Another popular freshwater fish for beginners is the Swordtail fish. This article teaches you everything you need to know about swordtail fish care. Let’s start with a quick overview of how to care for a swordtail fish.
In the wild, there are two varieties, the Red Swordtail and Green Swordtail. The name is because wild swordtails are usually green with yellow and red stripes on the sides.
But, there are some varieties of swordtail fish that are colorful with brighter spots on the fins. As pets, being selectively bred, there are an even wider assortment of colors.
The name swordtail refers to the appearance of a sword-like extension of the male’s caudal fin—a feature that female swordtails lack altogether.
Like guppies, mollies, and platies, swordtails are livebearers. Thus, they give birth to live fry. A single female swordtail fish gives birth every four weeks or so.
How Fast Do Swordtails Grow?
Swordtails are medium-sized freshwater fish. The average swordtail fish size is around 5.5 inches in length when mature.
Males are smaller than females despite their elongated tails. They rarely exceed 5.5 inches. Females are known to grow up to an inch bigger!
How Long Do Swordtails Live?
The average lifespan of swordtail fish is 3-5 years. Being livebearers means that swordtails (females) undergo stress when giving birth. This stress, in turn, lessens their life expectancy.
Swordtail Fish Care: Tank Size & Water Conditions
Caring for swordtail fish is relatively easy. As with most fish care, the most important thing is to have the right-sized aquarium. The larger the aquarium, the better for your fish. A 20-gallon tank is best to start.
Freshwater swordfish live in waters at around 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the wild. So, when keeping these fish in an aquarium, aim to maintain a stable temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on your climate, you might need an aquarium heater to help with this.
Moreover, swordtails do best with water with 10-15 DH, moderately alkaline (at a pH of 7.2), and highly oxygenated. You can use an air stone or air pump to help oxygenate the water.
Diet: What To Feed Swordtails?
These fish are omnivorous; they will eat insects and plants. Feed your swordtail fish small live foods like insect larvae and fish flakes to provide a well-balanced nutrition profile.
This high-quality flake food helps bring out their colors and, when used in conjunction with brine shrimp, offers a healthy diet for swordtails.
How To Breed Swordtails?
At around three months old, swordfish can start reproducing. Female swordtails will separate themselves from males when close to giving birth. They also exhibit aggressive behavior, especially toward male swordtails, the closer they are to giving birth.
There isn’t much that you need to do to breed swordtails. Like their cousins, the guppy, they are easy to breed. To encourage breeding, raise the water temperature to 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
Of course, pH, nitrite, and nitrate levels should be within safe ranges too. A female swordtail can give birth to 50-100 fry. And they can give birth every 4-6 weeks.
Swordtails can and will eat their young moreso if not well-fed. To prevent this, transfer fry from the main tank to a separate tank after birth.
One other thing to note is that female swordtail fish can store sperm and thus reproduce without the presence of a male swordtail. If water conditions are not suitable, the fish will usually not reproduce but wait for the right time. Here’s a short video documenting the swordtail breeding process.
Tank Mates For Swordtails
- Platy Fish
- Molly Fish
- Cory Catfish
- Rosy Barbs
- Dwarf Gouramis
- Neon Tetras
- Celestial Pearl Danios
- Kuhli Loaches
The Bottom Line
Proper swordtail care means providing adequate living space, pristine water conditions, stable temperatures, and a well-balanced diet. Reproduction is easy and does not require any special consideration.
However, remember that swordtails are livebearing fish and will give birth to fry. They do not lay eggs. Thanks for reading this complete swordtail care guide on Fish Tank Basics!