Tips to care for Platy Fish | How to increase their Lifespan?

Tips to care for Platy Fish |  How to increase their Lifespan?

If you ever come across a Greek word, then what comes to your mind? Something Ancient? Something Pre-Historic? Similar to that?


Then, Platy Fish as the name suggests refers to many-colored when combined with the Greek word “poikilos”.

Now let’s find out, when did Platy Fish come to existence in the aquarium world?

The answer is – It dates back to the early 1900s. Yes, you heard it right. From the early 1900s till now, Platy Fish is one of those popular fishes especially amongst the newbies to the aquarium world.

So, are you new to be aquarium world? Do you want to know what is the lifespan, size of the Platy Fish, an overview of them, and how to care for them? Then read further to know.

How long does the Platy Fish live? What is its size?

Here is the answer.The Lifespan of Platy Fish ranges from 3 years to 5 years.

They live for longer when they are in the wild.

Their size can vary approximately from 1.5 to 3 inches for fully grown species.


Platy Fish is a freshwater fish of Xiphophorus genus meaning they usually spend their lives in rivers and lakes where salinity is approximately less than 1.05%.

They are vibrant, colorful, peaceful, and are small, laterally flattened fish, with small short fins and a tail shaped like a fan.

Colors like black, brown, blue, green, red, yellow are found in Platies which is mainly due to their place of habitat.

They generally belong to Central America and Mexico and live in a densely vegetated region.

There are different varieties of color patterns found in the Platy Fish which are the wagtail pattern, variegated pattern, salt and pepper pattern, tuxedo pattern, rainbow pattern, Comet or Twin Bar pattern, Hifin Variation and the Pintail Variation.

The male Platy fish is smaller (size about 1.5 inches) and more brightly colored than the female one (size about 2.5 inches to 3 inches).




Platy (Common Variety) (Xiphophorus maculatus)


Freshwater Fish




Mexico and Central America



Care Level





Dense vegetation, warmer water




3 to 5 years (5 years when they are in the wild)


1.5 to 3 inches

Swimming Level



Black , Brown, Blue, Green, Red, Yellow

Color Pattern

Wagtail Pattern, Variegated Pattern, Salt and Pepper Pattern, Tuxedo Pattern, Rainbow Pattern, Comet or Twin Bar Pattern, Hifin Variation, and Pintail Variation.

In the Wild

Found in rivers, canals, marshes and warm springs

Native Waters

Hard and Alkaline


Other small peaceful fish

Types of Platy Fish

There are many types of Platy fish, but all are hybrids of the following species:

1. Southern Platyfish (Xiphophorus maculatus)

Southern Platyfish

Southern Platyfish or Common Platyfish, also known as Moonfish is a common variety of Platy.

It was first introduced to aquarists in the year 1907 and since then it has remarkably gained the interest of people in aquarium-keeping.

This fish has a black mark at the base of the body reaching into the tail that is shaped like Mickey Mouse’s silhouette.

Hence, the name Mickey Mouse Platy is been given to the Southern Platy Fish.

Some of the popular ones include the Comet Platy, Two-spot Platy, Half-moon Platy, Moon Platy, Salt and Pepper or Pepper-and-Salt Platy, Blue Mirror Platy, Coral Platy, Bleeding-heart Platy, and Mickey Mouse Platy.

2. Variatus Platyfish (Xiphophorus variatus)

Variatus Platyfish

Variatus Platyfish also known as Variatus Platy or Variegated Platy is a diverse variety of natural color Platy.

This fish was identified in the early 1900s i.e. in the year 1904. After about 28 years, it entered the aquarium world and since then, it has become one of the most well-known livebearers.

Some of the popular ones include the Sunset Platy, Marigold Platy, Hawaii Platy, and Tuxedo Platy.

FYI: Livebearers are fishes which do not lay eggs but instead give birth to their offsprings by retaining the eggs inside their body.

Something Common:

  • Both are Livebearers
  • Both lack the extended tail fin or sword at their tail
  • Both are short in size except that Variatus is slimmer and more elongated
  • Both have similar inhabitation in canals, marshes and warm springs.
  • Both participate in hybridization with the Swordtail Platy fish to give rise to some rare species.

FYI: Swordtail Platy Fish as the name denotes have a sword-shaped tail unlike the southern platyfish and the variatus platy and these are very rare species.

Tips to care for the Platy Fish

As we already know that the Platy fish can live up to 5 years when they are in the wild and up to 3 years otherwise.

So is it not possible to extend their lifespan?

Yes. It is with proper care and creating a healthy environment similar to their natural habitat.

Is it difficult to do so?

Not Really.

Now then let’s find out how to properly take care of the beloved Platy Fish.

  1. Set up the Tank and maintain the water quality

The region where Platies live naturally is densely populated with freshwater vegetation and they prefer warmer waters.

It’s natural for everyone even for us to take time to adjust to a newer environment and conditions when we shift from our usual living space to a newer one. Similarly, we must maintain a good living environment for the Platies to adjust to water conditions in the aquarium.

The requirements which need to be met when it comes to setting up a tank or adjusting to certain water parameters are:

  • Tank Size: 10 to 20 gallons (preferred)
  • Water Temperature: 70°F- 80°F or 21°C- 27°C
  • Ph Level of water: 6.5 to 8 (freshwater)
  • Water Hardness: 10-25 dGH
  • Water Current: Weak (preferred)

To maintain these, you will be needing an aquarium heater, filter and aquarium plants or live plants placed in your aquarium.

Last but not the least, it will be really helpful if you buy the water testing kits available online or at your nearest pet store to check and meet the water conditions of your aquarium.

  1. Cleaner the environment, living is healthy.

Would you want to live in an area which is full of pollution, dirtiness and a bad environment? No, right!

But you might think that you live in a city or a place where pollution is higher and it’s still normal. No no. Here, we are talking about our Platy Fish who wants to get accustomed to a newer environment and keeping it healthy is the duty of its owner that is you.

Although Platy Fish can adjust to a wide range of water conditions, it’s better to maintain a suitable environment and make sure to change the water of your aquarium at least every ten days regularly to keep the water free from toxins.

3. Larger the tank size, the better the breeding.

Platy with Guppy

Platies are peaceful fish, very active and good swimmers. They are compatible with other small peaceful fishes like the mollies, guppies or swordtails. They can also be kept together with snails and shrimps.

If you plan on breeding the platies in the aquarium, then a larger space is preferrable as Platies can find shelter behind the dense plants and can have many offsprings at once. This will lead to overpopulation.

So it’s better to have a tank size of about 20 gallons with filtration.

FYI: Female Platies are longer in size and are way lot peaceful than the male ones. Occasionally, Male Platies can fight with each other when kept together. So it’s better to have more females than the male ones in your aquarium.

  1. Maintain the stress factor

What can be the stress for you? Going overboard or doing something hectic? Anything it might be, it can make you feel uneasy and uncontrollable.

But what can be a stress for our Platy fish and how does it affect it? Let’s see.

a) Lower Oxygen Levels – Oxygen for any living thing is important and any shortage of it can make the heart stop pumping.

Similarly, lower oxygen levels in your aquarium can create a ruckus out of nowhere and greater difficulty for the Platy Fish to survive.

b) Less space, More Population – Imagine yourself inside a small room with so many people living with you. It feels congested, isn’t it?. And if it’s summertime, you might also feel suffocation.

As mentioned earlier, Platies can give birth to many of its babies at once and less space in your tank can create lower oxygen levels. This also leads to a faster accumulation of waste.

c) Incompatibility: Keeping a PlatyFish with incompatible species like the Bettas Vampire Teta or a Wolf Fish can increase the stress levels.

d) Bad Ratio: It’s important to keep more females than the males in your aquarium, otherwise it can be problematic for females as the males will start chasing the females.

Maintaining these factors can create a suitable environment for the Platies which is stress-free.

  1. Eat Nutritiously, Stay Healthy

Diet is important to keep our stomach full. What’s even more important is having a balanced diet with nutritious content in it to keep our stomach healthy.

What does Platy Fish eat? What should we feed them?

Platy fish eat worms, insects and plants when they are in their natural habitat. They prefer an herbivorous diet over the carnivorous diet.

We can feed them spinach, cucumber and a diet rich in protein and vitamins.

Don’t try to give huge chunks of food at a time to your Platy Fish. Give in small quantities, several times per day which they can eat in minutes.

  1. Early detection or Early Prevention of Diseases

Platy fish as such are not prone to any diseases in general.

But these fishes can have bacterial infections, white spots at their fins called the Ich Disease.

Although these can be cured with proper medication or by the usage of antibiotics. It’s always recommended to prevent them from occurring in the first place rather than to detect and then find a cure for it.

Prevention is always the best possible option. Bad water conditions, new members, new plants, new substrate added to the aquarium can all carry diseases. We need to quarantine them first.

FAQs about the Platy Fish.

  1. How to find out whether Platy Fish is pregnant or not?

If the abdomen of the Female Platy Fish enlarges and a couple of black eyes are visible. 

  1. What is the pregnancy period for the Platy Fish?

About 24 days to 30 days.

  1. Are Platy Fish particular about their food?

The answer is – No. They accept all kinds of commercial and home-made fish foods.

  1. Can Platy Fish get cancer?

Although Platyfish have a tumor gene, they won’t get cancer as they have a specialty of controlling it. But when they mate with a swordtail, their offspring might only inherit the tumor gene and not the strength to control it. This increases the risk of having cancer.

  1. How to identify Male Platy Fish and Female Platy Fish?

a) Color:

Both have the same color pattern. But usually, the male ones have more intense and bright colors than the female ones.

b) Size:

The body size of female Platy fish is larger than the male Platy fish. The male Platy fish has a size of about 1.5 inches and the female one has a size of about 2.5 inches or 3 inches.

c) The Shape of the body:

Female Platy Fish look like fully grown and are heavier in comparison to the male ones.

d) Fin shape:

It determines the gender. The male’s anal fin is long and thin in shape. It is called ‘gonopodium.’ While the female’s anal fin is round in shape.

FYI: It’s quite hard to determine the opposite gender until they become 4 months old.

e) The nature of male and female platy:

Females are calmer than males. Males are aggressive.

  1. Which lives Longer – Female Platy Fish or Male Platy Fish?

Generally, there are no differences.

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