Green Swordtail Information & Care

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Fish Type Live-bearing
Fish Family Platies & Swordtails
Common Name Green Swordtail
Scientific Name Xiphoporus helleri

The green swordtail (Xiphophorus hellerii) is a species of freshwater fish in family Poecilidae of order Cyprinodontiformes. A live-bearer, it is closely related to the southern platyfish or "platy" (X. maculatus) and can interbreed with it. It is native to an area of North and Central America stretching from Veracruz, Mexico, to northwestern Honduras.

The male green swordtail grows to a maximum overall length of 14 cm (5.5 in) and the female to 16 cm (6.3 in).

The name "swordtail" derives form the elongated lower lobe of the male's caudal fin (tailfin).

Sexual dimorphism is moderate, with the female being larger than the male but lacking the "sword". The wild form is olive green in color, with a red or brown lateral stripe and speckles on the dorsal and, sometimes, caudal fins. The male's "sword" is yellow, edged in black below. Captive breeding has produced many color varieties, including black, red, and many patters thereof, for the aquarium hobby.

The green swordtail prefers swift-flowing, heavily-vegetated rivers and streams, but is also found in warm springs and canals. Omnivorous, its diet includes both plants and small crustaceans, insects, and worms.

X. hellerii has become a nuisance pest as an introduced species in a number of countries. It has caused ecological damage because of its ability to rapidly reproduce in high numbers. Feral populations have established themselves in southern Africa, including Natal and eastern Transvaal in South Africa and Lake Otjikoto in Namibia.

One of the most popular tropical aquarium fish, the green swordtail has been bred into various hybrid forms for the aquarium hobby due to its hardiness and suitability for community tanks.