Campoma no29 (2016)

Endler’s livebearer (Poecilia wingei) – wild types

For many years of my adventure with aquaristics, I had different species of fish. However, I always went back to the livebearers, which are still among my favourite fish along with bettas. That’s what happened 3 years ago, when two breeding varieties – Endler’s livebearer (Poecilia wingei) red scarlet and blonde – came to my tanks. Until 10 years ago, these varieties were genuine rarity. Only classic Endler’s black bars could be found in pet shops. Today, finding an original variety of black bar in the shop is nearly impossible. If you happen to be that lucky you should think about participating in a lottery, the winning ticket might be yours.

The beginning of my adventure with Endler’s livebearer

As you know, aquaristics has developed a lot over the last years, so 3 years ago the two varieties I bought were nothing spectacular. So I started browsing the livebearers forums, theme groups and blogs of foreign aquarists. I also managed to get to the website of a Polish aquarium hobbyist, who described wild varieties of livebearers. And that’s how I got the first wild phenotype of these fish. You could say it was the beginning of my project called Endler’s room.

Over the last three years I have managed to get in touch with many hobbyists from France, Spain, Italy and aquarists from Central and South America. Among them are such aquarists as Adrian Hernandez, Robert Nicolas, Philippe Voisin. These are people who have travelled to Venezuela in person to catch and describe the wild phenotypes of Poecilia wingei. Philippe Voisin is my greatest authority when it comes to these fish. It is thanks to him that I have the honor of having many unique varieties of this species.

Endler’s livebearer (Poecilia wingei) – discovery and systematics

It was first caught in 1937 by Franklyn F. Bond. The rediscovery of this fish in the Laguna De Los Patos, near the town of Cumana, Venezuela, was made by John Endler in 1975. At the time he knew nothing about the collection of Bond fish at the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History. Endler handed over the caught fish to the well-known taxonomy expert Donn E. Rosen. Unfortunately, the scientist died and did not have time to describe it.

The fish were handed over to geneticist Klaus Kallman, who passed them on to aquarists under the name Endler’s guppy. They soon became very popular among aquarists. Interestingly, Endler himself only learned about the fish named after him in the mid-1980s, while visiting the UK. Since 2005, when the article by Fred Poeser, Michael Kempkes and Isaäc Isbrücker was published, the name Poecilia wingei (after Danish biologist Øjvind Winge) has been in effect.

ORDER: Cyprinodontiformes

FAMILY: Poeciliidae

SUBFAMILY: Poeciliinae

GENUS: Poecilia

SPECIES: Poecilia wingei

Habitat of Endler’s livebearer

The natural habitat of Endler’s livebearer (Poecilia wingei) is Venezuela. The state of Sucre in the northern part of the country specifically. Endler’s livebearer lives in floodplains, slow flowing streams (often with slightly salty water), canals (even heavily polluted with sewage) and drainage ditches in the Campoma (Laguna de Campoma and Rio Oro, to to the south-west from it) and Cumana (Laguna De Los Patos, Laguna De La Malagueña) and Laguna Buena Vista (lagoon near Las Aguas de Moises resort).

Campoma no46 Full snake
Poecilia wingei Campoma no 46 Full Snake (photo by Bartek Gorzkowski)

The waters in which Endler’s livebearer lives are often green from the algal bloom, as the first explorers described in their publications. At the bottom of these bodies of water there is a layer of detritus, organic remains, tree branches and leaves. Plants include water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), rigid hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum), floating fern (Salvinia natans), smooth frogbit (Limnobium laevigatum), longleaf pondweed (Potamogeton nodosus) or plants of the genus Elodea.

Campoma no29 (2016)
Poecilia wingei Campoma no 29 (2016) (photo by Bartek Gorzkowski)
campoma no9 (2008)
Poecilia wingei Campoma no 9 (2008) (photo by Bartek Gorzkowski)
Campoma no 59 (2016)
Poecilia wingei Campoma no 59 (2016) (photo by Bartek Gorzkowski)

Division of Endler’s livebearer (Poecilia wingei) into classes

We divide the Poecilia wingei species not by standards but by classes. There are three classes: N, P and K. Fish with a documented wild origin are marked with Class N. Class P is marked for fish that have phenotypic characteristics resembling or looking like wild fish but have no documented origin, whereas Endler’s livebearer crossed with a guppy is marked with class K. The resulting P.wingei x P.reticulata hybrids have a different structure. The males are bigger than Endler’s livebearers and smaller and more bulky than the guppies. Tail fins are longer, dorsal fins are also more patterned. Females usually have a pattern on their fins. You will find more information about differences betwen guppies and Endler’s livebearers in post Endler’s guppy or Endler’s livebearer?

Klass K Saddle Back
P. wingei x P. reticulata classs K Saddle Back (photo by Bartek Gorzkowski)
Klass K - el dorado tuxedo
P. wingei x P. reticulata class K – El Dorado Tuxedo (photo by Bartek Gorzkowski)

Numbers in Endler’s livebearers nomenclature

Wild phenotypes of the Endler’s livebearer (classes N and P) have digits in their names. What do they mean? Hobbyist classify wild fish depending on the region where a specific variety was caught. That’s why the use names such as Poecilia wingei Campoma… or Poecilia wingei Cumana.

Cumana Miyuki (2016)
Poecilia wingei Cumana Miyuki (2016) (photo by Bartek Gorzkowski)

In addition to the location in the nomenclature, numbers, dates and names appear, e.g. Campoma 29 (2016, P. Voisin). This means that the phenotype was caught and described by P. Voisin, who gave him a specific number according to his segregation and cataloguing system. Date means the year in which this form was described and captured.

Cumana Green Hornet (2013)
Poecilia wingei Cumana Green Hornet (2013) (photo by Bartek Gorzkowski)

Collecting these fish for me as their owner,
the most important thing is to keep each variety in clean lines. I keep each variety in a separate tank to preserve its genetic purity. This is extremely important because in the natural environment many of the reservoirs where Endler’s livebearer is found dry out and it may happen that in the natural environment the variety dies out. Therefore, hobbyists may be the only option to rebuild the population in the wild by donating fish from their farms.

Cumana el Dorado (2016)
Poecilia wingei Cumana El Dorado (2016) (photo by Bartek Gorzkowski)
Cumana CU103 New Orchid (2016)
Poecilia wingei Cumana CU103 New Orchid (2016) (photo by Bartek Gorzkowski)

I hope I have managed to bring you a little closer to this beautiful gems from Venezuela. Thanks for the time you took to read it.

Wojciech Golianek

3 thoughts on “Endler’s livebearer (Poecilia wingei) – wild types

  1. Hallo,
    Ich sage nur WOOOOW !
    Echt Klasse dieser Beitrag und ich würde gerne an solche kommen, nur hier in
    Deutschland ist es sehr Schwer oder überhaupt nicht möglich!!!!
    Die meisten halten nur Hochzucht Guppys oder irgendeinen Mix 🙁
    Ich selber halte ……
    Poecilia reticulata “Jamaica”
    Poecilia reticulata “Rio Tefe”
    Poecilia reticulata “Cayenne”
    Poecilia reticulata “Guyana Lac du Rorota”
    Poecilia reticulata “Istanbul, Lab Strain”
    Poecilia reticulata “Smaragd Iridescent, Winge 1927 Lab Strain”
    Poecilia wingei “Campoma Rio de Oro”
    Poecilia wingei “Campoma No. 7”
    Poecilia wingei “Campoma No. 9”
    Poecilia wingei “Campoma No. 31”
    Poecilia wingei “Campoma No. 42”
    Poecilia wingei “Campoma No. 47”
    Poecilia wingei “Rio de Oro Aguas de Moraes”
    Poecilia wingei “Staeck Black Endler”
    Poecilia wingei “Cumana”
    Poecilia wingei “Cumana Yellow top sword”
    Poecilia wingei “Cumana Rainbow”
    Poecilia wingei “Cumana Wild Orange”
    Poecilia obscura “Matura”
    Poecilia obscura “Oropuch Fluss”
    Patrick Harris

    1. Sehr geehrter Herr Harris,

      Vielen Dank für Ihren netten Kommentar.
      Wir freuen uns, dass Sie sich für diesen Text interessieren. Sie haben eine großartige Sammlung dieser interessanten Fische.

      Herzlichen Glückwunsch und viel Glück.

    2. Greetings, Mr Golianek. Thank you for sharing information on these little marvelous creatures! I read in
      another article that most of this species are hybridised nowadays which is upsetting since the wild type is as precious and should be conserved for many generations to come.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *