Maximum size : 7.5 cm

Platies - Xiphophorus maculatus, Xiphophorus variatus : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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Platies, known for their peaceful and hardy nature, have gained popularity in the aquarium hobby due to their vibrant colours and dynamic behaviour. These fascinating fish are perfect for beginner aquarists as they are easy to care for and maintain. Although not technically schooling fish, platies thrive in groups where they feel more confident and exhibit their best behaviour. Regarding tankmates, keeping platies with peaceful species of a similar size and temperament is best. Larger or more aggressive fish, especially Cichlids, tend to harass platies and other livebearers, leading to stress and potential fatalities.

Platies, renowned for their robust nature, exhibit a remarkable capacity to acclimate to a broad spectrum of aquatic conditions. Nevertheless, fostering optimal well-being and longevity for these fish in captivity is achieved through the establishment of a biotope tank. This entails meticulously crafting an environment that includes aquatic vegetation, a gentle yet effective filtration system, and consistently pristine water characterized by moderate hardness. Maintaining water stability within ideal parameters is of paramount importance.

To uphold these conditions, it is recommended to institute a routine of regular water changes, incorporating partial replacements of 25% of the water volume on a weekly basis. This proactive approach contributes to the preservation of an optimal aquatic habitat for the thriving and enduring health of platies.

Platies possess distinctive anatomical features, characterized by a prominently pointed snout, sizable eyes, and a robust body structure extending from their nasal region to the dorsal fin. A noticeable tapering effect is observed as their bodies progress toward the tail, creating a marked differentiation from their abdominal region. Their dorsal, anal, and caudal fins are comparatively diminutive, accompanied by a fan-shaped tail.

The Southern Platyfish and Variatus Platies are the two known species, but interbreeding has made it challenging to distinguish between them. As a result, most platies in the aquarium trade are believed to be hybrids of both species. In the wild, platies have a dull colouration and lack the characteristic dark lateral line, while their body is usually olive with black spots or marbling on the caudal peduncle.

However, through selective breeding, a variety of colourations have been developed in the aquarium trade, including reds, oranges, yellows, rainbows, whites, and blues . A perpetually evolving array of hues and patterns continues to emerge within the realm of platy varieties. Among the most favoured selections are the Wagtail with black fins and tail, the Variegated that has black blotches on the body, the Twin bar with two black edges on the tail, and the Tuxedo that has black on the entire back half of the body with a different colour on the front of the body the Mickey Mouse which has three spots just before the tail that look like the Mickey Mouse symbol, the Bumblebee, and the Green Lanterns.

Platies Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Platies presents a challenging task, as their physical characteristics do not exhibit significant differences until they attain sexual maturity at approximately four months old. At this point, distinct features begin to emerge, such as males ' vibrant colouration and smaller body size, which takes longer to achieve its full colouration than that of females. Males also possess a modified anal fin, referred to as a gonopodium. Female Platies, on the other hand, develop faster and are relatively larger than their male counterparts. In addition, they have a more subdued colouration and fan-shaped fins. Through careful observation and examination, these subtle physical differences can aid in distinguishing between male and female Platies.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameXiphophorus maculatus, Xiphophorus variatus
Year Described1848
Other NamesBumblebee, Calico, Coral Red, Golden, Mickey Mouse Platy, Moon Fish, Red Tuxedo Platy, Red Wagtail Platy, Salt and Pepper Platy, Southern Platyfish, Sunset Platy, Variatus Platy
OriginsHonduras , Mexico , Guatemala
Max Size7.5 cm
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 5+
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
LifespanUp to 5 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 7.0 - 8.0
GH 10 - 25
Ideal Temperature
65 - 77
18 - 25

Natural Habitat

The vibrant Platies hail from the warm waters of southern Mexico 's Rio Panuco and Rio Cazones, as well as the northern regions of Honduras and Guatemala in North and Central America. These enthusiastic fish thrive in various aquatic environments, including streams, ditches, canals, marshes, and springs with slow to almost still currents, silt beds, and dense vegetation.


Breeding Platies is a straightforward process that requires no dedicated breeding aquarium or particular water conditions to induce spawning. Instead, aquarists can introduce the fish to their aquarium and allow nature to take its course. It is worth noting that a mix of sexes is necessary for successful breeding, and maintaining a ratio of two to three females to every male is recommended to prevent males from harassing the females.

Platies are livebearers, and their fry is immediately free-swimming upon birth. These fish can produce between 20 to 50 fry at a time, as often as once a month. However, adult Platies exhibit no parental care towards their offspring and may consume them if given a chance. Therefore, to increase the fry's survival rate, it is recommended to provide ample hiding places, such as wood, rocks, or live plants, for the fry to seek refuge or remove the parents once they have given birth.

Feeding the fry with egg yolk, finely crushed flake food, and infusoria until they are large enough to return to the main aquarium is a viable strategy to ensure their healthy growth and development.

Diet & feeding

Platies are omnivorous and quite easy to feed in a home aquarium. However, to maintain their health, it is recommended to feed them a varied diet, including high-quality dried foods like flakes, granules and pellets, as well as live, frozen or freeze-dried foods such as brine shrimp, tubifex and bloodworms. Moreover, it is beneficial to supplement their diet with boiled vegetables such as squash, spirulina, cucumber and spinach. This approach will ensure that platies receive all the essential nutrients and vitamins required for their overall well-being.

Other Livebearers of interest