Endlers livebearers, scientific name Poecilia wingei is a brightly colored freshwater fish that is similar in looks to the common guppies that are readily available from fish stores and pet shops.
These popular small fish add a glorious splash of color and activity to a freshwater community tank and are extremely easy to keep and care for. In this guide, we give you the lowdown on how to care for Endlers so that your new fish thrive. Also, we take a look at how to breed Poecilia wingei in a home tank setup.
Male Endlers livebearers measure up to one inch in length, while females grow slightly larger, up to almost two inches. Endler’s live for up to three years in the home aquarium, longer in some cases. Females generally have much shorter lifespans than the male Endler, largely due to the stress of bearing fry. Indeed, many female Endler’s do die shortly after giving birth.
Endlers livebearers origins
Endlers were first discovered in Laguna de Patos, Venezuela, in 1937 by Franklyn F. Bond. The species appears to have been forgotten until it was rediscovered in 1975 by Dr. John Endler, for whom the fish is named.
Dr. Endler’s discovery was the first form of this fish to be on sale in fish stores. Since that date, more fish have been collected and used to develop the existing captive breeding stock. That’s a good thing since the original wild population is currently under threat from runoff generated by a nearby garbage dump. Endlers are rarely seen in many fish stores, but you can find them in specialist stores every now and then.
Male Endlers are markedly smaller than the female fish and are vibrantly colored in myriad metallic and neon shades. Female Endlers are larger and plumper than males and lack the males’ flashy colors, being a relatively drab silvery tan.
Like other species of guppies, Endlers come in an almost limitless range of stunning colors, including red, green, orange, blue, purple, yellow, and gold. Wingei undoubtedly provides a spectacular riot of color and is definitely a true aquatic jewel that makes a great addition to any tank.
Enthusiasts refer to a fish’s lineage based on how pure or hybridized it is. The “strain” refers to groups of characteristics that breed true throughout generations of fish. Many of the strains found in captivity were originally discovered in wild livebearer populations, whereas others are derived from captive breeding programs. “Grade” refers to the standards with which each fish can be compared as related to a “perfect” or “prime” specimen within a given strain.
So, there are three classes of Poecilia wingei and many different strains:
- N Class: A strain that comes from Laguna de Patos and is considered to be genetically “pure.”
- P Class: Has the characteristics of an N Class fish, but its pedigree and origins are not documented.
- K Class: Confirmed crossbreeds with other livebearer species, including the regular guppy.
N Class strains include:
- black bar
- red chest
- red stripe
- flame tail
- center peacock
- snake chest
If you mix strains of Endlers within your aquarium, you will produce fry that has traits of both strains. If you want to keep the traits of your offspring pure, you’ll need to use separate tanks for each one. However, mixing traits has a high likelihood that you will produce some completely new ones and makes for a fascinating hobby.
Are Endler’s really guppies?
Endler’s livebearers share the same genetic makeup as common guppies, although, for conservation purposes, the fish has been given a different name, Poecilia wingei. However, sometimes you may find the fish is also referred to as the Endler guppy.
Endlers are highly active fish, always swimming, investigating their environment, grazing on algae, and displaying to one another. Inquisitive to the point of foolhardiness, you may find your Endlers pecking at your fingers while you carry out routine tank maintenance tasks.
These peaceful freshwater fish have a pecking order within their school, although you won’t witness any fighting between individuals. That said, females can be quite territorial, which is one of the reasons why you should always have a group of at least three or four female Endlers in your collection.
Males can often be seen displaying and “flaring” to each other and to their females.
Poecilia wingei likes to frequent all areas of the aquarium. Sometimes, at lights-out, you’ll notice the fish seemingly resting on the substrate, only becoming active again when the lights come back on. That said, Endlers sometimes overnight close to the top of the tank, especially when kept in a community aquarium with larger bottom-dwelling fish.
Caring for Endler’s
Endler’s livebearers are easy-to-care-for fish, making them suitable for a beginner. However, these fish are not commonly found in pet stores and can, therefore, be very expensive to buy. So, if you do decide to invest in some of these stunning little fish to add to your community collection, you’ll need to know how to give them the best care.
Like all guppies, Endlers are prolific breeders, so, despite their small size, it’s best to keep them in a large tank of at least 20-gallon capacity to accommodate a potential population explosion.
Endlers prefer a tank that’s heavily planted and with lots of hiding places. Floating plants are ideal, as their dangling roots offer a plethora of refuge places for fry.
Other suitable plants for an Endler livebearer tank include:
- Water wisteria
- Water sprite
- Java moss
- Java fern
- Hygrophila polysperma
Endlers are accomplished jumpers, despite their small size. For that reason, you must always use a tank with a tightly fitting lid and cover slides.
These fish are too small to overturn large pieces of gravel, but they do like to scavenge through the substrate in search of scraps of food. So, choose a substrate that’s not too coarse or go for aquarium sand rather than gravel.
Water conditions and filtration
Poecilia wingei prefer moderately hard to very hard water with a pH level of between 5.5 and 8.0. If the pH drops too low, your fish will appear distressed and listless. Adding a small bag of crushed coral to your filter can help to remedy the problem while adding essential dissolved minerals too.
Water temperature should be kept between 660 and 840 Fahrenheit. However, you should bear in mind that the warmer the water, the quicker the fish will grow, and that can also shorten their lifespan.
In a species only setup, Endlers don’t produce a huge amount of waste. However, you do need to use an efficient filtration system to ensure that the water quality is good. These fish are extremely active, but they do not appreciate a strong flow, which can stress them. Always cover the filter intake with fine mesh so that the fry are not sucked up into the filter.
Wild populations of Endlers are exposed to saltwater that flows into their home lagoons from the nearby ocean. So, Endlers can thrive and breed in both freshwater and saltwater environments. If you decide to keep your fish in a brackish tank, add one tablespoon of salt per five gallons. Remember to use plants that can survive in a saline environment, and make sure that any tankmates that live in the tank are also compatible with these conditions.
Diet and feeding
The Endler livebearer is omnivorous, eating a diet of plant matter, algae, and small insects in the wild. To keep your captive fish healthy, you should try to replicate this diet as closely as possible.
Endlers will eat both live and frozen foods, as well as a portion of high-quality flake food. Frozen and live bloodworms are a favorite food of wingei, and they also enjoy brine shrimp, daphnia, and blackworms. Also, you’ll need to supplement your fishes’ diet with some form of plant matter. Try offering your fish blanched and shelled peas or small, blanched zucchini medallions.
Never keep Endlers with other common guppy species, as they will readily crossbreed, which would dilute the genes of this already threatened species. In fact, it’s thought that many of the specimens that you can buy from fish stores are actually guppy hybrids.
These tiny fish can be viewed as prey by larger fish, so it’s recommended that you keep them in a species only tank or choose their tankmates very carefully.
Here’s a variety of suitable tankmates for Poecilia wingei, but please note that this list is not exhaustive.
- Corydoras catfish
- Neon tetra
- Honey gourami
- White cloud
- Cherry and ghost shrimp
- Otocinculus catfish
- Zebra danios
- African Dwarf frogs
- Bolivian Ram cichlids
Although male Endler’s are generally peaceful, females can be rather territorial. For that reason, we recommend that you keep three to four females per tank so that no individual is singled out and bullied.
Breeding Poecilia wingei is ridiculously easy! Like all guppies, Endler’s breed readily and frequently, producing new fry every 23 to 24 days when given the right conditions. As their name suggests, Endlers give birth to fully-formed live young rather than laying eggs. Right from birth, the fry is active swimmers, despite their tiny size.
Always have a higher ratio of females to males in the tank. A lone female will be hassled by groups of males, and the stress could easily result in the death of the fish. Ideally, you should aim to have one male fish to every three or four females.
Endler’s are not as cannibalistic as other guppies, but if possible, it’s much better to raise the fry in a separate nursery tank so that the babies don’t get eaten. If another tank is not a feasible option for you, be sure to provide the fry with plenty of cover in the form of thick Java moss and floating plants.
Interestingly, thanks to a process called superfoetation, female Poecilia wingei can store sperm from previous matings, enabling them to produce batches of fry for up to one year even though no male fish are present in the aquarium.
Each brood or “drop” of fry can contain between one and 30 individuals, depending on a few variables, including the age and size of the female fish.
In a tank with warmer water temperature, fry broods tend to contain more male fish, while cooler temperatures yield a greater percentage of female fry. If you keep the water temperature at around 770 Fahrenheit, you should finish up with a 50/50 ratio of sexes.
Thanks to their prolific breeding habit, it’s a good idea to limit the population in your aquarium and avoid overcrowding by keeping the water temperature at 780 Fahrenheit. At that temperature, any broods of fry will most likely be predominantly males, breaking the breeding cycle and keeping numbers down to manageable proportions.
The fry is large enough to eat powdered flake food right from birth. However, they will grow more quickly and will most likely be stronger if you feed them micro-worms or baby brine shrimp. Commercially available fry foods can also be offered.
Feed the fry a few times each day until they are around three to four weeks old. Endler’s livebearer fry are incredibly quick to mature, reaching breeding condition at around two months of age. Male Endlers develop their full adult color and size at around four to five weeks of age, with females maturing a little more slowly.
Feeding your Endlers is great fun! Your fish will quickly learn when it’s feeding time, swarming around whichever part of the aquarium you are closest to. You can even train your fish to come to dinner by tapping gently on the aquarium at feeding time.
In this section of our guide, we answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the Poecilia wingei livebearer.
Q: Are Endlers and guppies the same?
A: The Endlers livebearer is genetically the same as a regular guppy. However, for conservation purposes, Endlers are distinguished by the scientific name Poecilia wingei and have been given a different regular name. These fish are sometimes also called the Endler guppy.
Q: How many Endlers are in a 5-gallon?
A: If you want to keep male and female Endlers, you’ll need a tank of at least 20-gallon capacity. However, you could keep three males in a small 5-gallon tank, and they should do well enough.
Q: How big do Endlers get?
A: Adult male Endlers grow to be about one inch in length. Females are slightly larger at 1.8 inches long and have plumper bodies than males.
Q: What fish can live with Endlers?
A: Endlers can make a colorful addition to a community setup. However, it’s not advisable to include any large fish in the community that might make a meal of the tiny Endlers. Suitable tankmates include peaceful fish, such as Corydoras catfish, neon tetras, gouramis, African Dwarf frogs, Danios, and White clouds. Invertebrates, including cherry shrimp and tropical snails, can also make safe tankmates for the Endler’s livebearer.
A group of Poecilia wingei makes a great, colorful addition to any tropical freshwater tank, especially if you want something different.
These peaceful fish are not hard to care for and also breed readily, given the right conditions. Endlers are suitable for community tanks, provided that their tankmates are small and non-aggressive.
You may have difficulty finding these livebearers for sale as they are under threat in their native Venezuela and are not often available in fish stores, though you may find some specimens advertised online.