Xiphophorus kalmani Male

Male Xiphophorus kallmani  "Lago Catemaco" Photo by Rick Borstein

Common Name: Brass Swordtail, Brassy Swordtail, Kalman's Swordtail
Synonyms: None

Meaning of Name

Genus- Xiphophorus = Dagger (Greek)
Species- kalmani= honorific forDr. Kallman Appl


Xiphophorus kallmani is a livebearing poecilid from the Lake Catemaco drainage, in Veracruz, Mexico. The species name "kalmani" is named after Dr. Kalman Appl, a noted ichthyologist and former professor at Auburn University. The species was named in his honor due to his extensive contributions to the field of ichthyology, including his work on the systematics and evolution of live-bearing fishes in the genus Xiphophorus.

The genus Xiphophorus includes several species of swordtails, which are named for the elongated, sword-like extensions of their tails.

Xiphophorus kallmani is somewhat subtle in appearance, but it is by no means drab. The base color of Xiphophorus kallmani is typically brownish or olive green which is tip to its common name "Brassy Swordtail". Some indviduals have colorful dorsals with red or yellow.

Xiphphorus kalmani is a fairly large swordtail Females top out at about 3.5 inches but a large male can be up to 6 inches including the sword extension.


This fish is found in the Lake Catemaco drainage, Veracruz, Mexico.

Size, Maturity, and Sexual Dimorphism

Size: Males- 6 inches (including sword), Females 3.5 inches
Maturity: 2 inch
Sexual Dimorphism: Males are more colorful and have  swordtail and gonopodium.


Xiphophorus kallmani is easy to keep; simply provide neutral to hard water and temperatures of 68 to 78F. I have found that they do very well in large groups.


I haven't found stomach contents data for wild fish, but in the aquarium, Xiphophorus kallmani are easy to feed. I fed spriulina flakes, krill flakes, Ken's .5mm Green Growth food and the occasional treat of frozen daphnia or brine shrimp.


I obtained three juvenile pairs of Xiphophorus kallmani from Curt Bitterling in the fall of 2021 during a Bag Swap put on by the Chicago Livebearer Society. Short on space, I placed the group into a 15G long tank. The tank used a partial plastic divider so that half of the tank was planted and half was open swimming space. 

I have found this fish to be a fairly slow grower and it took several months before before I observed females that were obviously gravid. Unfortunately, even though the females gave birth, I found zero baby fish in the tank leading me to believe that Xhorus kallmani are voracious fry predators. 

A few months hence, I moved three very gravid females into a purpose-built brood tank. Read about how to build your own in a A Brood Tank for Livebearers

Within a few days, all of the females dropped and I had just under sixty babies. I raised them up and donated all of them to the 2023 CLS Rare Livebearer auction which benefits the ALA's North American Goodeid Working Group fund.


Xiphophorus kallmani is a uniquely colored swordtail that is pretty and easy to keep. If you like swords, this species deserves your attention.


  • Meyer, M.K. and M. Schartl, 2003. Xiphophorus kallmani sp. n. -- a new species of swordtail from Mexico (Teleostei, Cyprinodontiformes, Poeciliidade). Zool. Abh., Staat. Mus. Tierk. Dresden 53:57-64. (Ref. 57689)