Common Names: Endler’s Livebearer
Scientific Name: Poecilia sp.
Minimum Tank Size: 10 Gallons
Care Level: Easy
Max Size: 1 1/2 Inches
Temperature: 66-84 F
Tank Level: Middle to Top
Colors: Black, Red, Orange, Green
Breeding: Extremely Easy
Endler’s Livebearer: Species Overview
Endler’s livebearers are brightly colored, energetic fish, making them a popular choice for tropical fish aquariums.
The term “livebearer” comes from the fact that this species bears live babies instead of laying eggs.
Beginners often gravitate towards endler’s livebearers, given how easy it is to care for them. Nevertheless, it’s essential to maintain the proper tank parameters to keep these fish in optimal health.
These fish are best for intermediate fish keepers. They need proper care constantly, although they are small and anybody can get used to caring for them quickly. You may need more than one tank though.
Some people nickname the endler’s livebearer the “Endler’s guppy” because they resemble a similar size and shape. But the endler’s fluorescent colors and unique patterns distinguish them from guppies.
Some of the many neon and metallic colors that endler’s livebearers come in include:
To make it easier on breeders and fish keepers seeking a specific look in their endler’s livebearer, these fish go by names for their colors and patterns. Yellow tiger, sunburst cobra, red stripe, and snake chest are among them.
Many people gravitate towards male endler’s livebearers since they have stronger colors than females. In addition to having primarily silver or tan bodies, females also have more petite tails.
In contrast, males have large, fanned tails. Their tales have a transparent center, with color framing the outer edges.
So, it gives the illusion of these fish having a forked tail.
A Note on Genetics
It’s worth mentioning that there are genetically several varieties of endler’s livebearers. N Class is the traditional version of this species.
But hybrid varieties like P and K Class are favored types of endler’s livebearers as well, given that crossbreeding has caused breeders to draw out such bold colors in these fish.
Unfortunately, P and K Class endler’s livebearers tend to have more health issues due to inbreeding.
Therefore, although the N Class variety usually isn’t as colorful, you can expect your fish to live healthier and longer lives.
The original version of endler’s livebearers is from the northeast region of Venezuela. It’s the only place in the world where you can find these fish, as they call Laguna de Patos home.
Laguna de Patos was formerly an area with brackish water. But a sandbar moved in that cut off the ocean’s water supply, causing this lake to become a strictly freshwater area over time.
The weather around Laguna de Patos is hot and dry, so endler’s livebearers enjoy warm water conditions.
Endler’s livebearers enjoy living between the roots of mangrove trees. They prefer still or slow-moving water, offering them a clear environment to search for food.
The substrate where Endler’s livebearers live is sandy, given its proximity to the ocean.
Endler’s livebearers are small fish. Females grow to around one inch, and males can be as small as one-half inch.
That said, these fish can grow larger depending on their genes and the quality of food and space you offer them. Some females can even reach close to two inches.
Aside from their striking neon colors, this size difference makes Ender’s livebearers stand out from guppies. Guppies are almost always larger, easily reaching the two-inch mark.
Endler’s livebearers have a short lifespan in captivity of one to three years.
The length of time you can expect your fish to live depends on their genetic makeup; N Class fish typically live at the longer end of the lifespan spectrum.
Furthermore, gender makes a difference in lifespan.
Researchers have observed that male endler’s livebearers typically live longer than females, especially if the females frequently spawn.
A final component of lifespan is the care you give your fish. The more strictly you follow the tank parameter recommendations we’ll share here, the more likely your endler’s livebearer will live a longer life.
Telling male and female endler’s livebearers apart is easy. Males have the following qualities:
- Brighter colors
- Smaller size
- Larger fanned tails
In contrast, females have duller colors, often with a tan or silver base. For this reason, fish keepers who aren’t interested in breeding more commonly select males for their tropical aquarium.
But as you’ll soon learn, it’s vital to balance genders if you want to have more than one endler’s livebearer in your tank.
Endler’s livebearers have a moderate temperament. They won’t go out of their way to attack other fish in their tank, but females can become aggressive with each other.
You’ll notice a social hierarchy if you keep several endler’s livebearers in the same tank. If the social structure becomes off-kilter, some fighting can ensue.
Since females tend to pick on each other and males chase females in search of a mate, experts recommend pairing a minimum of three females with every male.
Doing so will reduce the chances of a single (usually smaller-sized) female fish becoming the favorite one for other fish to pick on.
You can expect your endler’s livebearers to be active in their aquarium. They love dashing around the water, mainly sticking to the top and middle portion of the tank, although they also venture to the bottom in search of food scraps.
If the thought of bringing home endler’s livebearers still excites you after reading about them, it’s time to set up their tank. Follow the recommendations below to keep your new fish healthy and stress-free.
Minimum Tank Size
You should purchase a minimum 20-gallon tank for every four or five endler’s livebearers you have. Remember, three or four of those fish should be female and the fourth or fifth a male.
If you’d like to add more females with a male, increasing your tank size by four or five gallons per extra fish is safe.
Otherwise, you’ll need an additional 20 gallons for adding a set of females with another male.
You can also keep an endler’s livebearer alone, as these aren’t shoaling fish. People commonly do this if they want one male, and offering that fish a minimum 10-gallon tank is ideal.
The more space you can give your endler’s livebearers, the happier they’ll be. These are active fish, so they’ll appreciate as much room as you can provide them.
Striking the right balance of water parameters is crucial to your endler’s livebearers’ health. So, arrange the following parameters before introducing your new fish to their tank.
Despite being from a warm region in Venezuela, endler’s livebearers can handle water temperatures ranging from 64°F to 84°F.
If any other tank mates in your aquarium can tolerate it, it’s best to keep the water temperature in the middle of this range.
Endler’s livebearers can tolerate water pH between 5.5 to 8.0. So, they lean towards preferring more acidic water than alkaline.
Nevertheless, you should ideally try to keep their water pH neutral.
Technically, endler’s livebearers can live in brackish water. However, mother nature designed these fish to prefer freshwater, so we don’t recommend adding salt to your tank.
The exception to this rule is if your endler’s livebearer comes down with an illness. In that case, adding salt designed for aquariums can help strengthen their immune system.
Admittedly, striking the right water conditions is far more “fun” for the endler’s livebearers than the fish keeper. So, now it’s time to get to the more enjoyable part of setting up your aquarium.
Sand substrate is ideal for endler’s livebearers since it mimics their natural environment. You can also use fine gravel.
The most crucial aspect when choosing a substrate is ensuring it’s soft without sharp edges. That way, you won’t have to worry about your fish cutting themselves when they poke around the bottom of their tank.
Endler’s livebearers love exploring and having places to hide, so a well-decorated tank is a must.
Since these fish spend most of their time towards the middle and top of their tank, purchasing decorations that reach both areas is important.
For example, driftwood and castles or other aquarium-friendly decors that reach the tank’s middle portion are excellent choices.
Be sure to choose decorations with holes so that your endler’s livebearers can use them as hiding spots.
Plants tie closely to decorations, as they also serve as a playground and hiding places for Endler’s livebearers. We recommend installing live plants, as they mimic this fish’s habitat.
Using a combination of floating and rooted plants is ideal. Some examples of plants to include in your endler’s livebearer tank include:
- Tiger lotus
- Java fern
- Amazon frogbit
Don’t be alarmed if your endler’s livebearers begin nibbling on some plants. That’s normal and can give them a natural nutritional boost.
Endler’s livebearers live primarily beneath the shade of mangrove trees in the wild, so they don’t need high amounts of direct light.
However, these fish rely on light to know day from night and base their sleeping patterns on it.
So, we recommend purchasing an aquarium lamp and setting it on medium light. Using a lamp with a timer is best since you won’t have to worry about forgetting to turn it on and shut it off.
Your endler’s livebearers will need a high-quality filtration system to stay healthy. Filters are vital because they remove toxins and debris that could degrade and turn into toxins.
The main types of filtration systems include:
If you have the means, using all three filters is best. Otherwise, you should have a minimum mechanical and biological filtration system.
Because households usually stay within the 64°F to 84°F temperature range that endler’s livebearers can tolerate, installing an aquarium heater isn’t always necessary.
That said, keeping your aquarium’s temperature consistent reduces stress, helping to keep your fish healthy.
For this reason, we recommend buying a heater and keeping it set to a temperature in the mid-70s.
Endler’s livebearers aren’t picky about what they eat. As omnivores, they’ll happily munch on plants and animal protein.
We recommend using high-quality fish pellets or dry flakes as the base for your endler livebearer’s food.
From there, it’s wise to supplement their diet with protein-rich foods like frozen, freeze-dried, or live:
- Brine shrimp
- Black worms
If you keep live plants in your aquarium, you can also expect your endler livebearers to eat them. But some fish keepers enjoy surprising their fish with blanched peas or zucchini.
Furthermore, algae wafers can give your fish an extra nutritional boost.
Balancing how much you feed your endler’s livebearers is tricky, given that they have food at their “fin” tips from live plants.
We recommend allowing them to eat the non-plant foods you give them for two or three minutes. Then, remove all remaining food.
Using this method twice per day will keep your fish full while preventing them from overeating. Like humans, endler’s livebearers can suffer health issues from being overweight.
Endler’s livebearers are prolific breeders.
There’s nothing special you need to do to get these fish to reproduce; simply having males and females together will result in live fry births regularly.
With that said, since both the mother and father will eat their babies, placing a pregnant female in a separate breeding tank is best.
Then, transfer her back to the original tank once she gives birth. It only takes 23 days for her to go into fish labor from the time of conception.
At that point, you’ll have up to 30 fry (baby fish), which will sink to the bottom of the tank and feast on the yolk sac. You can start giving them powdered food at this time.
It’s safe to start feeding the fry small brine shrimp after one or two weeks. Within two months, you’ll have a group of young endler’s livebearers in the tank and can transfer them with other adult livebearers.
As a special note, endler’s livebearers and guppies can breed with each other. So, if you keep these fish in the same tank, you might lose the pure livebearer genes.
Some fish keepers are okay with this, while others want the endler’s livebearer genes to stay pure, given that they’re a relatively rare species.
Many endler’s livebearers have fragile health due to inbreeding. So, although they don’t have species-specific diseases, they can still come down with many types of conditions that other tropical fish get.
Fin rot looks how it sounds—an endler’s livebearers’ fins begin to rot away. The culprit is either a fungus or bacterial infection, usually sparked by dirty tank water.
Signs that your endler’s livebearer has fin rot include stringy fins, clumping, and white along the edges. You can treat fin rot by improving the water parameters and adding fungal or bacterial medication.
Ich is a parasite that also goes by the name white spot disease, given that the parasite appears on endler’s livebearers in the form of small white spots.
The arrival of ich is usually from a new tank mate with the infection, which is why quarantining new fish is vital.
Getting rid of ich isn’t impossible, but it’s challenging because these parasites have a long life cycle. Applying ich medication and raising the water temperature are some of the best ways to solve the problem.
Swim Bladder Disease
Swim bladder disease is a generic term that can represent several health conditions. But its primary characteristics are a bloated stomach and endler’s livebearers struggling with buoyancy.
Scientists believe some causes of swim bladder disease are constipation, eating too fast, and overeating dried food.
The approach for treating swim bladder disease varies according to the cause. But one of the common solutions is putting your endler’s livebearer on a fast for a few days.
Lymphocystis is a contagious condition caused by the iridovirus. It creates white or pink bumps that can appear across your endler’s livebearer’s body.
Introducing an infected fish, coupled with poor water conditions that cause a reduction in immune system strength, are the most common causes of this virus.
There isn’t a cure for lymphocystis. But many endler’s livebearers can continue to live a long life despite it.
Velvet disease is another parasitic infection, this time caused by the Oodinium dinoflagellate.
Signs of velvet disease include a seemingly gold powder-like substance that begins taking over your Enderl’s livebearer’s body.
We recommend turning off your aquarium lamp and medicating the water with a substance suited for velvet disease to eliminate this problem.
Potential Tank Mates
Although endler’s livebearers can get a bit aggressive with each other, they’re notoriously docile with fish of other species.
They’re an excellent fit for any fish species that goes by the label “community friendly.” The only item to keep in mind is that endler’s livebearers enjoy darting around their tank, which may stress certain fish.
Therefore, it’s essential to have a large enough tank and hiding spaces to give the endler’s livebearers’ tank mates room to move away.
Some of the best tank mates for endler’s livebearers include:
- Cory catfish
- African dwarf frogs
- White cloud minnow
As a final word of warning, never put larger, carnivorous fish in an endler’s livebearer’s tank. Because these fish are so small, they could become a meal for their larger tank mates.