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A Beatiful Little Livebearing Fish

Platy Fact Sheet

There are two species of Platy, Xiphophorus maculatus, and Xiphophorus variatus.   Platys are closely related to Swordtails, Xiphophorus helleri, and Xiphophorus maculatus will freely interbreed with Swordtails. The interfertility of Xiphophorus variatus with the others two species may be less, but hybrids can occur.   The Platies and Swordtails we buy are often not of pure species.

All three species come from Central America.   Xiphophorus variatus, commonly called the Variatus Platy, appears to be able withstand slightly colder conditions than the other two species, and may be more suitable for an unheated tank in a reasonably warm house than the other species, but all are basically tropical fish.

Platies tend to be shorter but thicker than Swordtails.

Water Conditions

The platy is a tropical fish and I recommend a temperature of 24̊ C (75̊ F).  They prefer harder water with some salt in it although they are quite adaptable.  The platy appears to be better able to survive higher Nitrite (NO2) levels than most fish, but these should normally be avoided for all fish.


The Platy is an omnivore and will eat some algae as well as live food including Mosquito larvae (wrigglers) and Daphnia.  They do well on all normal fish foods.


The Platy is a peaceful fish and is a good fish for a community tank of small peaceful fish.  The Platy lacks the long fins of the Guppy and is a faster swimmer, so its companions can include some of the slightly aggressive fish that you would not put with Guppies.  You need to avoid any large, aggressive or predatory fish.

Suitable companions include Swordtails, Rummy Nose Tetras, Harlequin Rasboras, Lemon Tetras, Neon Tetras, Flame Tetras, Buenos Aries Tetras, Black Widow Tetras, Cardinal Tetras, Emperor Tetras, Head and Tail Light Tetras, Glass Bloodfin Tetras, Glowlight Tetras, Guppies, Endlers Guppies, Neon Tetras, Peppered Catfish, White Cloud Mountain Minnows and Zebra Danios.  Not all these common companions are compatible with each other.  Most of these fish will eat baby Platies.


The platy is very easy to breed.  The ideal sex ratio is probably one male to each three females.  They have live young, and the babies tend to be vigorous.  They will grow much faster with suitable size live food although they can be raised on commercial dry or liquid fry food.  The water conditions are not critical.  The parents, as well as most other adult fish will eat the babies.

Pest Fish

Never release your pet fish or put them in the position of being accidently released.  The Platy has the potential to seriously damage fragile ecosystems.


I would like to express my gratitude to the following sources of information about Platies. James Cook University, Fishnote of the Queensland Government, Platy Care and Breeding, Aquatic Community,, and for the nice pictures as well as information, to Bay Fish

Steve Challis


Male Gold Twin Bar Platy, Xiphophorus maculatus
By Ltshears (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
Community Aquarium with Variatus Platies
Wagtial Platies, Xiphophorus maculatus
Photo by Twowells. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Male Variatus Platy, Xiphophorus variatus.
By Marrabbio2 (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Female Blue Platy, Xiphophorus maculatus
By Picamik (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
In livebearers like the Platy the anal fin is modified into an intromittent organ refered to as a gonopodium.  This modified fin is used to transfer packets of sperm into the female.  This elogated fin in the male is the main way of distinguishing the sexes in the Platy.
Photo by Loelo