How To Setup a Successful Livebearer Aquarium

Planted aquarium

Live bearing endlers, guppies, platys and swordtails have become a staple in the fishkeeping world. They are incredibly popular with both beginners and experienced breeders. In this article I will discuss how to setup a successful livebearer aquarium. A successful livebearer tank looks great and has healthy breeding fish! Always stock at least double the number of females to help disperse attention from the males.


Tank size

Go for the biggest tank you can. Although species like endlers are tiny when you are talking about one or two fish, consider the fact that these fish reproduce like rabbits and in a matter of months you will literally have hundreds of baby fish! Some species like platys and swordtails grow a lot larger, swordtails can reach over 5 inches in length! For endlers and guppies a tank which is at least 60cm in length is a good starting point and for platies and swordtails a 30 gallon or larger tank will work best. Remember you are aiming to create a healthy environment for your eventual colony of fish rather than just the few you are initially stocking it with. As you see fry appear in the tank make sure you increase the amount you feed to account for the extra hungry mouths. Overtime you may need to remove fry in order to stop your tank from becoming overstocked.



Consider how you want the aquarium to look but also consider the practicality of the scape for the fish and their fry. I always recommend a planted tank, if possible. Live plants look fantastic, absorb nitrates and provide the fry with a place to hide. Incorporate some natural materials like rock and wood into the aquascape and then start planting. Species like microsorum and moss are hardy plants which provide good hiding spots for fry. The more plants the better if you want a high survival rate for the fry as the parents will happily eat their young! I would suggest having a substrate like sand or gravel over having a bare bottom setup as the substrate will provide the fry with another hiding spot. Fry sometimes like to lay amongst the substrate as they blend in well.



Ensure you have a large well cycled filter with plenty of established beneficial bacteria. Endlers and variatus platys can be kept at room temperature without a heater but the other livebearers will need a heater to keep the water around 25 degrees Celsius. Also, as you will want to have live plants for a successful livebearer setup it is worth investing in a high quality LED aquarium light. Aim to have your light on for 8 hours a day using a timer to ensure your plants get enough light and the tank does not get overtaken by algae.



Regular water changes are crucial for a successful livebearer aquarium. As the fish breed you will need to feed more and although plants will help absorb some nitrates you will still need to carry out weekly or fortnightly water changes to keep your fish and plants in tip top shape. Be cautious and check your bucket for small fry as it is easy to accidentally suck them up using a siphon.


Pro tip: Where possible quarantine all your new livebearers as they are particularly prone to bacterial infections. Livebearers were far hardier 20 years ago, but years of selective breeding has produced some colourful but fragile specimen.



AQUAnatur was created by an established UK aquarium installation and maintenance company near London which has been running for over 25 years! Our team are very experienced and happy to help offer advice with any aquarium questions. We are always available via phone or email Monday -Friday, feel free to contact us, we would love to help! AQUAnatur supply a range of aquariums and aquascaping products. If you have a question, please leave a comment or contact us via phone or email.

By Alasdair McPhail

Reading next

Planted Aquarium
Planted fish tank

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.