The Platy fish, scientifically known as Xiphophorus macuatus, is a freshwater fish that is hardy and peaceful. This fish is ideal for a community aquarium. This species originates from Central America and Mexico. Being extremely peaceful, they are easy to take care of, and this explains why they are ideal for beginners. They come in different vibrant colors. With this fish species, there are different breeds and hybrids, and they also come in different colors.

This fish was introduced to the aquarium world in 1907, and since then, they have been in high demand among experienced and beginner aquarists. This fish belongs to the genus Xiphophorus. This fish is a common name that refers to three species;

  • Variable Platy
  • Southern Platy
  • Swordtail platy

The southern Platy was introduced to the aquarium trade in 1907, while the variable Platy was later introduced in 1932. The variable was named so due to its great color diversity. The swordtails still remain a very rare specimen. The name Platy comes from the shape of its fins. This fish, despite being hardy, has a short lifespan.

 This fish is mainly found in the two main varieties, which are the southern and variable Platy. The swordtail is difficult to find.

Despite the fact that this fish is easy to take care of, you need to take proper care of it. To thrive, this guide will give you a complete insight into everything you need in terms of care for Platy fish.


Scientific NameXiphophorus macuatus
ColorVariance in color
Size3 inches
Care LevelBeginner
Tank size10 gallons
Lifespan3 to 5 years
Freshwater or SaltwaterFreshwater
Temperature64 to 77 degrees F
CompatibilityPeaceful small fish


The Platy fish make ideal tank mates since they are peaceful and will not bother other fish. However, they are very active and love swimming in groups with the male species, sometimes fighting over dominance. This fish is generally small in size, and therefore, the ideal tank companions should be other small species, more so those that are loosely related, such as mollies, swordtails, and guppies.

This species also get along with other small fish species such as;

  • Corydoras
  • Tetras
  • Gourami
  • Characins
  • Small peaceful barbs
  • Other Platy fish

This fish will not be compatible with large, aggressive fish such as Cichlids and arowanas. This is because they may be eaten by the bigger fish, and the aggressive ones might harm them sometimes to death. Some of the fish you should avoid putting in the same tank with the Platy include;

  • Bettas
  • Tiger barbs
  • Vampire Tetras
  • Wolfish


Montoya at da.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

The Platy Fish has an iconic shape, and they are very popular in fish keeping world. They are relatively short and stout. In the wild, this species has some bright and sparkling coloration whenever they are crossbreed in a hatchery. They have a pointed nose, thick body, and large eyes. They have large dorsal fins, and generally, this fish looks unique since their body tapers down towards the tail. Platy Fish have an inquisitive appearance that can hardly be missed due to the caudal fins and short-shaped tails. They have the varying coloration of their body amazing and goes with varying patterns of their body;.’

  • Variegated – These ones have black blotches all over their body.
  • Wagtail – They have black colored fins and tails
  • Twin bar – The tail has two black edges
  • Mickey Mouse – It has three shots before the tail
  • Tuxedo – It is black on the back portion and has a different color on the front.

These fish come in different colors, such as red, black, blue, green, and golden. However, if you see wild Platy, it will not be as amazing as those in captivity since they are naturally dull-colored, and they only turn to be colorful after being crossbred.


The Platy Fish is roughly 2 to 2.5 inches in length. However, this is mainly for males, but females can reach up to 3 inches due to their larger belly.



This fish is a native of Central America and North America, and it has spread as far as Mexico and Belize. However, over time, this fish has spread to different parts of the world, and this can be attributed to growing interest from the aquarists. As long as you can provide an aquarium that mimics the natural conditions, then you can be able to successfully keep it anywhere in the world.

The Platy fish loves living in a gentle environment, and they can be found in slow-moving waters such as canals, streams, and ditches, and this is why they fit best in peaceful aquarium life. They opt for weedy banks and silky bottoms. They are hardy fish that can survive in many places where other native fish might not be able to.

The Platy fish merely exist in places where the rest of the fish species are found, and in the process, they may be disturbed. However, they are not among the species that might be hunted for food. They are freshwater fish, and you will not find them in salty or brackish water.


This fish is hardy and does not need a lot of effort to take care of. All you need to do is provide the right diet and a clean and safe environment, and they will stay healthy. Under maximum care, they can live up to 5 years. This fish also needs some vegetation in the tanks since this is also found in their natural habitat. If you do not provide them, they will be stressed, and this will gradually affect their health.


The Platy fish are shoaling fish, and since they love swimming together with the other fish. They are also good community fish since they get well along with others without any instances of aggressiveness. They are generally playful and special species that show no sign of aggression at all. There can only be some fights among themselves, especially between males, as they fight for dominance or for the females.

It is important to ensure that the ratio of male to female is balanced; otherwise, there will be some problems. The males will keep casing the females around. The Platy fish love to breed.   If the males are more than the females, you should expect some fight every now and then. To solve this, you can limit the group to a ratio of one male to two or three females. Beyond these, in fights, the species is very peaceful and easy to take care of. They love swimming around the aquarium as they take some exercise.


As stated earlier, this fish is beginner-friendly and easy to take care of. However, there are some conditions that need to be met for before the fish can be put in the tank. You should always put them into consideration when looking for a fish, and they include;


The Platy fish is a small fish that grows to about 3 inches in adulthood, and therefore they do not need a large tank to live in. The ideal size for the tank is 10 gallons. You can also keep them in a group, and they do not mind sharing their space. This, however, does not mean that the large tanks are not ideal for this fish. They are recommended since they give the fish a wide room to actively swim and jump as they have fun. Being explorers the large tank will give them an opportunity to remain active throughout as they explore the expansive aquarium.


To keep your Platy fish safe from other species, such as predators, you need to have a tight lid. This also helps to ensure the tank water is not contaminated. These species are jumpers, and therefore you need a lid to protect them from jumping out of the tank. You also need to ensure that you leave a space of at least 5 inches between the lid and water surface so that they do not hurt themselves as they jump.


The Platy fish needs a filter with a high media type. They need water to flow in the lengthwise direction so that they can easily move. Remember that these fish loves slow-moving water in their natural environment, and this explains why they need a filter that allows slow movement in the tank. You should avoid aerating the water and primarily rely on filters for that. Ensure that you do not put any wave maker, power heads, or strong flow filters within their tank.


The Platy Fish loves playing and hiding spots. These places include caves, driftwoods, rocks, and castles. These places allow them to get enough space for activity and also to hide places whenever they are stressed or feel threatened. Make sure that the cans are wide enough so that the fish does not get stuck there.


This fish species loves dwelling in soft substrate such as gravel and sand. To get the color highlighted, you should keep the substrate that is dark-colored. However, the texture of the sand should be fine since the fish is small in size. The large rocks will hurt the fish as they move around. You should avoid any colored substrate since it might create some infections on their skin.


If you intend to decorate and keep your aquarium decorated, you can keep normal fluorescent lighting. This species is not light sensitive. You can also decide to leave the aquarium with the natural daylight, and the fish will be okay and thrive.


This species being a native of Central America, where the temperature is warm, you will need to add a heater in your tank so as to ensure water is always warm in the tank. You will also need a thermometer to keep monitoring in case of any changes.


The Platy fish are surrounded by dense vegetation in their natural habitat and some thick plants, which are also important in the aquarium. You should ensure that your aquarium is heavily planted, but the plants should depend on the species. If you are keeping the parent species instead of the crossbreeds, then this guide will give you the plants that you need for the various species.

If you are keeping the variable fish, then the ideal plants include;

  • Hornwort
  • Java Moss
  • Duckweed
  • Amazon Frog bit

The southern Platy Fish love a decorated aquarium with plants such as ferns and moss. However, if you choose to use the crossbreed, you will need to make an equivalence in decoration by using simple plants and keeping more spaces for activities. However, you should be careful not to overplant. Ensure that you leave enough space for swimming since this species loves swimming too.


As an aquarist, it is very critical to keep your tank clean so that the fish can remain healthy. The fish tank should be cleaned at least once a month. As you clean the interior of the tank, you should use a soft cloth and some lukewarm water. You should not use any soap-based or chemical products since they are dangerous to the health of the fish. For removing algae and substrate cleaning, you need to put the fish in another tank with the same water parameters and hold the aquarium under running water.


To keep your Platy Fish healthy, the water they are staying in is very important. Therefore, there are some conditions that this water must meet in order to be safe. These conditions must mimic the conditions of its natural habitat. They include;


The ideal water temperature should range from 64 to 77 degrees F. This is because the Platy fish live in warm water in the wild, and this should be reciprocated in captivity. If they are kept in the normal range of temperatures, the color reflections become becomes brighter. This fish can withstand fluctuations in n temperature, but that does not mean you change it suddenly. 

If you want to change their temperature, ensure that you make them habituated by changing it slowly. If you are keeping a swordtail Platy fish, you should be extremely careful since they are sensitive to a poor environment and can face untimely death as a result of water impurity.


The average Ph. level of water in the aquariums should be between 7.0 to 8.0.


You should maintain the carbonate water hardness at a level of 4 to 8 dKH, and the general hardness should be between 12 to 18 Dgh.


The Platy fish prefers to reside in alkali based environment with a typical clearance in water. As the fish continues to live in water, they continue to drop their waste in the water, and this gradually breaks to create ammonia which is highly poisonous. In order to get rid of these toxic substances, you need to implement the nitrogen cycle in the tank. The natural procedure of generating nitrogen will detoxify ammonia by transforming it into something less toxic.


To keep the water clean, you need to keep replacing water on a regular basis. However, you should ensure all the parameters are constant as you replace water. The new water should have the same parameters. You should not remove the water in its entirety since this will kill the beneficial bacteria. You should replace the water in intervals, and this will determine the quantity you will replace.

All the fish coming into the tank must be quarantined for some days before being added to the new tank. This ensures that they are free from any disease. They can later be added to the tank if they do not have any signs of sickness. Also, the equipment should be cleaned properly before it can be put in the tank to avoid infecting the fish.


This fish species is omnivore in nature. However, they will feed on anything that you feed them, and this does not mean that you should feed them on anything. Ensure that you feed them quality nutritious food that has all their nutritional needs. Some of the foods that are nutritious enough for this fish include high-end commercial flakes and pellet supplements along with brine shrimps, fresh vegetables, and spirulina algae.

In the wild, these fish species are mostly known to be carnivores, but they also feed on plant matter but in small amounts. In the wild, they feed on insect larvae, small insects, small crustaceans, plants, and algae. This diet consists of around 60 percent animal protein and 40 percent of plant matter, and this can move up to 90 percent fresh and 10 percent plants. This fish will always be happy if the food you are feeding falls in the above ranges.

The more you replicate this diet in your aquarium, the healthier your fish will get. To make this easier to you can also have a basic meal plan that consists of flakes and pellet food. This plan should be designed in a way that provides good levels of protein. You can feed them on live foods such as blood worms, fruit flies, brine shrimp, and mosquito larvae, but the best option instead is freeze-dried food.

The reason why freeze-dried food is considered better than live food is due to the fact that it can be stored for a long time without going bad, and they have a low risk of passing diseases and parasites to your fish. You should also consider adding some consumable plants to your tank. Platy fish enjoys having variety, and therefore it is important to provide them with plants.


The process of breeding the Platy fish is quite simple, and they will breed at any opportunity they get. They do not need so much effort to trigger spawning among them. If you keep the males and females in the same tank, they will naturally start to breed. They are livebearers, and they give birth to a fully formed fry. The females get pregnant for around 24 to 30 days, and they can then give birth to around 80 fries.

You should ensure that you have set up a separate breeding tank that has similar conditions as the natural habitat. The tank should be of 10 gallons and have some plants so as to provide the hiding places for the young fish. You should cover the filter with sponges so as to ensure the babies do not get sucked. After identifying the breeding pairs, they should be added into a tank and fed with high protein means, and it will trigger spawning. Before you can notice, the male will swell up with eggs.

After the female has given birth to these fries, you should remove the parents from that tank immediately. The babies are free-swimming right from the womb. You can start by feeding them with a diet of infusoria or powdered fish food. Under the right conditions, the adults will breed after every four weeks. The condition of the females must always be considered. The fries will not be able to make it in a community tank, but you should always move the females to a safer place which is the breeding tank, whenever she is ready to breed so as to increase chances of survival.


As stated earlier, the Platy fish give birth to free-swimming fry and, therefore, no worries about guarding eggs and ensuring that they do not get moldy. The biggest thing is to protect the little baby from the ravenous horde of adults. There are various ways to protect the fries whenever you have them;


Whenever the female fish look like they are almost bursting, you can put them in a specialized breeding box where they can give birth and keep the fries away from the other fish. Once they have given birth to the fries, you can move them to another tank for raising. They can be moved back after attaining the size of an inch, and at this size, they cannot be eaten.


If you have a heavily planted tank, more so the large clumps of java moss, the fry will instinctively hide there. They will happily feed on algae and other uneaten foods as they grow to size.


There are some notable differences between the male and female species, and that is what can be used to distinguish the male from a female. The males have a pointed anal fin which points directly back at the tails. This fin looks completely different compared to the pelvic fin that is located just before it on the belly of the fish.

On the other hand, the females have a round anal fin which looks like an exact copy of the pelvic fin.

The females have a thicker and rounder body, and this leaves the males looking slender.


The Platy fish are generally hardy fish that are resistant to most freshwater fish diseases, and they are not prone to diseases. However, they can catch a couple of diseases such as ich and fin rot. It is crucial to pay close attention to the health of these fish because spotting the signs of a disease can sometimes be hard in this species. They can be hard to treat and can even cause death if they are not realized early enough.

  • ICH

This is a very common disease among fish species. This is a parasite that causes white spots to form on the fins, gills, and body. This eventually causes respiratory damage and severe infection. This disease can be cured by using medication or by raising the water temperatures slightly for a few days.


This is a common disease in the fish world, and it is caused by bacterial infection of either the tails or fins. This disease can best be cured using antibiotics that are added to the tank during mealtime.

The best thing you can do to the fish in your tank keep them away from the diseases. This can be made possible by ensuring that they are living in clean water and also ensuring the tank is always clean, and they are provided with a healthy diet. Ensure your fish is always stress-free as much as possible because the stress affects their health and it makes them prone to disease.


This fish is very popular among aquarists, and this makes it a worthy challenge. This fish can be found from any pet store around and reputable breeders. They are very affordable with an average cost of 2 to 4 dollars. The cost varies according to size and color.


Are Platy Fish freshwater fish?

Yes, they are freshwater fish that originate from Central America. They love residing in small water bodies where there are no water currents and the presence of salty silt beds.

Are the Platy fish Schooling fish?

No, the Platy Fish are not schooling fish, but you will be astonished by how much they adore being in groups. You can keep them in a group of about 5 of the same species together. However, you should not forget to keep them in the ratio of two to three females against one male, and this will ensure no fights. This species is a prolific breeder, and it loves to overwhelm females. As a beginner, it is advisable to buy on and learn from it before buying more. However, the cost of setting up the tank and buying all the equipment is high.

Do Platy Fish lay eggs?

No, the Platy fish are life bearers meaning they give birth to fully formed fries. Unlike the other fish that lay the eggs and fertilize them, these species give birth to the young fries instead of hatching.

How often should Platy Fish feed?

The Platy fish is a small fish, and you should be careful not to overfeed them. The fish should be fed two times a day, and during this feeding period, you should ensure they feed enough.

Do Platy Fishkill other fish?

No, they do not kill other fish in the same tank, but they tend to nip each other for fun. They are generally peaceful.


The Platy fish is a hardy fish that takes little effort to take care of. They are colorful and active and with a variety of colors to choose from, and this makes them popular among aquarists. The ease of taking care of them makes this species an ideal fish for a beginner. They are also peaceful fish that will co-exist with other fish within the tank without bothering them. They also have a small size and consequently require a small tank which is awesome to every fish keeper. This fish is highly recommendable to both starters and experienced aquarists.

This fish is a scavenger, and therefore you need not clean the entire algae from the tank. You can leave some for them to feed on. It is our hope that this guide has provided extensive information about the care of Platy fish that will be helpful and make you more prepared for this fish.

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