Guppies are among the most popular type of fish kept by most beginners and experienced aquarists. They are considered as beginner fish, meaning a totally new beginner, with no idea on fish keeping can keep guppies without so much hustle.
Guppies are a handy type of fish that can survive in a variety of water conditions. They are not only famous because they are easy to take care off, but also because they have vibrant colors that make an aquarium look lovely and colorful. Guppies are also known as rainbow fish, because of their vibrant colors, or million fish, because they breed and multiply very fast.
However, even though guppies look lovely in an aquarium, they can become a headache for aquarists, if you do not watch the ratio of male to female in a tank. If you are seeking to breed the guppy, then you need to have a certain ratio of male to female in the tank.
Otherwise, if you are keeping them for beauty, then it is important to separate male from female before they reach sexual maturity at around the age of 4 weeks.
While in the aquarium, the male guppies will often be seen chasing the female around the tank. They display their vibrant colors to the female in an attempt to please them and mate with them. If you have more males in an aquarium, they will continually chase the fewer females in the tank causing them stress.
Stress will lead to a decreased immune system for the female, which will put them at a risk of contracting diseases, and eventually, probably lead to death.
Therefore, while setting out your aquarium, it is advisable to have more female guppies than male guppies.
The ratio of male to female guppies in a tank should be 1:3, meaning for every male guppy, there should be 3 female guppies.
Determining the correct ratio is important to ensure there is divided attention for the male. This will also give female guppies an opportunity to rest, and for pregnant guppies, a chance to comfortably carry their pregnancy to term without constant stress from their male counter parts.
As the number of guppies in your tank increase, you can multiply the ratio of male to female, for instance, 5 male guppies with 15 female guppies in an aquarium, or 20 male guppies with 60 female guppies in the same tank.
Male or Female Guppy?
For you to keep the right ratio of guppies in your tank, you need to know how to differentiate male and female guppies. Below are a few physical characteristics that can help you;
Coloring of the guppies
Male guppies are more colorful than their female counterparts. They have all the bright and amazing colors covering their bodies.
The male guppies use these colors to grab the female’s attention and to please them in an attempt to mate with them.
The bright colors are fascinating, not only to the female guppies, but also to aquarist. However, there are many varieties of guppies in different colors.
You will need to do extra research to determine if the difference in coloring is gender or a different variety of guppy.
Female guppies are bigger in size compared to the male guppies, with a rounder and curvier body shape. The male guppies on the other hand are longer with slender bodies.
When the female guppies are pregnant, guppies are livebearers, they are rounder with a square like shaped body and bigger compared to the male guppies.
You can tell the difference in size as the guppies are swimming around in the tank. Use a magnifying glass to get a closer accurate view.
Dorsal fins are found near the fish’s head. Male guppies have big dorsal fins that flow in the water while they are swimming. Female’s dorsal fins, however, are smaller and shorter compared to the males’.
Males’ caudal fins are colorful, wide and long, whereas the females’ are shorter and not as wide as the males. Caudal fins are also known as guppy’s tail fin.
Finally, the males have a long, narrow and pointed anal fin, which is also known as gonopodium, while female guppies have anal fins that are triangular, small sized and located below the gravid spot.
This is the most definite difference between a male and female guppy. The gravid spot is a dark spot located near the tail of a guppy fish. Now, gravid spot is only present in a female guppy fish. Male guppy fish do not have gravid spots.
When a female guppy becomes pregnant, the gravid spot becomes larger and darkens in color. To get a clearer view of the gravid spot, get a bright light and use a magnifying glass.
Can Guppies get Pregnant Without a Male?
Keeping male and female guppies in one tank will definitely mean in a short while you will have many more guppies in the tank.
However, it is important for you to note, if you are intending to control the number of guppies in your tank, you should separate them before they become sexually mature. Otherwise, a female guppy is capable of getting multiple pregnancies from a single fertilization.
While selecting guppy pets from a pet store, it is very easy to end up picking more male guppies than female guppies. This is because male guppies are more colorful and add more vibrancy in an aquarium compared to female guppies.
However, having more male than female guppies in a tank will cause stress, restlessness, health issues and most probably death to the female guppies. If you are thinking about keeping guppies in a tank, the ratio of male to female should be low.
If you plan to start with a small family, start with three guppies, two females and one male. If you want a want a larger family, then keep two males and four females. However, remember to keep your guppies in a suitable size tank, so that they are able to move freely, and if they breed, there is enough space to host the new born fry.