Endless About Endlers: Why I’m In Love With Endlers Livebearers!

Good evening lovelies,

You’ll recall last week that I shared my exciting news about the new arrival to my home. Well, I woke up yesterday and Mum was at it again. When I peeked into the tank, 5 hungry fish and a tiny pair of eyes with a tail looked back at me. Sure enough, we had more Endler fry.

I’ve been doing a fair amount of research about handling this situation, including what precautions to take to keep everyone safe and how often to feed the tiny babies. With my old seven litre set up as a fry tank and them now being fed tiny pin drop amounts every few hours, things are so far going well.

By now, you’re probably wondering what my fascination with these fish is. They’re orange and black slender fish that are related to the guppy, big deal, they can’t have that much to them, right?

Kind of wrong.

Love At First Sight

When my Endlers Livebearers arrived to me, they arrived in two bags of water. Peeking inside, my first thought was that I’d be conned. There weren’t any fish in here! It was just two bags of water. Then I looked closer and there they were, 3 pairs of tiny silver eyes, 3 pairs in each bag.

I ordered only four fish, so I popped the seller a message to thank him for his generosity. It appeared they were four females and two males, but one actually developed his colours at a much later date. One of my females has perished and been assumed consumed (shrimp move very fast, I feel!) but the remaining five are all alive and doing well. One, if not both females have now had young, and my fry tank contains 6 healthy, happy babies.

A Little On Endlers

Native to Venezuela. Endlers Livebearers are believed to be related to the guppy. A lot of breeders these days place Endlers in with guppies, resulting in an Endler Guppy hybrid. True Endlers Livebearers (which mine are) are more profitable than their hybrid cousins because they’ve maintained their bloodline. Not only, but as they’re becoming less common and in less population in their native lands, they are considered a more valuable fish. Once the common guppy or fancy guppy is bred among them, their value and worth decreases significantly.

Endlers Livebearers are a small species of fish, perhaps even somewhat smaller than a guppy. Males measure approximately 3 centimetres, whereas females are considerably larger, Males also display brighter colours, with orange, black, silver and white patches. By contrast, females are mostly silver-grey with black spots towards the tail. A female Endlers Livebearer with any other colours is likely to be a Endler-Guppy hybrid.

Keeping Endlers Livebearers

Just like the guppy, Endlers Livebearers are fantastically easy to maintain. Our water is considered “liquid concrete” when it comes to hardiness, and yet our Endlers are thriving and breeding perfectly. At about 22 degrees Celcius, they are also happy, healthy and active. A minimum of 10 gallons is advised for these fish, though two or three will be fine in a 1.5 gallon tank. Endlers have a lifespan of an estimated 1-2 years, though it seems, more than 2 years is not rare in captivity.

Feeding once a day (or even once every other day) is best for these fish. Endlers will eat until their stomachs explode and will easily lead you to believe that they haven’t been fed in a week. A tiny amount is best as left over food will only cause algae, nitrite and nitrate fluctuations which can be harmful to your fish. I serve up a pinhead-sized amount of Tetra microgranules once per day, with half a skinned, blanched pea mashed between thumb and finger, served once a week on top. Never does my tank see so much excitement and activity, apart from when their weekly vegetables are introduced!

When it comes to tankmates, Endlers Livebearers are very peaceful fish. Ours cohabit with a dozen Blue Cherry Shrimp, and they’re all more than happy to share any leftover food they find. Housed with other peaceful species, Endlers will do just fine.  Plants to hide in are also a must have, though caves also seem to be fun for exploring, too.

Aquariums should be given a weekly 15% water change, and yet I find Endlers to be very “clean” fish. Compared to the most popular pet fish, the goldfish, Endlers are surprisingly easy to keep clean. I used to complete a water change once per week out of habit, yet weekly tests have shown me that it’s quite safe for me to get away with fortnightly water changes instead. Before I bought my nano tank, I was warned that they are much harder to maintain, and yet here I am with one large moss ball and five healthy, active fish – who would have thought it possible?!

Endler Behaviour

In my ten years as an aquarist, I have kept many species of fish. I’ve kept cardinal tetras, guppies, algae eaters and corydoras, and yet nothing has quite entertained me like my Endlers do. Even as I write this post, I have five pairs of silver eyes huddled into the corner, watching me, waiting to get fed. If I walk past the tank, my Endlers will swim alongside. If I’m in the kitchen, they huddle in the opposite corner and continue to watch me cook. My shrimp couldn’t care less, but the Endlers are always there, always watching.

Some keen aquarists know this behaviour as “begging”, and that’s perhaps a very accurate term for it. I’ve also seen Endlers referred to as “Beagles with fins”, which I suppose I can put down to their patches. Regardless, Endlers know where you are and they know what you do (feeding, I mean, they don’t care for anything else!). Endlers can also be frustrating when you’re trying to work inside the tank. When I fitted my magnetic algae scrubber this afternoon, two of my males decided to explore it and very nearly got themselves squashed against the glass. True to form, Endlers will try to eat anything!

Endlers also like to chase each other and, it seems, even their own reflection. One of our males, who we have nicknamed “Flash”, spends his days swimming up and down (vertically!) and chasing his own reflection. You’d think he’d get bored, but we’ve counted at least 17 repetitions in one go before dear Flash decides to set off in search of food. Whether they are chasing each other or indeed, themselves, Endlers are guaranteed to keep you entertained.

Breeding Endlers

On average, Endlers Livebearers give birth to young about once a month. Drop sizes vary, with online figures reporting anything from 1 to 30 young (though about 10-15 seems to be average). As livebearers, Endlers give birth to live fry, rather than laying eggs. These can be scooped out and disposed of, removed and raised (if you can get any interest!) or, sadly, left for nature to take its course. Males or females on their own will do fine, but it’s advised not to keep a mixed sex group if you have no intentions to raise their young.

Final Thoughts

If you’re thinking about a small tank in your home or perhaps some new additions to entertain the children, I highly recommend these fantastic fish. Their inquisitive and playful nature and the raising of live young will be something that the whole family can get involved with. They are easy to keep and leisurely to watch. If you’re thinking about setting up a new aquarium, please do give Endlers Livebearers some consideration!

Until next time.

Stay safe & have fun.

Helen xx

Header image: karen koomans, CC BY 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

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