Last Updated on August 3, 2022 by cmoarz
Swordtails being omnivorous will eat shrimplets and shrimp. So if you have a small population of shrimp, they aren’t the best tank mates for each other. But there are ways to overcome this incompatibility and allow both species to thrive in an aquarium.
Swordtails aren’t aggressive, but they are opportunistic
The big problem here isn’t that swordtails are aggressive or that they love to hunt shrimp, In fact, they aren’t aggressive at all and are generally peaceful fish. They aren’t very good shrimp hunters either.
But when nature delivers you a happy meal you eat it right? This is where the problems occur. If there are small shrimp babies in the tank, or even small juvenile shrimp, or adults for larger swordtails, the swordtails will eat them. They don’t particularly like shrimp all that much, they just see an easy meal and they go for it.
This can be a big problem because your shrimp population can dwindle quickly, leaving you with just a bunch of swordtails. Not exactly what you were going for when you set up your shrimp tank!
There are ways to overcome this incompatibility
The good news is that there are ways to overcome this incompatibility and allow both species to thrive in an aquarium.
You can’t overcome the swordtail’s desire for an easy meal, and you can’t change the fact that shrimp are easy meals, But you can negate it.
With that said, Do expect to lose some shrimp on occasion, this is just a fact of life, but if you have a large enough population of shrimp, and you take some precautions, then you can maintain a healthy and thriving shrimp tank with swordtails as well.
Warning before you begin: Tropical fish are quite cruel with their hunting. The shrimp that do get caught won’t be expecting a peaceful death, so keep that in mind if you intend on trying to make these 2 species compatible.
Precautions to take to add compatibility and stop shrimp from getting eaten by swordtails
The first thing you want to do is be sure you have a ton of plants for the shrimps in your aquarium to call home. Plants offer safety and security for shrimp, whether they are cherry shrimp, ghost shrimp, or Amano shrimp, and they will feel much more comfortable in a heavily planted tank. This will help reduce the amount of shrimp that get eaten because they will be able to hide better and have more hiding places.
Some of the best plants to keep shrimp for this purpose are overgrown guppy grass, glosso, and java moss. Throwing some various woods and stone hardscapes with nooks and crannies is also a great touch.
The glosso will provide a grassy-like cover the shrimp can dart to anywhere in the bottom of the tank in case they are being chased.
The guppy grass will provide a nice thick home that the swordtails will avoid swimming into as well as provide plenty of space for baby shrimp to hide and live.
The java moss is great because it can be used in multiple ways. You can create little shrimp huts out of the java moss or you can just toss it in clumps around the tank for them to have plenty of places to dart too.
You will want to make sure there is plenty of cover for your shrimp, and by using a variety of plants you can provide plenty of options for them to choose from. Bonus, all these plants will do wonders for the water condition, and give places for livebearers fry to hide if you have those in your tank as well.
Keep the shrimp population large
Even with all these precautions in place you are still going to lose some shrimp. This is just a fact of life when you have fish that like to eat shrimp in the same tank as the shrimp.
The best way to overcome this is to make sure you have a large enough population of shrimp to start with. This way even if you do lose some (and you will, shrimp are great live feeders for swords) you will still have plenty left to maintain a healthy population.
A large population will be much easier to self-regulate and keep the population from falling to unsustainable levels.
Keeping the swords well fed
It probably goes without saying, but a full fish is less likely to exert energy to hunt for food. Although that only goes so far with tropical fish, if you can keep them well fed then it will reduce the chances of them snacking on your shrimp.
A good diet for a swordtail is going to be a mix of meaty foods and vegetables. A high-quality pellet food, as well as live or frozen foods, will help keep their bellies full and reduce the chances of them snacking on your shrimp.
You can supplement their diet with things like blanched zucchini, spinach, kale, or other leafy greens. Be sure to blanch the vegetables first as this will make them easier for the fish to digest and help reduce the chances of them getting digestive issues.
Some frozen foods that are good for swords include brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworms, and Mysis shrimp. You can also offer live foods like blackworms, tubifex worms and glass worms.
Offering a variety of foods will help ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need and help reduce the chance of them snacking on your shrimp.
While it is possible to keep shrimp and swordtails together in the same tank, it does take some work to make it happen. By following the tips above you can increase the chances of your shrimp surviving and reduce the number of losses you will experience. Generally speaking, we recommend this setup for an intermediate or advanced hobbyist.