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Xiphophorus hellerii

 Age of Aquariums > Freshwater Fish > Swordtail - Xiphophorus hellerii

Photos & Comments

Xiphophorus_hellerii_4.jpg (21kb)
Male Veiltail Swordtail
Photo Credit: Tony Hamer

Name: Xiphophorus hellerii
Origin: Central America

Size Tank pH Temp
13 cm 60 L 7.3 25C


There is much to share about the Xiphophorus hellerii (swordtail). The swordtail is a peaceful species and is desirable in the community tank. The male will reach 7-10 cm (including sword) and the female 7-10 cm. The wild swordtails are all a pale green color, but the domesticated hybrids you'll find in your local pet store will be a brighter green, red, painted, pinapple (yellowish), and many less common varieties. The sword is peculiar in that it can swim backwards as well as it can move forward and the male puts on quite a show during courtship, including circling and dancing backwards and forward around the female of choice. They breed like any livebearer and are very easy to breed and raise. Also of interest, the swordtail is very closely related to the Xiphophorus maculatus (platy) and cross breeding happens frequently, whether intentionally done for new color variations or whether they simply meet in the same tank for a drink. :-)

Swordtails are not aggressive except during competition for a single female by more than one male and the male platy may have a few playful joists with the male swordtails with the same intentions in mind. Swordtails are hardy and do well in those "difficult" hard water/high Ph tanks. (Rearing and breeding are almost identical for the guppy, platy, swordtail and molly)

Contributed by Twyla

I have always thought Swords to be one of the most beautiful fish, even though today they are commonly available and not thought of as exotic. Always full of antics, but more aggressive than books usually say. One male with several females is the happiest combo. Unless you have 200 liter tank or larger.

Contributed by Rubyscat

When breeding these fish I find Java Moss is the best at protecting the babies from other fish, including the parents!

Contributed by Jese

Would just like to add how friendly these guys are! At feeding time, I hold a brick of frozen brine shrimp in my fingers, and they quite happily nibble away at it. If I put my hand in the tank for any other reason, they "nibble" at my arm. Very cute and friendly fellows!

Contributed by Clinton Hallam

I feel that the swordtail has been given a bad name by books in that the books say swordtails are incredibly finicky about their water conditions. I find that my swordtails are incredibly hardy, even through numerous tank changes and other "unexpected" events. Swordtails are even, in my experience, more hardy than mollies, who I find to be finicky about water conditions and changes.

Contributed by Bob Bosscher

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