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The Fascinating World of Livebearer Fish

Livebearer fish are one of the most interesting fish to keep in hobby aquariums. Learn more here on how to keep livebearers happy and healthy!

What does Livebearer Mean?

Livebearer fish are just what it sounds like. They give birth to live fry, they do not lay eggs. This aspect is one of the highlights of keeping livebearing fish in any aquarium.

Livebearers are colourful, peaceful, and active, making then one of the most popular choices for hobbyists. Guppies, endlers, mollies, platies, and swordfish are among the most recognized of livebearers and you can usually find most of them in our tanks at Mother Nature.

Origins & Waterways of Native Livebearers

Livebearers hail from many different parts of the world. Guppies originate from the Southern Caribbean, South America, Venezuela, Antigua, and Barbados, while endlers have only been found in Venezuela. Additionally, platies were found in Mexico, while swordtails and mollies have been found in Barbados, Mexico, South America, Trinidad, and Tobago.

While the fish themselves are form many different waterways around the world, one factor in common these waters have is they are all harder alkaline and slightly brackish. This means these fish live in Coastal waterways in a brackish environment.

Water Parameters

Creating an environment for livebearers is easy once you know about brackish conditions. While it is true that livebearers can live in softer acidic water (particularly swordtails) this is not their preferred habitat and they will not reach their full potential. Their preferred conditions are slightly harder water with a pH of 7.1 – 8.2, and temperature of 74°-78°F. To create ideal brackish conditions add 1 teaspoon of aquarium salt per gallon of water.

Tank Size

Ultimately, tank sizes will vary depending on how many fish you want to have and which livebearers you are choosing. To help you decide, the fishkeeping rule of how many fish you can have in your tank is, 1” of fish per gallon of water.

Fish sizes.

Endler – 1” – 1.5”

Guppy – 1.5” -2”

Platy – 2”-3”

Molly – 3”-5”

Swordtail – 5” – 6.5”

Schools sizes are the same for all livebearers, they prefer to have 5 or more, with a minimum of 1 male to 3 or 4 females. 


Guppies and endlers are omnivores who lean more towards the carnivorous side. They need the extra protein, so feed them a good quality flake or pellet diet in addition to brine shrimp and daphnia. Mollies need a more herbivore diet so plan to feed them extra spirulina. Platies and swordtails are omnivores so they will appreciate a good mix of everything from above.

The Babies!

As you have learned, livebearers give birth to live fry. This, along with their brilliant colours, and active swimming are a huge reason why many choose livebearers when deciding what kind of fish to keep. If you decide to try and raise your fry fish, you can keep a net breeder or extra tank on hand to move the babies into to grow. This will be a safe place for them to grow until they are ready to join the adult fish.

Alternatively some hobbyists keep a heavily planted tank with plenty of hiding spaces where fry can safely live and grow till they are of a size to mingle with the adult fish. This method is often preferred by some as this ensures the strongest fry survive, keeping your fish strong and healthy!

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