How To Control Guppy Population (9 Ways That Actually Work)

I have been keeping and breeding guppies for 30+ years. In that time I have bred them for fun, for competitions and to sell for profit. Guppies are undoubtedly my favorite fish and I wouldn’t be without a tank full of them in my fish room.

Eating Daphnia
Eating Daphnia

It is easy to understand why guppies are so popular. These colorful little fish are hardy, peaceful, and super easy to breed. Although, their desire and ability to multiply can cause issues for some fish keepers. Not everyone wants a tank filled with 300 guppies! If this is you, you might be looking for some ways to control the guppy population. Here is a list of 9 ways that actually work

  1. Keep only male guppies
  2. Add a predatory fish
  3. Add an African Dwarf Frog or Two
  4. Sell the babies
  5. Give the babies away
  6. Reduce the number of hiding places
  7. Feed your adult guppies less
  8. Use them as feeder fish
  9. Reduce the aquarium temperature

1. Keep only male guppies

So this tip may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many people feel you have to keep both sexes together. If you don’t want your guppies to reproduce, don’t add any females.

A tank just full of male guppies is a stunning tank. I keep a 20 gallon planted tank with around 30 bright red male guppies. It is a setup that everyone who comes to my fishroom loves to look at.

Be aware, this setup doesn’t usually work with just female guppies as there is a very good chance the females will be pregnant before you get them, and you will still end up with babies.

If you are not sure how to tell male and female guppies apart, take a look at my article How can you tell if a guppy is male or female.



2. Add a predatory fish

Adding a predatory fish doesn’t have to be as drastic as it sounds. I am not suggesting adding an Oscar to your guppy tank. Instead, consider adding a trio of Angelfish or 4 or 5 Congo Tetras. You are essentially looking to add a fish that is large enough to be able to eat the baby guppies, but not so large it chases down and eats your adult guppies.

I have had great success keeping 10 Congo Tetras with my guppies and I know others who have had similar results using different members of the Gourami family. Ask your local fish store for some suggestions.

3. Add a couple of African Dwarf Frogs

So maybe you don’t want to add a predatory fish, well why not consider adding 1 or 2 African Dwarf Frogs. These little characters spend their whole life underwater, mainly living in the bottom regions of the tank. They will happily snack on any baby guppies they come across, especially when the babies are asleep at night.

If you have never tried African Dwarf Frogs, I can not recommend them enough. They make a really unusual addition to any tank.



4. Sell the babies

Selling guppies can be extremely profitable. I built almost my entire fish room on the back of breeding and selling guppies.

Your local fish store may pay $1 apiece for normal fancy guppies and a lot more for rarer strains. Consider setting up a second aquarium. Every time your female guppy drops babies, scoop them out, add them to the second tank, raise them and sell them.

A productive guppy breeding setup can easily make $1,000 to $5,000 a year. I have a great article titled 13 Fish You Can Actually Breed For Profit!

5. Give the babies away

If raising and selling guppies isn’t for you, then take out an advert locally or post on forums that you have baby guppies to give away for free and I guarantee you will be swamped with people wanting them.

When I am breeding for competitions I end up with hundreds of guppies that aren’t as good a quality as I am looking for. If I want to give them away I just post on a local fish-keeping forum and I usually have someone interested in taking them within a few hours.

6. Reduce the number of hiding places

Baby guppies have an inbuilt instinct to swim and hide the moment they are born. Adult guppies, as well as other tank mates, will happily eat any baby guppies they come across. By reducing the number of hiding places available to the baby guppies you increase the number which will be eaten.

7. Fast your aquarium

If you have a healthy population of fish in your aquarium, and you feed them 2 or 3 times a day, they might be too full and too lazy to bother chasing down and eating guppy babies.

One way to control the population is when you notice a batch of babies have been dropped, stop feeding the tank. Give it a day or two and your tank mates will soon snack on the baby guppies.

Don’t worry, fish can easily go 4 or 5 days without eating. Any fish which don’t want to eat babies will just wait until you start feeding the tank again and they will be fine.

8. Use the babies as feeder fish

If you keep other aquariums with larger or predatory fish, why not feed the babies up with good quality food, then feed them to your predatory fish.

Feeder fish from the fish store are usually poor quality, full of disease, and offer little nutritional value to your fish. With your guppy babies, you have an opportunity to raise healthy, well-fed, disease-free feeder fish.

Alternatively, if you keep chickens, why not feed the baby guppies to them. Your chickens will relish the protein and if they are anything my chickens, they will eat them within seconds.

9. Reduce the aquarium temperature

If none of the above suggestions are going to work for you, or you can’t bear the thought of those lovely babies being eaten by other fish, try turning the temperature in your aquarium right down. The lower the temperature the less interested in breeding your guppies will be.

I have used this technique to great effect when I set up a guppy tank in a Primary School. No one wanted the kids to watch baby fish being eaten, so I set the temperature to 72°F (22°C). At this temperature, it was warm enough that the guppies were happy but cold enough they were not in breeding mode. Perfect solution.

In Conclusion

Guppy breeding can be the best part of keeping them for some, but the worst part for others. Try one of the 9 suggestions above and you should be able to keep a healthy tank of guppies without being overrun by them


About the Author

I’ve been keeping, breeding, and showing tropical fish for nearly 30 years. Over that time I’ve done it all! I’ve had great success and I’ve made some really foolish mistakes (like the time I bought an Asain Walking Catfish). Read more…
Richard James
Editor