Care Guide for Platy Fish – Feeding, Breeding, and Tank Mates
Looking for a colorful, hardy fish that’s easy to breed and looks great with live plants? Platies are a favorite of both veterans and beginners. You can learn more about their care needs, such as housing, tank mates and feeding, as well as breeding.
What are Platy Fish?
Platies are a popular livebearer in the freshwater aquarium hobby that are native to Mexico and Central America. Xiphophorus Maculatus (southern Platyfish) is the most popular species in fish shops. Xiphophorus Variable (variable, variatus platy) is also available. You can crossbreed them with swordtail species which results in many color variations.
What are the various platy fish types? Many new colors and patterns are being created all the time, but some of the most loved varieties are Mickey Mouse, red wag, yellow, blue, bumblebee and green lantern platies.
How big do platys get? Platies grow to around 2-3 inches (5-7 cm) in size, but dwarf platies (which have been selectively bred for their shorter body length) usually stay around 1 inch (2.5 cm).
What’s the average lifespan for a platyfish? Platies can live upto 3-4 years if they are raised in healthy environments that provide clean water, good nutrition, and low stress.
How much does a platy fish cost? These fish are inexpensive and can usually be bought at fish stores for around $2-$4 per piece, depending on what type. Try to get the healthiest fish that have bright eyes, full bellies, and active behavior. You may want to consider visiting another store if there are other sick fish in your tank.
There are many varieties of platies available in nearly every color of the rainbow.
How Do You Set up a Platy Fish Tank?
Platies can live in a 10- to 20-gallon aquarium or larger. Platies can live in aquariums that are 10 to 20 gallons or larger. However, most livebearers prefer a higher pH. We have found that platies can tolerate an extremely wide range of pH levels from 6.8 to 8.5. They also enjoy harder water, so if your tap water is especially soft, consider adding more minerals using Seachem Equilibrium or Wonder Shell. We also like to keep our platies with live aquarium plants to help consume some of the organic waste produced by the fish.
Do platy fish need a heater? Most platies do well with temperatures from 70-82degF, but if your air conditioning is set on full blast, you may want to consider getting an aquarium heater. However, variatus platies are accustomed to living in cooler waters and do not require extra heating when kept at room temperature.
Do platies need an air pump? You can use almost any type of aquarium filter with your platies, including those that run on an air pump. Aquarium filters help keep the water clean of floating particles, process nitrogen waste in the water, and ensure your fish get enough oxygen. Read this article for more information on which filter is right for you
Are platys able to survive in a pond environment? We recommend that variatus platies be kept in an outdoor mini-pond in the summer. Read our mini pond tutorial for more details on how to set one up.
How many platies should you keep together? A group with three to six pups is a good place to start. The males are always looking for mates, so it is a good idea to have at least two females to give the girls a break.
Platies make it easy to have sex. The male (above), has a narrow, stick-like, anal fin called the gonopodium. The female (below), has a fan shaped anal fin.
Can platy fish live alone? Yes. Although platies seem to love their companionship, they won’t school in close quarters unless they feel you’re about feeding them.
Can platies live with livebearers? They can be kept with other similar-sized fish. Small tetras, rasboras and cory cats, snails, bristlenose pilos, rainbowfish and cory catfish are all good options for peaceful tank mates.
Can platies live with betta fish? Most likely. According to our experience, betta fish are able to live peacefully in a tank with other platies. Just make sure they are housed in a large enough aquarium with lots of plants or decorations so that the betta has enough territory to call his own.
What Are Platyfish Eaten?
These undemanding fish are omnivores and will eat virtually anything you put in the tank. Make sure to feed them a wide variety of foods – such as high-quality flakes, pellets, freeze-dried foods, and frozen foods – so that they get a complete diet with all the necessary vitamins and nutrients.
Platies are not picky eaters, but they will live a longer and healthier life when given a diverse mix of proteins, vegetables, algae, vitamins, and minerals.
How frequently should platys be fed? One meal per day for adults is sufficient, while small meals every other day are better for young fish. If you notice long strings of poop constantly dangling from your platies, you may be overfeeding your fish so consider decreasing their portion size.
How many days can a platy go without food? Food is scarce in the wild so fish don’t get to eat everyday. Your fish will be able to survive on their own if you’re only going away for a few days. If you are going to be gone for more than a week, however, it is worth looking into a fish feeder or a pet sitter who can take care of your fish.
How Often Do Platy Fish Make Babies?
Platies are livebearers. This means they give birth to young. Livebearer babies are typically larger than fish babies that hatch from eggs and they have a much higher survival ratio. Under the right conditions, female platies may give birth to between 20 and 50 babies each month.
Will platy fries survive in a community aquarium? Adults don’t show any parental care for their children and will happily eat them, if given the opportunity. One way to reduce their numbers is to let the other fish eat the fry. This will ensure that only one or two individuals from each batch survives. If you wish to increase their survival rate in a community tank, provide lots of decorations, rocks, wood, or live plants as cover for the fry to hide behind. If you are using a canister or hang-on filter, cover the intake tube with a pre-filter sponge to prevent them from accidentally getting sucked up.
There is a lot to be enjoyed from breeding fish and watching the babies grow up.
What to do with the platy fry? Keep the fish well-fed. The water will become more dirty faster. To keep the water quality high, you can give the excess fish to your friends or donate them to a pet store. You can also sell the offspring to local fish shops if you are interested in breeding fish. For more information on where to buy live fish online, see our list of recommended vendors: