Display VS Growout

Currently, my main tank is a display tank. In this hobby, a display tank is just that: a tank in which fish are kept in a fully-decorated and well-maintained tank. This can mean anything from living plants and natural wood to decor which has been bought at the fish store. If it looks like a piece of artwork, it’s a display tank. My display tank fish are living in an environment much more enriched for their comfort. Natural hide-aways, leaves and foliage which give them comfort and security, and they have peaceful tank mates which won’t deplete the population. This tank sits in my living room. It’s 36g with full filtration, so it definitely is a nice showcase for anyone who might drop by.


Display Tank, 36g Bowfront

A display tank isn’t meant for at-work colonies. The decor and foliage mean netting fry and juveniles is difficult and requires multiple attempts; stress-galore for the fish. And stressed fish equal dead fish. As hardy as these Endler’s Livebearers are, they’re not indestructible. So that is where a growout tank comes into play.

A growout tank is pragmatic and utilitarian at best. No decoration, no foliage, and in many cases, no substrate. This allows the fish to be netted in one quick motion and ultimately results in less stress on them. It also gives me an ability to sort them into male and female sections once they start to show their sex as early as four weeks of age. Often, if the different sexes are kept together, the juvenile females are pregnant when they ship out. Extra fish for the buyer, yes, but the females are much more fragile when they ship. Juvenile females who are not pregnant are usually refered to as “pre-hit”, which is a whole other conversation for another time.

Anywho, back to a growout tank: I have an old 20L which I will be converting into a 2-section growout tank. One half will be for fry which are way too young to be sexed, and females. The other half will be for juvenile and adult males. To accomplish this build, I will be retrieving the following items:

  • Plastic canvas
  • 100% silicone
  • Poster frame pieces

The two sections will be each independently filtered using a sponge filtration system; the little filters can be run off the same air pump, so I made sure to get a quiet one. This of course means that I have tubing and valves. Honestly, I buy those two items in bulk because I can never seem to have enough and they’re a must-have in the event I need to isolate sick or injured fish in a teeny tiny little tank.

I painted the outside glass of the back and bottom with black acrylic paint jut so that the coloration of the males would pop nicely. Then, I secured the cut-to-fit frame pieces using silicone. The final project essentially gives me a removable divider that slides into the track. Here are some of the pictures of the growout tank in progress:


Even though it is a growout tank, I made sure to add some cholla wood, moss, Indian Almond leaves and plastic floating fry cover. Each of the items are very easily removed and won’t impede my ability to capture fish each time I need to ship some out. The tiniest fry can pass through the plastic canvas, but I don’t worry about that too much. At that size, they’re far too young to get pregnant. Once they’re big enough to sex, they’re also big enough to be stopped by the plastic canvas.

Some of my largest females are housed in here currently so that they get a break from cohabiting with males in the display tank, and because I know they give me the healthiest and largest batches of fry. Once every five weeks or so, I’ll be putting a male in their section and leave him to do his job for a few days. Then, back to the other side he goes! Currently, one of my prize males has a gorgeous bottom sword and some coloration on his dorsal fin that I’m hoping gets passed along to any male fry.