The green swordtail (Xiphophorus hellerii) is a species of freshwater/brackishfish in familyPoeciliidae of orderCyprinodontiformes. A live-bearer, it is closely related to the southern platyfish or ‘platy’ (X. maculatus) and can crossbreed with it. It is native to an area of North and Central America stretching from Veracruz, Mexico, to northwestern Honduras.
The male green swordtail grows to a maximum overall length of 14 centimetres (5.5 in) and the female to 16 centimetres (6.3 in). The name ‘swordtail’ is derived from the elongated lower lobe of the male’s caudal fin (tailfin). Sexual dimorphism is moderate, with the female being larger than the male, but lacking the ‘sword’. The wild form is olive green in color, with a red or brown lateral stripe and speckles on the dorsal and, sometimes, caudal fins. The male’s ‘sword’ is yellow, edged in black below. Captive breeding has produced many color varieties, including black, red, and many patterns thereof, for the aquarium hobby.
The green swordtail prefers swift-flowing, heavily vegetated rivers and streams, but is also found in warm springs and canals. Omnivorous, its diet includes both plants and small crustaceans, insects.