Fish Care

The complete care guide for platy fish

Platy fish

The complete care guide for platy fish – behavior, how to setup a platy fish tank, tank mates, diet and feeding, breeding.

Platy fish are active, colorful and easy to care for. If you are new to the aquarium hobby, platy fish are for you. They are ideal and suitable for a large aquarium.

In this guide, you will learn more about their care needs when it comes to housing, tank mates, feeding and breeding.

Types of species

The type of species of platy fish found in aquarium today are actually a hybrid of two closely related species:

  • Southern Platy (Xiphophorus maculatus)
  • Variable Platy (Xiphophorus variatus)
  • Swordtail Platy (Xiphophorus xiphidium)

The Southern Platy and Variable Platy are so common and have become so interbred that it is now difficult to distinguish between different species.

Southern Platy, also known as Common Platy, was introduced in the aquarium recreation area in 1907, while Variable Platy was introduced later in 1932.

Swordtail Platy is still a rare example. The fish is also called Spike Tail Platy, due to the shape of its fins.

The lifespan of a platy fish

All species are hardy fish but have a short lifespan. They live for about three years; maybe five years if properly cared for.

How big are the platies?

They grow to about 2-3 inches (5-7 cm) in size.

Typical Behavior

Platy fish are small peaceful fish. They are very happy when kept in a small group. They are very active and love to breed. They spend most of their time swimming in small groups among plants and hiding among the floating leaves.

They are not aggressive, but you may find that men outperform women if you do not maintain the right proportions (more on this later). Platy fish can jump! Remember to keep the tank covered as they can jump out of the tank.

Habitat and Tank conditions

Southern Platy lives in the beautiful waters of Mexico, Guatemala and northern Honduras, the variable Platy fish originate in the waters of southern Mexico, from Rio Panuco to the Rio Cazones, the Swordtail Platy is only found on the Rio Soto La Marina River in Mexico.

These species are found in canals, ditches, springs and dams.

How to set up your platy fish tank
Nitrogen Cycle and Filters

How to cycle a fish tank

When your fish are constantly putting off waste into the water, All that waste begins to accumulate in the bottom of the tank and then decompose. As it does, it begins to release ammonia (NH3).

Ammonia is very toxic, even in small amounts. It can build up in the tank until it makes the water so toxic and this can be harmful to the fish. When left alone, you can build and build a tank until the water is so toxic that you will kill any fish in the tank.

That is where nitrogen cycle comes to play, a natural process that detoxifies the toxic ammonia, converting it from a highly toxic substance to a less harmful substance.

What is behind this transformation?

There are beneficial bacteria that live in filters and substrates that reduce ammonia.

There are actually several bacteria in aquariums. One kind eats ammonia and puts of a substance called nitrite (NO2 -1). Nitrite is also highly toxic but some other bacteria eat it quickly and convert it into nitrate (NO3-).

Nitrate is less toxic and can be allowed to build up in the water amid weekly water changes.


Platies do not have specific substrate requirements. They will swim to the bottom sometimes, but do not actually touch the substrate.

So, gravel, sand, go with whatever you like. The fish actually won’t care.

Plants and Ornamentation

Having plants in the tank mimics the environment in which these fish live in the wild. Platies love plants.

The combination of planted areas and open swimming areas works very well.

Water parameter

They come from tropical waters, which tend to be on the hard side and have a slightly alkaline. Most livebearers prefer a high pH, ​​but platies can tolerate a much wider range from pH: 7.0 – 8.0 and they can live in a 10- to 20-gallon aquarium or larger.

Do platies require a heater?

Most platies originate from Mexico and Central America, so they require temperatures between 70 ° and 80 ° F (21 ° -27 ° C).

You will need to a heater in your tank to give them the temperature they need. when it comes to water parameters. They can adapt to soft or hard water with proper acclimation.

Tank Mates

Plates are very peaceful small fish that can be safely combined with other small community fish.

A group of three to six platies is a good start. The males are always wanting to mate want to mate, so try to keep at least two women to each male to give the females a break. This prevents women from getting tired from being chased.

Can platy fish live alone? Yes. While they may seem to enjoy the company of their own, they don’t tend to school together in a tight group unless they think you’re about to feed them.

What fish can live with the platy fish? These friendly little livebearers can be kept with any similar small sized fish such as, cory catfish, mollies, snails, bristlenose plecos, rainbowfish, characins, Corydoras and other platy fish.

Can plates live with betta fish? Most likely. In our experience, betta fish usually live in a peaceful community tank with platies, just ensure to have they are kept in a larger tank with lots of plants and decorations so that the betta has enough space to call its own.

Tank mates to avoid

Large aggressive fish such as Cichlids, Arowanas, Tiger barbs, Vampire Tetra and Wolf Fish are all examples of fish that you should avoid when choosing tank mates for your platy fish.

Definitely avoid any fish that are aggressive, they should not be mixed with platies.

Diet and feeding

In the wild, platy fish are omnivores. They will eat algae and plant as well as insects, larvae, fish eggs, fry and any other critter they may find.

Be sure to provide them with basic foods made from high quality ingredients such as whole fish or shrimp, micro pellets, flakes, dried foods. It is always a good idea to give the fish a variety of foods to make sure they get all the nutrients they need.

How often should platys be fed? Once a day is good for adults, while two to three small meals a day are preferred for the small frys.

How long can platies go without food? In the wild, food is not always available, so they so not necessary eat every day. If you go on vacation for a week or less, your fish can easily survive without food. However, if you will be away for two weeks or more, consider getting an automatic fish feeder or getting a someone to help take care of your fish.

How do platy fish breed?

Platy fish are also known as live bearing  fish. These fish are known to keep eggs inside their bodies until they are ready to give birth to a free swimming fry that is usually larger, faster, and has a higher survival rate.

Males, slightly younger than women in adulthood, They reach sexual maturity at about four months of age. They have gonopodia – also known as anal fins – where they fertilize women directly. This is unusual: Most fish do not mate directly. They lay in batches of unfertilized eggs which the males fertilizes at a later date. Male platies are very keen to reproduce. It is advisable to always keep to have male-to-female ratio of 1 to 2. This reduces the risk of being stressed a lot by the male platy fish.

How do you know when a platy fish is pregnant?

The pregnant female platies can easily be spotted by their large abdomen and also a couple of black eyes on their skin.

There are no different behavioral changes to look out for. Like other live bearing  fish, it carries its fry until it is fully matured. The gestation period lasts about 28 days.

Birthing process

Platy Fry can swim as soon as it is born. Under ideal conditions, female platies can give birth to 20 to 50 babies per month.

Adult platies do not have a sense of protection towards their fry, they can actually eat them. This is why it is important to remove the fry from the aquarium as soon as possible. To achieve this, you should monitor the aquarium for at least two hours to identify if any fry has been born. Make sure to look under the rocks, they are quite smaller (quarter-inch long or less) than the adult platies.

After Care

Adults do not show parental care for their children and may eat their own food, therefore, we recommend using a breeding tank of about 10-20 liters per filter.

Prepare a separate tank for the fry, let the water matches the conditions of the water in which they were born. Use a plastic scoop or net to gently remove the fry and place them in a separate tank. Keep them here until they are about the same size as their parents, and bring them back.

Platy Fish Care

Platies are small fish that are strong and are not prone to any disease in particular. However, they can be victims of common tropical problems such as Ich and Fin Rot.

Fish diseases are not always easy to spot. You will probably notice a different behavior or a rash on the skin and body. Depending on the stage you see, the disease will be more or less difficult to treat.

Ich disease is a parasite that creates white spots on the body, fins and gills. It is one of the most common diseases in the aquatic habitat, If left untreated, this can cause serious infections and respiratory damage to fish.

There are a number of treatments, ranging from raising the water temperature to using medication.

The best thing you can do is try to prevent diseases by maintaining good water quality and a healthy diet. Reducing stress is important for your fish and you can do this by giving them the best possible environment. They are likely to fall sick if stressed.

A good way to prevent disease is to thoroughly clean anything you add to your aquarium, this includes: fish, plants, new substrate or any other type of decoration.


Platy fish are colorful and peaceful fish and make a perfect addition to many aquatic environments.

You do not need a large tank or a large setup to store them. I think they are a good decision for beginners. It is very easy to take care of – you just need to maintain good water conditions and eating habits. They can be mixed with almost any other small, peaceful fish. A platy tank will never be boring.

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