Swordsmen are a species of fish that can live in fresh and brackish water. In the biological classifier, they are assigned to the order of carp-like, are included in the family of pecilli fish. In their natural state they live in Central America, in warm rivers and ponds of various origins. The habitat of the swordsmen is wide, but most of all these fish are known as residents of home aquariums.
Description and Features
Sword beasts in natural and aquarium conditions reach small sizes. The length of the males, depending on the variety, varies between 4-10 cm. Females are larger - up to 12 cm. The fish are naturally mobile, this is facilitated by developed fins and a streamlined body shape.
Folded swordsmen are very proportionate. The head is 15-20% of the total length. Caudal fin - about 20%, excluding the sword in males. In some species, this decoration can reach 50% of the body length. Such an impressive "weapon" boasts a view called the "swordsman of Montezuma."
Females of almost all species are 12-17% larger than males. Their rounded fins cannot compare with the variety of shapes and sizes of the motor organs of males. In addition, the male’s caudal fin grew into gonopodia, a reproductive organ that delivers male gomets into the female’s body.
The color of the females is not bright, the shades depend on the habitat, pale gray, brown, greenish tones prevail. In many natural species, females have spots in the general color. The males compensated for the color modesty of the females. Some species dressed in outfits where one color prevails, for example, a green swordsman. Some are painted quite variegated.
A variety of natural species, unpretentiousness, simple upkeepA reliable reproduction system has brought swordsmen to domestic aquariums. It happened at the beginning of the last century. Immediately breeders, breeders drew attention to them. As a result, the number of fish belonging to the genus Swordfish and living in home aquariums is several times greater than the number of Swordfish living in natural reservoirs.
In nature, there are 28 species of swordsmen. Two to three species occurred as a result of natural hybridization. Such a mixture is rare, it is part of the natural process of sympathy. That is, the emergence of new species in populations with overlapping ranges. In the genus of Swordsmen there are rare and poorly studied species. There are more famous species.
- Green swordsman. One of the most famous species. Its range is located in the territories from Mexico to Honduras.
- Mountain Swordsman. Sometimes appears under the name "chips." It is found in the fast rivers of Mexico. Opened in 1960.
- Yellow swordsman. Endemic basin of the Mexican river Coatzacoalcos. It is believed that the species is on the verge of extinction. There is an artificially derived form - a yellow or lemon swordsman. Which introduces a slight confusion.
- Alpine swordsman. It has a middle name - the swordsman Malinche. Found in the Panuco River Basin, current in southern Mexico. Named after the translator and concubine of the conquistador Cortes: Malinche Malineli Tenepatl.
- Montezuma swordsman. A resident of northeast Mexico. It has the longest tail sword among related species. In addition, it has an impressive dorsal fin in shape and color. The fish is extremely interesting in its original form. Rarely found in natural reservoirs and home aquariums.
- Gordon swordsman. It lives in a single place: in the volcanic lake of Santa Tecla. Demonstrates the wonders of adaptability. The water in this pond is heated above 30 ° C and saturated with hydrogen sulfide.
- Pecilia is spotty. In English-language literature, it is found under the name "mutable pay-fish" (variatus platyfish). This swordsman - a fish unusual, he has a remarkable spotty color, and the males lack a sword. There is an unarmed swordsman in Central America.
- Southern Swordsman. It is sometimes called moon fish or common platyfish. Males of this species also do not have a sword on their tail. The range of the fish intersects the range of the green swordsman, resulting in natural hybrids.
- Pygmy swordsman or pygmy. It is found in Mexico, Central America. The smallest swordsman, does not grow more than 3-5 cm. Females of this species are gray, males are yellowish. The shape of the fish of both sexes is similar.
Many types of swordsmen open only in the past and present century. Their belated introduction into the biological classifier is associated with a small number of populations, endemic belonging to remote unexplored reservoirs.
Only three natural varieties have become particularly popular residents of home aquariums and have gained commercial value. These are green, spotted and southern swordsmen. For the most part, not purebred species themselves succeeded, but forms obtained as a result of hybridization.
The green swordsman founded a large group of aquarium fish. Most of them parted with malachite scales and acquired unusual, colorful robes. This happened through the efforts of breeders. Some of the new forms are very popular among lovers and connoisseurs of home aquarium.
- Red swordsman - aquarium fish. Obtained by combining the genes of the green swordsman and various species of pecilia. Work on the hybrid was carried out for many years: it was not possible to remove white inclusions from the color of fish. With this flaw, the issue has been resolved; the color has become uniform, saturated, and deep. Pisces began to be called ruby swordsmen.
- Black swordsman. Getting fish-melanists is the eternal task of breeders. The blacker the result, the better. Breeders have achieved their goal, now black fish with a sword on their tail are frequent inhabitants of aquariums.
- Lemon Swordsmen. Derived from a view of green. Aquarists especially appreciate him, since the color of this swordsman is often suppressed by the original green color.
- Chintz swordsman. Such a textile name the fish acquired for the elegance and lightness of the color scheme: red spots are scattered on a white background. The body color conceived by breeders is not always passed on to future generations.
- Bulgarian white swordsman. This is an albino fixed in the generations, having all the necessary signs: red eyes and a white body. Translucent fins slightly violate the overall whiteness of the body.
- Rainbow Swordsman. Stripes and speckled inclusions of all rainbow colors stand out against a gray-green background. The elegant look is enhanced by orange fins.
- Tiger Swordsman. In this fish, spots resembling ink blots are scattered on a red background. The caudal fin is almost completely black.
- Black-tailed Swordsman. The red body, equipped with dark fins, makes this fish strict and elegant at the same time.
- Swordsman in the photo often represented by its lyre-tail variation. This is a very popular form among aquarists. Moreover, the color of lyrebird fish can be very different. Fins that develop like a thin veil are often plucked by aquarium neighbors.
Maintenance and care
Swordsmen are kept in small and medium tanks. The minimum size of living space can be calculated as follows: 30 liters - the starting volume for the first pair of swordfish, plus 5 liters for each next fish.
Aquarium equipment is standard. Plants and fish love the light. Therefore, an additional lamp does not hurt. If the apartment has problems with heating, you need to take care of the heater, which is usually paired with a thermometer. An average temperature of 25-26 ° C will be a good solution not only for swordsmen.
When the temperature drops below 22 ° C, you can observe that the fish compress the fins, "scratch" on the ground. This indicates a disease of the swordfish with ichthyophthyroidism, which is caused by parasitic ciliates. The occurrence of ichthyophthyroidism is possible, but not necessary. Swordsmen can live peacefully at 20 ° C.
These patient fish have a limit; it comes when the water gets colder than 15 ° C. Beyond this threshold lies death from hypothermia. Rigidity and acidity do not cause much concern. These parameters are quite ordinary. Acidity around pH 7, hardness in the range of dH 10-20.
Salinity may vary. Usually swordsmen live in freshwater aquariums. But a little salt in the water will not hurt the fish. Now many keep reef aquariums. Swordsman, for a change, can be defined in marine aquamir. For this, the fish is prepared: in the container where it lives, the salinity is gradually increased to the desired limits (32-35 ‰).
Aquarium plants, in the presence of light, generate oxygen, but this is not enough. Therefore, forced aeration is a mandatory attribute of both small and large aquariums. Normal oxygen content starts at 5 mg per liter. You can check this option with a test sold at the pet store. Test strips will help determine not only oxygen, but also the acidity and hardness of the water.
The eating habits of the swordsmen coincide with the habits of most of their housemates. In the first place is live feed. Traditional bloodworms, tubule, worms remain the best components of food. Swordsmen also do not refuse industrial dry feeds. Fish themselves can diversify the menu by plucking aquatic plants. But they do not do much harm and the roots in search of food do not undermine.
In the absence of live food, dry fish food can be enhanced with natural protein foods: chopped egg yolk or chopped beef offal - heart or liver. Everything that is not eaten by fish must be removed from the bottom using a siphon.
Like many Pecilian fish, swordsmen can eat alien and their offspring. Young find shelter in green thickets. The aquarist’s actions for timely placement of fry in a separate teenage aquarium is the surest way to save newborns.
Changing the water in the aquarium is one of the fundamental points caring for swordsmen and other aquatic inhabitants. Aquarium water is a whole biological system, the balance of which is easier to achieve in a large tank. At the initial stage, for three months they do not touch the water at all.
After which, approximately every 2 weeks, only 20% of the total volume of water is changed. A stable and long-lasting aquarium requires a water change once a week, with a volume of about 25%. Swordsmen are well aware of this procedure, because they love clean water.
In fresh water, due to the inexperience of the aquarist, there may be an excess of chlorine, nitrates, nitrites of other substances. What causes fish poisoning with characteristic symptoms: mucus appears on the gill slits, swordsmen scurry about, jump out of the water or, on the contrary, become lethargic. The case can be corrected by a complete replacement of water.
Swordfish are livable fish. They are well adjacent to all species of pecilli fish. Often, swordsmen and guppies are the main population of the aquarium, especially the novice fish farmer. In addition to the Peciliae, all non-aggressive, proportionate creatures can swim near the side of the swordsmen.
Sometimes calm flocks upsets male swordsmanwho decided to take the lead in the group. This happens when there is a lack of females. The males remaining in the supporting roles in a depressed mood will seek refuge among aquatic plants. Their abundance is highly desirable in a fish house. Swordsmen are especially good friends with camombe, elodea and other small-leaved inhabitants of the aquarium. With this green swordsman compatibility perfect.
Reproduction and longevity
The swordsmen have an interesting feature - they are prone to sex change. This rare phenomenon - the transformation of a female into a male - is called protoginia. Most often, the causes of degeneration are quite natural - the lack of active male fish. Sometimes there are no obvious factors explaining metamorphosis.
Female swordsmen always reach reproductive age without changing their appearance. They gain enough weight, grow to nominal sizes. Become full females. They can bring more than one offspring. Under the pressure of circumstances, they begin to change, turn into males.
Sometimes this amazing metamorphosis occurs when there are enough males. Perhaps nature launches a program formed before the birth of this individual. In addition, the reformatted, that is, the former female, is always larger than any other male swordsman. So it has advantages over rivals in life and reproductive terms.
Metamorphoses of females occur in this flock or not, breeding swordsman passes quite well. Males constantly surround females with attention and they are literally monthly ready to breed. The process is very common for live-bearing fish. Identifying a female ready for spawning is not difficult in appearance.
If the aquarist wants to keep the offspring intact, he plants the woman in childbirth in a spawning aquarium. After the appearance of fry, female swordsman caught and returned to the common home. The fry, in turn, are transferred to a teenage container. After a month, it becomes possible to determine the gender of the swordsmen. At six months of age, the new generation is ready for reproduction.
Swordfish are considered viviparous fish. But it is not so. Fish embryos begin to exist in the egg. But the female sword-bearers do not implement the spawning procedure. Caviar remains inside them. This provides undeniably better protection for future offspring than traditional spawning.
Swordsmen do not need to produce hundreds of thousands of eggs. They are limited to only a hundred future aquarium inhabitants. Each of them, while in the womb, eats due to the contents of the shell in which they develop. Maturation of the embryos takes about 20 days. After that, completely independent fry leave the body of their parent and have a chance to live 3-5 years.
Therefore, it is more correct to call swordsmen ovoviviparous rather than viviparous fish. This wise idea of nature ensures the preservation of the species in a natural environment where it is full of predators and almost 100 percent survival of the swordsmen in aquariums, provided that the juveniles are promptly resettled in a teenage tank.
Swordsman of various colors and fin forms can be purchased at pet stores. The most popular is the red swordsman. This is a classic of the aquarium genre. For such a fish, sellers of branded pet stores ask from 50 to 100 rubles. it price of a swordsman already grown up.
In trade enterprises simpler or for private individuals, the price of swordsmen starts from 10 rubles. A possible option is to receive swordsmen as a gift. These fish multiply rapidly and fill the aquarium expanses. The caring owner periodically faces the task of transferring to his other hands the immoderately proliferated swordsmen.