Swordtail Breeding

by Fish Tank on August 31, 2007

I've never tried Swordtail breeding, so I asked someone that has, to share their experience. Ian, also know as Statico, has allowed me to use a few pictures, and answered some questions on breeding the Swordtail fish.

FunFishTank: How long have you been breeding the swordtail?

"We've had the sword tails for two months. There are two
males and two females. This is my second group of swordtail fry. The first were
born right after we got the parents and we didn't have a
chance to isolate the mother. Most were eaten by other
fish, and we've had no luck with a breeder *net* -- all of
our guppy fry and our remaining sword fry died in the net,
so we decided to get the breeder box as a replacement."

You can see the fry in the plastic breeder box.

swordtail-fry.jpg

FunFishTank: How could you tell when the female was pregnant? How many fry did she have?

"We could tell the mother was pregnant by the dark triangle
in her abdomen. The swordtails are translucent fish and you
can see eggs and then eyes as the fry form. The swordtails had 9 fry this time."

The "dark triangle" Ian refers to is the gravid spot.

FunFishTank: What did you feed the fry?

"We feed them Hikari "First Bites" fry food. It sinks slowly
and the fry love it."

Check out this one day old swordtail fry! It's 7mm (.28 inches).

swordtail-breeding-fry.jpg

FunFishTank: What type of aquarium setup did you use to breed the Swordtail? Were their any other fish in the tank?

"Our tank is a 50-gallon freshwater tank. There are 4
swordtails, 4 white cloud mountain tetras, 1 cardinal tetra,
2 zebra danios, 2 leopard danios. There was one black molly
until very recently, and we plan on adding more mollies
soon."

FunFishTank: I've heard that the female swordfish can sometimes die after having the fry. Was your female ok?

"The female looked pretty stressed when we put her in the
plastic breeder isolation box. The box was underwater
(about 1 inch), so I had to feed the mom using a tube from
a ball-point pen. I put the tube into the hole at the top
of the box and dumped some flakes into the tube. The flakes
would sink slowly and she was much happier when fed. She was
fine after having the fry."

FunFishTank: That's good to hear! You've taken some great pictures. Could you tell us how you did it?

"I took the pictures using a Nikon D50 digital SLR camera
and a 50mm Nikkor macro lens. I set the ISO to 800 (I
think) and used a wireless, off-camera flash on its
lowest-power setting. I placed the flash off to the side
with a diffuser so it would light up the box but not blind
or scare the fish."

Thanks for sharing your experience of Swordtail breeding Ian! The two tips about using a plastic breeder box, and feeding the female are good to know.

{ 107 comments… read them below or add one }

ashley December 19, 2011 at 7:27 pm

i need major help… i just bought four green swordtail fish, two males and two females. the only kind of fish i have ever had is gold fish which do sharethe tank with the swordtails and they get along great. but heres the problem, number one both of my females are pregnant, one very much so. two i have no clue what i am supposed to do, feed them, where to keep them, how long to keep them there, or anything. i have surfed the internet all day with little to no answers, just that the female should be seperated. any help is greatly appreciated. my husbad and i are working on a huge tank collection but i dont want to neglect these fish when they are in such delicate state.

guppylover December 28, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Hi I have 2 swordtail fish and I haave 3 black tiger striped fish and I had 3 neon guppys. The swordtail is pregnint she hates the breeding tank what should I do? The tiger fish might eat her or the fry they already ate 2 of the neon guppys

Sincerely, guppylover

Ann January 14, 2012 at 10:36 pm

This is my first time with life bearers. I have swordtails, tuxedo platys and Dalmation Mollies. They all seem to be getting on well. But the swordtail female bothers me greatly. She appeared slightly pregnant when I brought her home from the petshop. However, it’s been near two months…and she doesn’t appear to be having any babies. SHe is still quite pregnant looking, and I don’t know what is happening with her. She’s been pregnant wwaaaaaay too long. What should I do.

bellabee February 29, 2012 at 12:29 am

hi
i have 2 swordtails in my backyard pond(1 male, 1 female) and some large goldfish. the other day i noticed some fry in the pond and scooped them into a tank. there are about 20 of them and they are all the same size. i thought they were swordtails but there are a lot of them. do you think they would be swordtails or goldfish?

Karen J September 18, 2012 at 8:52 am

I just bought two koi swordtails, male and female. I was positive their would be no problem breeding them since it was so easy with mollies in my thirty gallon. I have had them for a week now and it seems as though the female has an extreme hate for my male.. she chases so much sometimes he doesn’t want to swim any more…. I have them in a 10 gallon, is this enough room for the two of them? could she be stressed if he is not ready to breed?.

does my fish have problems????

Fish Tank December 31, 2012 at 6:28 pm

There’s a definite stress problem there. A bigger tank may help. She may also just be tired of the male pursuing her. That should be happening.

TL October 30, 2014 at 7:04 am

I personally am not a fan of the breeders. As long as you have plenty of hiding placed for the fry, they will be just fine. Not just plants either, I have a bunch of rocks piled up and the fry love hiding in the crevices too small for the other fish to fit.

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