Platy Fish – A Moon Fish or Platies or Mickey Mouse Platy, or Xiphophorus

Platy Fish

Platy fish is known as Mickey Mouse Platy, Moon Fish, or Southern Platy, which is native to Southern Mexico and the East Coast of Central America.
Platies are fit as a fiddle and easy to care freshwater aquarium fish. It is a perfect beginner’s fish with a large range of colors and fins variations to choose from.
They are popular among aquarists for their color, and they are easy to breed.

Platy Fish an Overview:

Description Category
Family Poeciliidae
Scientific name Xiphophorus
Origin Southern Mexico and East Coast Central America
Type Fresh Water
Color Form Full Range of Colors
Difficulty Easy
Breeding Easy
Max. Size 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cms)
Life span 3 to 5 years
Temperament Peaceful
Diet Omnivores
Minimum Tank Size 10 gallon ( liters)
Temperature 70 – 77°F (21 – 25°C), ideal 22°C (72°F)
Acidity 6.8 to 8 pH
Hardness 10 – 28 dGH
Carbonates & Bicarbonates 10-25 dKH
Nitrate >20 ppm
Ammonia & Nitrite 0 ppm

Species Origin – Platy Fish:

Platy is a common name for a freshwater fish in the genus Xiphophorus in the family Poeciliidae of order Cyprinodontiformes. Swordfish, Guppies, and Mollies are also members of the Poeciliidae family.

The Platy Fish you see in today’s aquarium trade are hybrids of 3 closely related species, the Southern Platy (Xiphophorus maculatus), the Variable Platy (Xiphophorus variatus), and the Swordtail Platy (Xiphophorus xiphidium).

They are interbred to get varieties of colors and fins variations by the aquarists in the aquarium trade. The Southern Platy and the Variable Platy are the 2 common Platies interbred for decades, now, it is hard to say which is which.

The Southern Platy is the most common in use in the aquarium trade since the early 20th century. Variable Platy, as the name propounds color variations amongst the species. 

The Swordtail Platy is remaining a rare species amongst the three species. They are also known as Green Swordtail due to their natural olive green color. The variants among the Swordtail are Marbled Swordtail and Highland Swordtail. However, Swordtails are generally Orange in colors in aquariums. 

All the Platy Fish are hardy and peaceful by nature. They live anywhere between 3 to 5 years in the aquarium and can grow up to 3 inches (8 cms) if well-taken care of.

Life Span of Platy Fish:

All the Platy Fish are hardy and peaceful by nature. They live anywhere between 3 to 5 years in the aquarium and can grow up to 3 inches (8 cms) if well-taken care of.

Pragmatically, maximizing their life span depends upon the environment in which they live and the care they receive. 

Platies mostly die due to fluctuations in water conditions, sudden changes in temperature, or inappropriate filtration systems.

Behavior and Temperament:

Platy Fish are active and peaceful. Despite being shoaling fish, they are happier in a small group.

They are committed to the middle column of the aquarium. Generally, you can see them swimming and hiding around the floating plants.

While playing around the plants, they jump out of the water playfully. So, make sure to keep the lid tight. 

When it comes to the male-female ratio, it is better to have more females to prevent the males from harassing the females.


Why is my Platy attacking my Fish?

In general, platies are peaceful fish species. Aggressive behavior among fish, such as a platyfish attacking other tank mates, can stem from various factors.
Gender dynamics can play a role, especially if there is an imbalance in the male-to-female ratio. Male platies can be territorial and may engage in aggressive behavior, particularly during mating or breeding periods.
If the tank is too small or lacks sufficient hiding spots and territories, platy may become territorial and exhibit aggressive behavior towards other fish.
Stress, inadequate water conditions, or incompatible tank mates can also contribute to aggression. It’s crucial to assess the aquarium environment, ensure proper space and hiding spots, maintain optimal water parameters, and consider the compatibility of fish species to address and mitigate aggression issues among platies and other tank inhabitants.


Physical Characteristics of Platy Fish:

Platies fall under the category of small fish. They reach up to 3 inches (8 cms). 

They have a thick body up to dorsal fins and from the dorsal region, their body flattens. 

Platyfish Male and Female

They have rather large eyes and a pointy nose. 

They are engaging and endearing with their lampoon look.

They come in a full range of rainbow colors and fins variations. A few popular colors are red, blue, yellow, green, and white with large patterns.

Some of the popular breeds of southern and variable Platies are the coral, the comet, the Blue Mirror, the Moon, the Half Moon, bleeding-heart platies, the Sunset, Marigold, etc.


According to Aquarium Nexus, there are 16 varieties of Platy fish. some of the most popular varieties are Wagtail pattern, Variegated pattern, Twin bar pattern, Rainbow pattern, Tuxedo pattern, Salt-and-pepper pattern, etc.

The names reflect the colors and patterns of the fish. 

The females are slightly larger than the males in all types of Platy Fish and have rounded anal fins, and unembellished. Whereas, males are they are embellished, and they show a prominent masculine sexual character for appendage development, anal fin to gonopodium.


Platy Fish Habitat:

Platy Fish is native of Southern Mexico and Atlantic Coast of Central America. You can find them from Southern Mexico Rivers to Rivers of Belize. However, like most species, they are also spread across several countries such as the United States, Colombia, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, and more; probably, by the people as Platy fish is in the aquarium hobby for more than a century.

Platies are found in slow-moving river streams, canals, drainage ditches, swamps, ponds, etc. They avoid deep waters and fast-flowing water bodies. 

Platy Fish Tank Conditions:

Platies are hardy, which means, they can tolerate a wide range of water parameters. Despite they originate from the warm tropical waters, they can sustain or even do well in a wide range of water temperatures. 

Their ability to adapt to a wide range of water parameters is one of the reasons for their popularity amongst aquarium hobbyists, apart from their wide range of color choices and ease to breed naturally.

You need a minimum of 10 gallons tank. Like, every other species, the platies are comfortable when you mimic their natural habitat while creating a home for them. 

They don’t have any particular need for the substrates. You can create the substrate according to your taste or to the need of other species in a community tank or to the need of the plants you have in the aquarium.

Plants and Decors

Platies love densely planted tank as it mimics their natural habitat. A blend of planted and open spaces for swimming would be an ideal setup.

You may choose your plants according to the type of Platies you have. The Southern Platies prefer floating plats and leaves, while the variable platy favors densely planted with open areas for swimming.

You can plant Hornwort, duckweed, Java Moss, Amazon swords, Amazon frogbit, etc. 

The best decorations you can create for Platies are caves with river rocks and crevices. Avoid any sharp decors as the platyfish have delicate fins.

Water Parameters

Water temperature should be between 70 – 77°F (21 – 25°C), the ideal temperature could be 22°C (72°F), acidity 6.8 to 8 pH, and water hardness should be 10 – 28 dGH, while Carbonates & Bicarbonates should be 10-25 dKH.

Like for most aqua-life nitrates should be below 20 parts per million and the Ammonia and Nitrite should be 0.

For the best Nitrogen cycle, choose the right filter as the majority of beneficial bacteria necessary for the Nitrogen cycle is present in Filter Media. Choose a filter that has a large capacity for Biomedia.

You should aim to 10 to 25 % of water change every week. More than that you will remove the beneficial biomass necessary for the fry and other aqua-live in the tank. Moreover, you will remove the bacterias necessary for the Biomedia.

Tank Mates for Platy Fish:

Platyfish tank mates

Platyfish are ideal for Community Aquarium Tank. They are peaceful and hardy nature species.

While choosing their tank mates choose mates that similar in size and temperament. You can keep them with species that are closely related to Platies like, Guppies and Mollies. 

 You can also keep them with other tropical small fishes like Neon Tetras, Rummy Nose Tetra, Rosy Tetra, Ember Tetra, Endlers, zebra danio, etc.

With some of these tropical fishes, Platies might crossbreed. You can also keep them with Shrimps like Amanos and Ghost Shrimp. If you like snails, you can keep them with your Platies.

It is best to keep them out of aggressive fish like Cichlids like Jack Dempsey, Tiger Bards, Arowanas, Wolf Fish.

Although some aquarists keep Bettas with Platyfish, you need to pay close attention as they both have different temperaments. Some time Bettas might harras these beautiful little platies.

You should also avoid keeping them with Cherry Shrimps as the bright colored curious little Cherries with no defense will be a snack to your Platyfish.

You cannot keep Goldfish and Platies together in the same tank as their water parameters are different apart from their different temperament.

Keeping Platy fish in a single species tank will be good only in a small group. Always ensure that ratio of male-female ratio to 1:2 or even 1:3 to prevent the male platyfish from harassing the females.

You can have up to 5 Platies in a 10-gallon tank. They breed easily and multiply fast.

Feeding Platyfish:

Platyfish are omnivores in nature. They feed on plants, algae, small crustaceans, and other insects. 

You can reproduce this diet with high-quality flakes as their core diet.

You can blanch vegetables such as squash, spinach, etc. before feeding them. Spirulina can form an excellent diet supplement.

Even though their preference for food is herbivore’s diet, you may still feed them with bloodworms, brine shrimps, Daphnia, fruit flies, and even mosquito larvae if you can get it. 

Remember, a well-balanced vitamin-rich diet will reflect on their colors.

Feeding them multiple times in small quantities in a day is best practice.

For all the small fish such as Platyfish, try to feed them the food that they can finish off within 3 minutes after feeding.


Breeding Platyfish:

One should not ask the question of how to breed Platyfish; one should ask the question of how not to breed the Platy fish. 

Platy fish are livebearing fish like all the Poeciliidae family that includes guppies, mollies, swordtails, and Platies.

The advantage of live-bearing fish is that the newborns are larger than newly hatched fry. Hence, lower mortality and it is easier to take care of for the aquarist enthusiasts.

Platy fish are bountiful breeders. It is just enough for the male and females to be in the same tank for them to breed. 

You can differentiate between the male and female when they are around 4 months old. 

Generally, females are larger, have rounded anal fins, and unembellished. Whereas, males are they are embellished, and they show a prominent masculine sexual character for appendage development, anal fin to gonopodium.

Always ensure to buy 2 to 3 females for every 1 male Platy fish to prevent the male from harassing the female and stressing them out.

The care you need to take is to prevent the parents to eat their young if you want to build a colony of Platies. Most hobbyists proclaim they don’t need to do anything to protect the newborns even after having eaten by their parents and other adults, always some newborns survive.

You can spot a pregnant Platyfish easily. She will become noticeably large and develop a gravid spot on her abdomen slightly in front of her anal fins. Generally, the gravid spots are darker almost black.
Usually, when you see the other fish are chasing her around, meaning she has started dropping the babies. The other platies chase her around because she is a producer of free snacks for them.
In general, she will drop anywhere between 20 to 50 fry. That is why despite eaten by the adults still get to survive if you provide ample hiding place with first food like infusorians.
Platy Fish Babies

All you need to provide is enough hiding places with plants and other decoratives for the young ones to hide and nourish themselves. Java moss etc. provides shelter they need along with infusorians the perfect first food for the newborns.

You can also use Breeding Box. When the females are ready to give birth, it is usually around 4 weeks of pregnancy, keep them in the breeding box. Once, the females had the babies, move the young to another tank. You can move them back to the original tank when they have grown up to 1-inch (around 2.5 cms)size.

Food for the young platies: You can feed them with special high-quality fry food. Crushed flakes will be sufficient, especially if you have java moss in the tank. You can also feed them with fresh baby brine shrimp.

Platyfish Care:

Platyfish are fit as fiddle fish and adapts to different water parameters and environments. 

Despite their hardy nature, they are also susceptible to common tropical ailments such as ich or white spot disease and fin rot.

Ich is a parasite that affects most freshwater tropical species. It is the most common problem encountered by freshwater aquarists.

Copper sulfate is one of the effective ways to treat Ich. However, you cannot add copper to the tank where you have any crustaceans such as Amano Shrimp, Ghost Shrimp, etc. 

Another way to treat Ich is vaccination. In recent times administration of vaccines has produced good results. 

Fin rot is a result of bacterial infection. Skin rot is generally the conditions produced by bad water conditions, injuries, poor diet, stress, or even a symptom of some other disease that is stressing the fish.

Treat with a suitable treatment such as phenoxyethanol, malachite green methylene blue, or other proprietary agents (most seem to prefer aquarium salt; however, it is important to make sure the product is for freshwater, not saltwater, fish).

Antibiotic is another way to treat Fin rot disease.

The best way is to prevent it from happening by maintaining the right water parameters, such as temperature, pH balance, etc., and feed them with a balanced diet and in small portions.

To learn more about Fin rot disease click here.

Always, take care of what you add to your aquarium tank that includes, including fish, plants, substrates, decors, etc.

Platy Fish – Final Thoughts:

Platyfish are hardy, peaceful, and make an excellent community fish.
They are easy to take care of and a full range of color choices.
With a mix of colors, they look spectacular in your aquarium tank.
Platy Fish are excellent beginner fish.
I would recommend platies any day.

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