Pineapple Swordtail

Pineapple Swordtails are fascinating freshwater fish that share close ties with other Swordtails and Platies. With their bright yellow and red colors, they have captured the hearts of aquarium aficionados. These amiable fish need low maintenance, making them an exceptional choice for communal aquariums.

An icon to represent level of difficulty to care for a fish type.

Care DIfficulty


An icon to represent temperament.



An icon to represent origin.


Central and North America

An icon to represent size.


5.5 inches (14 cm)

An icon to represent a fish's lifespan.


5 years

List icon.

Table of contents

Origin, Appearance, Size, and Lifespan

The Pineapple Swordtail, or Xiphophorus hellerii, frequently called the Pineapple Sword, is a beloved freshwater fish originating from Central and North America, particularly the Atlantic slope of Mexico. Typically, they are found in rivers and warm springs, where they inhabit the slow-moving or still waters.

In the wild, Pineapple Swordtails often reside in serene, moderately deep waters rich in vegetation. These plants serve dual purposes, providing both concealment and sustenance, while the dark riverbeds underscore their vibrant colors. These social fish prosper in groups of six or more and are often observed in schools of up to 30.

Their natural habitat consists of warm, mildly hard, and slightly alkaline water. The temperature usually ranges from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 degrees Celsius), with a pH level of 7.0 to 8.2, and water hardness between 12 to 30 dGH. To replicate this environment in your aquarium, maintain a consistent water temperature, employ a high-quality filtration system, and include live plants and rocks.

By accurately imitating the Pineapple Swordtail's natural habitat and assuring the correct water conditions, you are ensuring your fish live a healthy and content life in your aquarium.

Pineapple Swordtails are praised for their distinctive yellow body, accented by a bright red stripe along their sides and a unique sword-like extension at the tail. These stunning colors make them a captivating and engaging presence in aquariums. Despite being small, their size peaks at about 5.5 inches (14 cm), their distinct colors and lively behavior make them a perfect choice for those seeking a lively, colorful aquatic display. These delightful fish elicit smiles from spectators as they swiftly navigate the tank, making them a beloved choice among hobbyists across the skill spectrum.

With the appropriate care, Pineapple Swordtails can have a lifespan of up to five years. As social creatures, they thrive in groups and are ideally kept in schools of at least six individuals. To encourage their well-being and guarantee a long life in captivity, it's crucial to provide a well-planted aquarium with ample hiding spots, as well as a diverse diet comprising high-quality flakes, pellets, and frozen foods.

Fun Facts

Having familiarized ourselves with the appearance and lifespan of Pineapple Swordtails, we delve into this section to shed light on some fascinating facts about these appealing fish that make them prominent in the aquarium hobby. Ranging from their captivating coloration to their social tendencies, Pineapple Swordtails are packed with surprises and are bound to captivate any aquarium enthusiast.

  • Survival through fecundity: In their natural habitats, Pineapple Swordtails are often seen cohabiting with other livebearing fish, which share a similar reproductive style. This reproductive strategy assists both species in augmenting their populations and bewildering predators, thereby enhancing their survival odds.
  • Adept swimmers: Pineapple Swordtails are noted for their exceptional swimming capabilities, an attribute that sets them apart from many other aquarium fish. This proficiency allows them to navigate both swift-flowing and tranquil water bodies in their native environment.
  • Mollie relative: Despite their vibrant look, Pineapple Swordtails are closely associated with mollies (family Poeciliidae), renowned for their array of colors and patterns. Pineapple Swordtails, on the other hand, have evolved vibrant hues as a method of camouflage and communication in their respective habitats.
  • Color changing capabilities: Pineapple Swordtails can modify the intensity of their hues based on their environment, mood, or health status. In dimly lit surroundings or when under stress, their colors might appear less vibrant. On the flip side, when they feel safe and are in good health, their colors become more pronounced, enhancing their appeal in an aquarium setting.
  • Gregarious behavior: Pineapple Swordtails are gregarious fish, signifying their preference for being in groups. This behavior not only imparts them a sense of security but also generates a captivating visual display in an aquarium. Their coordinated movements and radiant colors can metamorphose a home aquarium into an entrancing aquatic spectacle.

Now that you have unearthed some intriguing details about Pineapple Swordtails, you will be in a better position to appreciate their charm and complexities in your aquarium. In the ensuing section, we will provide guidelines on tank setups, ensuring your Pineapple Swordtails have an optimal environment to prosper and flaunt their dazzling characteristics.

Recommended Tank Setups

Every setup includes key elements—tank, filter, heater, lighting, substrate, and others—to guarantee that you can craft a suitable habitat for Pineapple Swordtails and other compatible freshwater fish species in your aquarium. As you progress from cost-effective to premium setups, you will also gain more choices for personalization, aesthetics, and advanced features. Pineapple Swordtails are sociable fish and should be maintained in groups of at least five to reduce stress and ensure their wellness. Typically, Pineapple Swordtails are priced between $3 and $5 per fish, although prices can fluctuate based on aspects such as size, quality, and availability.

Budget-friendly setup (around $200):

  • Tank: 30-gallon aquarium with a hood or glass canopy ($50 - $80)
  • Filter: Hang-on-back (HOB) or sponge filter rated for 30 gallons ($25 - $45)
  • Heater: 75-100 watt adjustable aquarium heater ($20 - $35)
  • Lighting: Basic LED aquarium light ($25 - $55)
  • Substrate: Economical aquarium sand or small gravel ($15 - $25)
  • Decor: A couple of driftwood pieces and rocks, along with budget-friendly live plants like Java Fern and Anubias ($25 - $45)
  • Fish: Minimum 5, maximum 10 Pineapple Swordtails ($25 - $35)
  • Thermometer: $3 - $10
  • Substrate Vacuum: $10 - $25
  • Fish Net: $2 - $10
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $5 - $20
  • Siphon and Bucket: $15 - $30
  • Test Kit: $15 - $50
  • Fish Food: $5 - $20
  • Water Conditioner: $5 - $15

Mid-range setup (around $400 - $650):

  • Tank: 30-40 gallon aquarium with a hood or glass canopy ($70 - $140)
  • Filter: Canister filter or high-quality HOB filter rated for the tank size ($70 - $160)
  • Heater: 100-150 watt adjustable aquarium heater ($30 - $55)
  • Lighting: LED aquarium light with adjustable settings for plant growth and color enhancement ($60 - $160)
  • Substrate: Nutrient-rich aquarium substrate designed for planted tanks ($25 - $45)
  • Decor: A mix of driftwood, rocks, and live plants such as Amazon Swords, Java Fern, Anubias, and Cryptocoryne species ($45 - $90)
  • Fish: Minimum 5, maximum 15 Pineapple Swordtails ($25 - $60)
  • Thermometer: $3 - $10
  • Substrate Vacuum: $10 - $25
  • Fish Net: $2 - $10
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $5 - $20
  • Siphon and Bucket: $15 - $30
  • Test Kit: $15 - $50
  • Fish Food: $5 - $20
  • Water Conditioner: $5 - $15

High-end setup (above $800):

  • Tank: 40-50 gallon rimless aquarium with a glass canopy ($150 - $275)
  • Filter: High-quality canister filter rated for the tank size ($125 - $275)
  • Heater: 150-200 watt adjustable aquarium heater with an external temperature controller ($45 - $90)
  • Lighting: Advanced LED lighting system with customizable settings for plant growth, color enhancement, and day/night cycles ($175 - $325)
  • Substrate: Premium aquarium substrate designed for planted tanks, with added root tabs for extra plant nutrition ($35 - $65)
  • Decor: A combination of driftwood, rocks, and live plants to create a natural aquascape, featuring plant species such as Amazon Swords, Java Fern, Anubias, Cryptocoryne species, and carpeting plants like Dwarf Hairgrass or Monte Carlo ($70 - $160)
  • Fish: Minimum 5, maximum 20 Pineapple Swordtails ($25 - $80)
  • Thermometer: $3 - $10
  • Substrate Vacuum: $10 - $25
  • Fish Net: $2 - $10
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $5 - $20
  • Siphon and Bucket: $15 - $30
  • Test Kit: $15 - $50
  • Fish Food: $5 - $20
  • Water Conditioner: $5 - $15

Please bear in mind that these figures are merely suggestions, and you should take into account other elements such as tank companions and individual fish temperaments when determining how many Pineapple Swordtails to house in your aquarium. Prices may vary based on location, brand, and availability.

Set Up Your Tank

In the previous content, we examined the potential tank setups for your Pineapple Swordtails and other freshwater fish companions. Having developed an understanding of the requirements, let's now delve into the detailed procedure of establishing your aquarium. This method encompasses choosing an ideal place for your tank, sanitizing and preparing the tank, incorporating necessary equipment, and preparing the water through cycling to provide a healthy habitat for your fish. Additionally, we'll discuss the appropriate acclimatization procedure to ensure a comfortable transition for your Pineapple Swordtails and other fish into their new habitat. By adhering to these instructions, you'll be on the path to constructing a thriving aquatic ecosystem where your fish can thrive.

  • Step #1: Identify an ideal spot for your aquarium, ensuring it's not exposed to direct sunlight, heat vents, or drafts. The location should be level and sturdy enough to bear the weight of a full tank. If your aquarium necessitates a stand, set it up following the producer's guidelines and place the empty tank on top.
  • Step #2: Then, clean the aquarium by washing it with clean water (refrain from using soap or chemicals) to eradicate any dust or residue. Dry the interior with a clean cloth or paper towel. Wash the substrate (such as sand or gravel) thoroughly in a bucket until the water becomes clear, then distribute it uniformly at the bottom of the tank, forming a gentle slope towards the rear for visual depth.
  • Step #3: Prior to adding water to the tank, devise the layout of your aquarium, including the positions of equipment like heaters and filters. This arrangement will facilitate easier maintenance and setup in the future. As per the manufacturer's instructions, set up the heater and filter. If your setup includes a sponge or under-gravel filter, position it under the substrate before introducing water.
  • Step #4: Adorn the tank with elements such as driftwood, stones, and plants to create hiding places and an engaging environment while ensuring there's adequate open swimming space for your fish. When embellishing the tank, be cautious not to place driftwood, stones, or plants in a way that could potentially damage or obstruct the equipment. You can secure plants to driftwood or stones to maintain their position.
  • Step #5: Pour water treated with a water conditioner into the tank if your tap water contains chlorine or chloramines. To prevent disruption while filling, place a clean plate or plastic bag on the substrate. Fill the tank until it's about 2/3 full. Attach the aquarium light to the hood or canopy, abiding by the manufacturer's instructions. Consider setting a timer for your aquarium light to preserve a regular day and night cycle, which is vital for both fish and plants. Connect the heater, filter, and any other equipment (like air pump, CO2 system) to power outlets, and fix the thermometer in a place that is easily observable.
  • Step #6: Complete the water filling, leaving a gap between the water's surface and the top of the tank for oxygen exchange. Switch on the filter, heater, and other equipment. Keep track of the water temperature and modify the heater as needed. Allow the tank to cycle for 4-6 weeks to foster beneficial bacteria and stabilize water parameters. You can speed up the establishment of beneficial bacteria in the tank during the cycling process by adding a bacterial starter culture. Utilize an aquarium test kit to monitor the levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.
  • Step #7: Once the tank has cycled and the water parameters are stable, gradually acclimate your Pineapple Swordtails and other fish to the conditions of the tank before introducing them. Start by floating the unopened fish bag in the tank for 15-20 minutes to balance the temperature. Next, open the bag and add a small amount of tank water to it. Continue to add small quantities of tank water to the bag every 5-10 minutes for at least 30-60 minutes, permitting the fish to slowly adjust to the new water chemistry. Use a net to carefully transfer the fish from the bag to the tank, avoiding any unnecessary stress or exposure to the water from the bag.
  • Step #8: Once all fish are introduced, establish a consistent daily feeding schedule, offering high-quality food in amounts suitable for your specific fish species. Execute regular water changes (20-30% every 1-2 weeks) and monitor water parameters using a test kit to maintain a healthy habitat for your fish. Pay close attention to your fish for any signs of stress or illness, particularly in the first few weeks after introduction. Be prepared to respond if necessary, such as modifying water parameters or seeking guidance from an experienced aquarist.

By adhering to this detailed guide and integrating the supplementary setup tips, you can create a prosperous aquatic environment that will contribute to the wellbeing of your Pineapple Swordtails and other fish in their new home.

Recommended Water Parameters

Pineapple Swordtails prefer specific water conditions in order to thrive in your aquarium. Here are the ideal conditions you should aim to maintain:

  • Temperature: The water should be kept within a range of 72°F and 82°F (22°C and 28°C) for optimal comfort.
  • pH: Maintain a slightly alkaline pH between 7.0 and 8.3 for the best health of your Swordtails.
  • Hardness: Moderately hard water with hardness levels of 12-30 dGH is best suited for this species.
  • Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate: Maintain levels of ammonia and nitrite at 0 ppm, and nitrate levels below 50 ppm.
  • Lighting: Moderate lighting is necessary for Pineapple Swordtails.
  • Water movement: They are fine with both stagnant and slow-moving water.

Regular testing and necessary adjustments will ensure a healthy environment for your fish.

Routine Water Maintenance

Ensuring the cleanliness and appropriate water conditions for your Pineapple Swordtails is crucial. Here is a suggested routine:

  • Weekly water changes: Replace 25% of the tank water every week.
  • Test water parameters: Regularly check pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and hardness levels.
  • Use a gravel vacuum: This helps keep the substrate clean during water changes.
  • Dechlorinate the water: Before introducing it to the aquarium, always treat tap water with a water conditioner.
  • Match temperature and pH: Ensure new water has similar conditions to the tank water.
  • Acclimate the fish: Allow your fish time to adjust after water changes.

Also consider:

  • Monitor lighting duration: Manage your aquarium lights for a consistent daily cycle. This helps control algae growth.
  • Plant maintenance: Regularly trim plants and remove any dead leaves or plant matter.
  • Filter maintenance: Clean or replace the filter media regularly but avoid changing all of it at once to maintain beneficial bacteria.

Diet and Feeding Schedule

Pineapple Swordtails are omnivorous and enjoy a varied diet. Here's how you can feed them:

  • Flakes and pellets: These should make up the main part of their diet.
  • Frozen and live foods: Occasional treats can include bloodworms or brine shrimp.
  • Vegetable matter: Include blanched vegetables like peas or spinach for added nutrients.
  • Feeding frequency: Feed your fish small portions one or two times a day.

Stress and Diseases

Like all fish, Pineapple Swordtails can experience stress due to various factors. Here's how you can manage this:

  • Watch for stress signs: Look for signs like erratic swimming or loss of color.
  • Check water quality: Regularly test your aquarium water and maintain its quality.
  • Monitor tank mates: Ensure your Swordtails are not being harassed or attacked.
  • Create a suitable habitat: Provide hiding spots, good lighting, and enough space for swimming.

Some common diseases for Swordtails include:

  • Ich (white spot disease): A common ailment, treatable with aquarium salt and raised water temperature.
  • Fin rot: This can be treated with partial water changes, aquarium salt, and appropriate medication.
  • Mouth fungus: Use specific treatments or antibacterial medications to combat this.
  • Dropsy: Often caused by bacterial infection, this requires immediate medical attention.

Prevent diseases by maintaining good water quality, proper feeding, and quarantining new fish before adding them to the main tank.


Breeding Pineapple Swordtails is generally straightforward. Here are steps to do so:

  • Step #1: Set up a suitable breeding environment, preferably a separate tank, with the right water parameters.
  • Step #2: Choose healthy, mature male and female Swordtails for breeding.
  • Step #3: Feed the breeding pair a high-quality diet to boost their energy.
  • Step #4: Introduce the pair into the breeding tank and provide lots of plant cover for the female to hide.
  • Step #5: Once the female has given birth, remove the adults to protect the fry.
  • Step #6: Feed the fry a suitable diet and monitor their growth and development.

Breeding Pineapple Swordtails can be an exciting part of your aquarium experience. Patience and care are vital for success.

Recommended Tank Mates

Here are the top 10 recommended tank mates for Pineapple Swordtails:

  1. Molly Fish
  2. Guppies
  3. Platies
  4. Tetras
  5. Corydoras Catfish
  6. Dwarf Gouramis
  7. Bristlenose Plecos
  8. Ghost Shrimp
  9. Zebra Danios
  10. Cherry Barbs

Steer clear of larger, aggressive fish like Cichlids, large Barbs, and predatory species, as they can intimidate or harm the Pineapple Swordtails. Always monitor the behavior of new additions to ensure they are not causing any stress or aggression towards your Pineapple Swordtails.


To encapsulate, Pineapple Swordtails are a vibrant and intriguing freshwater fish species known for their unique coloration and relatively easy care. These fish demand specific water conditions, a balanced diet, and a suitable environment to prosper in captivity. If these are met, they can live up to five years and make a delightful addition to any aquarium. When picking out tank mates, it's essential to opt for peaceful and non-aggressive species to maintain a tranquil community. Breeding Pineapple Swordtails can present a fun challenge for hobbyists, requiring patience and ideal conditions. All in all, Pineapple Swordtails are a lively and appealing species that can augment any aquarium with their vibrant colors and dynamic activity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal tank size for Pineapple Swordtails?

For Pineapple Swordtails, a 20-gallon tank is the suggested minimum size for a pair or a small group. A larger tank can provide better water stability and more swimming space for these active fish.

How many Pineapple Swordtails should be kept together?

Pineapple Swordtails are not schooling fish, but they do enjoy the company of their own kind. It's best to keep them in pairs or small groups, always with more females than males to prevent aggression.

What water parameters do Pineapple Swordtails require?

Pineapple Swordtails thrive in water temperatures between 72°F and 82°F (22°C and 28°C), a pH between 7.0 and 8.3, and moderately hard water with a hardness of 12-30 dGH.

What do Pineapple Swordtails eat?

Pineapple Swordtails are omnivorous and appreciate a diverse diet. Feed them a combination of quality flake or pellet food, supplemented with live or frozen foods like brine shrimp or bloodworms.

Are Pineapple Swordtails compatible with other fish?

Yes, Pineapple Swordtails are generally peaceful and can coexist with other similarly sized, non-aggressive fish species. Ideal tank mates include guppies, mollies, tetras, and small catfish.

How can I differentiate between male and female Pineapple Swordtails?

Male Pineapple Swordtails are distinguished by their long, sword-like tail fin and brighter coloration. Females, on the other hand, have a shorter, rounder fin and are generally less brightly colored.

How long do Pineapple Swordtails live?

With the right care and optimal tank conditions, Pineapple Swordtails can live for 3 to 5 years.

How do I breed Pineapple Swordtails?

Breeding Pineapple Swordtails is relatively straightforward. They require standard water conditions, but you should use a separate breeding tank and provide plenty of hiding spaces for the females.

Do Pineapple Swordtails require a planted tank?

While not strictly necessary, a planted tank can greatly benefit Pineapple Swordtails. Live plants provide hiding spots, improve water quality, and create a more natural environment that closely resembles their native habitat.

Can Pineapple Swordtails change color?

Yes, Pineapple Swordtails can undergo color changes due to a variety of factors, including stress, illness, or changes in water conditions. If you notice a change in color, check your water parameters and closely monitor their health.