Xiphophorus helleri Rio Otapa - Back to X. helleri Rio Otapa Page

    Common Name- Rio Otapa helleri Sword
    Water Conditions- Temp 70-78, Some water movement, plants
    Behavior- A peaceful, large community fish. As with all swords, dominant males can be territorial.
    Breeding- May eat fry. Females can be separated to drop fry. 10-50 Young after approx.30 days.
    Size- 5-6 inches

    Like all swordtails, these require good water quality of aerated, moving water where water changes of at
    least 20% a week are done. Frequent feedings of high quality food ensures that they will grow to their
    maximum size. When first obtained in 2011, it was noticed that, at least in the water here, of a group of
    10 fish, 2-3 would be females, the rest males. Smaller maturing males are not uncommon, but most will reach
    reach a large, impressive size of at least 4 inches (including sword), and many will come close to or surpass
    6 inches.

    After many months of trying a variety of means to address the sex ratio problem, a portion of the male
    overabundance appears to have been turned around by focusing greater care and feeding of the new young-
    primarily by providing more finely ground high quality food in multiple daily feedings in addition to
    the newly hatched baby brine shrimp they had been receiving. It appears the fry are better able to consume
    the smaller particles than the larger flake or pelletized foods. A .3mm pellet food used here for most fry
    was possibly too large for the Otapa fry, and after grinding that food down even further, the sex ratio
    issue seems to be improving.

    A recent visit across country confirmed that others keeping this fish are also experiencing an overabundance
    of males, and it may be possible that the sex ratios will even out as they are kept for longer term in the hobby.

    Pre-sexed adolescents are distinctive in that they all show a dark brown, body length horizontal stripe,
    unlike other types of swordtails. They are at their most attractive as they leave that stage, where most
    males develop a yellow/gold stripe above the brown strip as they sexually mature and develop a sword.
    As they continue to mature, the dorsal will develop strong red markings, and the markings on their sides
    will diminish somewhat. Black spotted markings occur occasionally.

    The adult breeders are kept here in a 55 gallon tank with lots of fine leaved plants, primarily Bolbitis
    fern, and young hide within the plants to be removed and raised separately. When well fed, not overcrowded,
    and with generous, effective places for fry to hide, the adults have not been enthusiastic about eating fry.
    But being a bigger fish, I remove fry whenever they are seen.

    At a recent show in California, a breeder had begun to isolate males possessing the brightest yellow stripe.
    He has said he is going to breed to develop only males that possess it. Whether selectively breeding for that
    will increase how long the developing males hold on to it is unknown. A spectacularly large, pond raised trio
    with a male displaying a bright reflective yellow stripe was being sold for $100! At this point he has only
    begun with a pair to work with, and whether this line will breed for that needs to be seen.

    To my knowledge, this fish, as new as it is to the hobby, has not been crossed or hybridized, and those
    keeping it are still working on the best means to keep and breed this large, distinctive helleri swordtail


    See other Care Guides Here