Swordtail Fish Care, Feeding, Breeding, Tank Setup, and More

Swordtail Fish Care, Feeding, Breeding, Tank Setup, and More

Swordtail fish is a very well-known aquarium fish. It is one of the best fish to keep as a pet because

  • It is easy to handle for beginners.
  • Swordtails are calm and peaceful.
  • Easily available in markets.
  • Fast breeding time period so you can produce several generations in a short period of time.
  • It can be kept in a 20-gallon aquarium.

There are a lot of colors present in swordtail this is also the reason for its popularity and mostly among enthusiasts. The geographic range of swordtail extends from North Mexico to Central Mexico and Central Asia. Some species of swordtail are also introduced into California, Hawaii, Africa, Sri Lanka, Australia, and the UK.

Biology of Swordtails

Scientific Name Xiphophorous Helerii
Class Pisces

The Xiphophorous Helerii is translated from the Greek word “xiphos” which means sword and phoros means to bear. Helerii was the name of a German naturalist who was to discover it in Mexico.

The interesting fact about the Poecilidae family is, it is also known as “Big Four” because mostly ornamental fishes belong to this family.


Just like other fish, swordtail fish also have dorsal, pectoral caudal, and anal fins. These fins aid in gearing and swimming. The body is scaly. The round abdomen is present. The tail is rounded with one or more rays. Its size range from 4-5 inches. The life span is 3-5 years.  It is available in various colors that vary from yellow to red. Streaks are also present in its body. On the basis of these colors, these are called green swordtails and red swordtails.

Types of Swordtails

On the basis of color variations, swordtail is divided into various types such as red velvet, red wag, green wagtail, red tuxedo, red comet, neon wagtail, red calico, red-eye, golden swordtail, pineapple swordtail, golden comet, golden wagtail, marble and mixed color swordtail.

Popular Species of Swordtail

There are various breeds of swordtail which are popular due to their colors, color patterns. Some of the mare given below:

1. Green Swordtail

This fish got its name due to its color. The body color is green along with green streaks.

2. Green Wagtail Swordtail

It is a result of the interbreeding of green swordtail with wagtail platy. So it Is a hybrid swordtail.

3. Red Swordtail

It is bright red in color. It is the resultant of a green swordtail with red molly.

4. Twinbar Solar Flare Swordtail

The Colour may vary from orange to pink. Require 20 gallons for breeding.

5. Vampire Swordtail

It’s an awesome swordtail. It has a solid red color and a long tail.

6. Blue Swordtail Fish

It has blue platinum color. The quality of this fish is a rapid growth rate.

7. High Fin Swordtail

It is easy to keep. The Male has a feathery appearance.

8.Black Swordtail Fish

It has a solid black color. Some also have golden margins at fins.

9. Kohaku Swordtails

They are more active and energetic. It is a more valuable species throughout the world.

10. Marigold Swordtail

It’s an eye-catching fish. It has a yellow to orange color.

11. Pineapple Swordtail Fish

It is a live-bearing freshwater fish. It has the ability to produce 80 fry fish at a time.

12. Red Wag Swordtail

It has a bright red color. It is easy to keep the red wag swordtail.

13. Orange Swordtail Fish

It has a bright orange color. its Favorite place is dense vegetation. Easily adjust in all environmental conditions.

14. Red Velvet Swordtails

It has a unique red color. The male has short fins.

15. Velvet Wag Swordtail

It is a peaceful organism having a velvety appearance.

16. Neon Swordtail

It has electric coloration. It is an active swordtail.

Why They Are Called Swordtail?

Swordtail is a Lil bit expensive especially for the male members due to the presence of a defensive organ i.e. presence of a sword. The tail of this fish looks like a sword and this characteristic is present only in the males therefore this fish is named so (swordtail).


As this fish is famous for its peaceful and calm nature but on the other hand, its males possess an aggressive nature. They become aggressive with each other sometimes. Swordtails are livebearers means they give birth to young ones. They are also called live brooders.

Feeding Habits

The swordfish is omnivore in nature. But they like to eat green veggies. You can also feed them with flakes and small worms. The most favorite food of swordfish are flakes which are commercially available in all markets. Before feeding it is very important that food contains meat and proteinaceous food which boosts their growth.

Tank Setup

The size of the tank matters more for the growth of the swordtail. The optimum size of the tank for swordtail fish is 15 gallons. Because it provides a big room for swimming in a swordtail. As we know that it is freshwater fish but the tank needs clear water so you can also install a filter to keep the water clean. The optimum temperature for the best growth of the swordtail is 15-25oC. To maintain this optimum temperature you should use the best quality heater. The optimum pH for its growth is 7-8.3 because the concentration of salt matters a lot for any kind of fish depending on the nature of fish either it is freshwater inhabitant or saltwater. Due to such parameters, this fish is a favorite among all aquarists.

Water Quality Parameters

To get the best output it is very important to maintain the optimum quality parameters here are some instructions to keep your water tank suitable for swordtail fish.

  • Set up 15-20 gallon tank
  • Nano reef tank can also be used
  • You can use any type of substrate
  • Moderate light is enough
  • The optimum temperature is 15-25oC
  • Optimum pH is 7-8.3
  • The hardness of water must be 12-30dGH
  • Salt content must be 1-1.25 teaspoon of NaCl per gallon
  • It prefers to swim in the middle of the water region

Tank Maintenance and Cleaning

A swordtail always prefers to remain in the middle of the tank. To avoid predators, the tank must be full of plants and other decorations. A large number of plants may rot or die and can cause foul-smelling.

So the tank cleanliness is also very important. To do this you should use a water changer. A water changer is a device that is used to replace the old water with new water efficiently without any loss of time. Its working is simple. Just to remove the polluted water from the hose and add the clean water into the hose simply by a power button.

Tankmates of Swordtails

Swordtails are peaceful and social. They can adjust with any species. The best companions of swordfish are mollies, platies, and angelfish. They can also be kept with corydoras and tetras. These species need peace. If anybody interferes with its peace it could be aggressive to them. Most males are aggressive and full of anger. So they should not be kept more than one with 2-3 females in a tank.


Swordtail fish get matured at a very early stage of their life. They mature after 3 months from birth. The biggest advantage is that they don’t need any special kind of care for breeding. The environment in which the swordtail feels relax during its breeding period is cleanliness and warm water. So, simply you can change a part of water instead of changing the whole water of the aquarium and disturb the water quality parameters.

During pregnancy female swordtail need some peaceful corner area in the aquarium. To create such a peaceful environment for your pregnant swordtail, you should add some broadleaf plants into your aquarium. This will provide calm to your pregnant fish. A precautionary measure for the breeding time period is to keep your pregnant swordfish separate from the others to avoid stress.

One more thing it is better to separate both the genders after distinguishing because there is no parental care in swordfish and sometimes they eat their own fingerling.

Breeding Swordtails

For the breeding of a swordtail, it is very important to keep the water quality parameters in a constant state. The optimum temperature for breeding is 25oC. Additionally, you can use breeding boxes In your original tank to separate the female fish to give birth.

The behavior of both genders changes during the breeding period. As the male chases the females and with the help of gonopodium insert the sperms into the female body. The female stores the male gametes into its body and fertilization takes place.

The gestation period is 28 days. However, this timer period may change few days due to circumstances. The no of fry in one delivery may reach up to 40-50. This no may exceed 100 to 150 fish fry.

Care of Swordtailfish fry

It is important to provide feed to the fish fry on time and also to the mother. Because the mother fish have no instinctive parental care. So, there are chances that she might eat her own fish fry and other big fishes of the tank may also perform the same job. So, for the life of your fry, it is very important to provide extra care as humans provide extra care to their young ones.

Wrapping Up

So form above all it is cleared that swordtail fish is a very cute pet and can easily be kept without any difficulties. It is a peaceful, calm, and friendly fish and can easily adjust itself in any condition. So a little care to swordtail gives you huge output.

Flora is a Fish Parent & Enthusiast for over 10 Years. She has Deep Love & Affection for Fish Keeping. It's become her Passion to Help others. Stay Tuned with her Blog to Know more about Pet Care Tips, Product Reviews, and Guides. If you've anything Interesting to Share about your Fish. She'd Love to Know.