Swordtail: Beautiful Freshwater Fish

Swordtail (Xiphophorous helleri) is a beautiful freshwater fish of the Peciliaceae family. The homeland of these fish is the reservoirs of Central America (Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras). These fish prefer mountain rivers with strong streams, lakes, and swamps, as well as lagoons and ponds. They can adapt to life in brackish water. This type of fish came to Europe at the beginning of the twentieth century, later he participated in inbreeding to create other breeds.


Swordtail can breed with Platies, resulting in many species of different colors: black, red, lemon, spotted, brindle. Thanks to breeding work, interesting forms of Swordtails have turned out: with lyre fins, three-lobed fins, veil-tailed, scarf, high-fins. Wild Swordtail cannot be bought these days, so it is bred in aquariums and fish farms. The body of the Swordtail is elongated, flattened laterally. Males are slimmer than females. The average body size of fish is 10-12 cm. The upper mouth is adapted for capturing food from the water surface. The color of the scales of the natural form of this fish is olive-gray or yellowish-brown, on the back, there is a strip with a greenish shimmer. The fins of the fish are yellow-green, translucent; the dorsal fin has small brownish spots.

A horizontal dark purple stripe with a red or blue border stands out on the body, there are 2 more stripes parallel to it. In females, the body is characterized by a silvery tint, it is slightly faded in color. Adult fish are distinguished by a dark spot at the anal fin.

The lower rays of the caudal fin of the male are elongated; in the females, the entire tail is single-lobed, round. The so-called “sword” of the tail is painted black and can shimmer with a green, orange or red hue. Females are larger than males.


Swordtail is a hardy fish that can live in the water of various parameters. Recommended conditions of the aquatic environment: temperature 24-26 ° C, acidity 7.0-8.0 pH, hardness – 10-15 °. One fish can live in an aquarium with a volume of 20 liters, but it is better to choose a more spacious tank – at least 50 liters for a couple of fish. Breeding Swordtails will require a spacious and long aquarium (1 meter wide) with a volume of 100 liters.

These fish love the flow that can be created with a filter and water from a pump. Cover the aquarium with a lid, leaving a narrow gap between it and the surface of the water. Leave open water for swimming. Make sure these active fish do not jump out of the aquarium.

This type of fish is distinguished by a peaceful and friendly disposition, they are suitable for a common aquarium where other types of fish live. 2-3 females should be settled on one male, two males on the same territory can fight. Viviparous fish species are suitable as neighbors for Swordtails. It is not recommended to settle them with slow and disproportionate fish, as well as veil-tailed and long-finned fish species.

Wild Swordtails can swim into the brackish waters of lagoons and estuaries, so they carry salted aquarium water. Recommended proportions of sea salt: 1 tablespoon per 10 liters of water. Consider the characteristics of plants and other fish – they should also love salted water. Also, the health of these fish is negatively affected by a decrease in oxygen in the water, so aeration should be constant. Under good conditions, the fish will live from 3 to 5 years.

Plants for Aquarium and Feeding Rules

Plants with small leaves that reach the surface of the water are suitable as aquarium decorations: Indian limnophila, hornwort, Vallisneri, pinnate, fern, cryptocoryne, floating plant species (green breccia, floating Salvinia). In the background of the tank, you can plant dense bushes of greenery in which pregnant females and fry can hide (elodea toothed, kabomba). Medium pebbles or sand (not colored) are suitable as soil.

Swordtail’s full life is possible under conditions of proper feeding with different types of food. Give these pets live food – brine shrimp, daphnia, cyclops, bloodworm, tubifex, insect larvae. You can feed them frozen, dry branded foods, and combination foods.

Swordtails will not give up fresh plant foods, including lettuce and spinach leaves, nettle and dandelion leaves (scalded with boiling water), boiled cereals (peas, millet, oatmeal). If there is a lack of fiber in the body, the fish will begin to nibble the leaves of aquatic plants. Swordtails will be able to tolerate a 2-week lack of food if the owner is absent. However, under this condition, the aquarium should definitely contain algae and live plants. They can collect algal fouling from plants and decorations, find snails by removing them from their shells. After feeding, promptly remove unused feed so that it does not begin to form harmful impurities of ammonia. Remove food debris with a net or suck out the soil with a tube.

Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

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