Why did my Swordtail Die?

After the sudden death of several of my swordtails, I dug deeper into the matter, and now I am going to reveal what I found so others can benefit from it.

So, why did my swordtails die? Male swordtail fish tend to exhibit aggressive behavior to each other. The water condition, particularly, the ammonia levels have a crucial role to play in the survival of the swordtail. Inadequate filtration can also be responsible for swordtail death.

It is essential to know all about swordtails and the cause of its death to make sure that your fish thrives and does not die overnight.

3 Reasons Why Aquarium Fish Die (Video)

Causes of death of swordtails

Swordtail fish are among the most common choices when one sets up an aquarium. No one likes to see their beloved pets die. The average life expectancy of a swordtail fish is 3 to 5 years.  However, it is not uncommon to witness the death of swordtail fish that seemed perfectly healthy a night ago. To prevent such an occurrence, it is crucial to determine the possible causes of death so that adequate steps can be taken.

These causes include:

  • Improper male to female ratio
  • Unhealthy tank conditions
  • Inadequate swordtail fish diet

Improper male to female ratio

On the whole, the swordtail fish do seem to be friendly, sometimes even shy. However, this is not necessarily the case with all of their kind, particularly if you have a majority of male swordtail fish. This is because males tend to be aggressive towards other males of the same species. Therefore, having a male majority aquarium can have disastrous consequences. Furthermore, if the tank is small, the chances of harm are significantly increased.

Consequently, it is vital to maintain a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio of male to female swordtail fish and the capacity of the tank should be roughly 5-6 gallons for every swordtail.

Tank conditions

Swordtails can also meet their end owing to nitrite poisoning or ammonia poisoning. They can also incur a great deal of stress due to sudden and drastic changes in temperature which should be kept between 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit. The ammonia and nitrite levels should be regularly checked and the pH of the water should be kept between 6.8-7.8.

Inadequate filtration and the presence of sharp stones and pebbles can also be dangerous for the swordtail fish. Inadequate filtration can make the water condition poisonous. When there are sharp pebbles in the aquarium, the fish can get stuck between them. Considering their nature, they will not wait for someone to rescue them and would try to break free on their own. This is when they incur most severe injuries which might prove to be fatal for them.

What should I feed my swordtail?

It is not difficult to find suitable food for the swordtail. You can feed them fish flakes or live food. Artificial or frozen food is also among the options that you have. Whatever you feed them, try to keep some diversity in their diet.

Algae constitute a significant part of their diet in the wild habitat. However, you cannot expect to fill your water tank with algae, and thus alternatives must be sought. You can opt for fish food flakes which are equipped with vegetable supplements. The live food can be added as a supplement which is provided to the fish now and then.

You will also find plenty of options available on the market for artificial food of the fish. Make sure that you opt for something which is profound in quality and would not incur any harm to the health of your fish. Taking a look at the reviews that different items have attained might make things easier for you

How to ensure comfortable breeding for my swordtail?

Swordtail fish start to breed from the 3rd month after their birth. If you do not want breeding to occur, you should separate the sexes once the gender has been determined. When you see the female’s belly swelling along with a dark spot which appears on her back fin, you should understand that she is close to spawning. Spawning females tend to remain restricted in one corner, avoiding a lot of movement

A suitable temperature is considered to be 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Ammonia and other water parameters should be strictly regulated for maintaining safety as this reduces the stress levels of the female.

As many as 100 fries can be produced in a single birth, and the female can be ready to breed within 4 to 6 weeks.

When the females are closer to giving birth, they need to be well-fed. There is a danger of the fish eating its fry if you do not provide it with adequate food. Feeding them twice a day would be sufficient.

How can I protect the fry?

As mentioned above, the fry is in danger of being eaten by the adults. To prevent this, there are certain steps that you need to take.

Keep the tank heavy with plantation, particularly near the water surface. This gives the young a shelter for hiding from other fish including its parents thereby improving their chances of survival.

You can also use a special depositing hopper for the purpose. Have the pregnant female stay in it and the fry would fall into the spawning tank as soon as it is born leading to prevention of contact between the fry and its parents.

You can also remove the parents after the fry is born, but this would require strict vigilance on your part, lest you become late in your movement and the fry are eaten before you have the chance of isolating them. The fry need to be adequately fed to survive in the long run.

Related questions

What should I feed young swordtails? Keep in mind that the young swordtails tend to be very active and quite hungry. Thus, you need to make sure that you provide them with the required diet. You have options like Naupli, Spirulina, and egg yolk as their diet. A suitable diet ensures that the young one grows up at a rapid rate and will no longer need protection. Once they have a bright color and have attained a big enough size not to fit in the mouth of adults, you can shift them in the tank with other fish. This size is usually attained around 2 weeks after birth.

What is the most common disease of swordtail? Ich is among the most common diseases that swordtails tend to suffer from. Ich occurs owing to “Ichthyophthirius multifiliis” which is an external parasite. The parasite only affects the fish which are under some stress. The stress can arise from tank condition or aggressive behavior of other fish. You can identify the condition via white spots that develop on the body of the fish that resemble salt grains. Salt treatment wherein you add salt to the water tank is an effective way to deal with the problem.

Is it dangerous to put swordtail in a tank with other species? No. the swordtail fish is quite peaceful and tend to enjoy some company. As long as you put them with similar species, it should not be a cause of problem. These include angelfish, mollies, and platies. These are all live-bearers and thus you will have to take some measures to make sure that they do not end up eating young ones of one another. Tetras are also an option for potential swordtail tankmates but their number needs to be kept in check.


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