Fish / Freshwater

Swordtails Fish Information

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Introduction to Swordtails Fish

The swordtail is one of the most popular tropical aquarium fish. It is also referred to as Black Swordtail, Gold Tux, Green, Lyretail, Neon, Red Simpson, Spotted, Red Velvet Swordtails, Black Velvet, Belize, Atoyac etc.  It is native to southeastern Mexico, central Guatemala, southern Belize, and northwestern Honduras. It occurs in rivers, streams, warm springs, canals and ponds with heavily vegetative areas. The adults prefer to congregate in areas with greater current in following water while juveniles and sub-adults prefer quiet marginal zones.

Swordtail’s Overview

The Swordtail has an elongated body with blunt snout. Generally body is olive green in color with red, yellow or brownish stripes along the lateral line. The Dorsal fin is a yellow-green in color with one or more rows of red dots and sometimes speckles are present in caudal fin. Dorsal fin bears 11-14 soft rays while anal fin contains 4-10 soft rays. Male is easily recognized by the long sword-like process from the ventral lobe of the caudal fin while females have a normally expanded anal fin and lack the sword in caudal fin. The Male’s ‘sword’ is yellow in color with black edge below. During maturity in male the middle rays of its anal fin become modified into a narrow copulatory organ called a gonopodium. It is omnivorous and in wild its feed consists of plant matter, worms, crustaceans, annelid worms and insects. Female is larger with robust body which reaches up to 16 cm in length while the male is somewhat smaller and can grow up to 14 cm in length. It attains sexual maturity after eight to twelve months. Female produces 20 to 200 young after a gestation period of 24 to 30 days. This species has a tendency to undergo sex reversal under certain environmental conditions. It can live up to 5 years or more with proper care.

Scientific Name: Xiphophorus helleri

Common Name: Black Swordtail, Gold Tux, Green, Lyretail, Neon, Red Simpson, Spotted, Red Velvet Swordtails, Black Velvet, Belize, Atoyac

Origin: Central America

Adult Size: 13 cm

Behavior: Peaceful

Tank Level: All over the tank

Minimum Tank Size:  20 gallons

Diet: Omnivore

Breeding: Livebearer

Care level: Easy

Water pH: 7.0-8.0

Water Hardness: 12 – 30 dGH

Water Temperature: 72°F – 82°F

Water Movement: Moderate

Lighting:  Moderate – normal lighting

Lifespan:  3 – 5 years

Background of Swordtail

Xiphophorus helleri was first described by Austrian taxidermist, zoologist and ichthyologist Johann Jakob Heckel. It belongs to the family Poeciliidae under order Cyprinodontiformes of class Actinopterygii. The species name ‘helleri’ is named after Austrian botanist and naturalist Karl Bartholomaeus Heller (1824-1880) who collected the type specimen. The genus name Xiphophorus is derrived from Greek ‘xiphos’ meaning sword and Greek ‘pherein’ meaning to carry.  This species has several synonyms such as Xiphophorus guntheri Jordan & Evermann, 1896; Xiphophorus jalapae Meek, 1902; Xiphophorus brevis Regan, 1907; Xiphophorus strigatus Regan, 1907; Xiphophorus rachovii Regan, 1911. It is not listed in IUCN Red Data Book as threatened species.

Feeding Swordtail

Swordtail Fish are omnivorous and in wild its feed consists of plant matter, worms, crustaceans, annelid worms and insects along with phytoplankton and some macro algae. In captivity it generally eats all kinds of fresh, frozen and flake foods. It should be offered a balanced diet good quality dried products along with small live and frozen foods such as Daphnia, Artemia, Tubifex, and chironomid larvae. The swordtail is not a picky eater but it should be fed a varied diet several times daily with small amounts.

Housing Swordtail

The Swordtail is hardy and peaceful fish which is suitable for community tanks. It i easy to care for and it requires 15 gallons tank with plenty of spaces for swimming for a single species. The tank should have very clear, oxygen rich, alkaline waters with strong filtration to maintain high oxygen levels. Water should be moderately hard which should be ranged from 15-30 dGH. The Swordtail is an accomplished jumper and the tank should be covered with proper lid to prevent jumping. The tank should also have regular water changes of 25% every 2 -4 weeks. The swordtail is generally peaceful lively fish and it is considered a good community fish. This fish does well with most other good natured fish of similar size.  Suitable tank mates include Mollies, Platy fish, Angelfish, armored catfish (Corydoras), plecostomus and larger Characins such as the Black Skirt, Red Serpae and Silver Tip. Males can be aggressive toward one another so care should be taken when housing more than one.

Breeding Swordtail

Swordtails are live-bearing fish and it breeds readily in the home aquarium without special attention if it is well fed and cared for. Female produces 20 to 200 young after a gestation period of 24 to 30 days. The tank should have dense floating cover to protect the Swordtail fry from potential predation by the adults. They generally attain sexual maturity at about 8 to 12 months and they start breeding as young as 3 months of age. From the time of egg fertilization it takes approximately four weeks for the fry to fully develop. Adults eat the fry if they are hungry; therefore it is important to keep the parents well fed. The aquarium should be well planted with live or artificial vegetation to allow the fry places to hide. Fry require a high protein diet and should be given commercially prepared fry food or live foods such as freshly hatched brine shrimp or frozen baby brine shrimp. Feedings should be frequent and large enough to ensure that all the fry get food. Water changes and cleaning of the tank must be often done to avoid the buildup of lethal toxins such as ammonia and nitrites.

Sexing Swordtail

It is easy to make differences from the male and female. The male is smaller and slimmer than female and possesses a prominent gonopodium with sword like lower caudal-fin lobe. The female has a fan shaped anal fin with rounded body. The female also has a spawning patch at breeding time.

Swordtail Fish for sale and where to buy

The Swordtail is an extremely hardy and very popular fish that can adapt to a wide range of water conditions. It makes a beautiful and graceful addition to any aquarium. This fish is among the world’s most recognizable aquarium fish and ubiquitous in the ornamental trade. It is commonly available in online pet shops with moderate price. if you buy your gorgeous fish online from home by ordering them look below online vendor that I would recommend from.

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