Care Level: Easy
Water Conditions: 7-8.5 pH and Medium to Hard
Temperature: 20-26 °C (68-79 °F)
Maximum Size: 2 1/2 Inches (6 cm)
Platies are hardy and colorful fish that make a wonderful addition to the passive community aquarium. Platies are easy to breed, and new color varieties are developed through selective breeding programs. Platies make a perfect addition to the aquarium for the novice to expert alike.
The common platy (Xiphophorus), also known as the southern platyfish or mickey mouse platy is a small, popular live-bearing fish. It is native to North America and Central America and can be found from central Mexico to Belize. But like many other live bearers, it is now listed as an invasive species in several countries, and is still spreading through escapes and releases.
Platies are closely related to the commonly kept green swordtail, and they will interbreed if given the chance. It should come as no surprise that they share similar habitats, and platies can be found in slow moving streams, ponds, canals and drainage ditches.
They stay relatively small in the home aquarium, and both males and females grow to a maximum size of around 2 ½ inches (6 cm). The size difference between males and females is slight, but generally the females will be larger than the males.
Platies do not have an overly long life span and most will live to a maximum age of three years in a home aquarium, though there are rare cases of them living five years or longer. They reach maturity quickly though, and will be ready to breed in as short as four months of age.
Platies are undemanding when it comes to housing, and most will thrive in a well maintained, 10 gallon (37 litre) tank. With that being said, a 10 gallon tank should only hold a handful of platies and problems quickly arise from the fact that platies are extremely prolific live-bearers, and any tank containing them will soon be bursting with fry.
So what is the best size aquarium for the platies then? If you don’t have a plan to deal with continuous “surprise” babies, then you should aim for at least 29 gallons for an tank containing platies. This will allow the fry to grow to adulthood without over-crowding or even crashing the tank. The grown fry can then be sold or given away – something that is next to impossible to do with newborn fry.
I would strongly recommend choosing an Aquaclear Power Filter for any tank containing platies. This filter combines excellent filtration with a durable design, and it will keep your tank sparkling clear for years to come. You can also read the Aquarium Tidings Aquaclear Filter Review here.
If you choose to use an HOB filter, you need to take precautions if you plan on having any fry in the tank. The filter intake will suck numerous fry into the impeller of doom in the filter, so you should use something to cover the intake which still allows water through. Some options are sponges, mesh and some people even use non-toxic stockings.