The Endler’s Livebearer is a brightly colored livebearing fish from Venezuela.
They look very similar to Guppies and the two are often confused with one another.
Just like Guppies, they are incredibly colorful and can add a burst of vivid color to any aquascape. They are very hardy and easy to care for, and can fit into almost any habitat.
Endler’s Livebearers will provide a lovely living accent to your aquascape. They may be small, but their vivid colors make them impossible to miss.
Do you want to learn more about this livebearer?
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this brilliant little livebearer…
Table of Contents
Endler’s Livebearer 101
Endler’s Livebearers (Poecilia wingei) are small and colorful livebearing fish.
They are often mistaken for Guppies and are even known as the Endler’s Guppy or Cumana Guppy.
This tiny fish is endemic to Venezuela and can be found in the Campoma and Cumana regions of the state of Sucre. They come from the Poeciliidae family (which includes all livebearing fish) and are one of the smallest fish in the family at only 1-1.5 inches long.
Endler’s Livebearers are easy to care for and are generally considered a more upscale alternative to the Fancy Guppy.
They are incredibly easy to breed and can be found in a variety of stunning colors.
There are actually 3 different genetic strains: N, K, and P.
- N class fish are pure blooded P. wingei from the original wild populations.
- K class fish are hybrids between Endler’s Livebearers and Guppies. These may be wild caught or captive bred and this is the most common strain to find for sale.
- P class fish have not had their genetic lines identified. Although they may appear to be pure-blooded, they are not the best class to use for breeding as their genetics are rather uncertain.
Because of their limited geographic range and declining populations they are difficult to find in the wild.
On account of their rarity they are more expensive than other livebearing fish. You will find yourself paying anywhere from $10 to $15 for a basic aquarium specimen. Quality breeding stock from a genetically pure line can cost at least $30, ranging up to $80 at some breeders.
How Long Do Endler’s Livebearers Live?
Unfortunately Endler’s Livebearers have a rather short lifespan of only 2 to 3 years.
Their short lifespan is because they can reproduce every month and this is very taxing on their small bodies.
- Experience Required: Beginner
- Nickname: Endler’s Guppy, Campoma Guppy, Cumana Guppy
- Color Forms: Various
- Size: 1-1.5 inches.
- Tank Size: 20+ gallon.
- Tank Temperature: 70-85°F.
The Endler’s Livebearer is very thin compared to other livebearers such as Guppies and Mollies.
Males are completely streamlined except for a slight slope at their dorsal fin, leading to a pointed, upturned snout. There is a slight widening around the pelvic and dorsal area and this is more noticeable on the females.
In total they have 7 fins including the dorsal fin, caudal fin, a pair of pectoral and pelvic fins, and an anal fin that is set very close to the pelvic area. They appear to have a split caudal fin but this is just an optical illusion caused by color bars at the base of the tail.
Other possible fin shapes include a lyretail and a 3-pronged pintail. There is also a high-fin variety that features a tall, sail shaped dorsal fin.
Endler’s Livebearers are one of the smallest livebearers.
Males rarely grow longer than an inch, and females usually top off at around one and a half inches. An especially large breeding female may reach 2 inches long.
The size difference between the males and females is very noticeable if you have a mixed gender group. The females are also visibly thicker and rounder in shape.
Their most notable feature is of course their color.
You can find males in blue, yellow, orange, red, green, black, and silver. You may see up to 5 colors on a single fish.
Females, however, are dull grey or brown.
Both males and females have iridescent scales, although it is not as noticeable on the female. Tiny crystals embedded in their scales are responsible for this glittering effect.
There are many different types of Endler’s Livebearers, including:
Blue Star Endler: The Blue Star comes in a brilliant steel blue color. They can be traced to the wild Campoma Lagoon population. Their blue color darkens as it reaches the tail and fades to silver towards the head. It is often accompanied by orange, yellow, and red spots.
Black Bar Endler: The Black Bar has a caudal fin that is framed by a black line on the top and the bottom. Their body can include a mix of red, orange, yellow, black, or green. The orange or yellow base color travels down the fish’s lateral line.
Orchid Endler: This is one of the most common varieties and is distinguished by a mix of red, yellow, and black colors. A bright orange or red line at the base of the caudal fin extends into the lower end of the fin. This gives the fish the appearance of having a sword, like a Swordtail fish. Many Orchids also have iridescent blue spots at the base of the tail or along the lateral line.
El Tigre Endler: The El Tigre variety is a mix of orange, yellow, and black colors. The colors are concentrated near the lateral line, from the abdomen to the base of the tail. A single black bar runs through the center of their body and extends to the dorsal and pelvic fins. Most El Tigres have a yellow base.
El Silverado Endler: This morph comes in a metallic silver color accented by yellow, black, and orange. It is the result of crossbreeding an Endler with a Guppy. The bright colors appear not just on the body but on the dorsal and caudal fins too.
Yellow Tiger Endler: The Yellow Tiger is the result of crossbreeding with a Guppy. They have a neon yellow color accented by a black lattice pattern. The colors extend to all of the fins and can be accented by iridescent green patches in some places.
Peacock Endler: This fish is a mix of green, yellow, red, orange, and blue. Some Peacocks have a dominant red color, while others have a yellow or green base. Secondary colors appear as accent marks along the body, fins, and tail.
Are Endler’s Livebearer The Same As Guppies?
Endler’s Livebearers are often referred to as Campoma Guppies or Cumana Guppies.
Their similar sizes, appearances, and colors may trick fishkeepers into thinking they are the same species!
However, Endler’s Livebearers are not the same as Guppies.
The Endler’s Livebearer is classified under Poecilia wingei, while Guppies are classified under Poecilia reticulata. Guppies are found in fresh and brackish areas in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Endler’s Livebearers can only be found in the Campoma and Cumana regions of Venezuela.
Both species share the same role in the hobby, which is to add spots of color to a planted tank. Guppies are more affordable and more widely available than Endler’s Livebearers, so they make a suitable alternative.
Ideal Tank Mates
Although these fish are perfectly harmless it can be difficult to keep them in a community.
This is because they are so small that they are often eaten or bullied.
They also breed so often that the offspring can get in the way of the other fish in the tank. The offspring are also likely to be eaten in a community tank.
The best tank mate is the Guppy.
In addition to Guppies, they can live with other livebearers such as Platies, Mollies, and Swordtails.
Small Tetras and Rasboras will live in perfect harmony with your Endler’s Livebearers. These include Neon Tetras, Glowlight Tetras, Harlequin Rasboras, Chili Rasboras, and Pygmy Rasboras.
Celestial Pearl Danios make excellent tank mates and will enhance an already colorful community.
These fish are too small to pose a risk to shrimp or snails so you can include Nerite Snails, Cherry Shrimp, Amano Shrimp, or Bee Shrimp.
You should avoid any large or boisterous fish.
The Betta fish is not a good pick due to its tendency to pick fights. Other Gouramis also tend to be a little too much for this little fish to handle.
You should also avoid Barbs, Catfish, Goldfish, and Cichlids.
How Many Endler’s Livebearers Should Be Kept Together?
You can generally keep as many of these fish in a group as you would like.
The typical group size is around 5 to 8 per tank. If you keep them in a group of less than 5 they will be very anxious and spend most of their time hiding.
These can be all males, all females, or a mix of both. Be aware that a mixed gender group will breed often and produce a lot of offspring. It is not uncommon for the tank to be filled up with offspring.
Too much breeding is very taxing on the females’ bodies and will shorten their lifespan. If you want to avoid unnecessary breeding then you should keep a single gender group.
These fish are beginner friendly.
Beginners should start out with a single gender group before attempting to breed them.
They are highly adapted to environments and are able to tolerate shifts in parameters and water temperature.
You will only need to clean the tank once every 2 weeks and check the water for buildups of ammonia, nitrates, and other wastes. You should also test the salinity and the pH when you clean your tank.
Although they are not particularly susceptible to any illness they can still suffer from ich and fin rot.
Ich is a parasitic infection that your Endler’s Livebearers may catch from one of their tank mates. Fin rot is a bacterial infection that festers in an unclean tank.
Since these fish are so small the symptoms of ich or fin rot can be difficult to spot. Always keep an eye on any paleness, discoloration, or new marks that appear on your fish. Both of these illnesses can be treated with medication, but ich can also be treated by raising the water temperature or salinity.
These tiny fish feast on the tiniest prey in the water column.
In the wild they will eat zooplankton, phytoplankton, insect larvae, and detritus. They are known to be algae grazers and will congregate in areas where an algal bloom has taken place.
Within an aquarium you can feed them either micro pellets or crushed flakes.
Live prey can be given as a supplement but should not make up the majority of your Endler’s Livebearer’s diet.
Your fish will happily snack on the algae that grows in your tank, but if there is not enough of it then you can give them powdered algae wafers. Your fish will also eat any detritus and tank trash that accumulates in your aquarium. In this way, they can form a cleanup crew.
Leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, and kale can also be given as occasional treats.
Here is a list of the best foods for this little livebearer to eat:
- Micro pellets
- Fish flakes
- Larval brine shrimp
- Black worms
- Grindal worms
- Algae wafers
Non-breeding adults can be fed once per day.
You can feed them just enough food for them to finish off in under 60 seconds.
Breeding adults can be given 2 small meals each day, still with just enough food to finish in under a minute. Fry and developing juveniles must be fed up to 4 times a day.
Behavior and Temperament
Endler’s Livebearers are very active and are usually always in motion.
They can be found darting around the middle levels of the tank and can even be spotted at the surface every so often. They can cover a surprising amount of swimming distance on their daily travels, and love to play in plants, behind rocks, and under logs.
Although they may be small, they are certainly not shy.
They will socialize with both their own kind and other fish of a similar size and temperament.
If something spooks them they will gather in a shoal for a few moments until the threat has passed. They will disperse once the threat has gone and do not travel in groups on a regular basis.
When they are shoaling often, it means that something in the tank is upsetting them. This may be a loud filter or a particularly boisterous tank mate.
- Very easy to breed
- Not susceptible to disease
- Comes in lots of beautiful colors
- Will graze on problematic algae
- Difficult to find
- More expensive than other livebearers
- Genetic origins are often uncertain
Tank Set Up and Parameters
This species is endemic to Venezuela and can be found in the Cumana and Campoma regions of the Paria Peninsula.
The Cumana population inhabits the Laguna dos Patos along with its streams and tributaries. This is a primarily brackish location with a water hardness over 12 dGH and temperatures over 75°F.
Fish from the Campoma population are more adapted to freshwater conditions. They are also more able to adjust to seasonal drops in water temperature.
Both populations inhabit areas with a high concentration of algae, underwater plants and mosses.
The flow is mild to moderate and will vary in different areas of the lagoon. However, the fish are usually found in the slower moving areas such as drainage basins.
To replicate these conditions in an aquarium you will need at least a 20 gallon tank. A 20 gallon tank can hold a group of 5 or 6 Endler’s Livebearers. You will need to match the conditions in the table below.
|Minimum Tank Size||20 Gallons|
|Tank Type||Freshwater and planted|
|Substrate||Sand or mud|
You can layer the bottom with dark, soft sand or mud.
Your fish should be able to keep up with a little bit of flow but they do not appreciate strong currents. A hang-on-back or sponge filter is the safest kind to use.
Just like other livebearers they tend to get a little adventurous and may rush to the surface of the tank, so you will need to keep your tank secure with a lid or hood.
Your light intensity should be based on your plants. The fish will not care either way but they should not be exposed to especially harsh light over 4 watts per gallon.
Marimo Moss Balls make some of the best decorations. This moss is actually a type of algae that they can eat too.
You will also want to attract some natural algae to make your fish feel a little more at home. Decorations with smooth surfaces, such as rocks and logs, will accumulate fine layers of algae.
There are so many different plants that you can use, including Java Ferns, Hygrophila, Dwarf Rotalas, and Water Wisteria.
Breeding Endler’s Livebearers
Endler’s Livebearers will breed without any special assistance.
In a mixed gender group your females will breed once every month.
However, there are downsides to letting your fish breed uncontrollably. In a community tank most of the offspring will be eaten by your other fish or their own parents. The tank will quickly become overcrowded with the new additions and the constant breeding will shorten the mother’s lifespan.
To make sure that most of your offspring survive you should keep a separate tank just for breeding and raising the fry.
You will notice your males darting and flashing their fins at the females in order to impress them. The males will also chase away other males that get too close to their potential mates.
Copulation happens under cover and the pregnant female will carry her eggs for up to 25 days. These eggs will hatch inside of her body and up to 20 live fry will be born.
Remove the female once the babies are born and start feeding them infusoria and powdered fry food. After a week or two you can give them larval brine shrimp.
Your fry will mature very quickly and develop their colors after about a month.
You can move them to the community tank in around 2 months once their colors have come in.
History and First Sighting
The Endler’s Livebearer was first discovered in 1937 by Franklyn Bond, in Cumana’s Laguna dos Patos.
Originally they were classified as a Guppy under the now defunct genus Acanthophacelus.
The fish was overlooked until 1975 when it was rediscovered by Dr. John Endler and given the name Endler’s Guppy.
It was during this time that they were introduced to the aquarium hobby.
However, it was not until 2005 that the discovery of a new population in Campoma led to its reclassification as its own species, Poecilia wingei.
By the late 2000s the species’ wild populations entered steady decline due to urbanization, pollution, and crossbreeding with wild Guppies.
Pure blooded Endler’s Livebearers are now quite rare and most specimens in the wild and in captivity are hybrids.
The original Laguna dos Patos population is now considered critically endangered.
|Other Common Names:||Endler’s Guppy, Campoma Guppy, Cumana Guppy|
|Scientific Name:||Poecilia wingei|
|Minimum Tank Size:||20 gallons|
|Tank Mate Compatibility:||Small, peaceful community fish|
The Endler’s Livebearer might be an uncommon find, but they are certainly worth looking into if you want something unique for your aquarium.
They are easy to care for and can hold their own against many common mistakes.
This fish is suitable for keepers of all skill levels.
Breeding these fish offers an up-close look at how their genes determine their spectacular colors and patterns. They thrive in a single species setup or in a community, and you can keep as many as you like in the same tank.
There is so much that you can do with these unique little livebearers.
What color are your Endler’s Livebearers?
Let us know in the comments section below…