They come in a wide variety of colours and usually feature an elongated caudal fin along the lower half, from which they derive their name. They may reach an impressive 14 cm (5.5”) in size and can live for up to 5 years.
A remarkably low maintenance fish, swordtails are tolerant of a range of water parameters and tankmates. Though not particularly vulnerable to common fish diseases like ick, they do run the risk of livebearer wasting disease, though this is quite rare. They make a great addition to any community tank with other peaceful, similar-sized tropical fish. Our most popular stock includes the wagtail pineapple swordtail and red swordtails, though you may wish to take advantage of our bundle discounts in assorted swordtails.
Swordtails are native to north and central America, from the southernmost states of the USA to Mexico, Honduras and beyond. They usually prefer freshwater streams with plenty of plant life, but have been found downriver to the point of brackish water.
Behavior/Compatibility for Swordtails
Swordtails are a very placid fish that will only show signs of aggression towards other swordtail males during breeding. However, this behaviour can be easily curbed by stocking more females than males in your community. Though they are not a true shoaling fish, housing them in groups of 5 or more goes a long way in relaxing swordtails. As with many small livebearers, swordtails will very rarely cause a disturbance but are also incapable of defence when threatened by large aggressive fish. If you avoid adding any large, boisterous species you should have absolutely no problem with mollies, danios, tetras, Corydoras or Angelfish.
Housing Swordtails and Aquarium Fish Tank Set-up Tips
While swordtails are happiest in groups, this is not as integral as it is with true shoaling species. You may begin with a single swordtail housed in a tank as small as 57 litres (15 gallons). Swordtails do enjoy the extra swimming space though, so bigger is definitely better. As they are mid-level swimmers, long tanks are preferred. They may occasionally jump, so a tank lid is recommended. Be sure to ratio your swordtails at 1 male to 2 females, with a higher ratio of females even more preferrable.
Recommended Max Fish Count Tank Volume 1 Swordtail 57 litres (15 gallons) 3-5 Swordtails 86 litres (19 gallons) 6 Swordtails 136 litres (30 gallons) 8 swordtails 160 litres (35 gallons)
Your choice of substrate is not of huge consequence to swordtails, as they will rarely venture to the base of your aquarium. Feel free to select this based on aesthetics, the needs of the other fish in your community aquarium or ease of cleaning. To most accurately replicate their natural habitats, you may opt for sand, but only if it is compatible with your other community fish.
Although they should normally be swimming out the open, swordtails require some hiding places to rest. Plants such as Java Moss or Crested Java Fern are crucial for this, but you can also include driftwood and rocks.
Swordtails are not fussy when it comes to water parameters and can handle temperatures of 18 to 27 degrees C (64.4 – 80.6 F). Depending on your local climate, you may need to install a water heater to ensure the temperature stays within this range.
Your Ph should be 5.5 – 7.8 and you should aim for a hardness of 5 - 15 DGH. To ensure your pH and hardness are suitable you should invest in a testing kit. Always ensure your water is properly filtered, and regularly change the water (25% weekly or 50% every other week).
Feeding and Care
As omnivores, swordtails require both meat and plant-based diets. High-quality fish flakes are the preferred staple, though slow sinking pellets are fine as well. Live feeds like insect larvae, bloodworms and brine shrimp should be offered on occasion, with algae wafers being the perfect vegetable snack. Feed your swordtails small amounts twice a day, ensuring they can finish all food offered within two minutes.
Great reasons to keep swordtails in your tropical fish tank
- Swordtails are a super easy fish to take care of and can handle a massive range of water temperatures.
- They are prolific breeders and make the introduction to hobby breeding a breeze.
- Swordtails are confident and docile fish, adding life and activity to your aquarium with their harmless tail fencing displays.
See our online fish stores range below of easy and beautiful swordtails and order today for live fish delivered direct to your door all over Australia.