Cyprinodontiformes vivíparos e ovovivíparos

Livebearer Cyprinodontiformes

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Poecilia c.f. wingei Poeser, Kempkes and Isbrücker 2005

Endler [ Português / Español ]

Poecilia de Endler  [ Português ]

Endler's Livebearer [ English ]

Endler's Guppy [ English ]

Endler's Poecilia [ English ]

Campoma Guppy [ English ]

Guppy Picasso [ Français ]

Geographical distribution :

Laguna de los Patos ( Cumaná ), Laguna Campoma, Laguna de Buena Vista ( Cariaco ) Paria Peninsula and Carúpano, Sucre State, Venezuela.

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I - Morphology Synopsis ( some meristic characters )

Total absolute lenght

Adult male : 19 to 21.5 mm

Adult female : 27 to 31 mm

Dorsal fin rays : / 6 ( 7 )

Caudal fin rays : / 12 ( 14 )

Scales on lateral line : 26 ( 27 )

Head lenght body lenght ratio ( male ) : 0,21

Head lenght body lenght ratio ( female ) : 0,19

You can find more pictures about these species availabe at the photo gallery.

II - Habitat and Geographical distribution

Poecilia wingei ( Endler's Livebearer ) first described habitat consists in a group of several shallow mangrove estuarine type environment, west of Cumaná City.

During raining season, all this water bodies interconnect, but after the showers they turns in to a motionless or very slow moving group of lakes and lagoons. 

Than some salinity variations take place according to rain seasonal calendar or ocean openings. It goes from fresh to brackish water.

It is also largely surrounded by Black Mangroves.

This area is almost desert kind and the climate hot and dry, even if floods can take place from time to time.

The 1975 expedition, where the first living fish were collected and brought in to the civilization, reports a natural milieu primarily composed by hard water. General appearance was a greenish and turbid soup caused by unicellular algae boom.

By the time of that sample capture water temperature was ranging 27ºC ( 80.6ºF ).

Some of the consulted sources support that Laguna de Los Patos have stayed in slow formation for a long period. They elucidate that such water body is the result of northeastern Venezuela seashore dune system motion.

Coastline sandbanks and dunes movement eventually ended on an inlet that would outcome later as a lagoon completely isolated from the ocean.

Ancient sea salt waters cut off from marine income slowly become brackish and later fresh, due rainfall and tributary water supply to the new lake.

At least this is described as the process that would lead to actual environment.

Armando Pou, describing his last trip to this location state that ( sic ) « in order to understand the origins and evolution of the Endler’s Livebearer you have to become familiar with the early history of Cumaná.

Cumaná was the first fortified European settlement on the mainland of the Americas.

Cumaná Castle is a dense limestone fortress, which sits atop a ridge of this coastal city.

From it, the Spanish Conquistadors were able to protect the two main riches that brought them there. The first being the pearl trade and the second being a vast salt mine.

After years of exploitation, a great storm, or hurricane, hit Cumaná; the torrential runoff burst past the levy the Spaniards had built at the mouth of the mine and flooded it out.

Several attempts were made to pump the water out of the mine. When these failed the mines were abandoned.

This was the birth of Laguna de Los Patos.

Over the centuries numerous earthquakes have occurred in this region. Many times these earthquakes destroyed the town and often diverted the path of the Manzanares River. I speculate that these seismic events coupled with the flooding and displacement of this river may have also played a role in establishing the fish fauna of the various lakes of this region.

During my first trips to Cumaná I erroneously identified La Laguna Malagueña as Laguna de Los Patos.

La Laguna Malagueña is more of a true lagoon or estuary whereas Laguna de Los Patos, while sometimes brackish, ( especially during the height of the dry season, specific density at surface: 0.008 ) is a lake.

Both of these bodies of water and other smaller ponds and rock pits interconnect during the rainy season via a series of drainage ditches and run-off pipes as the timeless cycle of water makes its journey to the sea.

Both Laguna de Los Patos and Laguna la Malagueña have been fragmented into several smaller components by road expansions and modern mining activities, which now extract clay and cement products », ( end of citation ).

Professor Jonh A. Endler trusts that another wild population could be possibly established in the region where Paria Peninsula meets with main land. 

Throughout all the information we could reach, during roughly 30 years, every one of the exploration enterprises to locate this second group have failed, but surprisingly in July 2002 two Europeans - Fred. N. Poeser and Michael Kempkes – discover several wild populations at Laguna Campoma, Laguna Buena Vista ( Cariaco ), Paria Peninsula and Carúpano region at Sucre State, Venezuela.

In all this new locations, environment is quite asymmetrical showing a variety of physical-chemical parameters, water movement dynamic ( almost frequently lentic systems ), and water transparency variability.

III - Physical-chemistry parameters

Ideal temperature range : 21ºC ( 69.8ºF ) - 28ºC ( 82.4ºF )

Tolerated limits : 18ºC ( 64.4ºF ) and 33ºC ( 91.4ºF )

Survival limits : 16ºC ( 60.8ºF ) and 40ºC ( 104.0ºF )

Ideal pH : 6.9 - 9.0

Ideal dH : 7º - 20º

Maximum salinity : 1,020 ( 27,2 ppt )

Temperature annual maintenance for this species in captivity ( suggestion ) :

Thermal regime (1)  

Thermal regime (2)

18ºC ( 64.4ºF )

20ºC ( 68.0ºF )

20ºC ( 68.0ºF )

22ºC ( 71.6ºF )

22ºC ( 71.6ºF )

24ºC ( 75.2ºF )

23ºC ( 73.4ºF )

24ºC ( 75.2ºF )

24ºC ( 75.2ºF )

25ºC ( 77.0ºF )

25ºC ( 77.0ºF )

26ºC ( 78.8ºF )

26ºC ( 78.8ºF )

27ºC ( 80.6ºf )

27ºC ( 80.6ºF )

29ºC ( 84.2ºF )

26ºC ( 78.8ºF )

28ºC ( 82.ºF )

25ºC ( 77.0ºF )

26ºC ( 78.8ºF )

23ºC ( 73.4ºF )

24ºC ( 75.2ºF )

21ºC ( 69.8ºF )

21ºC ( 69.8ºF )

Each one of these rectangles report a different monthly period.

The temperature values are provided only as a reference for captivity maintenance. Performing on this way your action can be considered reasonable, according with the species known thermal exigencies.

It is sometimes difficult if not even impossible to recreate in aquarium the natural conditions, most favourable to the fish biology. The most ideal situation was if could be able to provide your fish a daily as well as a weekly temperature variation like in the wild.

For better understanding about perfect environment or to simulate water temperature annual evolution according to natural habitat for this species, please be so kind and have a look to Cumana graphic at Wild water's temperatures ( all year round ) issue.

IV - Biology and ecology synopsis

Wild Endler's Livebearers males are described as polychromatic, so they can throw many different colour combinations. In addition to metallic polychromatic patterns, they usually exhibit a characteristic black band on the flaks. These particularities demark them from common wild Guppy features.

Females are silvery to brownish gray, almost exactly like wild female guppies, except on total body length size and a slightly metallic sheen.

Until recent wild population’s discovery in 2002, all the familiarity we could have to describe this species was based on aquarium preservation, as little knowledge from uncultivated animals could be accessed.

The behaviour of Poecilia wingei is new to science and to hobbyists, revealing significant differences from Poecilia reticulata. This conduct became one of the differentiation reasons.

Until now, we only knew that Laguna de Los Patos fishes have shown a notorious predilection by well planted tanks and do not respond in very good manner to fast or moderate flowing waters.

The general behaviour could not be better. We are in presence of a very peaceful animal that reveals to be an exceptional companion for any composition of a tank fauna. Colourful body marks and graciosity associated with peaceful temperament as well as tolerance to other species turn this fish selectable for an outstanding aquarium presence, although it’s rare availability.

Even if there are no records of incompatibilities with other thank mates it is an excellent idea to keep Endler’s Livebearer alone, because there is a real risk of elimination caused by larger or aggressive species action.

Nature field observations show that in native environment the fishes form schools close to the shore. These groups are made of about 50 or more adults and as about the same number of immature several maturity stages others.

Scientists noted also that it is also usual to find smaller assemblages of 6 to 10 females. This minor groups show very territorial instinct, defending a territory from other fishes as they are foraging. They have described that other females rarely can access to this sub-community and face immediate intra-sexual aggression causing expulsion of intruders.

When two females are equally sized, they assume a certain aggressive attitude. After a few seconds of showing off they turn back and start to feed again.

At the specie description scientific article this territorial behaviour is believed to be related to foraging or female-to-female sexual selection rivalry.

Close to these minor groups of females there are around 2 or 3 males in the nearness, always looking for a mating opportunity.

On larger communities male sexual competition is more evident. Courtship behaviour is far more intense under these circumstances.

From the field observations, several behavioural divergences between Poecilia wingei and Poecilia reticulata were noticed, Poeser, Kempkes and Isbrücker ( 2005). Some sexual divergences were amongst this deviation.

Feeding is not a problem in captivity.

This fish will eat just about all captivity food we usually use. They do just fine with dry, freeze-dried, frozen, or fresh fish food.  Homemade foods are popular, too.

The use of same diet than other popular Livebearer species is proper but don’t forget to add a little bit more of spirulina algae base complement.

Flake foods are very well accepted but, if possible, always include also brine shrimps, mosquito larvae, blood worms, tubifex, daphnia, ( all cutted or selected with the proper size to Endler's miniature mouth ).

You can add also milled row fish or molluscs from about all kinds used on human diet.

Endler’s Poecilia don’t often eat their young. Cannibalistic behaviour on newly birth fry occurs in thanks without proper vegetation cover to provide shelter and mainly when adults are inadequately feed.

When all the requirements are respected we can consider Endler’s as a quite prolific livebearer. Under ideal conditions, gestation lasts between 23 and 27 days long, depending on water temperature and quality as well as diet.

A birth can produce from 4 to 6 fry in young females to 20 or something more in full-developed ones.

Longevity goes to a little more than one year and a half, but some can reach as twice that long.

V - Complementary notes

Even recognizing numerous resemblances between Cumaná Guppy ( Endler ) and Campoma Guppy, there are some facts that show that they might represent remains of a earlier wider distribution. Even so, it is also very sustainable that the Laguna de Los Patos population might result from released specimens. It is also quite possible that sexual isolation could be broken by Poecilia reticulata genes, Poeser, Kempkes e Isbrücker ( 2005).

Dr. S. Frank photos published on Internet before the scientif article describing Poecilia wingei could allready show clearly some differences between male gonopodium and compare it in both pure strains as well as hybrids, later confirmed by the scientific paper of Poeser, Kempkes and Isbrücker.

As gonopodium distinction is still one of the arguments to classify different species among Livebearer Cyprinodontiformes of Poeciliidae family, please see by your self and fallow this link -

From Laguna de Los Patos we have received distinct reports from local population coexistence with Poecilia reticulata, which presents a vast geographical distribution that includes the region itself. Others who declare the contrary deny this argument.

Alenxander and Brenden have recorded only common Guppy in a radius of 100 km outside Laguna de Los Patos, confirming the presence of exclusively populations of Poecilia reticulata just to the Pária Peninsula. Only the specimens collected at the west part of Cumaná have show some differentiation from common Guppy.

Precisely some noticeable non-scientific differentiation regarding other wild Guppy acknowledged on first collected fishes stand to call everybody attention to them.

It is also extraordinary that this fish have not received a proper scientific classification, if not since 1935, at least since 1975 or after.

Examining osteological morphology of both ( Endler's and Guppy ), consistent differences aren’t easy achievable through body characters and any DNA studies have never been revealed so far.

Some other Guppy populations spread all over the hypothetical original distribution, present some few characters that might differentiate them as independent species within Poecilia reticulata.

Several experts claim they found something that might differentiate them with perhaps enough to characterize Endler’s as an independent Poecilia reticulata strain, Alexander and Brenden, ( 2004 ).

In natural habitat, Endler's Livebearer and Campoma Guppy show a wide variety of patterns, despite the myths we come across on the Internet suggesting that the pure wild have to look like the most common original ones brought back by Professor Endler.

Like the Professor had agreed these are only a small sampling.

So far there has never been revealed a consistent study about all patterns, so if you breed them all together for heterozygosity proposes you may in fact be destroying some genetic integrity of isolated groups that might have form in the entire a specie or incipient specie.

Professor Endler had mentioned that he was unable to cross Poecilia reticulata with Endler’s Livebearer, and felt that if it could occur would produce sterile progeny.

Many keepers and breeders do not corroborate this.

Probably wild fish are more difficult to hybridise with other species but domestic or aquarium population are more easily persuade into mate with other close relative species.

For that reason, please never cross your genuine wild type Endler’s Livebearer with Guppy or allow them to remain in the same tank. There are many demonstrations about the results of it leading to prominent ratio of fertile offspring.

Even consider here only one and single specie, performing this way you are carry on for possibility of contamination of the gene pool as well as a quick end of the genuine richness that we still can afford with both strains ( or whatever ) apart.

VI - Threats, protection and present status

In Cumaná and since last visit of Professor Endler, there was several reports  stating that the four lakes that pack together Laguna de Los Patos complex are heavily polluted.

A near by dump percolates nutrients and contaminants into the ground, and thus into the groundwater which feeds the lakes.

According to Armando Pou during his last expedition, building materials and rubbish has filled the surroundings. 

All sort of things that we would normally found in a landfill have been deposit there.

Armando Pou proclaims that ( sic ) « the two lakes which now lie on the eastern side of a highway called Autopista Antonio Jose Sucre are somewhat cleaner than those that lie on the western part of the highway.

The larger of the eastern two lakes is within the mining compound and has very scant vegetation remaining along its fringes. Additionally it has been stocked with cichlids which have effectively eradicated most of the endlers » ( end of citation ).

Although the Laguna de Los Patos population can be in fact under threat of extinction in a relatively short period, as Poecilia wingei wasn’t yet classified before December 2005, it wasn’t a reference at IUCN Red List because common Guppy is by now doing well.

With this discover of new populations in apparently good demographic dynamic inside well preserved wild areas, that reference is no longer constructive.

For further knowledge or information about this please check Livebearer Cyprinodontiformes in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Other topics available about this species :

Literature cited ( references ) :

Alexander HJ, Breden F., 2004. Sexual isolation and extreme morphological divergence in the Cumaná guppy: a possible case of incipiente speciation. J. Evol. Biol. 17( 6 ): 1238-1254.

Poeser, FN, M Kempkes and IJH Isbrücker, 2005. Description of Poecilia ( Acanthophacelus ) wingei n. sp. from the Paría Peninsula, Venezuela, including notes on Acanthophacelus Eigenmann, 1907 and other subgenera of Poecilia Bloch and Schneider, 1808 ( Teleostei, Cyprinodontiformes, Poeciliidae ). Contributions to Zoology 74: 97–115.

further knowledge and better understanding on the Endler’s Livebearer issue as well as this species profile data confirmation, please fallow this links :

Satellite image over Cumaná and Laguna de Los Patos.

Source - Google Earth -

Satellite image over Cariaco with Laguna Campoma and Laguna de Buena Vista.

Source - Google Earth -

We should be extremely gratified and thank you in advance if some one could provide new data about this topic, or even eventually any correction to be made on this document. For this purpose please be so kind and write us.

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