Endler’s Livebearer Overview, Care & Breeding Guide

If you want a bunch of vibrant and gorgeous-looking fish for your freshwater tank, get ready to take some Endler’s livebearers home. These fish are popular for being peaceful, social, and extremely curious.

They are low-maintenance and loved by both novice and experienced enthusiasts. Especially, if you want to try breeding fish, these are the best bet!

So, let’s know how to care for it!

What is Endler’s Livebearer fish?

Endler’s Livebearer fish is one of the most peaceful yet curious freshwater fish that is suitable for all types of aquarium lovers.

OriginCampoma, Cumana, and other lagoons, streams, rivers of Venezuela, South America
Scientific NamePoecilia wingei
Common NamesEndler’s livebearers, Endlers
IUCN Red List StatusNot Evaluated
AppearanceMale: Range of neon and metallic colors and patterns Female: Silver and tan/gold
Size (Adult)Male: Up to 2.5 cm (1 in) Female: Up to 4.5 cm (1.8 in)
LifespanUsually, up to 3 years
TemperamentPeaceful, active, curious
Tank LevelMiddle-to-top dwellers
Water Temperature75-86 °F (24-30 °C)
pH Level7-8.5
Water HardnessUp to 30 dGH
Care LevelEasy
Minimum Tank Size20 gallons for 4
Tank EnvironmentWell-planted and decorated, sandy substrate, slow current
Tank MatesOwn group, other small peaceful species

What is the Natural Habitat of Endler’s Livebearer?

In the wild, Endler’s livebearers are found in the Campoma, Laguna de Patos of Cumana, El Tigre, Paria Peninsula, and Buena Vista Lagoons, Venezuela, South America.

They’re spotted in both freshwater and slightly brackish lagoons and connected streams and canals. They mainly stay in shallow, warm, and hard waters shaded by trees.

While the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species hasn’t assessed the fish’s population, they’re facing extinction due to humans entering their habitat and polluting it.

Which family do Endler’s Livebearer belong?

This fish belongs to the Poeciliidae family under the Cyprinodontiformes order. Scientifically, it’s called Poecilia wingei, but in general, it goes by Endlers or Endler’s livebearer.

Some also refer to it as Endler’s guppy, but this refers to the hybrid between Endlers and guppy.

Under the Poeciliidae family and the Poecilia genus, there’s Endler’s livebearer and guppy (P. reticulata), and the rest are all mollies.

There are 3 types of Endlers:

  • N class: Pure strain Endlers created from the wild in Venezuela.
  • P class: These have the characteristics of the wild Endlers but don’t have the documentation for their lineage.
  • K class: These are Endlers hybridized with guppy or other livebearers.

This article solely focuses on N-class Endlers. However, this care guide also stands for hybrids.

Fun Fact: The fish is named after Dr. John Endler, who rediscovered them in 1975. However, it was initially collected by Franklyn F. Bond from Laguna de Patos in 1937.

How do Endler’s Livebearer look?

Male tiger Poecilia Wingei

The most amazing thing about these fish is their looks and cute temperament. So, let’s familiarize ourselves with them here…

What is the Size of Endler’s Livebearer?

The adult male Endler’s livebearers grow up to 2.5 cm (1 in), and the females grow up to 4.5 cm (1.8 in).

What is the Color of Endler’s Livebearer?

The male Endler’s livebearers exhibit neon and metallic shades of bright yellow, green, blue, orange, red, black, and much more. The females have more muted colors like silver or tan/gold.

Some also have transparent fins, which makes their fins look unique. The most common (wild and hybrid, non-exhaustive list) strains are:

  • Peacock
  • White peacock
  • Emerald
  • Red stripe
  • Flame tail
  • Sunburst cobra
  • Snake chest
  • Yellow tiger
  • Campoma
  • Cumana
  • El Tigre

However, there are many more pure and hybrid strains available.

What are the Features for Endler’s Livebearer?

Endler’s livebearers look pretty similar to guppy fish. However, some distinct features are laterally compressed, compact, and streamlined body and noticeable dorsal and anal fins.

How to differentiate between a male and a female Endler’s Livebearer?

The male fish is smaller and much more colorful and vibrant than the female. The female fish is plump when gravid compared to the slender male.

She also has rounded anal fins, while the male has elongated dorsal fins, pointed anal fins, and a more colorful tail fin.

Furthermore, males are also more energetic than females.

How do Endler’s Livebearer behave in a tank?

Endler’s livebearers are known for active swimming and curious nature. They interact with conspecifics, graze on algae, investigate tank interiors, or nibble on visitors’ dipped fingers.

The adult males are peaceful and polygamous. The females are quite aggressive and territorial, so it’s advised to have several females in the tank to tone down the aggression.

While they swim around in top and middle water columns, they rest at the bottom at night.

What is the lifespan of Endler’s Livebearer?

Endler’s livebearers are known to live up to 3 years. The male fish lives a bit longer than the female because frequent spawning takes a toll on the female. In my experience, with great care, some specimens live up to 5 years.

Author’s Note: If you live in the temperate zone, you can raise and breed this fish in an outdoor poubellarium during the summers. It makes the young fish and new brood hardy.

How to take care of Endler’s Livebearer?

Female blue snake Endler's guppy

If you want to bring a handful of Endler’s livebearers to your home aquarium, let us know about their needs.

What is the ideal Tank Size for Endler’s Livebearer?

Get a 20-gallon tank for a group of one male and three females – especially because they’re prolific breeders. If you want a bigger group, invest in a bigger tank.

Some suggest a 10-15 gallon tank, but that may become overwhelming, especially with the female’s aggression.

What is the ideal Water Chemistry for Endler’s Livebearer?

Since the Endler’s livebearers are tropical hard water fish, follow these parameters at all times.

  • pH Levels: 7-8.5
  • Water Temperature: 75-86 °F (24-30 °C)
  • Water Hardness: Up to 30 dGH
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: Less than 20 ppm

What Tank Environment should be kept for Endler’s Livebearer?

While Endler’s livebearers aren’t demanding about the surroundings, plan their environment accordingly to help them live the longest.

Which type of Substrate should you use for Endler’s Livebearer?

Even though Endler’s livebearers are top-dwelling species, they also dig the bottom for food and to quench curiosity. So, use a soft sandy substrate.

Do you need plants in Endler’s Livebearer tank?

A planted setup is a must-have to make your fish and fry feel secure. Some great substrate plant choices are Java fern, Java moss, water star, and dwarf hair grass.

Some compatible floating plants are water sprite, frogbit, water wisteria, eared watermoss, and guppy grass.

Which type of Lighting does Endler’s Livebearer need?

These fish need diffused lighting. This can be achieved by LEDs and floating plants. Use a timer to maintain a day-night cycle.

What type of Décor does Endler’s Livebearer need?

While they’re not fussy about decor, it can keep them busy and entertained. So, grab some suitable decor like twisted roots, driftwood, caves, hollow logs, coconut shells, and PVC pipes.

What Filtration system does Endler’s Livebearer need?

In a species-only tank, powerful filtration is not needed as the fish produces bare minimum waste.

Use a sponge or matten filter for small tanks and canisters or hang on backs for bigger setups. Keep the pipe mouths covered with a sponge to avoid getting your fish sucked in.

Perform 10% weekly and 30% biweekly water changes.

What is the Water Flow Rate required for Endler’s Livebearer?

Similar to their slow-moving lagoon and pond habitats, provide them with subdued to moderate flow in the tank.

Care Tip: Always keep your tank with Endlers covered, as these are great jumpers and make fatal leaps.

What do Endler’s Livebearer eat?

The Endler’s livebearers are omnivorous. In the wild, they feed on zoobenthos and debris. In captivity, feed them a range of live and frozen prey, vegetables, and commercial food, like the following:

  • Tubifex
  • Cyclops
  • Grindal worm
  • Brine shrimp
  • Bloodworm
  • Mud worm
  • Microworm
  • Black worm
  • Daphnia
  • Mosquito larvae
  • Blanched spinach, kale, lettuce, or peas
  • Slice of zucchini or carrot
  • Salad
  • High-quality nutrient-rich flake or pellet

Feed your pet 2-3 times a day for 3 minutes each. Finely chop all food to fit the little being’s mouth. Base the diet mainly on commercial food and vegetables and supplement with meaty treats.

What are the Tank Mates for Endler’s Livebearer?

Since Endler’s livebearers are so small, they can be kept alone in a species-only tank. Just remember to keep 3 females for every male. If you want a non-breeding group, buy only males for your tank.

However, if you want a community tank, here are some suitable small and peaceful tank mates:

  • Dwarf corydoras (pygmy cory, etc.)
  • Small rainbowfish
  • Least killifish
  • Clown killifish
  • Chilli rasbora
  • Harlequin rasbora
  • Glassfish
  • Peaceful tetra (neon tetra, ember tetra, glowlight tetra)
  • White cloud mountain minnow
  • Zebra danio
  • Otocinclus catfish
  • Honey gourami
  • Sparkling gourami
  • Betta – only in large tanks
  • Cherry barb
  • Freshwater snails (ramshorn, nerite, rabbit snail, etc.)

Which Tank Mates to Avoid for Endler’s Livebearer?

Never keep Endler’s livebearers with the following types:

  • Aggressive species: Endlers are too small to protect themselves against aggression.
  • Other livebearers: They’ll crossbreed with Endlers.
  • Bottom-dwelling nocturnal species: At night, Endlers sleep at the bottom. These species might bully your pet.
  • Small shrimp: Adults are safe, but their fry may get eaten.
  • Bigger fish: They’ll snack on Endlers.

Namely, some bad tank mates are:

  • Guppy
  • Molly
  • Crayfish
  • Freshwater crab
  • Dwarf shrimp
  • African dwarf frog
  • Ghost shrimp

What are the Common Diseases for Endler’s Livebearer?

While this species is known to be vulnerable to any particular disease, they suffer from a few common diseases like the following:

Disease NameCausesSymptomsTreatment
IchExternal protozoan parasiteWhite spots, flashing, poor appetite, lethargyAdd ich medicines, increase aquarium temperature
Fin RotBacterial infectionFin fraying, disintegration, discoloration, poor appetite, lethargyImprove water quality, remove injurious objects, add antibiotics
ConstipationOverfeeding, excess dry food consumption, parasitic infectionNo feces, bloating, discoloration, rectal prolapse, poor appetite, lethargyReduce food quantity and frequency, improve water quality, feed only fibrous diet, reduce stress, give medicine
VelvetParasitic infectionFlashing, color fading, fast breathing, fins clamped against the body, poor appetite, lethargy, yellowish film on the skin, skin peelingRaise water temperature, dim the lights for days, add medicine containing malachite green or aldehyde

Quick Tip: Always maintain water chemistry, perform required water changes, provide a healthy diet, and quarantine any fish or object before adding it to the tank.

How to breed Endler’s Livebearer at home?

Endlers are known to breed pretty easily. Not much intervention is required for spawning. Here are some recommended steps to control breeding and get the best brood:

What is the Tank Setup required for breeding Endler’s Livebearer?

Prepare a 20-gallon breeding tank with the usual decor and maintain water chemistry:

  • Water Temperature: 77-79 °F (25-26 °C)
  • pH Levels: 7
  • Water Hardness: Up to 12 dGH

In another smaller tank, maintain the same water chemistry and decor. This will be used for birthing and fry raising. The adult fish don’t eat their fry, but they also don’t show parental care, so this is just to play safe.

What is the Mating process of Endler’s Livebearer?

Select the healthiest-looking male and 3 females. Introduce the bunch to the breeding tank and let them acclimate to the tank. The male courts the female fish by displaying his colors and fins.

The male internally fertilizes a receptive female’s eggs through his gonopodium.

Pregnancy & Birthing

The pregnant female shows a dark black “gravid spot” right beside her vent before she gives birth. When the spot appears, place her in the birthing tank.

Endler’s “livebearers,” as the name suggests, give birth to live fry and not eggs. She’ll produce up to 30 fry after 23-24 days of mating. After birthing, place her in the breeding tank or a separate tank for controlled breeding.

She stores the male’s milt and gives birth to 2-3 litters from one mating session at a difference of 23-24 days. So, check for her gravid spot and move her to the birthing tank again.

How many times do you need to feed the fry of Endler’s Livebearer?

You need to feed the fry 2-5 times a day withthe following:

  • Microworm
  • Baby brine shrimp
  • Commercial fry powder
  • Algae wafers

They grow pretty fast, with males showing adult colors at 3-5 weeks. Females become sexually mature at 2 months of age.

Breeding Tip: Keep the young fry separate from their parents to avoid inbreeding. Inbreeding can lead to infertile and genetic defects in the brood. You can instead introduce new mature specimens from stores and give away your fry. Or exchange broods with other enthusiasts.

How to Buy Endler’s Livebearer?

To ensure you get healthy Endlers livebearers, ensure these signs:

  • Intact fins – no breakage or clamping
  • No white or red bumpy spots on the body
  • No bulging of eyes
  • Not hiding all the time
  • Swimming and being playful
  • Tank water is clean
  • The tank is not overcrowded

A word FishInAquarium

The lovely Endler’s livebearers are perfect for your tank if you want a splash of colors and patterns. These resilient and adaptable fish are voracious eaters, which makes them fun to feed. Their exciting personalities are sure to keep you captivated for hours!

If this article helped you on your Endlers journey, share it with other enthusiasts. Let them join in on this beautiful experience.

Have more questions? Drop us an email, and we’ll sort it out for you!

Minnie B Miller - Professional aquarist and owner of FishInAquarium

About Minnie B Miller

Minnie B. Miller, a professional aquarist and owner of FishInAquarium, has over 8 years of expertise in fish breeding and care, gained through her roles at AquaticTX and Sea Lion Landing. Having honed her skills with various aquatic species, she is dedicated to empowering fellow enthusiasts by sharing her knowledge and experience.