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Fisheries > Culture Fisheries > Ornamental Fishes

Breeding Livebearers

Unlike other fishes, female livebearers are fertilized internally by transferring milt to females by means of the males modified anal fin, the gonopodium. Breeding pattern of guppies and other fishes of this group vary and hence have been dealt separately.

Guppy (Poecilia reticulate)

Male guppy reaches up to 2.5 – 3.5 cm length, while the female is usually larger when fully grown. They thrive in a large well-planted tank with temperatures within 20o – 25o C. Gravid females with their abdomen enlarged are collected and placed in the breeding tank (30 cm x 20 cm x 20 cm) individually or pairs. Plants like Cabomba can be placed in the aquarium. Once individual females give birth to 20-200 young ones, the tank is aerated. For mass breeding of guppy a tank size (100 cm x 100 cm x 60 cm) is ideal, where a perforated cylindrical basket can be provided in one side of the tank encircled with fibrous plastic flowing filaments where the female can drop the young ones. Soon after birth, the young ones escape from their mother and enter into the perforated basket and latter the young ones are collected from the basket and placed in separate tanks, for further rearing.

Platy, Swordtail and Molly

The platies, swordtails (Xiphophorus spp.) take 6-8 weeks, while mollies (Poecilia spp.) 12-16 weeks to mature. Like guppies the male used to insert its gonopodium with milts into female, fish and eggs are fertilized inside the mother’s body. After fertilization, the embryo grows to tiny young ones and becomes ready for free swimming within 4 weeks of gestation period. Platies, swordtails and mollies are quite hardy fish; they will breed well in most type of water, so long as it is not too soft or acidic. Addition of little aquarium marine salt or common salt to water (0.5 –1 g/litre) is beneficial for mollies.

Breeding table of livebearers


Sexual dimorphism


Optimum water condition for breeding

Gestation period (days)

Young ones/ females

Guppy, Poecilia reticulate

Male is smaller with more flowing fins and pointed anal fin or gonopodium

Male 2.5-3.5 cm; female 5-6 cm

Temp. 20-28o C, water hardness, 50-100 mg CaCO3/litre (moderately soft water)



Platy, Xiphophorus maculates

Male is smaller and slimmer with gonopodium. General coloration is red, gold, blue, black, brown etc.

Male 3-4 cm; female 4-5 cm

Temp. 23-28o C, water hardness, 50-100 mg CaCO3/litre (moderately soft water)



Sword tail, Xiphophorus helleri

Male is smaller and slimmer with gonopodium and pronounced sword like projection on caudal fin

Male 6-7 cm; female 7-9 cm

Temp. 23-28o C, water hardness, 50-100 mg CaCO3/litre (moderately soft water)



Black molly, Poecilia sp.

Male with gono podium, dorsal fin is flowing and bigger. Males are smaller than females and slimmer also.

Male 7-8 cm; female 9 cm

Temp. 23-28o C, Aquarium salt at 0.5-1.0 g/litre



(Source: ICAR, 2006)


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