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.


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!