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Freshwater   Fishes

Southern platyfish
(Xiphophorus maculatus)

Southern platyfish

Alternative species (click on the thumbnail to see the card)


Scientific name
Xiphophorus maculatus
Southern platyfishpoecilus maculatus

Common name
Southern platyfish
Wagtail Platy


what are its countries of origin?

Origin: central America
Biotope:not specific


what are the physical differences between males and females?

Males have a very visible gonopod





what is the volume for this species?

80 L / 18 imp gal / 21 US gal


what are the water parameters for the maintenance of this fish?

T°: 14 to 20°C or 72 to 75°F
pH: 7 to 8
Hardness: 10 to 25°dGH





what is the maximum size of this fish?

4 to 6 cm (1.6 to 2.4")


what is the average Longevity of this fish?

2 to 3 years

Living zone

in which area of the aquarium does this fish live?

Middle and top


sociability of the species



How to feed the Platy?


How to feed the Platy?

The Platy is omnivorous and feeding will not pose any difficulty, quite the contrary! It seems insatiable: it is constantly on the hunt for food, even just after arriving at a new aquarium. Thus, it will search and consume everything that passes under its mouth: flake, seaweed (it will also be a good partner in your fight against algae!), tender plants... do not let this wolverine soften you because it will make you feel like it’s always hungry. So be careful not to overfeed it because it is bad for its health.

For basic food, you can use flake foods or flakes from stores. For a better health and a good balance, vary this food base by contributions in artemia, mosquito larvae, bloodworms, and daphnia (fresh or frozen). Plants will also be regularly proposed: salad, spinach...

Finally, it is best to feed a little but several times a day and to make adults fast once a week.


What kind of behavior does the Platy have?


What kind of behavior does the Platy have?

Very peaceful and sociable, it will never show aggressiveness (as sometimes Molly does). It will spend most of its time looking for food, which makes it quite independent.


Who can live with the Platy?


Who can live with the Platy?

Platy is polygamous and lives in harem. It is imperative to have a group with these proportions: 1 male for 3 females. Indeed, the male will tirelessly court females. If it is alone, it may die of exhaustion. To be more exact, the male will choose a female that will harass it until it is tired and hides in the vegetation. it can then focus on another. So to avoid the exhaustion of the females it will be necessary: several females for a male and a much planted aquarium with many hiding places.

Concerning the cohabitation with the other species, choose fish of the same size or inferior and not aggressive. Apart from that, the Platy can coexist with all species of a community aquarium, even with shrimps.


How to breed the Platy?


How to breed the Platy?

Like all Poecilidae, Platy is an ovoviviparous and breeding is very easy. Indeed, it starts when the two sexes are present. The fish are mature for breeding at the age of 3-4 months.

Fertilization is internal and eggs develop in the belly of the female. After mating, the incubation time lasts about 1 month (variable depending on the temperature). The fry are then released. They are already fully trained (mini adults!) and autonomous. A female can give birth to 25-40 fry at the time (and up to 80 pups for large females, but this is rare).

It is completely useless, even dangerous, to isolate the pregnant female in a nest. In fact, the water circulates very badly in a nest, and it lacks oxygen. Moreover, the isolated individual is in a very stressful situation and very harmful for it (because of general weakness and diseases). Finally, fry born in these conditions may suffer from lack of space, which is harmful to their development, in addition to the deplorable quality of water. So never do this, but leave the female and the fry in the community aquarium. You will be surprised by the good survival rate of fry, and you will even be quickly invaded by this particularly prolific species. And Yes! The fry are clever and the majority of them will survive without any difficulty in a well planted tank. Interestingly, a single breeding can give several regular spawns (every month) because the female has the ability to store the male’s sperm for several months. Thus, some females can give birth to fry without the presence of a male. Interesting fact: the older the female is, the higher the number of fry.

Fry food: Artemia nauplii (fast growth) and chopped strawberries (slow growth). Ideally, feed the fry 2 to 3 times a day.

Watch out for the genetic renewal of your population. This is a question encountered with many species in aquariums: fish breed a lot and do not have a very long Longevity. So, after a few years, the aquarium is composed only of individuals from identical parents. The problem of consanguinity then appears: «these brothers and sisters» breed among themselves and this gives rise to deformed fry, fragile or sick. It is therefore important to regularly renew the «blood» of your population. For this you can take care to keep only breeding adults and to give / sell all fry. You can introduce new people from time to time or offer fish for exchange with other enthusiasts.

Its aquarium

Which aquarium for the PlatyPlaty?

Its aquarium

Which aquarium for the Southern platyfish?

In order to anticipate as much as possible the problems of overpopulation due to its frenetic breeding, choose a rather spacious aquarium from the beginning (at least 80 cm (32 inches) of frontage). The bigger the aquarium, the better! Note that the Platys have nothing to do in nano-aquariums. In general, you can offer the Platys an intense lighting, a dark floor, a flow filtration equal to 1 or 2 times the volume of the tray per hour.

Do not hesitate to plant your aquarium densely: this will provide hiding places for both females and fry. You still have to reserve a lot of free space for swimming. Choose plant species that are quite robust and not too tender because Platy will attack the plants. The Anubias could be a good choice. For a plantation approaching its biotope and under a strong lighting, you can opt for Cabomba, Egeria or Myriophyllum. With less lighting, use Cryptocoryne and Java Moss. Floating plants will also be much appreciated.

Constantly keep the water in your aquarium clean by making regular water changes (change 30% of the water every 15 days at least). Indeed, because of its great appetite, Platy is also a big polluter, and to perfect the picture, it is quite sensitive to this pollution (nitrates)! On the parameter side, the ideal values are: temperature at 24/26°C or 75/79°F, pH 7 to 8.2 and gH greater than 10.

Good To know

Find all additional information!

Good To know

Find all additional information!

Very robust, this species is one of the best choices to start in the aquarium hobby.

The Platys have a wide variety of colours! Platy moon, platy tuxedo, platy gold, platy black, platy blue, platy lemon, platy coral, platy wagtail... It is now quite difficult to find the wild form in stores.

Attention: Platys can hybridize with Xiphos (this gives rise to sterile fry).

There are actually two so-called «Platy» species: Xiphophorus maculatus (described here) and Xiphophorus variatus (or «platy parrot»).

This species can live in an outdoor pool during the hot season (the water must not fall below 20°C or 68°F). This allows small fry to grow much faster than in the aquarium. However, the difficulty will be to fish them before the winter, it is often a very complicated exercise.

Come on, we’ll give you a little trick: use a plastic bottle. Cut out the neck and turn over the bottle. Drill small holes in the body of the bottle to allow water to circulate. Introduce some pebbles to ballast the bottle and some flakes of food. Plunge this improvised trap into your pool and wait a little bit. The fish will get attracted by the food and will not be able to go out. You will be surprised at the number of fish that you will fish (yes, the breeding goes fast among the Platy...)!

Southern platyfish has a very variable coloration and today there is a multitude of shapes and colours:

  • Black
    Xiphophorus maculatus black

  • Blue
    Xiphophorus maculatus blue

  • Gold Comet Tuxedo
    Xiphophorus maculatus gold comet tuxedo

  • Mickey Mouse
    Xiphophorus maculatus Mickey Mouse

  • Rainbow Wagtail
    Xiphophorus maculatus Rainbow wagtail

  • Red Corail
    Xiphophorus maculatus red corail

  • Red Tuxedo
    Xiphophorus maculatus red tuxedo

  • Red Wagtail
    Xiphophorus maculatus Red wagtail

  • Sunset Wagtail
    Xiphophorus maculatus sunset wagtail min

illutration of colours of Southern platyfish
illutration of colours of Southern platyfish

Yours photos!

Image utilisateur

By Encyclo-Caro


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