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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Fin-tastic Facts About The Platy For Kids

Platy fish facts about the different breed are interesting for kids.

The Platy fish is a very common freshwater, tropical fish. They are often preferred to be kept as a pet because of their easy maintenance. Platy fish is an umbrella term used for various fish species under the genus Xiphophorus. The main three include the common or southern platy (X. maculatus), the variatus platy (X. variatus), and the green swordtail (X. hellerii). All these fishes are native to Central America and since then have been introduced to many countries globally. Now they are also found in Mexico, Canada, and India. In fact, this introduction may pose certain ecological risks.

These fish have been interbred over the years and today they come in a variety of colors. Some of these exciting variations are discussed below. Their aquarium system is relatively easy to set up. Southern platys prefer systems that are loosely planted as opposed to variety platy fish which prefer a more dense environment. However, swordfish platy are especially sensitive to quality changes and require extra care. The optimal platy temperature for aquarium water ranges from 70°-77° F and 6.8-8 pH level. These are very cooperative fishes and stay pleasantly with other platy tank mates such as mollies. Read on to know more about its diet, breeding pattern, and aquarium tank care.

If you enjoy reading this article, do consider giving these articles a read: cherry barb and milkfish facts.

Platy Interesting Facts

What type of animal is platy?

The Platy is a common freshwater fish.

What class of animal does a platy belong to?

They belong to the class Actinopterygii, which also known as ray-finned. This categorization is based on the formation of the fins.

How many platys are there in the world?

Currently, not enough data is available to make an estimate about their population. However, since they are common fishes their number can be in millions.

Where does a platy live?

The various platy species are all from Central America. The Xiphophorus maculatus or the southern platy is also found in Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. Similarly, the variable and swordtail platyfish can be also be found in southern Mexico. In fact, over the years these fish have been introduced to as many as 18 countries. It is suggested that this is majorly a human interference. These fish are also found in homes, kept as pets.  

What is a platy's habitat?

These species in the natural environments prefer lentic systems, i.e. standing water bodies, and occupy shallow and coastal areas of the rivers. They thrive better in regions with some semblance of a structure such as areas marked by live plants. They can also be found in creeks, ponds, canals, anyplace without much disturbance of the water.

Who do platies live with?

While they are not generally classified as schooling fish, they are very calm and can share their living space with other fish. If you want to pair them up with other tank mates, you may keep Mollies, swordtails, and tetras with them. They can be an excellent selection for a community tank.

How long does a platy live?

Their survivorship is heavily contingent on food availability and water conditions such as temperature and pH level. On average this fish species live for two to three years. With the right environment, the platy lifespan may go up to five years. Therefore, it is important to control the aquarium environment.

How do they reproduce?

These species are livebearers. Most of the fish species tend to lay eggs, however, livebearers give birth to live fish who can swim independently. There are no special conditions to ensure breeding. If a fish tank contains enough male and female adults, they are highly likely to breed. The gestation period lasts for 24-30 days, after which the pregnant platy give birth to babies. The litter size is dependent on the water quality and food availability. They can at times give birth to almost 20-80 babies also known as fry. They may reproduce every month.

If you'd like to save the platy fry, you should invest in a breeding net, which essentially separates the fry from the mother and other adults. Certain measures are required because platyfish have a tendency to consume their babies, mistaking them for food. Even if the female does not harm the fry, other adult fish might attack them.

The fry does not gain colors until they reach a certain age. The young reach sexual maturity at the age of four months. Temperature towards the cooler range aids this process.

What is their conservation status?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN Red List categorizes this species as Data Deficient which indicates a lack of research studies. Looking at trends it is hard to think that their population is endangered; many scientists are rather worried about interferences with the ecosystem as they are being introduced to many different countries.

Platy Fun Facts

What do platies look like?

Platys is a common term that refers to three different species. Each species harbors slightly different features. Platy Xiphophorus maculatus or better known as the southern platy is a small and compact fish with flat fins, shaped like a fan. Whereas Xiphophorus variatus or just the fish platy has comparatively larger fin and is longer in size. They have spiky fins made of bones.

The females tend to be larger in size as compared to the males, among all the species. Male plates grow about 1.5 in whereas the female platy would gain up to 3 in. Another feature that helps distinguish the male vs female platy is the organ known as a gonopodium. This is essentially a rod shape modified anal fish. It has reproductive functions.

Platys are known for their beautiful color range. This has been a result of a long history of selective breeding. Original colors being gray or olive-green for the variatus platy, and blond or albino for the common platy.

Popular platy fish types developed include wagtail fish (blue wag platy, red wag platy), with tails with a dark taint. Moonfish platies carry a crescent-shaped dot on the tail fin. Solid-colored fish, as the name suggests has a uniform color all over their bodies and are quite popular (orange platy, red platy fish, and blue platy fish). Rainbow platy are variable platy types with multicolor fins. Whereas dalmatian platy would resemble its namesake- white-skinned with black dots. Some other attractive fish platies include high fin platy, mickey mouse platies, blue coral platy, and sunburst platy.

Platy species can be found in tropical areas.

How cute are they?

Platy fish are amazing as pets and really cute. There is so much variation among the species, for example, the green lantern platy is a beautiful blue-green variant, koi platy with white and orange stripes. The teacup platy has a bloated middle section while the bumblebee platy has attractive yellow-black hues.

How do they communicate?

Aquatic animals tend to communicate through grunts, chirps, and pops. They are usually not aggressive with each other or with other fish in the aquarium.

How big is a platy?

These fish are rather compact and small. The average length is measured only to be 1.5-2.5 in. As compared to the common salmon, they are almost ten times smaller.

How fast can a platy swim?

These fish swim slowly and in loose groups. They prefer stagnant water bodies and do not prefer high currents. Swordtail platy fish might only be the subspecies that can swim rather comfortably with mild currents. This preference shows up in their habitat. Perhaps that's why they like canals and other manmade structures.

How much does a platy weigh?

There is not much data on its weight but in a study, the sample averaged to be 0.05 lb or 1.25-1.75 g. This is quite negligible.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no separate names for males and females. You may however identify them based on their physical appearances. Across the subtypes, male platy tend to have a smaller size and have a modified anal fin.

What would you call a baby platy?

A group of baby platy would be called a fry. The baby platy fish need to be cared for. Not only they are preyed on by the adults but they also get stuck into the filters or gravel vacuum. The water conditions should be suitable for the young too. It is advisable to run activated carbon, to prevent the accumulation of toxins. The fry does not obtain colors until they mature. This may take up to four months.  

What do they eat?

They are omnivores by nature; meaning a mixed diet of both plant-based and other living organisms. The list includes different types of insects and worms, certain smaller crustaceans such as brine shrimp, and plant matter. They are not known to be picky eaters.

In an aquarium setting, its diet may include artificial feed known as flake food and other pellets. Vegetables such as spinach and cucumber would be a good addition. A diet rich in vitamins and minerals would be the best for your fish's health. This would also improve its chances of healthy coloration. At times, they may be treated with fresh or frozen shrimp, worms, as protein sources. They need to be fed several times in a day within proportions.

The fry can eat the feed. You may crush the feed as it may help the fry to eat easily. If they are in hiding, they prefer not to lose their location in favor of food. Make sure the food is reaching them and remove the access as it may pollute the aquarium.

Are they eaten by humans?

No, platies are not generally preyed on by humans. Rather, they are kept as pets. Their predators include other tropical fish and especially go after the younger ones.

Would they make a good pet?

Platy fish make amazing pets. These fish are often regarded for the ease with which they can be looked after. Barring the aquarium and water quality measures, there is not much you need to look after. They can share their aquarium with other mild-tempered species, too. Breeding does not require special attention. They are regarded as a perfect species for someone who is just starting out as a fish parent.

Did you know...

There is a subtype of the common platy called blue mickey mouse platy distinguished by two dots and a larger dark spot in its middle.

In 2013, a research team provided a detailed account of its genome sequencing. These results have the potential to become a model for cancer research and help identify evolutionary patterns. This was done by studying its behavioral traits and pigmentation patterns.

To distinguish platy vs molly, these facts might help - mollies tend to have a larger and attain a longer length of fins and snout. Whereas platy fish size, as already described, is small and compact. Moreover, due to high interbreeding, platies come in a wide range of colors, the same is not true for mollies, who primarily derive from three main colors - white, yellow, and black. Usually, they make great tank mates.

Platy fish care requires constant care otherwise they may die easily. Take care of small feeding intervals and other water requirements such as pH level, hardiness, and temperature.

While platy fish can be kept alone, they tend to be happy within small groups of fish. If the fishes are swimming freely, have a healthy appetite, and are breathing normally, they are happy and without distress.

Are platies good parents?

No, unfortunately, these fish don't recognize their young and tend to prey on them instead. Since they are livebearers, once the females give birth to the fry, they don't look after them. The survival of the babies could be endangered in, say a community tank. In order to protect the young, they must be given space of their own to mature. A breeding net could be helpful in such a situation or a dense undergrowth where they may hide. On the flip side, this is an excellent population control measure, if your aim is to maintain/curb the population.

What size tank for platy fish?

Platy fish can be kept in aquariums of sizes larger than 10 gallons. A larger platy tank allows movement and enough space for your fish to survive. This setup would be ideal for five fishes, in total. If you want to adopt more than five, consider switching to a 20 gallons aquarium. Another issue to keep in mind is their rate of breeding. Platy fish tend to breed very quickly and produce a large number of offspring. You could keep it an all-male or an all-female tank to avoid this issue.

Other tank care tips include installing a good filter system to keep the water stable and clean. Adding 1-1.25 spoonfuls of aquarium salt to stabilize the water can help. Be wary of introducing any foreign object such as a plantation or ornaments as they may disturb the ecological balance.

They are susceptible to common tropical fish diseases such Ich and Fin Rot. It is important to maintain the hygiene and balanced ecosystem of your aquarium. This may increase the platy fish lifespan. If the owner wishes for the fry to survive, floating plants provide an excellent hideout spot.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fish including Congo tetra, or bonito fish.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our trout coloring pages.

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