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Care and Breeding of Swordtails


In the article you will find some basic information on Care and Breeding of Swordtails. Swordtails are available in a variety of colors and are compatible with other live-bearing fish and fish of equal size in a community freshwater aquarium.

Care and Breeding of Swordtails

The Latin name for the swordtail is Xiphophorus Helleri and it is native to Central America. The most distinctive feature of the swordtail is the protrusion of the lower part of the caudal (rear) fin. It looks like a sword because it’s long and narrow but this is not a fin; it is the male sex organ called the gonopodium.

In the wild, the color of the swordtail is olive green with a brown or red lateral stripe and sometimes there are speckles on their fins. The male’s sword is yellow with black trim on the bottom edge.

Breeding in captivity has produced many different colors of swordtails, such as orange, yellow, black and red, along with other colors as accents.

Both the female and male swordtails are of similar size with the female being slightly larger. The female does not have the distinctive sword on its tail. The adult size for swordtails is no longer than four inches.

Aquarium Conditions for Swordtails

Swordtails are a good choice for a community tank because they get along with most other fish. It is also advisable to have more females than males in an aquarium in order to calm down competition amongst the males for domination and mating.

Swordtails can live in a variety of water conditions:

  • Water should be slightly alkaline with a PH of 6.5 to 7.5.
  • The water temperature should be a minimum of 65 degrees Fahrenheit to a maximum of 83 degrees.
  • Water hardness should range from a DH of 12.0 – 18.0

Swordtails are able to jump out of tanks so it’s recommended to have a lid for the aquarium.

Breeding Swordtails in an Aquarium

A planted tank is desirable in order to provide hiding places for the fry because parents and other fish in the aquarium like to eat them. In addition to plants in the substrate, there should be plants floating on the water.

Swordtails are livebearers so their fry are swimming the minute they are born. In order to save as many fry as possible from predators, they can be placed in another aquarium set aside for growing out the fry. After several weeks, the fry will be large enough to be put back in the main tank.

The fry can be fed finely-crushed up flake food. Do not use full size flakes because they are way too big for the young fish and the uneaten food will pollute the aquarium.

One pairing of a male and female swordtail can leave the female pregnant for up to eight more times. Females are capable of producing one hundred fry in one birthing.

Swordtails are prolific breeders so it may be necessary to sell the surplus fish to other hobbyists or to pet shops.

Just like other livebearers such as guppies, mollies and platys, the swordtail is a popular fish due to its passiveness and its ability to breed without special care.

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