Livebearers: What aquarium hobbyists should know about them

Choosing the right fishes that are not only well suited as per the size of your aquarium, but also compatible with other fishes and the surrounding can be very confusing, especially if you are a beginner. With thousands of options to choose from, it’s hard to decide on the right fish for your very first aquarium. Beginners must always keep in mind to choose low maintenance fishes that are easy to look after but at the same time, add value to your aquarium, such as livebearers.

Livebearers are fishes that give birth to young ones directly instead of laying eggs. Most livebearers belong to the Poeciliidae family and are native to South America, Central America, and Mexico. These livebearers are usually small and grow a maximum length of about 2 to 3 inches. Livebearers are generally peaceful in nature and are an excellent choice as community fishes. They are fairly undemanding and can tolerate temperatures between 17 and 27 degree Celsius. Livebearers thrive under water pH levels 5.5 and 8.0.

Advantages and disadvantages of livebearers:

Although livebearers are considered as a wonderful addition to aquariums, at times they also come with few drawbacks. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages associated with them:

Advantages of Livebearers:

  • Most species are very calm and docile in nature and supposedly great for community fish tanks.
  • Livebearers are natural rapid and continuous breeders.
  • Most livebearer species are tolerant to a wide range of water chemistry and temperatures.
  • These fishes demand low maintenance and can be easily reared at home aquarium.
  • Most species do not grow more than 2 to 3 inches in length.

Disadvantages of Livebearers:

  • As livebearers are rapid breeders, they can lead to overcrowding in fish tanks and this is especially a nuisance if your tank is smaller than 30 gallon.
  •  These fishes need an expensive diet consisting of fresh, frozen, dried, and all sorts of aquarium fish food to survive in an aquarium.
  •  As mentioned earlier, the majority of livebearers do best socially in schools so larger tanks are imperative to accommodate them in large numbers.
  •  These fishes have a tendency to eat their own young unless separated from parents.

Top 5 livebearers ideal for freshwater aquariums:  

Not all livebearers from the Poeciliidae are suitable for home aquariums. Other families like Goodeidae, Anablepidae, and Hemiramphidae also include livebearers species that are ideal for freshwater aquariums. Let’s take a look at the top 5 livebearers perfect for freshwater aquariums:

1) Guppies – Guppies are the perfect example of livebearers suitable in aquariums. These beautifully bright fishes come in a myriad hue and patterns. From fan shaped butterfly tails to stripes and rainbow patterns, they are a delight to watch. They are small in size and do not grow more than 2 inches. Guppies breed fast in home aquariums.

2) Gold Dust Molly – Famous for their characteristic bright gold color, the gold dust molly is slightly bigger than the average livebearers and grows up to 5 inches in length. Gold dust mollies are serene and highly adaptable, though they prefer slightly hard and alkaline water in natural habitat, they can tolerate brackish conditions as well.

3) Mickey Mouse Platy – Also known as the Moonfish or Southern Platyfish, they have the characteristic black mark at the base of the tail that resembles Mickey Mouse. They grow up to about 2.5 inches in length, are very docile in nature and demands low maintenance. The Mickey Mouse Platies is an omnivorous feeder and comes in a wide range of colors.

4) Neon Swordtail – The Neon Swordtails has an elongated body and the males develop the characteristic long sword-like tail, hence the name. Neon swordtails derived its name due to the bright neon bands and the iridescent glow it has on their scales.

5) Four-Eyed Fish – Not commonly seen in aquariums, but the four-eyed fish would be an interesting and unique addition to your aquarium. Till date, only 3 species of the four-eyed fishes in the Anableps species are recognized. What’s interesting is the fact that contrary to the name, the four-eyed fish only have two eyes that are positioned on top of the head.

 

Some useful tips for keeping livebearers at home aquarium:

We already know by now that most livebearers demands low maintenance and thus favorable for home aquariums. Not only they are tolerant to a wide range of temperature conditions and water chemistry, they are extremely peaceful in nature and active fishes, which makes them a delight to watch.

Some useful tips to enhance the longevity of your livebearers inside your aquarium are:

1) Livebearers thrive and have longer lifespans in tanks with optimized water chemistry and temperature conditions.

2) Weekly water cleaning for removal of wastes and regular checking for nutrient levels in the water like ammonia is highly recommended. High-quality filtration equipment is a prerequisite for keeping the quality of water healthy.

3) To maintain optimum temperature, the use of a submersible heater is advised.

4) Lighting is an important aspect in all aquariums. When you have added live plants, stronger lighting is required but with fish-only tanks, lower intensity lighting serves the purpose of illuminating your tank and showing off your fishes.

5) Livebearers demand a multifarious diet consisting of commercial fish flakes or pellets along with live, frozen, and freeze-dried foods. Because these fish rapid breeders they need a healthy and balanced diet to keep them fit for breeding.

Livebearers are an excellent choice for your freshwater aquarium. Whether you want to add new stock to your existing aquarium or looking for the right fishes to your very first aquarium, livebearers are perfect for both situations. They are easy to maintain and comes in a wide variety of options to choose from. Since they are rapid breeders, it is an added bonus to have them in your aquarium as you don’t have to shell out extra money in restocking new ones.

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