Every freshwater aquarist has a soft spot for guppies. Their bright colors and active personalities have turned many into enthusiasts, but that’s nothing compared to the pride associated with watching tiny fry grow into colorful adults. Livebearers breed readily in the aquarium, and as a result, there are many color varieties breeders can select for. Separate species will even hybridize for some incredibly gorgeous results. For instance, Poecilia wingei, or “Endler’s Livebearers” are tiny, beautiful guppies that readily hybridize with common guppies to produce some truly stunning offspring. Hybrids are viable, and it wasn’t until 2009 that DNA sequencing confirmed P. wingei as a separate taxon from P. reticulata.
Originally discovered in 1937, Endler’s weren’t brought to the aquarium trade until 1975 when rediscovered by John Endler. Found in the Campona and Buena Vista lagoons of Venezuela, these livebearers are thought to be extinct in their natural region due to water pollution, and captive breeding programs are important to their continued line. Like with other guppies, males are the showy sex, reaching a slight 1 inch in length, and exhibit colorful markings down their sides and on the edges of their caudal fins. Females are subdued in coloration, slightly larger, and round looking since they are almost always gravid. Males are completely peaceful, but females may become territorial with one another unless kept in large, mixed-sex groups. They are ideally kept in species-only tanks due to their small size, but can be kept alongside Pseudomugil spp., small Corydoras, and small, peaceful tetras.
If breeding is the goal, fry have much better success in well-planted setups with tall, aquatic plants including Wisteria, Cabomba, Vallisneria spp., and floating plants like Water Lettuce with hanging tendrils for fry to hide in. Otherwise, tanks should be setup with sandy substrate, and plenty of open swimming space. Well-fed adults rarely consume fry, and should be fed high-quality omnivorous diets including small invertebrates, tropical flake, and some vegetal matter. With an affinity for warm, hard waters, Endler’s Livebearers breed more readily when waters are kept between 75 and 86°F, with a pH of 7 to 8.5, and hardness above 267 ppm.
Somewhat rare in the trade, Endler’s are the perfect specimens for dedicated breeders. Don’t hesitate, and get in the game!