Platy fish: Characteristics, types, care and more….

Whether you are starting in the world of aquarium hobby, or if you already have more advanced knowledge, the platy fish will always be an ideal member for your aquarium.


Animalia Kingdon Phylum: Chordata Class: Actinopterygii Order: Cyprinodon’tntiformes  Family: Poeciliidae  Genre: Xiphophorus Species: X. maculatus

Brief Review about Platy Fish

Platys are one of the several livebearing species of freshwater fish popular with aquarium enthusiasts.

Grouped together with their close cousins, the swordtails, platys are part of the genus known as Xiphophorus.

They are hardy, compatible with other fish, and are extremely easy to breed. They also come in a variety of attractive colors and forms.

Platy Fish’ s Description

The Platy fish, Xiphophorus maculatus, is very popular among aquarium hobbyists as well as other fish in the poecilide family. They are also very easy to care for such as guppies  or mollys.

Whether fruit of natural hybridization or caused by the breeders, there is a huge variety of Platy fish in the market.

There is a Platy fish for each of the colors of the rainbow: red scarlet platys, blue platys, even black platys.

Some of the names are really original and suggestive: Rainbow Platy, Platy Panda, Gold Platy, Mickey Mouse Platy... in most cases, the names refer to the morphological qualities of the specimen

The Platy Fish’s Anatomy

The Platy is a laterally compressed fish, with relatively compact fins and a fan-shaped tail, with the exception of some varieties bred with larger fins.

Together with Mollys, Guppys  and Swordfish, the Platy fish is also a member of the Poeciliidae family that is distinguished by having teeth in their upper and lower jaws.

Additionally, it should be noted that they have an elongated shape, in which the belly is more convex than the back.

The mouth is oriented upwards, which is a typical trait of fish used to eating from the surface.

The males reach a maximum length of four centimeters and have an elongated reproductive apparatus called a gonopodium, while the  females can reach up to six centimeters and have a somewhat rounded anal fin.

Let’s meet them

Distribution and Habitat

The Platy fish natural habitat is in the calm waters of streams and rivers, of the coastal regions of Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Belize.

The Platy Fish Common Behavior

This is a very peaceful species and they are not aggressive with any other species. We can see them move throughout the day, almost without stopping.

It is important to point out that Platy fish are gregarious, so we need to introduce a small group in the aquarium, so that the health conditions are optimal.

In this sense, at least three females must be introduced for each male, so that we will reduce the risk of rivalry between males, who usually struggle for females during the mating season.

Types of Platy Fish

Although platys comprise only a couple of species within the Xiphophorus genus, there are considerable variations in color and even fin type within these species.

Furthermore, the species interbreed so readily that many specimens sold

Platy fish: golden platy

in the trade are mixed hybrids.  However, they all do well in similar conditions, so unless your goal is to breed a pure line, this doesn’t really matter.

The colors seen in platys include:

Black Platy

Blue Platy

Brown Platy

Platy Gold / yellow: referred to as gold, gold, marigold, sunbeam, sunset

Green Platy

Wagtail Platty

When the rays of the caudal and dorsal fins are black, the pattern is said to be a wagtail. The wagtail platys can have virtually any body color and can be combined with other color patterns.

For example, the painted or Variegated  pattern can be combined with the wagtail feature. Red or gold are the most common colors of wagtails, but the variation can also show the colors blue, gold or green. This tail pattern is also frequently seen in another group within the genus, the sword tails.

Variegated Pattern and/or Painted Pattern

Dark spots of various sizes and shapes throughout the body are the common trait of this pattern. . Generally called the variegated pattern, it’s also known as painted, as it resembles the work of an artist’s brush.

Variegated patterns can be combined with any base color, as well as with other color patterns or tail variations. The very popular Platy Mickey Mouse is a kind of variegated color pattern.

Salt-and-Pepper Pattern

Slightly different from the variegated pattern, this species has a series of dark or light spots that spread generously over the body. As with other color patterns, the salt and pepper can be combined with different color and fin variations.

Tuxedo Pattern

The tuxedo variation refers to a dual pattern in which the back of the fish is black, while the front part is of another color. Red and gold are common colors in tuxedo patterns and the combination can be extremely attractive.

As with other types of color patterns, the tuxedo feature is often combined with additional color variations, such as the comet or the twin bar pattern.

Rainbow Pattern

Several colors in a single fish are known as the rainbow variation. Often, these fish show colors in the true shape of the rainbow, from dark colors to lighter colors, starting with a black tail. An attractive iridescent rainbow color pattern, sold under the name of neon, is also available.

Comet or Twin Bar Pattern

The comet or twin bar feature is another color variation that is often combined with other color patterns. In this variation, the caudal fin has black edges at any of the outer margins. The bar makes the tail fin stand out noticeably.

Hifin Variation

There are two common variations of the fins in the Platys: the Hifin is the most frequently seen trait. In hyphae, the dorsal fin is elongated, (sometimes quite significantly).

As with other traits, the hifin variation can be found in fish with a variety of different color patterns.

Elongated fins are also more prone to disease when the fish is stressed or if water conditions are not optimal. Fish owners with these variations should track their health closely and address problems quickly.

Let’s watch and learn

Platy Fish in Aquariums

The Platy is fine for both beginners and professionals. Everyone can find interesting species to keep. Almost like all live fish, Platy fish are not demanding and have good character.

You can keep them in tanks with capacity from 50 liters, but it’s better to have a larger tank. They don’t usually show aggressiveness towards fish of the same type and you can keep them in the proportion where the number of females is greater.

The tank’s water parameters aren’t so crucial. It should be of medium hardness (15 – 30 dGH), the acidity (ph) within 7.0-8.3, and the temperature about 25 С.

The water must be always clean and fresh. A change of up to 20% water is required every week.

Filtration and aeration are desirable, but if the tank is not full, you can skip it. We  invite you to read our article fish for fish tanks to learn about how to maintain your fish tank.

Feeding Platy Fish

These fish are omnivorous, although they have very high herbivore requirements. Their diet should include high portions of seaweed or other vegetable.

In the wild, their diet consists of worms, crustaceans, insects and some plant matter. In the aquarium, platys will be happy to eat most commercially prepared fish foods, as well as live and vegetable complementary foods.

Salted shrimp either live or frozen, tubifex and blood worms are an excellent option that they simply love. However, don’t forget to include high portions of vegetables in their diet. Like all species a good and varied diet will promote a better coloration of this species.

Let’s watch and learn


How Do Platy Fish Reproduce?

Platy fish love to breed and are ovoviviparous: the young are incubated inside the female’s belly and their gestation lasts about a month.  The frys swim as soon as they are born, and they are ready to feed and be independent. They usually try to hide among the plants in your aquarium to protect themselves from larger fish.

For selective breeding of Platy fish, a 10 to 20 gallon tank should be provided with gentle filtration. You will notice that a female is pregnant when she develops a gravid spot, (a dark mark on her abdomen),

In a community aquarium, the fry will be devoured by other tank mates, unless they are removed. To isolate them, an aquarium for young fish must be used, although it can also be accomplished with sufficient hiding spaces with densely rooted or floating plants. Females can have between 20 and 80 fry, although 20 to 40 is the avg. number.

Recommended aquarium for Platy fish

Remember that the platys’ main habitats are the rivers of Central America.

The three species of Platies inhabit different rivers of South America:

√ The Southern Platy inhabits the fresh waters of Mexico, Guatemala and northern Honduras.

√ The Variegated Platy is native to the waters of southern Mexico, from Río Panuco to Río Cazoneses.

√ Swordtail Platy is only found in the Rio Soto La Marina river system in Mexico.

Platy fish are tough and tolerate a wide range of water conditions, but you should make regular water changes with 25% changed every week.

Your Platy fish will feel more comfortable in an aquarium that mimics their natural habitats with a gravel substrate, although it can also vary with the species. A highly recommended plant would be the Java Fern or Anubias.

The ideal temperature will depend on the variety you have. Their colors will look better if you keep the temperature in the cooler range.

We recommend that your aquarium meet these requirements:

The temperature should be 18 to 28 ºC.

The pH of the water should be between 6.8 and 8.0.

the dGH (hardness) from 10 to 28 ºGH.

Food 1 or 2 times a day.

Weekly water changes of min. 25%

Other data

√ The Platy shows its best colors at maturity, in a slightly colder tank, (like most living things in this region). Place a small amount of salt (1 to 1.25 teaspoons per gallon) in the aquarium water. This action, although not essential, the fish will appreciate.

√ Make sure the tank is covered as they can jump and exit.

√ The need for lighting is moderate; with standard lighting it will be sufficient,

Let’s keep learning

Compatible Fish with Platy Fish

There is a wide variety of fish compatible with platy fish. Precisely because this fish is sociable, calm and very adaptable, specimens of butterfly, neon, disco fish, hatchet fish, among others, can be incorporated in the same aquarium.

Next we will some of this species. to know them in more detail:

Betta fish

This colorful specimen has its origin in the countries of Southeast Asia, especially Cambodia and Thailand, specifically in the areas of rice fields and ponds.

One of the most remarkable characteristics of this fish is that it has developed the ability to breathe oxygen directly from the air.

This superpower makes them able to survive in areas with very little water. We invite you to read our article Betta fish to learn more about these wonderful creatures


The catfish is one of the best known fish worldwide. It stands out for its outstanding mustaches similar to those of a cat. They are found in large quantities both in the sea and in the river.

They belong to the order of the Silurifiormes and the Pimelodiadae family. In this group we find obese fish, with a lot of fat and meat.

Catfish and humans have a very long history; people have fished and cultivated them as a food source for hundreds of years in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.

They are also popular in the aquarium hobby: they are highly sought after due to their unique physical appearance, but also as useful scavengers to clean up leftover food.

The catfish is generally very resistant and easy to care and most species are nocturnal.

Their eyes are small, but the chemoreceptors that they have through their bodies help them in navigation and feeding, since they allow them to taste and smell anything that is in the water.

Their eating habits are of plant eaters although Catfish are also detritivores, that is, they feed on all dead matter around the place where they live.

Be very careful when handling the catfish in an aquarium since all species have strong and stiff spines on their dorsal and pectoral fins which can pierce the skin and/or itch, causing wounds that are painful but not poisonous.

Clown Barb Fish

The beautiful clown barb has a golden reddish glow, colorful red fins, and bands that add a clear polka dot effect.

It reaches up to 10 cm in total diameter in the aquarium, although they can measure much more in their natural habitat where it can grow about 15 cm long.

A nice group of these colorful barb fish will make a very interesting and attractive aquarium.

This fish is active, lively and resistant and it will be fine as long as it stays in groups of six or more.

When kept with their own species they form shoals, and due to their large size, it’s suggested that the tank size be at least 25 gallons.

However, due to its very active nature, a tank that has the capacity to hold 30 gallons of water would be ideal. We invite you to read our article barb fish to learn more about these creatures

Molly fish

The Molly fish is one of the favorites for those who wish to have an aquarium for the first time in their home, being extremely simple to care for and feed.

Their scientific name is Poecilia sphenops of the genus Poecilia, where we also find the black Molly, the marbling and the Dalmatian being one of the many variants that exist of this species.

They also have very sharp teeth with a mouth that point upwards.  

Males reach 5 cm while females in captivity can measure 10 cm since they are always larger than males.

On the other hand, this fish is found on the coasts of Central America reaching Colombia and Venezuela which makes it a salt water species.

The main colors you can find are black, orange, marbled, golden, as there will also be combinations such as the Dalmatian and very rarely, the albino.

Tetra fish

The tetra fish belongs to the characidae and is a freshwater animal that has many subspecies, which occur in a very wide geographical area.

Although today we can find tetra fish specimens in any store specialized in aquariums, the truth is that this lovely fish is native to the Amazon region, being also very present in the Panama Basin, to the Río de la Plata.

Tetra fish are characterized by their fatty fin located between the caudal and the dorsal ones, as well as their scales with metallic shades.

They tend to swim in groups, which makes a unique landscape harmony, unlike other fish that don’t swim in shoals.

They are small fish in most cases, since their size doesn’t reach 4 centimeters. The female is usually larger than the male tetra fish and possesses a more rounded belly.

Harlequin Rasbora

The Harlequin or Harlequin Rasbora fish, is a fresh and warm water fish belonging to the family of Cyprinids.

It has been present in aquariums since the early 1900s, when the first Harlequin fish arrived at the aquariums.

Its growing popularity is due in large part to being a very resistant fish to diseases, in addition to being a very sociable fish, an attitude that allows it to share space with a wide variety of different species.

We could say that it’s one of the 10 fish Suitable for beginner aquarists.

At present we can find different varieties of harlequin fish: Harlequin rasbora (golden color), Harlequin black rasbora and Harlequin blue rasbora.

Different studies have confirmed that the Harlequin fish species available for sale contain morphological inconsistencies, the result of crossing between different varieties.

The Harlequin fish is a really small fish; in freedom it doesn’t usually exceed 3.2 centimeters, although in captivity it can grow somewhat more, up to 4.5 centimeters.

Its usual color varies from reddish, pink or orange, with a black triangle-shaped stripe, which goes from the dorsal fin, to the middle of the base of the caudal fin.

Colors can be altered under different circumstances, such as water quality, fish health, even depending on their mood and the time of heat.

They have an oval body, compressed on the sides and their mouth is oriented upwards, maybe because they feed because on the surface of the water.

let’s watch them again

Common Diseases in Platy Fish

The platy fish is generally very resistant and has no particular weakness to certain diseases. However, it can still be a victim of common ailments of aquarium fish, such as the Fin Break and the Itch.

The platys are subject to the same diseases as other tropical fish, the best way to proactively prevent the disease is to give them the appropriate environment and a well-balanced diet.

Anything you add to your tank can implant the disease, not only other fish, but plants. Keep in mind that substrate and decorations can harbor bacteria, so be very careful and make sure to properly clean or quarantine anything you add to an established tank so as not to alter the equilibrium.


The more the aquarium mimics the natural habitat of platy fish, the less stress they will have, making them healthier and happier. A stressed fish is more likely to get disease.

Let’s watch and learn


Deja un comentario