The Platy Fish Care Guide: Tank Setup, Tank Mates, Food, Disease, and Breeding

Platy fish, discovered in 1907, has been the most preferred fishes by the aquarists for their community tank. They are known for their peaceful temperament and easy to maintain nature.

Platy fish are perfect for the one who is looking to start fish keeping hobby as they are easy to care for and need less maintenance. These beautiful fishes are available in different colors and patterns.

We will learn everything about Platys, from their behavior to their breeding process. It will help in determining whether this fish is perfect for you or not.

Category Rating
Family Poeciliidae
Genus Xiphophorus
Temperament Peaceful
Care Level Beginner
Diet Omnivore
Lifespan 3-5 years
Size 3 inches
Color Form High color variability
Compatibility Other small sizes peaceful fish

Overview of Platy Fish

The complete Platy fish care guide

Platys are a member of the Poeciliidae family, along with Guppies, Mollies, and Swordfish. Platy fish refer to three different species –

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

Southern Platy, also Common Platy, was discovered in 1907. Later in 1932, the Variable Platy was discovered. They are known to have diverse variations in their appearance and hence the name.

These two species have been interbred to the extent that now they can’t be distinguished easily. These two species are commonly found in most aquariums, but the Swordtail is rare to find. Swordtails are also known as Spike Tail Platy because of the shape of their fin.

How Long Do Platy Fish Live?

These fishes are hardy and easy to care for, but their lifespan is only 3 years. But if cared right, they can live for 5 years as well. Despite their short life, they are quite popular among the aquarists who interbred them to get different colors and fin types.

Platy Fish Behavior

Platy fish small and can grow up to 3 inches. They are non-aggressive and easy to breed. They are not schooling fishes, but you will see different behaviors from them if kept in a small group.

They swim actively, and their colorful appearance will add more beauty to your dull aquarium. They are middle-swimmers and will be seen spending most of their time swimming in a group or hiding among the plants.

Platyfish are peaceful, but the male Platy is known to harass the female Platy. It can cause stress in the female fishes, and to avoid this situation, make sure the ratio of male and female is right. These active swimmers can sometimes jump out of the tank in excitement, so close the lids to avoid any mishap.

Platy Fish Types

As we talked earlier, Platy fish are quite common among aquarists and are known for their vivid appearance and tail types. They are interbred to create varieties, but the most common and famous colors available for them are yellow, red, white, green, and blue.

How big do Platy fish get?

The size of Platy fish can reach 3 inches, but it can vary among the different species. For example, the female Southern Platy fish can reach up to 2.5 inches only. The male Platy fish are generally smaller than the females.

Platy fish has a flattened body with small fins and tails in the shape of a fan. The Swordtail Platy are not commonly found, but they have a longer tail than the other two species. So, they are also interbred to get different tail shapes.

Types of Platy fish

The types of platies are given below:

  • Variable Platy: Yellowtail, Redtail, Rainbow, Sunset, Marigold Platy, and Hawaii
  • Southern Platy: Half-Moon, Comet, Coral, Pepper, Salt, Moon, Bleeding-Heart, and Blue Mirror Platy

Platy Tank Conditions and Habitat

Platy fish care

Platy fish, as we know, are tropical freshwater fishes. They are usually found in the ditches, marshes, canals, and warm springs of Central America. All three species are found in different South American rivers where the water is warm and has dense vegetation but weak current.

Southern Platy occupies the freshwater of Guatemala, Northern Honduras, and Mexico, while the Variable Platy belongs to Mexico’s southern part, which ranges from Rio Panuco to Rio Cazones. On the other hand, Swordtail is a native of rivers in Rio Soto La Marina.

It is easy to replicate the tank conditions of their habitat in your aquarium. Follow this guide and set up the tank right for your Platy to thrive.

Conditions Parameter
Temperature 70-70°F (for Common and Swordtail) and 72-75°F for Variable Platy
pH 6.8-8 pH
Hardness 10-28 dGH
Tank size 10 gallons
Plants Hornwort, Java Moss and duckweed

Platies can tolerate a wide range of water conditions except for Swordtails, which are sensitive to poor water conditions. Their natural habitat contains heavy vegetation, but different species have different preferences.

Southern Platy likes a loosely packed environment, and the Variable Platy prefers heavy plantations. But the substrate should be gravel-based for all of them. The right water conditions will determine the brightness of their coloration.

They will show better coloration if the water is in the range of cooler temperatures. They are small but quite active, and to avoid them from jumping out of the tank, make sure the lids are closed.

Platy Tank Mates

Platy fish are famous for their peaceful nature, so they will easily go along with other fishes. But the other fishes should share the same size and temperament as them. They swim actively in the tank, which can bother other calmer fishes.

The companion fishes should be either as active as them or don’t get bothered much by Platyfish’s behavior. You can keep other members of their family like Guppies, Mollies, and Swordfishes.

Tetras, Corydoras, Gourami, Characins, and small peaceful barbs will also make a good companion with your Platies. If you want to add more variety, you can add snails and shrimps in the tank.

The fishes who have large mouths and can swallow the Platy should be avoided. Also, avoid aggressive ones like Arowanas and Cichlids. Bettas Vampire Tetra, Tiger barbs, and Wolf Fish are also not a good companion for them.

Can Platy fish be kept together?

Platies are not schooling fishes but show many behaviors when kept in a small group. But for that, the ratio of male to female should be right, that is, either 1:2 or 1:3.

If the number of male Platies is more, they can stress the females by chasing them or fighting with each other. They will breed once they feel comfortable and safe in the new habitat.

Platy Fish Food

Platies are omnivores, but their core diet is vegetarian. They are known to feed on worms, small crustaceans, plants, and insects in the wild. So, they won’t fuss over the food and eat whatever you feed them.

What do Platys eat?

You can feed them premade to homemade fish food as long as they have a vegetable. High-quality flakes and pellets can be added as the base of their diet. The food rich in vitamins will help in enhancing their coloration.

You don’t worry about Platy food. They will happily eat boiled vegetables such as cucumber, squash, spinach, or spirulina. You can feed them with bloodworms, brine shrimps, and tubifex once or twice a week to treat them.

The variety of food will help in maintaining the nutrient level and keeping them healthy. You can feed them more than twice a day but only the amount they can finish in 3 minutes. Overfeeding is not good for any fish, especially the one who is small like them.

Platy Fish Care and Common Diseases


Platy fish are hardy, so they have less chance of getting sick from the water conditions change. Still, the common freshwater diseases can make them sick, such as Ich and Fin Rot.

These diseases are not easy to spot, especially in small fishes like Platies. The survival of the disease depends on the level of infection. If the symptoms are diagnosed at early stages, then the chances of survival are more.

  • Ich Disease – This disease is the result of infection from the parasite and is commonly found in freshwater fishes kept in the aquarium. The symptoms of this disease include white spots on gills, fins, and all over the body.

If this disease is not diagnosed on time, it can damage the respiratory system and cause severe infections to the fish. It can be cured by raising the water temperature and through medication.

  • Fin Rot – It is another common disease among freshwater fishes that are caused by bacterial infections. It usually affects the fins and tail, which looks torn on infected.

This disease can be cured by including antibiotics such as tetracycline and chloromycetin in their diet.

The disease will be treated easily if diagnosed at earlier stages, but the best option is prevention. The chances of your fish getting infected are less if they are healthy and not stressed.

The stress can be reduced by setting the tank right and maintaining water conditions. Clean 25% of the water in the tank once or twice a week. It will reduce the level of harmful components without affecting water conditions.

They should get the right amount of food as well. Overfeeding or underfeeding is never good for their health. Buy food only from the certified stores and check the ingredient before feeding anything to your fish.

Also, properly clean and quarantine before adding anything to the tank, whether it is a decoration material or any plant.

Breeding Platies

Platy breeding is considered easy as they are prolific breeders. They don’t require much help from your side to encourage breeding. Keeping a pair of male and female in the same tank is all they need to breed. They are known as livebearers as they carry the eggs inside their body and give direct birth to free-swimming fries.

The gender of young Platies cannot be determined as they show sexual dimorphism only when they are 4 months old. It is when they get matured.

The female Platy grows up to be larger and plainer, whereas the male Platies take time in developing their true appearance. The males develop elongated anal fins, known as a gonopodium, which is their reproductive organ.

To make the fishes comfortable and find shelter for breeding, you must provide hiding places and dense plantation in the community tank. The female Platy can carry 80 eggs at once, and it takes around 24 to 30 days for them to give birth to the young ones.

The adult or the parent fishes can eat their own fries, so prepare a separate breeding tank for the fries’ survival. The breeding tank should be around 10-20 gallons with the same water conditions and filtration system.

When the young ones come out, you can put the female back in the main aquarium. The fries will need constant care and plenty of food. You can feed them with dry fruits, egg yolk, or premade food specifically made for them.

Spot a Pregnant Platy Fish

The pregnant Platy fish can be spotted from the large abdomen area. You can also identify it by the black mark on the abdomen area known as the gravid spot. It is not necessarily available, so you can also look for a couple of black eyes peeking from their transparent skin. After that, you can easily determine how long are Platy fish pregnant.

Summing up

Platy fish are small colorful fishes that will add variety to your aquarium from their mesmerizing appearance and active movements.

They are easy to care for and need less maintenance. These peaceful fishes can be added to the different community tanks as long as the other fishes share the same temperament and size.

These qualities make them perfect for any beginner who is looking for his first fish. All you need is to maintain the right water conditions and set up the tank right to see them swimming actively. This will add more years to their lifespan.

Do you also have Platies in your aquarium? Or planning to get one? What are their best features according to you? let us know in the comment section…