Designed around upon the FBAS comprehensive list of commonly-kept species, these Care Sheets are categorised as those found in FBAS Show Classes.

Details of all species referred to in these Fish Care Sheets can be found in the FBAS Booklet No 6 - National Show Fish Sizes. Click HERE for information.


                                Other Livebearers

They sound like outcasts from Society, but these 'other' livebearers not only exist in a great number of genera but also offer a challenge to do something for Conservancy. Thanks to dedicated aquarists at lest one species now only exists in captivity having been lost to Nature.

Genera: Alfaro, Ameca, Belonesox, Carlhubbsia, Limia, Xenotoca, plus
             many others.

Family:Poeciliidae, Goodeidae

Geographic Origin: Central America.

Common Names: The Bishop, Knife Livebearer, Hump-backed Limia,
                        Pike Top-Minnow

Compatibility:With similar sized fish, mostly they are not a problem although
                       some can be very aggressive with smaller tankmates.

Minimum Aquarium Size: Like the 'cultivated' livebearers, an aquarium of
                                    600mm x 300mm x 300mm (24 x 12 x 12) is the
                                    minimum. They will benefit from having a larger

Temperature: Depends on the species' area of natural distribution; highland
                     waters are cooler than those on the plains. A range of between
                      18oC/65oF and 24o/27oC 75o/80oF may be typical
                      for the whole group.

Habitat: Found in rivers, lakes and ponds. Best kept in a well planted
              aquarium with water movement provided by either external or
              internal filter.

Water Parameters: Prefer hard alkaline water. Some species may inhabit
                             brackish water in nature. It should be well filtered with
                             a partial water change each week of around 25%.

Health: Not especially prone to diseases, but White Spot, Mouth Fungus and
            Finrot (particularly if water conditions are poor) can be found in
            these fishes. Treat sick fish in a separate container. Do not dispose of
            dead fish down the toilet. Place in dustbin or incinerate.

Diet: Omnivorous with the accent on 'animal' foods for the more predatory
         species. Will eat all dried, frozen and live foods.

Plants: All tropical plants are suitable for the aquarium.

Breeding Notes :Sexing, although not difficult, is not so easy as with cultivated
                         livebearers. The male's anal is not always fully developed into
                         the familiar gonopodium: in the Goodeidae, for instance, there
                         is just a visible 'notch' in the leading few rays.

                         Unlike cultivated livebearers, some females cannot store
                          sperm and must be mated to produce young.
                          Having said that, the Goodeidae group is rather advanced in
                          the development of the young which are connected to the
                          mother fish by means of the trophotaenia, a primitive

                          A well planted aquarium is needed when breeding so that the
                          young can find immediate refuge once born. The use of
                          breeding traps and confinement of the gravid female is not
                          encouraged as this often stresses the fish and produces
                          premature births.

Availability: Available at good aquatic shops, although more are accessible
                    through specialist livebearer groups, such as Viviparous and the
                    American Livebearer Association.

Show Classes: Class R - Swordtails (not X.helleri)
                    Class S Poecilia (Mollies, Limias)
                    Class T (other species)

There's a wealth of information about
all livebearing fish in this book
by John Dawes
(Blandford 1991 ISBN No: 0-7137-2152-9)

© FBAS 2002. RCM/RDE.                                        Fish Care Sheet 25 1/1

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Last updated October 2016