Why Are My Swordtail Fish Dying?

Why Are My Swordtail Fish Dying?

Millions of swordtail fish are purchased every year, but few people are aware that these fish have a life expectancy of three to five years and might perish sooner as a result of owner neglect!

There are a lot of people that think that their swordtail fish will live a long and prosperous life, however, this is not always the case. If you are noticing that your swordtail fish are dying, it is important to try and figure out why this might be

The most common causes of swordtail fish mortality are novice errors, disease, and old age. These and a few other factors may be readily recognized and avoided.

Below, we will discuss the major causes of these deaths. But before that, it is important to understand the key symptoms of sick fish.

Symptoms That Your Swordtail Fish Is Sick

Swordtail fish display unusual behavior when they are stressed or unwell, or the tank environment is unsuitable for them. The actions might be indications that they are dying.

Due to that, you have to learn how to detect the early indicators of disease and attempt to save your swordtail before it is too late. Some of the symptoms are:

Behavioral Symptoms

1. Gasping for Air at The Surface of The Tank

If your tank’s water contains a lot of ammonia and nitrite, the level of oxygen will be reduced. This will make breathing difficult and encourages the fish to go to the top of the aquarium seeking oxygen-rich air.

2. Lying at The Bottom of The Tank

Swordtails are energetic swimmers that swim in the tank’s midsection, so It would be unusual for them to stay at the bottom for lengthy periods.

Therefore, if you discover that your swordtail is consistently resting at the bottom for a few hours, it may be dying or even dead.

3. Strange Swimming Pattern

Swordtails swim actively in the tank’s middle region. If you notice your swordtail fish behaving strangely or performing an abnormal swimming pattern, there may be something wrong with it.

It is a symptom that they are ill or worried. They might rub themselves against the tank’s side, against rocks or gravel, or even against each other.

Similarly, if they turn over to their side or fold their fins in and hit the tank’s glass on purpose, it will be a sign that something is wrong.

Likewise, if you notice that your fish is swimming erratically, flipping, circling, or diving vertically, he or she is in distress.

4. Aggression

Unwell fish often become aggressive. If you notice your swordtail chasing other fish or nipping at them, it is a sign that it is not feeling well. Maybe your tank is crowded or the water quality is poor. Whatever the reason, you must figure it out and solve it as soon as possible.

Physical Symptoms

1. Respiration Rate

When a swordtail fish’s time is near, it typically breathes rapidly and deeply. Fish, like people, breathe faster to create more oxygen when stressed by disease or poor tank conditions.

When the fish becomes ill with anything, including fungus or parasites, it produces mucus to cover its entire body.

Because the gills are blocked from debris and mucus, they can’t get enough air, so they have trouble obtaining enough oxygen.

2. Loss of Appetite

Your swordtail fish will stop eating if something is troubling it and it is dying. The loss of appetite is a sure indication that your swordtail’s health is failing.

Feeding the incorrect type of food might be causing your swordtail to refuse to eat.

Whatever the cause, if your swordtail’s diet isn’t adequate, its immunity will be weakened, resulting in death.

3. Color Fading

When a fish is stressed, its colors begin to fade. This is an indication that the fish’s environment is not optimal.

It’s a bad sign if your swordtail’s color fades and it looks dull and lifeless. It may be an indication that your swordfish is dying.

4. Dropsy (swollen scales)

Scales that are stuck out and raised like pine needles are a symptom of dropsy.

Dropsy is not a disease in and of itself, but rather a symptom of a viral, bacterial, or parasitic infection, or even organ failure.

5. White spots on the body (Ich)

White spots on the body are a sign of Ich. It’s caused by a parasitic infection that usually enters the fish through open wounds. If not treated, it can result in death.

Common Causes of Swordtails Death

A healthy swordtail fish will constantly move around the tank, except when sleeping. Any behavior change will be obvious, and it should alert you to issues.

Hence, the fish’s swimming habits, physical appearance, and eating regimen will all be affected by sickness.

Detecting unusual conditions or behaviors early might spare the swordtail fish from dying young.

Here are the most frequent reasons for aquarium deaths:

1. Water Quality Issues

Water quality is important to Swordtails, and they demand exceptionally clean surroundings. An uncycled tank, a filthy filter, or a lack of air circulation are all possibilities for why your swordtail fish might be dying.

2. Insufficient Space

Swordtails require a lot of areas to swim and move about, so keeping enough space for them is extremely important.

When the fish get too crowded, they become stressed, which can lead to death.

3. Improper Diet

Imagine eating fast food every day. After a while, you would become unhealthy and might even die from eating too much junk food.

The same goes for your swordtail fish. If they don’t have a varied and nutritious diet, they will eventually die.

4. Oxygen deficiency

A tank that does not provide enough oxygen for the swordtail to survive is detrimental to their health since it can lead to suffocation and death.

5. Male to Female Ratio

Swordtails breed more quickly when the males are dominant. This is because the males harass the females and try to mate with them a lot.

As a result, you should maintain an optimal ratio. The ideal ratio of males to females should be 1:3, with this ratio you can regulate the breeding rate. So you will prevent the tension caused by overbreeding.

6. Disease or Parasite

When a disease takes hold of the fish tank, it may be difficult to control it and before you know it, your fish will be dead in a few days – in severe situations.

Fortunately, all types of fish illnesses, bacteria, and parasites can be treated with medications and therapies.

When some of the fish get sick or die, it’s a good idea to use treatments that will help fix the problem and stop it from spreading.

However, before utilizing a therapy, you must first identify the diseases, germs, or parasites affecting your fish.

7. Old Age

Swordtails have an average lifespan of 3-5 years. As the swordfish gets older, its strength decreases and it becomes more vulnerable to diseases.

This means that an old swordfish is more likely to die from a disease or an injury than a young one. Or in other words, it’s time to say goodbye to your old friend because his lifespan just ended!

How to Make Swordtails Live Longer?

1. Improve Water Quality

Despite being hardy fish, swordtails are very sensitive to water quality.

The water quality affects the breeding, appetite, overall health, coloration, lifespan, growth, activity level, water clarity, and the chances of diseases for your fish.

For this reason, the water parameters must be within the ideal range for them to survive and thrive so if you know your water parameters, you can prevent the death of your swordtail fish.

To keep the correct temperature for swordtails:

  • Temperature: between 72°F and 78°F
  • PH level: at a range between 6.8 and 7.8.
  • Water Hardness: level of 12 to 30 degrees
  • Water Change: at least 20-30% every week

2. Choose a Suitable Filtering System

By setting the filtration system appropriately, you will manage to keep the water healthy. 

A good filtration system will also help you to get rid of the toxins, making the water healthier for your fish.

It is advisable to use an external canister filter or a hang-on-back filter as they are better at filtering the water than an internal filter.

3.  Maintain Good Air Circulation in the Tank

Good air circulation is essential for the fish to be able to breathe properly. You can achieve this by using an air pump and air stone or by installing an aquarium fan.

4. Feed Them a Balanced Diet

A well-balanced diet is crucial for the health of your fish. You should feed them a variety of foods such as live food, frozen food, pellets, and flakes.

5. Quarantine New Swordtails

When you add new fish to the tank, you should quarantine them first. This is to make sure that they don’t carry any diseases or parasites that can infect the other fish in the tank.

6. Provide Them With a Suitable Tank Mate

Keeping the right tank mate is important for the swordtails to feel comfortable and happy. They should be kept with other peaceful fish that are of a similar size.

How to Know If Your Swordtail Fish In Trouble Or Just Sleeping?

There is a thin line between death symptoms and sleeping behavior in swordtail fish. Swordtail fish sleep with the same pattern of actions as slowed breathing, moving to the top or bottom of the tank, and so on.

As a result, you must pay close attention so that you do not mistake illness with sleep. So, how can you tell if your swordtail fish is dead or sleeping?

Well, Swordtail will be resting just at night or for a short period, this is the time when they are sleeping. If your swordtail fish are acting like that during the day, they are probably sick, and not sleeping.

What Should You Do With a Dead Swordtail Fish?

You must immediately remove the dead swordtail from your aquarium since the body will decay rapidly in warm, germy water. The corpse can pollute the aquarium water and endanger the health of other fish.

If the death was due to a disease, you don’t want other swordtails to eat its remnants.

After the removal, check the water to be sure it is suitable. If the water is acceptable, look for other factors such as starvation, sicknesses, long-term stress, and unsuitable circumstances such as soft water.


Do Swordtails Die After Giving Birth?

Swordtails can get pregnant and produce almost 100 live fries at a time. In this light, no swordtail fish dies after giving birth since they all give birth to multiples of 100 live fries.

However, because of complications during pregnancy, difficult labor, tension, and repeated pregnancy, the female swordtail’s strength might be weakened and the fish may perish during or after delivery.

Because of this, you must treat the pregnant swordtail fish with particular attention. You can also separate males and females to limit the number of fetuses that occur.

Why Is My Swordtail At The Bottom Of The Tank?

There are a few circumstances why your swordtail may end up at the bottom of the aquarium. In particular, swordtails go to the bottom of the tank in search of food, such as algal scum and debris. However, this is not usually the case.

They are also sometimes found sleeping at the bottom of the tank. They usually do this in groups, with a maximum duration of approximately a few hours.

However, it is quite possible that they are distressed, unwell, and on their way out.

Last Words

Swordtail fish are extremely resilient and tough, and if you treat them well and meet their needs, they’ll last a long time. They do not perish for no reason— illness, tension, or poor tank conditions are responsible for the demise of the swordtail fish.

If you want your swordtail fish to live a good life, take care of it with all your heart!

We hope you enjoyed reading this article and that it was helpful. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask in the comments section below.

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