Raising Black Swordtails
Raising Black Swordtails is not a good idea unless you are willing to devote some time to reading up about Swordtails and how their pigmentation works. Simply crossing your fish in order to create completely black Swordtails with a really deep color can lead to disastrous results, because the black pigment in Black Swordtails is actually cancerous. Swordtails with completely black fins will normally develop a tumor that eventually kills the fish. It is therefore important for Swordtail breeders to keep the fins cleared or colored, never completely black.
If you want to raise show quality black Swordtails, it is advisable to begin with a female with clear fins. Pick the best black female you can find with clear fins. The male can be of any variety, as long as he sports completely red or red-to-orange fins. When you mate these to fishes, some of the offspring will be solid black and some won’t. Some of the black youngsters will probably have red or orange fins, and this combination is highly sought after among Black Swordtail connoisseurs. It is commonly referred to as “Berlin Sword”.
Pick the best fries and use them to develop a high-quality strain of black Swordtail. If you need more improvement, you can for instance breed back to a red male again, or combine a red finned black male with a red female that hails from a black mother.
Black Swordtails will normally be quite old when they become sexually mature. Swordtails with other colors will often show their sex within three months, but you shouldn’t be surprised if you have to wait for at least one year before your black male fry starts showing male characteristics. (At this point, the males will normally be around three inches in length.) Once the male has begun to show his sex, it can take up to six more months before he sports a fully grown sword.
Young fry can be given microworms and newly hatched brine shrimp. As they grow bigger, they will be able to eat larger brine shrimp, beef heart formula, and flake food. They also benefit from some vegetable food, such as cooked zucchini and eggplant.
Black Hi Fin Lyretail
A lot of Black Swordtail enthusiasts are especially fond of a variety called “Black Hi Fin Lyretail”. If you want to develop a Black Hi Fin Lyretail, you need to be patient since this normally takes numerous generations of selective breeding unless you start out with really great parents. If you start out with less-than-perfect parents, begin with a nice Hi Fin Swordtail male of any color. (Do not use wagtails since they never develop black fins.) Breed this male with a black Lyretail female. If you can’t obtain a black Lyretail female, you can develop one on your own by breeding a male black Swordtail with a neon or orange Lyretail female. A percentage if the offspring will be black Lyretails, and you can use the best black female for breeding.
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