green swordtail

Scientific name Xiphophorus hellerii
Descriptor Heckel
Year of description 1848
IUCN category LC
Family Poeciliidae
Genus Xiphophorus
Xiphophorus hellerii Xiphophorus hellerii


Xiphophorus hellerii, commonly known as green swordtail, is a fresh water fish from the Central America.

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Who is it?


  • Type
  • Average size
    10 cm
  • Maximum size
    15 cm
  • Longevity
    5 year
  • Type
  • Average size
    10 cm
  • Maximum size
    15 cm
  • Longevity
    5 year

How to recognize the green swordtail ?

The green swordtail measures between 10 and 15 cm.

Behaviour & Life cycle

  • diet
  • Sociability
    living in small groups
  • territorial
  • Way of living

The green swordtail is a fish living in small groups naturally found at mid-depth. This species is omnivorous .

n general, this species does not care much about other animals crossing its path.


  • Reproduction
  • Polygamy

The green swordtail is a fish ovovivipare. In this species, the dominant males are polygamous and reproduce each season with several females.

Harmless species

This species does not represent any particular threats to humans when encountered in its natural environment.

Where to find it?

Where to see this species?

What is its habitat?

Natural environment characteristics

  • Temperature
    21 - 26 °C
  • pH (acidity)
    7 - 8
  • gh (hardness)
    10 - 15
  • Flow

Biotope presentation

This animal evolves in areas characterized by a strong presence of vegetation (aquatic and marsh plants, decaying organic matter, roots...).

Magasins partenaires proches

Main recommendations for fishkeeping


In order to preserve wildlife, if you acquire this animal, it must not be released into the wild. See also, the Fishipedia charter.

Fishipedia supports the practice of responsible and environmentally friendly aquarium keeping. We encourage maintenance if it is motivated by a desire to understand the biological functioning of living things and if it is done with respect for animal life.

We believe that aquaristics is an opening to the discovery of aquatic environments, especially freshwater, and that this knowledge is necessary to better protect and respect these environments. Logically, we refute the compulsive purchase of animals that would not find a sufficient and / or adapted place in the host aquarium.

Our recommendations

  • Min volume
    120 liters
  • Population min
    not specified
  • Temperature
    21 - 26 °C
  • pH (acidity)
    6.8 - 7.2


  • Difficulty breeding
    very easy
  • Robustness
  • Behaviour
  • Availability

General reminders

It is strongly advised to read the complete dedicated file and to get information on the feedbacks of maintenance of the envisaged animal, this to avoid any potential conflict whose end result is generally the death of the individual (or the other inhabitants). It is important not to overload your aquarium to limit pollution. This will make maintenance easier.

In nature, animals are subject to weather conditions and live in waters with variable characteristics. The recommendations offered by our team for aquarium maintenance are a guidance and cannot be assimilated to scientific datas.

General reminder on maintenance datas

Le démarrage d'un aquarium est une partie primordiale pour l'équilibre et le bien-être des poissons. Lorsque l'on met en eau un aquarium, l'eau passe naturellement par un cycle biologique : le cycle de l'azote. Celui-ci dure environ trois semaines. Tous les 2 jours, nous vous conseillons de tester votre eau jusqu'à ce que le taux de nitrite soit à zéro pendant plusieurs jours d'affilée.

Pour accélérer ce cycle, vous pouvez utiliser un activateur de bactéries comme JBL Denitrol. Cette solution riche en bactéries vivantes et enzymes permet une mise en place rapide du cycle de l'azote. Les poissons peuvent alors être introduits plus rapidement.

Il est important de tester l'eau de son aquarium régulièrement pour maintenir un environnement sain pour les poissons et les autres habitants. Les tests d'eau permettent de mesurer les niveaux de différents paramètres tels que le pH, la dureté totale, ainsi que les taux de nitrates, de nitrites et d'ammoniaque.

Pour réaliser ces tests, vous pouvez utiliser des produits d'analyse spécialisés tels que JBL ProScan qui permet de réaliser un diagnostic de l'eau directement via un smartphone. Il existe également des coffrets de tests plus classiques de bandelettes, comme JBL PROAQUATEST.

En cas d’usage de l’eau du robinet, vous pouvez utiliser un conditionneur d’eau de type Biotopol de JBL pour éliminer les substances nocives comme le chlore, le cuivre, le plomb et le zinc. Les conditionneurs d'eau garantissent une meilleure santé aux poissons et une meilleure croissance des plantes.

Chlorine and chloramine are dangerous for the health of animals. Used to disinfect water, these agents are present in significant quantities in tap water. We recommend using an anti-chlorine agent every time you change the water. In addition to chlorine, treatments and medicines sold for aquarium use sometimes contain dangerous heavy metals in high doses.

Specific needs for the green swordtail

The green swordtail is a species which lives naturally at a temperature between 21 °C and 26 °C. For proper maintenance, the temperature should never exceed the 29°C for long periods. Nitrate levels should remain below 50mg/L. To keep the water clean and unpolluted, plan on changing 20% to 30% of the water volume each month.

The green swordtail is a species that is very accessible to breed. Its hardiness makes it an ideal animal for a first time aquarist. However, it is recommended that you follow a few basic rules for successful breeding.

This species is particularly common in the aquarium trade. Animals from long-term breeding are usually acclimatized at a temperature of about 26 °C in neutral water.

Cohabitation & Environment

Being a living in small groups fish, it is advisable to install at least 0 individuals in an aquarium of 120 liters minimum (for 80 cm of frontage). Group maintenance is a prerequisite to ensure their well-being. Lonely individuals tend to quickly become stressed and become especially susceptible to disease. Although sometimes certain groups can "merge", mixing several gregarious species living in the same zone of life is not recommended if the volume is not consequent.

The green swordtail is a peaceful species that generally does not exhibit behavioral problems in a community aquarium.

This fish being polygamous, the male must always be maintained with several females. A ratio of three females to one male seems to be a good compromise for the constitution of the group.

Males have the particularity to be particularly oppressive with females. This behavior can tire the females to the point that it sometimes leads to their death. It is important to set up a planted aquarium with many refuges.

The species enjoys a particularly vegetation-rich environment. The addition of plants will provide many useful hiding places for resting. These areas are also conducive to possible breeding in the aquarium.

Tips for feeding

The green swordtail is omnivorous.

This species can eat dry food (flakes, pellets), fresh food and frozen food. To avoid deficiencies, it is recommended to vary the types of food.

You should not overfeed your residents to avoid polluting the water. For most species, it is better to feed a few small portions each day rather than one large meal.

Food recommendations from our partner JBL - Products PRONOVO

Reproduction protocol

  • Maintenance difficulty
    very easy
  • egg-laying protection

Reproduction of this species in an aquarium is considered very easy. Ideally, it takes place at a temperature of around 26 ° C for a pH of 7.5 .

Hybridization risks

In general, it is advised not to mix several species of the same genus or different varieties of the same species, to avoid the risks of hybridization.

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To go further

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To read on the web

Sources & Contributions

Participation & Validation

The Fishipedia team and specialist contributors are committed to providing high-quality content. However, although the information comes from scientific sources or testimonials from specialists, the cards may contain inaccuracies.

Patrick Chartrer

Patrick Chartrer

Benoit Chartrer

Benoit Chartrer


Translation done with the valuable contribution of our translators, who make this information available to a wider audience. We sincerely thank them for their commitment.

Bibliographic references

Distribution of Freshwater Alien Animal Species in Morocco: Current Knowledge and Management Issues - Abdelkhaleq Fouzi Taybi - Youness Mabrouk - Christophe Piscart - Diversity - 2023. 15, 169

Biological Invasions in South Africa - Brian W. van Wilgen - John Measey - David M. Richardson - John R. Wilson - Tsungai A. Zengeya - Springer Nature - 2020. ISBN 978-3-030-32393-6

Alien and invasive freshwater fish species in Iran: Diversity, environmental impacts and management - Hamid Reza ESMAEILI - Azad TEIMORI - Feridon OWFI - Keivan ABBASI - Brian W. COAD - Iranian Journal of Ichthyology - 2014. 15, 169

First Report of Xiphophorus maculatus (Günther) (Southern Platyfish) and Confirmation of Poecilia reticulata (Peters) (Guppy) from Guadeloupe-France - Zachariah D. Alley - Kayla M. Fast - Jeremy Delolme - Michael W. Sandel - Caribbean Naturalist - 2023. 15, 169

First Record of a Feral Population of Green Swordtail (Xiphophorus hellerii) with an Additional Record of Guppy (Poecilia reticulata) in Turkish Freshwaters - Şerife Gülsün Kırankaya - F. Güler Ekmekçi - Hacettepe Journal of Biology and Chemistry - 2021. 15, 169

Any colour you like: new records of ornamental livebearers (Poeciliidae: Cyprinodontiformes) from freshwaters of Argentina. - Guillermo E. Terán - Stefan Koerber - Juan Carlos Stazzonelli - Gastón Aguilera - J. Marcos Mirande - Ichthyological Contributions of PecesCriollos - 2022. - ISSN 1868-3703

Female preference for swords in Xiphophorus helleri reflects a bias for large apparent size - GIL G. ROSENTHAL - CHRISTOPHER S. EVANS - The National Academy of Sciences - 1998. 15, 169

First confirmed record of an established population of green swordtail (Xiphophorus hellerii Heckel, 1848) in Europe - Pencho Pandakov - Zhivko Barzov - Radoslav Moldovanski - Helena Huđek - Knowl. Manag. Aquat. Ecosyst. - 2021. 422, 31

Biology and invasive potential of the introduced swordtail Xiphophorus hellerii Heckel (Poeciliidae) in Western Australia - M. G. MADDERN - H. S. GILL - D. L. MORGAN - John Wiley & Sons - 2011. AQUATIC CONSERVATION: MARINE AND FRESHWATER ECOSYSTEMS

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