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 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 are Platy Fishes?
Platies are a popular livebearer in the freshwater aquarium hobby that are native to Mexico and Central America. The two species most commonly available in fish stores are Xiphophorus maculatus (southern platyfish) and Xiphophorus variatus (variable or variatus platy). Crossbreeding with other species and swordtail species can result in many color variations.
What types of platy fish are there? There are many colors and patterns that are available, but the most well-known are sunburst and red wag and blue.
How large are platys? Large platies can grow to 2-3 inches (5-7cm), but dwarf platies, which have been selectively bred to be shorter bodies, usually live around 1 in (2.5cm).
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. 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 I 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 prefer harder water. If your tap water is particularly soft, you might consider adding minerals to it with Seachem Equilibrium and 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. Variant platies can live in cooler water and don’t require additional heating if 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
Can platys survive in a pond? Yes, we highly recommend variatus platies as an excellent fish to keep in an outdoor mini pond during the warmer summer season. 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. As with most livebearers, the males constantly want to mate, so try to keep at least two females for every one male to give the girls a break.
Platies are very easy to sex because the male (above) has a skinny, stick-like anal fin called a gonopodium, whereas 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. You might also consider small tetras and cory catfish, bristlenose plecos and rainbowfish as 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 do Platy Fish Eat
These fish are easy-going and omnivores. They will eat almost anything you give them. 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 often should platys be fed? Once a day is fine for adults, whereas two to three small meals a day is preferred for growing juveniles. 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. Fish can survive on food alone if you go on vacation for less than a week. 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 Give Birth to 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. You can control their population by allowing the adult fish to eat the fry, so only one or two of each batch will be left. For a better survival rate, you can provide a lot of decorations, wood, and live plants for your 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. If you’re interested in breeding fish for profit, consider selling the offspring to a local fish store. For more information on where to buy live fish online, see our list of recommended vendors: