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.

Full_planted_tank_image

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.

 

Checking In on Baby Endler’s

Even though they aren’t quite babies anymore, these juvenile male Orchid Endler’s Livebearers are just beginning to show their coloration. At a mere 7 weeks old, they’re already able to create the next generation of fry. However, in this tank, they’ll have to cool their hormones! The individual who purchased these fry made sure to request males only to avoid a population explosion. And, they were nice enough to share some images of the young boys in their new home:

  

As you can see, each of these guys has the beginning of a sword on his tail fin, and the dark spot of black is beginning to show itself there, too. Even before these guys were so easily identifiable with their colors, their gonopodium was a clear give-away of their sex.

Good luck in your new fraternity tank, boys!

Green Leaf Aquarium Regulator

Good day to all my fish-folks out there! I’m just checking in to show you my newest piece of tank gear: my Green Leaf Aquarium Pro-1 CO2 Regulator. This gorgeous piece of equipment is what helps my tank stay lush and green and provides the perfect, planted tank as a mansion for my Orchid Endler’s Livebearers. Just as important, the high quality construction makes sure that nothing goes awry, and the piece itself is backed by a 6-year warranty.

First off, this gorgeous regulator came direct from Green Leaf Aquarium’s website. While a bit more expensive than some of the other CO2 regulators out there, I feel the extra cost is entirely justified due to the extremely well-made frame, the customer service, and the fact that it is made and tested here in America. Shipping is nominal (I chose the USPS without any damage to the item) and they pack the regulator well enough to guard against mishandled boxes.

I made a few short videos outlining my wonderful investment, and I hope you’ll enjoy them!

 


On The Subject of Endler Class

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.

a gorgeous variation of color on a livebearer

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.

a hybrid displaying fantastic color patterns

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 😉.

A Quick Note About Fish as Pets

I’m not in this hobby to make millions of dollars. I’m in it because I find the gentle churning of water and the graceful motions of fish relaxing. I’ve had fish in the family since I was a child; my most notable influence was my uncle. His cichlid tanks, saltwater reefs and sweeping scapes kept me mesmerized for hours when I would sleep over at his house. 

Call me sentimental, but those memories are still some of the brightest. I have so much respect for the care and devotion he had towards those tanks and their occupants. When a hurricane flooded his home and he lost it all, he was so grief stricken that he never got back into the hobby again. They weren’t just fish. They were his pets. And there is a big difference between the two. 

The Orchid Endler’s Livebearers I keep could very easily be housed in a small tank with no scenery or hidey holes to make breeding and selling them easier. But breeding and selling them isn’t my goal. It’s a nice little bonus of the hobby, don’t get me wrong, but the really rewarding part is coming home every day to see this little habitat thrive. I see my pets happy in their home. In fact, these pets are living in a relative mansion!



the Endler Oasis



Their home is a planted 36 gallon tank with dual filtration, shrimp and cory companions, and they are fed brine shrimp and flakes to spice up their diets. The water is kept at a tropical 77*F by using a heater. They have “forests” to hide in, open areas for swimming, and shaded areas in which to give birth. 

I have to remind myself that not everyone knows to give their pet fish ample room; I see pet store associates telling would-be fishkeepers that a Betta will be fine in a 1-gallon bowl. Or that a comet goldfish only needs a 5-gallon tank. More often than not, it is not malice that creates this misinformation. Merely a lack of fishkeeping education. Realistically, a Betta should be housed in a 10-gallon tank with filtration, heating and frequent water changes. A goldfish shouldn’t be kept in anything smaller than a 40-gallon tank since they grow so rapidly. The lack of space creates a multitude of problems: stunted growth, unstable water conditions, agressiveness, and shortened lifespans to name a few. 

So, where does the responsibility lie? With the fish-keepers? Or the sales associates? Or, both? Education goes a long way on both sides of the fence. And maybe when people learn what fish need to live happy lives, they’ll make a more educated decision on what pets to keep. 

So, my quick note is this: do your research before you buy your equipment and especially before you adopt your pet fish. Doing so will save you, and your new pet, a heartache later on. 

For those who are genuinely interested or are curious, here are my pets’ home tank and water specifications. 

  • 36 gallon bowfront Aqueon tank
  • 100 watt Aqueon heater
  • 2x Aquaclear 50 HOB filters
  • Pressurized CO2 system with Aquatek regulators
  • AquaticLife Dual T5HO Light Fixture
  • 3x TrueLumen 660nm LED lights
  • 2x TrueLumen 453nm LED lights
  • EcoComplete and Tahitian Moon Sand substrate
  • 77*F year-round
  • 7.2pH
  • 7* dKH
  • 24* dGH

Don’t be intimidated by this setup! We all start somewhere and we never stop learning. Least of all, when it comes to our pets. 

Endler's Livebearer Males

Orchid Endler’s Fry Showing Colors

When I first started my Orchid Endler’s colony, I was overjoyed to share these gorgeous livebearers with others. Now, I am happy to show some of the first steps these fry are taking while they transform into a colorful adult. While fry are very hard to sex early on, they do show signs of their gender around the three week mark. From there, they continue to develop. The males are just now starting to show their black spot on their tails and their bottom fin is becoming more pointed; it will eventually become a gonopodium. This specialized fin is used for propagating and, along with bright colors, is a tell-tale sign of a male Endler.

A young male Orchid Endler's fry is just starting to show colors.

A young male Orchid Endler’s fry is just starting to show colors. The black spot on his tail will develop and more colors will show in the next few weeks!

The first batch of fry are just turning four weeks old. Already, they have younger siblings that are being born. The quick gestation of the females ensures that, once a colony is established, it multiplies quickly and produces healthy and vigorous offspring. The males in this colony have vibrant neon oranges, limes, blues and hints of red. The males also have a distinct “sword” of orange and black on the tails. While not a true sword, merely a coloration on the transparent fin, it is a very unique marking in my colony.

A fully developed male will have all of the above colors and is prone to father many fry. I watch them “dance” around the females in order to show off their bright colors; they swim backwards and flare up all to lure the olive-grey females into a quick mating meet-up!

adult male orchid enduser's livebearing fish

A fully grown adult male, with the black spot and orange sword on his tail fin.

This first batch of fry have already been moved off into a holding tank, and they will be shipping out on Monday (providing the weather isn’t too cold!) on a journey to their new homes in South Carolina and Pennsylvania. My colony created a wonderful first batch, with numbers close to 30 fry altogether. Selling a majority of the fry will help keep this colony of Orchid Endler’s healthy and vibrant!

 

Endler's Livebearer Tank Setup 10g Aquarium Fish Hobby

Orchid Endler’s: The Next Generation

I interrupt your regularly scheduled post for an amazing update about my new colony of Orchid Endler’s: fry have been born! Their mission, to steal the hearts of other hobbyists and to grow into beautiful specimens; to escape the acrylic breeder in which they have been placed. To boldly follow where their predecessors have gone before!

Trio of Orchid Endler's Livebearer Fry

I discovered these half-centimeter fry yesterday night and quickly transferred them to a separate tank away from their parents. While Endler’s Livebearers are not known to prey on their young, I wanted to capture their first few hours of life in pictures. These fry will be fed a diet of micro food and baby brine shrimp. With their omnivore dietary needs, this combination will be perfect in aiding their growth and giving them a head start on life!

While there was a small brood this time around (only 3), I have no doubt that it was one of the smaller females which produced them. One of the females’ has lost her gravid spot, and her belly has stopped being bulged out. That enough is a good indicator. Since almost all 10 of the females arrived with a gravid spot at some point of gestation, I suspect I will be finding many more fry like these in the near future. For now, the Orchid Endler’s fry are not much more than a black eye-speck and a tail, and they haven’t begun to fill out. They look like little tan-colored torpedoes.

Two Orchid Endler's Livebearer Fry

Once these three gain a bit more heft and weight to them, their color (or a lack thereof) will help me determine their sex.

Males are brightly colored with specks and streaks of black on a neon orange and lime green background. Some Orchids will also have blue pops of color and white stripes across their dorsal fin. Females are generally a tan or silver color without any unique patterns to speak of. Females are also considerably bigger than the males; one female I have currently is named “Big Mamma” just because she’s twice the size of even the largest male!

Well, that’s the update for now. I’ll be sure to let you know of any major developments, and, barring any, will be bringing you a more educational post soon about why I decided to breed these rare, exotic fish in the first place!

Have a great day, everyone!

Endler's Livebearer Tank Setup 10g Aquarium Fish Hobby

Orchid Endler’s Tank Setup

So excited to share the journey with everyone! This newly cycled tank will be the primary home for my Orchid Endler’s Livebearers. Currently, there are no other residents, but I have been considering purchasing some Red Cherry or Amano shrimp to help with the cleanup. Or, perhaps some Cory Cats; either way these scavengers will help keep this tank pristine and an ideal breeding ground for the Orchid Endler’s Livebearers.

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Since my breeding colony is starting off with 4 males and 8 females, the tank will have a divider separating it into 2/3 on one side and 1/3 on the other. I’ll keep the females on the side without the intake, just to make things a bit safer for them and to prevent unwanted breeding!

Since Endler’s Livebearers are quick to procreate given the right tank parameters, I’m hoping to have fry to sell before the summer months! Of course, I’ll be keeping everyone up to date on major developments. Who knows, my female OELs may arrive pregnant, which will help speed up the process significantly! This has happened to me on a few occasions in my other tanks, where the female comes with a gravid spot. In fact, my Blue Mickey Mouse Platy is about a week or two away from dropping her fry in my larger, 36 gallon bow-front tropical tank.

Once I have established a slightly larger colony, I will begin selectively breeding the OELs in order to bring out variations on color and pattern. Normally, these gorgeous fish would be interbred with the fancy guppy in order to achieve fantastic colors. However, this turns the offspring into Class K Endler’s, which is not what I am shooting for. In order to make sure there is enough genetic diversity and to help the fry survive to adulthood, I have a separate holding tank with a sponge filter set up; this sponge filter prevents the teeny babies from being accidentally sucked up into an impeller. Containing the fry in a separate tank also keeps the adults from making snacks out of them, too.

My OELs are slated to arrive tomorrow, and I will be placing them in quarantine and acclimating them slowly so that their long journey doesn’t end in even more stress. Next week, I’ll be posting pictures of these gorgeous fish in their new tank, and giving a bit of an overview on the differences between Class N Endler’s and other classes of Endler’s. So, stay tuned and let’s take this journey together!!