Platy Care Guide

Platy (xiphophorus) is a very popular tropical freshwater fish species held by aquarists around the world. They are extremely beautiful, small fish and come in every single color imaginable. Part of their popularity is due to the very low experience needed to keep them. Males grow to about 1.5 inches and females, being a little bigger, can grow up to 2.5 inches. Platies are native to both Central America and North America. There are numerous types of platies, but all are hybrids of two species heavily interbred in order to reach their full potential. The two most common species are Southern platy (Xiphophorus maculatus) and Variatus platy (Xiphophorus variatus).

As most other species from the Poeciliidae family, platies are great fish for both beginners and experienced aquarists. They are easy to keep and breed and their potential is great.

Platy Care Guide

Tank size

Although platies are very small, they are an extremely active species. They love being in groups, but they are not a schooling fish. A ten-gallon aquarium should be just enough for a group of 5 adult platies. Having more than five fish in a ten-gallon tank is not recommended. When it comes to male and female ratio, the best thing you can do is to keep a group with one male and at least three females. This will help in reducing stress females are often exposed to.

Water conditions

Platies prefer water temperatures in the range from 70-77⁰ Fahrenheit. They are tolerant to temperature and water fluctuations, but take care for sudden changes in water parameters. These types of changes can lead to stress and should be avoided.

Platies are tolerant to a wide range of water conditions. The water hardness should be anywhere between 10–28 dGH. As for the water pH, platies thrive in slightly alkaline water, ideally in range from 6.8 to 8.0.

If you want your platies to thrive, you should definitely pay attention to water filtration.  The filtering system should be able to keep the water in great condition and get rid of waste or excess food that will harm the water quality. Experts point out that great water conditions are particularly important for Swordtail platies, as they are more vulnerable to poor water conditions than other variations.

Platy Care Guide


Platies are considered omnivorous, but they have a substantial need for herbivorous food. One common mistake aquarists make is not adding enough algae or other vegetation for the platies. An ideal diet should be a healthy mix of both proteins and vegetables. Flakes and other prepared fish food are great for them as long as they are high in protein.

As far as live food is considered, they enjoy bloodworms, daphnia, brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, or fruit flies. If you can’t afford live food or it is not readily available, equivalent frozen foods should be just as good for your platies.

Tank mates

In general, platies are peaceful and active. They are by no means aggressive, so they should be great tank mates with other species. Fights between platy males happen from time to time, but the risk of injury isn’t very high in most cases. Platies are most commonly kept in community aquariums with other small size fish and close relatives. They get along very well with guppies, mollies, and some types of tetras. Some corydoras and characins in general are also great tank mates for platies.


Platies are live-bearing fish, like most of their close tropical freshwater relatives.A convenient factor for beginners is the platies ability to breed without a lot attention from the aquarist.  They will breed very often and with a lot of fry. As experienced aquarists like to say, “Getting platies to breed isn’t difficult. Stopping them from breeding definitely is.” Given their ability to breed very fast and very efficiently, you can find yourself with more platies than you need in no time.If you care for them properly, the only thing you should worry about is overpopulation.

The pregnant female platy is easily identified with a huge belly and a dark gravid spot near the anal fin.

Once the fry are born they will freely swim around in search for food; however, the potential aggressor of the fry (even parents are known to eat them) should be removed from the tank. Planted tanks can only protect the fry for so long before they are eaten. While plants may help in the short term, removing one of the two is definitely a superior solution.

14 thoughts on “Platy Care Guide”

  1. What of I have gold fish flakes and beta pellets which would they like better? Also are they bottom feeders at all they don’t seem to be and I haven’t tried any live or fresh food nor plants but was told to feed them 3 times a day until they have fully matured but they leave a lot of food fall to and just sit at the bottom of the tank and do they just let it sit and do they like light also do they have to have a filter to live

    • They don’t eat off of the ground. And they do need filter to live. The filter helps them breathe. All freshwater fish need filters. I feed mine once a day so the water doesn’t get dirty as quick. (Fish always act like they are starving regardless of the situation) and the light is fine. And you can get Tropical flake food for the platies. Hope this helps!

      • They will eat off of the ground depending on the food. My platies are ravenous and constantly scour the gravel for food even after being fed fish flake or frozen/live food. They love to eat the algae wafers I feed to my pleco, otos and shrimp and they constantly graze off of decaying plant matter in any part of the aquarium. I recommend feeding them algae wafers, the wafers are good for them and they love it.
        They even eat the sinking Hikari crustacean pellets I feed my shrimp. Be careful of overfeeding though. All fish are prone to gorging themselves on whatever food is given because in the wild they will never know when their next meal may be.

        And I agree with Shianne about the rest of her post. They absolutely need a filter, a really good filter at that, because they produce so much waste.

      • I have 3 platies and some goldfish all of them tend to eat off the ground sometimes on the bottom I have rocks and gravel and some plantS I also have pleco they all get along great no fights.

    • flakes are suggested dont do live food be careful about the food on the bottom you dont want an ammonia spike try reducing the quantity of food you give and definitely get a filter there are a lot of good deals out there

    • The bottom fin on a Male typically is more tucked to the body and sharper in shape while the females bottom fin is more fanned out and rounded.

  2. Me and my partner have just got two platies and I was just wondering what to look out for once we have put them in the tank. It’s there second day in their new tank. We have one orange one which is just swimming around the bottom of the tank. Then we have a black one which was hiding in the cave, but he now is swimming up at the top of the surface. Should we be concerned?? We have two shrimp with them and will be getting some minnows to go in as well

    • Platys like steady moving water, not fast moving waters…

      Just keep an eye out for common problems like ICH. Also ensure you have good filtration and circulation, the shrimps should help keep the waste from the fish low but clean good water is a must. get a 5in1 test kit and ammonia test just to keep track of keeping them healthy.

      If they are both male they may want to keep their distance hence why one will hide at times, they’re not exactly territorial but with there only being 2 they won’t school together.

      Ensure they’re eating, they’re mostly herbivores but do need protein in their diet. If one is male and the other female you may want to add a couple more females as males can get relentless in their pursuit for breeding, usually having about 3 females to 1 male is a good ratio as so females can have a break!

      If you’re not wanting to breed having about 5 or 6 depending on your tank size is usually a good number as they are quite happy to be in groups.

  3. why do platys skool on the surface?? i just purchased a 45 g tank and they are skooling in the surface. i have other tanked and they are not in those tanks. i started with 5 i now have over 50.

    • Do a 5in1 test on the water and as importantly check ammonia levels. Keep on top of changing about 20% of your tank water every two weeks.

      Platys though really easy to keep, they are quite sensitive to poor water, especially the sword tails so they maybe at the surface to avoid ammonia, I’m going to guess you have one large filter at one end of your 45 gallon tank (170 litres?) You may want to add an airpump at the other side to promote water movement (You don’t exactly need an over the top one, just one to add a bit of a circulation boost)

      What filter/pump do you have?

      And yea Platy breed like wildfire, If you are not wanting to breed them remove one of the sexes and put in a separate tank. Females can be identified as having a triangular anal fin (under the fish) where as the males have a thin pointed anal fin.

  4. My platy gave birth to 52 frys. Is there a big chance that all of them will survive until they mature? Considering good aquarium set-up etc?


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