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Xiphophorus hellerii  Heckel, 1848

Green swordtail
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Xiphophorus hellerii
Picture by Aland, G.

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Cyprinodontiformes (Rivulines, killifishes and live bearers) > Poeciliidae (Poeciliids) > Poeciliinae
Etymology: Xiphophorus: Greek, xiphos = sword + Greek, pherein = to carry (Ref. 45335).   More on author: Heckel.

Environment / Climate / Range Ecology

Freshwater; brackish; benthopelagic; pH range: 7.0 - 8.0; dH range: 9 - 19; non-migratory.   Tropical; 22°C - 28°C (Ref. 52054); 26°N - 12°N

Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm ?  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 14.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 26130); 16.0 cm TL (female); common length : 2.8 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 12193)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 11-14; Anal spines: 0; Anal soft rays: 8 - 10. This species is distinguished by having a medium to large swordtail with a long straight caudal appendage; midlateral stripe may be dusky or brownish (northern populations) or red; 2 additional reddish stripes may be present above midlateral line and one beneath; terminal segment of gonopodial ray 3 produced into a crescent-shaped hook and blade pointed distally; ray 4a curves strongly backward over the blade at an angle greater than 90°; distal serrae of ray 4p reduced in size and number and proximal serrae rather slender; terminal segment of ray 5a produced into a claw, several times larger than the distal serrae of ray 4p (Ref. 52914).

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

North and Central America: Rio Nantla, Veracruz in Mexico to northwestern Honduras. Africa: Feral populations reported from Natal and eastern Transvaal as well as in Lake Otjikoto, Namibia (Ref. 7248). Several countries report adverse ecological impact after introduction.

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Adults are found mainly in rapidly flowing streams and rivers, preferring heavily vegetated habitats (Ref. 26130). They occur in warm springs and their effluents, weedy canals and ponds (Ref. 5723). They feed on worms, crustaceans, insects and plant matter (Ref. 7020). Used for genetics research (Ref. 4537). Especially the red varieties are very popular aquarium fishes (Ref. 1672). Aquarium keeping: the males aggressive towards each other; minimum aquarium size 80 cm (Ref. 51539).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Female produces 20 to 200 young after a gestation period of 24 to 30 days. Attains sexual maturity after eight to twelve months (Ref. 26130). This species has a tendency to undergo sex reversal (from female to male) under certain environmental conditions (Ref. 6465).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Wischnath, L., 1993. Atlas of livebearers of the world. T.F.H. Publications, Inc., United States of America. 336 p. (Ref. 26130)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 96402)

CITES (Ref. 94142)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Potential pest




Human uses

Fisheries: of no interest; aquarium: highly commercial
FAO(Publication : search) | FisheriesWiki | Sea Around Us

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Estimates of some properties based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805):  PD50 = 0.5000   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00832 (0.00347 - 0.01996), b=3.19 (2.99 - 3.39), based on LWR estimates for this Subfamily-body shape (Ref. 93245).
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278):  3.2   ±0.43 se; Based on food items.
Resilience (Ref. 69278):  High, minimum population doubling time less than 15 months (tm<1; Fec=20-200 * 12).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  Low vulnerability (16 of 100) .
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Unknown.