The Platy fish or Xiphophorus Maculatus is a widely kept species with many different color variations that have been developed through selective commercial breeding. It is popular because it is easy to keep, does well in a wide range of tank schema, and is a great tank mate with its own or other species.

The Platy fish is widely found in slow-moving waters from the east coast of Mexico through most of Central America. It prefers shallow side waters such as canals, springs, and other places where the water stays warm.

The ideal Platy fish temperature range is 68°F to 79°F (20-26°C). This is a factor to keep in mind when selecting an aquarium warming system and tank mates.

Platy Fish Stats

Listed tank sizes are the minimum
Size: Up to 2″ (5cm) females larger
Tank: 20 inches
Strata: Middle
PH: 7.0 to 8.3
Hardness: Medium to hard. dH range: 10-28
Temperature: 68-79°F (20-26°C)

Classification.

Order: Atheriniformes.
Suborder: Cyprinodontoide.
Family: Poecilidae.
Genera: Xiphophorus.

Size and Varieties

Platy fish are not large. The Platy fish size is usually 1.5 to 2 inches. In the wild, the Platy fish can live up to 5 years and is a drab brown with no characteristic markings.

The varieties you will find from commercial breeders have a wide range of colors and markings. These variations come at the expense of longevity. The Platy fish lifespan in aquariums is relatively short, about two years.

Platy fish offer a seemingly endless variety of solid color and patterned options. As breeders continue to work with the species, new variations are offered every year.

As of this writing here is a list of widely available Platy fish patterns:

  • Wagtail: Platy fish of the wagtail pattern have predominantly black tails and fins with their other body colors and markings.
  • Variegated: Variegated Platy fish have dark markings of various sizes and shapes over their bodies.
  • Tuxedo: Tuxedo Platy fish have the most color variations in the Platy family. They are identified by having a predominantly black rear section and a mostly mono-colored front section. You can find them sold in colors like the Platy Tuxedo Red, Platy Tuxedo Copper Green, Platy Hi Fin, Tuxedo Yellow, and similar.
  • Salt and Pepper: Salt and Pepper Platy fish are similar to variegated variety except the markings are much smaller, similar to grains of black pepper or salt, hence the name.
  • Twin Bar: This variety of Platy fish has distinct black bars at the top and bottom edges of its tail. The body can have many color variations, usually solid.
  • Rainbow: Rainbow Platy fish are among the most beautiful with multiple, sometimes iridescent colors and black fins and body.
    Within these variations specific patterned varieties are available including:
  • Gold Red Platy Fish: This Platy fish variety has beautiful gold red scales and a rounded belly. Varieties on the Gold Red Platy fish include translucent fins or black fins.
  • Neon Blue Wagtail Platy Fish: The Platy Neon Blue Wagtail is striking with neon blue and rosy, gray mixed scales combined with black dorsal fins and tail.
  • Mickey Mouse Platy Fish: The Mickey Mouse Platy Fish is available in red and blue color variations. If you look at the tail of this variation, you will spot three distinct dots that look exactly like the famous mouse that gives this Platy fish its name.
  • Hi Fin Tuxedo Yellow Platy Fish: Hi Fin platy fish have an elongated dorsal fin that is unusual among Platy variations The Hi Fin Tuxedo Yellow Platy has a vivid yellow front in stark contrast to the black back half of the fish. Because of the long fins, placing Hi Fin Platy fish in the same aquarium with fin-nipper tank mates is not recommended.
  • Gold Twinbar Platy: This version of Twinbar Platy has the trademark black bars on the tail with beautiful body monotones ranging from deep gold through the yellows into sunset oranges and reds.
  • Hawaii Platy: The Hawaii platy is a vibrant, multicolored platy variant. The wild form comes from Central America. The basic body color is golden yellow with an orange and red belly. In the back of the body, this intensely colored ornamental fish has a black elongated mark that can end in a tip towards the front. The iris of the eye is golden yellow, as is the dorsal fin.

Platy Fish Care Guide

Platy fish are superior choices for new fish keepers. They are plentiful, colorful, easy to cohabitate, and easy to care for. They do well in all types of aquariums with peaceful fish species.

Water conditions for Platy fish are easy to establish and maintain. Temperature is the most important aspect. Keep the aquarium between 68°F to 79°F (20-26°C). A good aquarium heater will help with this.

There does not need to be a lot of water movement in a Platy fish aquarium, but a good filtration system should be used to help keep the water fresh and clean. Weekly cleaning and maintenance will help you get the most out of your Platy fish.

The water pH range is very flexible. A range of 5.8 to 8.0 is acceptable. Water hardness is not critical to Platy fish. If the aquarium water stays in the ideal temperature range and avoids extremes, your fish will do very well.

You can keep a few Platy fish in a small aquarium but going up to a 50 gallon or larger aquarium gives you the ability to create a well-vegetated and staged habitat full of beautiful Platy fish and tank mates.

Platy fish like the middle to upper levels and do well in aquariums that are heavily decorated with vegetation and structures. They like rooted species that grow to the top of the tank such as Pothos and will spend much of their time hiding or playing among the roots.

Amazon Sword is also a good choice. A good coral sand substrate is perfect for these rooting plants.

Floating/rooting plants like Guppy Grass are also great choices. It grows easily, can be trained as a root or floating plant, and Platy fish love it for cover.

There are a few ways you layout our aquarium for Platy fish. Planting vegetation in clumps gives small groups of fish their own territory and is a good strategy for large tanks with several small schools and types of tank mates.

Smaller tanks can be planted thickly, leaving clear space in the center for tank mates that need to swim freely. A variety of vegetation and habitat will keep Platy fish occupied and stress-free.

An aquarium that follows a day/night lighting plan is ideal for Platy fish. Timers on your aquarium lights make it easy for you to keep a cycle.

One note on Platy fish; they can be jumpers, so a good fitting aquarium lid is a necessity.

Tank Mates

Platy fish are peaceful fish that are best kept in groups of at least 6 or 8. Platy fish behavior is consistent throughout the variations. They like to stay close to cover but venture out as a group to explore or to feed.

They are so gregarious that they make a single species aquarium that is lively and full of color. They are also ideal with tank mates.

In addition to other Platy variants the following species make great Play tank mates:

  • Guppy: There are many varieties of guppy that make great tank mates for Platy fish. What they all have in common is that they are peaceful fish that are not too small and get along well with everything that will not eat them. Some of the more ornamental varieties will look great in your aquarium as long as none of the other tank mates are fin nippers.
  • Plecos: Plecos are beautiful little bottom-dwellers that are popular for their ability to help keep an aquarium clean. They are omnivores and will make short work of sinking food. They are peaceful but solitary. Don’t put more than one in standard size aquariums.
  • Corydoras: Like Plecos, Corydoras are a variety of bottom-feeding catfish commonly placed in tropical freshwater aquariums. They grow up to 4 inches in size and are peaceful omnivores.
  • Cardinal Tetra: Cardinal Tetra makes great neighbors with many kinds of similarly gentle species. A small school of Cardinal Tetra adds beauty to any aquarium and does not create any type of significant bioload to the tank. Always a great choice. Add them in groups of 10.
  • Neon Tetra: Another great tank mate choice. Adding them in groups of 10, same as Cardinal Tetra, per 20-gallon tanks will give you an ever-moving, shimmering display.
  • Green Neon Tetra: If you want to keep a brightly colored aquarium, the Green Neon Tetra is another tank mate to consider. Similar in size and appearance to the Neon Tetra, the Green Neon Tetra, as its name implies, has a beautiful streak of neon green along its sides.
  • Snails: Snails are slow and peaceful and will help keep the aquarium clean.

Breeding

Platy fish are a live-bearing species. They do not lay eggs. Their fry emerges fully capable of surviving on their own. Their breeding cycles are simplistic and for better or worse, frequent. Platy fish can breed as often as every 30 days.

Chances are that if you have at least one group of Platy fish in your aquarium you will at some point in time find Platy fish fry swimming about.

You can tell males and females apart by looking at their anal fins. The male will develop a structure called a gonopodium that is used to insert sperm sacs into a female Platy fish.
Gestation takes approximately 2 weeks. If you notice any of your Platy fish getting rotund and darkening bellies that is a good indication you have new fry on the way.

The Platy fish fry are independent and will feed almost immediately in finely flaked food.

They take to whatever cover they can find. Adult Platy fish provide no natal care and will consume their own fry.

If you have a mixed species aquarium consider moving the fry to a separate tank so they can grow until they are bigger than the mouths of the tank mates.

Because all variations of Platy fish are the same species they can breed together. You might find new variations of your Platy fish themes or new colors emerging. Many keepers keep Platy fish for this reason. Well cared for you are assured of a renewing species of beautifully colored fish.

Diet

Platy fish are just as easy to feed as they are to keep. They are omnivores and will readily dine on whatever you offer them. As with similar species, a variety of small foods is recommended to keep them from turning off one food type.

For a successful feeding regimen try alternating these foods:

  • General omnivore flake food
  • Live or freeze-dried brine shrimp
  • Live or freeze-dried blood worms
  • Shredded vegetables such as squash or zucchini
  • Chopped earthworms

Floating or slow-sinking foods are great choices for Platy fish. They might chase food to the bottom but will not compete with lower-level species so no need to create conflict with mono foods. Feeding two small meals a day is a good schedule that will also help them stay entertained. A varied diet makes for happy Platy fish and tank mates.

Summary

  • Platy fish are easy to care for species that offer many colorful varieties for small and large aquariums.
  • They will grow to 1.5 to 2 inches and live for up to 5 years.
  • The species prefers warmer water and is tolerant of a wide range of water pH and hardness.
  • Commercially raised Platy fish are available in a very wide range of colors and patterns.
  • Platy fish are very peaceful and make great tank mates for all peaceful species.
  • They do best in groups and are ideal for aquariums 10 gallons and larger.
  • Both rooted and floating vegetation are ideal for Platy fish habitats.
  • Xiphophorus Maculatus are prolific breeders, and all varieties are capable of breeding together.
  • Their fry will grow quickly but should be housed in a separate aquarium until they are large enough to fend for themselves.
  • Platy fish are omnivores and do well with a variety of flaked and fresh floating or slow sinking foods.

Platy fish are an easy way for all experience levels of aquarium keepers to have tanks of beautifully colored fish. Easy to care for, wonderful to watch, Platy fish are a species you should add to your collection.

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