How to keep platys

Written by s. a. holt
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How to keep platys
Enjoy the antics of the platy in your home aquarium. (Image by Vxixi; Flickr.)

Platys (Xiphophorus maculates) are the clowns of the aquarium. Colourful and easy to keep, they are curious, active and can offer hours of viewing enjoyment. Under optimum conditions, they swim toward the middle of the tank and are easy to observe exploring their environment. Growing to 7.5 cm (3 inches) long and bearing live young, platys also offer an opportunity to observe nature close up. Unlike many other live-bearing fish that actively eat their young, platys can often remain in the tank with their young indefinitely provided there is ample vegetation and plenty of food.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 23 litre (5 gallon) aquarium
  • Filter system

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  1. 1

    Choose platys that are energetic swimmers with bright eyes, undamaged fins and bright colouration. Platys are available in a rainbow of colours, but have uniformly vivid colouration that should be noticeable even in a shop's tank.

  2. 2

    Purchase platys in groups of three or more, with two females to each male. Males try to mate frequently and can sometimes exhaust and frighten females kept alone with them.The male can be distinguished by his gonopodium, a pointed anal fin.

  3. 3

    Allow the transport bag for new specimens to float on the community tank for at least 20 minutes to acclimatise the fish to any difference in water temperature. Platys are susceptible to temperature variations, so an extra few minutes is a good idea.

  4. 4

    Maintain a tank temperature between 20 to 25.5 degrees C (68F to 78F) with a neutral pH and good filtration. Because platys are active swimmers they require a filtered tank.

  5. 5

    Provide plenty of floating plants for platys to hide in.

  6. 6

    Platys like the addition of vegetable matter to their diet. Allowing some algae to grow on the aquarium glass will help keep them in good condition.

  7. 7

    Feed platys flaked food with the occasional addition of live fish food available in your area. The better their diet, the more often they will have young.

Tips and warnings

  • If you observe platys eating their young, remove the young and raise them in a separate tank. Feed baby fish a combination of ground flaked food and young or frozen brine shrimp.
  • The larger and more mature a female is, the more baby fish she will have.
  • Platys breed frequently and can have a brood every six weeks if they are in good condition.
  • Males kept together where there are no females present can become aggressive with one another.

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