El Abra Pygmy Swordtail

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Xiphophorus nigrensis - Rosen, 1960
El Abra Pygmy Swordtail

Wild-type swordtails from Central America. Aaron Norman


An undomesticated species of swordtail, for those interested in a small native fish untouched by selective breeding.

The Swordtail takes its name from the long, saberlike extension of the male's tail fin, which is rounded in females. The sword itself comes in a variety of hues, from greens to yellows to oranges and reds, and many combinations thereof. They have been selectively bred to produce a large array of colors and finnages.

Family: Poeciliidae

Other common name(s):

  • Panuco Swordtail

Native range:

Habitat: Needs a long, rather than tall, aquarium, with plants restricted to the sides and back, and plenty of room to swim in the center.

Maximum length: 6 cm (2 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 76 L (20 gal)

Water: Freshwater 22 °C (72 °F) - 26 °C (79 °F)

General swimming level: Midwater to top.


Omnivore. In the wild, plant material and insects for the major portion of their diets. In the aquarium, they will consume a wide variety of foods, such as good-quality flakes, freeze-dried, frozen or live foods like brine shrimp and mysid shrimp. To round out their diets, also offer algae-based foods, such as Spirulina flakes.

Aquarium Compatibility

Males are apt to bully one another, so keep only one male to several females. Sometimes they may even be a little aggressive toward other species, although they can be housed with a variety of generally peaceful, community tank fishes.


Classic livebearer. Will crossbreed with the closely related Platy, so it is best not to keep them in the same aquarium.


Good jumpers, so a tight-fitting cover is a must.

Reference: 101 Best Tropical Fishes
Image credit: AN
Text credit: KW