Swordtail fish

Dive into the dynamic world of the Swordtail fish, scientifically known as Xiphophorus hellerii. A jewel in the freshwater aquarium realm, Swordtails captivate with their striking appearance and lively behavior. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the nuances of their size, appearance, natural habitat, behavior, dietary preferences, and expert advice for keeping Swordtails in your home aquarium.


Swordtails showcase a sleek physique, reaching an average length of 8-12 centimeters (3-5 inches). Their distinguishing feature is the elongated lower lobe of the tail, resembling a sword, particularly prominent in males. Colors vary, spanning the spectrum from vibrant reds and oranges to subtle greens and blues.


Indigenous to Central America, Swordtails thrive in freshwater habitats, particularly in Mexico and parts of Honduras. Their adaptability has also led to widespread populations in aquariums globally.


Swordtails are known for their active and social behavior. Males, with their distinctive sword-like tails, may display territorial tendencies, especially in the presence of other males. Females, while generally less territorial, can also exhibit aggression, especially during breeding periods.


Swordtails are omnivores, relishing a diverse diet. In their natural habitat, they feed on small insects, larvae, and algae. In captivity, maintain their health with a balanced diet of high-quality flake or pellet food, supplemented with live or frozen options such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia.

Keeping Swordtails at home

Creating an optimal environment for Swordtails requires attention to various factors. Here are essential guidelines for their well-being:

Tank size: A tank with a capacity of 80 liters (20 gallons) or more is suitable for a small community of Swordtails. Larger tanks reduce territorial behavior.
Water parameters: Maintain a stable water temperature between 22-27°C (72-81°F) and a neutral to slightly alkaline pH level between 7.0-7.5. The water hardness can range from 10-20 dGH.
Aquarium setup: Mimic their natural habitat with a mix of live plants, rocks, and driftwood. Swordtails appreciate open swimming spaces and hiding spots. Adequate filtration and regular water changes contribute to their well-being.
Tank mates: Swordtails are generally peaceful and can coexist with a variety of community fish. However, avoid housing them with fin-nipping or aggressive species.

The Swordtail fish, with its vibrant colors and distinctive sword-like tails, is a fantastic addition to any freshwater aquarium. By understanding their size, behavior, and dietary needs, you can create a thriving aquatic community within your own home. Embrace the opportunity to care for Xiphophorus hellerii, and you’ll be rewarded with endless moments of fascination and the joy of witnessing their dynamic presence in your aquarium.

Scientific nameXiphophorus hellerii
Type of aquariumFreshwater
Size8-12 cm / 3-5 inches
RegionCentral America (Mexico, Honduras)
Ideal tank size80 liters / 20 gallons or more
Ideal water temperature22-27 °C / 72-81 °F
DietOmnivorous, flakes, pellets, live/frozen foods
Life spanAround 3-5 years
SchoolingPrefers a community setting, may show territorial behavior.

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One Response

  1. I have a gold Gourami with a female Opaline Gourami I had 2 male 3spot blue Gourami and the gold Gourami killed them both I want to get another male festivum cichlid but I don’t know how my gold Gourami will react.

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