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FAQs on the Behavior of Platies

Related Articles: Platies, Poeciliids: Guppies, Platies, Swordtails, Mollies by Neale Monks, Livebearing Fishes by Bob Fenner,

Related FAQs: Platies 1, Platies 2, Platy Identification, Platy Compatibility, Platy Selection, Platy Systems, Platy Feeding, Platy Disease, Platy Reproduction, Livebearers, Guppies, Swordtails, Mollies

Platy behavior         7/28/16
I found the FAQ, but couldn't figure out how to ask a question. Sorry. But here's the scoop: we have a male platy that was being tormented (not just bullied, tormented) by another platy and, occasionally, a sword in our 20 gallon community tank.
<Completely normal unfortunately. In the wild male livebearers would have to spend hours and hours grazing algae just to stay alive. So the amount of time they can spend on social interactions (whether bullying rivals or chasing females) is far less. In the aquarium we feed them the equivalent of a jumbo steak every day, i.e., flake food, so after a few seconds they have all the energy they need to stay alive for the entire day. That gives them a lot more time to interact with one another. The net result is that over the generations captive livebearers have become a lot more aggressive compared to their wild cousins, and aggression between males often becomes severe, to the point weaker males can be worried to death. The males also harass the females far more aggressively too, hence the standard
recommendation to keep at least 2 females per male.>
So we got him out of there and temporarily into a 10 gallon tank with 3 white skirt tetras.
<If these are Gymnocorymbus ternetzi, these can be ferocious fin-nippers, so keep an eye on them. As always, tetras should be in groups of 6 or more.>
The fish in the 10 gal tank have all been moved into a 38 gallon tank. We've since added 3 more white skirts and 8 Neons. We'll be adding 6 red long fin tetras and maybe a bottom feeder. Maybe some more Neons. (Love those Neons!)
<Neons are nice fish. But don't forget they dislike high temperatures (24 C/75 F is ideal, as it is for the Platies). Farmed Neons are not terribly healthy, so don't buy any from a tank containing sickly ones.>
The platy spends the majority of his time up at the surface, often in a corner, but swimming around the tank a fair amount, as well. Almost always in a nose-high attitude right up at the surface. What is he doing? Is he skimming for food, needing air, what?
<Hard to say. It's not normal, no. Platies should swim horizontally, and mostly scoot about or else peck away at solid surfaces for algae. Inbreeding and physical damage can cause problems that mean they can't swim properly, and stressed fish may also "gasp" at the surface as well.>
We're pretty new at this, obviously, but with 20 and 38 gallon community tanks, we've got fair amount going on and we'd like to know as much as we can, so we can be good stewards.
Thanks - sorry for the long email, but that's probably par for the course for newbies such as myself, I reckon. Thanks for your help.
<Let me direct you to some reading, here:
I'd keep an eye on water chemistry and quality, but otherwise just "watch and wait" for any changes with this Platy. Cheers, Neale.>
re: Platy behavior       7/29/16

Thanks - fins are definitely NOT clamped to his side and boy howdy, is he interested in food.
<Both excellent signs. This being the case, double check temperature, hardness and water quality. If these are all good, then yes, treat as per constipation (a combo of greens-only food plus Epsom salt will do the trick). This should clear him out. Even if that means starving the other inhabitants of the tank, don't worry, it'll do them good! If they're hungry they'll eat the same greens as your Platy. Epsom salt is similarly harmless for a week or two, even for soft water fish. Do read at the bottom of this article for doses:
While that's going on, just keep en eye out for anything unusual.>
He's a vacuum cleaner for food. That's why we call him "Big". (Yeah, we named some of them. I know, how hopeless is that?!? The Danios, though are just collectively the Dans...)
<Understood. My Panaque catfish is called Claire, so named by a little girl who didn't care much for her nanny of that name, as I understand it. The little girl is now in her twenties, but the catfish is still called Claire!>
Neale, you've been a great help. Thank you.
<Most welcome. Neale.>
re: Platy behavior       7/29/16

I know you have more to do than fool around my questions, but as usual for a newbie, one answer leads to more questions! :/
<Fire away.>
Cooked peas or thawed frozen peas?
<Cooked. Canned peas are ideal because they're pre-cooked and softened.
Blitzing frozen peas in the microwave till mushy is what you're after. A few seconds should do the trick for a couple peas. Some fish won't eat them, in which case Spirulina-loaded frozen brine shrimp are a good alternative, and live daphnia or brine shrimp if they won't take those.>
And we should put 4 to 5 teaspoons of Epsom salts into the aquarium with him, dissolving it first and adding it slowly?
<Calculate what you need for the aquarium. Then put into a jug, add luke-warm water, and stir until dissolved. If you need to, remove a similar amount of water from the aquarium. Pour in the Epsom salt solution a bit at a time across half an hour.>
(Don't worry about the other fish - he's in a 10 gal tank by himself)
I swear I'll run out of questions soon!
<Real good! Neale.>
re: Platy behavior       7/29/16

I'm out of question - what greens might this suddenly picky fish want to eat?
<Peas, spinach, blanched lettuce, slivers of cucumber are the traditional starting points for herbivorous fish... some will consume grapes, melon...
pretty much anything other than citrus is worth a shot.>
And if this doesn't work, I'll have to change this floatational fish's name from "Big" to "Bob"...
<Cheers, Neale.>
re: Platy behavior   7/31/16

Good news! He's swimming freely again and back in the big tank! Well be putting in some Serpae tetra
<I would avoid these. Nasty fish. Habitual fin biters. Extremely hardy, for sure, and very pretty, but there are much better community tank tetras out there. X-Ray Tetras for example are an excellent default tetras; also look at "false" Penguin Tetras (Thayeria boehlkei) and Emperor Tetras as robust and hardy fish, almost as tough as X-Ray Tetras.>
and some more Neons and maybe a bottom feeder, but will keep a close eye on the tetras for fin nipping behavior. He never would eat any veggies until we just got some algae pellets, but he liked those.
At any rate, we dodged a bullet. Thanks for your help!
<Welcome. Neale.>
re: Platy behavior   7/31/16

We already bought fish before I saw your email, but luckily your previous email and some other things that I read were enough to make me unwilling to get the Serpae tetras. We got, instead, four mollies - two black, and a couple of lyre tails (yellow and Dalmatian).
<Mollies are good fish, but picky; do read:
Good water quality and ample hardness are critical.>
Everyone is in the tank and all seems copacetic.
<One of my dad's favourite words, "copacetic".>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Platys; beh.; stkg.      3/11/16
Hi I have 4 platys and 4 mollies 1 male of the platys and 1 male of the mollies. My high fin platy (male) is chasing the female around who is a low fin and keeps rubbing on her so I'm presuming that he is mating but she isn't retaliating or she just swims of can she still get pregnant even though she isn't retaliating thanks.
<Identified the issue correctly here. Male livebearers will try to mate with anything. Do try and outnumber males with females, ideally at least 2 females per 1 male. Make sense? Cheers, Neale.>
Picture of my platys (5 megs..... child)     3/11/16

<So far as I know, Mollies and Platies won't hybridise, but that won't stop the male trying!>

Platy behavior question      5/30/14
I have two Mickey Mouse platy. The female seems to "ram" the male in his side to which he just wobbles a little and then recovers, but the male does not swim away from her (he actually follows). Is this stress related or is she trying to get the male's attentions? Or is there something more going on? Help !
<If the male is shimmying from side to side, he may be stressed. Platies need hard, alkaline water to do well, and while they're not as plague-ridden as Guppies, the quality of farmed Platies isn't great. So even slight problems with water quality can stress them, making diseases or disorders more likely. When fish get sick, other fish often nip or otherwise interact with them, perhaps out of curiosity, but sometimes out
for an easy meal. Either way, this is a very, VERY common way diseases get spread (kind of like humans visiting hospitals) so when fish behave in an odd or alarming way, you really do want to crack out your water test kits and see that everything in the tank is okay. What is absolutely isn't is friendliness or playing. Platies don't do that stuff. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Platy behavior question
Hmm, thanks for the reply. I'm even more confused now.
The tank water was tested last week and tested perfectly. I may try testing it again, but none of the other fish have shown any signs of behavior changes.
<Do please send along the actual values from your test kits. Oftentimes what's good water chemistry for one species (say, Neons) is bad for another (such as Platies). Likewise temperature and water quality are best dealt with once you have the actual values rather than a vague idea of what's right. To recap, Platies need hard, alkaline water (10+ degrees dH, pH 7.0-8.5) and also water that isn't too warm, 22-25 C/72-77 F being about right. As ever, nitrite and ammonia should be zero, but also look to keep nitrate relatively low as well, preferably below 40 mg/l.>
She hasn't rammed him for several weeks, then all of the sudden did it again this morning.
<Does indeed sound odd. Some livebearers simply fail to thrive. They're produced to a price rather than a quality. It isn't uncommon for someone to buy a batch, some of them die, and then the remaining ones breed and "make up the numbers". The resulting population is usually pretty good. In the meantime, I wouldn't treat this male Platy with any medications, but if it's an option, adding a little salt can perk up livebearers; 2-4 gram/litre does the trick nicely. This sort of salinity won't harm hardy plants or your filter bacteria, but may stress certain (primarily soft water) community fish like Neons and Corydoras, so review the tankmates before adding salt.>
He's been very healthy, always swims and eats with the other fish. I've seen no signs of diseases, etc.
Thanks, I'll have to keep a closer eye on them I guess.
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Platy behavior     6/1/14

I think I just have a demented fish :D
<Could well be. But do bear in mind that "the Shimmies" is quite specifically a neurological disorder. It's far from rare among livebearers.
Read up, and be aware of the symptoms, causes, treatment.>
I separated the male platy for a few days. He was behaving normally with a guppy in there also. I moved him back today. The female platy immediately bumped him in his side and they have been swimming side by side since.
<Cheers, Neale.>

My platy... beh.
> Hi ive got a platy thats acting wierd, fin nipping, going for pleccos eyes,
> wonder if u could give me any answers why??
> <Platies are not normally aggressive. What are you feeding it? Perhaps it's
> hungry (algae-based flake such as Spirulina flake is ideal). How big is the
> aquarium? The size of the tank has a strong affect on fish behaviour, and
> Platies need to be kept in tanks 15 gallons or larger. Does it have any
> companions of its own kind? Though not really schooling fish, the females
> like to group together. Finally, is the Plec healthy? Sometimes fish will
> peck at sickly fish, possibly eating dead tissue or parasites. Cheers,
> Neale.>
re: My platy    8/23/13
Yeah got plenty of platys in there, 60l tank, platys perfectly healthy, he's the smallest platy in there, tiny, feed them blood worm, king British flakes, aquarium flakes
<60 litres/15 US gallons is a small aquarium; a Plec certainly does not belong there! So this problem is easily fixed: remove the Plec to an aquarium of suitable size, realistically, 200 litres (55 US gallons) at absolute minimum, and preferably more. Or else exchange for a Bristlenose Catfish (Ancistrus sp.) as this will, just about, fit in a tank this size.
Cheers, Neale.>
re: My platy    8/23/13

And Plec is healthy to
<Not for long in 60 litres/15 US gallons. Cheers, Neale.>

Size of guppies and platies     3/18/13
Hi guys,
WWM has been so useful to me over the years. Once again I need your help.
I am writing a paper (mock, don't worry) about the population trends of guppies and platies in the school ponds.
<I don't know what a mock paper is.>
One thing that I need is the average size of each species. All sources report the same maximum size for females, and that male guppies are usually smaller than male platies.
However from my experience and observations in the ponds, platies in general are way bigger than guppies.
What exactly is the average size of each species?
<There are literally hundreds of resources for this information, from the web to fish guides you can buy at the pet store, to even the signs on the tanks at the store.>
The theory that guppies in general are smaller than platies is the core of the paper. Can you direct me to any reliable source that says that the only thing I found is on Seriously Fish, which is ok, but I would prefer something more substantial. Note that Guppies and Platies refer to those hybridized/inbred varieties usually available in shops.
<You can try Fishbase. http://www.fishbase.org  Here is the platy page:
and the guppy page:
Many thanks,
<Welcome. Rick>

Re: Platys hiding!!!      11/2/12
Sorry to bother you again but I just need to know what to do and your advice has been invaluable. 
<Not a problem.>
I started my 26 gallon tank after 4 months and two tries at a fishless cycle. I started with 4 male guppies and although after a big water change I've dealt with some low nitrites but no ammonia and have used Prime to protect the fish and done two water changes a week with a small amount of aquarium salt. They seemed great so night before last I added two Mickey
Mouse platys thinking this a great addition since this tank is for the grand kids but I think I messed up!  The guppies harassed the Platys, especially one that I realize now must be a female!!! 
<Any time you add new residents to a tank, it takes a little bit of time for the residents to establish a new pecking order.>
She now rarely leaves the back bottom of the tank and although the guppies only swim over her(?) they really aren't nipping at her now but I hate seeing her so intimidated.
<Once she realizes here place in the chain of command, hopefully this will subside a bit. However, the fish that are lowest in the pecking order will always have to put up with a little bit of bullying.>
 She does eat when the food comes near her.  Now for my question, do I take her back to PetSmart and try to identify another male, do I wait it out since its a little better tonight than the frantic harassment of the first night but she's still not coming out of hiding or do I introduce female guppies to the mix as a distraction although having the grand kids watching
fry being eaten wasn't in the initial plan? 
<PetSmart has, I think, a 14 day return policy. Should say on the receipt. 
I'd wait another day or two and see of things settle down.  If not, you might consider taking her back.  I don't think any of your options are necessarily the wrong answer. You just have to go with what you are most comfortable with. The guppies and platies really should be able to get along for the most part.>
I am really starting to feel overwhelmed checking everyday for any sign of disease, doing water checks on everything and now thinking she's suffering !!! 
<As your water parameters stabilize, you won't need to check the parameters anywhere near as often. Check for disease whenever you feed.>
What would you do? 
<Well, I'd move the platies to another tank, but I usually keep species tanks in the first place.. For you, as I said, give it another day or two and see if things settle down before you take any action. Make sure there are plenty of places for the platy to hide--behind rocks or driftwood, in plants, or even behind a castle.>
Thanks so much for being here for all of us novices !!!
<That's where we all started. - Rick>

Aggressive Platys    5/15/12
Hi, I have four fish, two red wag platys (one is about three inches and an adult and one is a one inch teenager), one sunburst platy, and one von rio flame tetra.
<These tetras are sociable and should be kept in groups of six or more… singletons can be shy, nippy, or both.>
They live in a 5 gallon tank with a filter,
<Much, MUCH too small; cruelly so for these fish.>
a plastic plant, and a small barrel structure to hide in.  The big red wag platy is a female, and she has been fairly aggressive lately to my sunburst platy who is a male.  I checked your site and it said that it could be because he has been making advances on her, but he seems scared out of his mind of her!  He hides from her in the barrel formation I have in the tank and she goes in there and butts him out.  She has never shown any of this behavior before, and I would like to know what I can do to stop it, if anything.  Something to know is that I had an East African Dwarf frog, but he died (starvation, he just wouldn¹t eat) and I changed the water right after.  The behaviour started before this though.  I have also recently adopted the one inch red wag platy from a friend¹s tank, but nothing has happened to it and they have basically left it alone.  Let me know if there is a solution to my problem!!
<Your tank is too small, and the problem is that your animals lack the space they need to exhibit normal behaviour. Aggression is fairly common among most livebearers, but only lack if space turns their waspishness into the potential to cause harm to one another. They're "stir crazy" not to put too fine a point on it, and need space to move about and hide if they need to. 15+ gallons is what you need for Platies, not just for this reason, but for their physical wellbeing too (water quality for example). Cheers, Neale.>

Sunburst Platy acting strange     2/23/12
Hello I have a 3.5 gallon tank
<... these fishes can't be "successfully" kept in this small volume>
 with one male platy, one female platy, and one female silver Mollie
. My female Platy has picked up a new behavior of staying at the bottom of the tank. I know that all three fish avoid each other and do not bully one another. The female Platy was pregnant and none of the babies lived but she has always been very active and usually hangs out at the top of the tank. I’m wondering what could cause this sudden change in behavior?
<Environment. See WWM re... the search tool... on every page re these fish species needs. Bob Fenner> 

Help? Platy beh. or such     1/26/12
Hello, my name is Elizabeth and I am a teenager with my very first 10-gallon tank. I have a 5-gallon tank already with my five year old Betta fish (Felepe) inside, and he seems relatively happy (I hope). I just got three platys and I'm scared of killing them, as they all already have names (which I'm very proud of: Lovey, Sundance, and Goose...my niece and nephew helped me pick them out) and I can see their personalities grow as they begin to get used to the tank. I have a filter, heater, and a bubble stick (yes, that's my technical term) but I'm not quite sure how my heater works...
<See the instructions that came w/ it... and/or look up on the Net re the manufacturer...>
I believe my tank sits at around 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. The filter had been cycling for about a month before I put my fish into the tank and they seem happy, but they swim around very fast like they're either hyper or hungry. I learned from the nice lady from the fish store that their eyes are as big as their stomachs so you're only supposed to feed them once a day, therefore I'm assuming they are not hungry. I feel like a new mother, every little thing worries me. So do you know why they're freaking out? Am I doing everything right? Thank you!
<Reads as if you are. Please read here:
and the linked files above for input, and an idea of the types of data we need to help folks. Bob Fenner>

New platys... beh. in an uncycled sys.    1/2/12
Hello I hope you can help, I have recently bought two ten gallon tanks with gravel, filters etc... We have put the same water in and treated it. Then left the filters on for five days before buying the platys three for each tank, two females one male per tank. The one tank they swim around and are active, the other all hide in the tank behind arches and other items. We rarely see them swim even when food is put in the tank they don't move when were about. On occasion if were out the room and come back one may have ventured out but then immediately hides away. Can you help any ideas or suggestion would be greatly appreciated, we are looking forward to see the platys swimming around. Thank you.
<Hello Tim. Hard to explain the differences here. But 10 gallons is below what I'd recommend for Platies, and they may well simply feel cramped. When that happens, fish act nervously, as if trapped in a puddle too small for them. However, my money would be on a water quality problem. How did you cycle the filters? Understand this: switching a filter on and leaving it running in an empty tank does NOTHING other than make it wet. There MUST be a source of ammonia for filter bacteria to use. If you didn't use an ammonia source for 3-4 weeks before adding the fish, then BOTH of these tanks are cycling with fish in them, and that's hardly ideal. So, you can probably assume non-zero ammonia and nitrite levels, and these can and do make fish act nervously. They feel themselves being "burned" by the ammonia, but can't explain or understand what's happening beyond the fact they feel pain. So they hide away, hoping the "enemy" will go away. Grab a nitrite test kit, and see what the nitrite level is. If it isn't zero, then that's your problem. If you must cycle with fish in place, you need to do 20-25% water changes every 1-2 days for the next 3 weeks. Feed minimally, no more than once every 2-3 days. Only when you register 0 levels of ammonia and nitrite for several days in a row can you switch to normal feeding and weekly water changes. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: New platys   1/2/12

Hi Neale, thanks for your help, I added a bioactive tap safe as per the directions.
<Yes. This removes chlorine, chloramine, copper (and other heavy metals) and tap water ammonia (as distinct from the ammonia that comes from your fish). This product makes tap water safe. That's all.>
Is this what you mean when referring to ammonia?
<No. Ammonia is the stuff filter bacteria "eat". In a mature aquarium, they consume ammonia at the rate the fish excrete it, so the aquarium stays healthy, with a zero level of ammonia. But for the first 4-6 weeks there aren't enough filter bacteria, so you need to cycle (or mature) the aquarium by providing ammonia for filter bacteria to eat. Over time, the populations of bacteria grow. With me so far? Plain tap water contains no ammonia (usually) so we add an ammonia source. Some aquarists add household ammonia, but a simpler approach is to add tiny pinches of flake food, just as if there were fish there, and as the flake decays, it releases ammonia.
Now, you have fish in the tank already, and they're producing ammonia all the time, the same way we produce urea (which ends up in the urine). Unless and until the filter bacteria population is big enough to use it up as quickly as it is made, you'll have ammonia collecting in the water. Daily water changes will dilute this, and feeding fish less will lower levels still further. An ammonia level of 1 mg/l is lethal, and even 0.5 mg/l is enough to cause disease. Feed less, and do more water changes, for around 3-4 weeks and you should find the filter matures without your fish being seriously harmed.>
I have a local pet shop which had offered to test my water tomorrow.
Hopefully this will shed some light on the issue. Then I can start to sort the water as per your directions, thanks
<Cheers, Neale.>

Baffling Variatus Behavior   11/15/11
Hello WWM, how are you?
<Well, thank you.>
I have a very unusual concern about my otherwise healthy variatus. I've owned him for over two months now, and he is quite a chipper fellow, eats normally and is beautifully colored (bright orange mouth and fins, a sleek black body with shiny, emerald-colored scales). I feed him a mixture of dried algae/veggie flakes and blood worms.
<All sounds good.>
He lives in a 10-gallon aquarium with 3 small minnows that keep to themselves in a neat little school.
<Slightly too small for Platies to be really happy; would be better in 15 gallons or more. Would also up the number of White Cloud Mountain Minnows to six or more.>
The aquarium was cycled properly, long before introducing him to it. The pH is a consistent 7.0,
<Slightly basic is better, around 7.5; do see the recipe for Rift Valley salt mix, and use at about half the quoted dose; you'll find pH stays around 7.5.
That'd be ideal for Platies.>
Ammonia 0ppm, Nitrites 0 ppm, Nitrate 18 ppm. Water temperature is kept at a constant 78 degrees F.
<Bit warm for Variatus Platies and White Cloud Mountain Minnows! Both species best kept at 22 C/72 F, even slightly less in winter.>
My variatus has a nicely-grown java fern that just reaches the top of the water surface. It's a favorite place for him to swim in and out of. Okay.... Now comes the funny question. I have looked high and low on the internet and could not find an answer. I noticed that this little variatus keeps 'flexing' his gonopodium.
He will be swimming around and pauses for a second and 'flexes it'. What does this mean?
<He's, ahem, enjoying himself even without a little female company, if you get my drift'¦ But seriously, all he's doing is flexing the muscles.>
He is a very healthy, active little guy, but is the only variatus in the aquarium. Does he want a girlfriend?
<I'm sure he does. But in 10 gallons, he'll harass a female terribly. Two females or more would be better. But otherwise, he's happy enough alone.>
Please tell me what I should do, because although it is amusing to watch, I am very concerned that something else could be the matter. Thank you kindly for helping me!
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Platy Aggression   10/14/11
<Hello Sara,>
I have a question about platy behavior. I can't find any information on this specific problem, so I'm hoping you can help.
I have a 10 gallon tank that at one time had three platies. A parasitic infection killed off two of them, but the remaining platy recovered and is alive and very healthy now.
<Your tank is too small for Platies, so I do wonder whether the parasitic infection was really the ultimate cause of your problems.>
She has been alone in the tank for several weeks. I wanted to have enough time to make sure the parasite was eradicated.
<Wise. But here's the thing. If the tank is too small, the death of the other fish will ensure good water conditions for the remaining fish. So it's hard to tell if conditions are good now, or it really is about a "parasite" dying off. I'd put money on at least a combination of the two, and with the warning that parasites rarely die off without medication.>
Weeks passed, and she seemed fine. Today I decided to go ahead and get more platies, so I brought home two. They were acclimated, put into the tank, and everything seemed OK. The established platy, who is much bigger than the new ones, seemed fine with their presence... until feeding time. As soon as they started eating, she began chasing them away from the food.
Once all the food was gone, she pretty much left them alone except for a few nips here and there.
I understand that they will establish a pecking order, but should I be concerned about the mealtime aggression? Is there something I should do to stop it, or will she get used to her new tankmates? My main fear is that I kept her alone for too long... is there a possibility that she may never cooperate with other platies again? She was never aggressive with her former tankmates...
<This is quite normal behaviour, especially in small tanks. Platies really do need at least 15 gallons to feel settled. The addition of floating plants (Indian Fern/Water Sprite is ideal) and such will ensure hiding places at the surface, where Platies need them, as well as visual breaks that ensure dominant fish can't see the others at feeding time. Do also read:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Platy Aggression 14/10/11

Thanks for the answer!
<Most welcome.>
I got a little worried when you said that my tank is too small... Upgrading would be impossible right now, so would it be all right if I keep the platies I have?
<Well, if they're fighting or getting sick, then the answer is no. But in theory, yes, you could keep a small group in 10 gallons for a few months, maybe even indefinitely. But they really are better kept in large tanks. Social problems become less pressing, and health problems less frequent.>
The tank is almost overrun with wisteria, and I have a 20-40 gallon HOB filter. I'll look into getting some floating plants; would java moss be OK?
<Not ideal. You see, Water Sprite forms a layer that hangs a few inches thick from the surface of the water. That's like a bunch of screens and hidey-holes ideally suited to small fish like Platies that prefer the top of the tank.>
I had planned on getting two more platies, for a total of five in the tank, but in light of this advice I might consider not getting any more. If these platies die because of my stupidity, I'll maybe get Danios instead'¦
<Zebra or Pearl Danios wouldn't be idea, either. They're hyperactive fish that can get to about 5 cm/2 inches in length, and when cooped up the males especially can become really aggressive pests. I'd not keep them in anything less than a tank 60 cm/2 ft long. There are better species for 10 gallon tanks that are reliable choices. Start reading here:
Thanks again! Oh, and just an update: this morning at feeding time, there were no problems at all. I had been really worried that her period of isolation would have made the lone platy unsociable, but I guess she's gotten used to them.
<May well be. Cheers, Neale.>

Is my female MM Platy confused?   10/12/11
First of all, thank you for all your hard work on the WWM site -- the information there has proven invaluable many times.
I have two MM platys (both female) living in a community tank ( with: 2 pepper Corys, 3 emerald cats, 2 false juliis, 1 common Plec [~6in], 1 male Betta, 1 female Betta,
<Mmm, do keep your eye on the Bettas... sometimes the male will "go after" the female; particularly in small volumes this can prove problematical>
and 1 apple snail). All get along well with each other, save for the occasional chase from either of the Bettas. (I've never seen any actual damage take place.)
To my question: The smaller of the two platys has developed some odd behavior with the female Betta. She will go up to the Betta and flip over on her side, at which point the female Betta will chase her off. The platy repeats this many times throughout the day, and seems to enjoy it. (It reminds me of when a platy flashes, which both do, but very occasionally, with no other signs of distress.) It isn't continuous - the platy will also eventually go and swim with the larger platy, but she eventually finds herself back at the Betta.
I've not seen any damage done from this behavior. Betta may be a little stressed, but she will eventually go and find a place a long ways away from the platy. My main concern is does this indicate something wrong with the platy, or is she just confused?
<I'd say the latter>
The female Betta is fairly small, colored red, and so, I suppose, could be mistaken for a platy by another platy - could this be what is going on?
(That said, the other platy doesn't exhibit this behavior. Further, the little platy doesn't do this with any of the other fish, including the male Betta.)
Hope you can provide some insight, thanks for your time, and have a great day!
Wafer Parms:
Ammonia: 0
Nitrites: 0.25 (oddly enough, I can never get this to 0. Our tap measures badly as well, so I suspect this is the cause.)
<Likely a spurious reading>
Nitrates: 20
pH: 7.2- 7.6
Water is very hard (250) but I know that is from our tap. Buffering capacity is 80-120, which needs help and am going to get some shells or coral to help with it.
<Mmm; I wouldn't>
It was worse; for some reason the buffering had crashed. A PWC helped, but need a long-term solution. Maybe this is part of the platys problem?
(although I would think the other should show similar issues?)
<More frequent, higher percentages of water changes will likely do here.
Bob Fenner>

Platy/Goldfish behavior and biology   8/16/11
Sent from my iPad
<Now we get these messages at the top of the e-mail? Getting weirder and weirder'¦>
Hi crew, my name is Jenny.
<Hello Jenny.>
I'm kind of new to the wonderful world of owning a fish tank. :) I got a 10 gallon fish tank over a month ago (it's an upgrade from my 1 gal.) All of the nitrates and nitrites are at 0, the alkalinity is ideal, and the pH is perfect.
<Perfect for what? Ideal alkalinity in what sense? Platies for example need hard water with a high pH, whereas Neon Tetras need soft water with a low pH. So you can't have "ideal" alkalinity or "perfect" pH for all types of fish.>
My sister and I went to Petco and bought: 2" rainbow shark, 1" fantail, and 1" platy.
<A bit of an odd mix. For a start, Goldfish can't be kept in 10 gallons; they get very big, 20 cm/8 inches long, and they're social. So you need 30 gallons for the first 2-3 specimens, and another 10 gallons for each additional specimen. Next up, the Rainbow Shark will need at least 40 gallons. They are very active and VERY territorial.>
A week later, we got a surprise-- the platy had babies. After that, the aquarium went downhill. My old Pleco and rainbow shark died, and I had to change all of the gravel (for reasons that I can't explain right now.)
<In what way can't you explain? Don't know the reasons, or don't want to say?>
The tank looks much better, though, since we changed from blue gravel to black and it looks a little more natural. The babies are doing okay, and the goldfish is finally recovering from a recent swim bladder infection.
<There's rarely such a thing as "swim bladder infection" and normally when casual aquarists mention this it's because their fish couldn't swim and they have no real idea why. More often than not, things like constipation, bloating, and systemic bacterial infections are the cause. Note that these are rarely mystery diseases that creep in the aquarium at night, but symptoms of poor aquarium care.>
The only problem is that my platy has been acting strange since about over 2 weeks ago. While I was redoing the fish tank, I left them and the babies in 2 1gal tanks (the babies were in a separate one with my rams horn snail because they were, and are, still too small to be with the big fish.) She was always so friendly with the female goldfish, like a BFF.
<Fish don't really work this way.>
Even before I had them in the 1 gal, she wouldn't stop attacking and chasing the goldfish!
<I bet.>
I even woke up one morning to find that there were blood spots all over her tail, patches of scales were missing from her back, and fungus was growing on her dorsal fin injuries. I immediately gave the goldfish a Fungus Clear tablet, and within a few days, it cleared up.
<Post hoc, ergo propter hoc, as the Romans would say. Just because two things follow, it doesn't mean the first thing caused the second thing. For example, in a 1-gallon or even a 10-gallon tank there's a high risk of a Goldfish getting stressed and vulnerable to what are called opportunistic bacterial infections. These have symptoms such as Dropsy and Finrot (i.e., blood spots on the fins and body). Platies are opportunistic feeders and if they can, they'll happily nibble on the sore, bloody tissue on their tankmates.>
I separated them with netting so she wouldn't bother her anymore. Do you think she could be pregnant again? She is getting fatter and she is producing a lot more waste than usual.
<Female livebearers can produce more than one brood per mating, so even if she isn't with a male now, you can have two or three broods of fry.>
Also, I have a question about one of the four babies that she had-- it was born with only one eye.
<Happens; could be genetic, but could just as easily be physical damage from casual predation by tankmates.>
Since it only has one eye, about half of the length of what it's head SHOULD be is missing. Its mouth is a lot smaller so it has trouble eating, and it usually has twice the energy that the others do! Is this normal for a baby to have a deformity like this?
<Yes. May be euthanised; 30 drops of clove oil in a litre of aquarium water will do the trick. Stir well, then immerse the fish into the mixture for 10 minutes.>
And if so, do you know if it will survive? I'll try to send a picture.
Please, feel free to ask for the details about the fish tank: plants, filter, gravel, etc.
Thank you for your time, Jenny.
<Glad to help. Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Platy/Goldfish behavior and biology   8/16/11

Thanks for the reply, Neale.
<Most welcome.>
About the pH, I followed the results based on an alkalinity and pH test strip that I had gotten when I set up the tank. I do have hard water, so they should be fine. The pH is around 7.6 and the alkalinity is between 120-170.
<Sounds okay.>
When we got our goldfish, we got the smallest one in the tank. Ever since then, he's only grown about 2mm. I also read online that rainbow sharks are a good mix with Pleco and smaller fish, like tetra, platy, Molly, etc.
<Hmm'¦ not really. Rainbow Sharks, like Red-Tail Sharks, are at best marginal community tank choices. They sometimes work fine, but sometimes are absolute terrors that chase everything.>
I guess I forgot to see how big they would get. But something, kind of gruesome if you ask me, happened to the little rainbow shark. I didn't really feel good about going into that. After that little mishap, I had to replace the gravel, water, and change some of the decor.
But right now, I guess they're doing fine. I vacuum the gravel when I do a 25 percent water change every week, test the water to make sure nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, and pH is okay, and every two weeks, I change the filter cartridge. I'm probably just going to keep 1 of the 4 babies, most likely the one-eyed one I had become fond of, and give the other three to my friend, who has a 55 gal. aquarium.
I really can't choose to euthanize the little guy... I guess I'm too attached to him.
<That's fine. So long as he can swim and eat, there's no real reason to euthanise, but breeding from him/her would be unwise, as you could easily end up with even more deformed fish.>
I'll try my best to give him the special care he needs, and if that fails, then I'll have second thoughts.
Right now, I can't exactly afford a bigger tank. When I get the money, I'll probably upgrade to a 20 or 30 gal, which is probably just 150 bucks away. (well, for a good quality one) And on the plus side, it will be better for the fish and I to get a bigger 20-30 gal.
Thanks for the help, Neale. :)
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Weird Platy Discoloration...   8/16/11
Hi W.W.M., I've been looking all over the internet and I cant seem to find anything that sounds remotely like two problems I'm having with my platies.
I have a heavily planted 45 gallon tank with 3 male platies and 3 female platies (I am getting more females in the morning),
1 Neon Tetra (again soon to be more if the l.f.s. has more) and 1 blind cave fish.
<These are not entirely community tank fish. They thrive in the same water chemistry and temperature as Platies, so in that sense should work well, but they're opportunists and prone to nipping tankmates.>
When I first got them I had one red wag-tail platy female die the day after I got them. I think it turned out to be a swim bladder problem and the l.f.s. replaced her but when I took her out I noticed that the scales on the bottom of her belly were turned a yellow/golden color and now I notice that two more females seem to be having the same discoloration and one is currently pregnant and the other was pregnant but isn't anymore(she either had the babies and they all were eaten or if she absorbed them)... could this just be their belly stretching or is it something I need to be worried about (P.S. I don't see any symptoms of dropsy besides the weird coloration)
<Sounds odd, and usually Platies don't change colour. But if the fish is otherwise healthy and eats well, I wouldn't worry too much. Some fish are fed colour-enhancing foods that in particular make fish more red than normally would be the case. Once you buy these fish, they may become paler as the months pass. Alternatively, physical damage can cause colour changes, in much the same way as scars on humans don't ever look quite the same as the skin around them.>
One is another Red Wag-Tail and the other is a plain orange one (I don't know exactly what kind). Also the Red Wag-Tail hangs out at the bottom of the tank by herself and the plain orange one is almost always at the top of the tank (usually within an inch-a foot of the surface) by herself, doesn't move much and keeps her top and bottom fins tucked up by her body (unlike the wag-tail who is always swimming),
<Fin clamping, as it's called, is often a sign of stress or ill-health. Review aquarium conditions, and act accordingly. Platies need hard, alkaline water to do well; 10-25 degrees dH, pH 7-8.5. They dislike warm water; 22-25 C/72-77 F. As always, nitrite and ammonia need to be zero. If you have soft water chemistry, your Platies will never be healthy.>
they both quickly move away when I get close to the tank and will occasionally swim with the other platies but mostly ignore them. They all eat fine and swim fine... Also I am a little concerned about another of my Platies... She is a White Mickey Mouse Platy and is SUPER Pregnant (should be dropping fry any time now) I recently got a new light that is much much brighter than the last and I soon noticed that her bottom lip is much brighter than the rest of her body and that she is not as bright as the other 2 white platies I have. I looked online and thought it could be Ich or mouth fungus but when reading more and looking at more pictures I don't think it is either'¦
<Simple physical damage around the mouth is common; observe, and if the white speck gets smaller, don't worry about it. But do be aware of the symptoms of Finrot, Mouth Fungus (actually a bacterial infection) and plain vanilla Fungus, and be sure you know where to get a good treatment for them. Products like Seachem Paraguard and eSHa 2000 treat all three at the same time, so they're particularly good.>
She isn't acting weird besides swimming a little slower than normal but I think its just because she is about ready to give birth, but the males do seem to follow her more than the other females... Again she eats and acts completely normal and is constantly with the other fish... Could this just be because of the new light or is it something to be worried about... I don't know if I should but them in a isolation tank or what to do.
<Would not move this fish unless something obviously go wrong. Adding floating plants provides shelter and will make her life easier.>
I will Greatly Appreciate anything you can tell me because they are really beginning to worry me... especially the orange one that hangs at the top of the tank... She doesn't seem to be doing well at all... And if there is something wrong would I just be able to treat the whole tank (because I don't have another tank so I have no way to make a hospital tank) and if so what can I use to treat them that won't hurt my Tetras. I have also been considering feeding them garlic and was wanting to know if that would help any'¦
<Not really. Best foods for these Platies are vegetarian flake foods such as Spirulina flake. Occasional offerings of live or wet-frozen brine shrimps provide good "fibre" as well as the chemicals that enhance red colouration.>
Thank you sooo very much for what you can tell me... You guys are the most helpful site I have found and I have been looking for days, and sorry for how long the message is but I thought that the more info I gave you the better lol Again Thank You so much, Kirsten
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

New platy shakes and hides   5/1/11
Dear Crew
My tanks have all being doing great for a few months now. I decided to add some colour to my mainly female community tank. I was after a group of panda platies but the shop only had one female and one male this week. I took them home anyway along with six pigmy Cory (I'll add more platies later). After a slow acclimatisation process of about an hour, the fish were taken out with a net and put into the tank. All the Corys and the small female panda platy swam around fine after the 30mins of darkness before I turned on the lights. However, the male panda platy just hides.
He came out twice to swim around but shakes and jerks suddenly and then returns to a hiding place. Should I be concerned?
Anything else I can do? He seemed fine in the LFS.
Tank is as follows:
100 ltr fully cycled 6 month old and planted (ammonia 0ppm, nitrates 0ppm, nitrates 5ppm);
Ph 8
Water hard (London), no added salt in tank.
Has 6 female guppies, one male dwarf honey Gourami, 2 female and 1 male split-fin rainbow fish (about to join the other 7 in the larger tank), 1 cherry shrimp and a nursery net with 13 x 2 week old guppy fry.
I acclimatised them over an hour, bag in water and slowly added/replaced the bag water with the tank water checking Ph levels all the time (bag had ph7.4 roughly RO and my tank is ph 8) - was this too fast?
Thanks, Patrick
<Platies, and livebearers generally, do this "Shimmying" thing when stressed. It's apparently neurological and goes away when things improve.
Sometimes the fish itself is suffering from a virus or something else you can't really identify, but more often than not it's an environmental thing -- water hardness and/or pH typically being too low. Social stress, i.e., bullying, can be an issue too. Review, and act accordingly. Raising the temperature by a couple of degrees and, if you tankmates allow, add a small amount of salt, say, 2 grammes/litre (this shouldn't harm Corydoras unduly as a short-term thing). Cheers, Neale.>
Re: New platy shakes and hides   5/1/11
Hi Neale
Thanks so much for coming back to me on a Sunday!
<No problem.>
Poor little fella was hiding behind some bog wood for ages with one eye surveying the front of the tank. I popped a bit of brine shrimp in and he eventually took a few nibbles at the bits floating past him (obviously a good thing!) and soon after, ventured out and had a little swim around before returning to the seclusion of the bottom of the tank amongst some plants, one eye watching the surrounding tank. He didn't appear to be shimmying this time, so perhaps he has calmed. I reckon it might be shock that caused it. I'm going to hold back from the adding of any salt due to the dwarf honey Gourami in the tank. I may just raise the temperature a little, currently 24 degrees. I understand 25 degrees is a little better for them. I'll watch him carefully and report back any problems.
<All sounds good.>
Thanks once again! And enjoy the bank holiday tomorrow,
<Plan to do so!>
best, Patrick
<Cheers, Neale.>

platy behaving 'unusually' 4/7/2011
I currently have an 85L freshwater aquascaped aquarium (60% floating plants are incorporated) containing 2 female platys, 1 female molly, a female Bristlenose catfish, cherry shrimp, a glass catfish and a male platy.
with regard to the only glass catfish,
<A social species>
I purchased it from the store having been the only one kept in the platy/molly mixed aquarium and will only school with these fish and despite my investments in a larger tank (145L) and some additional specimens, will have it no other way-(he/she hid in the java ferns and driftwood for 6 months, no signs of chemical/temperature imbalances and proper environmental factors including native plants and slight current. The other specimens did remarkably well) Now that I have moved the fish back to the 85L, it displays its natural behaviour and is constantly darting around the upper levels of the aquarium schooling with the platys/molly.
I have always anticipated breeding the platys but the male will only pay attention to the glass catfish (as he is doing at the moment) and shows no interest in the female platys. To be honest I am adequately baffled by this behaviour. I have ruled out many factors such as the maturity of the females and the fact that the other tankmates may be eating the fry although I have not seen a single female pregnant in the last year or so disregarding their few batches of fry after purchase as they were in a mixed gender tank. No fry despite the fact that temperate/chemical balances are at their prime and constant throughout the year. There are also no environmental factors that need attending to for these fish. I am considering the possibility that he may be sterile although this cannot be a viable explanation if it cannot be witnessed or proven that he actually diverts his attention to the females.
If you have any advice or thoughts about this situation, they will be greatly appreciated.
with regards,
<Mmm, well... this "male" may not actually be (functionally) such... I'd likely add another male here; this volume is sufficient to house all. Oh, and another couple Kryptopterus bicirrhis... Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Sunset Way Platy behavior   4/6/11
We have a question on the changed behavior of our sunset wag platy. I have done a lot of research; however, I cannot seem to find a definite answer. The aquarium, my son's, is a 20 gallon aquarium that he has had for six months now. We do our best to change a 1/4 of the water each week as we were advised to do,
but to be honest, we don't always get that accomplished. However, "Sunburst" has been thriving until just the past week. Our son has a small assortment of tropical fish with only one sunset wag platy. We have lost a couple fish and introduced some surprise baby mollies four months ago.
Other than that, Sunburst's environment has been very stable. She has no spots that she shouldn't have either.
This past week, she has been hanging out at the bottom of the tank and behind the coral
<Mmm, this may change your water quality in undesirable ways, scratch/cut some livestock>
and other decorations. We see many of the other fish swim around her and appear as if they nip at her.
<Good observation, relating>
She moves but always goes back to a hiding place. Tonight, I moved her to a breeding tank after I saw that the other fish weren't leaving her alone.
My question is, is she just being bullied or could she be pregnant?
I'm not sure how since we have no swordtails or other platys. If she is being bullied, what do we do to remedy that for her?
<Restore this fish to health... it should get along if the other fishes are compatible species, sizes>
We don't want her picked on at all!
We appreciate any insight you can give us. I hope I gave you enough detail. If not, please let me know.
Thank you,
<Do peruse WWM re Platies period... Something you've not related could be at play here. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sick Platy - Please Advise, fdg. beh.   3/9/11
Apologies for the additional email - one more addition. The sick fish, I noticed, has been regurgitating a bit of his food in the beginning of each feeding.
<Not atypical... a normal behavior... Many fishes have teeth/triturating processes in the buccal cavity... pass items back and forth to break up, soften>
I usually break down the flakes into small bits, and he seems to take a bunch in, then spit some back out, then continue feeding. After about three times of this pattern he continues to feed without further regurgitation. I don't remember specifically looking for this pattern before he became sick, though, so I cannot say for sure it started recently - but I did not notice the other platy doing the same thing, so I thought I should mention it, just in case it is relevant.
Thank you again,
Alex Marin
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Platy flashing 1/13/11
Hello Bob,
I'm not sure if you remember me, but I emailed not too long ago before concerning an Otocinclus with a goiter issue.
<I do recall>
I have been meaning to thank you for informing me about my Oto's condition, but I have not yet replied
to that email since I have been working to cure his goiter problem. I've found a case online involving a Sting Ray that was cured of its goiter problem overtime through strict attention to diet.
Others have reported to have fish goiter problems that never went away although their fish lived a healthy
and normal life span. In my case, however, my Oto's goiter seems to have stayed the same size despite my iodine supplements.
<Does happen, as you state/report>
I have also tried adding Nori to the tank, and although my other fish enjoy it, the Oto's don't seem to
touch it nor the cucumber or squash slices I put in. Aside from that, my Otos and all the fish I quarantined upon bringing home (with the exception of one tiny Danio) have survived the quarantine process and have been moved to my Main tank that is 55g. The Otos now happily search the tank for algae, and I will continually add iodine supplements until my Oto is cured.
I apologize for not getting straight to the point, but I felt a little unsettled about not having thanked you,
<You have just done so>
so I seized the opportunity since I am now emailing again regarding another issue.
So here goes. I have a Sunset Wag Hi-fin Platy that has been acting strange lately. She has been spending most of her time at the surface of the tank, hiding behind the heater. Every now and then she will dart around as if swimming laps and flash against the same two java fern leaves. Her actions seem like a routine of hers now since I've been watching her for a few days and she seems to repeat almost the same actions in almost the same exact locations as usual.
<You are observant; a good quality>
She seems to have clamped fins when she stops swimming, but she seems perfectly normal when she swims, other than the fact that she darts around and flashes. She has also showed some mild aggression toward another platy I like to call her "sister" since I got them at the same time and they used to enjoy each other's company... Every now and then she would chase her "sister" (a Reg Wag Hi-fin platy) away if nearby. At the same time, I have a Male Sunset Wag Swordtail that occasionally chases my flashing platy, in which she then retreats to her usual hiding spot behind the heater.
<Mmm, yes; these fishes, species can interbreed>
She has a healthy appetite, and isn't shy during feeding time.
She also has no problem swimming to the bottom of the tank to search for food, and looks physically healthy. But most of the time, she seems to isolate herself and hide and resume to her flashing tendencies. I searched around, and found a similar issue regarding a flashing platy in which you suggested:
"<Tough to say... sounds like your system is stable (biological filtration established), the hardness, pH okay... might be that the fish are just "settling in"... becoming acclimated to your captive conditions (many
livebearers are imported from soft, acidic... filthy water from Asian fish farms...), but they may well be harboring some sort of "platy specific" biological disease...>"
Other information I may add: Tank size 55 gallon, Ammonia 0, Nitrites 0, Nitrate 0, PH: 7.1, Planted tank, Filtered with Penguin Bio-wheel 350 and Tetra Whisper EX 20.
The 55g has been running for Five months and was set up through fishless cycling.
I also must add, that I have been away on vacation for 3 weeks, and my boyfriend has also been away so we resolved in using 7-day feeding blocks.
<Mmm, yes. These are improved over previous years/decades, but still of  dubious value... and sources of pollution>
Since my boyfriend was vacationing within distance, he returned every week and a half to do a water change and put a new block of food in for the fish.
The first time he returned, he noticed that there was excessive algae growth and the fattest platies I had at the time (a breeding pair of Mickey Mouse platies) had lost their dominance, lost weight and were no longer as plump as they used to be. He reported that at that time he noticed some clamping in the flashing platy I am emailing about. The following week, he returned to find the female Mickey Mouse platy and another Hi-Fin Mickey to have passed. He reported that the flashing platy seemed fine. It was when I
returned that I noticed her strange behavior, whereas her "sister" remained perfectly normal. I've had cases where numerous fish in that tank were flashing due to what I attribute to high DOC levels or changes in water chemistry. But in this case, no other fish have flashed at all, except this one...
I apologize for the very long email, but I wanted to be thorough. I have started to theorize and think about fish psychology due to this case, and now wonder if it's quite possible that fish may harbor mental instability or illnesses like humans do...
<I do think you're onto something here>
Anyhow, thank you so much for you previous and future help!
<I might move some of the decor about in this 55; perhaps add some other plant material. My fave genus in general: Ceratopteris; though Anacharis/Egeria/Elodea will do. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

My Platy changes colour - 7-14-10
<Hello Bianca,>
I have only been keeping fish since February this year (2010) at present I have 9 platy (3 males and six females) and 2 albino barbs (to young to tell their gender).
<Albino Barbs are of course Tiger Barbs, Puntius tetrazona. This highly gregarious species is notoriously aggressive when kept in small numbers. It is the classic "fin nipper" of the hobby. Keep at least six, and ideally ten or more.>
My tank is a 75 litre tank.
<Too small for Tiger Barbs, and barely acceptable for Platies.>
In the time that I have had the tank I have only had 6 fry live (I am sure that there have been at least three different birthings from different females. Some females have died in the time I have had the tank). Is there a reason why the fry numbers are so low?
<Eaten by the barbs.>
I am led to believe that the females should have between 20-100 fry per month.
<Under good conditions, yes. You aren't providing good conditions though.>
There have always been a few plants and a ship wreck in the tank to provide shelter.
<The only plants used for shelter by Platies or newborn fry are floating plants. If the plants aren't at the top, they're useless in this regard and may as well be on the Moon for all the good they'll do. The instinct for newborn fry is to swim to the surface.>
I have recently purchased 4 living plants bringing the total number of plants to 9; I have also added some driftwood and another fake grass looking hiding place for them.
<If these aren't floating, you wasted your money. Plus, not all "living plants" live underwater, and unscrupulous retailers can see newcomers to the hobby a mile off, and sell them all kinds of terrestrial plants that quickly die underwater. Learn the Latin names of aquarium plants, and buy only plants you can positively identify. The cheaper the plant, the more likely it is to be a terrestrial plant that will die underwater.>
My PH levels are fine
<Doubtful; Platies and Tiger Barbs have completely different requirements in terms of water chemistry. Platies need hard, basic water; Tiger Barbs need soft, acidic water. What's "fine" for one will be stressful for the other.>
as well as all the other levels so I am wondering if the other fish are just feasting on the fry before I can spot them. Despite doing weekly water changes it is usually around a few weeks before I am aware that any fry have been born.
My biggest reason for emailing you is I have an adult blue female platy.
Over the past week she has been a little strange. She has been displaying all the signs of being in labour (hiding a lot, eating only when the food comes to her, and wriggling around a lot. Another female showed these same signs just before she gave birth.) The only thing is this female fish did not look pregnant. The most bizarre thing is that she went from a deep blue colour to a blue grey colour. She has since gone back to her deep blue colour and does look a lot skinnier than she did last week (although she did not look pregnant then.) I remembered that when I got her in February she turned the same bluish grey one night and was back to her usual blue colour the next day. It was not long after that that I noticed some fly in the tank so I am wondering if perhaps she changes colour when in labour or giving birth? She is happy and healthy in every way. She usually chases off the other fish when they come near her.
<When stressed fish can alter their colours. Do review conditions in your tank. In short, for Platies you're aiming for cool water, 22-24 C, that is hard, around 10-25 degrees dH, and at pH 7.5-8. You must have at least two females per male. Lots of floating plants, e.g., Indian Fern. Tiger Barbs do well across the same temperature, but their maximum hardness is about 15 degrees dH and they will do better at 5-10 degrees dH; the pH should be
about 6.5-7, and certainly no higher than 7.5. Both species are largely herbivorous so should be given mostly plant-based foods, e.g., Spirulina flake. Unlike Platies, which prefer gentle water conditions, Tiger Barbs need a decent water current. Minimum tank size for a school of Tiger Barbs is around 110 litres; keep at least six unless you want them to cause trouble and nip at everything. Cheers, Neale.> 

Platy Male Harassing/Nipping Platy Female  5/25/10
Dear WWM:
I have a 20 gallon tank with two plastic hiding places, seven small live plants, one shrimp, one snail and six-and-a-half fish: three Platies, three Pepper Corys, and a small baby Platy. One Platy, Summer, a female, is new.
The tank set-up is two months old and we introduced Summer just four days ago. Since then, our male Platy, Mickey, takes every opportunity to chase Summer and nip her, no matter where she is in the tank.
<Typical behavior for most livebearers>
At first I thought this was a courtship ritual; after all, we got Summer after being told that we should have two females for each male Platy; but it appears that Summer is being unduly harassed and even kept from getting food. For what it¹s worth, our other female Platy, Red, appears to be pregnant (again ­ the baby is hers as well). The Corys (we call them the Pepperjack Family) seem to be doing real well.
So that¹s our set up. Have I got the right mix of fish types and genders; if not, what would be better; and if so, what else can I do to help Summer catch a break from Mickey¹s tormenting?
<Put the male in a breeding net, a floating plastic colander... give him a "time out" for a few days>
While I¹m writing, I had a few other unrelated aquarium questions that I¹m hoping you can help with. My heater, TopFin 100 Watt unit, heats the tank to 82-84 degrees F even when set to the lowest setting. Is that OK?
<Mmm, not really... is too hot>
Can I fix this?
<Return it to the store, likely PetSmart, you bought it from or contact the manufacturer and have them exchange it.>
Should I take out the heater and let the temperature fluctuate from about 74-82 during the day?
I know that you recommend a breeder net for pregnant fish, but given that Red had one baby survive already, and given that we have limited time and resources, do you think it will be ok to let her be? Or must we invest in a
breeder net or some other solution?
<Some to all the young will be consumed by other fish depending on how crowded, hungry they are otherwise>
Finally, we were thinking to add a few more aquatic friends to the tank after the summer, once the plants and fry had grown and the nitrogen levels would likely more stable. Do you have any additions for some species
that would make particularly good additions to our tank?
<Yes... read on WWM re>
I don¹t want to overstock the tank so I¹m concerned about schooling fish, but perhaps some schooling fish has lesser bioload?
<Small Rasboras, Danios... there are many choices>
In any event, it would be nice to have some fish that liked to swim a lot in the middle of the tank, since the
Pepperjack Family spend most of their time on the bottom and the Platys like to either rest near the bottom or swim at the top.
Thank you for taking the time to read this email. I hope you will help advise a novice aquarium fan and I thank you also in advance for your advice.
My best regards,
<And you, Bob Fenner>
Re: Prior Platy Email  5/25/10
My apologies for sending 3.5 MB of images. I meant to send smaller images, per your specifications on your webpage. Please find those attached. The attached files are collectively under 1 MB.
<Thanks Seth. BobF>

Female platy behavior 5/15/10
My female Mickey Mouse Platy is pregnant but she chasing the male away whenever he gets too close. Is this normal?(my mom said that all pregnant ladies can get temperamental)
<It isn't the female being "temperamental". Male livebearers, including male Platies, want to mate with the females all the time, even when the female is pregnant. This is stressful -- and probably annoying! -- for the female. Understandably, she either tries to hide or attempts to chase him away. If severely stressed, females can miscarry, so this is quite a serious problem. To avoid problems, you must do the following: [a] Make sure the tank is big enough for the Platies, not less than 15 gallons, and preferably at least 20 gallons. [b] Include some floating plants at the top of the tank for the female to use as hiding places. [c] Always, always, always, keep at least twice as many females as males. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: female platy behaviour 5/15/10
can I put the female in a separate tank by herself or will she get upset?
<Provided the separate aquarium is big enough for her, not less than 8 gallons, a single female can be kept on her own for a few weeks until her babies are delivered. For long term care though, Platies should be kept in tanks not less than 15 gallons. They don't need to be kept with their own kind, but female Platies are certainly happier if kept with other females.
Cheers, Neale.> 

Re: female platy behaviour -- 05/21/10
I brought the female into our classroom (I'm in grade 8) and she is all alone except for two mysery snails and a few plants. she seems a lot happier and she is getting fatter every day lol.
Thanks for the great advice.
<Glad to help. I'm sure you mean "mystery" snails rather than "mysery" snails, though perhaps "misery" snails would be funnier! Cheers, Neale.>

New Platy's... sys., hlth., beh.... reading  -- 3/3/10
I am really new to fish. Went from a one gal with 2 guppies to a 10gal, after one guppy died in the 1 gal.
<Ok, to start with, 1 gallon isn't enough for fish. Period. As for a 10 gallon tank, that's risky with Guppies. The problem is that males are feisty, and in 10 gallon tanks tend to chase one another and harass the females. I'd say 15 gallons is the minimum for "easy" Guppy keeping. Do read here:
This will give you some ideas about stocking small tanks. A 10 gallon tank might look big, but it's really tiny, and a very difficult tank to start with.>
One original guppy is still around, did great through the cycling of my new 10 gal which is in it's 5th week. I was told ammonia is gone nitrates are gone but the better one nitrites ( I believe it is) are still there.
<"Better" isn't really the word; nitrites are less immediately poisonous than ammonia, but nitrite is *still* very poisonous.>
Guppy is doing fine. Then I added 3 platys 2 sunset with black tails, and one white with black spots and deep Burgundy tail. My guppy immediately relentlessly followed one sunset platy all around to the point, I wanted to pull my hair out.
<See above. As I said, Guppies in 10 gallon tanks don't often work.>
The platy appeared very stress. My original thought was to remove this guppy back to the one gal tank with underground filter and no heater.
<Death sentence. Do read here:
For more on Guppies.>
But as I thought more about it. I decided to isolate the extremely stressed platy and buy the crazy guppy a guppy friend to play with.
<No, not playing. Chasing, fighting, attempting to mate -- all these things are possibilities.>
Both guppies are calm friends now, and the white and other sunset platy are calm friends but they hide and sleep alot, and only swim around during and after eating's which are normally 2x a day. One very important detail is
that all the 5 fish , 2 guppies, and 3 platys are males.
The one sunset platy that is in isolation has really calmed down. She seems to be okay with her hiding rock and small fake plant. But she is rather large and the tank is pretty small 1 gal, with little room for swimming.
A major concern for long time keep is no heater part.
<Will die. That's why she's "calm", she's frozen.>
I had done tons of internet reading and picked the local fish store owner's brain, and we were both thinking the only reason the guppy could of been all over her was perhaps she was a sick fish.
<Your pet shop person is an idiot. Fish don't chase one another because they're sick. Male Guppies will attempt to mate with females of virtually anything plausible. Platy females are similar enough in shape and size to female Guppies, so I bet that's what was going on. Keep at least 2, preferably 3 females of each species per male of that species. Otherwise, don't mix the sexes (though that won't stop the males chasing each other).>
This guppy has annoyed relentlessly the previous other 4 sick fish that have died during my earlier cycling weeks. Or perhaps these two were fighting for the Alpha male position in the tank.
<Sort of. Male livebearers are smaller and more brightly coloured than the females of their species. Their lifespans are therefore short. So while they are alive, the males desperately try to mate with everything, and at the same time, try to drive away any males that might mate with the females in their bit of the pond. So, they're programmed to be [a] aggressive and
[b] violently promiscuous.>
The isolated platy shows no sign of being real sick. Other than being very large, perhaps a bloated tummy, but does occasionally have those long white strings coming out of her, that I am not sure whether it is poop or parasites. No real unusual behavior. Other than he hated being chased by the guppy. Question: Should I leave him in this small but cozy and very comforting 1 gal tank all alone?
<Cozy isn't the word. She's dying.>
She is eating well and appears ok other than not enough swimming room, with no heater. Do you think that after a while I should try and introduce her back into the 10 gal tank? and if so how should I do it?
<See above.>
One retailer told me I should of taken out the bully guppy for a while and when I added him back, he would of been the new fish in the tank, and perhaps would of behaved better. The only reason I chose the platy was
because I knew the guppy was not sick, and I thought perhaps something was wrong with the platy, as the guppy did not bother or chase the other two new platys, just this one smelling the belly area and the string. The 2
guppies are now fine, The sunset platy in 10 gal tank, has same white string from his production organ area, sometimes extremely long. Takes some time, it could take a day, and than falls off. He hides under fake plants
and looks so dead when he sleeps I find myself hitting him with the net in the middle of the night to make sure he is alive. My favorite platy the white one with some black specs and a great tail that looks like the color of paprika (hence his name) always, always hides, in the caves. But will always come out for food, swims around during and after feeding, very timid to all fish in tank, and runs and hides when I approach tank in any way.
Very hard to get a good look at him. He appears shorter than most platys with his body somewhat a triangular shape rather than long as the sunset platys are. I wish he would not hide. He is a gorgeous fish to look at. Is
this hiding a sign of a bigger problem?
These platys were all brought home only 4 days ago, and I am sure they are still getting actuated. They have seen their buddy leave the tank, for isolation, and have no idea where he went, and have been introduced to the new guppy just yesterday. It really is very peaceful with just the 2 guppies, who always stay at the top, and the 2 platys who are usually hiding all the time. I am wondering if I should be proactive and have any concerns, such as treatments?
<The problems here are your bad choices.>
Should I add salt to either tank as a preventive measure encase their are parasites or Ick? (occasionally the red platy will rub himself on a plant or rock in the 10 gal tank. I am wondering if the one I removed might have infected the 10 gal tank?
<Don't medicate unless you positively identify a sickness. Adding salt won't do any harm, but there's no real point either. See here:
should I treat him with anything, as no real signs other than white occasional strings on both red platys. The pet store owner said I can get preventive cooper drops one drop per gal that will not hurt healthy fish, regardless if their is bacteria, or parasites in tank or not.
<Again, stupid "advice" from your pet store. Why not read an aquarium book instead?
Some of these cost pennies bought used from Amazon.>
In all the reading I have done never have I heard anyone say they use a preventive med to ward of parasites before they begin? Any truth or helpfulness to this?
Or is the brackish tank the way to go? Not sure if I should use Epsom salt, or aquarium salt.
<Totally different things. Do you have soft water or hard water? If soft water, then using Rift Valley cichlid salt mix can be very useful (and home-made, very cheap). Brackish water using marine salt mix is a good option for Guppies and Mollies, but less so for Platies and Swordtails.
Plain vanilla aquarium salt (sometimes called tonic salt) is for use as a medication, and serves little/no purpose as a daily additive.
This is the first site I have been able to write on. I pray to God one of you will feel like this is worthy to answer.
<We're happy to help.>
I am extremely sensitive to pets. I am liking this hobby more than I thought I would. But the sadness of all the death really ruins the beauty of keeping fish. I am starting to appreciate the long life of my dogs, that I always felt was too short! lol
<Actually, for their size, fish live longer than cats or dogs. I have a catfish about the size of your hand who's 16, 17 years old, and she's not even half full size. Angelfish will easily get to 10-12 years. Well cared for Goldfish routinely reach 20-30 years, and there are lungfish in zoos well over 70 years old.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Male Platy Behavior, sex-ratio sel.    1/31/2010
<Hello Andrew,>
In a previous email, I mentioned how I had a platy mysteriously disappear from my tank.
I have since added more platys (female). I used to have 3 blue Mickey mouse platys (1m, 2f) before the disappearance and now have 4 platys:
2 blue Mickey mouse platys (1m,1f)
a sunset wag platy (f)
and a blue wag tail (f)? (here is an image
The female blue Mickey mouse platy is now showing outward signs of pregnancy (typical).
<Quite. But do be sensitive to both constipation and dropsy, diseases that can cause similar external symptoms.>
The male blue platy constantly follows her around the tank, and takes no interest in the other 2 female platys. He will also chase the other 2 platys away from her, especially during feeding time. Will this cause undue stress on her/ the other platys?
<Yes, it will stress her, and will increase the risk of miscarriages. Do make sure you have lots of floating plants, ideally covering 75% of the surface. Indian Fern is the default and idea. Females will hide here, and the males will harass them far less.>
Should I attempt to exchange the two wagtail platys for more female blue platys?
<Anything that ups the number of females relative to males helps. Do bear in mind all these varieties interbreed, so you'll end up with fry that don't have one particular colouration. You might not care all that much, but if you plan on selling the fry, selling one particular variety will go down better with the shop.>
Thanks again for your invaluable help,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Chipped Tank Question (Now: Xiphophorus disappearance)   12/19/09
Hello Again Bob,
Its been a few days now since I switched tanks, and all is going well. My ammonia and nitrites are up slightly, but this was to be expected.
<Indeed. If you can, add a clump of fast-growing floating plants to the tank. These use up ammonia and nitrite as they grow, and can make an appreciable different. Floating Indian fern is ideal. They also bring lots of "good" bacteria on their roots, speeding up the cycling process.>
What wasn't expected was the apparent loss of one of my platys. I had 3 in the previous tank, and I KNOW I netted them all into the new tank. I've checked the old tank, no platy.
<Jumped out? Jumped into a filter?>
I pulled up all of the rocks in the new tank, no platy, and searched through all the plants. There is a small gap on the top of the tank, but its smaller than the gap on the previous tank. I've searched all over the floor too, the bucket I used to transfer water.
<Cats/dogs will certainly eat stranded fish... and small children can do all sorts of surprising things.>
The only thing I haven't searched is taking everything out of tank and going through the gravel, but I don't think its likely the platy is buried in the gravel. How does a fish does disappear like this? If the fish has died and I can't find it in the tank (its only a 25 gallon), should I be concerned?
<In a mature aquarium, no, one (small) dead fish won't make much difference either way (though removing dead fish is wise for a variety of reasons).
But if the tank is new, not fully cycled, or is otherwise showing non-zero ammonia/nitrite levels, a dead fish could be the reason, and would certainly make a bad situation worse.>
Thanks again,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Platy sys., beh.   12/12/09
Hello crew! I have had my Mickey mouse female platy for a while alone in a 10 gallon brackish aquarium.
<Bit in on the small side for Platies. Females will be fine, but the males can be a real pest in tanks this size, harassing any and all females.
Without space to spread out, the poor females get no peace.>
Well about 2 weeks ago I added 1 female molly, 1 male molly, and 1 male swordtail.
<Platies are borderline additions to a 10 gallon tank; Mollies and Swordtails simply don't belong.>
I have noticed her chasing all of them but mostly the male swordtail, is this normal?
<To some extent, yes. While it's normally the males that chase the females, the opposite sometimes happens, more often in tanks that are too small.>
She seems to be making him restless and she is wearing him out. So I put her in a 5 gallon aquarium by herself. Should I take her back to the petstore? Or for Christmas I'm getting a 55-80 gallon aquarium do u think if I put her in there with other fish she would be ok and leave the other fish alone or should I go with taking her back to the store? Thanks a lot.
<In the bigger tank, I suspect everyone will be happy. Platies and Swordtails don't need brackish water, though at SG 1.003 they will do just fine, and this will also ensure the Mollies are in perfect health. Keep groups of each species, and they should essentially do their own thing.
Keep two or three times as many females than males; ideally, keep just one male Swordtail because they can be VERY aggressive. Cheers, Neale.>

Aggressive male Platy 10/29/09
I'm fairly new to having an aquarium, but have spent countless hours the past few months setting one up.
<Welcome to the hobby.>
I've been searching for a few days on the web and through your site looking for a little more definitive answer to a small problem I have with some Platies. I have yet to find more of an answer than "typical male Platy behavior."
I have a 12 gal tank, about 2 months old.
<A bit small for Platies; I'd say 15 gallons, and really 20 gallons, is what you want here. Males are aggressive towards each other, but they also harass females unwilling to mate with them. Since female Platies in aquaria are pregnant virtually all of the time if kept with males, that means the females are unresponsive almost all of the time as well. In other words, the males tend to be somewhere on a scale between wife-beater and all-out thug. Cute to be sure, but not "nice" animals.>
It's fairly heavily planted (artificial) in the back and sides and a couple small rocks.
<If it isn't floating, it isn't counting. Livebearers seek shelter at the top of the tank. Floating plants are ideal. You can stick all the rocks you want at the bottom of the tank and they won't be used. In any even, a rock is too easy for a male to swim around. Floating plants provide a more complex habitat that breaks up the lines of sight rather better. It also provides somewhere for fry to hide from their parents.>
It had finished cycling roughly a month ago and hovers around pH ~7.5, nitrites ~0, nitrates ~40ppm depending on when last w/c occurred, and somewhat hard water. It currently houses 5 assorted Platies and 2 Peppered Cory Catfish. No plans to expand much more than an additional Platy or two, possibly from fry. Of the Platies, only 1 is a male, Gold Twin Bar. The others are female; Red Wag, Sunburst, and 2 Gold Twin Bar.
<A bit generously stocked for a 15 gallon tank...>
My observations:
As of perhaps a week ago (shortly after discovering a single Platy fry in the tank which has since disappeared) the male has become increasingly aggressive towards the slightly smaller, and definitely pregnant, gold female.
He ignores the red wag and the sunburst, and spends most of his time hanging with the other gold female who seems to enjoy his company. She also is starting to show signs of being pregnant again, as well as possibly the sunburst. I can't tell on the red wag, but likely not.
<If the female is with a male, she's pregnant. Don't imagine you can tell by looking for the gravid spot; that applies to guppies and smaller livebearers only, and in turn merely means the uterus is being pushed against the muscle wall. It isn't a "sign" that gets switched on when a fish is pregnant.>
Sometimes the male just swims slowly up to harassed female as if interested in her, then she darts off when she notices.
<I bet!>
Most times though he will openly dart at her as if to nip her, especially during feeding after the flakes are almost all gone and when only some bottom food is left. As of today, the harassed female has a split top fin, likely from being chased so much, so the male was isolated into a 2.5 gal hospital tank, at least for a couple days.
<Can't stay in there for long, you know.>
I have never noticed him chase any of the other females, even covertly watching them.
The Question(s):
I guess it's several questions I'm asking that might be one simple answer.
Is the above situation normal?
Should I leave them alone?
<See above for what you should be doing.>
Perhaps add another male to take attention off the harassed female (still have a 2:1 ratio of females to males) or another new gold female to at least split up his grieving?
<Adding another male in a tank this small will almost certainly result in the present male chasing the newcomer, and likely damaging it in the process. It won't dilute the aggression towards females one iota. Adding more females is always worthwhile though, assuming the tank is big enough...>
Maybe just replace him with a different male?
<May be an option. No guarantees, and since the species is prone to this behaviour, there's no reason at all to expect a magic cure.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Male Platy Strange Behavior -- 09/04/09
We have a Platy that has been exhibiting some very odd behavior for the last week and we are stumped. He has been laying on the bottom of the tank for a good while but will get up and swim around when we go by or when it is time for food.
<Usually, when Platies and other livebearers sit on the substrate, it's a bad sign. These fish are strongly associated with the surface of the water in the wild, hence their upwards-pointing mouths. The reasons for sitting on the bottom are varied, from chilling and constipation through to swim bladder deformities and bacterial infections. Fry with malformed swim bladders, known as "belly sliders" are quite common. But if a fish suddenly starts to sit on the bottom that hitherto swum normally, then you may have a serious problem. As always, review water chemistry, water quality, and temperature. Look for signs of bullying (damaged fins) or constipation (unusually long faeces or bloating).>
He eats just like he always does (picking out only the green flakes, very picky),
<These are herbivores, and should be fed an algae-based flake as their staple.>
he is not bloated nor is he any skinnier than before. When he goes to the bottom of the tank he falls rapidly but he seems to settle in before he lays down, he will find a comfortable spot and then lay on his side, <On his side? That's usually a very bad sign. But if he's eating still, then things are mysterious: fish that roll onto their sides are usually at death's door, and eating isn't something they do.>
and when he is swimming it doesn't seem like anything is wrong at all, he has perfect control and grace.
<May be a swim bladder problem. Constipation is the number 1 cause of this, and switching to a high fibre diet, e.g., crushed cooked peas, daphnia, and live brine shrimp, may help. Don't feed flakes for a couple of weeks. Will do your other Platies no harm, and indeed most fish will benefit from such a diet once in a while.>
He is in a 55 gallon tank that we have had for 1 1/2 years, we do a 10 gallon water change every 2 weeks, and do water tests on the opposite weeks of water changes (maybe too often but we want them healthy). Our tests always come back at 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and PH of 7.8-8.0 (we ran the tests again just prior to sending this e-mail with the same results).
<All sounds fine.>
In the tank we also have 2 silver dollars, a Pleco, an Otocinclus, 2 red eye tetras, and 2 female platys.
<Apart from the Red-eye Tetras, all these fish are herbivores, so switching to a high-fibre diet for a while is a very good idea. The Red-eye Tetras will likely eat some of these foods as well, so no risks involved.>
Right before this happened we had a female platy that gave birth but died shortly after (we had recently moved her into this tank because she was being harassed by a male platy we had in another tank).
<Likely unrelated; but do remember that Platy males can be aggressive, and the use of floating plants is very beneficial in terms of providing females with hiding places and resting spots.>
We also had a large number of female platys from a few prior births that we removed, to keep the population down in the tank. We could not find anything that could describe what he is doing as a disease. Please help us to figure out what is wrong with him. Thanks. Joe and Amber worried parents.
<Provided the fish is still feeding and not showing signs of Dropsy (i.e., bacterial infection of the abdomen) I'd not be too alarmed. Try using high-fibre foods for a couple of weeks, and see if that helps.
Cheers, Neale.>

Possibly Stressed Platy (and some non-aquatic plants to boot!)   7/30/09
I'm having so much trouble with my platy it's a golden Mickey mouse and I think its pregnant but I'm just not sure.
<If she's in a tank with males, or has been in the last 3 months or so, yes, she's pregnant.>
She's fat and has been for a while; her poop sometimes is dark and always seems to be swimming next to my male guppy. Today I stuck her in my breeder so I can get a closer look at her but when I stuck her in the male guppy started to act nuts swimming around the breeder trying to get close to my Mickey.
<Male Guppies are notoriously promiscuous, and will attempt to mate with not just Guppies but other related livebearers, including Platies. This may indeed stress the female Platy, hence my advice to keep livebearers in groups with at least twice as many females as males. So if your Platy is shy, attempts to hide, or shows signs of nervousness, then think about adding some more female Platies and/or female Guppies.>
She always eats but when I don't feed her she is near the back of the tank always I just want to now on what I should be looking for.
<Well, Platies aren't especially hard to keep, and provided water quality is good and she's getting an algae-based diet (these fish are herbivores) there's really nothing much to worry about. The common problems are feeding them regular fish food (they need livebearer/algae flake) and keeping them in soft/acidic water conditions (they need hard, basic water). By the way, adding salt to the tank isn't helpful, so if you're doing that, don't!
They need hard water, not brackish water; see WWM re: water chemistry for more.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
hard to take a picture she keeps moving I think she's camera shy.
<Can't help but notice your retailer conned you into buying Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana). This is of course a LAND PLANT and WILL die underwater. So whip it out before it pollutes the tank, and treat as you would any houseplant: stick it in some soil, provide good light, and keep the soil moist but not wet.
You might want to review any other plants in your tank; my experience is that the folks who buy one non-aquatic plant are the folks who buy all the others!>

Platy pooping a lot   5/1/09
I noticed that my platy(red wag) seems to keep pooping today. Is this normal?
<Just like any other animal: what goes in, has to come out! If they eat a lot of fibre-rich food (as they should) then yes, they do produce a lot of faeces.>
The poop is like a long string and is a dark color. The platy looks healthy and is swimming around fine though. Am I overfeeding it?
<Possibly; is it fat?>
I only put in a pinch of fish flakes once a day and I have 2 platys in the tank. The other platy (marigold) is smaller and I am worried about it not eating. It seems to be taking in the flake but spitting it out later.
<Try something else. Fish have taste buds, and sometimes they don't like certain brands of flake. Flake food oxidizes over time, and the fats go rancid, and that puts off most fish. For Platies, I'd recommend a combination of Spirulina flake and a high-quality micro-pellet such as Hikari Micro Pellets.>
I am not sure if it is taking really small bites out of the big flake or not eating. It is swimming around fine and looks healthy to me too. Should I be worried about the fishes?
<You should always be concerned if fish aren't eating. Review water chemistry, water quality, social behaviour and act accordingly.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Colour Issues when Breeding Platies  4/28/09
I wanted to ask whether male platies are attracted to the more colourful females?
<Male Platies will mate with anything female, given the chance, and tend not to be selective. Female Platies on the other hand certainly are selective. The basic rule in biology is this: sperm is cheap, and males can
make more sperm throughout their lives. But females are born with a finite number of eggs, and each egg is expensive to mature (the yolk, for example, is an energy store). Females may also be responsible for broodcare as well, which means energy is spent protecting any embryos produced. So females parcel out their eggs very carefully, and only fertilise their eggs with sperm from the best males they can find. Interesting, with Guppies at least, females definitely do go for the brighter coloured males. The theory
is that because bright coloured males are "handicapped" in terms of being easily seen by predators, any males that survive *despite* being brightly coloured must be especially fast, healthy or clever. In other words, they have good genes. When teaching this to students, I make the analogy of bright red sports cars. Such cars are of no practical or economic value, quite the reverse in fact, being expensive to run and able to carry few passengers or cargo. But precisely because they're "bad" cars in terms of usefulness, the advertise the owner has disposable income. In other words, a man with a bright red sports car is advertising to females that he has good genes that meant he's acquired wealth and status. Hence, he will be more attractive to females than a man with a more practical, inexpensive motor car. (Apologies to female readers out there who disagree! And men with practical cars! I'm sure my analogy isn't true...)>
I have 5 female platies and 3 males. Of the females, one is a very bright orange/yellow/red colour whilst the other 4 include 3 who are orange with black fins and one which is grey colour. The two males, one being
completely red and the other orange/silver/blue only chase the one female who is very bright coloured.
<An interesting observation.>
Why do the male platies only chase this one platy?
<Is she larger? Males will usually pursue only sexually mature females, and given the option, they might go for bigger females, or at least females who are big enough to advertise sexual maturity.>
They pay no attention to any of the others. And the males seem quite competitive and if not chasing the bright female they seem to be chasing each other away.
<Males are indeed competitive. Typically male livebearers compete with one another for access to *all* the females in a certain patch of area. Again, this is typical animal behaviour: females are choosy, males are
competitive. For males, because they have virtually unlimited sperm, the best thing they can do is mate with as many females as they possibly can, and to do that, the best approach is to drive off any rival males.>
I would like to start breeding the platies, and was wondering whether I should move some of the other females into my breeding tank with the red male and hope something happens. Any advice on how to initiate some activity?
<Platies, and indeed livebearers generally, are kept differently depending on whether you are a serious breeder or just want to add them to a community tank. In a community setting, a ratio of one male to three
females is ideal, and if you do that, aggression and persistent chasing should be minimal. Since all varieties of Platy will interbreed, if you want to produce quality fry of a particular type, you'd keep virgin females
in one tank, and males of the same variety in another tank. When breeding, you'd select a male and one or more females, and leave them together for a day or two. Then separate them again. With luck, the female will produce fry. To prevent inbreeding you'd separate the male and female fry after 2-3 months, because by that time they males at least would have their gonopodia developed and could start interbreeding with their sisters.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

My Platy Hates Me?   4/1/2009
Hi Ya'll. I have a fish behavior question.
<Fire away.>
I finally was able to move my fish from their 20 gallon to their new lovely cycled 40 gallon.
<Great! A 40-gallon aquarium is a great size, and from personal experience, my favourite in terms of balancing cost with water chemistry stability and choices of fish.>
In the process, I had a hard time rounding up the last Platy.
<They're fast little guys aren't they! Swordtails -- would you believe it -- are even faster.>
I grew impatient and instead of counting to 10, chased him all over the tank for a while really freaking him out. This was 5 days ago and he is still hiding from me.
<Try using two nets, or one net and a plastic container like a Tupperware.
Use one net to force the fish towards the other net or the container.>
If he sees me approaching, he hightails it to a hiding space and just won't come out. He also spends the majority of his time when out running up and down the sides of the tank (I have developed stealth observing skills). He also spends a lot of time letting the air from a stone rise him to the top of the tank and swims down furiously to be lifted again. It's quite entertaining if I wasn't so worried about him.
<Don't be.>
He didn't do the constant tank running previously in the 20 gallon and none of the other Platies do so (except when he does but they bore of it quickly). I have been able to get a good look at him and he seems to look okay and is eating and swimming fine (when not going up and down the sides).
Does this type of thing pass? Did I mentally damage him?
<No. These fish have brains that would make the average MTV reality show starlet look like Albert Einstein.>
Possibly physically damage him? He used to be so gregarious with me and the other Platies but now he's a loner.
<He's fine. As/when you catch him, he'll immediately get frisky once he sees females. Wild Platies have three thoughts: eat, mate, and fight with other males. They aren't particularly sociable (whereas the females are) and frankly if they have any thoughts at all, they aren't at the same level of "smart" fish like cichlids and puffers.>
I know I suck.
<No you don't. If it makes you feel better, I'm supposedly an expert, but the last time I tried to empty a fish tank out, I managed to bury a fish under a few inches of gravel. He survived, but he was cross for a while.>
Oh, and I had previously written for advice on my pH and carbonate hardness rapidly dropping. I was able to fix the carbonate hardness by using the mix you suggested at 1.5 tsp Epsom Salt, 1/2 tsp Baking Soda and Marine salt (see below) but ended up having to add a 1/2 tsp of Seachem's pH Regulator to get the pH to steady.
I mention it as a follow up on what worked for me and just in case you see something horribly off with adding the Regulator.
Thanks in advance,
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: My Platy Hates Me? 04/03/09
Thanks so much Neale for the information, reassuring words and humor.
Always a pleasure.
<Happy to help.>
He started coming around last night and now will approach the front of the tank with the other Platies when I'm around. I'm really enjoying the 40 gallon!! With your help, everything is stable so I'm not having to do
water changes all the time.
<See, when we say get a 20, 30 or 40 gallon tanks, not that cute little 5 or 10 gallon system, we mean it! Bigger tanks really are better, easier, and in the long run, cheaper because you're not dealing with sick and dead fish all the time.>
Now that I know my Platy will be okay, I can sit back and actually enjoy the hobby for once!
<Precisely. Once a tank is stable, it should be very low maintenance.
Beyond water changes every week or two, and the occasional wipe-down to remove algae from the front glass, there really isn't much to do.>
On a side note, when I'm snorkeling off the coast of Mexico this Summer, I highly doubt I'll be able to get the picture of that giant 4 foot worm you posted a few weeks back on the FAQ out of my mind!!
<I'm sure it won't bite!>
Yikes!! :)
<Enjoy your holiday; I'm jealous already!>
Thanks Again,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Hiding. Platy beh.    2/25/09 I read some of your questions and answers but none answered my question. I have a tank with guppies, 3 sunburst wag platys, two snails, and a bottom feeder. One of the female platys is always hiding even when I clean the tank until I removed her hiding place this time. She may be pregnant but not far along. She does not appear to have ick or any other illness. She has started hiding a couple of weeks ago. She is now smaller than the other female. We bought them about a month ago. The only other change in her tank besides extra hiding spots is the death of my adult female guppy from dropsy (she was pregnant as well, I thought). None of the other fish or snails are acting abnormal. I am not sure if I need to be concerned. <Wouldn't be immediately worried provided she is feeding normally and doesn't have signs of ill health or damage. The main reasons fish hide are these: Firstly, the tank is too small. This frightens them and they hide. Platies need a tank upwards of 90 litres (20 gallons). Anything smaller is inappropriate. Secondly, bullying. Male livebearers are nasty bullies, and will force themselves on any female in sight. You should always keep twice as many females as males when keeping Guppies and Platies, otherwise the females have a nasty life constantly being harassed by males. It's different in the wild because there's more space and to some degree the males are dying young because they are eaten by predators. So this behaviour simply ensures the males get to mate a few times before they die. But in the aquarium the males have things too easy, and are just really aggressive towards the females. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Hiding... platies, guppies   2/25/09 It does kind of help thank you. The only thing I am concerned about is I never see her eat but she must some how because she is still alive. <Yes and no... fish can last a long time without food, or just by nibbling algae in the case of herbivores like Platies. But still, if your fish doesn't eat her (Herbivore!) flake each day, then something is up.> The male is not pursuing the two females as much as before. And she didn't appear to be bullied by any of the fish. <Hmm... Did you ever experience/observe bullying at school? Often it happens, and yet if you ask the teachers, they'll swear blind they didn't see any evidence of it. Just because you don't see bullying, doesn't mean it isn't happening. With fish, bullying can be other than chasing/fighting. It can be subtle use of colours, postures, even electric fields in the case of things like Knifefish.> My tank has been pretty peaceful now that all the females are pregnant. I believe even my snails have mated. A few of the male guppies still pursue the female guppies. Could it be the stress of the guppy males chasing the guppy females? <Yes.> Maybe there are too many fish? I have twenty something guppies and three platys and two snails and one bottom feeder in a 29 gallon tank. <I would start thinning out a bit. I tend to rehome the males quite briskly, and certainly offspring should eventually be rehomed to avoid inbreeding.> Thanks, I will keep an eye on her (as well as I can). <Good luck, Neale.> Thank you for the advice and insight. I really helps. <We're happy to help. Enjoy your fish, Neale.>

Platy behavior 10/27/08 Hi I have a ten gallon tank with 2 diamond tetras, 3 neon tetras, 1 sunset platy, 2 apple snails. <Apart from the Neons (which should be in groups of 6+) none of these animals belongs in a 10-gallon tank. You're going to have problems keeping them in the right numbers and with the appropriate water quality. Diamond Tetras in particular get quite big (5 cm) and are very active, quite boisterous fish when mature.> One sunset platy died and I added 2 mickey mouse platys, 2 guppies and a albino African frog. <Do first of all check water chemistry and water quality. At minimum, get back to use with the pH and nitrite readings. Usually when fish die for no obvious reason, the cause is water quality or water chemistry problems. This is especially the case where less experienced hobbyists are concerned.> The sunset platy started lying on its side when by the mickey mouse platy was by it (only). What is it doing? Is it trying to make nice? <No, fish don't work that way.> Should I get another sunset? <Not a priority. Neons and Diamond Tetras are both schooling species and keeping them in such small numbers as you're doing is cruel. However, your tank isn't at all suitable for 6 Diamond Tetras. I'd be more concerned about upgrading to (at least) a 20-gallon system that worrying about anything else.> Thanks Karen <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Platy behavior (Environment?) 10/28/08 Then what? Why is the platy going to its side when by the others only? <When there's a flu outbreak or a cold spell, not every human gets sick simultaneously. Lots of factors come into play, such as age and genetics. Just so with fish: sometimes bad conditions are tolerated by some, while others succumb quickly. Though there's a one in ten chance that water conditions aren't responsible, virtually all sickness in common aquarium fish kept by less experienced fishkeepers come down to water conditions. So I need to know the water chemistry (at least the pH) and the water quality (at least the nitrite concentration). These are the two test kits every aquarist should have, without fail. So I'm assuming you have them. Use them, and get back to me. From there I can get a snapshot of the aquarium environment. Once I know about that, I can more constructively comment on what's wrong with the tank, cross off some possibilities, and give you advice on what to do next. A photo is also very helpful. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Platy behavior (Environment?) 10/29/08 Ammonia - 1.0 <Well there's your problem. This concentration of ammonia will swiftly stress and kill most any fish. Your tank is either overstocked, under-filtered, or over-fed. Possibly a combination. In addition, immature tanks that have not been cycled correctly can/will experience an ammonia "crisis" that lasts around 4 weeks until the biological filter is mature. During that time a great many fish end up dead, hence the preference for "fish-less cycling" methods. Review, and make appropriate adjustments to stocking, filtration, and feeding.> Nitrate - 10, Nitrite - 0, Chlorine - 0, Ph - 8.4 <Likely "case closed", and worrying about other issues until you've fixed the ammonia problem isn't useful. Platies are hardy enough fish, but any aquarium with detectable ammonia levels has serious problems that will, sooner or later, kill anything adding to the tank. Hope this clarifies things, Neale.>

Odd platy behaviour   10/12/08
I have a 60ltr Juwel Rena tank that I was given 2nd hand. I had it empty for about 2 weeks, then bought 6 platies from a local fish shop. One platy died within a week, another 10 days later. Both were red platies from the same tank in the shop and I wondered if they had been poor stock as they had both been gasping a lot around the bottom of the tank, and not wanting to eat for about half a day, before they died.
I had tested the water and found nothing untoward. However, not being sure why they died I decided to leave it a good month or so before getting anything else.
Now, 7 weeks since the last one died, I have a very sad little platy. She had been quite perky, then she had some fry (well, one day she was fat, the next she was not, no sign of the fry until two weeks later, we have one very sweet perky little chap swimming with the others, coming up for food etc)
From the day she had the fry about three weeks ago she has been very shy and hiding, only coming out from behind an ornament for food. She seems paler, and much smaller (but then she has no fry in her now) She has also taken on some very odd behavior in the last two days, swimming vertically against the tank wall between the wall and an ornament propped against the wall, in a just about fish sized gap, almost, but not quite scraping on the wall. She is there all the time, so I decided to remove her today to my quarantine tank (newly heated, one previous occupant of a goldfish, who has since located to my cold water tank).
<I see>
She has no obvious signs of anything on her body (no white dots, red gills or anything), will eat a bit (not as much as the others, but she's always interested) and her fins are not clamped. Since I put her in the QT she has hidden under the only ornament in there and has not come out (I have not tried to feed her yet). I just checked the water in the main tank (10 days since water change, am about to do another one now) and Ammonia is 0.3,
<Mmm, quite toxic. Needs to be addressed>
nitrite at 0 (<.03, lowest on the scale), Nitrate at about 10. Test kits are all vial style rather than strips. We have hard water here (I haven't tested it, but I draw water for the tank from the main stop tap as our house water is softened artificially) and the tank temp is set at 26-27 C (79-81) (is this a bit too warm?)
When I fished her out into the QT tank so I could observe her a bit better (before she hid) I notice she seemed a bit 'bent' (!) - she has a gentle curve in her spine, not noticeable unless you look at her from above.
<Good observation>
Any ideas?
<See below>
The other platies left in the tank have also been a bit subdued lately - I have had the light on a lot and notice that they seem happier when it is off so I will try not to turn it on so much (I work from home and I like to watch them instead of working!) There has been another batch of fry appear this week - most however have probably been eaten as I have not seen them much. Right now they are fighting over an algae wafer - even the little one is with them (he's about 8mm long now and quite bold)
I really want to sort out what may be wrong, I'm keen to get some more female platies as now I have two males and one female, which is not a good ratio.. but don't want to get any more until I am sure I don't have a problem. I have been offered an angel fish by a friend (he's being picked on by the other angel fish in her tank) but I need to be sure that the tank is Ok (and that he will be Ok with my platies)
<Mmm, perhaps while small... Could be too aggressive with growth>
One other thing. In the mornings I have noticed some very very tiny white worm like things swimming in the water and on the glass. They are maybe one or two mm long, almost hair like, and swim in a curled up motion. Could they be a parasite?
<No, not likely. There are many such "wee beasts" that "occur" in aquariums... "spontaneously" it seems at times>
Your help would be very much appreciated. Your website is the most useful resource I have come across, especially the disease troubleshooter.
Thank you
<Well... it might be that the initial platies were "spent" (near their natural life spans) when you purchased them... or that in their observed weakened state they perished from the additional stresses of the move to their new home... or one of a few other possibilities, including pathogens. If it were me, mine, I'd stick with (for the platies) the young, and raise them here... adding other peaceful, compatible species to go along with. Perhaps some Corydoras catfish for the bottom, some small danios, rasboras for the upper water... Many possibilities. I'd pass on the Angel... as it is too likely to get too big, agonistic in this small volume. Bob Fenner>

Re: odd platy behaviour 10/12/08
Thank so much Bob for the quick response.. my female is still being odd, so is still in the QT..
I have passed on the angel, despite really liking the look of her, she's gone to another friend setting up a 5ft tank.. I am working hard on my husband to get a much bigger tank by Christmas (you should see my Christmas wish list already)!
<Heee! Good to have wishes>
Retested ammonia and it is registering a zero. Tested again, still zero. I think maybe my sons help (he's 4) with testing yesterday may not have helped.
Will get a few little Danios next week, and keep on pestering for a bigger tank (all we need to do to make space is get rid of the wine rack, apparently this is an issue!)
<Mmm, there are many creative ways to stack such bottles... I know>
Thanks again. Back to children's bath time (I am told that the children should come before the fish...)
<Ah, yes. Cheers, BobF>

Pregnant female red wag platy being mean to male? 4/8/08 Hello, I purchased a pair of Red Wag Platies from PETCO a few weeks ago, one male, one female. Much of the equipment in the tank is second hand, (including the 12 gallon tank itself) so I don't know brands, but I do know that the aerator (I'm sorry I do not know if I spelled that right) is fully independent (requires no external pump) and is made for the tank, and that the filter is a medium Whisper filter. I also have a heater and a thermometer in the tank. Now, as to the fish in the tank. There are 3 Danios (One Giant, one Long tail Zebra, and one Long tail Leopard), a Black Skirted Tetra, 3 Corydoras (One is spotted, one splotchy, and one albino), and a Black Mystery Snail. <An interesting collection of fish, in the sense of not being sensible or recommended. Danios are schooling fish, and expect/need to be kept in groups of their own kind. Six zebra Danios (Danio rerio) for example. When kept in insufficient numbers it is not only cruel, but also asking for trouble. Have seen these fish become aggressive and nippy when kept thus. The tetra Gymnocorymbus ternetzi is a real troublemaker. Apart from being a schooling fish (again, six or more!) it is a confirmed fin nipper; will likely nip the Apple snail too. A dead snail = water pollution on a massive scale. And I cannot stress to strongly that Danios, and especially the Giant Danio (Danio aequipinnatus) require a lot of swimming space. Danio aequipinnatus gets to about 15 cm/6" when mature, and can (and will) eat small fish, including of course any livebearer fry but potentially small tetras, Danios, etc. Danio aequipinnatus needs an aquarium at least 150 cm/60" in length. Small Danios need something at least 60 cm/24" long.> Anyway... <Hmm...?> All was going well until about 3 days ago when I noticed a small white spot on the female Platy's vent. I immediately started looking online and found that the white spot is supposedly the gravid spot for the Red Wags, which of course made me get all kinds of excited because I had thought she was pregnant a week ago. <No, no, no. You can't reliably see the gravid spot on Xiphophorus spp., and it certainly isn't white.> Today, I noticed that she has been refusing the male's affections and running from him, until about an hour ago. Now instead of running away from him, she keeps a bit of distance while having a bowel movement and then lets him get real close, only to swim away real fast and hit him in the face with it. (Is this normal rejection type behavior?) <Who knows?> The other thing she has been doing is hiding in places where he can almost reach her with his gonopodium, but not quite, which has been driving him nuts! I am beginning to wonder how long it will be between the gravid spot appearing and her birthing the fry. <Gestation period is between 4-6 weeks, give or take a bit depending on environmental factors.> So, I guess to sum it up, I have two questions. 1: Is torturing the male a common pregnancy pastime for the female? <Not a pastime, but rather the result of evolutionary pressures acting on the males and females in different ways. Male livebearers are small and colourful, and consequently likely to get eaten young. So they are anxious to breed as often as possible before that happens. Females livebearers (at least in the wild) are bigger and camouflaged, so live longer. They select their mates carefully because they are committing a lot of energy and time to each batch of fry. They will attempt to reject males they consider unworthy.> 2: How long between a gravid spot appearing and the birthing of fry? <It isn't reliably visible on fancy Xiphophorus spp. so don't worry about it. Unless your tank has lots of floating plants, the Danio aequipinnatus will eat all the babies within minutes of birth. So this discussion is completely academic. Do not put female Platies in a breeding trap. It is too small for them, and likely stresses the fish, leading to miscarriages. Read the many articles here at WWM on livebearers and fish breeding. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Pregnant female red wag platy being mean to male? 4/8/08 I noticed that in your response you stated that the giant Danio will get to 6 inches in length at full maturity, and you said that he will eat the fry. Currently he is only around 2 inches in length and has the smallest mouth out of all the fish. <Do see here: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?id=10829 Danio aequipinnatus, maximum size 15 cm, minimum aquarium length 100 cm. Fishbase is a scientific database, and not something put together my amateurs! I don't make this stuff up to scare people!> I also read that you said my tank setup was not recommended or sensible, but it was actually recommended by the store manager. <Who you going to believe, a guy who wants to sell stuff, or a guy trying to help on the basis of 20+ years of fishkeeping and a degree in marine zoology?> We've had all these fish for a couple months (aside from the platies) and they haven't fought since I removed a catfish that was getting a little too territorial (I'm sorry I don't remember the breed), he died of an internal bacterial infection soon afterward which I discovered was living in the rocks of our second tank (quickly replaced those). <Bacterial infections don't "live on rocks" any more than Bubonic Plague doesn't hide at the bottom of closets. So again, if this is something the guy in store told you, treat with extreme caution. Internal bacterial infections are not common in aquaria, and mystery deaths are almost always down to other, usually environmental or dietary, factors. But we can discuss this another time.> The tetra and the Danios usually swim in circles around the decor as a school (I don't see how their numbers are cruel as they seem very content with their situation), the Corys and the snail usually sleep inside of it, and the platies seem to think they own the tank because they pretty much do as they please. <Swimming in circles isn't entirely normal. What they're doing is likely chasing one another or expressing displacement behaviours. It is exceedingly difficult to put human values on animal actions. The best we can do is ask: "Is this what these fish do in the wild?". If this isn't the case, then we can assume something is wrong. I call that cruelty, but you can call it something else if that makes you feel better. The bottom line though is that when fish are maintained in this way, they become unpredictable. Stress can allow them to be more prone to disease, while frustrated behaviours can release aggression, fin nipping, and other negative behaviours.> But your response arose new questions, such as, how long will it take for the giant to fully mature? (Considering the store tank said he would be fully grown at 3 inches or I wouldn't taken the suggestion in the first place.) <A year or so, I'd guess.> Also, how long is the snail's average lifespan? <Apple snails can live several years, but in aquaria they tend to last, on the average, less than a year.> I know that my aunt had one in a 10 gallon tank (packed full of tetras and Neons) that lived for 6 years. Hers was a plain apple snail though. I don't know if there's much of a difference between that and the black mystery. <Not really. It all depends on the environment. More often than not, Apple/Mystery snails get nipped by fish, so combining them isn't 100% recommended. Sure, it can be done (I've done it) but it isn't something that works every time.> When hers died, it was stinky, but not all that messy. Though we did a 25% water change anyway. Back to the platies, I was wondering if I need to provide cover from the Corys so that they can't reach the fry? <Corydoras won't eat livebearer fry.> Also, there's a one gallon tank in our basement which only lacks a heater. If I set that up, would I be able to move the female there for birthing, and if so how soon should I move her? <I'd not do that. Floating plants are the trick here, and then you put the fry into the breeding trap for a couple months.> One last thing, the female platy (being a show off as she is) let me get a good look at that spot, it seems that the white is actually just transparency from the vent being enlarged. Is it normal for it to dilate that early? <No idea, to be honest.> Thank you Neale (regardless of your pessimism) for the warnings. <Not pessimism. Rather, I try to give advice that will work in all cases. Sometimes you can play fast-and-loose and get away with it, but for beginners, recommending the cautious game is perhaps better.> I will try to talk the landlord into allowing a bigger tank, but for now (until I have the money for a larger tank) they will have to live with what they already have and enjoy. <I raise livebearer fry in 5-10 gallon tanks on windowsills. Lots of algae and space for them to grow. Sell the fry from a few batches, and you easily make up your expense! I got £40 (about $80) for one batch of halfbeak youngsters!> Victor <Cheers, Neale.> 

Platys... beh.   4/6/08 Hello, Ever since my female Platy died my male platy has been chasing all of the baby platys around. He just does this constantly, occasionally he stops to eat but that is about it. He chases one for a couple of seconds, stops for a couple of seconds, and then chases another one. He doesn't appear to be hurting them ( they are about half an inch long). He never used to do this, he would just swim with my female platy, but since she died which was about a month ago, he has been doing this constantly. Thank You, Megan <Megan, this is pretty much what male livebearers of all types do. In the wild males are smaller and more brightly coloured -- and consequently much shorter lived than the females! So the males have to mate as often as possible before they get eaten, often after only a few months of life. This means they fight with potential rivals (other males) and try and mate with any potential partners (any females). Evolution has given them this instinct, and there's nothing we can do to short circuit it. The best you can do is add a couple more females (at least) so that his energies are spread out and he's unable to harass any one fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Mollie and Platy beh.   12/28/07 Hello, First, tank detail: The livebearers: 1 Dalmatian balloon molly <... Have you read on WWM re?> 1 Red Wag (?) platy The grumpy: 1 Bumblebee Goby <Mmm, this is a brackish water animal> The amphibious: 1 African Dwarf Frog The clean up crew: 2 Ghost shrimp 1 Kuhli loach 1 Otocinclus They live in a 5 gallon (18.9 litre) tank (let it be known now that I am aware the tank is small, but I am diligent with the water chemistry), with extremely closely watched parameters, and large water changes at least once a week. <Good... hopefully not too much change with the water...> Tank temperature is generally in the mid-high 70s, <You have a purposeful heater?> with incandescent light to promote algae growth for the oto. Nitrates slightly high, <How high is high?> all else is normal, absolutely no ammonia in the water. Medium blue substrate, small terra cotta pots for hiding spaces, as well as clear marble aquarium decor. Includes three types of live plants, the one in question being the pongol sword, which looks exactly like this: http://www.aquaplantas.com/images/fotos_plantas/0158-Clorophytum-P-Sword.jpg <Mmm... am compelled to state that this, aka Spider or Ribbon plant is NOT aquatic... See the Net re> Here, finally, comes the question: I first noticed this behavior with my molly: it seems to be scratching itself against the sword, the broad portion of it. However, it does this with ONLY the sword. It does not scratch against the gravel, filter, or the other plants or aquarium walls. Just now, I noticed the platy doing the exact same thing. Again, only with the sword, nothing else in the tank. What is going on here? <Some scratching is natural... not indicative of disease...> Do they just like the way it feels? Neither of the fish appear to be infected with anything, all of the creatures are eating healthy, and they are all active. I have one more question, this one should be easier: my platy has the tell-tale dark spot of the preggers female. But it also has the gonopodium. Did I receive a hermaphrodite? <Not likely... but it may be changing, or expressing itself as one or the other...> Thanks in advance, Alex. <Do see Neale's pc. re Mollies: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mollies.htm And elsewhere on WWM re Brachygobius, and start dreaming and scheming (if you haven't already) for another or larger system... you need it. Bob Fenner>

Re: Mollie and Platy beh.... Kings and Queens of De Nile  12/29/07 Thanks for your reply, I have, in fact, been looking out for a better system, but for now, I think this could do. <Mmm, not with the mix of species you have> The molly appears to be quite happy, and because every time I change the water, I also rearrange all of the plants and decorations (much to the dismay of the loach) so the molly may not get bored for a while. I don't actually have a heater, but the bulb seems to be doing well enough on its own. If the temperature ever steadily drops beyond what the fish can handle, I will buy a heater. <Uhh... you need one now> And about the platy hermaphrodite... <Serial...> yep, she had babies. Had to fish out around twelve of the little buggers. I'm keeping them in a half-gallon tank (it's all I have now) and feeding them ground shrimp pellets. I haven't had a chance to get more suitable food, but I may be able to wing it with hard-boiled egg yolk and minced bits of worms. I'm currently lighting their tank with an old-style desk lamp... you know, the ones that get extremely hot to the touch. I'm positive the goby type that I have in the bigger tank is the one that can live in freshwater. <Please send along an image> About the sword.. I had suspected as much, but the molly and platy seem to enjoy it so much, I may just keep it. Regards, Alex. <I'd keep reading. BobF>

Re: Mollie and Platy beh.... More chatting, now re Tetras  12/29/07 Thanks for the continuing suggestions, you'll be pleased to know, I gave up the molly and goby in favor of tetras. Much easier to deal with. <Hmm... oddly enough, doesn't always work out this way. Cardinal and some other tetras can sometimes be disappointingly short lived in very hard (20+ dH) water, whereas gobies and Mollies in hard water with a little salt added are very, very durable. But still, if you don't want to keep a brackish system, then there's no mileage in trying to keep brackish fish in plain freshwater.> I'll look in to a heater... what's the optimal temperature for this tank to be at? <Unless otherwise stated, tropical fish should be kept at 25C/77F. A degree or two either way won't make much difference, but most tropicals will weaken and die below 20C/68F. Conversely, keeping fish above 28C/82F can cause problems with oxygen starvation and short life spans.> Can you suggest a good temperature to keep the baby fish? It's around 80F in the tank, I brought it down a little because I'm afraid of frying the fry. <Nope, keep the fry at the same temperature as the adults.> Regards, Alex <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Mollie and Platy beh.  12/29/07 Thank you very much for your help and suggestions, guys. I am hopefully well on my way to having a happy tank. <Very good.> I have rummy-nose tetras.. so far, they seem to pretty much stick to themselves. <These are excellent fish. There are at least two different species sold as these, but in either case provided they are given soft, acidic water conditions they are quite hardy and long-lived. Tend not to do well in hard, alkaline water though. Do keep in groups of at least six, or they pine away.> About the heater: I hate to sound to skeptical, but are you sure it is required? <It's really as simple as this: if the climate in your house is identical to that of the Brazilian rainforest, then no, you don't need the heater. But if your house gets colder than the Brazilian rainforest, then you need a heater. In other words, a daytime variation between a peak at ~25C/77F in the day and a low of ~20C/68F at night will be fine. When kept at the wrong temperatures, fish either die from suffocation/heat exhaustion (if too hot) or immune/digestive system failures (if too cold). Your move.> I keep the light on in the tank at least 10 hours of the day in order to promote algae growth, and the temperature through that alone hovers around 78F (I have one of those 'ballpark' strip thermometers). <Doesn't matter what sort of thermometer you use, so long as its accurate to within a degree or two. Given a basic, LCD stick-on-the-tank one costs very little (they come as free gifts on all kinds of fish kit) there's NO excuse for not using one.> I NEVER let the water drop or rise out of the 70s. The fry tank is now at the same temperature. <If this is so, then fine.> I can't remember where I read it, but during my reading up on how to care for livebearers, it was mentioned that the fry enjoy high-protein diets. <Garbage. Livebearers (with a few exceptions like the Pike livebearer) feed almost entirely on algae and mosquito larvae. Both of these are low protein foods, algae more so than mosquito larvae, but mosquito larvae are still only something like 4% protein. The vast majority of dietary problems with livebearers come from lack of fibre -- greens -- rather than lack of protein. All this will be explained in any book on livebearing fish, of which there are many.> Somewhere it was also mentioned that hard-boiled egg yolk works. I mashed a small portion of an egg yolk to a pulp in a small dish of water and fed it to the fry, and they ate with gusto. <This is an old-school treat for fish fry, and does indeed work well. But it's a treat, maybe once or twice a week. For the rest of the time, algae, Algae, ALGAE! There are plenty of algae-based (often Spirulina) flake and dried foods in the shops, or else you can use algae-covered rocks from green ponds or chop up Sushi Nori bought cheaply from an Asian food market.> Should I continue this diet? <As a treat, sure, but it isn't required.> Should any greens be involved? <Yes! Livebearers are omnivores, just like us. And just like humans: without meaty foods, they're fine; but without green foods, they get sick and die!> Thanks for all the help! -Alex. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Mollie and Platy beh.   12/31/07 Thanks very much for the heads up about the fry! I'll start adding greens immediately. And thanks very much for all the other information! If I have anymore questions, I will be sure to contact you. Regards, Alex. <Glad we could help. Cheers, Neale.>

Platys, young, beh.   12/18/07 Hi I have 2 Mickey mouse platys and one dark orange platys and now MANY babies of both breeds but only from the one female, there are like 50 babies from 2 different litters in a 225 gal long tank, I have recently given my mother about 12 of the babies and 2 days ago and now I have noticed that most of them are staying at the top of the tank most of the time including the adults. I do not know if this is normal or not please help..... thank you.. <Greetings. It is entirely normal for baby livebearers to stay at the top of the tank. The more Platies you have, the more they will school together, and what you are watching is a bunch of happy, sociable Platies doing their thing! Cheers, Neale.>

Strange behavior with platies, lack of data, no reading, children   12/12/07 Hi, <Rozelynn> My brother and I have "introduce" our two male platies after quarantine (I bought him the new fish after his molly died and I didn't know how to tell male from female). The new one is about half the size of our first one. The smaller one flattened it's fins and started swimming backwards while floating at a 45 degree angle at the larger one. After about 3 minutes they where doing this to each other. Neither was biting at the other. Is this normal and what are they doing? Thank you Rozelynn <Can't tell... not enough information included here... Re the make-up, history of your system, water quality, tests, feeding... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/platybehfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Long strands of platy poo   9/3/07 Hi, <<Hello, Lori. Tom here.>> I have a female Mickey Mouse Platy living in my 20 gallon tank with two Peppered Corys, one Zebra Danio, one black guppy, four two month old Platy fry, and four one month old Platy fry. <<Nice.>> She is going to have another batch soon (in the next two weeks.) Ever since I got her, about six months ago, she has produced long strands of poo. They are red, green, or brownish in color, and are up to about six centimeters in length. I feed my fish two to three times a day Nutrifin Max Color Enhancing food, and I feed my fry, Hikari First Bites. Please help me, I don't know whether or not to worry. <<No worries, Lori. If the feces were white, we'd likely have a problem. Otherwise, she's pooing what she's eating. Keep in mind that 'color-enhancing' foods like the Nutrafin product contain items like red-algae (pigments) as well as other natural additives that are meant specifically to bring out the colors in fish. These also 'enhance' the color of their fecal matter. The length may seem a bit disarming to you but this isn't out of the ordinary, really. I've got a Sailfin Pleco that appears to produce "spaghetti" on its diet largely of algae wafers and zucchini. Nothing whatsoever to be concerned about.>> Thanks again, Lori <<You're welcome. Tom>>

Platy Behaviour Problem 7/3/07 Hey WWM, <Hello> I know I've just recently asked a question, but I'm hoping you can help out with a issue I've been having with my platys as I couldn't find a similar Q&A online. <Will try.> I have 3 platys (2 female & 1 male) in a 10 gallon tank along side other community fish. The male loves to follow around my female white calico (fish #1) continuously. <Typical behavior.> I purchased the second female which is an orange sunburst (fish #2) to help take some of the attention off female #1 so she isn't always stressed out, as she doesn't exactly appreciate the constant attention from the male. <I would think not.> But the male is not only uninterested in fish #2, he aggressively chases her around the tank whenever in eye sight, then goes right back to following fish #1. <May not interest him, or may be a juvenile male which can sometimes look very much like a female.> I'd like to get fry from both females if possible as they're beautiful fish, but don't want my fish to suffer through the breeding process. Should I consider buying more platys? <If possible, more females.> If so how many and of which gender? <Female> I can still fit in 3 more fish comfortably within my tank, and would rather not go above that. <A light stocking load makes the tank much easier to manage.> Any input would be amazingly helpful. Thanks for your time! Sincerely, Erica <Get some more females if possible, chances are he will show interest in at least some of the new ones and give your current fish a break.> <Chris>

Re: platy behaviour problem  7/4/07 Hello again, I did get some more females for the tank, one extra male did end up getting in the bag without our noticing, so the ratio has become 2 males to 4 females. As for the fish being an immature male, that is very possible no doubt, I have looked at the lower fins, and it is a female from what I see, there isn't a gonopodium, but rather a fan like extension. How long does it take a platy to develop into adulthood? The other platys I just purchased also look somewhat small like the sunburst platy I have. The male Mickey Mouse platy and his victim the white calico are much larger and rounder in the belly. Is this by chance a different strand of platys? Thanks again for all your amazing help and input! Erica <Hello Erica. It sounds as if you are sexing the platies properly. Any aquarium book will show pictures, and a little time on Google will help too. Anyway, 2 males to 4 females is a good ratio. Platies become sexually mature within about 3 months. All platies are the same two species (Xiphophorus maculatus and X. variatus) and both species and all varieties interbreed. In fact all the "fancy platies" sold are probably hybrids. Anyway, this means that when they crossbreed you end up with "mongrel" fry, as with dogs and cats -- offspring that don't conform to any one breed. That's why if you want to breed sunset platies, you only keep sunset platies in the tank, and virgin female sunset platies at that. So rather than getting a new variety of platy, what you're likely getting are crossbreeds. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but crossbreed fry are sometimes difficult to sell (pet shops want varieties they can label as something special and sell at a premium). Be sure and have a look at the MANY platy and livebearer articles we have here, at: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlivestkindex.htm . Cheers, Neale>

Platy Male Aggression  -- 07/01/07 First, Thanks for al the fantastic information. This site has been extremely useful to a new platy lover. I've had my 15 gallon tank for a little over a month now. After two weeks I added my first three platies - one male and two females. Everything was going very well, so three days ago I added three more platies - again one male and two females. The males, however, don't seem to be getting along. <Mmm, can be a bit of aggression... but you do have sufficient room here...> The newer male has become dominant pecking at the other male who now pulls his fins in and floats backwards (away from him) whenever he approaches. If you have any advise on how to decrease the aggression it would be appreciated... should I add another male to take the pressure off the one who is getting picked on? Thanks very much for your time and advise! -Lisha <Actually... do try this first... Catch the "alpha" male up in a net of size, or place in a "breeding net" or trap hanging in this tank (or a small floating/plastic colander... like those used for straining cooked pasta...) and leave it there for a week or so... this will keep it separated, but allow a new social dynamic to be forged... See if then it will "get along" with all. Bob Fenner>

Mean Platy    5/21/07 Hello guys, and thanks for your site.  I have a question about a platy who seems to have some behavioral problems.  I have a 20 gal tank with 2 female platys, and 3 peppered Corys.  The larger of the two platys is a bit mean, though, and seems to enjoy chasing the other platy around the tank. <Mmm, quite common... better for most all fish species to be kept in odd numbers... to give one of the other "beta" ones a chance to rest... And with livebearers, to arrange that there is a ratio of more females to males...>   No fins have been nipped so far, but I am worried that she's stressing out the other fish. Mean platy is also pretty aggressive at feeding time, and she's particularly fond of the sinking tropical wafers I have for my Corys and I'm worried that they're not getting enough food. <Can be a concern... though these "armored cats" do have potent defenses...> I've been thinking of adding a male platy to see if that will help with mean platy's behavior (you know, give her something to do other than steal food and chase her platy friend!). <A good idea> Also, I've been planning to introduce a blue gourami at some point -- do you think it's likely that the gourami will be harassed, or will a gourami be big enough that the platy will leave it alone? <I do think the latter> Should I introduce a pair, or a single gourami? <Mmm, two would be my choice here> I've included my tank stats below, for your info. Thanks in advance for your help! Nicole - 20 gal glass tank with power filter - Temp set at 76 F - set up for about 2.5 months, first six weeks without fish (I was doing a fishless cycle with household ammonia) - the platys were my first residents, introduced 4 weeks ago - the Cory cats were added 2 weeks ago - current levels: ammonia = 0, nitrite = 0, nitrate = 5ppm, pH = 7.4 <Thank you for sharing, writing so well... completely and clearly. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Skittish, clamping, lazy platies   5/14/07 Hi guys, <Sinafey> We've been having a problem with our platies for about 10 days now.  They're extremely skittish whenever somebody even walks by their tank or we turn on the light in the room or tank (going as far as trying to bury themselves in the gravel), are clamping, and just laying on the substrate of the tank all day except for feeding time. <Interesting... fright contagions are one of my fave behavioral traits to study, discourse on...> We've also noticed discolored spots on several of them, usually on their heads.  It's not raised like fungus, and is just one large spot so doesn't look like ick.  On two of them it's right on top of their heads, and one has it right above her top lip. <Perhaps related to the behavior... but what came first let's say? Is it the nervousness that has led to the physical traumas or vice versa? Or are they even related?> Tank specs are: 55 gallon, Nitrates: ~10, Nitrites: 0, KH: 80 (moderate), PH: ~7. <No ammonia?> We have about 19 Platies, 3 Emerald Green Otocinclus cats, and 2 African Dwarf frogs.  We've had problems maintaining our PH (it keeps wanting to drop) so we dilute a small amount of baking soda in tank water and are adding it slowly after each water change. <This should be fine> Doing this has given us moderate alkalinity and has kept our PH pretty steady at about 7 for the last several months.  Since the fish have looked sick we've been doing at least a 25% (usually closer to 30%) water change about twice per week. <Good practice, percentage...> About 2 days ago my fiancé got Maracyn and we've been following the dosing instructions on the box. <The antibiotic Erythromycin? For what?> If anything they seem to be laying around on the substrate more, and we noticed that one of the younger platies got a spot on it's head as well.  I know it might be too early to tell if the meds are helping, but it doesn't look promising. Any idea what may be causing our problem? <Mmm, yes... likely either "something else" environmentally... or the beginnings of a parasite... Flukes possibly, even ich, Velvet... Have you introduced any new livestock (sans quarantine) or live foods, plants in recent days, weeks?> We love these fish and have been doing everything that we can to make them better, but it just doesn't seem to be working. Thanks so much for your kind help, Heather <Best to keep up with the water changes, including bicarb additions, and be observant at this juncture. Bob Fenner>

White lines on Platy??  - 03/24/07 Hi there, I am new to the aquarium hobby and I have now found your wonderful website. <And you, us> Ya'll are so great to have sooo much information and such friendly people here.  I promise, I have searched your site all over to try and answer my query and even tried to join the chat boards but it said that registration is closed at the time.  So, I am hoping that perhaps you could help me?? <Will definitely try> I have a 30 Gallon tank with two zebra danios, five neons, one tiger barb, <Mmm, do watch this... are social animals... but even in groups, can become nippy...> two x-ray fish, three red wag platies, one albino catfish and two unknown orange fish with brownish blackish mottled markings.  We just recently brought home two of the red wag platies and the two x-ray fish from the local pet store (four days ago) but I didn't know about this quarantine stuff so I just acclimatized them to the temp of the tank and then put them in.  (I will have to acquire a QT now from somewhere.)  Anyway, one of the platies was pregnant we believe due to the big round bloated belly she had but now she has these white lines going up and down her sides that make her look like she has ribs and is emaciated ... yet still bloated? <Mmmm, maybe> I hope that made sense.  I have a photo that I cropped and tried to adjust the contrast to make it easier to see the lines.  Oh, the photo has two fish in it but I just zoomed in on the lines I spoke of. Please can you tell me what this is??  I added MelaFix for the first three days to try to soften the move for them and hopefully not make it so stressful.  When I saw the white stuff I thought it was Ich so I've been treating with Rid Ich (for two days) but the lines are still there.  What is your opinion? Many grateful thanks for any help you can provide, Christina <Not to be anthropomorphic, but these look like "stretch marks"... areas twixt underlying musculature, where lines of scales have been pulled apart ("advanced fishes like this have ctenoid scalature that can/do show such "articulation") under some circumstances). I would not be concerned re the lines here... Should grow back together post-parturition. Bob Fenner>

Platy colour change  2/12/07 Hello! <Hi there> I have a fish problem that I have not encountered before. I have a ten gallon tank with 4 female platies and 2 males. I've had this tank for 2 years and have only had the occasional fungus problem. Well, one of my orange males is turning a dark brown colour and is hiding in the corner and won't eat. I have no clue what this is, he's just under a year old and never seemed to be stressed out or anything. Thank you in advance for your advice! Shelley <... water quality? Tests for same? Filtration? This reads as a likely environmental disorder. You have read re Platies on WWM? Bob Fenner>

Unusual(?) Platy Behavior   1/27/07 <<Hi, Deborah. Tom this afternoon.>> Our tank:  12 gallon, 6 neon tetras, 5 platys, 1 incredibly lethargic algae eater (can't even remember what it is).  Water tested regularly and all parameters always good. <<If the 'algae eater' is a Common Plecostomus, or a variety of the Plecostomus species, you won't see a lot of 'action' from this fish. Can grow very large, however. A 12-gallon tank won't suit this guy for long.>> Platy History:  Got 2 dwarf sunsets (one male?, one female?  Can't really tell because they are so small and don't stay still long enough for me to observe tail fin very well).  Then later the tetras.  Female(?) platy died.  Got a "Minnie" Mouse platy.  She proceeded to have at least 7 babies (3 survived.  All female I think). <<Talk about an 'instant' family, eh?>> Current behavior concerns:  Momma Minnie has been hovering either near the surface or on the bottom.  Not as active as usual.   <<Not uncommon after livebearers give birth.>> Swimming backwards about half the time when she does move.  She tends to get long strands of poop which hang for a while (gross!) which are usually sort of grayish.  They are now white.  She doesn't look preggers (not fat like she was before she popped out babies).   Should I be concerned? <<Unfortunately, yes. White feces are not a good sign. In almost all cases, feces should be dark in color. I say 'almost' because lighter colored 'poop' can also occur with perfectly healthy fish. It's the other behavior, in conjunction with this, that suggests that she's not well. If you can isolate her, please do so. Juvenile 'livebearers' don't always fare well after giving birth. Many (most?) can be fry-producing dynamos but others, sadly, don't survive. In a lot of cases, Deborah, the 'mother' needs rest that she doesn't get if left in the main tank. A single, healthy female can be unbelievably stressed by the pursuits of a single male, occasionally to death. A weakened female isn't going to have a good chance at all, if any. Separate her if you can and keep her water conditions optimal. Additionally, though I don't recommend crowding the tank you have, you really want to have more females than males (3:1 or 4:1) to keep 'Don Juan' from sharing too much of himself with any single female. (Yes, Platys can/will breed with other varieties of Platys. I knew you wanted to know. :) )>> Thanks! Deborah <<I'll do a little finger-crossing for your Platy, Deborah. I'm afraid that's about all we can do right now. Wish I could be more hopeful for you. My best. Tom>>

Good morning...  I have a question regarding platy mating behavior.    - 12/29/06 <<Hello, Linda. Tom with you this afternoon.>> I have a question regarding platy mating behavior.   <<Okay.>> I currently have 5 adult, 1 juvenile, 1 fry in a 37 high tank along with assorted tetras (11 total tetras).  I've noticed that the one adult male platy will only mate with the largest female.  The juvenile male platy will mate with the others but not the larger female.  Is this an alpha male, female behavior?   <<Undoubtedly. Depending on the female's disposition, this may be the only male she'll allow to approach her. Not at all unheard of.>> I'm getting ready to start a 55 gallon livebearer tank and will move all the platy's into the new tank.  It will be interesting to see if the behavior holds in the bigger tank.   <<I suspect it will, Linda, at least until the juvenile male matures. That might be when things get 'interesting'. :) >> I do intend to add other livebearers, probably swordtails and guppies along with other platys. <<I foresee quite a collection! Quarantine, if I may, will definitely be in order here, though. Good for you if you've already planned this.>> Tank water parameters are ph 7.4, nitrates 0-5, nitrites 0, amm 0.   <<All good'¦>> Other than the alpha mating behavior all the fish are fine and act completely normal.   <<Well, for the fish, the mating behavior is normal. Survival of the fittest and all that.>> I don't make a point to save the fry.  A few survive and prosper on their own.   <<Understood.>> I do 25/30% water changes every two weeks.  Any comments will be appreciated. <<It sounds to me like you have everything in fine order, Linda. Other than my comment about quarantining new fish before adding them to the 55-gallon tank, I can't think of anything that immediately jumps out at me concerning your plan. As an aside, I noticed that you didn't mention Mollies as part of your livebearer stocking plan. I suspect that you're already aware of the fact that these are considered to be a brackish water species though my head swims (pun intended) from the agreement/disagreement aspect of this. Freshwater? Brackish? Marine? And not one comment about this from a Molly. :) >> Thanks, Linda Ritchie <<Good luck in your venture, Linda. An enjoyable and prosperous New Year to you. Tom>>

Aggressive male platy  11/18/06 Hi there, <<Hello, Rebecca. Tom with you.>> We just started up an aquarium after a while and just got two male platys. They are the only ones in the tank.  We have had them for about a week.  I just noticed yesterday that one of them is being very aggressive towards the other one, chasing and nipping at the other when he comes anywhere in the vicinity.  Any thoughts on why? <<Provided that your water parameters are good, he's probably just 'protecting' his territory. Not uncommon for fish to stake out a claim on 'their' part of the tank and chase others off when they venture into that area. Could also be that he's showing the other who's 'boss' for potential breeding purposes. Back to my initial statement, check your water conditions (or have them tested at the LFS). If your parameters are out of whack, i.e. ammonia/nitrite levels are detectable, it can bring out aggressive behavior in a fish due to stress. Otherwise, I'd just keep an eye on him to make sure his aggression doesn't get out of hand. If it does, you'll have to find a way to isolate him for the sake of the other Platy.>> Thanks! Rebecca <<You're welcome, Rebecca. Good luck with your 'guys'. Tom>>

Odd platy behaviour 11/01/06 Hi, there, <<Greetings, Julia. Tom>> Thanks to your advice way back in April when I set up my first tank, the fish have been doing well and I've had a huge population explosion amongst my platies. <<Usually Platys don't need our advice. They just have population explosions on their own. :) Glad to hear everything has been going well, though.>> I've noticed in the last ten days that one of the females has started acting quite strangely though and its not behaviour I have seen before so was hoping someone might have some thoughts. <<I might have some. Let's go on.>> She has become exceedingly shy, but not in the usual pre-birthing sense. She spends a lot of the time either at the top of the tank or near the gravel. I've watched and she doesn't appear to be gasping. I've had a few ich and fungal outbreaks since set up but there are no telltale signs of sickness on her at all and her gills look fine. The entire population has been well for quite some time now. <<Good to hear that the others are doing well.>> She does look slightly L-shaped, instead of the usual straight stance her back fin appears to be pointing downwards and her bottom fin is permanently erect. She also tends to shy away from food at feeding time waiting for the others to finish before she goes for food of her own. <<This could be neurological, Julia. A bent spine, if you will, can be an indication of a few different problems but, when connected to a disease, there would typically be outward symptoms/signs, as well. I would rule out a viral infection -- one known to affect the brain/spine -- since none of the others are affected. Piscine tuberculosis (Mycobacteriosis) can cause this problem but would have additional outward indications such as sores/lesions on the animal's body. Physical 'trauma' such as one might expect from vaulting out of the tank onto the floor isn't the case here. I might conclude that she's simply 'predisposed' to an inherent condition that's led to this.>> For background this is 126 litre community tank of mainly platys, but a few zebra danios (10) and harlequin rasboras (6). I am advised that stocking is well within ethical limits. <<I'd never accuse you of being 'unethical', Rachel. I reserve that term for lawyers and politicians'¦and used-car salesmen'¦and, well, never mind. Seriously, though, I do understand that folks in the UK don't necessarily hold with what we Yanks feel are 'appropriate' stocking limitations. I feel that you're past the limit but I can't argue with success, either. If it isn't broken, don't fix it.>> I complete a 30-50 litre water change every week and feed a mixed diet of flake food, spinach and frozen and freeze-dried bugs. <<Excellent. Now if we could get everyone to be as conscientious'¦>> Any thoughts on this would be gratefully received. Many thanks Julia (UK) <<Hopefully, these have been, Rachel. Sorry that I couldn't offer more on your Platy but I don't know that there's much that you can do at this point in time. My best to you. Cheers, Tom>>

New FW Tank Questions 10/5/06 platy beh... Hi again, <Hi>    Sorry to bother you! No problem.> I have a few more questions. (Actually more than just a few! Sorry again!) So here it goes. All of my 4 fish have died but 1. <Why?> She is a red wag molly. It is a 10g fw tank.  What fish do I add? <Nothing until you know why the others died.>  Should I get my own test kit? <Yes> I am afraid to have anything to do with the local pet store! So far they haven't done a thing right! <Not good.> When we went in the other night all the fish were dying! It seems they don't know anything! But they're the only pet store in town. (Besides Wal-Mart!) My parents aren't going to drive me to Owaso every week!  <Mail order is a possibility.>  Also how much water do I change? <!0-20%>  How often do I change it? <Weekly or bi-weekly.> Thanks, Kyleigh <Time to start reading. Start here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwset-up.htm > <Chris> New FW Tank Questions Part II 10/5/06 Hi, <Hi again> Thanks for your help! <Sure> I know that 1 of my fish died because it got stuck under a bubble decoration. The other 2 I am 99.9% sure died of stress. <Do you know what caused the stress.>  But what 2 fish do you recommend to go with a red wag molly in a 10g FW tank? <2 or 3 more platies, they are social and appreciate the company of their own kind.> <Chris>

Platy Problem, actually beh.   9/26/06 Hi again, guys, I have two questions about my platies this time (I have 1 red wag & 1 blue). The first question is about my male platy (at least, I think he's a male). <Easy enough to discern...> When I first got him about a month ago, he was very docile & always swam together with my female platy. After a week or two, he started being extremely aggressive toward the female platy, running into her side constantly & bumping into her tail. <What they do...> At first I was kind of scared about that, but the female's tail was wholly intact, & he eventually stopped terrorizing her after about a week. During the week or two following that, my female platy became very plump (doubling in size), & the male followed her wherever she went. They almost swam as one being because they'd go everywhere together. ... and I thought that everything was peaceful & alright because they were getting along so well. BUT, just today he started getting extremely aggressive toward her again, & she has a little slit of the middle part of her tail missing. He won't stop leaving her alone, & I'm starting to worry about her. My questions are: Why is he being aggressive with her on & off? <Nature... need more room, more break-up of the environment... a different sex ratio (also natural)...  more females> Did he bite her tail, & if he did, why is such a perfectly-cut piece missing (why doesn't the cut from her tail look jagged, like a regular bite), & why did he do that? <Mating behavior... favored through space and time> Also, is my female platy pregnant? <Likely so... is a more or less constant state...> Does his aggressive behavior have anything to do with this if she is pregnant? <Mmm, yes> I've enclosed pictures showing my platies. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that when the male platy was being aggressive the first time, I thought that adding 2 mid-sized Pristella tetras would distract him; <Good idea... might help> unfortunately, he leaves them alone entirely & never bothers them at all. Also, I definitely know that the pristellas didn't harm the red wag because they always mind their own business, & they're extremely shy. Thanks, guys. Hope to hear from you soon. Save my fish!!! lol --Jessica <See WWM re Platy behavior... Systems... Reproduction. Bob Fenner>

Re: Listless Platy behaviour  9/10/06 Hi Tom, and thank you for taking the time to write back. <<Hi, Gina. Happy to do so.>> I'd like to learn more about "cycling", and I had a feeling the tank was too small, but the advertisement on the box make them sound so ideal; I thought that'd be the perfect size to start out a small boy with a few pet fish.   <<Might have been if they had been a little more informative, Gina. I completely understand your thinking but too many of these outfits "prey" on the uninformed.>> And I think the box said 5 fish was the limit.   <<"Five what?", would be the question, Gina. I highly doubt the box was very specific...>> He has been disappointed with our "mortality rate", and I feel terrible. <<Not to worry. You've found us and we'll do the best we can for you.>>    I did note that when we fed the fish today, there were some fuzzy white strands growing on the filter.   <<Likely a bacterial growth of some kind.>> This happened before.  After these appeared in the past, the water would get very cloudy and the fish would eventually die.   <<Definitely a bacterial growth ('bloom' actually). Green colored water is the result of an algae 'bloom' while whitish colored water is, typically, the result of a bacterial 'bloom'. (The substrate, if not rinsed off, and some decorations, may contribute to this but I don't think this is the case with you.)>> Even when I cleaned the tank, the process would repeat itself.   <<Did you rinse the filter media? This should be done in water taken from the tank. Never, outright, replace the filter media since it contains the beneficial bacteria necessary for biological filtering. Also, never wash it in tap water. Doomsday for the 'good guys'!>> If our platys don't make it, can we keep the Pleco in the tank by himself, or does he need companions?   <<The Platys would do better, alone, in this particular tank than the Pleco will. Your Pleco will - potentially - grow too large for a two-gallon aquarium. Heck, he'll grow too large for anything shy of a 40- to 50-gallon aquarium. His common size will be 9- to 10-inches. Best case? 14 inches, and better. (No, I'm not making that up!) Find the room, if possible, for a 30- to 50-gallon tank. Cycle it properly. (I'll be here to assist.) Teach your son that fish need lots of room. They come from rivers, lakes and oceans in nature. (No, I'm not being 'hard' on you. You made a good choice based on what information you had. Now, it's time to learn.>> We are really quite attached to him (no pun intended)! <<Well, let's keep him 'attached', Gina, and, yes, I took that as a pun! Not a bad one at that. :)>>   Thank you in advance! Best Regards, Gina <<If the "cycling" gets too tedious, give me a yell. I'll attack it from any direction you like. Tom>>   

Missing Platy   8/31/06 Dear Chuck! I am very sorry to bother you again, please forgive me.  I did not mention this in my last email, it just didn't seem very important.  One of my other platies was acting a bit funny, hiding, and laying low, I actually thought she was pregnant, well Chuck...I can't find the fish anywhere, I mean it, I have looked every where,  is it possible she was eaten?!  I have 3 flying fox, and 1 female betta, and what appears to be only 5 platies left, Is that possible?  I haven't noticed any aggression to this fish, or anything weird, they have all been eating normally, and I don't see any signs of it being eaten...my toddler thinks he went for a walk!  I hope he's right, here's to hoping. Could that really happen?  She was one of the biggest platies,  I don't like to point fingers, but if I had my guess it was probably Benjamin, he is chasing another of the females, who is hiding in the zoo med, I think he has to go Chuck, do you think a pet store will take him back?  You guys have the greatest web site going, I spend alot of time reading all the info, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, and I promise to try and not bother you again, not today anyways, haha!!!!  Charlie  < Look around the base of the aquarium stand with a flashlight and see if it jumped. If not, it could have died and been eaten by the foxes. Tell your story to the pet shop and see if you can trade him in or at least exchange him. Since you were not able to pick him out then they should take some of the responsibility.-Chuck>

Aggressive male platy behavior   8/31/06 Hi guys! <Well hello there - this is Jorie.> Wow! I've been going round on the web looking for some answers and thought I'd give you a shot.  Here goes. <We try our best to help here...> I have a 20 gal. community tank with 6 neon tetras, 1 sunset gourami, 4 rasboras, and now I'm down to 1 huge male Mickey mouse platy, 1 female Mickey mouse platy, and 1 red female platy.  The enormous male platy has killed every other platy (both male and female) that I have put in this tank and some other fish, too.   <I've seen this happen; mostly livebearers are pretty docile, but the males can get *very* territorial sometimes.  In fact, I have one male molly who is currently in "time out" (i.e., his own 2 gal. tank) because he was terrorizing another male molly in my 29 gal. brackish tank.> I have a 10 gal. tank that has only a male betta and a blue gourami who had to be separated from the sunset gourami so I am afraid if I put the mean platy in there he will get beat up. <I'd be more afraid for the betta with his beautiful fins.  But, you might be OK, since none of these fish look at all like each other.  You could give it a try, but keep a close, careful watch.> What's going on here? I keep reading how friendly this breed is but that is not what I am witnessing here. Oh, and we are on our second batch of platy fry, but from a different momma fish, he killed the first momma as she was delivering. <Yikes - the platy in question sounds like a terror indeed.  As mentioned above, male livebearers (guppies, platys, mollies) can at times be quite territorial.  I'd say give the 10 gal. a shot (make sure to give everyone plenty of cover (e.g., decorations, plants, etc.), but do monitor all three fish closely.  Hopefully that works.  If not, I'm afraid the platy in question may be destined to live alone in a 2 or 3 gal. tank.  Don't know if you have a small spare tank lying around (do make sure to provide it with filtration, a heater, etc. etc.), but if not, the Eclipse/Marineland brand if fairly reasonable in price, and includes built-in filtration.  When the time comes, that's an ideal single male betta home - just in case you want to plan for the future:-) Any help with this situation would be greatly appreciated. <Hope I have.> Thanks in advance. <You're welcome.  Good luck with the meanie, and everyone else! Jorie>

Male Platy wants To Breed All The Time  8/28/06 Hello, I hope you can help.  I recently bought a ten gallon tank, and moved my male and female platy into it, until then they had been in a gallon tank, and were very happy, but he started attacking her, she was not mating with him, and she had become reclusive.  I moved them, and bought 5 more platies, 2 female Bettas, and was told at the pet store that I could not pick my platy's sex. < Change pet stores. You are the one buying the fish, you should be able to pick out the fish.> My thoughts were of course, that it would distract 1st. platy (Benjamin), my 3 year old son, Benjamin named him, ha!  from further attacking Maggie, 2nd platies, but it has gotten a lot worse, she isn't eating, is wobbly, and he actively pursues her, the other 5 platies appear to be this ratio, 3-2 for the girls, one of these males is particularly larger then all the other fish, but seems only to peck a little, not overly aggressive, I have moved my male Betta into the gallon tank, and one of the female Bettas is sick and I have her in the Betta tank that Sunshine used to live in to hopefully get better.  What can I possibly do with this fish?  Right now he is in a big bowl of water that I set up for him, although the water has been conditioned, there is no filter, or bubble stone, or heater. I feel he will eventually kill Maggie if I leave him in the community tank.  Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!  Thank you very much for your time.  Charlie < I would reduce the water temp of the main tank to the mid 70's. At the upper temp range these fish are very active. Add some floating plant material or a floating ZooMed Aquarium Log for the picked on fish to hide. Floating material is very important for fish that have been beaten up or chased. Near the surface is where the food is so they won't starve and can regain their strength. As a last resort you could trade him in for a smaller platies.-Chuck>

Re: Aggressive Platy Gets To Go Home  8/28/06 Dear Chuck! Thank you so much for your speedy reply, I have returned Benjamin to the community tank and am off to a different pet store to get these excellent things you have suggested, I have no doubt that they will be most helpful.  I love Benjamin, he is a quirky, and incredibly energetic little fish, and beautifully coloured, I would hate to lose any of them, and my son keeps asking me, " Mommy, why is Benjamin in the fruit bowl?" Thank you again for the information, I will let you know how it goes, I was in a panic today, I am so glad that I have found you!  Have a most excellent evening!!!!  Charlie and Benjamin! < I hope things work out. I'm sure it will be better.-Chuck>

New Fish   8/20/06 Hi, <<Greetings, Susan. Tom>> 3 days ago I got 6 platies, in a 10 gallon tank. They seem to be very aggressive with each other. Only two of them, but before it was only one. <<New environments/conditions can bring this type of behavior out in some fish, Susan. A little early to tell if this is a "permanent" situation, though. My Sunburst Platies go through "phases" where they'll exhibit this type of behavior only to quit and go back to their normal activity, which is looking for me to feed them. :)>> I feel bad because the other fish seem to be scared of them now. <<Again, Susan, a bit early to tell.>> The two fish are both females (I have 2 males and 4 females) and one of them seems to be picking on only one, and the other one is picking on the rest. But they won't pick on each other. They all seem fine, they look fine, I don't know why they're doing that. <<Could be establishing a "pecking order", of sorts. Other factors may be involved here, however.>> And another question: I'm not sure if one of my aggressive females is pregnant, but she had a bit of a bigger belly then some of the others, and she has a blue gravid spot. <<With 'livebearers' such as Platies the females, almost invariably, are either pregnant or on their way to being so. Females are capable of storing the males' sperm inside of their bodies so they needn't mate every time in order to give birth. A single female, isolated from any males, can give birth three or four times (perhaps more) once she has mated. The fact that your female has a larger belly with a darkening gravid spot indicates that she's, almost certainly, pregnant.>> She has a blue color to her, so is it just a beauty mark or something? The "gravid spot" is inside of her, so is it possible that she is? <<I'd say this is not only possible but probable. On a sidenote, females close to giving birth won't be very tolerant of other fish, particularly the males. They prefer solitude and quiet (understandably) while the males have only one thing - besides eating - in mind, if you see where I'm going with this. Boys will be boys... :)>> Thank you for your time. Please respond as soon as possible this is very urgent for my fish. -Susan <<Keep in mind that all of your fish may look a lot alike but, won't necessarily behave alike. A dominant female may be showing the others, male and female alike, that she's going to "rule the roost" especially where mating is concerned. Usually, it's the males who pester the females practically non-stop but you might just have a couple of ladies who don't "play that game". Not at all uncommon, really. Keep an eye on them. If you have one that seems to pick on the others just because she likes to, she might have to be isolated. In the meantime, I wouldn't be too concerned. Best regards. Tom>>

Sunset Platy, bumpy   6/11/06 My sunset platy has little red bumps all over him/her. Is this normal? <Mmm... just color is fine...> I have not figured out its sex yet. There was another, but then it died. The surviving one showed no signs of pregnancy until now. <... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/platydisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Sluggish Platy 5/29/06 I have a red high finned platy and for the past couple of days now she has been laying on the bottom of the tank and leaning on rocks. The other platies in the tank appear fine swimming around, but she is not swimming around. I also have noticed some of her scales are missing. We have tested the water in the tank and everything seems fine. Do you have any suggestions in what could be wrong with her? Jennifer Campbell <Could be a couple of things.  She might be getting picked on, pregnant, or sick.  If you see here getting picked on she may need to be separated from the others and given a chance to recover.  If sick there is not enough evidence of the illness to treat properly, but keep an eye on her for more specific signs.  And lastly if pregnant it will pass after birth.> <Chris>

Normal platy behaviour?  - 05/09/06 Hi, Tom <<Hi, Julia.>> Thanks again for all your advice. <<My pleasure.>> Quick update to say that my pregnancy guess was correct and seven days in and we have our first, exceedingly tiny, sunset platy baby. <<Beautiful. Glad to hear it!>> The advice on this site about putting them in the breeding net to save worry is spot on. Having finally caught up with him it's nice to know where he is! <<The little rascals are "devilishly" hard to keep track of unless you do this.>> Here's hoping he survives okay. <<Trusting he'll do just fine.>> Thanks again Julia <<Any time, Julia. Tom>>

Platy Blowing Bubbles - 05/05/2006 I have a female platy who is blowing bubbles at the top of the tank like crazy. Do you know why she might be doing this? I have 3 females and 2 males, and only 1 female is doing it.   Jennifer Campbell <Jennifer, how long has this behavior been going on? Is the fish you described otherwise acting normal (e.g., eating, swimming, etc.)? I've read about people claiming their platies do this, but haven't ever seen mine do it.  Having said that, there are a couple of mine that love just hanging right below the surface.  As long as the rest of her behavior is normal and the water parameters are all good (ammonia, nitrite and nitrate), I don't see any problems.  If you haven't recently checked these parameters, however, do so, because it could be a sign of her gasping due to low O2 content, etc.  If all is well environmentally, I'd chalk it up to bizarre fish behavior - they all seem to have one "quirk" or another...they really are quite pet-like!  Good luck, Jorie>

Normal platy behaviour?   4/30/06 Hi there, <<Hello, Julia. Tom here.>> I'm struggling to find a concise explanation of normal platy behaviour. <<There are variables involved, Julia.>> Yesterday, after five weeks of setting up an aquarium with plants only and preparing the water etc. I introduced my first four fish: one male red platy and three females (of which two are sunset). The tank is 80cm x 35cm x 45 deep. My nitrates are 0, pH 7.5, ammonia is, I think, 0 or very close and nitrates vary a lot between 5 and 20. I already accidentally overfed them this morning so had to hoover out the gravel to remove some of the food. <<Oops...>> For the most part the fish seem to be happy. They are rotating between hanging out together, or dividing into a red camp and a yellow camp. I have two concerns. Every now and then they scoot up and down the side tank at high speed, which looking at other edits here, appears as though this might be cause for concern. It lasts for a few minutes at a time before they wander off and nibble algae or chase each other about the tank. <<Simply adjusting at this point. New "confines", etc.>> The second concern is that one of the sunset females hides quite a bit. She is frequently sociable but periodically goes and hides in a bogwood 'cave' or at the back of the tank at the base of one of the plants. Again, should I be worried? <<No. She's adjusting, too. Without knowing how mature your Platys are, I wouldn't rule out the possibility of pregnancy.>> The male seems quite lively varying between keeping the females company or chasing them around. <<Now, this, I would categorize as "typical". (No offense, guys.) :)>> I've only see one female give him a bit of a warning peck but it didn't look too aggressive. <<Not at all unusual.>> Lastly, all of the fish have at some point developed a small white spot only for it to clear up again within an hour or so. <<Can't rule out Ich but I wouldn't jump all over this. Keep a close eye on your fish, though. Good water conditions and healthy, stress-free fish are far less likely to be susceptible.>> I haven't even had them for 24 hours yet so had put this down to new environment stress. Is that likely or, do I need to do some emergency work now? <<It's too soon, Julia. The "ideal", of course, is that our new pets become, immediately, "at home" in their new environment. We forget the stress of netting and transporting them, not to mention putting them in an aquarium that is foreign to them. Give them, and yourself, a little more time. Your concern is understandable, however, I think you're putting pressure on yourself somewhat prematurely.>> Many thanks, Julia (UK) <<You're welcome. Tom (USA)>>

Re: Normal platy behaviour?  - 5/2/2006 Dear Tom <<Hi, Julia.>> Thanks for taking the time to answer this. I had thought it most likely that as the fish are new, they just have some settling down to do, but I didn't want to make an assumption and accidentally kill the poor little fellas within a few days of moving them in! <<Best to wait and observe during the first few days. The sooner the fish are stress-free, the less likely things are to go wrong.>> All the ich-like spots have gone and the female is still hiding out about 50% of the time but is  feeding well. There is every possibility that she could be pregnant as she is likely to be at least four months old and was living in a mixed sex tank when I purchased her. <<We can try to bring them up responsibly but kids these days... :)>> One last question - how long do they live on average? <<Three to five years is the "average". My experience with these fish is between three and four years. Interestingly, and ironically, at higher water temperatures, the immune systems in fish are stronger, leading to healthier/happier pets but their metabolisms are also increased which tends to shorten their lives somewhat. I, personally, think the trade-off is worth it.>> Many thanks again, Julia <<My best to you and your new friends, Julia. Tom>>

Molly and Platy Behaviour - 05/06/2006 Hi there, <Hi - you've got Jorie here tonight> I don't know what to do with my fighting mollies & platies. I have a 10g tank.  I had 1 male platy, 1 unknown platy (no female or male fin), and 1 female black molly.  I wanted to breed the fish, so I bought a black lyretail molly back in February.  The 2 mollies have been getting along all right...although he chases her incessantly. <Livebearers, esp. mollies, are notorious for this.  Generally, you should keep a 1:4 or so ratio of males to females, or the males will likely bully the females to death...> About a month ago, I bought another male platy (thought it was female, but just not developed yet).  The new male platy is somewhat aggressive and will not let the other male near the "unknown" platy.  There was a lot of fighting starting and fin nipping, with my original male platy starting to hide out, so I moved all 3 platies to my 35g tank.  I thought having more room and being in a different setting might change things a little (take out some of the aggressiveness in my new platy).  Didn't work.  So, then I moved my original male platy back to my 10g. <You said "you moved three platies".  Bottom line is you have too much testosterone in that tank! With a 10 gal. you really should only have 1 male livebearer in there, with perhaps 4 girls.  What all do you have in the 35 gal.? Perhaps the male molly can be moved there?> Now, in my 10g are the 2 mollies and 1 platy.  Yesterday, I noticed that the mollies were starting to fight with each other.  I thought this might be some kind of mating behaviour, but after today I'm not sure.  The male molly is constantly following the female around with his mouth sniffing?? nipping?? at her belly. <That's what the boys do to the girls...all day long.  This is why you can't have a 1:1 ratio> But yesterday, it's like she had enough.  They curve their bodies and swim in circles nipping at each other.  A few times, I saw (seen?) the female grab hold of one of the male's fins and not let go...dragging him and jerking on him. Before the 2 fish decide to kill each other, I moved the male molly to my 35g today. <Perhaps you can just have a few females in the 10, and put the males into the 35...> So, now I have a female (bullyish) molly and a skittish male platy in my 10g tank, <I'd watch this combination closely> and the male molly, male platy and unknown platy in my 35g. <Sounds good.> Any ideas on what kind of behaviour is going on here? <Yes - horny male livebearers! This is what they do...>   Why would this aggression start now...after being together for 3 months? <Perhaps they weren't sexually mature until recently.>   I'm not sure where to move what fish and how to possible get any of my fish breeding without overstocking my 10g. <Your livebearers will breed wherever, whenever, so don't worry about that! But, whether or not the fry will survive depends on what else is in the tank.  I don't know what all you keep in the 35 gal., but perhaps let the fish you want to reproduce be in there, and make sure there's plenty of hiding spots for the fry, incl. floating plants if possible.  Also, you could catch the fry as soon as you see them born and let them grow in the 10...I did this for a while playing the game of "musical livebearer tanks...Bottom line, you cannot have more than 1 male livebearer, molly or platy, in your 10, and you need to have a few girls in there so that the sexual aggression is fairly spread around.  Even Also, make sure there's ample hiding spots.  Alternatively, and probably the better idea (as mentioned above) consider just keeping females in the 10...trust me, if you have a few girls in there, it won't be long until you see fry, as the females can hold sperm up to 6 months!> Help please!! Donna <Hope I have! Best of luck, Jorie.>

Molly and Platy Behaviour - 05/07/2006 Thanks for the super quick response! <You're welcome - we try our best!> What do you mean by watching the male platy and female molly??   <I just meant to make sure the "bully" female doesn't go after the "skittish male"...just to keep an eye on everyone, which you already seem to do!> Until I can get some female platies to add to my 35g, I don't want to move this platy because the other male platy is nipping at him. <You should be fine - I was only concerned because of how you described the two fish you currently have in the 10 gal. respectively as a "bully" and "skittish".  As long as there is no aggression, everyone should be fine as is for the time being.> In my 35g, I have 2 penguin tetras, 1 white tetra, 1 pleco, 1 snail, 10 neon tetras, and 10 harlequin rasboras, a lot of artificial plants, and a few rocks. <Sounds good - pretty small fish with lots of swimming room I am sure they appreciate!>   I plan on eventually changing the substrate in this tank to fluorite, removing everything artificial and adding live plants, more rocks/caves, and a couple "centerpiece" fish as recommended by someone else on your site the other day.  They suggested either German Rams, Kribensis, and/or Cherry Barbs. Although, I'm not so sure about some of these with the mix I have. <The barbs could potentially be problematic, but the rams are peaceful, not to mention bright and colorful.  Just be sure you have provided lots of hiding places and plant cover for them, if you go this route. The Kribensis a/k/a purple cichlid a/k/a pink cichlid is also relatively peaceful, so that should be OK as an alternative "centerpiece" fish.> I had originally wanted to go with 2 clown loaches, but was told they would be too big for this tank. <OK - I think I was confused and thought the clown loaches were already in the tank.  Yes, I agree on them truly being too big for a 35 gal. - they can grow over 12" long...> Donna <Hope I've clarified things a bit. Best regards, Jorie>

Male platy attacking female    3/24/06 <Tom with you this morning> I have one male platy and two female platies in a 10 gallon tank. <Okay> The male platy has been chasing and bothering the two females. The male has caused a little damage to one of the female's fins. Is this a sign of attraction or is it just aggression? <Most likely establishing dominance. Interestingly, a dominant female can/will do the same to males> The aggression had just started yesterday. I've had the male for six days now. <Keep an eye on the male and be prepared to separate him if need be. A possibility, among others, would be to purchase a divider and seclude the male in a small section of the tank away from the females for a time. Can take a little of the "starch" out of an overly assertive fish. Tom>

Blue platy turned orange?    3/2/06 Hello.  I purchased 2 blue platies back in September.  They seem happy and healthy.  My concern is that one of the platies has turned orange, what's that all about?  I would very much appreciate it if you could solve this mystery for me. Thank You <Ah, many platy (and other live-bearing toothed carps, family Poeciliidae) have less than "fixed" strains... Yours is exhibiting a bit of "throw back" legacy genetically. Not to worry. Bob Fenner>

Odd Platy Behavior   1/14/06 Hey guys, <Daria> I've looked all over your website but haven't been able to find an answer to my question.  I'm not sure whether its much of a problem but more of an odd behavior with one of my Mickey mouse platies. I have four male platies in a 10 gallon tank, ammonia, nitrite at 0 and nitrate between 5 and 10ppm. One of the Mickey mouse platies likes following the smallest one of the four and rubs up against it, making me almost think he's trying to mate, but the other fish is also a male, so I was hoping you could explain the behavior to me. <Mmm, just "friendly" or perhaps "searching" behavior. Not unusual> He is not the dominant male in the group and is often the most skittish one, even though he is the largest and seems to have some kind of attraction to the smallest platy. Sorry to take up much of your time, since this really is not a live or death situation, but the Stevie (the smallest fish) seems to be bothered by this and spends a lot of time hiding behind the plants, although there are no other visible problems with him. thanks for your time, Daria. <I might place a bit more "cover", decor, or live floating plant in here to give all a bit more space to hide in, to. Bob Fenner>

Platy problems... actually normal behavior  - 01/12/2006 Hi, my name is Andy. I am new to the aquarium thing, and I have purchased three platy's, two female, and one male. the male tends to  follow the females around but not bite at them. <Normal...> but they run from him , he keeps following and it seems the females are afraid of him. What should I do? <Mmm, nothing> or is he just trying to mate? <Yep> Please give all the info you have to give. thanks dearly     Andy <No worries Andy. Bob Fenner>

Platy fry colors  12/14/05 Hello! I have A LOT of platy fry in my tank, two of which are about 2 months old, and about 15ish that are about 2 weeks old. I was wondering how long it takes for the fry to get the same vibrant colors as the adults? <Two to three months generally> The female that gave birth to these guys is orange. The two older fry are kinda light brown with a vertical black stripe down the middle and some of the young ones are really pale, almost white and some are brown. They look so plain compared to all the other fishies. They are all growing fine and all look really happy. They are such brave little guys to swim around with the adults. Thanks for your help! Shelley <Feeding small amounts more frequently, being diligent re water changes, using foods with carotenoids, Spirulina can help "speed up" the coloring wait time. Bob Fenner>

Unusual Platy Behavior  11/11/05 In my 9 gallon tank I have 1 male Red-tailed Albino Platy, 1 female Twin Goldbar Platy, and 1 female Sunset Fire Platy. These are the only fish in my tank. For the past 2 and a half weeks my Sunset Fire Platy is acting very unusual, she spends all of her time lying on the bottom of the tank, unless it's feeding time and then she eats just like the other fish. She has a long, almost transparent trail of slime coming from her anal fin that trails behind her when she swims during feeding. I have tested the water and the results read that my water is perfect. I figured if this was Dropsy she would have died by now. What should I do? Thank you for your time and patience.                                                               Sincerely, Jonathan <Mmm, "perfect" is a subjective evaluation... non-informative (like the prez). I would do the "usual" remedial efforts of changing water, adding a level teaspoon of "aquarium salt" per five gallons of system water, replacing the activated carbon in your filter. Bob Fenner>

The Super-productive Capabilities of the Platy 10/22/05 New tank owner was left with the house we just purchased.  <What?>  I went out and bought 2 gold platies, and I did not know they were live bearers (did not tell me this when I purchased them). So now I have 3 half inch new ones, 4 smaller than that, and now I just found 3 more little ones under grass and rock I have in tank. I went to the pet store where I purchased these platies and they told me to lower temp in tank or shut off thermometer? Is this correct? I just want them to quit breeding. They were also surprised they all survived! They have survived. And I only have a 10 gallon tank and that is all that I want. Help! What should I do to stop them from having any more fry? <If you don't want babies, don't have livebearers. Sorry, I know that's not very helpful. Honestly though, turning off the temperature may work, but only because you are making them stressed and sick. My suggestion is to work out a platy for something else exchange at your fish store. You could also keep males only, but they may pick on each other. Congrats on healthy fry -- it's a good sign your tank is healthy.> Thank you for your time and help.  <Sorry I can't prescribe platy birth control. Catherine> 

Red Platy A Loner? 7/22/05 Greetings. I have read your site with interest, and find it a tremendous resource. <Thanks, I've been reading it 5+ years, and the amount of info here never ceases to amaze me.  I'm just glad to add a bit to the pool, if I can> After reading over the advice given previously to others about Platy aggression, I returned one of my two males to the LFS, as I was unable to add any females of the species to the tank for fear of overcrowding. While this is not a pressing query, I would like your opinion about whether the remaining Platy is happy: After I removed the aggressor, the Platy came out from hiding, swims about the tank most of the day, mingles with the White Clouds, is eating heartily, and seems to enjoy swimming past a small plastic "imitation Platy" I placed in the tank. Could a single Platy actually be content, or am I reading contentment into his actions? Perhaps all the swimming and eating is actually unhappy behavior. I've asked him if he's happy, but so far, no reply. *winks* <While it would probably prefer some more platys, especially female platys *wink back at ya* it should live a long and happy life without company of the same species.  And yes, I do hate how platys give their owners "the silent treatment"; biting the hand that feeds it seems to me!> Thank you. <My pleasure> Holly <M. Maddox>

Platy behavior 7/16/05 Hello people one of my platies has been hovering over the gravel in my 20 gallon hexagon fish tank.  Can you tell me what is wrong?     from, Joe <Perhaps nothing... please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/platybehfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Lethargic Platy 7/5/05 I have read through some of your FAQs to find some answers to help my lethargic platy. I have 5 sunset platys, 2 male and 3 female, they have been happy in the tank for 3-4 months. I've done regular water changes over the period and have had no other problems. The Platys share the tank with neon tetras, clown loaches, plecs and Corydoras. A couple of days ago 1 of the females began behaving in an odd manner, she seems to be resting atop the filter for most of the day, swimming at the top of the tank to eat but her swimming seems to be a difficult task, also she has become very thin, whilst the other platys seem perfectly happy. Any ideas? <Perhaps an internal parasite, maybe a genetic pre-disposition... you do feed a mix of nutritious foods... with greenery included I take it, considering the other livestock you list... Perhaps the one platy is "just" old. Bob Fenner>

Baby Fries and a lonely Platy  07/02/05 I looked through the FAQ and I didn't see these questions answered. Sorry for the lengthy e-mail. <No worries> My first question pertains to a lonely Platy. I set up my tank last Tuesday and added 3 platys to it. 2 of the platies have died since (the latest this morning). The two platies that died looked sick and I knew they were going to go. My last platy looks healthy, but stays at the top of the tank in the corner. It isn't gulping for breath so I wonder if it is staying there because it is lonely. I am hesitant to add anymore fish into the tank until the water cycles through in about 3 1/2 weeks. I  have a sucker in the tank but I highly doubt this is the type of companionship the platy wants. Should I add more fish? <... no... please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm> My second question is about platy fries (sorry if this was already answered!) <Just fry... fries are made from potatoes> 2 days after setting the tank up I had about 12 baby platies and spent all of Friday removing them from the tank into a plastic bowl (about 1.5 gallons) with an aeration tube. Should I buy in a bigger tank and how often should I do water changes? Thanks! Andrea <These questions are all answered as well as several other important related matters... on WWM... Please read there. Bob Fenner>

Aggressive Male Platies Dear Crew, I was not aware of how to figure out the sex of my platies until I noticed the aggression that was taking place in my tank.  After a bit of research I discovered that the majority of them were male...a bad thing.  Of course, I should have known that Wal-Mart knows nothing about fish and done the research myself first.  Unfortunately, now I am stuck with too many male platies.  As far as I know they all get along except for one very aggressive male who picks on all of the others.  He is larger than the rest and seems to feel he is the dominant one.  Is there anything I can do to stop him from being aggressive?  If not how can I get rid of some of the males so that this does not continue to happen?  Wal-Mart will not take them back:( Thanks, Frustrated <You can try giving him a time out. If you have another tank you could put him in for a few days he may have a new attitude when he re enters as the new guy on the block. But I doubt it will work, long term. Best to find the extra males new homes. Maybe trade them at a different pet store. Don> New Tank With Platies I'm a new, though unofficial, fishkeeper.  My 9 year old son wanted fish so we got a 20 gal tank, cycled it, and added 3 platys - one blue, one red Mickey and a white platy with a red spot.  I think they're all girls, but the red one nips at the others, is not as active, and stays on the bottom of the tank.   She has no spots or discoloration, and a moderate appetite.  I was searching the internet to find information on platy behavior and after a long time found your sight.  You have been very helpful already.  Based on the information here, we'll do a water test, and verify gender.  I'll be checking in often.  Thank you. Cathy M. <Good luck with your new tank and on behalf of the WWM Crew we thank you for your kind words.-Chuck> New Tank Platy I am new to aquariums. I have a twenty gallon tank which I have cycled for three days and added BioSpira. pH is normal around 6-7, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are all low, temp sits at 78-79 so I added two platys and three phantom tetra today. One of my platy's, a female is sitting in the upper corner while the other, male, is swimming everywhere. It seems to have something brown hanging from under its tail fin. "Guessing fecal material of sort." Earlier in the day she was swimming everywhere, now she's not. Any ideas? Nick <If you just added them today, that would seem normal. It takes some time for some new fish to adjust to their new conditions. It could also be that the male has been aggressively trying to breed, stressing her out. You should always have more females than males to spread out the aggression. But let's touch on water quality first. It is not good to have low ammonia and nitrites. Both MUST be at zero. If you are showing any at all, then water changes are in order. Do as many as are needed to keep both as low as possible.  The BioSpira will add the bacteria needed to control both, but will need some time to adjust to your bio load. Do not add any more fish until both remain at zero without a water change. Also, to say your pH is "around 6-7" is like saying the water temp is between freezing and boiling. A 1.0 difference in pH is huge! But the important thing is to keep it steady, not hit a target number. Doing frequent partial water changes will correct any spikes in ammonia and nitrite, and later control nitrate, as well as keep your pH matched to your source water. Don>

New platy hiding Hi--I am new to the platy world and have two questions about normal behavior and temperature. I have a new 3 gallon tank which ran for about 5 days before we added one male platy. <Mmm, do you know about "cycling", establishing biological filtration in aquariums? Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm > He has been in the tank for about two days. He hides most of the time (he has some good spots in which to hide) and only comes out to eat. He seems healthy and eats well. After he eats, he swims around a bit, then goes back into hiding, usually until the next feeding. Is this normal "new" fish behavior? Could he just be lonely? <Normal to an extent, and Platies are indeed social creatures... but I suspect your tank is toxic due to not being cycled principally here> Also, we moved his tank after one day because he was in a warm room and I was worried his tank might be getting too hot (don't want any boiled fish!). What is the temperature range for platys? (We don't have a heater in the tank right now.) Thanks! <Most anything in the high sixties to high seventies is ideal... more important that the temperature not vacillate much than it be an actual temp. A shame you have such a tiny, changeable world for you and your fish/es to deal with... I would save up and get a "real aquarium"... Do read re proper/adequate FW set-ups, maintenance on WWM... Your passion will drive your actions. Bob Fenner> 

Re: new platy hiding Dear Bob, <Joy> First, let me say thanks for taking the time to respond to my question. I appreciate the fact that you provide this service free of charge. However, I find it incredibly insulting that you do not consider my tank to be a "real" aquarium, just because it's not some 200 gallon monster.  <Mmm, a ten would, will do...> "A shame you have such a tiny, changeable world for you and your fish/es to deal with... I would save up and get a "real aquarium"... I think you need to consult your Webster's to review the definition of an aquarium. It doesn't specify a certain size requirement. <I have no such need... you can read books on aquarium keeping, my articles posted here and there... for free... sigh> Just because we have not spent hundreds to thousands of dollars on fish and a tank does not give you the right to scoff. We all have to start somewhere, right? <Am not scoffing... just offering my input...> My 7 year old son is autistic and he worked very hard to get this aquarium. He is very proud of it and I will not have you make a mockery of it, intentional or not. Just in case you do care, I cycled the tank for a week and tested the water with a Mardel Master Test Kit (pH, Hardness, Alkalinity, Nitrite, Nitrate, Ammonia). Everything is within normal parameters, so I do not consider the tank to be "toxic". Our little platy is no longer hiding...he is doing great. And don't worry...I won't be bothering you with any more questions about my "pseudo aquarium". Sincerely, Joy Buchanan <Back to your world... good luck, good bye, good riddance. Bob Fenner> 

Overactive Male Platy We have one male platy in our 30 gallon tank with 4 females, along with 4 female barbs and 1 male barb. The male barb became very aggressive towards the females last week so we removed him for a couple of days, then returned him to the tank and he's pretty cool now. <Good> The male platy has now become very aggressive towards the other platies, and now all the other female fish. Should we remove him for a while or is he just being amorous? <I would try the periodic "time out" again... for a few days> We removed him for a bit but he seems more aggressive then ever. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Nel <All sounds like you're doing things right... Your system is large enough, you have good sex ratios for your fish species... Likely you're right... they're just overly frisky. Bob Fenner>

Mickey Mouse Platy Hi there <Hello> I've been reading lots of stuff on Mickey Mouse Platys but I still don't think I know what is wrong with my fish, only that its sick.  It is hiding in one of the plants at the bottom of the tank and hasn't been eating since yesterday.  It has been swimming around but at times almost seems like it cannot move forward and moves backward.  I've been watching it today and its developing a white "stain" around its gills, its not raised and it doesn't look like Ick either.   <Could just be "bummed out"> We have a 55 gallon tank which has been running around a week.  We have 2 blue dwarf Gouramis, 2 red fire Gouramis, 2 Mickey Mouse platys, 2 phantom tetras and a 7 inch Pleco.  They all came from two separate 10 gallon tanks which we have been running for about 2 months.  We transferred all the ornaments, some gravel and have one of the filters running in the new tank because I thought that the bio filter might help the tank cycle quicker. <Good thinking> We have a large filter running that also came with the tank.  The water temp is 80 degrees. Any suggestions will be helpful. Thanks. Alison <I would still use your test kits to check water quality... Bob Fenner> Platies losing color Hi, just have a quick question for you. I have a 20 gallon aquarium with 3 red wag platies, 4 zebra danios, and 5 albino Corydoras. Lately I've been noticing one of my female platies, losing her color on the bottom of her belly, also she sometimes flicks herself against rocks as if she is trying to scratch herself. I've check for signs of the protozoan Ick, there are no signs of that in my tank. I change at least 50% of the water in the tank weekly. <Impressive!> The water changes seem to help, so I'm assuming it has to do with the water quality and the ammonia and nitrite levels. Is there anything else I could do to make her more, I guess comfortable? <Platies like alkaline water with some salt, at least one tablespoon per 5 gallons. Please see here, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/poeciliids.htm, for additional information and follow onto the blue linked FAQ files.> Also will her color come back? <If the cause, whatever that is, is corrected.> Thank you for your time, Cara <You are quite welcome. -Steven Pro>

Aggressive Red Mickey Mouse Platy Hi there!  This is my first try with tropical fish.  I bought a Red Mickey Mouse Platy, a Marble Molly and a Glass fish.  After 3 days, the molly died (it didn't appear to be eating anything).  I went back to the pet store and was told both the mollies and platys need to school (why couldn't they have told me that when I bought them, after I told them I was a novice?).  So, I bought another 2 platys.  The two (I think they are the males) began chasing and victimizing the female. <Better to have just one male, and two or more females. The males have a gonopodium, a modified anal fin (up under the belly) that is pointed looking, serves as an intromittent organ. Trade one of the males in for another female> She started hiding to try to get away from them.  She died yesterday.  Today, one of the platys appears to be doing the same thing to the other one.  My question is, WHAT is going on?  I thought they were supposed to be a peaceful fish .  I don't know if I have an overly aggressive male.  I don't know what to do with them.  Should I take out the aggressive one? <I would trade it in for a female> Will he start attacking the Glass Fish?  What kinds of fish can I put in my 10 gallon aquarium that will survive my nasty Platy?  If you could give me any advice I would deeply appreciate it. Thank you.   Laura <Please read through the freshwater livestock coverage here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm I would try some of the smaller Danios, Rasboras, Barbs. Bob Fenner>

Platy Poop <Morning! Ryan with you> I have a group of about 15 baby Platies in a separate tank. Although I have heard that it is best not to overfeed your fish, I still think that I feed them considerably well. However, I have noticed that several of them often have neon green turds, which is the color of my aquarium rocks. Can you tell me why they are eating the paint off of the gravel in addition to their food, and is it harmful? They seem perfectly fine to me, but somehow it doesn't seem right. <I don't think they're intentionally eating the paint, they're probably nibbling algae from the rocks, and getting it inadvertently.  This can't be healthy, and could cause some serious internal problems with your Platies.  Or, they could be fine- But I would play it safe- get a substrate that's more natural.  Gravel or small stones will be aesthetically pleasing and provide a natural setting for your fish.  Good luck! Ryan> Thanks, Natasha

Aggressive Red Mickey Mouse Platy Dear Crew, <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> I am new to the aquarium hobby and have purchased a 20 gallon tank start up kit from the local pet store. I have an assortment of platies in this tank that include a neon orange Mickey mouse platy, a sunset wag platy, a blue Mickey mouse platy ( all platies listed before hand are females) and a male red Mickey mouse platy. I have had all these platies for about two months now and have had two sets of fry, from the neon Mickey mouse and the sunset wag, and am working on the next set. They all got along together in the beginning and now, after the sunset wag dropped her fry, the male red Mickey mouse platy will chase her all around the tank nipping at her tail. <"Flirting", tough-fish style, possibly. Male livebearers have two things on their little fishy minds: food and making more livebearers.> She hides in the plants that I have in the tank and clamps her fins close to her body all the time. She has also lost a lot of weight and almost looks sick. <Stress from being chased.> The male platy will leave all the other platies alone. Is there something about having a wag platy in with a male Mickey mouse platy that is wrong? I thought that platies were supposed to get along with each other. <Generally, yes. It sounds like this fish has more of a one-track mind than most.> Please help!!!   Jim Hooper <The next time one of your females drops a bunch of fry, you might isolate her for a few days so she can recover her strength away from the Mickey Monster Mouse platy. Then when she goes back into the main tank, isolate the male in question and rearrange the tank so he won't feel quite so territorial about everything. --Ananda>

Hiding Platy Hi there, <Hi! Ananda here today...> I have three platies. I'm not sure exactly what they're called, but they're gold with red fins and black edges on the upper and lower parts of the tail (comets?). <I've heard that color morph called a "gold wag" platy... not that I can fathom how they come up with "wag" as a descriptor!!> Two are male and one is female. <Um. You want to reverse that ratio... pair o' females per male is the usual.> The female has been hiding for about three days. I know she's alive, but she rarely comes out even to eat. I don't think she's pregnant or sick. Her belly is not "bloated" and she doesn't appear to have velvet or ich...From researching other questions posted on your website, it appears she may be stressed from being chased. <Yup, that's the most likely possibility... most fish have about three thoughts in their head when it comes to other fish: "Can it eat me?", "Can I eat it?", and "Can I mate with it?" But when it comes to male livebearers, I think the order is reversed!> Is there anything I can do for her? Should I buy one or two more females? <A pair of females, IF you have the tank space... how big is the tank, and what else is in the tank?> I am a novice at this hobby, so I appreciate any advice you can give me. Thank you! <You're quite welcome, and do check out the freshwater forums on the WetWeb chat forums: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk ... Ananda>

Hiding Platy Hi Ananda, <The insomniac is back...> Thank you very much! I bought four more platies yesterday (3 female, 1 male). I now have 4 females and 2 males. The hiding female came out within minutes after her new friends were added to the tank. Nobody appears to be stressed now! <Glad to hear it. Next time you get fish, though, do please consider quarantining the new arrivals for at least two or three weeks first, to make sure they won't bring any nasties to your tank....I shall cross my fingers that your new platies are healthy.> Thank you so much for your help. <You're quite welcome. --Ananda>

Re: Hiding Platy Hi again! <Hi! Ananda back at it again...> Like I said, I am a novice! <As we all have been, and sometimes still are!> I've been told to do the following to prepare them for my tank...Let me know if I shouldn't do this. So, far we've had pretty good luck. Out of 32 fish, 4 have passed. At that time, the PH was very low, temperature was only about 72, and the ammonia was high. That was about a month ago...The conditions have improved since then. Now, the PH is about 6.9, temperature is 80 and ammonia is undetectable... <That pH is a little lower than I'd like for livebearers, but they should be okay... just make sure it stays steady.> Anyway, this is what we were told - -Put the plastic bag in our tank for about 15 minutes to allow the temperature to adjust -Then, put the fish in a bowl and add 1/4 cup of water from our tank every 15 minutes for an hour <So far so good... I tend to add more water a little more frequently if I know the store's water parameters are a close match to my own.> -Then, add the fish to our tank <I would prefer "Then, add the fish to the quarantine tank"!> We're not able to quarantine them for 2 or 3 weeks right now, because we don't have another tank. We will consider getting one though. Especially because we just had an ICK incident with one of our Sailfin mollies. She's okay now. But it would have been better to put her in a hospital tank. Lesson learned! <A quarantine tank doesn't need to be a tank, per se...many people have successfully used Rubbermaid or Sterilite containers.> Thanks again...I'll stop bothering you now! <Come bother us on the freshwater forums of the WetWeb chat forums! http://wetwebfotos.com/talk > You've been very helpful!! <Thanks, and you're welcome! --Ananda>

Platy problem? I have just brought 4 platys for my new fish tank consisting of 2 males and 2 females, but what's really puzzling me is that they keep swimming along the top of the surface.  They occasionally swim near to the bottom and then go back up to the surface again. What am I doing wrong?  Please help me! <You mentioned that it's a new tank - has it cycled yet?  How big is the tank?  Have you tested for pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate?  If you don't have test kits, your local fish store should be willing to test a sample of your water for you.  Did you use a dechlorinator for the water?  Please read the following article, hopefully you'll learn a lot of things to help you:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwtips4beginners.htm Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Aggressive male Platies. Please help! In my 10 gal tank, I have 4 male Platies, 2 female Platies, 2 male guppies, 1 blue Gouramis, 1 glass catfish.  I don't want to get a bigger tank and I can't take the male Platies back to the store any more. <they won't even take donated fish?  Most love free fish, though some don't take peoples fish cause they are afraid of poor health conditions.> But my 4 male Platies are Very aggressive towards each other and everyone else!   <they are aggressive due to the small space, and the fact that there are less females than males.  it's better to have more females then males in a tank.  At least 2 females per male is how it should be.> Can I take out 2 Platies to go in my gold fish tank which can go to 60 degrees at night?  will he live. <Check the water parameters, so the fish will not go into some sort of pH shock from going to a warm tropical tank to a coldwater tank with typically higher waste output fish like goldfish.  You will have to adjust the fish slowly to cooler tank if you do decide to move them.   I would suggest placing them in bags and slowly drip the new goldfish tank water into the bag allowing them to adjust to the tank.  Give it like 20-30 minutes of dripping the water in to the bag before releasing them.  Now remember these fish aren't found in these conditions in nature, so this mix really shouldn't be... But, these fish will survive  in this tank.  I suggest that you start looking around for new homes for these fish.  Either give them to other fish people, or set up another tank down the road.  It's really not best to have fish in conditions that is not specifically designed for them.> I also have a 5 inch shubunkin in the goldfish tank.  My male Platies are about 1.5 inches including the tails. <They shouldn't bother each other.  Just make sure that you keep up on water changes, and the filtration is going okay.  Good luck. -Magnus>

Platy sex change Hello,     We have a ten gallon freshwater tank with over 30 fish, ranging in age of 5 months - 5 days, black mollies and sunset platys, and only one of our fish is store bought, due to reproduction and dying out. I noticed something very strange with one of our 2-month old female platys.  She was the biggest, most beautiful female platy in the tank, and she has a very pretty light golden orange coloring.  Something very very strange happened: over the past week, I've noticed that she has acquired the anal fin, gonopodium, that is characteristic of MALES!!  How strange is that?!  What is going on?  And I do know that before, she did not have the male sex organ.  She always a female until recently.  Also, her coloring is more similar to that of the other 2-month old females than the coloring of the males.  The males have yellow heads and they become orange, then red further down to the tail.  This fish has nothing of the sort.  Have you any idea of what is going on?  Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks. ~Confused aquarium keeper <<Dear Confused; Hello. Chances are that you bought this platy at a young age, and she has finally matured sexually. In other words, she didn't change, she was probably a "he" from the beginning. It's hard to say without seeing the fish beforehand. It could be you didn't notice the gonopodium. At any rate, I have heard tales of people's swordtails and platies changing their sex, I would again put that down to juvenile fish becoming sexually mature. Keep in mind most platies sold in stores are just a few months old. Also, I would like to address the fact that you have 30 fish in a 10 gallon tank. This amount is excessively high. I would highly recommend you buy a nitrate test kit, and start keeping track of your nitrate levels. Nitrates should be kept around the 20-60ppm range. Higher nitrates mean you need to do more frequent partial water changes. You should not have any fish "dying out". Healthy platies can live for 5 years or more. Please do your water changes twice a week, approx. 25-50%, until you can give some of your fish away, or buy them a bigger tank. Otherwise you will find that you are continuing to lose fish, and eventually everything in this tank will sicken and die off. Sorry to be a party pooper, but the long-range forecast for such an overstocked tank is not good at all. -Gwen>>

Dawn Platy Swimming Behavior Hello Bob, <<You mean Gwen, right? :P>> I have a 10 gallon tank. About 4 weeks ago we purchased a female and male platy (light yellow fore body with orange tails). About 2-3 weeks ago, the female grew and now has her belly of fry. Recently, the guppies began picking and nipping on her, but they leave the male alone. My question is, she has developed some odd swimming waddle. She has been moved to a birthing net because of the guppies to relieve some of her stress. However, she sits on the net ever so slightly and waddles back and forth. I have also noticed that she is posturing her fins close to her body. Her tail which she use to span is now very narrow. Do they have symptoms of labor? Such as an odd swimming pattern? Lack of motion? Increased bowel movements? <<Sounds more like a parasite problem. Have you had your water tested lately for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates? Please do some water tests and let us know. For the time being, do a small water change, raise the temp to 82F, (gradually!) and add one teaspoon of salt per gallon of water, and see if she improves. If she starts to show signs of ich, (like white spots on her fins or body) you may need to advance to a medication such as Quick Cure. Please get back to us with your test results. -Gwen>>

Strange platy behaviour...is it mating behaviour? Hello and sorry to bother you, I have tried several times to register so I can ask on the forums but can't get it to work, <I have copied this message to our administrator Lorenzo> I am very new to this hobby and therefore have no idea if the behaviour of my platies is normal or not. I have had them almost 2 weeks in a 10G tank that I will use as a QT when my 25G has finished cycling. The 10G they are in has cycled (I used some Bio-Spira, it must have helped) as ammonia and nitrite readings have been at 0 for several days now, nitrate is about 5. <all good> anyway.... just today my female platy has taken to resting on the sucker that holds the heater to the wall of the tank, so she is between the heater and the wall. She is actually resting on the plastic sucker. The male meanwhile is circling round and round from the top of the heater to the bottom and back up almost constantly. Is this some sort of strange mating behaviour?  <no... stress of some kind perhaps. If the temperature is comfortable (75-78 F), then do a water change and add some non-iodized salt (1 TBN per 5 gallons of tank water) to help relieve them> Is the female just hiding from his unwanted attentions?  <that is common and quite possible> As I have no experience I can't tell if she might be sick or just hiding. She hasn't done this before. <tough for us to say from general symptoms described. DO look into a local aquarium society (search online and query big message boards for help finding one... good local fellowship and information)> I was planning on a water change this afternoon, I am just aerating the water at the moment. <excellent intuition... when in doubt, do a water change> Please let me know if this is normal. I really am growing attached to Ed and Carol and want to know if there is anything I should be doing for them! Maggie <you are very much on the right path, it seems... best of luck! Anthony> 

My Platy is barely eating > Hello, <Hi Tim, nice to meet you, MacL here tonight to help you.> > I have had a 10G tank running for 5-6 days. <Great brand new tank and very exciting.> I bought 1 molly and 3 platies after the tank was running for 2 days. The question I have is about one of my platies. I have no idea if this platy is a male or a female. Every time I feed my fish (I turn off the filter before start) all the other fish start eating except for this one. <Its possible the other fish are bullying it or its possible that the platy might not be well.> it stays at the bottom. <Not a good sign Tim, have you looked at it closely? Does it have any spots or dots on the fish?> It will only go up once or twice to get food. <But it is eating some?> My dad says it only was overfed once and that's it, but I am still worrying. <Its hard to learn the right amount to feed and very easy to overfeed Tim.> I hope you can answer my question with just the information I gave you. I just didn't know I had to check my nitrate levels and stuff. <Tim I think you are on the right track, you are watching your fish and that's what's important. Look for signs of bullying and take a small water sample to your local fish store to have your water levels checked. Also you might want to invest in an ammonia test kit. If you see any signs of anything like dots on your fish let me know, it might possibly be a fish disease that is fairly common called ich.> Thank you. Tim > <Good luck Tim, MacL> Thank you for your help but my platy just died this morning. it was bullying from another starburst platy. don't feel bad you did your best. I will always refer to your site for any other questions. I'm sorry for your loss!  MacL

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