Can Swordtail Fish Live Without a Filter?

A lot of swordtail fish owners wonder if an aquarium’s filter can be removed from the tank without hindering the growth of the fish.

Can swordtail fish survive without a filter? Yes, they can! Swordtail requires a fresh environment but that doesn’t make a filter a must-have. In case you decide not to have a filter in your tank, you will have to install more plants and check for harmful chemical levels yourself.

Experts who deal with fish always emphasize the importance of filters. The removal of this vital component does come with some precautionary measures which are explained in this article.

The natural habitat of swordtails and why you don’t need a filter

Swordtail fish has the best growth in a habitat that is most similar to their natural one. This confirms that a filter is not a must because there are other steps that will help mimic an ocean’s environment. In fact, swordtails prefer calm water. Filters usually create strong currents in the tank. Removal of such a strong filter will actually make your swordtails more satisfied.

To make sure that your tank remains fresh and clean without a filter, you will have to add in a lot of plants. Swordtails prefer spaces under the natural water bodies that have the most amount of plants. You should replicate the same landscaping. If you don’t have a filter to regulate the amount of oxygen in the tank, the excessive plants will accommodate for that.

Water plants

If you don’t want to keep a filter in your tank, then add in enough water plants that you can no longer see your fish swimming around. Also, incorporate algae and insects to make it as close to their natural habitat as possible. A sponge or back filter can also be used as an alternative to the traditional, strong filter.

Tank maintenance

Removal of the filter will definitely increase your manual input. You will have to become more active in terms of cleaning the tank. The water in the aquarium will have to be changed more often than if a filter was installed. The pH of the water should also be closely administered. It should never be lower than 7pH or higher than 8.4pH. Similarly, every time you change the water or clean the tank, make sure that the temperature doesn’t go far from the range of 18 to 28℃.

How to clean an aquarium without a filter (Video)

The purpose of a filter is to keep the water clean. It gets rid of excessive food, decaying matter, fish excretions, and meanwhile, maintains an optimum percentage of oxygen in the tank. Once you remove the filter, you’ll have to manually clean the aquarium. If you don’t do so, the fish will catch diseases, won’t grow, won’t breed, and will most likely die.

The amount of ammonium and nitrites should always be zero. For this, the water must be changed regularly. Keep testing the tank to make sure that there are no harmful components that could affect your fish. You can use marine pure blocks, too. These blocks keep releasing de-nitrifying bacteria which keep the aquarium filtered.

To provide aeration, you can use something like a bubble stone. Other than that, a good amount of plants inside the tank will do the job of keeping the oxygen levels high. Plants also regulate the amounts of nutrients in the water. Feel free to drop in a poly filter to rid your water of harmful phosphates, metals, and other unwanted elements.

Tank size for swordtails

Swordtails are lively and active creatures that love to swim around. Their nature demands an open space. Therefore, your first concern as a swordtail fish owner is to have a big enough tank that is neither crowded nor congested. Your fish can survive without a filter but if their living space isn’t open enough, they won’t survive for long. Roughly, a 29-gallon tank will be enough to accommodate 6 swordtail fish. Any more than that will end up causing chaos.

Swordtail’s favorite food and other feeding tips

Luckily, as a swordtail owner, you don’t have to worry a lot about their food requirements. Swordtails are not picky with their feed. They will pretty much eat anything you offer them. However, there are a few favorites that they prefer over other foods. Firstly, they love algae. Other favorites in the vegetarian category are zucchini medallions, shelled peas, broccoli, and cucumber medallions. Swordtails are omnivores but they always lean towards vegetation more than meat. Serve the vegetables blanched after being boiled and cooled.

To fulfill the protein needs, you can use flake food or live food. Invertebrates and insects are the swordfish’s favorites. Mosquito larvae (illegal to culture in many countries), blackworms, bloodworms, brine shrimp, fruit flies, daphnia, and other typical fish food with proteins are a suitable option.

Optimum living conditions for swordtails

It is vital to provide proper living conditions for fish to ensure their maximum health and longest life span. Especially now that you’re removing a filter, you must overcompensate on other things. Swordtails do have a fair number of requirements. As previously mentioned, they prefer a habitat that is closest to their natural one.

The water should be free of heavy metals, harmful organics, excessive ammonium, and other unwanted elements. Swordtails are very active. If their tank isn’t big enough, the fish will become aggressive. They love to jump high so make sure you cover your aquarium or else, there will be many unexpected suicide attempts. Lastly, maintain a suitable male to female ratio. Male swordtails tend to harass the females. To keep this from happening, add 2 to 3 females for each male in the tank.

Related questions

Do swordtails breed easily? Yes, swordtails can breed very easily. They are livebearers which means they give birth to baby fish (fry) rather than laying eggs. As an aquarist, you won’t have to offer a lot of assistance for breeding your swordtail fish. However, you will have to take care of the young fry or else, their parents will eat them!

What fish can live with swordtails? Swordtails are very friendly and social fish. They don’t have a hard time adjusting with their tank mates as long as they don’t feel crowded. For maximum peace, you should add cousin species of swordtails such as angelfish, platy or molly. Since these fish are somewhat related, there is a very low chance that your tank will be home to aggression or harassment.

Can swordtails live alone? Living alone can be stressful for swordtails even if they have other species around. If you don’t want the fish to breed, you can keep females only. But, always have at least one pair of swordtails in one tank.

How long do swordtails live? The general lifespan of a swordtail fish is 3 to 5 years. Depending on how well the fish is taken care of and the quality of diet, life can elongate or decrease. The health is also affected by the size of the tank that swordtails are kept in.


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