Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallons (75 Litres)
Care Level: Easy
Water Conditions: 5.5-8.0 pH and Moderately Hard to Very Hard
Temperature: 66-84 °F (18-29 °C)
Maximum Size: 1.8 inches (4.5 cm)
Endler’s livebearers (Poecilia wingei) are a colourful and relatively rare species of guppies. They are found only in Laguna de Patos in Venezuela, which is a large freshwater lake. They are not technically a separate species from the common guppy, and it is believed that they were given the name Poecilia wingei for conservation purposes only.
Laguna de Patos has very warm waters, and contains high level of algae – which gives the lake its distinctive green coloration. Endler’s livebearers are currently threatened in the wild, and their habitat is under severe pressure from development. A garbage dump has been constructed on the shores of the lake, and is believed to have significantly polluted the waters. There are some reports that this species is already extinct in the wild.
Endler’s livebearers remain relatively small in the home aquarium, and males grow to about 1 inch in length, while females grow to about 1.8 inches in length. Most well cared for Endler’s livebearers live for around two to three years in the home aquarium, though occasionally some do live longer. With that being said, you can expect a much shorter lifespan for females. Birth can be very difficult for them, and many will die shortly after bearing fry.
Endler’s live bearers are a hardy, and easy to care for beginner fish. Because of this, they can be kept quite comfortably in an aquarium as small as 20 gallons, though larger tanks are recommended due to their extremely prolific nature.
It is generally recommended to keep these fish in a species only tank, since their tiny size makes them a poor candidate for community tanks. Also, they should never be kept with other species of guppies, since they will crossbreed and dilute the genes of this species. It is believed that many of the Endler’s livebearers in fish stores are already hybrids mixed with regular guppies.
While the males of this species are mostly peaceful, the females can be quite territorial. It is recommended that you keep at least three to four females per tank, so that no one fish is centered out for bullying.
Any tank containing Endler’s live bearers should also be heavily planted, and they prefer tanks with plentiful hiding places. It seems that floating plants are especially appreciated, and the dangling roots of floating plant provides a perfect sanctuary for their fry. Some excellent plants for their tank are water sprite, water wisteria, Java moss, Java fern, hornwort, hyrgophila polysperma, duckweed and Cambomba.
It is strongly recommended that you cover any tank containing these fish. While at first glance they appear too small to jump out of an aquarium, they are actually known for being notorious jumpers.
When kept in a species only tank, they don’t seem to produce much in the way of waste. However, it is always in your best interest to provide the best water quality possible, and a high quality filter should always be used.
They are a very active species, and will appreciate the flow that a hang on back filter provides. But care must be taken to cover the filter intake, or most of the fry will be sucked up into the filter – which will kill all but the luckiest of them.
If you decide to use to a hang on back filter, I would strongly recommend using an AquaClear Power Filter. This is a highly durable filter, which provides excellent filtration even on larger tanks. You can read the Aquarium Tidings Aquaclear Power Filter Review here.
Endler’s livebearers are omnivores, and feed on small insects, algae and plant matter in the wild. This diet should be recreated as closely as possible in the home aquarium. This can be accomplished through the feeding of a high quality flake food, and live or frozen foods. One of the best flakes food on the market is Hikari Micro Pellets, and I personally use it for most of my small fish.
They relish live or frozen foods in their diet, and they seem to particularly enjoy frozen bloodworms. It’s not unusual to see an Endler’s livebearer attempting to consume a bloodworm that is nearly as large as itself. They will also accept either live or frozen daphnia, brine shrine, and blackworms.
Even if you are feeding them a high quality flake food, it should always be supplemented with plant matter. While it can be difficult to find vegetables that they will accept, you should find some success offering them blanched and shelled peas, or small, blanched zucchini medallions.
Very much like their guppy relatives, breeding Endler’s livebearers is as simple as adding water. In good conditions they will breed regularly, and you can expect new fry every 23-24 days. Any tank being used for breeding purposes should only contain Endler’s livebearers, and should never contain any other species of guppies.
Also, it is best to keep a higher ratio of females to males to prevent any one female from receiving too much attention from the males. Male Endler’s livebearers will attempt to breed with the females continuously, and by having a higher ratio of females, it ensures that no one female is the focus of all of their breeding efforts. A good ratio is approximately one male for every three females.
Though it appears that most Endler’s are less cannibalistic towards their young than regular guppies, it is still a good idea to raise the fry in a separate, breeding only tank. Barring that, the tank should be heavily planted, and floating plants, or dense plants live Java moss will give the fry the best chance at survival.
The fry are large enough that they can accept powdered flake right from birth, though you will usually get better results if you feed them baby brine shrimp or microworms. They can also be fed any of the commercially available fry foods on the market. The fry should be fed several times a day, until they are around 3-4 weeks old.
Endler’s livebearer fry mature extremely fast, and most will reach breeding maturity at approximately two months of age. The males will take on adult coloration at around 4-5 weeks of age, though the females seems to mature slightly slower.