If you’re looking for a flashy, colorful, and easygoing fish that will be at home in just about any peaceful aquarium, endler’s livebearers may be just the thing you’re looking for.
What’s even better?
They’re extremely easy to take care of.
I’ve compiled a table that covers most of what you need to know to successfully take care of them. Take a look:
|Lifespan||2 Years Avg (Weak Stock) – Up to 5|
|PH||5.5-8.0 (7.5-8 Ideal)|
|Diet||Omnivorous – Powdered flakes, micro pellets, blood worms, grindal worms, tubifex, etc.|
|Recommended Tank Size||20 gallons|
|Ease of Breeding||Easy|
Of course, while it may be easy, it’s not completely trouble-free. In the following sections, I’ll cover how to give your endlers the best chance of succeeding in their new aquarium.
Endlers are a colorful fish that are extremely active in the aquarium.
They are prone to swimming around, showing off to each other, and pecking at algae (check out my guide here on how good of algae eaters they are or aren’t).
They also can become highly interactive with humans once they learn to equate them to feeding.
Most websites say that endler’s livebearers live for 3-5 years.
However, asking around, you’ll find that a lot of people never see their endler’s livebearers live more than 2 years.
This is probably due to a couple of reasons, including less than optimal tank conditions as well as weak genetic stock.
To give your endlers the best chance of surviving up to that 5 year mark, there are some precautions you’ll probably want to take:
Avoid buying endlers from chain stores.
These places are mostly looking to maximize profit and are less likely to care about the quality of the fish they’re buying. This, in turn, incentivizes breeding en masse without regard to their fish’s genetics or hardiness.
Instead, buy from a responsible local breeder, if you can find one. (Or an online breeder otherwise.)
Ask about the health and lifespans of their endlers.
This doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to get long lived endlers, but it does reduce the risk that their lives will be limited by their genetics.
Next, you’ll want to make sure you’re putting them in the right conditions.
Endler’s livebearers can live in just about any tank size that can support fish.
On the lower end of the scale, I’ve seen people stick a few males in a 5 gallon tank and have no problems with it.
(Note that I wouldn’t personally recommend going with a tank this small.)
On the higher end, you can invest in as large a tank as you care to maintain for your endlers.
I recommend you start with at least a 20 gallon tank, and stock it lightly:
3 breeding pairs is a good start.
This will ensure they have enough to start reproducing on their own, but it will give you some time before you have to start removing fry to avoid overpopulation.
How Many Endler’s Livebearers in a X Gallon Tank? [Table]
|Tank Size||Number of Endler’s Livebearers|
|10 Gallons||Up to 17 endlers|
|20 Gallons||Up to 33 endlers|
|29 Gallons||Up to 46 endlers|
|55 Gallons||Up to 86 endlers|
1.5 endler’s livebearers per gallon seems to be a safe upper limit for how many you can keep without seriously increasing how often you have to do maintenance and water changes. (Assuming a species-only tank.) But if you want a deep dive into the max number of endlers, this forum thread on Fish Lore is a good resource.
Endler’s livebearers can survive in a wide range of PH and temperature conditions.
For PH, any value between 5.5 to 8.0 will work for endlers, but higher PHs are generally better. For temperature, endlers can live in most temperature ranges where you can keep fish. It may be best, however, to keep them around 72F.
This will help keep their population in control by slowing down their reproduction cycle, meaning they won’t overpopulate as fast.
One thing to note is that at the lower end of the temperature scale, endlers are more likely to get diseases and other health problems. At the high end of the temperature spectrum, they’ll eat more food, pollute the water faster, and have a faster metabolism. This may, in turn, result in them having shorter lifespans.
Endlers like quite hard water, with a dKH of at least 10 being best for them.
I will put a caveat on all of this:
Stability is more important than having the perfect water conditions.
Your fish are more likely suffer if you have wide swings in one or more of these parameters than if you are slightly out of the ideal range but have stable water conditions.
As with any fish, you need to maintain your aquarium in order to keep it livable for endler’s livebearers.
The most important things that you should pay attention to are ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates.
For ammonia and nitrite, you want to keep these both at 0 ppm.
For nitrates, you want to keep these below 40 ppm if possible. You can do this through a combination of live plants (which I’ll discuss in the next section) and water changes.
If you have a test kit, you can test these values a few times per week, and if any of these values get out of range, you can do a water change.
If you don’t have a test kit, you can start off with a 30% water change every other week.
Endlers do best in an aquarium stocked with plenty of places to hide.
This helps reduce stress and protect them and their fry from other fish that might want to make a meal of them.
In some cases, ample hiding places can be the difference between having a bunch of fry that survive to become adult endlers and having none that survive at all.
There are a number of ways to provide hiding places. The first is commercial decorations.
These have a number of benefits:
- They are readily available, and usually they’re reasonably priced.
- They don’t require a great deal of maintenance or special lighting. You just stick them in and forget about them.
- They can provide a wide variety of looks for your aquarium – anything from spongebob to a roman city to a fantasy world.
- They provide ample space inside the decoration for your endlers to hide from other fish.
There are, of course drawbacks:
- They don’t clean your water like plants do.
The next way is to plant your aquarium with live plants. Plants have the following benefits:
- They pull double duty – both providing a nice, natural look for your aquarium as well as cleaning the water.
- They remove ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates from the aquarium.
- They naturally propagate themselves, meaning you can fully stock multiple aquariums from just a few plants. This can reduce the cost of keeping them.
- The plants themselves are usually cheaper than other decorations.
Of course, they’re not without their drawbacks:
- They require ongoing maintenance (trimming, fertilization, etc)
- They require expensive lighting.
- They have ongoing costs (fertilization and CO2) to grow optimally.
Live plants can especially help endlers, because endlers poop a lot, meaning that there is a lot of waste that needs to be broken down.
Since plants remove ammonia from the water, they can reduce the number of water changes you end up having to do as well as keep your endlers healthier.
Two good plants to look at are water lettuce and anacharis.
These are both easy to grow and have a reputation for removing huge amounts of pollutants from your aquarium. This makes them good choices, in my opinion.
Endlers don’t require any special lighting. You should, however, aim to provide a set time where you turn the lights on and off.
When the lights are off, they’ll settle down for the night, and when you turn the lights back on, they’ll become more active.
Endler’s livebearers are omnivorous fish, meaning they’ll eat almost anything that you’re willing to feed them.
There is a pretty big caveat to this, however:
Their mouths are so tiny, that there are a lot of things that they aren’t capable of eating.
Unless you help them out.
Flakes and pellets are both good choices for food, but they’re typically too big to feed to endlers. With flakes, you’ll want to grind them up a bit to make them smaller. With pellets, you can buy special micro-pellets that will be small enough to fit in their mouths.
A good pellet to feed them is Fluval’s Bug Bites (be careful that you get the small pellets, some are too big – this one on Amazon is the one that can be fed to endlers), although any high quality pellet can work.
If you want to keep your endlers as healthy as possible, adding variety to their diet is key.
One great way to do this is through live or frozen foods. Good options for this include:
- Baby brine shrimp
- Blood worms
- Tubifex worms
- Grindle worms
Some of these (brine shrimp, grindle worms, copepods) are easy to buy live and culture yourself. Others are more readily available as a frozen food.
Feeding Frozen Food
To feed frozen food to your endlers, follow these steps.
- Remove a cube from the packaging and cut off a small piece of it (enough to feed your fish for the day).
- Return the rest of the cube to the packaging and put it back into the freezer.
- Put the piece you cut off into a small container to thaw.
- Once it reaches a soupy consistency, remove some from the container and feed it to your fish. (You can use tweezers or whatever you have on hand.)
- Feed them as much as they can eat in 1 minute.
How Often to Feed Endler’s Livebearers
Adult fish can either be fed once per day or a smaller amount twice per day, based on your preference.
Baby fish, or fish you’re trying to encourage to breed, can be fed less food 3 to 4 times per day.
Endler’s livebearers are peaceful fish that will do well in a community tank with any species of fish that won’t try to eat them.
As long as you have plenty of hiding places for fry, you don’t necessarily have to worry about whether or not they’ll eat your younger endlers. (Because of how prodigiously they breed.)
Here is a partial list of fish that do well with endler’s livebearers:
- Honey Gourami (with caution, they like softer water, but can do okay with gentle acclimation and hardness around 10 dKH)
- Sparkling Gourami
- Note not all gourami are suitable. Three spot and opaline gourami might be too aggressive.
- Zebra Danios (you’ll want a larger group of at least 8-10)
- Ember Tetras
- Neon Tetras
- Cherry Barbs
- Bolivian Rams
- Celestial Pearl Danio
- Snails (mystery, nerite, ramshorn, etc)
Endler’s livebearers are prodigious breeders.
So much so, that you don’t need any special expertise or techniques to breed them successfully.
Just drop them in a tank, feed them, and as long as you don’t have other fish eating all of their young, they’ll do just fine.
You will, of course, need to make sure food is available that the fry can eat.
Good candidates include:
- Hikari First Bites
- Baby Brine Shrimp
Refer to the Diet section above for a more detailed guide on how to feed endler’s livebearers fry.
Breeding isn’t a completely pain-free exercise, however.
They are so successful at breeding that you will quickly run out of tank space.
You can expect a new batch of fry every 23 days (though if you decrease the temperature to the low 70s, this can increase to every 28-30 days).
Once you hit an upper limit, you’ll have to start expanding your colony into new tanks or find a way to get rid of the fry.
Do Endlers Eat Their Own Fry?
Endlers, like most fish, will eat anything that they can fit in their mouths.
Endlers will eat their own fry if they can catch them. They are, however, such successful breeders that they will still produce more fry than they can eat, so you can expect the number of endlers in your aquarium to increase if you have breeding pairs.
You can reduce the likelihood of fry getting eaten by providing plenty of hiding spaces (plants, decorations, etc) or by moving them to a different aquarium while they grow.
Endler’s livebearers are a great fish for beginners.
They’re colorful (if small), very active, easy to take care of, and (best of all) will populate your aquarium from just a few fish.
If you’re considering getting them, you’ll definitely be happy you did.