Care Guide for Platy Fish – Feeding, Breeding, and Tank Mates
You’re looking for a hardy, colorful fish that can be easily bred and looks great with live plants. Platies have been a favourite livebearer that we recommend to beginners and veterans alike. Find out more about how to care for them, including tank mates, feeding and breeding.
What is a Platy Fish?
Platies are a popular livebearer in the freshwater aquarium hobby that are native to Mexico and Central America. Xiphophorus variabilis (variable or variatus) are the most common species found in fish shops. They can crossbreed with each other and with swordtail species, which has resulted in many different 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).
How long does a platy fish live? If they are kept in a healthy environment with clean water and good nutrition, platies can live for up to three years.
What is the cost of platy fish? They are very affordable and can be purchased at fish shops for between $2 and $4 depending on their type. You want to choose the best fish with bright eyes, active behavior, full bellies and healthy bones. It may be safer to take your fish to another store if you see other sick fish in the 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. For more information about which filter is best for you, read this article
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 are best kept together? Three to six platies would be a good 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 can be very easy to sex because the male (above has a thin, stick-like anal Fin called a Gonopodium), while 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. Some peaceful tank mates to consider include small tetras and rasboras, cory catfish, snails, bristlenose plecos, and rainbowfish.
Can platies live with betta fish? Most likely. In our experience, betta fish can usually live in a peaceful community tank with 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 do Platy Fish Eat
These undemanding fish are omnivores and will eat virtually anything you put in the tank. They should be fed a wide range of foods such as pellets, high-quality flakes and freeze-dried food.
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 often should platys eat? For adults, one meal per day is enough. However, for growing juveniles, two to three small meals per day is better. You may be feeding your fish too much if you see long strings of poop hanging from your plates.
How long do platies survive without food? Fish in the wild don’t always get to eat every day. If you are going on vacation for a week or less, your fish can easily survive without any food. 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, which means that they give birth to live young. Livebearer babies are typically larger than fish babies that hatch from eggs and they have a much higher survival ratio. In the right conditions, female platies can give birth to 20 to 50 babies per 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. (In fact, one way to control their population is to allow the other adult fish to eat the fry so that only one or two from each batch will survive.) For a better survival rate, you can provide a lot of decorations, wood, and live plants for your fry to hide behind. Also, if you’re using a hang-on-back or canister filter, make sure to cover the filter’s intake tube with an appropriately sized pre-filter sponge so that they don’t accidentally get sucked up.
Successfully breeding fish and watching their children grow up is an enjoyable experience.
What should I do about platy fries? If the fish are not fed well, there will be more fry, which will cause the water to get more dirty. If you want to maintain a high quality water supply, you can either give your fish to friends or give them to a pet shop. If you are interested in breeding fish for profit consider selling off the offspring to your local fish shop. Our list of recommended vendors has more information about where you can buy live fish online.