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25 Fish that Give Live Birth (List with Pictures)

25 Fish that Give Live Birth

Examples of fish that give live birth include blue sharks, bull sharks, Endler’s guppy, fancy guppy, and mollies.

Though it may seem like all fish lay eggs, there are actually a number of fish species that give live birth. These “viviparous” fish range in size from the five-centimeter (two-inch) Endler’s guppy to the four-meter (13-foot) long pregnant blue sharks.

Most viviparous fish are found in shallow, tropical waters where temperatures are warm and food is plentiful. Some of these species can be found in freshwater, while others live in salt water. Here is a look at some of the fish that give live birth.

Examples of Fish that Give Live Birth

1. Blue Sharks

Blue Shark
Scientific NamePrionace glauca
Type of AnimalFish
Rangethe Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans in both inshore and offshore waters

The blue shark is one of the largest viviparous fish, with a length of up to four meters (13 feet). The sharks are found in tropical and temperate waters around the world. Females give birth to litters of up to 135 pups. The young sharks are born alive and fully independent.

Related Article: 27 Fish that Migrate

2. Bull Sharks

bull shark
Scientific NameCarcharhinus leucas
Type of AnimalFish
Rangealong the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, from Massachusetts to the Gulf of Mexico and from Southern California to the Gulf of California

The bull shark is one of the most common viviparous fish. These sharks are found in warm, shallow waters around the world. Bull sharks typically give birth to two to ten pups at a time. The pups are born alive and fully developed, with sharp teeth and an instinct to hunt.

3. Endler’s Guppy

Endler’s Guppy
Scientific NamePoecilia wingei
Type of AnimalFish
Rangebrackish and greenish water separated from the sea

Endler’s guppy is a small, colorful fish that is found in freshwater streams and rivers in Trinidad and Tobago. The female Endler’s guppy gives birth to live young after a gestation period of about 28 days. The fry (baby fish) are born fully formed and able to swim and feed on their own.

4. Fancy Guppy

fancy guppy
Scientific NamePoecilia reticulata
Type of AnimalFish
Rangeeverywhere around the world except for Antarctica

The fancy guppy (Poecilia reticulata) is a freshwater fish that is native to Brazil but has been introduced to many other countries. These small fish are popular in the aquarium trade. The female guppy can give birth to anywhere from two to 100 fry (baby fish) at a time.

Guppies are livebearers, meaning that they give birth to live young. The fry is born fully formed and is able to swim and feed on its own.

5. Fantail

Fantail
Scientific NameCarassius auratus
Type of AnimalFish
RangeJapan and China

The fantail is a small, freshwater fish that is found in streams and ponds in Asia. The female fantail gives birth to live young after carrying them around in her body for about two weeks.

6. Great White Sharks

great white shark
Scientific NameCarcharodon carcharias
Type of AnimalFish
Rangeoff the coasts of the northeastern and western United States, Chile, northern Japan, southern Australia, New Zealand, southern Africa

The pregnant great white shark is one of the largest known viviparous fish. These animals can reach lengths of more than six meters (20 feet) and weigh over two metric tons (4,400 pounds). Great whites give birth to live young that are about one meter (three feet) long.

7. Hammerhead Sharks

hammerhead shark
Scientific NameSphyrnidae
Type of AnimalFish
Rangetemperate and tropical waters worldwide

Of all the viviparous fish, hammerhead sharks are perhaps the most iconic. These strange-looking creatures are easily recognizable thanks to their unusual head shape. Hammerhead sharks are born alive and fully formed, though they are much smaller than their adult counterparts. These sharks grow quickly, reaching lengths of up to six meters (20 feet) in just a few years.

8. Lemon Sharks

Lemon Shark
Scientific NameNegaprion brevirostris
Type of AnimalFish
RangeNew Jersey (US) to Southern Brazil, Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean

The lemon shark is a species of requiem shark, in the family Carcharhinidae. Lemon sharks are found in warm waters in the western Atlantic Ocean, from Massachusetts to southern Brazil, and throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

Females give birth to live young, with litter sizes ranging from four to seven pups. The sharks are viviparous, with the young developing inside the mother and being nourished by a yolk sac.

9. Leopard Sharks

Leopard Shark
Scientific NameTriakis semifasciata
Type of AnimalFish
Rangethe Eastern Pacific Ocean from Oregon to the Gulf of California in Mexico

These bottom-dwelling sharks are found in temperate waters off the coast of California and Mexico. The females give birth to two to six live young after a gestation period of 10 to 11 months. The pups are born fully developed and able to fend for themselves.

10. Lyretail

Scientific NameAphyosemion australe
Type of AnimalFish
Rangein the Indo-Pacific region, most often around coral reefs, clear lagoons, and on steep slopes to a depth of 35 m

The lyretail is a type of saltwater fish that is found in the Indo-Pacific region. It is also known as the flagtail, or fork-tailed, wrasse. The lyretail grows to be about 30 centimeters (12 inches) long and is characterized by its long, forked tail and bright colors.

11. Mako Sharks

Mako Shark
Scientific NameIsurus oxyrinchus
Type of AnimalFish
Rangefrom New England to Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to Texas, and in the Caribbean Sea

These large, fast-swimming predators are found in temperate and tropical waters around the world. Mako sharks are viviparous, with the female giving birth to live young. The pups are born fully developed and able to fend for themselves, though they are often much smaller than their adult counterparts.

12. Mollies

Scientific NamePoecilia sphenops
Type of AnimalFish
RangeThe Southern United States down into Central America

Mollies are a type of freshwater fish that is popular in home aquariums. There are several different species of mollies, including the sailfin molly, short-finned molly, and dalmatian molly. All mollies give live birth. The female molly will have anywhere from two to one hundred babies at a time.

13. Nurse Sharks

Nurse Shark
Scientific NameGinglymostoma cirratum
Type of AnimalFish
Rangetropical and subtropical coastal waters of the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific

These large, slow-moving sharks are found in tropical waters around the world. Females give birth to live young that are about one meter (three feet) long. The young nurse sharks are independent of birth and able to fend for themselves.

14. Platies

Scientific NameXiphophorus maculatus
Type of AnimalFish
Rangethe east coast of Central America and southern Mexico

The platy is a small, freshwater fish that is popular in home aquariums. Platies are livebearers, meaning they give birth to live young. The female platy will have a gravid spot on her belly, which darkens as she gets closer to giving birth. Once the babies are born, the mother platy will often eat them if she is not well-fed.

15. Porbeagle

Porbeagle
Scientific NameLamna nasus
Type of AnimalFish
RangeNorth Atlantic, southern Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans

The porbeagle is a type of shark that can grow to be more than three meters (10 feet) long. Female porbeagles carry their young in a womb-like sac called a “uterus” until they are ready to be born. Porbeagle pups are born alive and fully developed, with all of their teeth in place.

16. Salmon Shark

Salmon Shark
Scientific NameLamna ditropis
Type of AnimalFish
RangeNorth Pacific from the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk to the Sea of Japan in the western Pacific

The salmon shark is a large fish that can grow up to four meters (13 feet) in length. It is found in the North Pacific Ocean and is related to the great white shark. The salmon shark gives live birth to 20-40 young at a time.

17. Sand Tiger Sharks

Sand Tiger Shark
Scientific NameCarcharias taurus
Type of AnimalFish
Rangein the eastern and western Atlantic, the Pacific and Indian Oceans and in the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas

These viviparous sharks are also known as a grey nurse, spotted ragged-tooth, and blue nurse sharks. The female sand tiger shark has two uteri, each of which contains developing embryos. When the pups are born, they are about 60 to 70 centimeters (24 to 28 inches) long and are fully capable of taking care of themselves.

18. Silvertip Shark

Silvertip Shark
Scientific NameCarcharhinus albimarginatus
Type of AnimalFish
RangeGulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea

The silvertip shark is a large viviparous fish that can grow up to four meters (13 feet) in length. This species is found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world. Females give birth to 20-40 pups per litter.

19. Swamp Guppy

Scientific NameMicropoecilia picta
Type of AnimalFish
RangeSouth America

The swamp guppy is a small, live-bearing fish that is found in freshwaters throughout Trinidad and Tobago. This species can also be found in Guyana, Suriname, and Brazil. The swamp guppy is a hardy fish that can adapt to a range of different water conditions.

20. Swordtails

Swordtail
Scientific NameXiphophorus hellerii
Type of AnimalFish
RangeMexico and Belize, Central America

These fish are found in warm freshwater streams and ponds in Central America. The female swordtail has a long “sword” at the end of her body, while the male does not. The female can give birth to anywhere from 10 to 40 young at a time.

21. Thresher Sharks

Thresher Shark
Scientific NameAlopias
Type of AnimalFish
Rangetemperate waters around the world

The three species of thresher sharks are the only sharks known to be viviparous. These predators are found in tropical and temperate waters around the world. The baby sharks are born tail first, and they are thought to receive nourishment from a placenta-like structure as well as from egg yolk.

22. Triangle Tail

Scientific NameLobotes surinamensis
Type of AnimalFish
Rangebays, sounds, and estuaries

The triangle tail, or livebearer, is a small fish that gives birth to fully developed young. The female triangle tail has a well-developed brood chamber in her body where the young develop. When they are born, the young are already able to swim and find food on their own.

23. Veiltail

Veiltail
Scientific NameCarassius auratus
Type of AnimalFish
RangeSoutheast Asia

The Veiltail is a type of goldfish that is native to East Asia. It is a popular aquarium fish and can grow to about 30 cm (12 inches) long. The female Veiltail will lay her eggs in spawning grass or on a leaf, and the male will fertilize them.

Once the eggs are fertilized, the female will carry them in her mouth to a safe place. The eggs will hatch inside the female’s mouth and she will continue to carry them until they are ready to be released into the water.

24. Whale Sharks

Whale Shark
Scientific NameRhincodon typus
Type of AnimalFish
Rangetropical and warm temperate seas, usually between latitudes 30°N and 35°S

The whale shark is not only the world’s largest fish but also one of the most viviparous. These gentle giants give birth to live young after a gestation period of 12 to 18 months. Whale sharks are found in tropical waters around the world and can grow to be up to 12 meters (40 feet) long.

25. White-Tip Reef Sharks

White-Tip Reef Sharks
Scientific NameTriaenodon obesus
Type of AnimalFish
RangeIndo-Pacific coral reefs

These sharks are found in the warm waters of the Indo-Pacific region. They give birth to as many as 12 live young at a time. The pups are born tail first, and they are about 60 centimeters (24 inches) long.

Conclusion

Some fish give live birth, which means they don’t lay eggs. Instead, the female fish’s body houses the eggs until they are ready to hatch. When the eggs are ready, they are released into the water and the fry (baby fish) swim off on their own. Some examples of fish that give live birth include guppies, mollies, and swordtails.

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