Further the males are rather territorial, you either keep 1, or 4 or more. The number of females is not that important, 5 or 6 males is a good combination with 4 females or with 10.
I would assume you know how to distinghuish a male from a female, but some males develop late. Therefore, what appears to be a female might very well be a male. Still, he can be found, if you look from above. Therefore, the best way to get a nice group of swordtails is to net them out, males and females separately, and then sort the true females out looking from above. Females are thicker
What also helps is the anal fin, males have here their gonopodium. When the first finray is thicker, he is developing his gonopodium. Only when this is done will the tail form the sword. THus lack of a sword does not have any meaning. Obviously, from aside you will also be able to see who is thick and who is not.
Temperature - X helerii can be kept at 20 to 24 C, the red swordtails are a hybrid with X maculatus which likes it a bit warmer, 26 C is OK for them.
Lastly, they will eat anything, but will need some vegetarian feed. Flakes are a good food.
The first is the money involved. Obviously sometimes fish are just too expensive to get a lot of them
The second is the size they will reach. I think a large school of oscars would be beautifull. But as they grow to 30 to 35 cm (a foot or more) it would take a swimmingpool to house a school of them.
Lastly, and in this case the most important one, if you are new to keeping fish, you will want to be certain all of them are doing OK. In such a case 20 more or less identical fish can easily drop to 15 or 10 before one notices something is wrong.
But, in case of swordtails, they are mostly not that expensive (there are exceptions), they don't grow that big and, lastly, as the males look way different from the females, in case you would not dare a school larger then 6 identical ones, you can have 12 swordtails.
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