babies now that they are safe. 
  • Another way to separate the fish is something called a breeding box. These boxes stay in the main tank, but a mesh keeps the fish separated. Again, put the pregnant female in the breeding box and remove her once she has given birth. This way you won’t have to set up a new tank.
  • Similarly you can make sure there are lots of plants and hidey holes in your tank. The baby guppies will naturally hide in spaces that the adult fish can’t access. Guppy fish babies are born with a good amount of smarts and will be able to survive if they are in the right environment.

Conclusion

Guppy fish will eat their babies, there’s no getting away from that. Unlike us they do not seem to have an emotional bond to their offspring. If you want to keep just a few guppy fish, some of them may mate and then eat their offspring. If this isn’t an issue then go for it.

On average a guppy fish will live for 5 years and have babies every 30 days believe it or not. Without their practice of eating babies, your tank could be overrun in no time. Watching them eat their babies may not be for the faint hearted though, so keep that in mind.

This can actually be a blessing in disguise, as their numbers won’t increase too much. If you start with two and they give birth, the parents will naturally keep numbers low. But, if you are a bit more sentimental, separating the babies from the adults will stop this from happening.

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