Swordtails – breeding and rearing

The swordtail belongs to the genus of the so-called viviparous tooth carps. These fish give birth to their young fish alive and do not lay eggs. The following guidebook describes how to breed the swordtails and what you have to pay attention to.

Necessary conditions for breeding

Swordtails © Martin Wisenhöfer

For the breeding of the swordtails no additional breeding tank is needed. Because if some male as well as female animals are kept in an aquarium, it is only a matter of time until the first young fish are seen in the tank. This works both in a community tank with other animals and in a special species tank. It is important that there are many plants in the aquarium where the young fish can hide from possible predators.

Ideally, some of these will also swim at the water surface. Breeding is best successful if there are only peaceful inhabitants in the tank. Angelfish and perch, on the other hand, regard the young as food and try to eat them.

The courtship behavior

During mating the male shows a very intensive courtship behavior. It dances backwards to the female with outstretched fins and its full colourfulness. Then he introduces the so-called gonopodium (the male sexual organ) into the genital opening of his partner and fertilizes her. Like other viviparous tooth carps (for example guppies or platys), swordtails dock on the female in this way. A hook at the tip of the gonopodium helps them do this. This prevents the female from escaping and mating takes place.

Breeding care and feeding

In a community tank the young animals survive only very rarely. This is especially true if there are also perches and other predatory fish in it. Therefore it makes sense to put the young in an extra tank until they are big enough and can no longer be eaten. On the other hand, a rearing tank should not be used, as it offers very little space.

The moment of birth can be recognized by the fact that the female swims very nervously through the aquarium. Very often she then stays near the bottom.

Rearing of young fish

In order for the young animals to survive in a community tank, they should be kept in a densely overgrown aquarium. They also need crumbled dry food. Here it is important to make sure that the other tank inhabitants do not catch it. Alternatively, every pet shop offers special food for young fish. This contains many valuable substances which the young fish need in the first time to grow. Older females can give birth to an enormous 80 young, while younger females have 50 to 60 young.

Read on: Swordtail posture and portrait

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