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FAQs on the Swordtails 2

Related Articles: Swordtails & Poeciliids: Guppies, Platies, Swordtails, Mollies by Neale Monks, Livebearing Fishes by Bob Fenner,

Related FAQs: Swordtails 1, Swordtail Identification, Swordtail Behavior, Swordtail Compatibility, Swordtail Selection, Swordtail Systems, Swordtail Feeding, Swordtail Disease, Swordtail Reproduction, Guppies, Platies, Mollies, & Livebearers, Livebearer Identification, Livebearer Behavior, Livebearer Compatibility, Livebearer Selection, Livebearer Systems, Livebearer Feeding, Livebearer Disease, Livebearer Reproduction,

A nice female "creamcicle" Swordail. Interzoo 08.

Hi, I've read all of your other posts about swordtail fish. New aq.     2/2/12
I just recently had a birthday, and for it I received my very first aquarium. It is a small tank that is 10 gallons. I had no intention of breeding or anything, because I am still a teenager and unable to get a job to buy the necessary things. My mother, as part of having a tank, agreed to buy the original decorations and food for the fish, as well as get me three fish. The three I got was one Pecasomous fish,
<Plecostomus... might be one that gets way too big for this volume. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/loricselfaqs.htm
gender unknown, one male Betta fish, and then one marigold swordfish. The guy in the pet store said that they would go together well because none of them were aggressive.
<Mmm, do keep your eye on the Sword... can become rambunctious>
In my tank I have a small castle with room for the fish to hide, I also have five fake plants. I have shells and a little dragon decoration. As I said before, I had no intention of having a breeding tank, the things that went in there were mainly for looks and for the fish to hide in. Well, two weeks after getting all of my fish in there my marigold (named Orange, which has been changed to Mama Orange) emerged from the castle where she spent nearly all of her time.
<Unusual... how was this tank cycled? That is, the biological filtration established?>
 She has not gone back there since, nor have either of the other fish (Alpha and Pecko) gone in there. However, I did notice the next day that I have a few baby fish. I counted a total of five, none of the other fish have attacked them or tried from what I can see eat them. I cannot get another tank for them, and my mother has deemed that if they live, they live. I want to do the best I can for them to live, so I placed another plant in the tank. I was wondering, because I read that they need to eat up to six times a day, should I feed my fish more.
<Be careful here. IF feeding frequently, make the amounts very small>
Originally I was told to feed them a certain amount once a day. Before the babies were born, not all of the food would be eaten. My Betta fish (Alpha) got Ick the day after I brought him home, I got the medicine for him and cleaned the tank before the
babies were born, but he's still getting treated for it. The product the pet store sold me is Lifeguard Halo Shield All-in-one therapeutic treatment. Will this harm the babies?
<Mmm, shouldn't if not over-dosed>
I don't want to loose <lose> any of my fish. How often should I feed the other fish?
<Twice a day is fine; no food should be left over after several minutes>
The babies seem to be fine in the tank. It has been a week since Mama Orange emerged with them, and all five are still alive. Thank you.
<Do read here as well:
and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Suggested tankmates for swordtails... reading    3/16/11
One of my female Swordtails died this morning. I noticed she was behaving a little weird, but didn't think much of it. She spent quite a bit of time at the surface of the water and was generally aloof from the other Swordtails.
I brought my water in for a check and it seemed to be fine, although the pH level was a bit higher than normal (~7.8). I also brought the dead body in to my LFS and they couldn't tell anything from the body because it had been dead for too long. How should I proceed?
<Mmm, given the data presented? Read here:
http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/sworddisfaqs.htm and the linked files above>
I think she was pregnant a couple weeks ago, and I'm not sure if this may have been a reason why. What signs should I look for if there is a disease in the tank? Please advise.
<Welcome... Bob Fenner>

A happy writer; enjoying learning - 5/9/2006 Dear Crew, I would just like to thank Lisa for answering my questions. <<You��re welcome Katherine.>> I have good news. <<YAY!>> I still have babies hiding in my rocks, and also figured out upon further research on your site that the red sword-tails had ich. <<Yay for babies, boo for the parasite.>> I'm new at keeping fish as I'm sure y'all could tell, so I really had no idea, but I just kept searching and I found it all by myself. <<Thank you very much for this.  Do you have a handle on their treatment?>> Hopefully I won't have to bother y'all anymore, but just in case remember I'm a little ignorant at this and I certainly wouldn't mind just being pointed in the right direction to research it myself. <<No bother! Thank you for trying.>> I do very much appreciate Lisa taking the time to answer what probably seemed like some pretty stupid questions. <<Not stupid, Katherine.  We all have to start somewhere.>> I enjoy the site very much and find it really resourceful since I am in the "dumb fish owners" stage still yet, but I'm learning more and more by the day thanks to your site. <<We were all newbies once!  Enjoy the learning process.  It never ends, by the way!>> Thank you for everything and God bless. <<You��re quite welcome.  Lisa.>> Katherine

Swords... a child?  - 02/27/06 I a 2 long tail swords, one is small and thin( which i think is the  Male), and the other one is big and fat (I think is the female), and   the tip of its tail looks like it was bit or something. Is this sword pregnant?   <... please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/swordreprofaqs.htm> If so should I put it in a different tank with just the 2 swords, because  I have 2 angles( which really are aggressive) I  have a pleco, 2 little Danios, and a bunch a little tetra, in a  55 gallon tank. Thank you <Bob Fenner> Swordtails Without the Sword  2/18/06 I have 3 female high fin Swordtails, recently purchased. One of them seems to be a bit more aggressive, and it looks like she has some extra equipment on the under side (similar to my male Molly but not that developed), but she doesn't have the long sword tail that I associate with this breed. I've read arguments either way saying the Swordtails will change gender in the absence of a male, but I wasn't sure if this was what was happening. Please don't post my email address on the website. Also, if possible could you respond via email? I don't always have access to the external internet to view the site but my email should work. Zach < Not all male swordtails develop long tails. Sometimes it is in the genes or may have been bitten and fungused off.-Chuck>

Swordtail Repro. mostly  1/10/06 Question 1:  My daughter has 1 male swordtail and three females ( just got them) in a 10g tank.     Today she thinks the females belly is slightly swollen ( not sure) .  How long is the cycle before they have babies.. <Most... every six to eight weeks> appx. 24 hrs. having fish in tank my daughter put the suspected female in a breeder pin. Please give  your opinion on this?    <Is a good idea>   Question  2:  Can you tell us for a ten gallon tank what water test we should do and levels... <... is posted on WWM... can be a rather large topic. Once the system is biologically cycled, testing pH, nitrate occasionally... along with regular/frequent partial water changes is about all that is suggested> my  wife said the pet store did about 5 and  she didn't ask them what they where but they said the levels where good. <They likely included ammonia, nitrite and alkalinity>     We are using tap water that is going through a water softener and a tap water purifier.   Also we use a tank conditioner solution and a Bacteria solution to stabilize the water..  and adjusted the temp around 76-78 degrees.   Also by the stores recommendation we increase the 10g tank water fall pump too 20g pump and also complemented it with an undergravel filter system    Thanks .. <Please see WWM re these general issues... and please use your spelling and grammar checkers... Bob Fenner>

Mysterious swordtail disease   1/10/06 Robert,    I assume that's your name based upon your e-mail address...  I would greatly appreciate if you would be able shed some light upon my mysterious death of dozens of swordtail fish.  About a month ago, I added three catfish and a fresh water snail to a stable aquarium.  It seems as if they introduced some sort of disease that paralyses the fish. <Could be>   Their backs seem to start severely arching until the point they can no longer effectively swim.  I'm assuming this is some sort of paralysis...  I have a 30 gallon tank which had roughly 40 swordtail fish (orange & gold).  The fish began dying unexplainably and rapidly increased...  I noticed some sort of fungus growing on the aquarium rocks.  I assumed the two were connected and the fish were dying off quickly.  Thus, I started all over.  I replaced the rocks and soaked all remaining items in a 10:1 water to bleach solution.   Things seemed to be fine after two weeks.  However, I just noticed the fungus is returning, and we lost 2 fish in the last 6 days...  Any idea what is causing this, and what could remedy it?  Thanks a million for any input you could provide. Thanks again, Martin <There are some microbial infections that can produce the twisting backs, death (Myxosoma cerebralis is one)... likely the "fungus" growth is only secondarily related (nutrient from dead, dying fishes). There are antibiotic/antimicrobial remedies that can be tried... Nitrofuranace would be my first choice/try here... A bit late for this situation, I do encourage you to isolate/quarantine new livestock ahead of placing in ongoing systems. Much of this is covered on our site: WetWebMedia.com 

Two Questions. Swordtail ID, Repro.  1/10/06     Hello   I sent an email to you guys the other day, but I think my picture was to big. So I decided to try with a smaller pic. If I need to resize it again please let me know. Hope I didn't cause any problems.   I bought this fish about a month ago from a pet store. They told me it was a female Sailfin Molly. <Mmm, looks like a female "green/wild-type" swordtail to me (Xiphophorus hellerii) http://fishbase.sinica.edu.tw/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=3231&genusname=Xiphophorus&speciesname=hellerii> She is about three inches long, and as you can see not very colorful, but that is o.k. She looks like a large Green Swordtail, to me. Do you guys know what species she might be? <Oh yes>   I also have another question, if that is alright. She looks like she is gravid, but has looked like that since the day I got her. Which as I stated earlier, was a month ago. I have been told that the eggs may not have been fertilized, that she reabsorbed them. If this is true wouldn't she have gotten thinner and the gravid spot gone away? <Yes, likely> <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Swordtails With Strange Color   1/7/06 Hello, I have looked through your index, but could not find anything that described what I am seeing with the male swordtail that I have.  He is a yellow/gold color with a beautiful red and black tail. As he has grown I noticed a sort of light color mottling on his back. (Imagine camouflage fabric) Now he is developing a brown spot on his head.  Is this normal skin color changes for a swordtail?  I also have 3 female Bettas in the tank with him and I know that they change colors as they age. Thanks for your assistance. --Sue < The swordtail has many color variations that may change as the fish grows. If there are no other signs of illness then I would assume it is a color change and not a disease.-Chuck>

Question on Swordtails... breeding mostly  1/4/06 Hi, I have had my tank set up for about 6  months now, In the beginning we had 3 swordtails, 2 females, (we thought), <Mmm, these can "change" sex> and 1  male... the male died about a week after we got him, and then a month or so later  the smaller of the two females developed the swordtail of a male and the  modified anal fin.... my female swordtail is a lot bigger then my male, but in all  the months they have been in the tank, they have not bred ever... <Where are the spaces between your sentences?> as I watch  the male chases the female, but she always gets away from him...could this be a  false male?? <Yes, possibly> or is it part of the mating ritual??...and what can I do to help  them breed... <Mmm, get another "certain" male... with a gonopodium> Also I have a Balloon Molly who had babies recently, we noticed the  yellow/ black spotted babies swimming around on Christmas eve... how long before  we start seeing more baby mollies swimming around?? <A couple of months> also, there are 12 baby  mollies along with 3 adult fish in a twenty gallon tank, i know this is going to  be over crowded really soon, what size tank should i get to raise the fry  in??...thank you, Stacy <The bigger the better... maybe keep an eye out for "used tanks" in the papers, ads... as you will need/want a few tanks if you intend to raise, possibly sell the young. Please use your grammar, spellcheckers before sending out email... Ignorance is not bliss, and neither of us wants to look ignorant. Bob Fenner>

Swordtail's tail damaged  11/14/05 Hello, <Hi there> I have a ten gallon tank with 3 red eye tetras, 2 danios, 1 pleco and 1 gourami. Several times I tried to add a swordtail 'couple' to my tank and the same thing happens each time: the female fish dies first, within 1 - 2 weeks. The male starts loosing its tail (the tip seems to 'die' and then falls off) and eventually the male fish dies as well. <Mmm, might be due to aggression (in part) from the Gourami... could be just poor initial quality of the Swords... perhaps water quality... they like hard, alkaline water of not too high temperature.> This has happened to me about three times. Meanwhile, my other fish are doing fine. I don't see any signs of aggression of the other fish towards the swordtails. Any suggestions? Thanks. <I would try another source for the Swordtails... and make sure they've had them on hand a week or more. Newly arrived livebearers are often "touchy". Bob Fenner>

Swordtails - 11/04/2005 First of all I would like to thank you for all the information that you have provided. <And thank you for the thanks!> My first question is, how can you tell what kind of swordtail?  <Umm, as in, what species? Or what "color"? There are a number of different species.... Xiphophorus helleri is the one most common in the hobby, and is available in many different colors.> And does it matter for mating purposes?  <Mm, most/all the species can hybridize (though I don't recommend it), but of X. helleri, breeding different color fish is no problem at all.> I have a male that has a green line on his side that extends into the sword on his tail. He has been in my tank for 3 weeks now. The 2 females I purchased at the same time have both died. One died within a week (about 3 days), which the store replaced free of charge, a week later the replacement died. 2 weeks after the original purchase the second original female died. I have a 10 gallon tank, which I cycled using ammonia, my ammonia and nitrite levels are 0. I have to purchase a nitrate test kit, but am assuming that the levels cannot be too high, as my male and about 15 babies (which I presume are from the longer lived original female) and my flying fox are all fine. Two days ago I purchased 2 new females (my male was looking very glum and not eating, he had been alone for 4 days). One of those died overnight, and I have my free replacement. I have a completely orange female and a white female with black fins (this is the replacement and she is missing a huge piece of her tail fin, like something took a bite from her). <Again, color is irrelevant; they will likely breed. I would be concerned about the damage on the tail of the new female, however.> My second question is: Is it normal to lose so many fish?  <Normal? No. I would urge you to have caution in selecting new or replacement fish; please read here for more about health in fish: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwdis3setsfactors.htm. Selecting healthy fish to begin with is of great importance.> I always hear people say they know nothing about fish, and their tank has been going for 4 years! I just seem to kill them off.  <There are always reasons.... the initial health of the fish you select, the "health" of your system (water quality, etc.).... Fish, like other organisms, don't "just die".... It's all a matter of isolating the cause and fixing it. In your case, as I said, I suspect the initial health of these fish was questionable to begin with. You might want to consider getting/using a quarantine system for new livestock.> I live in the country, about half an hour from the pet store, and wonder if it is too much stress for them.  <Mm, no.... Fish can and do go several hours bagged at times.... keeping the amount of time from the store to home at a minimum is a good idea, though, and never leave them in a car where they might heat or chill.... basically, do your errands first, go to the fish store as the last stop on the way home - you should be fine.> My third question is: When I got the replacement for the first female that died, the male showed absolutely no interest in her, even though the other female was obviously pregnant (she had the black spot, which disappeared after the babies appeared). Could the male have exhausted that second female, because he sensed that the replacement female was not well? She never did much and her dorsal fin was always clamped close to her back. <Again.... I really suspect poor health in these fish to begin with.> My fourth question: When should I give up, <?? Only you can decide this.> what if my females die again?  <Find out why. Select only the most active, healthy fish you can find. Never purchase fish from a tank with others that are obviously ill.> How long do I persevere?  <Uhh, again, the ball's in your court on this.> I reason that if the babies are surviving and growing that my water must be OK, so the problem is the fish. <I agree, to an extent.> One final note, the lady at Wal-mart... <Oh. Uh. Not to be disparaging of any store or enterprise, but I, personally, would not purchase fish from a department store.... find a fish store that is dedicated mostly or only to fish; you wouldn't buy bread from an oil refinery, would you?> ...recommended that I use QuICK cure to treat all the fish when I added these new females, just in case the other females were sick.  <I would not. Medicating without knowing specifically what, if anything, you're treating is one of the many routes to disaster....> I have done that 1 day now. The instructions do not say how long to use it, what do you recommend? <I would stop using this now, unless you really have reason to believe these fish have a communicable parasite.> Sorry this is so long.  <No worries.> I am grateful for any help, this is my second attempt at a fish tank. The initial attempt was with goldfish, I managed to kill 8 goldfish and 1 pleco that time!  <Goldfish are much more demanding of space than most folks realize.... Much is archived on our site, in articles and FAQs, about proper care of goldfish - do please take a look if you're interested.> I was completely unaware of test kits and cycling, etc. So I was somewhat shocked when I started killing fish again after all my attempts to do things properly this time!  <Begin reading, learning about fish health. You'll do fine, no worries.> Thank you, -Olivia <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Unexplained Swordtail Deaths 10/18/05 Hi there.  <Hey, Mike G here.> I am a 4th grade teacher, and my classroom has just set up an aquarium.  <Wonderful educational tool!> We have the proper filtration, heat (about 80 degrees) <A bit high - aim for 76-78F.> PH balance- everything. We started with 3 swordtails (2 females and a male), and in just six days the two females have died.  <Harassment?> The male seems okay, though he is sticking to one area in the aquarium near the heater.  <Never a good sign.> Any ideas about what might be causing this?  <Not without more info re: tank parameters, maintenance regimen, how long the tank's been established, etc. If I were to hazard a guess, it would be that your nitrogenous waste content is too high - do check your ammonia, nitrite, nitrate. Ideal ranges are 0, 0, 0 (ppm), but <20ppm is acceptable for the nitrates. Good luck!> I am afraid to get more fish, but I just can't figure out what might be wrong with the tank. Sarah Brown <Mike G>

Re: Unexplained Swordtail Deaths  10/19/05 It's a 29 gallon tank, it's been set up for 8 days- 2 days without fish, six days with.   <I'm tempted to stay with my original guess of high ammonia/nitrite...> All my levels are 0.   <...but apparently, I guessed wrong.> I am following a book (the simple guide to freshwater aquariums by David Boruchowitz) and cycling the tank with just those three fish.   <Sounds good so far.> They didn't seem to be harassed at all.  I did have the heat at around 76, but because the one lone fish was hanging out by the heater I thought he might want it warmer.  I'll turn it back down.   <I believe it could be ich or another similar parasitic disease that took advantage of the stressed fish (from the journey, to new tank, fluctuating levels) and got 'em that way.> There's not much to say about maintenance regimen since we just set up the tank.  Thanks for your quick response! <You're welcome. Wish I could help more, most I can do with the info provided is take an educated guess. Best of luck! Mike G>

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