13 Types Of Platy Fish (And How To Care For Them)

Platy fish are common freshwater fish that originate in the various countries of South America in creeks, lakes, and streams. There are great fish for beginner aquarium hobbyists as they are very hardy and easy to take care of. In this article, we’ll list thirteen platyfish species that will make beautiful additions to your aquarium.

We will give you an idea of the habitat to build in your aquarium tank for platyfish as well as their optimal diet and water conditions including pH, hardness, and temperature. Get ready to delve into the colorful world of platyfish and pick out your favorite type!

A Quick List of the Different Platy Types

  • Wagtail Platy
  • Mickey Mouse Platy
  • Tuxedo Platy
  • Comet (Twin Bar) Platy
  • Variegated Platy
  • Parrot Platy
  • Salt and Pepper Platy
  • Hifin (Sailfin) Platy
  • Dalmatian Platy
  • Rainbow Platy
  • Panda Platy
  • Calico Platy
  • Swordtail (Spike Tail) Platy

What Are the Different Types of Platy?

 Wagtail Platy

Wagtail platyfish are defined by their characteristic black tail and dorsal fins, but their bodies can be any number of colors, the most popular being red, gold, or blue. This species is used to the warm silty waters of South America so using a fine-grained substrate is best and adding a little aquatic vegetation will make them feel at home.

Wagtail platyfish will do well with flake food, but to ensure optimal health feed them a well-balanced diet that includes vegetables such as squash, cucumber, and spinach and protein-rich foods such as frozen or live mosquito larvae, micro worms, fruit flies, bloodworms, daphnia, and earthworms.

They are very hardy fish and great for beginners requiring fairly neutral pH waters, moderately hard to hard water hardness, and can tolerate a range of warm water temperatures.

  • Care level: Easy 
  • pH: 7.0 to 8.2
  • Hardness: 10 to 25
  • Temperature: 64 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

Mickey Mouse Platy

Mickey mouse platyfish can come in red, blue, and even a gorgeous tricolor variety. The most notable feature is the large dot adjacent to two smaller dots displayed on the tail which bear the spitting image of the classic Mickey Mouse head, hence its name. They enjoy a lot of vegetation cover especially in the form of aquatic ferns and mosses.

Mickey mouse platyfish will eat both animal and plant matter so providing a variety of options such as algae wafers, flake food, and frozen tubifex, bloodworms, and brine shrimp is key to their optimal health. Like most platyfish, they are very easy to care for and simply require fairly neutral pH waters, moderately hard to hard water hardness, and can tolerate a range of warm water temperatures.

  • Care level: Easy
  • pH: 7.0 to 8.2
  • Hardness: 10 to 25
  • Temperature: 64 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 1 to 2 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

Tuxedo Platy

Tuxedo platyfish come in a variety of colors including green, yellow, white, red, orange, and gold. They are defined by the midsection of their bodies which are completely black and some even bear the wagtail pattern which includes black dorsal and tail fins completing the formal wear appearance.

This species does not require aquatic vegetation, but the addition of a few plants would not be unwelcome. They are not picky eaters either and do best with high-quality flake food supplemented with frozen bloodworms.

Tuxedo platyfish can grow slightly bigger than some of their other platyfish counterparts but still only need a minimum 10-gallon tank size, warm water temperatures, fairly neutral pH, and moderately hard to hard water hardness.

  • Care level: Easy
  • pH: 7.0 to 8.2
  • Hardness: 10 to 25
  • Temperature: 64 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2 to 3 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

Comet (Twin Bar) Platy

Comet (or twin bar) platyfish are most commonly yellow or orange with two black stripes on the tail – one on the top, one on the bottom – making it appear as if shooting through outer space. A few aquatic plants to provide hiding places for females to escape from males during the breeding season would be welcome but are not necessary.

Comet platyfish should be fed flake food supplemented with frozen or live brine shrimp, fruit flies, daphnia, bloodworms, earthworms, micro worms, or mosquito larvae. They are easy to care for and can tolerate a range of warm water temperatures, moderately hard to hard water hardness levels, and neutral pH waters.

  • Care level: Easy
  • pH: 7.0 to 8.0
  • Hardness: 10 to 28
  • Temperature: 65 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

Variegated Platy

Variegated platyfish are the Jackson Pollocks of platies and can come in red, blue, gold, and more colors with black splotches that can range from small and subtle to large and coarse all over its body. Providing aquatic plants for hiding places is a good idea, although this species may tend to nibble away at any aquarium vegetation.

Like most platyfish, variegated platyfish will thrive on a diet of high-quality flake food supplemented with vegetables and frozen or live brine shrimp and bloodworms.

Since they can get a little bigger than some other platyfish, it’s a good idea to start them in a 20-gallon tank, but their water conditions are similar to others including a range of warm water temperatures, moderately hard water hardness, and neutral to slightly alkaline waters.

  • Care level: Easy 
  • pH: 7.0 to 8.0
  • Hardness: 9 to 19
  • Temperature: 59 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 3 inches
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons

Parrot Platy

Parrot platyfish come in a variety of warm colors such as yellow, red, gold, orange, and white and bear a distinctive triangular or V-shaped marking on their tail outlined in black. They enjoy living in a tank with gravel substrate and lots of plants to provide plenty of hiding places as well as opportunities to snack on the vegetation.

Parrot platyfish will not only nibble on the aquatic vegetation but also eat worms, small crustaceans, and insect larvae. This species has a slightly tighter temperature tolerance than other platyfish but still requires warm waters that are fairly neutral in pH and moderately hard to hard on the water hardness scale.

  • Care level: Easy
  • pH: 7.0 – 8.0
  • Hardness: 10 to 28
  • Temperature: 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 3 inches
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons

Salt and Pepper Platy

Salt and pepper platyfish can be red, yellow, white, orange, or any number of other base colors with sprinkled small black spots on its body – fewer than what is displayed on the variegated platyfish. This species does not require aquarium plants but some vegetation is welcome especially for females to escape from aggressive males during mating season.

Salt and pepper platyfish can survive on a diet of flake food but to ensure an optimally healthy fish it’s best to supplement with frozen or live brine shrimp, daphnia, mosquito larvae, bloodworms, micro worms, earthworms, or fruit flies.

Like most platy species, they are very hardy and thrive in water conditions that are moderately hard to hard, have fairly neutral pH, and can tolerate a wide range of warm temperatures.

  • Care level: Easy
  • pH: 7.0 to 8.0
  • Hardness: 10 to 28
  • Temperature: 65 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

Hifin (Sailfin) Platy

The hifin or sailfin platyfish bears a prominently large dorsal fin and can come in a variety of colors and patterns. This species likes an aquarium tank with dense vegetation that includes both rooted as well as floating aquatic plants.

Hifin platyfish are not picky waters and will thrive on flake food supplemented with live insects and small crustaceans as well as vegetable matter. This species tends to be a little bit trickier to manage only due to the delicate nature of their fancy dorsal fin. Its showiness often attracts more aggressive fish to nip at the fin and thus expose these platies to various diseases and infections.

It’s very important to house hifin platyfish with other peaceful fish and be sure their water conditions are optimal to discourage them from getting sick. They prefer neutral to slightly alkaline waters with moderately hard to hard water hardness and can tolerate a fairly wide range of warm water temperatures.

  • Care level: Easy
  • pH: 7.0 to 8.2
  • Hardness: 10 to 25
  • Temperature: 64 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

Dalmatian Platy

True to their namesake, dalmatian platyfish are white with various black spots all over their bodies. Using a darker gravel substrate will help this fish pop and adding several plants for hiding places is a good idea – just don’t plant too densely because they need open spaces to swim around.

Dalmatian platyfish will eat a diet mainly consisting of flake or pellet food but should be supplemented with algae wafers, blanched vegetables such as cucumber, squash, and spinach, and live or frozen brine shrimp and bloodworms. Like most platyfish, they require fairly neutral pH, warm water temperatures, and moderately hard to hard water hardness.

  • Care level: Easy
  • pH: 6.8 to 8.0
  • Hardness: 10 to 28
  • Temperature: 70 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

Rainbow Platy

Rainbow platyfish have black tails and display all the colors of the rainbow going from dark to light up its body as you move toward the head. Some even have an iridescent sheen giving them an even more multicolored appearance. They prefer lots of hardy plants to nibble on and driftwood to swim around and hide under.

Rainbow platyfish will eat a variety of food including flake foods and frozen and live tubifex, brine shrimp, and bloodworms. They can withstand a wide range of warm water temperatures, prefer neutral to slightly alkaline pH, and can tolerate moderately hard to hard water hardness.

  • Care level: Easy
  • pH: 7.0 to 8.2
  • Hardness: 10 to 25
  • Temperature: 64 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2 to 3 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

Panda Platy

Panda platyfish are similar to wagtail platyfish except their coloring strictly adheres to a white body with a black tail. This species enjoys gravel substrate with lots of aquatic plants. However, be sure to leave some open spaces for them to freely swim around.

Panda platyfish will thrive on an optimal diet of flake food supplemented with algae wafers, blanched vegetables such as spinach, squash, and cucumbers, and live tubifex, brine shrimp, and bloodworms. They prefer fairly neutral pH, warm temperatures, and moderately hard to hard water hardness.

  • Care level: Easy
  • pH: 7.0 to 8.0
  • Hardness: 10 to 28
  • Temperature: 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2.5 to 3.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

Calico Platy

Calico platyfish are similar to the variegated platyfish but their multi-size black splotches are only concentrated near the tail, not all over the body. These fish can come in typical calico-type colors such as orange and white, but they can also be a striking blue.

This species loves a lot of rooted and floating plants, just make sure you leave plenty of open space for free swimming.

Calico platyfish optimally thrive on a diet of flake or pellet foods supplemented with various vegetables and live small crustaceans and insects. This species is very hardy and prefers neutral to slightly alkaline waters, moderately hard to hard water hardness, and can tolerate a wide range of warm temperatures.

  • Care level: Easy
  • pH: 7.0 to 8.2
  • Hardness: 10 to 28
  • Temperature: 70 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

Swordtail (Spike Tail) Platy

Swordtail or spike tail platyfish are one the rarest types of platyfish. All other species of platyfish lack the sword-like extension on the bottom of the tail except for the offspring of a green platyfish and the swordtail fish. This species is usually green in color with a notable black stripe down its body.

Like other platyfish, swordtail platyfish thrive with a few plants to nibble on and hide in. Their optimal diet includes algae wafers and vegetables supplemented with fish flakes to ensure they get the necessary amount of nutrients.

This species is slightly more difficult to care for because they are very particular about their water temperature which should not vary from a strict seventy degrees. Their water hardness and pH levels are similar to other platyfish.

  • Care level: Medium
  • pH: 6.8 to 8.0
  • Hardness: 10 to 28
  • Temperature: 70 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 1.5 to 2.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

FAQs

How Many Platies Should Be Kept Together?

Ideally, platies should be housed in groups of three to six fish per tank. This allows for minimal crowding and fighting amongst the fish. It’s a good idea to keep them in a ratio of two females for every male as the males tend to be very aggressive during mating which may be to the detriment of the female platies.

What Is the Rarest Platy?

The different platyfish types are endless with their color, pattern, and fin types variations. Some of the rarest ones we’ve seen on the market include the swordtail platyfish, the blue wagtail platy, and a red tiger-striped Mickey Mouse platyfish. The rarity of color and pattern all depends on the availability of breeding parents.

Can Different Platies Breed?

Different platies can breed together which is how there are so many different types of platies available. The creation of new patterned and fin variety platies has been the result of platy breeders experimenting with different parent types and resulting in new varieties to sell for aquariums.

Platy fish are generally peacefully natured but can be aggressive (especially males) during mating season so it can be difficult to interbreed different species if one is more docile. For example, since hifin platyfish tend to be more delicate, they can be difficult to breed with more aggressive species due to their vulnerability to infection if met with aggression and stress.

Recap

Platy fish are all very hardy fish that are great for beginner aquarists. Most are open to vegetation in their tanks and are not picky eaters, consuming a diet that consists of both animal and plant matter alike. They all generally thrive in water conditions that have a neutral pH, moderately hard to hard water hardness, and can tolerate a wide range of warm water temperatures.

Platy fish come in a wide variety of patterns and colors and can have specialty fins or even cartoon-like markings. They are very peaceful fish – unless it’s during mating season. Males can get a bit aggressive so having plants around for females to hide in is always a good idea. Overall platy fish are a great fish to have and fun to choose from all the different types.

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