Pet Education Fish
Pet Education Fish Pet Education Fish Pet Education Fish
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
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Xiphophorus helleri


Quick Stats:   Swordtail

Family: Poeciliidae
Range: Mexico, Central America
Size: Up to 4½ inches
Diet: Omnivore
Tank Set-up: Freshwater: Well-planted, open areas
Tank Conditions: 64-82°F; pH 7.0-8.3; dH 12-30
Minimum Tank Capacity: 20 gallons
Light: Medium
Temperament: Peaceful
Swimming Level: Top to middle
Care Level: Easy
Reproduction: Livebearer

The Swordtail is an easy-to-keep, peaceful, live-bearing fish. It can be obtained in many color variations, as well as fin and tail variations. The most common varieties include: Red Wag, Red Velvet, Marigold, Black Nubian, Pineapple, and Neon Swordtail. The male has an extension on the lower part of its tail, resembling a sword. The Swordtail is a jumper, so be sure to provide an adequate cover over the aquarium. This fish is very popular with all aquarists, from beginners to advanced.

The Swordtail requires a tank of at least 20 gallons that is well planted with plenty of room for swimming. Because of its peaceful nature, the Swordtail is well suited for the community aquarium, although it will sometimes eat fry. The male can be aggressive towards other males, so care should be taken when housing more than one.

The Swordtail is a livebearer and can give birth to as many as 80 fry at one time. A spawning box is recommended, or if one is not available, dense floating cover should be provided to protect the fry from the adults. Once sex is determined, the males should be separated because swordtails can begin breeding at as young as three months of age.

The Swordtail is an omnivore that will eat commercially prepared flaked foods and algae, as well as freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex, and brine shrimp.

Ideal tank mates include:

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