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.


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.