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FAQs on the Swordtails 1

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

Related FAQs: Swordtails 2, Swordtail Identification, Swordtail Behavior, Swordtail Compatibility, Swordtail Selection, Swordtail Systems, Swordtail Feeding, Swordtail Disease, Swordtail Reproduction, Livebearers, Guppies, Platies, Mollies, Livebearer Identification, Livebearer Behavior, Livebearer Compatibility, Livebearer Selection, Livebearer Systems, Livebearer Feeding, Livebearer Disease, Livebearer Reproduction,

Swordtails, Bacterial Infections, Betta Fin Deterioration - 10/12/2005 Hi, I have 5 swordtails, 3 male and 2 female....I know, bad ratio...they were a gift, I didn't pick the sexes. One of the female swordtails has two large patches one on top her head and the other on the side of her head. When I look close at these areas, it looks as though the scales aren't there anymore, it looks fluffy.  <Sounds like a bacterial infection.... possibly Columnaris.> She also has one fin whose edge is white, I first thought fin rot, but am not sure.  <Likely related to the other problem(s) present on her.> So far I haven't seen any signs in my other swords. I also have a Betta and a Chinese butterfly sucker. The Betta has been a long time habitant of my tank, but I am noticing his tailfin is tattering on the ends, I was wondering if it was fin rot or aggressive swordtails?  <Perhaps either/or. Observe the swords for any aggression toward the Betta, but I fear this may be bacterial as well, related to the same problem as the female sword.> The swordtails are new and swim vigorously around the aquarium, so that is why I thought maybe they were picking at his fins. Thank you for any help you can give!! Tara <On top of this, be testing/maintaining water quality - keep ammonia and nitrite at ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm, with water changes. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Lumpy Swordtail - 09/21/2005 I have a male swordtail in a 20 gal tank.  I noticed a lump on his top of his body near the end of the top fin, and it appears to be getting bigger. I almost looks like a pimple that needs squeezed. I have 2 platy's, 2 female swordtails and another male swordtail in this tank as well. What is this? <Many possibilities, here; there's just not enough information to go off.  I would recommend that you look up information on lymphocystis, Columnaris, and mycobacteriosis for starters.> How can I treat it, and should I remove him from the community tank? <Well, without knowing exactly what you're looking at, my first caution to you is to test your water quality; maintain ammonia and nitrite at ZERO, and nitrate at less than 20ppm, with water changes.  From there, see if the fish improves, and again, look into those diseases above.> I would appreciate your help. Thank You,  -Kim Coursin <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Aggressive swordtails 8/9/05 Hey I have a 15 gallon with 3 "teenager" marble sailfin mollies, and 6 swordtails (2 red-white, 2 green, 1 black, 1 pineapple). I have 3 males and 3 females, and I know that the female ratio needs to be higher, so I put 1 male in my 10 gallon, but my males continued to be very aggressive. <Happens... ratios are better at three or more females per male> The mollies seem to have nothing to do with the swords, and the swords are not aggressive toward the mollies. <About right> So I continued to watch them and the "bully" male is quite larger than the other 2 males, and 2 females. He chases around the two males and the two smaller females. However, the large female chases him around!! So is there anything you suggest before I can find some time to find some new healthy females to add?? Thanks. BMERANG <Separate the bully... in a hanging net, breeding trap, floating colander in the tank. Bob Fenner> Swordtail repro., spaces between sentences 7/29/05 Hi, this is Lynn and I wanted to know if you can answer this question for me. Last night I noticed my pregnant female swordtail showing signs that she was going to have her babies, so I put her in the breeding trap. But it's been a few days now and she didn't have them yet.... Maybe I put her in too early? <Maybe> How can I help her have her babies in the breeding trap? <Just letting time go by. If the fish doesn't produce young in a few days, I'd return her to the main tank. Bob Fenner>

Swordtail breeding, studying 7/7/05 Hi, I noticed some articles about the swordtails, but didn't really see any answer to how you can tell is a swordtail is pregnant or not... <... seeing the eyes of the young near the vent... its enlargement, change to clear...> i have two swords, the one is trying to back in with his sword, and so would it be wise to put them both in a breeding tank? <Uh, no... the male stays out> or just assume she is already getting pregnant and just put her in her separate tank??  and if i should put both in, how do i know when to take the male back out? thanks a ton! Luke P <Keep studying... books, the Net... Bob Fenner>

Swordtail Breeding Our green swordtail just got done have about 35 babies. I have them in a 2 way breeder. Yesterday she got picked on and has a booboo on her side. How long should I leave her in the 2 way breeder. The "bully" fish is no longer with us but I didn't know if the male swordtail would pick on her. He is the only other fish we have. Please let me know when you think she should be strong enough to protect herself. Thanks! <I would watch her energy level. If she seems to be swimming well, then release her. I'm sure the male will chase and breed with her. But that's the life of a Swordtail. Add some plants or other places to hide if it gets too bad. If she's hurt so badly that she is having a hard time swimming, leave her in there for a few day. Make sure she's eating before you let her out. Don>  

Swordtail Fry Questions Hi! I have a 10 gallon tank where a swordtail had babies several weeks ago. I don't remember exactly when, but the babies are mostly 3/4 inch. I want to separate out the sexes, but I have a couple concerns. First, when can I start to tell who is male and female? Right now, no swords are in evidence and no gonopodiums. Second, I know that a mixed sex tank needs more females than males, so will a tank of all males be fighting all the time? Also, the tank is looking pretty crowded right now. I have three adult females, one female-turned-male, ten babies, and a small panda cat. I just tested the water and found no ammonia or nitrites, and nitrates were around 30. I was really surprised. Shouldn't that be an overload situation?   Thanks! Lauren <You will not be able to sex your fry until the gonopodium forms on the males. This will happen shortly before the sword forms. You want a high female to male ratio to spread out the male's sexual aggression. Most males get along fine with one another. Of course they are always exceptions to the rule. Each fish is an individual. And your stocking seems fine for now. You will need to move out some fry soon though. The best gauge of your stocking level is that nitrate test. If you can go a week without a water change and still have only 30ppm of nitrate, I'd say you're fine. 20ppm would be better though. While growing out the fry it's best to overfeed, then do more frequent water changes to keep things in line. Like the young of many species, the kids eat a ton and make a mess. Don>

Several questions re: Swordtail fry I have spent the last couple of months re-establishing our 55 gallon tank that was devastated by a temperature shock accident. The surviving fish from the tank are an adult female marble angelfish and two swordtails, one male and one pregnant female. We've gradually introduced new fish including a second also pregnant female sword, four juvenile angelfish, 2 Cory cats, 2 juvenile Plecos, and about 2 dozen tetras of different varieties. We also added some live and some fake plants and a good sized piece of wood from the LFS. Everyone looked great until two days ago, when I noticed that two of the swords had a little bit of fin rot and one was flashing against things. No sign of disease on any other fish though. Yesterday we corrected for a very small ammonia and nitrate spike and we added salt to help with the fin rot.  <I wonder if the wood is at root cause here? Mal-affecting water quality... a sudden drop in pH, alkalinity would affect the Swordtails first here of all the life you list> We also began a course of treatment with MelaFix. <I would not use this "remedy"> Last night I noticed the original pregnant female showing signs of imminent delivery, so I put her in the breeding trap and sure enough we have babies, about 30 that survived the night of breeding trap malfunctions and forays into the main tank. They are now in a floating isolation/breeding tank. So here's the questions.. 1. Will the water treatments, salt, or MelaFix be bad for the fry? <Possibly> I was hesitant to continue to use the treatment but I did today anyway because I don't want all three of my swords suffering with fin rot if they don't have to. I just made sure to put the floating tank on one end of the tank and treat all the way at the other, so it would be nice and diluted once it reached the fry. Should I keep using it or no? <Do me a favor, and test the "drift-wood"... in a separate container... soak it for a day or three... test the water in with it> 2. My adult angel fish (Big Mama) won't leave the floating tank alone. She eats like normal at feeding times but she really wants those little tasty fries. Anything to be done about her? <Not much. Feed the fish more often, away from the trap> 3. My only other tank is another 55 gallon that is currently empty. We just did a %100 water change and replaced the gravel, so it's a completely fresh tank now. This is where we intend to move the fry, but I know you shouldn't put fry into a fresh tank like that. What is the best way to handle this and when should we move them? <Move water change water, possibly some of the "old/er" substrate into the new 55... wait a couple weeks...> 4. 55g is a whole lot of space for 30 fry, but it's all I have. What's the best way to feed them in a larger tank and should we try and keep a few other fish in the tank? <Frequent (a few times per day) finely ground (twixt your fingers) dried (flake, pellet) food... in the same area, routine> Uhhh.. that about covers it I think.  Thanks. <Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner>  

Several questions re: Swordtail fry > We also > began a course of treatment with MelaFix. > <I would not use this "remedy"> Well why not and what would you recommend? <<No real consistent beneficial action. May indeed be toxic to the fry. Would maybe use a bit of salt>> > <Do me a favor, and test the "drift-wood"... in a > separate container... soak it for a day or three... > test the water in with it> I took it out completely and replaced it with large rocks instead. <<Are you testing for it, their chemical activity?>> > 2. My adult angel fish (Big Mama) won't leave the > floating tank alone. She eats like normal at feeding > times but she really wants those little tasty fry. > Anything to be done about her? > <Not much. Feed the fish more often, away from the > trap> She seems to have gotten over this on her own. <<Ah, good>> > 4. 55g is a whole lotta space for 30 fry, but it's > all > I have. What's the best way to feed them in a larger > tank and should we try and keep a few other fish in > the tank? > <Frequent (a few times per day) finely ground (twixt > your fingers) dried (flake, pellet) food... in the > same area, routine> > Uhhh.. that about covers it I think. > Thanks. > <Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner> I picked up some Wardley's Smallfry liquid baby fish food and they really really seem to like it. Still feeding some well crushed regular and Spirulina flakes, but they seem to really prefer the liquid stuff. And since they are still in the floating baby tank, most of the uneaten portion slips through the holes into the main tank and the rest I very carefully suck out with a clean turkey baster. <Good technique> I am thinking that since they are doing so well in the floating tank, I will just leave them in there until they are too big, and then move them into the spare 55g. Would it be faster to get that tank going with good water quality if I put some small fish in there, in addition to putting water change water in there from the established tank? If so, what kind of fish would be best suited to be in a tank with juvenile swords? Thanks again. <Better to cycle "fish-less", though this tank is large. Bob Fenner>

Swordtail Due Date I have read thru all of the questions you all have answered but I still need a little help. I bought a green female swordtail yesterday, looking at her last night we realized she is pregnant. I can not see any eyes in the black area and I am trying to figure out how long to wait before I put her in the 2 way breeder. I do not want to put her in there too soon but I certainly don't want to miss her having the babies. Please help me. Thank you for your time. Heather <It's very hard to guess when a sword will drop. And it's always a guess. Watch the black spot. It will darken and seem closer to the skin as she nears her time. You may also notice her trying to hide from the other fish. Don> 

Swordtail Due Date There isn't an answer to my question. <Sorry, possibly a glitch in the system. My answer is copied below. Don> <<It's very hard to guess when a sword will drop. And it's always a guess. Watch the black spot. It will darken and seem closer to the skin as she nears her time. You may also notice her trying to hide from the other fish. Don>> 

Is my swordtail pregnant? Three weeks ago I was given a tank by someone who could no longer care for their fish. Included in the tank, along with some other fish, was a female orange swordtail.  I believe she may be pregnant even though her male companion, a black molly, has since died. She has what appears to be a gravid spot and is swollen; however, she has been this way since I got her. Is she pregnant? <Maybe, maybe not> And if so, why hasnt she given birth yet? <May just look pregnant, may have given birth, eaten the young...> Also, her behavior has changed.  She used to hide in one of the coral structures but is now floating/swimming around near the top (not dead) (mostly between the heater and filter).  I would appreciate some help/advice.   <Please read on WWM re. Bob Fenner>

Help! My Swordtail is sick! Hey, guys - We need some help - my daughters' Swordtail, Beyonce, seems to be sick, and I'm not sure what to do with her... We've had her for about 2 months. She had babies about 2 weeks ago, and has been acting and looking fine since then. However, this morning, she was lying at the bottom, near the filter intake, not moving... I nudged her, and she did move, to hide behind another item at the bottom of the tank. I put her in the breeding net we used for her last time, so I could get a better look at her - she seems to have lots of small, black spots on her back, as if she were dirty. She's alive, but really lethargic...  <Good descriptions, action> Can you give me some direction? By the way, the rest of our fish (about 20, including 2 other Swordtails)  seem to be fine, no changes. Water temp is about 75, pH 7.2, negligible  ammonia and nitrates... Thanks for any advice. <It may well be that this Swordtail is "just old"... the lethargy, spots point to this... But I would try to help it by adding a bit of Epsom salt to the tank's water (a level teaspoon per ten gallons) and not give up hope. Bob Fenner>

Swordtails Dueling it Out Hi there, here is the history--We bought 4 swordtails 2 males and 2 females, the one female died within 2 weeks, now the other female is pregnant. My 2 males seem to be getting really aggressive with one another, and I am wondering what we should do. Is this normal??? We don't have the set up to breed right now so we are not worried about keeping the fry but I also don't want the males to kill each other off??? Any suggestions??? < When it comes to mating games survival goes to the fittest. If the males are not breeding then they are attempting to drive off potential suitors. I would add lots of plants and give the loses many places to hide and /or rest. You could always separate them if you had another tank.-Chuck>

Swordtail died...unsure why, carbon use Ok so about a month and a half ago I got a horrible flagellate (spelling) infestation in my tank. Along with some fungal infection.  <Mmm, might I ask how you could tell it was these organism groups?> I used both Maracyn 1 and 2 and Coppersafe. All by Mardel, all safe to use together. That got rid of the fungus but not the flagellates. So I went on to using Bowl Buddies Parasite Clear. That seemed to finally do it. I followed all the directions and continued the treatment for as long as it said to.  Three days ago I look in my tank and my female swordtail had egg infested poop. It was white with 1 to 2 millimeter grayish black eggs.  I thought, crap now I have to go out and get the medication again. When I got home from my LFS I noticed that this orangey reddish lump about 7 millimeters in diameter and 5 or 6 long with this 12 or so millimeter thread like thing on it. I had no have no idea what it was. Before I added the medication I went to consult my copy of Fish Diseases (the German translated one). Mine is really old like a first edition and didn't have anything that I could find on it. I looked through my other books and even called the specialty fish store 2 hours away consulting them. I found no solution.  When I went back upstairs to the tank to pondering what I should do I noticed the thing what ever it was, was gone. It wasn't on the bottom of the tank and wasn't anywhere. My only thought was, whatever it was its back inside of her. I wound up just adding some salt and waited to see if any other symptoms showed up. <This is what I would have done as well> None and this morning I found her dead. She was never stressed never any loss of color none of it. My three thoughts on it were: abortion, intestines, or her anus (to tough of a poop). I was hoping you could help me figure out what it was/ is. I was also wondering what are the chances it has spread to my other tanks since I use the some nets and siphons in all my tanks. <No clue... perhaps a biopsy, histological work-up might reveal something...> This is an unrelated question, but what does the charcoal do in the filters. When I add the charcoal to them I get pH and ammonia spikes even weeks to months later. When I just have the batting everything is fine. Is it a necessity that I add it to the filters? I've also never had problems with charcoal in the filters before and I have no idea what to do about it. <Carbons are variously effective as semi-selective filters (absorbents) for metals, some other cations, some organic molecules... as you state, they can significantly (and deleteriously) affect water quality... hence they should be used in small volumes/amounts and on a regular, though not too frequent time frame. Bob Fenner> 

Breeding Swordtails Hi. I have 2 swordtails, 1 male,1 female, and I would like to know what signs I am looking for to see if she is pregnant. Also how long I should wait to put her in a breeder? <The females belly will become very large and you should notice a dark area under the tail, look closely at this area. When you see little eyes in this area the babies are close to being born and she should be put in the net. She should still be fed so she doesn't eat the fry.-Chuck>

Swordtail Disappearing Act? Hi there I am new to this so I was wondering if you can help.  <<Hi, I probably can. Hopefully in time!>> I recently purchased 5 swordtails 3 male 2 female (did not know this till I got home). This morning all was ok, this afternoon one of the males has disappeared without a trace.  <<Very likely driven right up OUT of the tank by one of the other males. Which, by the way, really must be returned for another female, or things could get very ugly for the girls.>> The swords are the biggest fish in the tank are all males are similar in size. Where has he gone and has he been eaten? Jim <<Check around that tank VERY carefully - cannot stress/emphasize how easily fish get into the smallest places. If you find him in time you might be able to revive him. I feel he has MOST CERTAINLY been driven out of the tank. Check even the weird places. If he just died in there you would see the other fishes nibbling on his rotting corpse. Marina>> 

Swordtails Hi, I have a 10 gallon tank with a female and male Swordtail. I would like to know how I could tell if they are pregnant? I am only 15 and don't know much about fish. I have 8 other fish in my tank Pleco, 1 Chinese algae eater, 2 female fancy guppies, 2 male fancy guppies, and 2 zebras. And I would like to know how long I should wait until I but them in a breeder? <When pregnant the female will become very swollen and the black spot near her anal fin will darken. It can be difficult to time the birth, but usually she will try to hide and start to breath rapidly. The trick is to move her shortly before these advanced signs. Watch the dark spot. You may be able to see the fry's eyes shortly before they drop. Don>

Shy Swordtail Hello! I'm new to the fish game, learning all the time - thanks in large part to your site! My question is about a female swordtail I bought a couple weeks ago. I think she's pregnant, buy my question is about how she's acting - she hides all the time! I have a large piece of coral in my tank - she spends about 80% of her time squeezed into the nooks and crannies. The few times that I've coaxed her out (at one point, I thought she might have died in the coral), she leaves the coral and goes straight into another decor item I have, and hides there! I have one other female swordtail, a male, plus several goldfish and 6 neon tetras. All the fish get along really well, except for this one shy one. Is this behavior an indication that she's pregnant? Or, is this just the way she is? Any suggestions for helping her "come out of her shell? Thanks for your help! Tom <Many females will go off by themselves when ready to drop. Both she and the fry would make an easy target for a hungry cichlid if not. Could just be a shy fish also. The more places a shy fish as to hide, the more it will come out. It will feel safer. The big problem I see is mixing tropicals and goldfish. Not good. The Neons and swords want a temp in the high 70s to low 80s. The goldfish at least ten degrees cooler. They also do better on different diets. For the long term health of these fish I suggest you return the goldfish. To keep several goldfish for life requires a tank of over 150 gallons. Don> 

Fry Among the Sharks I have just got my neon swordtails 1 day ago and the female looks to be pregnant she has green looking eyes in her belly. How long is a swordtail pregnant? How many babies will she have? And how long should they be in a different tank, oh and one last thing I have a 55 gallon tank with 3 Bala sharks, 1 silvertip shark, 3 tiger barbs, 2 pink kissing Gouramis, 2 African Auratus, 1 peacock eel, 3 rainbow sharks and 2 neon swordtails, will my swordtails breed again in my large community tank? Thank you so much, I'm new to this I need help. Please write me back very soon, sorry if I have asked to many questions. Alicia. <A healthy well kept swordtail can give birth every four to six weeks. She can have just a few, or a large brood of 25 or more. They will have to be kept away from the 55 until almost full grown. The adults will breed again, but little chance of the fry making it unless removed. You have a pretty aggressive tank there. Or it will be soon. Too many big fish for a 55. Don> 

Surface-dwelling Swordtails and Sexing Tetras  Hello. I first want to thank you for the previous information. It was very helpful. I still have the swordtail that looks pregnant. Lately (like the last 24-36 hours) she has been staying near the surface. Does this mean something? <Livebearers have been known to hang out near the surface when they are about to drop young. Keep an eye out.> She eats and has regular bowel movements, but if she is starting to develop a disease or something, I want to catch it soon. What do you suggest I do? <Well, if she looks and acts healthy in all respects other than this abnormal behavior, I really cannot pinpoint what (if anything) is wrong with her, as hanging near the surface is a symptom for many things. I assume it may be due to her pregnancy that you mentioned, but it could be a host of other causes. Low oxygen, being bullied, disease, stress, just to name a few. I would recommend your watching her closely, and taking action if you notice anything else out of the ordinary.> All the other fish in the tank swim around. The water is fine. <When you say that the water is "fine," it is about as useless to me for determining if your water is of concern. The readings you get from your test kits are magical in that respect. Something could be wrong and you may not even know about it, and it could be hidden within the readings. Don't be afraid to send them along if you think something is wrong.> Oh, and another thing, I have a couple of tetras. How can you tell what sex they are and when they are pregnant? <Depends on the tetra :-) > I know they cannot be as easy to sex as swordtails; is there something that an amateur, like me, can see that will let me know if the fish is male or female? Thank you so very much! <Again, depends on the species. Some species are sex-able, but most are not. Check the following page for tetra species identification. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/CharaciformFishes.htm  Hope this helps, Mike G> 

Swordtail fry Hi. I just got into this fish thing and I am finding it quite enjoyable. I have had my fish for about 2 weeks now. I bought two female swordtails that were pregnant. One of them had five babies (I know she had more, but I think she ate them all.) anyways, the second one popped about 3-5 days later. She had quite a few, about 20 babies or so. She still looks pregnant, but I put her back in the main tank because I cannot handle any more. If the babes live in the main tank, fine, but if they do not that is fine, too.  Anyways, my question is this. I took them out of the breeder net because there was just too many. I put them in a 1-gallon tank, no heater, but with an air stone. They are doing great. I have not lost any, well except for the one that stuck to the net and went down the drain, but oh well. I wish I would not have lost him, but I could not catch him. I thought he got in the big tank. Sorry I am blabbering here. Anyways, back to my question, how long does it take them to mature? <A few months... sooner with more frequent feeding, water changes...> I do not mean an exact down to the minute answer or anything. On average, how long does it take before they are at least ½ an inch or so? <A month or so> They are right now, about 1 week old and are about 3-5 centimeters, depending on which ones came first. They are eating well and defecating on a regular basis. Oh yeah, the other question I had is why does my second mother still look pregnant? <May be still> She had them about a week ago or so. Maybe not that long. Maybe only 3-5 days, but the first mother does not have the dark eyes spot that she did when she was pregnant. I am worried about her. I do not want to lose her. Out of the two mommies, she was the best. I do not think she eat any of them. I am sorry about going on like this. Feel free to edit what you need if you choose to post this. I cannot find anything on any of the websites stating how long they will be babies. I know not to expect them to be adults over night or anything, but I want to know how long I have to keep them isolated. Thank you so much. <We've got to produce some cohesive livebearer articles. Bob Fenner> 

Swordtails Thanks for the advice. I will continue to keep an eye it and I will begin to feed all my fish some thawed frozen peas. On another note, I have a male and a female red wag swordtail. The male, when I first bought him, was so timid that he rarely left my Anubias plant. He slowly got more energetic and lately I have seen him doing his mating ritual of swimming backwards incredible fast quite a bit. His partner is obviously gravid and he rarely leaves her side. I just added two beautiful sunset platies (male and female) and he does not seem to like them very much. He is not terribly aggressive, as he does not constantly chase them, but when he does, it is usually quite violent. I noticed a nipped tail fin on the female and I cannot quite figure out what is bothering him so much given his previous timidity. After I saw the nipped fin, I isolated him in a breeding net and I plan to keep him there for a few days. I have not had much luck with this method of calming the fish down, however. Would adding a few more female swordtails help the situation? <A good idea... one or two more females> If so, should I add them while he is in the net? Or, should I wait and see if he calms down first? Thanks again for all the useful advice! -Brody <Mmm, either way... but likely better while the male is isolated. Bob Fenner> 

Swordtail Sex Change Question I have a breeding pair (unintentionally) of Swordtails in my 55 gal tank. She is a Pineapple Sword and he is a Green Sword. <Same species...> She has had several broods where 3-4 babies would survive in the tank. So far, they all seemed to have been females. <Ahhh, this happens... by also Xiphophorus does "change" its (phenotypic/apparent) sex in time> The oldest 4 are several months old now, and I am fairly sure they all HAD babies... now TWO of these seem to be turning into males. <Oh, yes... I haven't woken up yet> The once flat anal fin is turning long & narrow and they are growing "swords" on their tails.  I have read that this can happen, but does anyone know WHY? <Perhaps this allows for some of both sexes...> Did they actually have babies then change sexes? <Possibly> Could it be because there are so many females in the tank and only one (original) male? Will they be able to breed? <Yes... these are likely functional males> They are both very large, like their mother, not small and long like "dad". Thank you for any help... (My husband thinks I am crazy!) Bev C <I think you are a good observer, have a curious and good mind. Bob Fenner> 

Re: My fishes... swordtail, tetra, molly            Thank you 4 answering my questions. Now I feel more confident:-) <Good> I'm sorry to bug you all again but I have  another ?...   I have 2 tinfoil tetra ( about 2 inches) and 1 gold gourami (about 2 1/2 inches). I woke up this morning to come out to check on them and half of my gold gouramis tail is missing. My 2 tinfoil tetras are very aggressive eaters and very fast. I have had all three fish in the same tank 4 about 7 months now and I don't know if the tinfoil tetra might have teamed up on the gourami and had a bite. Do you think that the tetras might have done it? Also haw do I tell if these fish are boys or girls. <The tetras might be the offending party... this is definitely something that was eaten off... And some tetras, like these are hard to discern the sex of... but as they get older, larger, the females tend to be a little bigger, and at times "heavier" bodied... Males have somewhat longer fins when older...>      My male swordtail has really been trying to get my female swordtail. The female is red. If he is trying to mate and she gets pregnant how can I tell that she is. I know that you can sometimes see the eyes of the babies but she is so dark. <Please read here re Swordtails: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/swordfaqs.htm You may want to look into having another female... easier on all to not be chased continuously>    The 2 fry swordtails are doing great. Could you tell me about how many times I should feed them a day? <Small amounts... about as much as they will eat in a minute... 3,4 times a day would be okay... but twice is fine as well> They're getting pretty fat. One of them is getting white on its belly. Do you think that might just be his color or some type of disease? <Just the color... it will change in time... to the rest of the body color> And when do you think I will be able to find out if they are boy or girl? I appreciate all of your time.                 Thank u thank u thank u   Kelsey Meadows. <Only a few weeks... as you'll see. Bob Fenner>

Is my pineapple swordtail wag pregnant? Hey! My pineapple swordtail wag female is in a tank with one other male and a frog. They've lived together for about a month, and lately she's become extremely fat. I was reading through the other questions, and people were talking about the disease "dropsy" and they say the scales pop out, but hers don't, and she's the only one that is fat. I looked for a black spot on her belly, but she doesn't seem to have one, is she just fat or is she pregnant? <Good observations and reporting... hard to say... are you feeding something/s other than dried food? Do you have some "greenery" in the tank your fishes can chew on? It may be that your Sword is pregnant... but it might just be fat as you speculate... Best to keep an eye on her vent area... As you remark, this area will become clearer, more transparent in appearance if she is getting close to birthing... and you should be able to make out the young's eyes getting close to parturition... Bob Fenner>

Swordtail with Single Spot I have a 55 gallon tank including a bunch of swordtails (started with 2 or 3 and they bred). Some of them are finally starting to develop swords. One in particular I noticed had a white spot where its sword was beginning to form. I immediately thought it might be Ick, but didn't remove it right away. The next day, the spot was almost completely gone. I wasn't sure what to think but didn't want to expose this fish to the shock of a isolation tank if there was nothing wrong with it, so I left him. A day or two later, I noticed the spot had returned. Once again, a day later it was gone. During this time, the tail has been growing steadily. Other than this spot, I have noticed nothing wrong with the fish. Its fins are not clamped, it swims around energetically with everyone else, there are no other spots anywhere on him, and there are no spots on any of my other fish. I'm wondering if this isn't just a normal thing that some swordtails do when they begin to develop their swords. Of course, if it is a problem, I need to get him out of there quick so I appreciate your opinion. Thank you. David <Might have been an injury or a little dead tissue. A single spot may or may not be Ick. Are the fish "flashing" against the bottom or rocks? If yes, or if you see any more spots, you need to treat before it gets out of control. Use salt. It's cheap, less stressful on the fish and 100% effective. Read here on it's proper use to kill Ick. http://www.aquariumadvice.com/showquestion.php?faq=2&fldAuto=32  Take note of the life cycle and treat for two weeks after the last spot drops. But I would hold off any treatment if that one spot is all you see. Pick up a test kit if you treat. Watch for ammonia spikes and do water changes to correct. Don>

(Not) Pregnant Swordtail Sorry if this has already been answered, but I have a swordtail who appears to be pregnant, and the scales are all standing out. Happened overnight - is this normal?  Thanks so much, appreciate your help as always! Pat <Not normal, not pregnant... Your Sword has a condition termed "dropsy". Please put this term in the search tool on www.WetWebMedia.com and read the links. Bob Fenner>

My Swordtails         About a week a go I bought 2 pregnant females and one male swordtail. <Best not to move such late pregnancy livebearers...> Right now I have the female that is closest to their do date in a 2 1/2 gallon tank. After the female gives birth, I am going to put her in a 2 gallon tank for a day, and then put her in with the other swordtails. How long do I keep the fry in the 2 1/2 gallon tank? <Mmm, until they are too large for the fishes in my main tank to eat them... with regular feeding, water changes... likely a month or two> When could I put them in with the adult fish even though there is enough cover... plants, weeds, etc.? Can you also send me an e-mail saying how to hatch Baby Brine Shrimp (the easiest way and the less messiest way). Send a couple because I have read about 20 different things on it and so I would like to pick it my self <What we have re Artemia is stored here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/artemiafaqs.htm> Thanks Steve Young P.S.- write me back ASAP because the fish is going to have birth one day in between 1-6-05 and 1-15-05 <Ah, a new aquaculturist is born! Bob Fenner>

Feeding Swordtail Fry I have a pineapple swordtail that just gave birth. I'm pretty sure that the babies will survive for a time on their egg sacs, but what should I feed them or how soon. I only have flake food available right now, but maybe you could suggest something I can get for them that would be better... Please reply soon... Barb. <Powdered flake is a fine food for swordtail fry. You could also hatch some baby brine shrimp. Feed tiny amounts a few time a day for fry. The leftovers will be lost in the gravel and decay. You should be testing your water for spikes in ammonia. Use a gravel vac when doing water changes to keep thing clean. Young Swords will start to eat within a day or two of birth. Most of their yolk is used before birth. Congrats and good luck. Don>   

Swordtails Hi! We recently got a used 55 gallon tank with a wet dry filtration system. I've been reading up a bit from a basic aquarium book before I stock it. We've decided we want to try the recommendation of the book of 4 angels, 5 swordtails and 8 mixed species of Corys for the tank. I hope you guys think this mix is good. Anyway the question is...is it necessary to have a mix of female and male swordtails or can we just have all males? <You can have whatever your heart desires> <<Mmm, the males will likely pester your other fishes... RMF>> Also, we were thinking of transferring the 5 inch pleco we have in our 5 gallon tank into this one cause its getting a bit large for the 5 gallon.<Yes, do that.  Definitely too big for the 5 gallon.> Is that an ok substitute for 1 or 2 of the Corys?<Sure> Would greatly appreciate your stocking tips before we plunge headlong into this.<What you have selected is fine>  James (Salty Dog) Thanks! By the way, hubby already got started before I could ask you.. He got 2 male swordtails and 2 Corys already. Ophelia

Swordtails Hello Ophelia.  <Geez, don't know where the "Hell Ophelia came from.  Hope I didn't do that.  Sounds like the "o" is missing from hello.  I've been experiencing a problem with my computer and its quite possible that as I started to answer it did it's thing again.  Sorry.> Hell Ophelia??? What kind of reply is that? Or am I missing something from your reply? I have been to your site and I couldn't find anything about ALL MALE swordtails in a tank, I also perused the FAQs. that's why I thought I'd ask you directly.<Keeping all males is a matter of preference and is probably the reason you wouldn't find anything on the WWM site.  James (Salty Dog)

Livebearer sex change I placed five grown females into a community tank, > and a month later have four females and a male?  Do > they morph if no males are available? > <Hee hee... females, males of what?   swordtails <Actually, yes.... this and other livebearing toothed carps (poeciliids) can/do change their sex in events of disproportionality, need. Bob Fenner>

Strange Swordtail Behavior -Old or Sick? Hi there, Sorry to bother you but I am hoping you can help.  We have a mixed 15gal tank including some swordtails tetras and two clown loaches.  Recently the oldest of the swordtail females - (we have had her over a year and she is at least three inches long & full grown when we got her) - She has started acting very strangely and stopped eating. All the other fish in the tank look fine and eat and swim normally.  This one swims "frantically" around near the surface of the water with the top of her head just barely brushing the surface. I have not seen her eat anything for at least a week.  She has gotten very thin, but continues to swim despite apparent exhaustion which occasionally has her drift to the bottom for a "rest" period. She then returns to the surface and sticks her nose toward the air again.   We have both an internal Eheim filter (we live in the Netherlands so you may not know these brands) as well as some extra aeration via a bubble wand since the internal filter doesn't aerate. We have done two 25%-30% water changes in the last two weeks in case it was a water quality issue.  We have also tried treating with a locally available "broad spectrum" product "Exit" that claimed (in Dutch) to cure "most common fish ailments.   So if this is not simply old age. apparently it is an Uncommon ailment. I would like to know if this sounds like anything remotely curable. She just keeps getting skinnier and skinnier and she was so strong to last this long, but she is simply getting worse not better, but doesn't seem to want to die of old age....Any ideas? Thanks for any input! Laura < It sounds like an internal bacterial infection that may have been drought on by advanced age. In a clean warm quarantine tank I would try Metronidazole or a heavy dose of Furanace. You fish has been ill/weak for a while so it may not be strong enough for a triple dose of Furanace. So try a single dose and see if there is any effect.-Chuck>

Velvet swordtail wag How do you care for these kind of fish? I would appreciate any  information. Thank you Cathy <Cathy, look here: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?ID=3231&genusname=Xiphophorus&speciesname=hellerii  Fishbase is an excellent resource. Jorie>

 Popping Swords how can I tell when my female swordtail fish are about to give birth < They are usually swollen in the belly region with a dark blotch towards the back half of the belly.> I only had one of them 1 day and I saw lots of little fish in the tank took me 11/2 hours to catch them  so you have probably guessed I didn't see how was the 1 but the look like them and now both females are large and have dark coloured bellies it has been 3 1/2 weeks now I have put both fish in plastic breeder how long can I leave them in there for hope you can help many thanks Kristy < There is no exact science on when a female is ready to give birth. If the back half of the belly develops that dark area by the back of the belly it is usually the eyes developing from the fry so this is a sign that the birth will come soon. Put them in a breeder net and raise the temp to 80 F and you should have some results in about a week.-Chuck> Swords without Tails My pregnant swordtail has been in the floating breeding trap for a week (she had been pregnant for 4-5 weeks prior to this). <A little long> She seemed quite happy in there and not unduly distressed. However tonight I noticed about 50 dead fry on the bottom of the tank. Most you cannot see a tail on them so I can only presume are malformed. Water quality is ok on testing, what have I done wrong we have no live fry !! Please help Gill Smith <First, please post the numbers from any testing. All I have to go on is waters ok, 50 dead fry, and no tails on most, but I assume not all. Could be caused by stress, water quality (ph, hardness, salt level etc.) or be genetic in nature. If we eliminate the environmental factors of stress and water, as you seem to do, we're left with genetic. If that's the problem, mating her to a different male may help. Two problems with that. Females can use the sperm from one mating for a few batches of fry. Plus, any young from her would carry the defective gene as a recessive trait. It may pop back up in any future generations. A good breeder would not continue this bloodline. But again, there are many other reasons that may have caused her to abort. Infection is also a possible cause. Don>

Pregger Sword My swordtail is pregnant for the second time. The first time 2 fry survived and were growing happily hiding in the bushes until one day they got too brave and ventured out and presumably got eaten, as they disappeared !However she is huge again and definitely pregnant so 3 days ago we put her into a floating breeding trap where she is "sitting " quite happily but no fry yet ! How long should we hold her in there if she has not produced . Also there is nothing in the breeding trap other than water ! How long should the fry remain in there after they are born and should I be putting anything in the bottom of the trap ?? < Sometimes breeders put some plastic foliage in the bottom of the trap to attract the fry. If she looks very pregnant then I would leave her in there until she gave birth. After the fry are born they should be moved to a small aquarium of their own. Grow them up until they are too big to be eaten by the parents.-Chuck>                                 Thank you in anticipation                                      Gill

My pregnant swordtail Hi bob <Don here today> could you tell me how long it takes a female to give birth once she   becomes pregnant? thanks Most live bearers will drop fry every three to six weeks.

Swordtail pregnancy Hello I'm emailing because I have a female swordtail that is pregnant, I learned this from reading others peoples questions to you and the answers you gave, I was wondering if you could email me at this address _XXXX@aol.com_ (@aol.com)  telling me how  long it takes for a female to give birth as my female has now been clearly  pregnant for at least a month could you tell me how long it usually takes for a female swordtail to give birth from conception to delivery. <Take a look here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/livebearers.htm, Personally I have found that their belly starts to square off as they are about to deliver and looses that more round appearance. MacL > Thank you very much. <Good luck> Swordtail babies hi, my name is matt, <Hi Matt, MacL here with you tonight>  I'm new to aquariums, and I have some questions about my pregnant swordtail... I know nothing about breeding, my g/f just thought it would be cool to have little fish babies.  I have gotten some facts from a fish expert at Wal-mart and she said that I should look for the black sac holding the babies(livebearing) to come to a point at the top. <Its more like the body squares off and they have the babies.> I thought I noticed it coming to a point, and so I put it into a breeders net and have been watching it, it looks like the sac is starting to shrink?? but I haven't seen any babies running around? <Sad to say sometimes the parents will eat the babies.> what do I look for? and how should I handle this.... I just found your website today, so do you send these answers to our e-mails?? <We send answers back to the email address and then post them later.> because I wouldn't know how to check what you wrote back?? Thanks Matt

A female swordtail with dropsy Hey, I have another question regarding a large 80 gallon freshwater tank that was sold to me full of fish for $100 because they couldn't afford it anymore. It has a 17 and a half inch long red belly pacu, two Bala sharks (one nine inches and the other six) four five inch silver dollars, a couple of 2.5 inch Cory cats, a full grown giant gourami, a full grown Plecostomus, and an 8 inch Jack Dempsey.  There were some injuries during the move that were unavoidable, the worst of witch happened to the silver dollars. We had them in a five gallon bucket and under all the stress they just beat the crap out of each other. They have flesh missing on their heads, fins missing here and there, and their eyes were injured and look like they have cataracts on them also, I think they may have hole in the head disease due to some large gaps above their eyes. I didn't know they could be that aggressive and to tell you the truth it wasn't my idea to put them in the bucket. I've been treating them with wide spectrum antibiotics to avoid any diseases, but I think one of them still got infected slightly. Is there anything I can really do about it? < Keep the water clean and use a water conditioner that contains additives for wound control.> Perhaps a more specific medicine, or a dose of Epsom salt? < Fishes from South America such as your Corys , Plecos and silver dollars really don't like any salt added to the water. If you see specific infections the I prefer to treat with Nitrofurazone drugs.> 's the most effective way to get rid of the hole in the head disease? They're beautiful fish, and they are still active and feeding. Please help! < Characins such as your silver dollars don't get hole in the head. That disease really likes to pick on cichlids. I suspect that what you are seeing is actually wounds from the rough transport so treat as if they were wounds.-Chuck> How to tell if my neon swordtail is pregnant Pregnant livebearers usually are swollen and have a darkened area near the ventral region. These are the eyes of the fry.-Chuck>

A female swordtail with dropsy Hey Bob, I have a female orange swordtail that got pregnant. But then she came down with a case of dropsy, she's bloated and her scales are sticking out. I'm kinda new to these fish, but I did a little bit of research using your site (very helpful by the way) to find out that I need Furan compounds to cure her, but when I got to the pet store sites, I can't figure out where to get it. Can you please give me a suggestion? Thanks a bunch. Oh and also, another pineapple swordtail in the same tank got pregnant also and gave birth very successfully about two weeks ago, she had about sixty of them and so far the death toll has only been five! Thanks again!   < Dropsy or bloat is caused by stress. Water too hot, too cold, too dirty etc... Do a 30%v water change and clean the filter. I would recommend treating with Metronidazole and try that first. Look at the ingredients for the medications sold at the stores. They may have it under some commercial name. Nitrofurazone is sold under a few different names just check the ingredients once again.-Chuck. Aggressive female swordtail 5/31/04 I have a couple of swordtails, (1 male and 1 female). The female (who is larger a bit than the mail) is really aggressive. they were ok the first couple of day after I got them, but now the male is always hiding, and every time he goes out the female attacks him so he goes back to hiding. what does that mean?? <either the honeymoon is over, or the beer has run out <G>. But seriously, it sounds like a simple case of territorial aggression. If the tank is not overstocked, do consider adding more leafy coverage/plants (plastic or live), or perhaps rearranging what you have if plentiful already. Best of luck, Anthony>

How many in a 30g? I have recently come across a problem with my 30 gal. tank. I have a pair of neon swordtails that gave birth to babies last October. I had a lot of friends want some babies, so I saved them from being eaten by their mother. 7 months later, every single one of my friends is "unable to take them." Now, I've grown too attached to them and don't know what I can do. I want to keep as many as I can. I originally kept 6 of them to be in the main display, so along with the other fish I have, that makes 10 total. What is the maximum I can keep w/o overloading my bio-filter? I have an AquaClear 200 along with a 2 inch substrate of fluorite and a few plants. Weekly water changes of 4 gallons or RO/DI water. Thank you very much. ~Ed <<Dear Ed, you can use a nitrate test kit to determine your stocking capacity. Simply test your 30g on a weekly basis. Let's say you want to aim for 20ppm of nitrates. Let's say you just did a water change, you test the tank, it's 20ppm. You wait one week, and test again. Is the level now at 40ppm or higher? That will mean you need to do weekly 50% water changes to keep the level at 20ppm. If you can't keep the nitrates low, say around 20-30ppm with a weekly water change, then you have too many fish. Simple enough. If the nitrates creep too high, you will find yourself doing larger volume and more frequent water changes. It is basically up to you to decide how often you want to do the tank maintenance. If once a week water changes is okay, then stock the amount of fish that the test kit says to. If you prefer once every three weeks, then cut down on the stocking level until you can let the tank go for three weeks without the nitrates skyrocketing. Make sense? -Gwen>>

How Many in a 30g II Gwen, Thank you very much for your quick reply. Now, assuming that the nitrate levels will remain stable and my biofilter can handle this many fish (right now there are 22 babies with the 4 original fish), what about over-crowding? Is this where the 1 inch of fish/gal comes into play? ~Ed <<Ed, the one inch per gallon is just a generalization we give to people, kinda like the rule for changing your car's oil every 6 months. I personally hate this rule, since it totally depends on how many fish are in what size tank, what species they are, etc. Unfortunately, the one inch per gallon rule is quite easily broken. With goldfish, cichlids, marine fish, for example, you simply cannot use that rule. Goldfish produce too much waste and grow too large, cichlids are territorial, marine fish require excellent water quality and any level of nitrate is too high for them...so basically, the BEST way to tell your stocking level is to test your nitrates on a regular basis. Any other method is simply not going to cut it in the long run. Because your nitrates may NOT remain stable, especially as your fry grow, so testing is the ONLY way to know what the level is and therefore, how often you will need to do a water change. Let's say you do a water change every time your nitrate level hits 40ppm. That could happen after three days, or three weeks...depends on how many fish are in the tank and how fast they are growing. If you are tired of doing water changes every three days, remove some fish! Your biofilter should be able to take care of any reasonable amount of fish, given time. Adding too many large fish at once to a stable system can even cause ammonia spikes, so be careful. -Gwen>> 

Swordtail Strangeness Last Friday, I bought 3 female swordtails. I'm not positive what variety they are; two are sort of goldish colored and the other is orange with black fins that are tipped in yellow (really pretty!). Well, in the LFS, the orange one had some black spots on his head. I asked the girl working if those were normal and she said yes. I honestly didn't have a clue so I just trusted her. It was the only female of the variety left so I didn't have much choice. Well, I got home and quarantined all three in the same tank (10 gallon, Whisper filter, 78 degrees F, 50% water from main tank, 50% treated tap water). Several hours later when I checked to see how they were doing, the black spots were gone! So what does this mean? Is she sick? Was she sick? Should I quarantine them longer than I'm planning (1 more week)? Ever heard of anything like this? All three of them seem very healthy right now and those spots have never come back. Thanks for any help you can provide. David <<David, I have no clue. The only thing I can think of is a color change due to stress, so the black spots could return. Although platies rarely change color due to stress, but I guess it's possible. I can't think of any other reason for the spots to disappear so quickly. Quarantine them for a couple of weeks. At any rate, keep an eye on your fish for any other physical changes, and test your water regularly for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates. Good luck! -Gwen>>

Swordtail Abortion A Big hello from Australia to everyone... And thank you for taking the time to read this. I have been reading your site and searching for a reason as to why my pregnant Lyretail Swordtail aborted her pregnancy 2 days after being put in the breeding trap.  We have a breeding trap designed to hold 2 females about 6" long and into this 2 days ago we put the two pregnant Swordtails, 1 pineapple and one Lyretail.  We come home today to find the female Lyretail a lot thinner and about 50 eggs on the bottom of the breeding trap with 1 live healthy baby and 1 not so healthy looking baby, which still has the yolk of it's egg attached.  I have head of Platy's aborting their pregnancy, but not Swords...  As I'm really eager to breed the pair of lyre tails, could you please shed some light on this? Thanking you in Advance. Justin >>Dear Justin; My guess would be stress. Many animals will prematurely abort when highly stressed. I recommend testing your water (which is always the first thing to do) for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates. Your ammonia and nitrite should be 0, nitrate should be kept low, around 30-60ppm is a good level. If the tank is a relatively new set-up, or if you have over-cleaned your filtration, you may be experiencing an ammonia/nitrite spike. How often do you do partial water changes? Also, next time you could try using one trap per female.. -Gwen<<

Dying Female swords  Hi! I'm from Illinois. I've had 4 very pregnant neon swordtails die with out giving birth. They were in different community tanks at different times, so I can't blame one tank. I have eight more that pregnant swords, am I doing something wrong. They weren't in breeding cages.  Thank You, Pat  <<Hello Pat; yes, there are things you can do to help your swordtails. First is always to make sure the water quality is good. Good meaning low nitrate levels, zero ammonia and nitrites. If you don't own test kits, I recommend you buy some at your LFS. Test your water and keep logs of each weekly reading. Each tank is probably stocked a bit differently, so you will need to keep track of each tank separately in order to figure out which tank needs how many water changes per month/week. Next is to make sure you are feeding your fish proper nutrition. Do not overfeed! Females should have a high protein diet, supplemented with algae based foods. In other words, a balanced diet. Buy high quality foods, and feed interchangeably. They should be getting a good flake or pellet as a staple, with a protein content of 50%. Read the labels! Tetra Colorbits are a good choice. Also, get a good Spirulina based flake (make sure Spirulina is the first ingredient listed) and a few times a week you can also give frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, glassworms, etc etc.. Last by not least, make sure the females outnumber the males, three to one is good odds. They should have places to hide so the males cannot constantly harass the exhausted females. A heavily planted tank works well, either real or fake plants will do. Good luck! -Gwen>>

Dying Female Swords II  Thanks for your reply Gwen, Thanks for all your suggestions. I have always checked everything you mentioned. The only thing is I probably didn't have enough females at those times. I had a batch of a lot of males and then some late developers into males. Thank You, Pat  <<Hey Pat; good to hear. The problem with too many males is they tend to run the females literally to the point of exhaustion. Adding some more females will help. And yes, make sure you are not adding more juvenile males :P  -Gwen>>

Deformed Swordtail Fry (12/21/2003) Dear crew, My female swordtail gave birth in a breeding trap but some of them got out and eaten. Now I have 7 left. 3 of them are swimming normally but the other 4 have crooked backs (crooked in the shapes of 'L', 'S' and 'Z') but are still alive. They swim on their heads spirally. I've waited for them to hopefully change since 10.30am until now (5.30pm) but they're still crooked. Is it a deformity? <Sure sounds like a birth defect to me. My LFS recently told me that the quality of FW livebearers seems to be going down due to diminished genetic diversity. More defects. I've heard/read the same about angels. Some livebearers are even intentionally bred for abnormal shapes (bulging bellies & bent spines. I've seen these at Petco. IMO it's wrong to deliberately breed fish to have these abnormal, often disabling shapes.> Will they live? <Hard to say. Their deformities are obviously making it hard for them to get around. Yet if they can manage to eat, they may live/thrive. Let us know how it goes.> Please e-mail me an answer at XXXX@XXXXXXXX Thank you so much. <Hope this helps, Steve Allen>

Angelfish 'n Platies Crew, I read the post & Sabrina's reply to the reader with an impressive collection of FW fish in a 58G tank. <Say my name, and magically I appear!  Sabrina with you, today> Among the multitude of fish in the tank were angels and platies and swordfish. Over the years, I have never had much luck keeping angels and platies/swordtails thriving in the same tank. My daughters have taken over the FW in our house now that I have moved to SW. My 10 y/o wants an angel and a swordfish, but I have resisted so far. <One swordtail wouldn't be a very happy fish - they really like/need to school.  Two females (or more) per every one male.  At that, one angel wouldn't make for a very happy critter, either, I'm afraid - and angels will eat baby swordtails, so don't plan on raising many.  On top of that, two angels in a tank will likely try to breed, and will turn aggressive to their tankmates.  I prefer to see angels in larger tanks where they can have space needed to establish territory if they do breed (at the least, a 55 gallon tank, IMO, to try to have other fish with them).> Am I correct in my understanding that their optimal pH and hardness ranges are different enough that it is difficult to keep them together? <I wouldn't think so; platies, swords, and angels have been bred in captivity long enough that they can tolerate a very wide range of pH and hardness.  Angels will tolerate pH much lower than the platies and swords, and the platies and swords can go with a much harder, alkaline water than the angels.  Platies and swords can even go brackish.  But I definitely think there's enough neutral ground to keep them together (as long as you're not dealing with wild stock).> Also, the fish guy at the local Petco tells me that the hardiness and general health of the swords and platies available at retail had been going down in the past few years, probably from genetic problems. <Likely true.  The same can be said for guppies and mollies, as well, I would think.  Too much selective inbreeding without taking care to add in fresh genes.> I've been hearing similar concerns about angels recently - too much inbreeding for certain desirable traits leading to problems with other genes. <Exactly.  I've even seen in stores in the last couple of years angels with very significant deformities - missing or malformed fins, malformed heads, etc.  If possible, try to get angels from good, reputable breeders instead of from stores where some of the angels exhibit deformities.> Thanks, Steve

To Breed or Not to Breed Hello there. <Hey> I have 2 female and 1 male swords. My question is do I need the male? <Not really.> Both females have already had fry and I'm not in any hurry to have anymore. I only have a 20 gallon and 40 babies. Way too many  for me to take proper care of. I'm a beginner. Thank you. <Your local fish store will probably take the extra babies off your hands.  If you do not want more babies I would separate the males and the females, babies too, they will not take long to grow up.  -Gage>

Swordtail Breeding >Hi, if I put a pregnant swordtail in a ten gallon breeding tank just like normal with only rocks in the bottom and the filter and heater, could you walk me through her having the babies what kind of plants I will need or peat moss like we talked earlier about and if I need a breeding net or a tank divider and everything else I should know? thank you sooooo much! >>Sure, Loyd, I'll do my best, although you'll soon discover that these things are far too much like rabbits and lemmings in their breeding propensities!  Set up the little tank, you can use the plastic grass as I've mentioned to let the babies hide, or you can get a special container with a v-shaped bottom that lets the babies drop to the bottom and out of mother's reach.  Filtration is best kept at its simplest, I like a basic old-fashioned air-driven sponge filter.  Set it up in the main tank first so it becomes inhabited with nitrifying bacteria, and once it's really going it can also provide food to the babies.  They can also be fed a special "fish baby food" that you can find at most shops quite easily, or you can finely grind regular flake food.  Be careful to cull, or you'll end up with FAR more than you'll know what to do with!  Have fun!  Marina

Swordtails What does it mean when a male nibbles at the female swordtails ventral area?<could be a mating ritual or just aggression...I would keep an eye on the two and see if the female is getting hurt or stressed out. If the latter occurs I would put the female in a breeding net> Is he trying 2 kill her unborn babies in an attempt 2 mate w/ her?!! <doubtful-but would keep a close eye on the fish, IanB>

Pineapple swordtail I just bought a pineapple swordtail fish and her belly is large and we can see what we think is eyes or little black dots.  We have her in a breeding tank right now and we are wondering how long it usually takes for them to have their babies.  We also have another female that we believe is pregnant and we don't really know if she is or not her belly is large but it is black.  If you can answer these two questions ASAP that would be great thanks. <Both of them are probably pregnant. The gestation period should be about 30 days. You're welcome! Ronni>

Salt Compatibility Hi crew <Greetings> I have some questions to ask...I have a female velvet swordtail and the coloration on her mouth alone is white.  Since the rest of her is a very rich dark orange color, it is very easy to spot this white patch.  It also looks a little flaky.  I also observed that a long almost transparent piece of stuff was coming out of her backside. Normally their feces is the color of the food they eat, so this looked quite strange.  She is fatter than usual, so I assume she might be pregnant.  Is this transparent stuff the beginning of her delivery possibly? And what is the stuff around her mouth. <She most likely is pregnant but the transparent feces and the white mouth are symptoms of a disease. Please read http://www/wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm for more info.> My last question involves the use of aquarium salt.  I have a little pleco, a Pimelodelid catfish, a Betta, 2 swordtails, 2 guppies, 2 Corys, and 3 zebra Danios who all get along peacefully.  Are all these fish salt compatible? <Youll need to do some research on these fish to find out their compatibility with salt. Do a search for each fish at http://www.wetwebmedia.com. http://www.fishbase.org also has a ton of info. You can also use your favorite search engine to search the web.> Thanks for your time. J.P. Luque <You're welcome. Ronni> Sword Tail and her babies <Ananda here answering the freshwater fish questions today...> Hello I have a green sword tail who just delivered babies I am not sure if she is done but babies and mother are doing well I have them in a separate small tank. My question is how long should I keep the mother in the tank with them. I do have breeding grass in the tank and she doesn't seem to be going after them. But I would like to put her back with the other fish. Any help would be appreciated. Thank You, Marlin <I like to keep the new mothers away from the rest of the fish for a little while. You've done that, so she could go back in the main tank any time. --Ananda>

Pregnant Swordfish I have 2 female and 1 male swordfishes. Both of my females are pregnant. One of my female swordtails are almost due to have her babies (maybe in a couple of days). I was just wondering, is there anyway I can make her deliver the fry any earlier without a problem. <Not really, you should let nature take its course here.> My water temperature is about 80 F and 27 C. My PH level is about 7.6.And one more question: all of them has Ich (I've been treating it for two days now) will that stop my pregnant female from having her babies sooner?                                    <The Ich is my main concern here, if cured the platies will spawn again in the future, if not cured they will die.  Ich is usually brought on by environmental stressors, temperature changes, poor water quality, poor diet, etc.  I would focus on getting rid of the Ich, and trying to identify anything that may have caused the outbreak.  Please read the article at the link below. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/fishdisho.htm Thanks. Please reply soon as possible because I am going out of town. <Best of luck, and have a safe trip. -Gage>

My female swordtail, Baby Story? I had a question about my female swordtail. The guy at the store said she was def. pregnant well I put her in a separate tank, from the others now all she does is lie on the bottom like she is dead. I have tried poking her to make her move but she just lays there she is very fat and has the black spot like she is pregnant can you help me out or not? Thank you, Kerri <Well, Kerri- It is normal for a fish in late pregnancy to have some difficulty in moving. However, if she is not moving at all, it can be a bad sign. Ask yourself a few questions. First, is she breathing rapidly? Does she have any outward signs of disease? Scales standing out, obvious marks on her body, etc? How are the water conditions in the 'maternity ward?" If they are dramatically different than your main tank, this could be a form of shock. How long has she been immobile?  Don't panic, but ask yourself these questions, and be prepared to take action if needed, such as water changes. Keep an eye on her. Hopefully, by the time you get this, she'll be a new mom! Let us know if you have any more problems. Hang in there! Scott F.>

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