Xiphophorus hellerii Tuxedo Red

26. April 2024

When it comes to breeding forms, it’s easy to get into philosophy. This is because breeding forms of ornamental fish are an expression of cultural creativity. They serve only one purpose, namely to please. Accordingly, they reflect the zeitgeist at the time of their creation. Experience with garden plants, which have been cultivated and cared for on a broad scale for centuries longer than ornamental fish, teaches us that usually only a few of the hundreds of varieties survive for long periods of time. The others disappear without a trace and die out.

The Tuxedo Red swordtail in the original sense is rarely found nowadays. However, no attention is paid to it. Today’s Tuxedo Red are simply red fish with a black tuxedo. The tuxedo is a black, rarely dark blue suit in which the jacket is a blazer without lapels – this is the difference to the previously common tailcoat, which is only worn comparatively rarely nowadays.

The black color was introduced to the swordtail back in the 1930s. It came from wild platies, which brought this so-called seminigra coloration (semi: half, nigra: black) from nature. It turned out that the gene for seminigra could be transferred from the platy to the swordtail during crossbreeding. These green Seminigra swordtails were called the “Wiesbaden breed” because the breeder, Dr. Alfred Mombour, was a member of the Wiesbaden Aquarium Club. It was also possible to breed red Wiesbadeners, but this was laborious because only 50% of the offspring of red Wiesbadeners show the desired coloration for genetic reasons. 

According to the sources, the “real” Tuxedo was bred in Sri Lanka and first imported from there by the Tropicarium in Frankfurt in 1956. The extent of the black color on the body is much greater than that of the Wiesbadener, and the original Tuxedo-Helleri was also bred in red with black tail fins (wagtail). The red Tuxedo-Helleri currently on the market usually have red tail fins.

So even though horizontal half-black-red swordtails have undergone some changes over the last 90 years, what has remained is the name “Tuxedo” and the enthusiasm of countless ornamental fish enthusiasts all over the world. That’s pretty impressive when you consider the political and social changes that have taken place since the 1930s, isn’t it?

For our customers: Swordtails Tuxedo Red have code 420453 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply the wholesale trade.

Text & photos: Frank Schäfer