Swordtail fish are mild and can be housed in a community aquarium. Swordtails are compatible with most common community tank mates except other Swordtails as they will aggressively breed with one another, often leading to fry cannibalism. Swordtail Fish should only be kept with invertebrates such as shrimp, snails, and crayfish that have been introduced into the aquarium for at least two weeks before adding Swordtails. This gives the invertebrates time to acclimate themselves to their new environment. Swordtail fish are excellent first fish for children to keep due to their non-aggressive nature and relative ease of care.
A minimum of 10 gallons (38 liters) aquarium is sufficient to house one male Swordtail with several females; however, one male can be kept with several females. Swordtails should permanently be housed in groups as they are social fish and will not thrive if kept alone for extended periods. Swordtails often stake out a section of their aquarium as theirs to which they retreat. Swordtail Fish should be provided plenty of room to swim and may require more than 1 square foot (0.093 square meters) per individual fish, depending on how much space each Swordtail claims as its own. The tank bottom should consist of a fine substrate, such as sand or smooth gravel no more significant than half an inch (1 cm) in diameter, as the swordlike tail is easily damaged by sharp substrates such as crushed coral.
Swordtail Fish prefer a water temperature between 70°F (21°C) and 80°F (27°C), with an ideal temperature of 76°F (24°C). Swordtails will thrive in pH conditions between 6.5 and 8.5; however, they are very tolerant fish and adapt to a wide range of needs as long as extremes are avoided. Swordtails prefer well-oxygenated waters where currents are created either by filter output or powerhead pump circulation. Swordtail Fish should be provided with hiding places such as caves, vegetation, roots, and rock work that allow them to feel secure from predators. Swordtail Fish have three to five years when kept under proper conditions but can live up to seven years with optimal care. Swordtails are livebearers, meaning they give birth to fully formed young. Swordtail Fish give birth to live fry every ten days on average during the year’s warmer months. Swordtail Fish cannot distinguish between their fry and other Swordtails’ fry, so care must be taken when planning breeding groups of Swordtails for them not to breed with one another. Swordtail fish produce 20-40 fry per litter with two litters per female per year.
Swordtail Fish require minimal feeding as they naturally feed on algae and detritus found in nature; however, they accept most flake foods designed for community aquariums that contain vegetable matter such as spirulina or kelp meal. Swordtails also get most frozen foods designed for community aquariums, including brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, krill, daphnia, and plankton. Swordtails are omnivorous, meaning that they feed on both plant matter and small live prey items of invertebrates such as worms and zooplankton. Swordtail Fish should be fed once or twice daily according to their appetite. Swordtail Fish require approximately 20% of their body weight per feeding; however, the amount consumed by Swordtail is typically between 10-30% of their body weight. Swordtails can be conditioned using dry flake food pellets containing vegetable matter (spirulina) which promotes brilliant coloration in male Swordtail fish.
Swordtail Fish are primarily herbivorous and require a vegetable-based diet. Swordtail will eat most dried, frozen, and flake foods designed for aquarium use; however, Swordtail diets should be supplemented with fresh vegetables such as brine shrimp (either live or dried) and earthworms, bloodworms, daphnia, crickets, and plankton. Swordtails may also graze upon algae growing on rockwork and plants, although they prefer meaty foods when available. Swordtails can be weaned onto some vegetable matter if it is introduced into the Swordtails’ diet at an early age. Swordtails benefit from dietary supplementation of vitamins or food that contains vitamin B12 to promote healthy growth and coloration in Swordtail fish.
Swordtail Fish are naturally active and prefer well-planted aquariums with many nooks and crannies for Swordtails to explore. Swordtails do best in groups; however, breeding pairs should be isolated from other Swordtails as they easily hybridize when kept together. Swordtail Fish will display brilliant coloration when provided with the appropriate diet and sufficient space to navigate comfortable resting areas such as caves and plants. A species tank is not required for Swordtail Fish, but if a species only setup is desired, Swordtail Fish male colors will remain vivid year-round on a diet of high-quality dry food pellets or flakes containing spirulina algae. Swordtail fish also appreciate some driftwood decor and live plants such as java fern, java moss, anubias, and other Swordtails of the same species. Swordtail Fish are very active swimmers and should be provided with at least a 20-gallon tank for every Swordtail fish in the aquarium. Swordtail Fish requires good filtration, regular water changes, and proper pH levels to ensure healthy long-term success. Swordtail Fish are generally considered easy to care for given their minimal feeding requirements; however, Swordtails are known to jump out of open-topped tanks, which can lead to injury or death by injury of Swordtails.
Swordtail Fish has several common names, including Common Swordfish, Bluntnose Livebearer, Guppy Swordfish, Banded Sword Tailed Livebearer, Green Swordtailed Swordfish, Sword Tailed Swordfish, Swordtailed Livebearer, and of course, the Swordtail Fish. Swordtail fish have been selectively bred to develop various color variations, including pink, yellow, orange, blue, green, brownish red, gold/white colorations, and moreover 50 registered Swordtail fish color variations among many more unregistered varieties.
Swordtail Fish average between 4-5 inches in length when mature, with the largest recorded Swordtail Fish being 7 inches long, while some Swordtails may reach up to 8 inches at maturity. The male Swordtail is easily distinguished from the female Swordtail by modifying the anal fin known as an “anal sword,” which Swordtails use to impregnate Swordtail fish. Swordtail Fish are livebearers and can breed as young as three months; however, Swordtail Fish will not provide the best care for Swordtail fry until they reach 4-5 months of age. Swordtail fish produce about 50 fries per year with a 2-4 weeks gestation period, depending on water temperature and diet. Swordtails breed more frequently in warmer waters with an optimal 75-81 degrees Fahrenheit range for best results and extended breeding periods up to 25 days (at 80 degrees). Swordtails begin puberty at around 5 inches in length, but most Swordtails will not desire spawning before reaching 8 inches in length.
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