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 always been one of our favorite livebearers to recommend to both beginners and veterans. You can learn more about their care needs, such as housing, tank mates and feeding, as well as breeding.
What are Platy Fishes?
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. 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. 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 platies in 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. 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. For more information about which filter is best for you, read this article
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 should you keep together? A group with three to six pups is a good place to 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 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. You might also consider small tetras and cory catfish, bristlenose plecos and rainbowfish as peaceful tank mates.
Are platies allowed to live with betta fish. We have found that betta fish will usually co-exist with platies in peaceful tanks. 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. 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 be fed? Once a day is fine for adults, whereas two to three small meals a day is preferred for growing juveniles. 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 long do platies survive without food? Fish in the wild don’t always get to eat every day. 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 can be described as livebearers. They give birth to living young. Livebearer eggs are more durable than fish babies, which hatch from eggs. They also have a higher survival rate. If the conditions are right, female platies can give rise to 20-50 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. (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. 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.
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. You can either give excess fish to friends or donate them as pets to keep the water clean. If you’re interested in breeding fish for profit, consider selling the offspring to a local fish store. See our recommended vendors list for more information on how to purchase live fish online.