Do Endler Guppies Eat Their Fry? (Explained)

Endler Guppies will eat their own babies given the opportunity. Endlers are known to display a behavior known as filial cannibalism which results in the female eating her babies immediately after birth. Female Endler guppies take no parental responsibility for their offspring.

Eating Daphnia
Eating Daphnia

I have been keeping and breeding Endler guppies for around 20 years. I have several different color strains and they are fast becoming one of my favorite fish. Over the years I have learned a thing or two about breeding Endlers.

Endler guppies live in the shadow of their more popular cousins, the Guppy. However, the popularity of the Endler Guppy is on the rise. There are now a number of different color strains available with more being produced all the time.

What Is Filial Cannibalism?

Filial Cannibalism is the behavior when a female animal gives birth, then turns around and eats her offspring. Research suggests that during this phenomenon, the female-only eats the babies which don’t have the inbuilt instinct to swim away and hide immediately after birth.

By eating these babies, she eliminates them from the gene pool and as a result, the whole species becomes stronger.



How Do Endlers Reproduce?

Endler guppies (which are also known as Endlers Livebearer) are a species of livebearing fish which originate from northern South America. As a livebearer, they do not lay eggs, instead, the females give birth to live, free-swimming baby Endlers.

Endler babies are born free-swimming and are totally independent of the moment they are born.



How Many Babies Do Endlers Have?

The number of babies an Endler guppy gives birth to is largely dictated by her size. Older, larger female Endlers can produce up to 30 babies in a single brood. Smaller, younger Endlers may only produce 10 or fewer babies.

How To Prevent Endlers Eating Their Babies

Whether you are breeding your Endlers for fun, or to sell for profit, the chances are you want to preserve as many of the babies as possible. I have used a number of different techniques over the years, and the 3 listed below are my favorite ways to save as many Endler fry as possible.

1. Breeder Box

A breeder box is essentially an aquarium, inside your aquarium. The breeder box is usually made of plastic and either floats in the aquarium, or hooks onto the glass. The female is placed into the breeder box prior to giving birth. She remains in the box until she has given birth to all her babies, after which she is returned to the main aquarium. The babies are kept in the breeder box until they are large enough to avoid being eaten by other tank mates.

I have had great success using this breeder box from Amazon.

Some breeder boxes don’t solve the problem of the female eating her own babies, as she is in the breeder box with the babies, so adding a large clump of Java Moss to the breeder box will give the babies a chance to hide from the female Endler.

2. Using a separate tank

If you are serious about breeding Endlers, having a separate tank available to move your pregnant female into is a must. Have the separate aquarium ready and running a few days before you want to move your female.

Ideally, the water parameters of the breeder tank should be the same as the main Endler aquarium.

3. Using a heavily planted aquarium

Breeding Endlers in a heavily planted aquarium is my favorite way to save as many Endler babies as possible. I like to use Java Moss in my Endler breeding tanks. Although Java Moss is a slow grower, once it gets going it forms a thick mass which the babies can get right into, but the adults can’t.

When it comes to Endler babies being eaten, out of sight is out of mind!

In Conclusion

It seems that every fish finds Endler’s babies irresistible. They must be too tasty to resist. If you are just breeding a few at home for your own enjoyment, then leaving your Endlers in the community tank will be fine. One or two babies will survive from each brood and you will soon increase your numbers.

If on the other hand, you wish to actively breed Endlers, maybe for profit (see my article here on 13 fish you can breed for profit), then you need to employ some of the methods above to stop the Endlers from eating their own babies.


About the Author

I’ve been keeping, breeding, and showing tropical fish for nearly 30 years. Over that time I’ve done it all! I’ve had great success and I’ve made some really foolish mistakes (like the time I bought an Asain Walking Catfish). Read more…
Richard James
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