Sam Borstein's Cichlid Page

Xiphophorus helleri
Heckel, 1848

Green Swordtail

Wild Green Swordtail
Above: Photo of a Green Swordtail. Picture courtesy of Ted Judy.


Genus- Xiphophorus= Swordtail (Greek).
Species- helleri= named for Karl Heller.


The Green Swordtail is up there with the Guppy and the Molly as the most popular livebearer. This fish makes a great species to add to a community tank, and is undemanding

This fish is heavily line bred and these types look nothing like the wild types. Here are some popular variants:
It is relatively hard to find wild Green Swordtails, but if you do, get them, they are just a beautiful, in fact nicer in my opinion.


This fish occurs in rivers and creeks of Atlantic Mexico and Guatemala.

Size, Maturity, and Sexual Dimorphism:

Size: Males- 4 inches, Females- 4 inches
Maturity: 2 inches
Sexual Dimorphism: Males have a sword while females are rounder and don't. Males have a gonopodium.


This fish is easy to keep. A trio is best kept in a community 20 gallon aquarium. The fish like water in the low-high 70's and alkaline. Swordtails are non-aggressive and mix well with many other fish. In large enough tanks they can even be kept with some milder cichlid species.


These fish are not picky and will accept almost any flake or small pellet food.


Green Swordtails are easy to breed. They are a livebearing species. Females give live birth and swell up noticeably when pregnant. Green Swordtail fry are large and ready to go right after birth. They grow fast and raising fry is not problematic. All Swordtails are born female with the chance of becoming a male. It isn't uncommon to lose have only females and then have a male develop.


This is a great beginner's livebearer. They are easy to breed and keep. They are also available at any pet shop and are cheap.