So you’ve seen me refer to my pets as “Class N” Orchid Endler’s Livebearers, and you’re no doubt thinking that the only class pertaining to fish is the school they swim in! (Yes, that was a horrible attempt at a joke, but keep reading anyway) However, this label means something very important to the species as a whole and, thusly, to the keeper individually.
When these livebearing fish were discovered in Venezuela, they did not yet bear the name “Endler”. In fact, it took quite a while for these colorful and prolific fish to make it to the big time world of hobbyists. When they were presented to German aquarium hobbyists for the first time, they were given the name “Endler’s Livebearer” in honor of the individual who put them on the map, so to speak. Being as prolific and undemanding as they are, the fish quickly gained popularity due to the brilliant coloration and easy hybrid potential. For example, after being bred with the common guppy, the new style of fancy guppies were created. Gorgeous strains of hybrid livebearers and guppies were line bred and offered to the consumer.
Sadly, due to popularity and declining native environment, the last few ecological expeditions to the native waters of Venezuela have failed to find any Endler’s Livebearers; many believe they have gone extinct in their natural habitat. This lack of a wild population has not only highlighted environmental issues within the region, but has also spurned the classification system which is used by hobbyists around the world for the Endler’s Livebearer.
The classes are thus:
- Class N – any Endler’s Livebearer which can trace lineage back to the native waters of Venezuela and has not been hybrid with any other fish species in this or any previous generation. Essentially, these fish retain the same genetic code as the first livebearers exported from Venezuela.
- Class P – any fish with the same coloration, anatomy and characteristics of an Endler’s Livebearer, but whose lineage cannot be confirmed to have solely N-Class ancestors.
- Class K – any fish which is a hybrid between an Endler’s Livebearer and any other livebearer species, most notably, such as guppies.
For example, only two N-Class parents will produce an N-Class offspring. One N-Class parent and one parent of P- or K-Class can never produce N-Class offspring.
Due to the believed extinction of Endler’s Livebearers in the wild, some hobbyists (such as myself) have decided to keep the genetic strain going. We take great pride in the knowledge that we are protecting a species which can no longer be found in the wild.
So, when I proudly say my Endler’s Livebearers are Class N, at least now you’ll know what I mean 😉.