Xiphophorus clemenciae (Alvarez 1959)


Xiphophorus: Greek, xiphos = sword + Greek, pherein = to carry

Clemenciae: Named by José Alvarez in honour of his wife Clemencia

First description:

J. Alvarez 1959.  Nuevas especies de Xiphophorus e Hyporhamphus procedents del Rio Coatzacoalcos Cienc. Mex. 19: 69-73.


First collected by Dr. Miller who did not describe the species as it was thought to be X. helleri due its similarity. The type material was later collected by José Alvarez on the 26th May 1959 who described the species.


Xiphophorus clemenciae is one of the southern swordtails and belongs to the clemenciae clade consisting of consisting of X. clemenciae, X. monticolus and X. mixie.

Type Locality:

Arroyo La Cascada. This is the location of the headwater of the Rio Sarabia on the San Carlos Ranch, 24km east of Palomares, state of Oaxaca.


The distribution of X.clemenciae was thought to be limited to the headwaters of the Rio Sarabia, I t is now found to be quite widespread being found in the Rio Uxpanapa drainage, Veracruz; Arroyo El Boqueron, south of La Victoria, Oaxaca; Rio Chalchijapan drainage, Veracruz;


The species is especially common in small streams and brooks with light current and rockpools in areas with extensive limestone outcroppings, and it is relatively uncommon in fast-flowing streams.


Males 50mm, females 55mm.


A small variety of swordtail having an elongated body with a high back and a small pointed head, can be easily mistaken for a helleri at first glance. X. clemenciae characteristically has two to four orange/red stripes running down the body, the base body colouration is a pale olive green with a blue sheen. All fins have are pale yellow colour with the dorsal fin having a pale crescent half way up and caudal peduncle being spotted with red in males.

The sword can be yellow, orange or even green with black edging. The sword is also slightly upturned and can grow to a quarter of the body length.

Females are more rounded in the body with similar colouration.


Generally a peaceful fish but dominant males will bully similar sized males


This species do better in a species only set up with some water movement, dense vegetation and a temperature of 24 – 27C. A good quality vegetable based flake should be provided with some live food to supplement the diet. Water quality should be maintained with regular partial water changes. The addition of coral gravel or limestone chippings should be added to the aquarium to maintain water hardness.

These fish are renowned for jumping out of the aquarium so a secure cover must be fitted.

Breeding Notes:

Gestation is about 28 days and broods of 10 – 20 fry are born. Fry are about 6mm when born.


American Museum Novitates; no. 3441. 

Two New Species of Xiphophorus (Poeciliidae) from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico, with a Discussion of the Distribution of the X. clemenciae Clade.

Klaus D Kallman, Ronald B Walter, Donald C Morizot and Steven Kazianis

The TFH Magazine The clemenciae contradiction: has this orphan swordtail finally found a home? Ted Coletti

Platies and swordtails                                                 Derek and Pat Lambert

Photo courtesy of Dave Macallister