Platy Fish – Active And Playful

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Platy fish are amazing and seriously underrated!

They’re hardy, easy to care for, colorful, and always active.

What’s more, they come in a huge variety of colors, making them an excellent addition to any aquarium.

In this guide, I’ll show you how you can provide the best care for your platy fish.


Let’s start with the different species of platy fish that you can find in the aquarium trade.

The main types are actually hybrids of two closely related species: the southern platyfish (Xiphophorus maculatus) and the variatus platy (Xiphophorus variatus).

These two species have been interbred for many generations, making it almost impossible to tell them apart.

So, any tank-bred platy fish that you get is likely to be a hybrid.

Platy Fish Habitat

In the wild, platies can be found in rivers, canals, marshes, and warm springs.

They live in areas of dense vegetation, darting in and out of plants to find food and to avoid predators.

Their native waters are somewhat hard and alkaline, and their natural coloration is pretty drab, with an olive green color and some dark marbling.

However, the flashy colors you see in the store are thanks to many generations of selective breeding.

Mickey Mouse Platy Fish

Appearance and Size

When it comes to appearance, platies are small fish that only grow to about 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) in length.

They have a very pointed nose, large eyes, and a rather thick body from their noses to their dorsal fins.

Their bodies taper down towards their tails.

They have small dorsal, anal, and caudal fins, as well as a fan-shaped tail.

They are adorable and cute making them a firm favorite.

One of the best things about platy fish is the large variety of colors that you can choose from.

They come in yellow, orange, blue, white, and red and combinations thereof.

Adding to this, there are also many different patterns to go along with all those colors.

For example:

  • Wagtail Platies has black fins and tail
  • Variegated Platies have black blotches on the body
  • Twin Bar Platies have two black edges on the tail
  • Tuxedo Platies have black on the entire back half of the body and a different color on the front of the body
  • Mickey Mouse Platies are very distinct with three spots just before the tail that look like the Mickey Mouse symbol
  • Salt and Pepper Platies look very similar to the variegated platy but there spots are lighter or darker and further apart
  • Rainbow Platy has a black tail with a body consisting of multiple colors and some even have an iridescent shine
  • Panda Platies have a black tail that sometimes stretches further onto the body area. The body is a light color and can also have some black spots. Some panda platies also have a black nose area.
  • Sunset Platy has an orange tail with a yellow body which is why they have this name
  • Dalmation Platy with it’s white body and black spots covering the whole fish looks just like a dalmation dog.

Besides color and patterns, you can also get different tail and fin shapes.

  • Hifin Platy – The top fin of these fish is extended
  • Balloon Platy – The body is very round and resembles a balloon
  • Pintail Platy – The tail of this variant is curved just like the other platies but the middle section juts out like a spear

To make things even more interesting, you can get different patterns with different colors with different tail shapes.

Platy Fish Tank mates

Behavior and Temperament

Platy fish are one of the most ideal community fish to keep because of their social nature and friendly demeanor.

These playful animals are not known for their aggression and are happy to swim with other fish.

However, when it comes to males of the same species, they may have some slight infighting.

This is not a major concern and is often just a part of their natural behavior.

Female platies may experience some trouble if the community is unbalanced with more males than females.

The males will often chase the females around as these fish love to breed.

Fortunately, this issue can be easily resolved by keeping one male for every two or three females.

Besides minor family squabbles, platies are quite easy-going and will spend most of their time swimming around the tank looking for food.

Tank Size and Setup

The recommended tank size for platies is at least 10 gallons, but a larger tank is always better.

A larger tank will provide more swimming room and allow for a larger group of platies.

Platies are social fish and should be kept in groups of at least three to five individuals.

Keeping them in groups will reduce stress and promote natural behaviors such as schooling and breeding.

As a general guideline, platies prefer the following water parameters.

  • Water temperature: 65°F to 80°F (some species may prefer as high as 82 degrees)
  • pH levels: 6.8 to 8.0
  • Water hardness: 10 to 28 dGH

When it comes to decor, platies prefer a well-planted tank with plenty of hiding places.

Live plants such as java fern, java moss, and anubias are great additions to the aquarium, as they provide shelter and help maintain water quality.

A substrate of gravel or sand is also recommended, as it can help with natural filtration and provides a natural look to the tank.

A darker substrate really brings out the color of platies.

Platies prefer a tank with plenty of hiding places and open swimming areas.

The addition of rocks, caves, and driftwood can create a natural environment that platies will enjoy.

It’s also important to ensure that the water is clean and well-filtered, as platies prefer clean water and are sensitive to changes in water quality.

food for platy fish

Platy Tank Mates

The platy is so versatile and is compatible with a host of other fish.

However, do not add them to a tank that contains swordtails as platies and swordtails can interbreed which is not advisable.

Also, avoid larger fish or aggressive fish that could either see your platy as a meal or as a fish that can be bullied.

Keeping to those guidelines here are few options for tank mates:

As you can see, platies get along with most fish so you will have a wide range to choose from.

Sunset Platy Fish

What To Feed Platy Fish

In their natural habitat, platies are omnivores and tend to feed on algae and plant material.

They also munch on insects, larvae, fish eggs, fry, and other small critters they come across.

They’re not picky eaters and will eagerly accept flake, micro pellets, frozen food, freeze-dried foods, and live foods like daphnia.

Platy fish are voracious eaters, and as soon as you put food in the water, they’ll swarm from all over the tank to get a bite.

If you have a large school of platies or slower fish in the tank, it’s best to put food in several places around the aquarium to ensure everyone gets something to eat.

It’s essential to give platies a staple diet made from high-quality ingredients.

I feed all my fish Tetra Min Tropical Flakes as it has a nice mix of protein and plant matter.

They also require plant matter in their diet, so look for ingredients like spirulina, kelp, or algae meal.

Offering a varied diet is always a good idea to ensure they get all the necessary nutrients.

breeding platy fish


As a fish keeper, it’s important to be aware of the common diseases that can affect your platy fish.

While there are no specific diseases that only target this species, they are still vulnerable to the same freshwater diseases that can affect any fish.

One of the most deadly diseases is Ich, a parasitic infection that can quickly spread throughout a tank and wipe out an entire community.

Fin rot is another common issue that can cause the fins of platies to decay and fall off.

This disease is usually caused by bacterial or fungal infections, and can take hold quickly before you even notice.

The good news is that these diseases are treatable with medication, and they can be avoided altogether with proper care and maintenance.

It’s important to keep an eye on your platies for any signs of illness, as early detection can make all the difference.

By staying vigilant and taking preventative measures, you can help ensure that your platies stay healthy and happy for years to come.

Platy Fish Breeding

Breeding platies is a piece of cake, seriously.

It’s harder not to breed them than to get them to do it.

These little guys are quite eager to reproduce and will have a million babies for you at the drop of a hat.

But in all seriousness, breeding platies is very simple.

They’re livebearers, so females give birth to 20-50 babies at a time, and they’re ready to breed at any time.

Depending on the water temperature, they’ll produce a new brood about every 4 weeks.

The higher the temperature, the faster they breed.

Sexing platy fish is a breeze too.

Males have a pointed anal fin that points straight back at their tails, which looks very different from the pelvic fin growing just before it on the fish’s belly.

Females, on the other hand, have a much more rounded anal fin that looks like an exact copy of the pelvic fin.

Females also have a rounder, thicker body, making males look more slender.

Raising fry is also straightforward.

Livebearers give birth to free-swimming fry, so there’s no need to worry about guarding eggs or making sure the eggs don’t get moldy.

The biggest challenge is protecting the poor little baby fish from the ravenous horde of adults.

It’s amazing how quickly the adults will devour the fry if given the chance, so it’s crucial to separate the babies from the adults and feed them small, frequent meals.

Either remove the babies to their own tank or you can use a breeder net.

I personally use the Xiaoyztan Aquarium Mesh Hatchery Breeder as the netting is fine enough not to allow your baby platies to escape and the suckers stick to the side of the tank helping make it secure.

Position the breeder net with the water level a little bit below the top rim of the breeder net. Stick in a few plant off cuts to give the fry somewhere to hide.

I have bred a lot of platies and besides being super easy, it is quite a thrill seeing the little babies swimming around.

Wagtail Platy Fish

Why You Should Consider Adding Platy Fish To Your Tank

platies are an excellent choice for any fish keeper looking to add some color and life to their aquarium.

With their ease of care, adaptability to various water parameters, and prolific breeding habits, platies are a great option for beginners and experienced hobbyists alike.

They’re also quite hardy and can tolerate a range of conditions, making them a low-maintenance and enjoyable addition to any tank.

Overall, platies are a fun and rewarding fish to keep, and definitely worth considering for any aquarium enthusiast.


How many platies should be kept together?

Platies like to be kept in groups so the minimum I would have in a tank is 3 (1 male and 2 females). The optimal size of a group is 5 platies.

Do platies fish need a heater?

Yes, these fish need heaters to keep the water temperature constant and at the right temperature.

Are platy fish easy to care for?

Yes, platy fish are very easy to care for and are considered a hardy fish.

Do platies need air pump?

Yes, I would suggest using an air pump for their tank as it helps to make sure this is enough oxygen in the water.

How often do I feed my platys?

I feed all my fish once a day and sometimes even skip a day. Only feed enough food that they will eat in one minute. If you have baby platies then you will need to feed them a tiny amount a few times a day.

How long do platys live in tank?

If you give your fish a healthy diet and make sure the water quality is kept up then you can expect your platy fish to live for between 2-3 years in your tank.

How many babies will platys have?

The amount varies greatly but they can have anything between 8 to 35 fry.

How long are platy fish pregnant for

Platy fish are pregnant between 24 to 35 days.

Photo of author


Irma Bense is the founder of She has over 42 years of experience in keeping fish.She has kept both freshwater and saltwater fish through the years.She has extensive knowledge in breeding numerous species of fish from Show Guppies, Cory Catfish, German Blue Rams to Apistogrammas.You can learn more about Irma on the 'About' page.

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