Platy Fish – Habitat, Care, Feeding, Tank Size, Breeding

Fishkeeping can be quite tricky and confusing, especially for first-timers. However, there are certain types of fish that require less care and attention than others. Those are the type of fish that people who are new to this are advised to go for.

A good example of such fish is the platy fish. Even though they require less effort, you still need to have some basic knowledge of them and do a thing or two. One of the things you need to know is that there are two distinct species of platies.

These species are the variable platy and the southern (common) platy fish. Even though they are slightly different, their appearance and care are relatively similar. Well, let us dive deeper into the world of platy fish, also known as platies.


Platy fish species are known to grow to about 2.8 inches.

Platy fish come in various colors and shades. Some of these colors include red, yellow, and orange. Nowadays, as a result of interbreeding, one platy fish can display a wide range of colors. Basically, you may even find a platy fish with all the rainbow colors.

Differentiating the male and female platies is quite challenging, especially when they are young. All in all, there are some noticeable differences that are highlighted below.

The anal fin has evolved into a gonopodium. A gonopodium is a stick-shaped organ that a male uses for reproduction. The caudal fin in males is often pointed or rounded.

The anal fin of females is shaped like a fan. The caudal fin of females looks a bit “blunt”.


Platies are freshwater fish that come from rivers in Central America. Specifically, they can be found in the river systems of Rio Soto La Marina in Mexico. They can also be found in ditches, canals, and warm springs.


Platies are omnivorous. This means that they eat both plant life and meat/flesh. However, there is a slight difference between the feeding modes of wild and tank platies. Let us look at each of these scenarios.

Diet in the Wild

Platies in the wild are known to feed on insects, small crustaceans, algae, and plant matter.

Diet in Fish Tanks

Here are some foods that you can give to your tank platies.

  • Flakes – when going for such feeds, make sure you always read the ingredients of the container. If the ingredients list starts with fillers like rice, do not give them to your platies. Try as much as possible to go for meals whose ingredients list starts with protein sources like fish.
  • Frozen/live Foods – tubifex worms, brine, and bloodworms.

Water and Tank Requirements

The minimum tank size required for platies is 10-gallons.

You need to modify the tank so that it mimics their natural environment. One way of doing this is by putting the right substrate. Here, gravel would work exceptionally.

You will also need to add plants in the tank. The Java Moss and Hornwort are examples of plants you can use in a platy fish tank. However, you need to arrange them in accordance with the species you are keeping.

When you plan on keeping variable platies, you will have to arrange them close to each other. As you do this, do not forget to leave some space in the tank for the platies to swim. Southern platies, on the other hand, love loosely packed plants.

The water temperature should be maintained at 70 °F for the common/southern platy fish tank. On the flip side, the water temperature should be between 71 and 75 °F for a variable platy fish tank. The water hardness should be between 10 and 28 dGH for both tanks. Of course, we cannot forget water’s pH, which should be between 6.8 and 8.

  • Ensure that the tank is well-closed at all times. This is because platies are very active and jump a lot. Covering/closing the tank prevents them from escaping the tank.
  • You should also keep in mind that you will have to make water changes. It is good to change the water at least every two weeks.


Platy fish are friendly and peaceful fish and can relate/live well with so many different kinds of fish. Some of the fish that are compatible with platies are;

  1. Angels
  2. Mollies
  3. Plecos
  4. Corydoras Catfish
  5. Swordtails

You can also keep platy fish with big tetras like silver tips and black skirts.


Getting these fish to start breeding is not challenging. This is because they require no special triggers.

For successful breeding, you need to have a tank that has more females than males. The best ratio to use is adding two females for every male platy fish in the tank. However, you can go ahead and add three or more females for every male. It will make the process a lot smoother.

The reason for using such a ratio is due to the fact that males are known to breed continuously. This is, of course, stressful for the females and can even lead to death. That is why more females are needed so that the male does not overwork one female.

The process starts with the male interacting with the females. Thereafter, female platies get pregnant. Once they are pregnant, you will see that their bellies become huge. A dark spot will also appear on their anal fin. After a short while, the females will give birth.

Once this happens, it is advisable to remove the parents from the tank. This is because platy fish are notorious for eating their own fry. In other instances, you do not have to remove the parent. You can just add lots of plants  into the tank. These plants will provide cover for the young ones to hide from their parents.

The newborns do not require special attention. This is because when they are born, they are relatively well developed. They also do not require any special feeds. Therefore you can just give them flakes/fish pellets. Live foods can also be used to supplement their diet.


Looking at how easy it is to keep and care for platies, it is safe to say that they are one of the most “low-maintenance” fish. Their tanks just need to be tailored to look like their natural habitat.

Flakes and live foods are the primary foods for both adults and young ones. If you follow these instructions to the letter, you can never have any trouble.

Updated: March 2, 2020

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