SWORDTAIL FISH  (Xiphophorus hellerii)

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Know Your Fish

          Swordtail is a popular Aquarium fish, easy to maintain & being a hardy fish has earned Swordtail  a place in the hobby as a Prime Option for a Beginner. Like any other pet learning about Swordtail fish would make it easier  to  take care of them.         

       Firstly, understanding the Behavior & their natural habitat is important, so that their natural habitat can be mimicked in an Aquarium set-up. Natural range of Swordtail fish is found in North & Central America including Mexico, Honduras, Belize, Guatemala. Swordtails natural habitat's include Fresh & Brackish water, heavily vegetated flowing water bodies like rivers & streams, they are also found in pools, canals & warm springs. While there are a lot of Naturally occurring types of Swordtail Fish, one of  them is the Green Swordtail (Xiphophorus hellerii)  they are olive green in color & the sword is yellow with black edge. The common name "Swordtail" is used due to the Males elongated Caudal fin which looks like a sword.       Selective  Breeding has offered various colors & shapes of  Swordtail fish to the Aquarium hobby, some common types of Swordtail fish are Lyretail, Tuxedo, Koi,Golden, Black, Neon etc. Swordtail Fish demand less maintenance compared to most fish in Ornamental Fish Keeping Hobby.


3 to 5 years

Male Swordtail

The common name "Swordtail" is used due to the Males elongated Caudal fin which looks like a sword. In the wild the Male (Green Swordtail)  can grow up to 5.5 inches. The Female seems to prefer Males with longer Sword. 

Female Swordtail

Females don't have the elongated tail fin however are larger in size than the Males. Female Green Swordtail can grow up to 6.3 inches in length.

Swordtail Fish Aquarium Care

Swordtail fish is a Good Option for a Community tank. To avoid aggression its best to keep one male for every 2 or 3 females. Below details will help you with Swordtail  Tank set-up.

Tank Size for Swordtail

Minimum 20 Gallon or bigger. 

Tank Decoration for Swordtail Fish

Swordtail Fish like Live Plants in the Tank, while decorating a Swordtail Tank keep in mind they are fast swimmers & pretty much hang around on all levels of the Tank (bottom, middle & surface area). Substrate for Tank bottom & rocks can be used to create hiding places. The bio-load is minimal hence a HOB filter or sponge filter will be ideal for a Planted Swordtail Tank. 

If Planted aquarium is not your thing then, they do absolutely fine in a Rockscape. They can also tolerate moderate to moderately-high water movement in the aquarium.

Temperature Range

(72–82 °F or 22.2–27.7 °C)

pH Range

7.0 to 8.0 is the pH range. ( There should never be drastic change's in the pH level)  

GH & KH Range

10 to 15 dGH


Swordtail fish are Omnivores. Varied food can be fed which includes Pellets, Flakes, Freeze dried worms, live food like Daphnia & Blood worms, they eat vegetables like cucumber & Zucchini.

Compatible Tank Mates for Swordtail

Swordtail do well in community tank with similar sized live-bearers like Molly, Guppies, Platy Fish & even Zebra Danio, Gourami etc. Keep in mind that Swordtail can inter-breed with Platy fish as they are closely related. 

Other variety of tank mates can be included in their tank, like Neon Rainbow fish, non aggressive Tetras like Neon Tetra & Black Neon Tetra, Giant Danios, Western Rainbow Fish, non-aggressive Barbs like Cherry Barbs, Rasboras etc.

Breeding Swordtail Fish

Swordtail's are Live-bearers. They mature in 4 to 6 months (average) depending on the surrounding conditions. The Gestation period is an average of 4 weeks. Like most Live-bearers the adult Swordtails may eat their fry. The Swordtail Fry has to be separated immediately from the Female which gave birth, to avoid been eaten by the Female. Breeding any Live-bearer is not a difficult task, few things to remember is breeding Swordtail fish which are closely related increases deformities in the fry & the immune system of these fish are weak. There are variety of Swordtail fish both in color & shapes which are created by breeding with Platy Fish. 

To Breed Swordtails all you need to do is keep one male with 3 to 5 Female Swordtails; as soon as you see a female with a ballooned abdomen move her into a separate breeding tank or breeding box which can be kept in the same tank. Remove the female once she gives birth as she may eat the fry. The fry would start eating in 2 to 3 days, they can be fed micro pellets, baby brine shrimp, micro worms etc. Ensure to feed them 3 times as day. The fry can be introduced into the main tank in about 5 to 6 weeks time if its at least 20 gallon & preferably with live plants as they provide cover.

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