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Care Guide for Endler’s Livebearers – The Guppy’s Little Cousin

Livebearers (or fish that bear live young) like guppies and mollies are always popular fish at pet stores because they’re so colorful and quick to make babies. However, lots of inbreeding has been occurred in order to create specialty colors and that can sometimes result in weaker strains that are not as hardy or long-lived. Therefore, we often recommend Endler’s livebearers as an energetic and entertaining nano fish that is easier for beginners to keep.

What is an Endler’s Livebearer?

Poecilia wingei gets its common name from Dr. John Endler, who rediscovered the species in Venezuela and introduced them into the pet trade. Males get up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long, are slender in profile, and have all the vibrant colors and patterns. Females can reach 1.8 inches (4.5 cm), have a rounder abdomen, and are usually tannish-silver in color.

male and female endler's livebearer

The male endler (above) is colorful and slender, whereas the female endler (below) is silvery tan with a rounded abdomen full of babies.

What are the different types of Endler’s livebearers? In this article, we are focusing primarily on purebred Endler’s livebearers or class N endlers, but the care requirements are somewhat similar for Endler hybrids. Hybrids come from Endlers and guppies that have been bred together to create almost every color of the rainbow. Common types of Endler’s livebearers and Endler hybrids include black bar, tiger, cobra, El Silverado, and lime green endlers.

Are Endlers the same as guppies? No, although they are closely related and able to spawn together to create offspring that are fertile. Poecilia wingei is an Endler’s livebearer, Poecilia reticulata is a guppy, and a hybrid of the two is an Endler guppy.

Endlers vs guppies

Endler’s livebearer (left), Endler guppy hybrid (middle), and guppy (right)

Are Endlers good beginner fish? Wild Endlers are already quite colorful and did not require as much line breeding to create beautiful strains. Therefore, we find them to be very hardy beginner fish that are easier to care for than guppies and many other types of livebearers.

How to Set Up an Aquarium for Endlers

When we say the Endler's livebearer is a hardy species, we mean that they can live in wide range of water parameters that might be considered nonideal for other aquarium fish. For example, you can keep them at room temperature in an aquarium without a heater. Also, they tolerate pH levels spanning from 6.5 to 8.5 and almost any water hardness (or GH). Of course, this is not to say that you can completely neglect their husbandry because like any fish, they can be prone to bacterial and fungal infections if the pH becomes too acidic or the nitrate level is extremely high. However, if you stay on top of their tank maintenance as you would with any other fish, they are very easygoing and will reward you with many babies.

How many Endlers can go in a 5-gallon tank? The minimum tank size for Endlers is 5-10 gallons, but we recommend going bigger because of all the fry they will produce. For a 10-gallon aquarium, start with a trio of one male and two females. For a 20-gallon aquarium, buy six to nine of them. You don’t need a lot of Endlers to get a growing population, as long as you have the right environment and not a lot of predators that can eat the young.

How many Endlers should be kept together? They feel more comfortable in a group of their own kind and prefer not to be kept alone. Because of their high drive for mating, we recommend keeping one male for every 2-3 females so that the girls get a little break from being bothered by the boys.

female endler surrounded by male endlers

Males are tireless when it comes to courting females, so aim to get more females so that they are not constantly being pursued.

What fish can live with Endlers? They get along with just about any peaceful community fish that are not big enough to eat them, such as smaller tetras, danios, and cory catfish. If you find that the Endler population is growing out of control, you can add some African dwarf frogs or other predatory fish that will eat some of the fry while leaving the adults alone.

What Do Endler’s Livebearers Eat?

The good news is that they are not picky eaters and will consume anything small enough to fit in their mouths, such as flakes, pellets, Repashy gel food, and daphnia. They are great at scavenging for food all over the aquarium, both at the water surface and substrate level, and have even been known to pick at algae if they’re hungry enough. Bottom line: make sure to feed them a variety of foods so they get all the necessary nutrients to boost their immune system and display vibrant coloration.

How to Breed Endler’s Livebearers

As long as you have clean water, good food, and at least one fish of each sex, babies should start appearing every 23-30 days, depending on the temperature. The parents are not above eating their own offspring, so to increase the fry survival rate, provide lots of cover in the form of aquarium decorations or dense plants such as water sprite, wisteria, Pogostemon stellatus, and guppy grass. Also, make sure to use a sponge filter or cover the intake of your filter with a pre-filter sponge to prevent the babies from getting sucked up. Once they are roughly 0.5-1 inch (1.3-2.5 cm) in length, you can see about selling them to your local fish store or giving them to your friends who are new to fish keeping.

Baby Endler's livebearer fry

Baby Endler’s livebearers usually do not have a lot of colors at first so that they can easily blend in with their surroundings and escape predation.

Endler’s livebearers are an excellent pet for both new and experienced hobbyists because of their easy care, amazing colors, and lively personalities. For more information on where to buy live fish online, see our list of recommended vendors:

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