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FAQs on Platy Systems

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 Behavior, Platy Compatibility, Platy Selection, Platy Feeding, Platy Disease, Platy Reproduction, Livebearers, Guppies, Swordtails, Mollies,

Baby Red Mickey Mouse Platy       12/1/16
I have a week old baby platy, I am currently feeding it just the same fish flakes we feed the parents at the pet store. Is there anything else I could be doing to ensure its health? I am concerned since he is a tropical fish and he is currently only in a bowl with no heater. should I run out and grab a bowl heater?
<Probably. Standard issue Platies (like your Mickey Mouse Platy) should be kept around 22-25C/72-77F. If you live somewhere warm, or have the central heating cranked up into the 20s Celsius/70s Fahrenheit, room temperature may be fine. But for most people in places cooler than the subtropics or with their homes heated to more normal temperatures, yes, a heater is a requirement. Variatus Platies (a distinct, and less common species of Platy) can handle cooler temperatures.>
Any additional information about this specific fish would be great!
<Platies are not hard to care for. A newborn will be fine in a tank upwards of 4-5 gallons, but adults will need more space, certainly 15+ gallons for a small group. They need good water quality, and the fancy varieties (like yours) are less hardy than the wild fish, so keep a close eye on filtration and weekly water changes. Zero ammonia and nitrite, as usual. But water chemistry is important too; the water needs to be hard, the harder the better in fact. Aim for 10+ degrees dH, pH 7.2 to 8.5. Platies are fish from ponds and pools rather than rivers or mountain streams, so gentle water currents are preferred. A simple air-powered sponge is absolutely ideal. So far as feeding goes, aim for plant-based foods; Spirulina flake is an excellent staple. Newborns also enjoy hard boiled egg yolk in tiny quantities (literally, a few crumbs). They'll nibble on algae in the tank too.>
Thanks so much!
<Welcome. Neale.>

Platy in a Tank (a 3-gallon tank, at that!)       8/16/13
 I am so glad I found your website, unfortunately I did not see my problem there. I have had one platy ( the one with the orange body ink black fins and tail) I do not know what kind it is and if it is male or female. She/he is the only one in 3gal tank and lived there for about 1 year and 9 mos.
Recently I have noticed at the base of the tail becomes see through. He is eating normally and swimming normally but I am worried as the spot gets bigger. He/she survived two times through ick and this is my only aqua buddy I do not want to kill him.
Thank you o much in advance,
<Hello Gergana. The bottom line is that this aquarium is far too small.
Your Platy may be too cold, or too stressed, to be healthy. Platies need ~15 gallons at minimum. I'm amazed yours has lived for almost two years, but they should live 4-5 years, so don't get too excited about your success just yet! It sounds like your Platy has Finrot, a common problem when fish are kept poorly. Do start by reading here:
Unfortunately for you, animals cannot survive on love alone, and if you care about an animal, you need to provide it with what it needs. You might care to start here:
And while this next article is about Goldfish and Bettas, the basic theme is relevant:
Hope this helps, Neale.>

Platies, plants, and hard water  3/26/13
Greetings, WWM folks.
I am a decently experienced fishkeeper- about 10 years under my belt, although I've been without fish for about a year and a half now. I recently decided that I needed to "get back in the game", as it were, and dug out my old 15 gallon tank.
<Ahh, welcome back!>
When I first started as a fishkeeper, I was living in South Carolina. I now call South Texas home, and there's a *slight* difference in the hardness  of the water. In some ways, this has made my stocking decision easier- I want platies, and I'm picturing a fairly heavily planted tank. I'm unconcerned with breeding, so I plan to go with all- or at least mostly- females.
I have three questions. First, what (if anything) would be an appropriate bottom-dweller for this tank? I've had Plecos and Corys in the past (the Plecos were in 60 and 55 gallon tanks, I wouldn't dream of putting one in a 15),
and while a gang of peppered Corys would look awesome, I'm concerned about keeping them in hard water. Or should I just have plants and platies?
Perhaps shrimp?
<Most cultured species of Corydoras would/will do fine here, including C. paleatus. Alternatively, as you mention, there are some really neat shrimp nowayears that would also do>
Second, what's the best way to fertilize live plants in hard water?
<Great question... Best is a bit of material (organic and/or not) mixed/blended in deep and fine enough substrate to keep it in place... barring this are good ole' "plan-tabs" (a commercial product, but there are others that do the same)... Lastly, just "fish wastes">
And what do I need to look out for to ensure fish health while also growing verdant plants?
<Good observation really... frequent small feedings (a few times daily)>
Third, in the interest of overall tank health, I assume it would be best to purchase all my platies from the same dealer, and add at the same time-operating under the assumption that if one is diseased, they're all exposed to it already? Or is that too much of a risk? (The tank having been fishlessly cycled by the time they are added, of course.)
<Also insightful... if you can be assured (in judging conversation w/ the dealer/s) that the Platies are clean... I'd go straight from purchase to direct placement. If not, a small regimen (one shot) of feeding foods laced w/ Metronidazole and Praziquantel is a good idea, insurance>
<Thank you for sharing John. Bob Fenner>
Re: Platies, plants, and hard water     3/27/13

Thanks for the reply! One more question, and this may be a case of me erring too hard on the side of caution. In the depths of Summer, I keep my home cooled to a pleasant 79F/ 26C. When it's 107 outside, that's a very comfortable home (and for your British readers- yes, humans can actually survive at such temperatures).
While my tank will stay at a very constant temperature, this is a little warm for both Cory cats and platies. Would that be a long-term issue?
<Not an issue. Will be fine>

Platy fish in brackish   4/13/12
Dear crew, I have a question that I cant seem to find an answer to and would greatly appreciate your extremely respected and valuable input on.
<Fire away.>
I have a 165L Aqua One AR 850 tank which exclusively houses 11 mollies (one male and ten females). It is aquascaped with artificial mangrove roots and an assortment of silk plants. Ph - 7.8, Ammonia - 0, Nitrite - 0, Nitrate - 5-10. I carry out a 40L water change every week.  I also add 5g of marine salt per Litre which has equated to an SG of 1.003 at 25 degrees Celsius (measured in a controlled test cup with no water movement).
I also have 3 platy fry in my care who have been 'growing up' in a 45L freshwater tank.  Are these water conditions acceptable for platies and would I safely be able to move the young platies over to the slightly brackish 165L tank (now that they will no longer fit in the adult mollies mouths)?
<Yes, the Platies will be fine with this low salinity.>
Also I asked my  LFS owner about which Plecos are suitable for a SG of 1.003 and his response was 'all of them'.
<Uh, no.>
My research has yielded conflicting results and I would love to hear your insights on the matter
<Okay, here's the deal. The common Plecs of the US and European hobby, Pterygoplichthys pardalis and its close relatives, have certainly become established in Florida and in some cases inhabit slightly brackish water.
They have also become established in Mexico, and again, inhabit slightly brackish water environments at times. So far as can be told, they live long and happy lives in such conditions. See, for example, "Salinity tolerance of non-native Suckermouth armoured catfish (Loricariidae: Pterygoplichthys) in south-eastern Mexico: implications for invasion and dispersal" in Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems volume 21, issue 6.
On the other hand, when exposed to anything above high salinities, these Plecs quickly died (in the paper just mentioned, anything above 10 g/l was lethal within a very short time. Curiously enough, at least some Hypostomus species are reported to occupy slightly brackish water in their native habitat, including Hypostomus plecostomus, a species often mentioned in fish books and by retailers but almost never actually traded (virtually all "Hypostomus" or "Plecostomus" catfish are in fact Pterygoplichthys species). So, it does seem that the Loricariidae does include some catfish able to tolerate low-end brackish conditions. Reviewing the paper mentioned above, it seems that where Pterygoplichthys occur in brackish water, the salinity is very low, around 2-4 grammes/litre. That would be well within the preferences of Mollies and tolerances for Platies, so I'd strongly recommend that if you wanted to combine these three species, you lowered the salinity accordingly.>
Thank you very much for your time and kindness
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Sick platy after birth? Bashin's try
platy health/env 2/26/12

Hi! <Hello>I have 2 female platys that gave birth to fry a couple of days after I got them but after they gave birth they sort of got way deflated and inactive. <Almost assuredly unrelated.> One is super skinny and it's belly sagged. <Not sure what you mean by this. Sagging of any sort, is not a good sign.> The other floats in the corner and does nothing. There are
two other male platys and three platy fry, <Should be separated if you want them to survive>  three guppies (one female and two males), one male molly, two golden Chinese sucker fish, and a red face tetra in a 20 gallon tank.
<Okay, that's a large number of fish for a 20. Moreover, even though they are mostly livebearers, they do require different water conditions. What are the tank parameters? Have you tested your water?> What should I do about my two platy females? <Please test your water. The symptoms sound environmental.>
Sent from my iPad
<Please search WWM regarding the specific conditions required by the fish.
Cheers, Sugam>
Sick platy after birth? Neale's go   2/27/12

Hi! I have 2 female platys that gave birth to fry a couple of days after I got them but after they gave birth they sort of got way deflated and inactive. One is super skinny and it's belly sagged. The other floats in the corner and does nothing.
<Not good. Do check water quality, water chemistry and water temperature.
Zero nitrite and ammonia are needed, and water chemistry should be hard and alkaline (10+ degrees dH, pH 7-8). Water temperature should be between 22-25 C/72-77 F, no warmer. Do also ensure you don't have too many Platies.
Keep two females (at least) per male, and ideally, include some floating plants that the females will use for shelter when trying to avoid the aggressive/pushy males.>
There are two other male platys and three platy fry, three guppies (one female and two males), one male molly, two golden Chinese sucker fish,
<These do not belong in this aquarium, and will eventually cause harm to water quality and/or your fish. Gyrinocheilus aymonieri requires 55+ gallons, is EXTREMELY territorial once mature, and is a pretty poor algae eater as well.>
and a red face tetra in a 20 gallon tank. What should I do about my two platy females?
<Read. Do start here, and follow the links at the top:
Most problems with Platies come down to the wrong environment, wrong tankmates, wrong diet, and wrong temperature. Livestock quality can be pretty iffy too. Cheers, Neale.>

Platy temperature 7/9/11
I was wondering if there are different temperatures for common platies (Xiphophorus maculatus) and Xiphophorus variatus.
<Correct. However, the "fancy" Platies sold in pet shops are hybrids of these two species together with various other Xiphophorus species, so the discussion is somewhat moot. Some shops do sell what they call Variatus Platies, and these do, in general, more or less conform to the requirements of Xiphophorus variatus.>
I read on your site that variatus are subtropical 18-25 C, while the common platy likes 25-28 C.
<Uh, no. The Variatus Platies sold in pet stores definitely do best kept between 20-22 C/68-72 F. But the fish sold as plain vanilla Platies in most aquarium shops are more or less like Common Platies, and these both do best around 22-24 C/72-75 F.>
If this is the case does that mean that maculatus platies can be kept with guppies or mollies due to temperature?
<Wild-type Mollies and Guppies can do well at 22-24 C/72-75 F. But the fancy varieties sold in pet stores are MUCH MORE delicate, especially if kept in freshwater rather than brackish water, and I would not keep either of these colder than 25 C/77 F.>
I noticed the variatus platies in the store the other day and they are not as common or colorful. Thank you!!!
<Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess. Wild-type fish appeal to me, perhaps for the same reason I don't much care for dyed hair! Good quality Variatus Platies should have golden, green and/or blue body colouration, reddish tail fins, and yellow dorsal fins. Colours develop with age, and as with many other herbivorous fish, a mixed diet with fresh greens as well as carotene-rich crustaceans makes a huge difference to overall appearance and vitality. The more inbred fancy Platies may be more immediately colourful, but hardiness has diminished, so do shop wisely, and acclimate new fish carefully, ideally via a quarantine tank. Cheers, Neale.>

New Aquarium w/ Neon Moon Fish 5/16/11
Details: 6.5 Gal Eclipse Tank,
<Mmm, very hard to keep such small volumes of water stable, optimized>
2 new Neon Sunshine Moon Fish (Platies) (1 pregnant female & 1 male), 1 novice aquarium owner & an 8 year old daughter that does not want to see anymore of her beloved fish die!!...Help!!
<Will try>
History: I have had some ongoing issues with this small tank, related to low PH, after our last group of fish died (I had 6 Glo Danios), I decided to start over, by cleaning out everything (rinsing with hot water only), placing a new filter and letting the aquarium run for weeks with no fish.
Since this was a "new" tank, the fish store recommended Platies, since they can withstand the cycling of a new tank.
<Mmm, might "stand" better than other livestock, but this process is very hard on all. Best to not use livestock... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm
and the linked files above>
I really want to do everything right, to minimize any stress to the fish. This is day one, so far all is well from a water quality standpoint, but the PH is probably lower than Platies like. I am about 6.5,
<Yes... simple to add/mix a bit of baking soda/Sodium Bicarbonate to raise this... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/pHAlkAdjF.htm
and the related files linked above if you have gaps in your knowledge re>
but this is also where the fish store water was, so I thought the transition would be ok.
<Are you familiar w/ the measure of Alkalinity? Alkaline reserve AKA...? If there is sufficient, you may be okay at this lower pH, but I would still use the baking soda in make-up water>
Also, from the fish
perspective, they seem happy with each other; often swimming together.(are Platies a schooling fish?)
<Yes; casually, but they constantly interact in groups and as individuals>
Main Question: What is the best way to cycle a new tank with Platies, to minimize stress and keep up the PH level?
<You will see this from the above reading>
It may be helpful to mention that the water coming from the tap has a much better PH (over 7), it just drops when it is in the tank for some reason??
<A natural occurrence... aquariums are "reductive events"... W/ too much life, food additions, alkaline reserve is "eaten up", pH trends downward>
Secondary Question: I have seen many contradictory answers related to Platy fry... assuming that I want to keep all the fry, do I use a Breeding Trap, Fish Nursery or let them fed for themselves?
<Up to you, but the two former will result in more young...>
I am trying to balance stress of the mother with survival of the fry.
<Ah, good>
I do have some Hornwort, as well as fake plants, a cave and a clam shaped bubbler in the tank for protection.
I really want to make this aquarium, the best it can be; it should not be this hard to set up a small aquarium with 2 fish! When I was young, I had a 36 gal. salt-water aquarium, that was not this much trouble! LOL
Thanks for any help that you are able to provide!!
Margi M Baker
<Certainly welcome. Do please write back after you've read a bit re any questions or concerns. Bob Fenner>
Re: New Aquarium w/ Neon Moon Fish 5/22/11

Hi Bob,
Thanks so much for your quick response and advice! Things seem to be going well so far....this is day 6... Platies still alive! YEA!
<Ah, good>
I have read everything that you recommended and still have a few questions:
1) You asked about Alkalinity....it seems to be good...when using the Mardel test strips it is probably 100-120; when using the API test strips the KH is 80ish and the GH is 60ish.
<This is fine>
2) Do you have a preference it test strips?
<Mmm, yes... if you search, read on WWM, I and most other of the WWM Crew are not fans of these, this method of assay... Neither accurate nor very precise. Better to use simple liquid reagent colorimetric kits for the various parameters you're interested in>
I have been using both, since they look at different variables: Total Hardness & Total Alkalinity VS. General Hardness & Carbonate Hardness. Which is more important to keep track of during cycling?
<General or Total hardness (these are the same)>
3) How much baking soda should be used, per gallon, to increase the PH safely? If I should need to do that.
<Depends on where you're starting and wanting to go. Best to try adding/mixing in a "level tsp" or so per whatever gallons/make up container you're using... and writing down where this gets you...>
4) Is it possible that my tank has cycled already? I am showing a safe (<.25) Ammonia level; <.5 Nitrite and 10-20 Nitrate.
<Mmm, any present/measurable ammonia or nitrite is not safe... See WWM re... toxic. Accumulating nitrate should indicate that you're about near finished in establishing nitrogen cycling... but if you have too much food/feeding, and/or too little filtration capacity... you might have issues>
5) Is it ok to do a 20% water change, during cycling?
<Usually yes. Large/r changes often forestall cycling though>
O.k...that should do it for now...Thanks for the help! I get so much variability in the answers that I get at my LFS.
<Do read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm
and the linked files above for background, input. Bob Fenner>

Re: Question about my new cycling Platy tank, and fdg. 1/15/11
Hello again,
I have some additional follow up questions regarding my 4 Platies. As background, I have now had them for 6 weeks. The ammonia appears to be between 0 and .25. I have not yet seen any nitrites or nitrates. The temperature is 79 and the pH is about 7.2.
When I first started feeding my Platies weeks ago, I used the Aqueon tropical flakes that came with the tank. They ate them, but the Platies never seemed too enthusiastic. Perhaps it was because the tank was cycling and they didn't have much of an appetite.
After the first 2 weeks I started using Tetra Color tropical crisps. Around week 4 the Platies seemed very enthusiastic about these flakes. I had tried to feed them only once a day in order to avoid over feeding and high ammonia levels. They never appeared all that hungry so I thought this was fine. It is now week 6 and their appetites have gone through the roof. When I put the tropical crisps in the tank it's like a frenzy. On one hand, I am happy to see they are eagerly eating, but on the other hand, their desperation to eat makes me wonder if they aren't being fed enough.
<Feed more frequently, small amounts>
For the last two weeks I have fed them a few flakes in the morning and at night. Once they are done eating I observe them and they swim around the tank looking for little pieces everywhere, even the bottom. They swim inside rocks and nibble little crumbs...and seemingly spend hours swimming around nibbling food off of rocks, fake plants, etc. Am I underfeeding them such that they are starving?
<They're likely fine>
Or am I feeding them a correct amount and it is just normal behavior for them to constantly be looking for more?
<Do their stomachs appear sunken in, concave?>
My second question concerns none other than fish poop (sorry in advance for graphic details). Two of the Platies eat, yet I've never seen them poop so I can't comment on its color. One of the Platies (the most voracious eater) very frequently has a light brown or pink poop string floating behind him, which he quickly loses. The other platy, who also has a big appetite, has clear poop. I've been reading that this is often a sign of parasites or gastric irritation. He seems otherwise very healthy...lots of energy, swims happily, no flashing, no fin clamping, etc. The poops are not long and white and stringy (which after my reading sounds like parasites), but rather they are clear, rather short, and fall off very easily. I read that perhaps I should be feeding them more vegetables so for the first time tonight I boiled peas, removed them from the shell, and squished up a few and dropped it in the tank. I have never seen them so excited about anything! Even my most finicky platy who is the lightest eater went to town on the peas.
Again, it made me wonder whether I've been under feeding them and starving them because of the desperation they show when eating. I am hoping that if they have any stomach backup or constipation that the peas will help.
What are your thoughts on the platy with the clear poop? How often should I be feeding them peas? And does it sound like they are being underfed?
<Not to worry... I'd feed the peas once, twice a week or so.>
My third series of questions concerns general "tank gunk." I have a power head in the tank and it is connected to a clear hose that comes out of the tank through which the air passes. The clear hose is covered in a white film, which when touched, comes off in a slimy gooey kind of way. I don't
think this is the beneficial bacteria is it?
<Microbial life of some sort>
I was under the assumption that those colonies were microscopic and not visible to the naked eye.
I've noticed a few of these white slimy flakes on the fake rocks also. Also on the fake rocks are what appear to be brown specs. They are not on all parts of the rocks, just some. I also noticed them on the leaves of some of the silk plants. Is this something that I need to worry about?
<Not at all>
Finally, what are your thoughts on the fact that I've had the tank for 6 weeks and have between 0 and .25 ammonia, no nitrites and no nitrates?
<Still cycling>
At one point (about week two) in the cycle, I used Ammo Lock for 3 days because I was afraid that the ammonia levels were too high. I was told that this would result in a false positive for a long time after using it. Is it possible that the ammonia levels are actually 0 and that I'm just getting false readings?
Thank you so much for your help.
<Welcome! BobF>
Re: Question about my new cycling Platy tank 1/15/11
Thanks, Bob! No, their stomachs are not concave. I'd say they are either perfectly flat or perhaps every once in a while a little rounded (i.e. after they eat).
<Ahh! They're fine. Cheers, BobF>
Re: Question about my new cycling Platy tank 2/18/11

I am writing with a question about two recent platy deaths. I should start by saying that the water quality is great. 0 ammonia, nitrates and nitrates. Temp is 80
<Much too warm for Platies! Keep them at 22-24 C/72-75 F. Any warmer and you'll shorten their lifespan. Would you keep a penguin in a sauna?>
and pH is 7.6. The 14 gallon tank still has the original 4 platies I started with.
<14 gallons is barely adequate for Platies. It's crucial to understand that if a tank is too small, the fish will "die back" to whatever the tank can hold. Less experienced fishkeepers should always be generous when determining how much space to provide for their fish. For Platies, a 20 gallon tank is a good starting point for a group of 3-6 individuals, alongside a few other species.>
And I've added a few others over the weeks. Everybody was perky and hungry. Yesterday I noticed one of the newer platies (I've had for one week) spent a lot of time at the surface.
<Generally implies stress, and that's a clue something is very wrong.>
Out of nowhere he became almost completely vertical and started rocketing around the tank in erratic movements. His body at one point curled into a "C" shape and he appeared to convulse.
Then he slowly sank to the bottom. It was awful.
<For both fish and fishkeeper, I dare say. Next time, euthanise: 30 drops of clove oil in a one-litre tub of aquarium water, stirred, and the place the fish gently in this bath. It'll be dead, peacefully, in a few minutes.>
I removed his body and tested all water levels which were fine. Out of fear I did a small water change for the others.
<Don't do anything from fear. Don't do anything without thinking. Always, ALWAYS act rationally and with thought.>
Later I noticed that a platy I've only had for 2 days (and who never seemed quite right immediately upon entering the tank but who did appear healthy at the fish store) clung to the bottom or just hovered by the filter. He didn't have any of the convulsions or odd swimming behavior. He died this morning.
<As I say, if conditions aren't right, fish will die. The reasons for each death may vary, but the result is the same.>
My concern is that for months I've had no illness or death and now I've had 2 back to back and I don't know why.
<Too much heat, too little space, too much stress (males fighting in a small space, or males picking on females). Perhaps inadequate diet. Perhaps the use of paint, cleaners, or some other toxin in the house. Lack of filtration is a common cause: while the fish are babies a small filter is fine, but as the fish grow, they demand more filtration, and eventually the small filter is overwhelmed. Remember, beyond removing ammonia and nitrite, the filter also circulates water and ensures oxygen is distributed to all levels of the tank. All sorts of things can go wrong if you don't plan ahead. The quality of Platies varies somewhat, and in the really inbred (read: bright red or long-finned forms, for example) quality is often poor.>
One of my original fish, who remains very active and has a big appetite, started making weird little "C" shapes with his body yesterday. The convulsions aren't nearly as obvious as for the first fish who died, but it strikes me that this odd shaky behavior isn't normal. He isn't gasping for air or hovering or at the bottom. He is very active but every once in a while it looks like his body curls a little. What's going on? Please help!
<Do review the needs of Platies, and ensure you're providing what they need. In particular, you need quite cool, oxygen-rich water, with a high level of hardness (adding 2-3 gram/litre marine aquarium salt mix helps greatly in soft water areas, and can be a useful tonic when Platies are looking poorly). Diet needs to be based around greens: algae flake, algae wafers, cooked peas, spinach, softened lettuce. Use meaty foods like bloodworms and regular flake sparingly. Keep in groups of two or more females per male, or the females will be badgered to death. In small groups, e.g., just two or three males in the group, one male can bully the other males to death. Generally review what they need and act accordingly.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Question about my new cycling Platy tank 1/5/11
Hello again,
<Ms E>
I very much appreciated your help last time and have an additional question.
First, I wanted to let you know that the ammonia levels have come down quite a bit, but are still present. It is about .25.
<Any present is debilitating... but less is better!>
I continue doing small water changes each day to dilute that. Still no nitrites and I've had the tank running for over 4 weeks. The question I have is in regards to white, slimy looking globs or balls on one of the fake rocks. I have 4 fake rocks in my tank. Two black and two white. The two black rocks are stacked on top of each other, but only one of the rocks seems to be afflicted with these weird clear, goo like mucus blobs. If I put my hand in the tank I can rub them off. Yet they always seem to come right back. I'm curious as to what they are and why they are only isolated to this one rock.
<These are collections of decomposers (fungi, bacteria) and other microbial life that has accumulated around bits of food... Will "go" in time...>
I picked up the rock and turned it over and the entire inside lining of the fake rock was covered as well. I don't think this is the beneficial bacteria because as far as I know that isn't supposed to be visible to the naked eye. So what is this?
What can I do about it? Is it harmful to the four platies in the tank?
<Time going by, being more careful/knowledgeable in future... not very toxic...>
Thanks so much for your help.
<Welcome... B>
Question about my new cycling Platy tank, FW, cycling products 12/29/10

<Hi there>
I recently purchased a 14 gallon tank. I have 4 platies in the tank and as of tomorrow they will have been there for 3 weeks. Before I added any fish to the tank I added Nutrafin Cycle
<Mmm, have found this product to be... unreliable. Sometimes works, other times...>
and let the tank run for about 3 or 4 days. Prior to adding any fish the levels for ammonia, nitrites and
nitrates were 0 and the pH was about 7.6. The tap water is about 7.4 and the guy at the fish store told me that Platies like water with a little bit of salt in it so I added a little over 1 tablespoon of salt to the water,
thus raising the pH to 7.6.
<So... something other than table salt, NaCl>
The fish all seemed to adjust well. They spent the first day or two hiding in different corners of the tank. Because one spent a lot of time at the surface, I was concerned there wasn't proper aeration so I installed a power head to further oxygenate the tank. The fish all get along well, all 4 are males and occasionally they chase each other, but that is infrequent.
My concern is the ammonia level and whether the tank is cycling properly.
Starting about 3 days into having fish in the tank I noticed that the ammonia levels were rising (as I knew they would).
<... Not really. IF the "Cycle" worked... and this exposure is very hard on your fish>
I used a test kit on a daily basis. I did frequent water changes (perhaps 30% at a time) every day or every other day. If the water was unchanged for a day then the ammonia would easily rise to 1.0.
<Deadly toxic at high pHs>
I kept doing 30-40% water changes daily to try and bring the levels down to .25 or .5. When it seemed as though the ammonia was rising closer to 2.0, the guy at the fish store told me to buy Ammo Lock because it would detoxify the ammonia (converting it to ammonium),
<Only temporarily...>
which would be less stressful for the fish, but which would still provide the beneficial bacteria with the food they need for the colonies to grow.
I continued doing 1-2 water changes per day and added about 5mL of Ammo Lock to the tank for 3 days. The ammonia levels continued registering at about 1.0. For the first two weeks, the pH held steady around 7.4 or 7.6 and I still have 0 nitrites or nitrates.
But last night I noticed that the ammonia was about .5 and the pH seemed to have suddenly decreased to 6.
The fish were acting normal, but I immediately did a 30% water change. The pH rose to about 6.4. This morning I tested the water again and the pH was back down to 6. I did another water change this afternoon bringing the pH up to about 6.4-6.6. The temperature has been holding steady at 80 degrees.
<Really too high for Platies>
I am concerned that the ammonia levels are still high after 3 weeks and that the pH seems to be suddenly erratic. The guy at the fish store told me NOT to add any salt to the tank at this point so I have not been able to increase the pH of the tank other than through water changes, which I'm doing at least once a day, sometimes twice.
<Do take care to not elevate pH in the presence of ammonia, nitrite. The two together make the water very toxic>
I feel as though I shouldn't be doing this many water changes, but I am concerned about leaving the fish
in water at such a low pH and with the ammonia levels as they are.
What should I do to help the tank cycle properly and to keep the fish healthy?
<... read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm
and the linked files above>
Is the fact that I still have zero nitrites after 3 weeks a sign that the tank is not cycling properly?
<No... these events may not be related>
Am I doing the right thing by doing so many water changes?
<Not really... Let us cut to the proverbial chase: there should be no livestock present cycling a system as you're doing>
During the day when the lights are on, the platies swim around, up and down the tank, swim in and out of the fake plants and hide in the rocks.
Sometimes they all seem to be very tired and retire to separate corners of the tank for what appear to be short naps. Then they swim around again, sometime hanging out hear the surface (but not gasping for air) just drifting in the current. Is this all normal platy behavior?
<No... they're being poisoned>
Any help would be appreciated. I just want to make sure that the fish are happy and healthy and that the tank is on its way to cycling.
<Read where you've been referred; and do write back if you have further questions, concerns. Bob Fenner>
Re: Question about my new cycling Platy tank 12/29/10
I did actually read the article that you referred me to. I guess I have two follow up questions. The first is, what exactly is happening in my tank as far as the cycle goes?
<It is "cycling" irrespective of the Hagen product, but you have likely forestalled the process via the use of the Ammo-products and periodic water changes. The old maxim of "it used to take seven days to cure a cold, but nowadays w/ modern medicine it only takes a week" comes to mind>
Are the bacterial colonies just not developed enough yet?
Is there anything that I can do to help them along?
<? All covered where you were referred to read>
Second, what steps can I take to make sure the fish are as comfortable and healthy as possible?
<This as well. They should be moved to a cycled system... Or if left where they are fed VERY minimally, and not at all if NH3 levels approach 1 ppm>
Is it ok if the pH remains as low as 6.4 and if I continue to do 2 water changes per day?
<Not really... please peruse the linked files... BobF>
Re: Question about my new cycling Platy tank 12/29/10
Oh, sorry...I guess I had a total of three follow up questions. The third is, can you describe what typical platy behavior is? Should they never be resting at a particular level in the tank (either at the bottom or top)
but constantly be moving at all times?
<Yes to moving throughout the tank, constantly during daylight hours. B>
Re: Question about my new cycling Platy tank 3/4/11

Hello again,
As always, thank you for your previous and helpful response.
<No problem.>
I'm in the process of getting a larger (30 gallon) tank for the Platies.
I have adjusted the temperature slowly and they are now at 76. Ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are zero. pH is 7.6.
<All sounds good, but do remember, it's the hardness not the pH that matters. So long as you have hard water, Platies will thrive at any pH between 7 and 8.5 (so long as that pH is stable). Hard water is the stuff the "furs" up kettles and such, so you probably know if you have it. As always, don't use water from a domestic water softener, and if you have soft water, adding a pH-up potion won't really help.>
I have two questions. First, one of the Platies I bought was clearly the alpha male from the start (they are all males). He was in charge, did some bullying, was always first to eat, was very active and territorial. About 2 months into owning the tank and 4 Platies, I introduced 1 more and then another 3 weeks after that. One of the new guys clearly took over the alpha male position. He is a little larger and very aggressive. Eventually my first platy started to fall into rank.
But now he seems very depressed and I'm worried about him. All the other Platies play and swim together, are very active and have great appetites. My other guy is a recluse. He doesn't interact with anybody, he stays by himself under rocks or hiding near plants away from the others.
<Sounds as if he's bullied and/or stressed.>
Whenever a group gets too close to him he swims away.
<Not really a problem as such -- male Platies don't need company.>
No clamped fins. No gasping for air. But he isn't nearly as hungry as he used to be and I haven't been able to interest him in food for 2 days. Is this normal 'sulking' behavior for an alpha who is no longer?
<Or rather, he's not accepted in the group because he is seen as a threat by the current bully, and that bully chases this one away.>
Or should he have gotten over it by now?
<It is what it is'¦>
I have a smaller (5.5 gallon) tank I use as a hospital tank that currently has 1 platy in it who has recovered from Popeye. Do you think I should move my recluse platy to the hospital tank to be with the one recovered from Popeye? Would he feel less threatened there?
<Alternatively, he might bully that other Platy. So no, I'd leave well enough alone. 5.5 gallons isn't enough for Platies long term. Try taking out all the Platies, moving all the rocks and plants around, and then putting them all back in at the same time. Sometimes this resets the pecking order in a favorable direction. Alternatively, add some more Platies.>
My second question is about brown algae. I seem to have a lot of it on my fake rocks and plants.
<Diatoms. Not uncommon. Do read:
I have 4 snails who simply can't keep up. The lights are on for 10 hrs per day. I've read if I keep the lights off the brown algae will go away. But don't the fish need to have light during the day so they can see? There is little ambient light in my apartment where they are located so it is otherwise pretty dark in the room during the day.
<The fish won't care much either way, provided the tank is sufficiently well lit by room lighting for them to see one another and find their way around.>
Thanks so much,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Question about my new cycling Platy tank 3/4/11
Thanks for the helpful article on brown algae. It confirms that this is what I have. I have 4 Nerite snails and they are excellent. Unfortunately, they can't seem to make a dent on the gravel in the tank (they are best on the glass and fake rocks).
<Indeed not. They only feed on flat, solid objects.>
Nor can they do much work on the fake plants
<A combo of Nerites and Red Cherry shrimps, perhaps with some algae-eating fish such as Limia, Platies, or Siamese Algae Eaters, works well.>
Even if I scrub down the plants, the algae comes back. I can try keeping the light on for fewer hours during the day. But according to your article, it seems like a UV sterilizer might be a good option. If I keep the light on for 10 hours per day and use the uv sterilizer, will this prevent further algae from accumulating on the glass, rocks, plants and gravel?
<UV will certainly deal with temporary diatom blooms extremely well. But if the diatoms are on solid objects like the walls of the tank rather than floating in the water (which is what a bloom is, the water goes brownish)
then UV will have little/no impact.>
I will add additional Platies to the 30 gallon tank once it is up and running. Until then, I will leave "good enough alone."
<Yes. Diatoms are characteristic of tanks that are either new or for some reason experiencing unstable conditions. After a period of weeks or months diatoms usually settle back to a harmless level. In my tanks I wipe the glass maybe once every 2-3 months but that's about it. Unlike true green algae, but like hair/brush algae, diatoms will also tolerate quite poor lighting, so if diatoms are thriving but you don't see pretty green turfs of nice fluffy green algae, then lighting may be inadequate. In poorly lit tanks, there's little to be done for algae control beyond manual removal, I'm afraid. Adding more livestock may help if they eat diatoms, but such animals also produce waste, creating the conditions algae need to thrive, namely higher levels of nitrate and phosphate.>
I'm just concerned that the platy who has been bullied isn't eating much and hasn't really at all for 2 days. I'm relieved to know that he isn't lonely or in need of company. But he used to swim around the tank constantly and seemed very busy and active. So I was concerned for him that his current sulking behavior was so out of character.
<Indeed. Male Platies are aggressive, which is why I tell people to give them space, at least 15 gallons, and realistically, 20+. In the wild the males have short lives because of their small size and bright colours compared to the females, so they're programmed to breed early and breed often, and if that means shooing away rival males, then so be it. Females are gregarious -- usually! -- and under general community situations, it's far, far easier to keep groups of females. Since the females of fancy Platy varieties are very nicely coloured, that's rarely a problem; it's not like with female vs. male Guppies, where the females are much less colourful.>
I have been under the impression that my water quality is very good given the stats I quoted earlier, but I do have to wonder. Sometimes it seems like there is a slight cloudy haze towards the top of the tank, while the bottom looks crystal clear.
<Diatom blooms tend to be slightly golden, though they can be cloudy milk colour too.>
Perhaps this is because the lights are at the top and it's easier to see particles in the water closer to the light.
<Yes, this could be silt, which is common in tanks where the gravel wasn't cleaned before use, or where filtration is poor in terms of mechanical filtration media (clean filter floss, typically).>
I don't know what the hardness is of my water. I live in New York City.
I'll try to find out.
<Cool. Cheers, Neale.>

Platies and guppies in a 5 gallon 12/6/10
First off, I'd like to thank you for your wonderful site!
<We're glad to help.>
Now, I bought an Eclipse 5 system (5 gallons) about two months ago. I let it cycle, and gradually added 2 guppies (both male), 3 platies (2 female and one male), and 2 ghost shrimp.
<This tank is much too small for the fish. Indeed, even the shrimp are a bit big! Please read here:
I have a Top Fin Air Pump Air 1000, and I have the filter that came with the tank- it's a Whisper, but I can't find the original box and therefore don't know the specific type. I assume it's the one rated for this size tank.
My ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels are all at 0, however I do not have a heater.
<Be crystal clear that tropical fish are called TROPICAL FISH because they need warm water. Platies around 22-25 C/72-77 F; Guppies 24-28 C/75-82 F.
You cannot keep these fish without a heater.>
Here starts the questions:
1. I know this tank is overstocked. I didn't know when I added the fish, however, and I am 14 and have very little money, so I won't be able to upgrade for a while. So, this tank must stay. How often and how much water should be changed per week? I've been doing a small water change (about 10%) in the middle of the week, and then a 25% water change on the weekends. Is this fine?
<No. Kept this way, the fish will eventually die, likely within a few weeks, perhaps a few months. But die they will.>
2. I bought the second male guppy a few days ago. He's currently chasing around the female platies. . . nipping them, but not the rip-parts-of-their-fins-off nipping. Is he only trying to show his dominance, is he trying to mate with them because he doesn't know better, or is he just a nasty fish? He's only doing it to the females. With any of these cases, what should I do with him?
<Guppies need at least 15 gallons, preferably 20 gallons. Keep two females per male, and stock the tank with plenty of floating plants.>
3. Is there any way to set up an easy QT bowl? I have noticing three white spots on my one female platy that look suspiciously like Ick, and I know that the Ick medicine will kill the shrimp, so I'm a bit hesitant putting it in. Should I move the shrimp to a separate bowl/tank and treat the whole main tank in case the Ick has spread, or should I only treat the affected platy be herself in a QT?
<There's no such thing as a quarantine bowl. Even the tank you have is dangerous, and a bowl would be little better than a death chamber.>
4. As I'm already overstocked, will all of the fry be eaten if I don't do anything to really save them? I have one plant and a little cave, and I don't mind if one or two survive as I can give them away, but I really don't want 20 extra fry to take care of. I really only wanted 2 male platies originally, but the female had her anal fin kind of tucked up when the LFS guy picked her out, and I assumed she was male. When I got home, the male kept following her around, so I added the other female platy (the one that may have Ick) to decrease her stress.
<Fry are the least of your problems.>
5. If I save up some money and manage to upgrade to a 10 gallon tank, a) Will it be too heavy to leave on a writing desk? That's what I have my 5 gallon on now. (It's a very sturdy wooden one)
<Bear in mind one US gallon weighs about 8.5 pounds, so 10 gallons will be 85 pounds of weight. That's about half the weight of an adult man. So even a 10 gallon tank will need very strong furniture, the sort of thing designed to hold large television sets. Really, it's always best to use furniture designed for aquaria. Do also read the article linked above for what you can keep in 10 gallons. NOT Platies and NOT Guppies. Trust me, I've been keeping fish for 30 years now, so when I tell you this isn't the way to keep fish, it isn't because I'm being bloody minded. It's because I'm trying to save you hassle and trying to save the lives of your fish.>
b) Can I reuse the filter, air pump, and light with it, or will I have to buy higher power equipment?
<New aquaria usually need new equipment. That's why you should always invest in the biggest tank you can afford. Without exception, 5 gallon tanks are a waste of money. Even 10 gallon tanks are limiting. Here's some more stuff to read:
Many thanks!
<You're welcome! Neale.>
Re: Platies and guppies in a 5 gallon

I see. . . this is what comes when I don't do my research before hand.
Thanks for all the information and speedy response, I'll be sure to read up some more and try to scrape together some money for a larger tank.
<Glad to help. And better to learn this learn while you're young, and it's a fish tank you're dealing with, and not a few years later when cars, colleges, mortgages, spouses and babies come into the equation! Cheers, Neale.>

Platy Tank Needs Help! - 8/1/10
Hi there,
I have had my 20g long tank for 2 years. I currently have 3 neon and 9 Platies of different varieties (Mickey Mouse, Red Tail, Bumble bee...) 3 of those Platies are still small. They were born in our tank several months
ago. The tank has a carbon filter, about 1" of gravel, plenty of areas to hide, an aeration tube (?) along the back wall, and plastic and live plants. Temperature is 81 degrees,
<Insanely warm for Platies! Honestly, 22-24 C/72-75 F is the ideal range.>
ammonia is 0, ph is 7.5. The tank is salted with aquarium salt.
<No particular need for salt unless you live in a soft water area.>
The problem is this. A few weeks ago, one of my Platies developed a flat underside. She got very thin and her belly actually went concave. I moved her to my sick tank. When I checked on line, I read that it could be TB or
parasites. She was suffering, so I euthanized her. Last week, I saw another platy looking the same. I moved her to my sick tank, and by morning, she had died. 2 days ago, I found my algae eater dead too.
<What sort of algae eater?>
I also saw that my one male platy has stringy white poop. I read that that could be parasites or poor diet. Since I was feeding tropical flakes alternated with vegetarian crisps, I didn't think that was the problem. But I did decide to vary the diet (hoping it was a diet problem, NOT the parasites). I saw that I could feed my Platies cooked peas. I shelled the peas, fed it to them and they loved them! A week ago, I also added a new live plant. It is a large one that has a large root system.
<What sort of plant? I ask because a lot of beginners who don't know the names of their plants buy non-aquatic plants. It's terrible, but MANY aquarium shops sell such plants: Dracaena, Lucky Bamboo, etc. And yes, these die underwater, and yes, as they do so they rot and ruin water quality.>
Now I have 3 female Platies (1 obviously pregnant one and 1 fry) with clamped fins. They are also hanging out at the top of the tank, mouths by the water. I am not sure what is wrong. I took the new plant out, wondering if it was somehow causing the stress. I have done 2 - 30% water changes this week. Also, I have added more salt to the water to help with their stress.
<Go easy with the salt. For Platies, a good therapeutic dose would be around 1-2 grammes per litre.>
I am afraid that all of my fish are going to die if I do not do something quick. I appreciate any advice you can give me!
<Do check you have moderately hard to hard water; without this, Platies won't thrive. Intestinal worms such as Camallanus worms are quite common among livebearers, and this will need to be treated with a suitable
antihelminthic. "Fish TB" isn't common, and most people who mention this disease have no real idea what it actually is. On the other hand, similar Mycobacterium infections are quite common, especially in poor environmental conditions. Do review here:
<Cheers, Neale.>

Red wag platy and African dwarf frog 7/6/10
I recently bought a Red Wag Platy and a African Dwarf Frog. I was wondering how big of a tank I should have for the both of them. I'm new to having aquatic pets so I really have no clue.
<Hello Jen. Start by reading here:
Platies need at least 15 gallons, while African Dwarf Frogs need at least 5 gallons. If you had a 15 gallon tank, the absolute minimum for success with Platies, you could have one male and 2-3 females, plus 3-4 frogs. Do bear in mind Platies multiply quickly, so the aim isn't to squeeze as many adults into the tank as you can; trust me, within a few weeks you'll have fry, and within six months the number of Platies you have will have doubled or trebled. Female Platies are gregarious and shouldn't really be kept singly. Males are aggressive, which is why you need at least twice as many females as males, and in a 15 gallon tank two males will fight. Note that the "inch per gallon" rule has nothing to do with the minimum aquarium size, but rather how many fish you can fit in a tank above the minimum size for that species. For Platies, the minimum tank is 15 gallons given their adult size, the aggressiveness of the males, and the need the females have for company of their own kind. You could keep a group of seven Platies in a 15 gallon tank allowing two gallons per specimen, but if you're going to keep frogs as well, you'll want to reduce that a bit to allow about a gallon or two per frog. 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.>

Is my platy sick? Env. 1/20/10
Hi, I have a small tank, 2 gal, that I keep 2 fish in.
<Two gallons is too small for any fish. Except possibly a Betta, but that's more about cramming a poor Betta into a jar than actually treating an animal well. So let's be clear here, you can't keep any fish properly in a tank less than 5 gallons in size, and the only fish that will do well in a heated, filtered 5 gallon tank is a single Betta. For all other tropical fish you need about 10 gallons or more. Please read here:
Shops sell 2 gallon bowls because there are lots of people out there who don't read books before they buy animals. Perhaps they were beaten up by a book on the school playground when they were little or something. I don't really know. But the point is that NO BOOK EVER WRITTEN would recommend a person keep fish in a 2 gallon tank. Indeed, most will explicitly tell the reader not to. It's a shame shops sell these 2 gallon tanks, but they do.>
A couple days ago one of my fish died.
<Not so much "died" as "killed". Let's be crystal clear here, the fact you kept this fish badly ended up killing the animal. Does it give me pleasure saying this? No, not really. I'd just as soon your pets lived happy lives.
I don't actually enjoy scolding people who killed their pets. Actually, it makes me rather depressed doing this day after day, seemingly without an end in sight. So please take this advice for what it is, honesty rather than about being nice to you.>
It may have been old age as it didn't have any superficial symptoms, but I didn't have any testing strips left so I don't know what the water was like.
<Wasn't old age.>
I did a 50% water change and got strips to test the water. It reads fine for everything except maybe slightly high on nitrites.
<No such thing as "slightly high" nitrites. There's zero (safe) and then there's non-zero (dangerous). It's like being pregnant; you're either pregnant or you're not, you can't be a "little bit pregnant".>
My issue is that the remaining fish is now hanging on the top of the water.
<Dying... gasping...>
Previously he was up and down all over the tank. He is still very active and tries to swim down occasionally, but as soon as he stops making a strong effort he seems to float back up to the top.
<You are killing him.>
He'll swim around at the top, but his top fin stays resting against the edge of the water. He is still eating fine and shows now bodily symptoms. Is there something wrong with him or am I needlessly concerned?
<Needlessly concerned! Oh, boy, no, you should be VERY CONCERNED. You're killing this poor fish. Despite what Fox News and MTV might suggest, ignorance is actually a bad thing. In the case of keeping pet animals,
ignorance of their needs ends up stressing them, poisoning them, and then killing them. I wish I could say something nice to you, to make you feel better, but I fear unless I write this message in crystal clear language, you'll miss the point. Firstly, a 2-gallon "tank" isn't home for anything except perhaps an amoeba. It's worthless. The shop saw you hadn't a clue about keeping fish, and sold you a piece of junk. Secondly, these fish are being poisoned by their environment. At absolute minimum, Platies need about 15 gallons of space. They need a heater (water warmed to about 22-24 Celsius) and they need a filter (0 ammonia and 0 nitrite). Water chemistry is important, and needs to be hard and basic (10+ degrees dH, pH 7.5).
Unless you provide all these things, yes, you will kill your fish. I won't say your fish will die, because that makes it sound like Mother Nature's fault. Instead, I'm going to say you're killing your fish, because you are.
It would be more humane to have bought the fish and then smashed its head in with a mallet, because at least that would be painless. What you've done is passed a death sentence on a couple of poor Platies who are dying by
slow poisoning. Now, I really don't want you to run away from the computer crying because I'm a horrible person. Actually, I'm a very nice person. I'm spending my time answering your query precisely because I like fish and
like chatting with people who keep fish. I genuinely want to help. But it is crucially important you understand the situation here. Nothing, no tablets, no medicines, no nothing, will save the remaining fish without a better aquarium. Your move. Feel free to write back, blow off a little steam, even yell at me. I won't mind. But do also rush to the pet store and buy another aquarium. It's your pet fish I care about. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Is my platy sick? 1/20/10
Neale, I appreciate your feed back.
<Happy to help.>
When I got the tank several years ago, I did do some reading prior to purchase. I did try to understand what I was doing first. I read that I needed one gallon per fish, so that's what I have.
<You mis-read something there. Think about it for a second. One gallon per fish. Fine... a Whale Shark is 30 feet long, and a fish. Think that would be happy in one gallon of water? Obviously not. Of course, that's an extreme example. But the old (fairly crummy) rule is that for SMALL FISH such as Neons and Guppies, you can allow an INCH OF BODY LENGTH per gallon for water. So a 10 gallon tank would hold 10 inches of fish nose-to-tail, or about 10 inch-long fish such as Neons. All well and good. But the bigger a fish, the more space it needs. Something like an Oscar is about 12 inches in length, but it's the bulk of a housecat. Obviously going to need more space than 12 one-inch fish. Bottom line, even if you used that rule the way it was meant to be used, you'd have to modify it somewhat depending on what you were keeping. Finally, no book ever told you that you could keep one 1-inch fish in a 1-gallon aquarium, two such fish in a 2-gallon aquarium, and so on. All books would have said there's a minimum size at which aquaria work. For all practical purposes, that's about 10 gallons.>
While I'm sure you're right that I killed my fish,
<I am.>
I'd had her for a year and a half, so I'd say I kept her from poisoning for a good while.
<Well, sure, someone with lung cancer can live quite a while too. Doesn't mean it's healthy. Platies should live around 4-5 years, and in that time reach a body length of about 2 inches.>
I'd had a Betta in the tank previous to getting the platys and he lived for several years until my dad knocked the tank over.
So for lack of space, as I live in the city in a small apartment, I will take my platy to the fish store where he can be better taken care of and get a Betta.
<Honestly, if you don't have the space, why keep a fish? It's never really going to be happy in 2 gallons, except in the sense it lives. It's a marginal sort of life, at best. There are some "Nano" pets that are fun in small tanks, such as Cherry Shrimps and Crystal Red Shrimps, and with a clump of Java moss and a couple other plants you can create quite a cool habitat. Over the years, I've managed to talk other folks into carnivorous plants, which are fun without needing much space. I know the need to have a pet animal is often very strong, but really, where's the pleasure if the animal isn't happy?>
Still not ideal, as you said, but I'm diligent with the water changes, so hopefully I'll keep him happy.
<Good luck with whatever you do. 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.>

Inherited livebearers, Platy sys... 10/15/09
Hello WWM Crew,
<Hello Phoebe,>
I've written in before about my goldfish (which now have a 50gal tank with two Penguin Emperor Class 90gal bio wheel filters). But this time, I'm writing in about some livebearers that I inherited from a former coworker.
It all started when one of his platys had babies (shocking, I know). I took them in and gave them a home in my sister's donated 6 gal tank.
<Not a long term home for this species; 15 gallons, minimum. They do get to a couple of inches in length.>
They are happy and healthy.
<For now.>
Then, my coworker contacted me one day and asked if I could take ALL his fish. Which included 4 cherry barbs, 5 platys, and 1 Otocinclus. I asked what timeline we were looking at (since I only have the 50gal for the 4 goldies + 1 Pleco and the 6 gal, which now houses 5 baby platys). He told me that the sooner I got them, the better. Preferably that evening.
<Hmm... shouldn't allow yourself to be steamrollered into solving someone else's problems while creating your own.>
So, I had my sister bring over my old 20gal tank, we set it up, cycled it for not nearly long enough, acclimated the fish, and popped them in. The fish are all perfectly healthy, but the water is kind of cloudy, which makes me nervous.
<Often happens in "new" tanks. May be silt from the substrate, may be diatoms blooming in the water, may be bacteria doing likewise. Providing water quality is good, don't worry unduly.>
I just got a new Whisper Filter 20i for the tank and did a water change, so the cloudiness is improving a bit. I want to move the one and only female platy (who is pregnant again) to the nursery tank so she won't be hassled, but I already have 5 juvies in there. 4 are big enough to swim with the big boys, but I'm not sure about the bioload in the 20gal.
<Nor am I.>
My question is this: Just how many fish is alright for the 20gal?
<In terms of Platies? Depending on the filter being robust and water quality good, probably 10 or so.>
And can I pop in the platys with my goldies (the tank is kept at 75' F for the Pleco, and the largest goldie is about 4" long) while I get the 20 gal in better condition.
<Sure. Platies actually prefer quite cool water, around 24 C/75 F, so they mix well with other subtropical fish.>
Pheebalino P.S. Thanks in advance! I know you guys will have great info and insights!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Are My Platies Bloated, Pregnant, Sick, Overfed, or Just Fat? Pregnant.
Platy Questions\Breeding\System 8/23/2009

<Hi Camron.>
I have two female neon redtail moon platys. Gorgeous fish! I have had them for a little over a week now. They are a little over 1 in. each. I feed them a diet of tropical flakes, Spirulina flakes, and goldfish flakes. With occasional treats of brine shrimp and brown seaweed (which I hear is okay to give herbivorous fish.)
<That's fine.>
I house them with 4 goldfish (2 males 2 females) who are quite gentle with the platys.
<This is a cooler water species of Platy, but I hope this is a large tank.>
They get pushy around feeding time (but that is just normal goldfish behavior) and the platys still get their share of food. I also have 1 male sunburst wag platy housed with them. He has been a perfect gentleman to the two females.
<Hmm.... probably not.>
He has not shown breeding behavior as of yet.
<That you have seen in any case.>
But that is fine. He is lively and active even though he has not shown interest in breeding yet. My concern is with the two females. The two females have gotten fat during the time I have had them. Yet I do not know
if it is because I have fed them too much,
<How much are you feeding them?>
if they are bloated, if they are pregnant, if they are just growing, or if they are just fat. I have includes a picture of the two females (named Jen (Jenifer) and Kira). What is going on with my two girls?
<Look pregnant.>
Should I prepare for babies, do they need a diet change, do I need to feed them less? Please just let me know what is going on (if you can) so I can do what is best for my two little ladies. Thank you.
<Have a read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/platyreprofaqs.htm >

Re: Are My Platies Bloated, Pregnant, Sick, Overfed, or Just Fat?
Pregnant. Platy Questions\Breeding\System 8/23/2009

Thank you so much for you prompt reply!
<Hi Camron, no problem.>
I thought they might be pregnant too. However, I have never had platys before. I thought it wiser to get a second opinion from someone who has actually seen platys that are expecting. Now that you have seconded my opinion, I will be watching them. I will move them to another spare tank I have if they continue to grow in girth.
How far along do you think they are?
<Impossible to say - The article I referred you to should give some details.>
Should I move them now, instead of waiting?
<I would set up the tank soon, so it is cycled when it is time.>
As to how much I feed them . . .
Hmm . . . Well, they eat as much as they want to and then do not eat anymore. I feed them twice a day. I have small fingers and tend to give fairly small pinches of food. I shall list how I feed them presently. Let me know if it is too much so I can cut back if needed. I give them 3 to 4 pinches of Spirulina, mostly because the goldfish will eat the sprinulia too.
And the goldfish get their goldfish flakes twice a day (usually 2 to 3 pinches per feeding). The goldfish always eat the majority of their flakes.
The platys will sometimes eat a little of the goldfish flakes, which I hear is okay to give platys as a supplement to their diet. And usually the platys get their tropical flakes at each feeding (again I usually give 2-3 small pinches of food per feeding). The only reason I give the platys more than 1 or 2 pinches of food per feeding is because the goldfish (being the opportunists they are) will eat some of the tropical flakes too. The goldfish get a few granule-sized pellets once a day during their morning feeding. The platys have tried to nibble at the pellets, but they don't seem to like the pellets much. And once or twice a week I will give all my fish freeze-dried brine shrimp (crumbled into very fine pieces or powder), live plant material (such as brown seaweed, blanched lettuce, peas, maybe very small pieces of orange), or occasionally brine shrimp eggs. The platys seem to like the eggs a lot and seem to like the brown seaweed. The male platy is very active and goes after all types of food he can fit into his small mouth. The two females seem a bit more shy. The females don't go after the food much when they are full. This is most likely because they are still getting used to the tank.
<provided your water quality is good and remains so, you are feeding them a nice balanced diet.>
The male platy does not constantly chase the ladies or pick at them that I have seen. Is it possible he would breed with the females when I turn the lights out and it is pitch black?
<Or just when you aren't watching.>
Also, one of the platy females (Jen, the darker one in the picture I sent) hurt her fin.
I am treating her hurt fin with MetaFix (sorry if I didn't spell that right).
<Melafix - it is useless as a medicine. Provided your water quality if good, the fin will heal up quickly on its own.>
Let me know if this will harm her or her offspring so I can make all necessary corrections.
<Stop with the Melafix.>
Also one of my goldfish (a beautiful white calico with patches of brown, orange, and blue on him called Elrond (El)) seems to have hurt his tail fin. It was probably from when I accidentally sucked him up with a small (mini) gravel vacuum I have. I had to work quickly to rescue the poor guy. Anyway, he is fine now. I am also treating his fin with MetaFix as well. His tail had been very red on the side with the hurt fin before I caught the injury to his fin. It is now much less red and he seems to be doing well.
<Good news, but again, this is just the healing process, not the Melafix.>
Other than Jen and Elrond's fins, nothing new to report currently on the health of my fish. Thank you so much for all your wonderful
<Enjoy the experience! Write back if you have other questions.>

Question about platy and pH 4/24/09
I inherited a tank from my friend that had 2 angelfish in the tank. My friend removed the angelfish 2 days ago but kept the filter running. I bought 2 platys and placed them in the tank today. Belatedly, I tested the pH of water and realised that it was quite acidic (5.5). So far, the platys seems fine but I'm worried about them adjusting to the pH, as well as them living in acidic waters.
<Argh! This is very acidic. If the Platies aren't sick yet, they will get sick soon!>
Should I try to change the pH gradually or do you think I should let them adjust to the pH themselves?
<Yes, you need to adjust the pH gradually. Do see here:
Read the whole thing, but note the section on making your own "Rift Valley Cichlid Salt Mix". Use this salt mix for each water change you do. It's very cheap, so don't worry about the cost. All you need is Epsom salt, baking soda (not baking powder!) and marine salt mix (not table salt or aquarium salt!). Now, make up each bucket of water, adding each of these as indicated in the text. Do 20-25% water changes once per 24 hours for the next 5 days. After that, do your normal 20-25% water change per week, each time using the Rift Valley Cichlid Salt Mix in the new water. This should fix all your water chemistry problems, creating water IDEAL for Platies, Guppies, Swordtails and Mollies.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Platies (health; environment?) 9/21/08
I had two Platy's, one male, one female. The female just dies yesterday, and I believe it dies in labor by its behaviors the previous day, but am not sure.
<Very unlikely; fish don't go into "labour" in anything like the same way as humans. The baby fish just come flying out the hole there, with little stress on the mother. On the other hand, the females are easily stressed when pregnant by bullying males and poor water quality. So those are the things to check.>
My male Platy has been acting strangely. It has been darting around the bowl and when I put any food in the bowl at all, the fish darts for the food and practically inhales it. He has been acting this way for about a week, so both before and after the death of the female.
<I'm a bit concerned by the word "bowl" which is anathema to sensible fishkeeping. Platies CANNOT be kept in bowls. They need filtered, heated (around 22-25 C) tropical aquaria at least 20 gallons in size. The water must be hard (10+ degrees dH) and basic (pH 7.5-8.0). Platies cannot be kept in "nano" tanks 10 gallons or smaller, and they cannot be kept in unheated tanks. So, review the environment: that is by far the most likely reason this fish died. Almost always, mystery fish deaths come down to environment. Darting about looking nervous is a classic symptom of a fish that feels stressed by its environment. If you're confused about the habitat you've created for your fish, get back in touch, describing the system, and we'll comment on whether or not it's suitable.>
I am just wondering if this seems typical of any diseases or illness. I appreciate your help so much. Your team is very knowledgeable, rapid in response, and overly helpful!
<We're glad to help!>
Have a wonderful day! Marion
<Cheers, Neale.>

New platy fry in an unprepared tank! 8/16/08 Hello, and thank you so much for taking the time to address my concerns! I think your website of real Q and A is a wonderful resource for fishkeepers. <Thanks for saying this; it's appreciated.> The reason I am writing is because I made a very surprising discovery tonight: our long finned platies made babies! My husband and I are very new to amateur fishkeeping; so much so that we didn't even know we had both a male and a female (fortunately after some research, I can now tell the difference), and we didn't know that platies reproduce so readily. Since discovering the fry, I've researched platy breeding and discovered some differing opinions about conditions for raising them. In some cases, people separate both the expectant mother and the fry from the rest of the tank; in other cases, they leave the babies to fend for themselves and hide in the foliage. <Do read here for my take on breeding livebearers: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/poeciliids.htm In general, when well fed and if there are lots of floating plants, at least some babies from each brood will survive. But in a generic tank without floating plants and if the adults get hungry, then all the fry may be eaten.> I've also seen differing opinions about diet. According to one source, the anal fins of platy females change color when they are pregnant; <Nope.> but I noticed no such change in my fish - no change when she was pregnant and no change now that she's not pregnant anymore - so I'm skeptical about the validity of this statement. I'd really like to know what advice you have for my situation. <Here's how you determine whether a mature Platy female is pregnant. Ask this question: is she now, or has she ever been in the last 3-6 months, with any males. If the answer is "Yes", then she's pregnant. That's pretty much the end of story. Fussing about the "gravid spot" on the abdomen is a waste of time with Xiphophorus spp because you really can't see it clearly in many varieties. It will be very obvious when she's about to give birth because her body will be dramatically swollen.> We first set up our 6-gallon Eclipse system tank about three months ago. We let it alone for about two weeks, adding a product called Cycle that is supposed to facilitate the growth of beneficial bacteria, then added two feeder goldfish whom we named Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. <Cute names; but 6 gallons is too small for Platies, let alone Goldfish.> A couple of weeks after introducing fish, we added several live plants. Rosencrantz died after about a month, so we bought another feeder we decided to call Urich. About a three weeks after that, Guildenstern died. <See above. Goldfish need very specific conditions to thrive, and in small tanks the VAST majority die. For every one specimen you see lingering through a living death in a bowl or 5-10 gallon tank, dozens if not hundreds have died under similar conditions.> We weren't expecting them to live long, as they are bred to be eaten and probably not the most genetically robust of all fish. <Au contraire! Feeder Goldfish are "mongrels" in the sense of having nice mixed genes. The more mixed the genes are, the tougher the animal. It's being inbred (i.e., pedigree) that makes animals weak. In any case, you should NOT buy fish on the assumption they'll die; that's going into the thing with the wrong idea. All fish, and especially Goldfish, can live long and healthy lives *cared for properly*, and in the case of a mixed-breed Goldfish, that lifespan can be anything up to 30 years.> I don't think they died of any illness; just old age or genetic defects. <Neither; they died because the water was foul and your aquarium too small. Did you use a nitrite test kit to check water quality? Without a doubt the filter was immature ("Cycle" is useless in my opinion) and you carried on feeding them without doing the requisite daily water changes of 25% or more needed to allow fish to survive the cycling process. Or to put it bluntly, you allowed them to die. Now, if you're an inexperienced fishkeeper, you can perhaps put that down to lack of knowledge, and I'll leave you to propitiate the Fish Gods when the time comes. But from here on inwards you really must be more careful. A 6 gallon tank is a bucket. It has no value at all for keeping fish. Newbie fishkeepers should start with 20 gallon systems. End of discussion. Anything smaller is very difficult to stock and even more difficult to maintain. Just to make one problem clear, as the male Platies mature, they're going to get aggressive, and in 6 gallons there's nowhere to hide. In other words the weaker males will be bullied, and the females will be constantly harassed.> They both went through a week-long process of simply wasting away: refusal to eat, lying on the bottom of the tank, clamped fins, even vomiting. Since they died one at a time with several weeks in between, it's probably safe to conclude that it wasn't because of a contagion, right? <Water conditions are at the heart of the problem.> Chemistry was all over the place for the first bit, and after about 6 weeks ammonia stabilized close to zero, but we were still having trouble with the nitrite so I started using Tetra's EasyBalance with Nitraban, which seems to have helped. <Hmm... adding products is kind of a waste of time. The problem here is an immature filter in a too-small tank. That means the ammonia produced by the fish will overwhelm the filter and the tank lacks the capacity to dilute the problem. I seriously doubt this tank will ever settle down in the way you want it to. At best there'll be a holocaust of fish, with those that survive being just adequately catered to by the filter. As they grow, things'll decline, and heaven help you if you add a new fish six months down the line. Please do read my thoughts on stocking, maintaining new aquaria: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwlivestocking.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwlivestk.htm These are pitched at beginners and should help.> Currently pH seems to be about 7.7 (though it's hard to tell because the water's color doesn't exactly match the color chart for the test), nitrite is at 0.05ppm, and ammonia is at 0.25 ppm. I still add Cycle and EasyBalance when I do water changes every 1-2 weeks, replacing about 30-40% of the water and also the carbon filter. I also treat the new water (which comes straight from the tap) with API's Tap Water Conditioner, which is supposed to remove chlorine and break down chloramine. <You obviously need to be doing more water changes and adding less food. Well, frankly, you need a whole new tank but let's stay theoretical for now. If ammonia and nitrite aren't zero (the precise value couldn't matter less except to say the higher the number, the worse it is) you need to tackle both the source of ammonia (fish, food) and the removal system (filtration, water changes).> We bought our two long finned platies (their names are Claudius and Gertrude) about 2-3 weeks ago and moved Urich into his own little bowl. He doesn't seem as happy, but he's healthy and I change about 50% of the water and rinse his gravel once a week. <Goldfish bowls are to Goldfish what Death Row is to Humans. I can't abide them, and this poor fish is already on his way to the grave. Whether that takes a week, a month, or a year doesn't matter; it won't be anything remotely akin to a healthy, happy life for a SOCIABLE, BIG fish that needs swimming space and company. Do see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/goldfish101art.htm > Last week two of the plants in the platies' tank died and started to decay, so I removed them. <Did you check the plants are true aquatics? A lot of stores will sell you terrestrial plants. These are often cheap and look nice, so inexperienced aquarists buy them. Problem is, they die. You really must research each plant before buying them: many are demanding in terms of lighting and substrate, and for newbies there are really only a few that can be recommended.> (I'm hoping this is the cause of the elevated ammonia and nitrite, and I expect the numbers will go down in a few days.) I find this really odd since all of the other plants are still perfectly healthy, and the ones that died were doing very well until they suddenly weren't. <Sounds a lot like what happens with terrestrial plants.> I do have problems being gentle with the gravel vacuum around them; they tend to get uprooted during water changes, but that can't be what killed them, can it? <Yes it can, but in all honesty I doubt this plant lived long enough to have grown an extensive root system. But those plants that do have big root systems will be stressed, though rarely killed, if their roots are damaged.> Finding info about the care and keeping of aquarium plants seems to be really difficult, so I'd appreciate any advice you can offer. <Buy a book. There's lot of them on plants. I cannot stress how important it is to have a book with you to identify the plants being offered. Lots of pet stores will sell things like "aquatic palm" and "dragon plant" and "wheat plant" and such like. Guess what? They're terrestrial plants. Is this a con? I'd say so. But you can beat the scam by doing some research. If you know what a Java Fern is for example, you'll know it's hardy and easy to keep and doesn't need much light. Provided you don't bury it in the sand (it hates having its rhizome buried) it's a great beginner's plant. Other species good for newbies are Anubias, Java Moss, and Cryptocoryne wendtii -- all hardy and undemanding.> As far as the platies are concerned, they are healthy and spunky. When I bought them, Claudius (the large, feisty male) actually jumped out of the fish net and onto the store floor! <Platies do jump: don't keep in an uncovered aquarium.> When I brought them home, I noticed that the lower fork of his tail was broken, which I assume happened during his adventure out to terrestrial living; that seems to be healing now, albeit slowly. It has never impaired his ability to swim or otherwise act fish-like, but I think it might be crooked for the rest of his life. He is in fact extremely aggressive with Gertrude, who is a little smaller and not as brightly colored, especially at feeding time. I give them TetraColor flakes, which are supposed to enhance their orange-red colors. According to the label, it is at least 49% crude protein, at least 9% crude fat, at most 2% crude fiber, at least 1.3% phosphorus, and has vitamins A, D3, and E, biotin, ascorbic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids. (I have no idea what all of that means, but I'm sure you do.) <Yes, I do. But in any case these are HERBIVORES so don't use this stuff more than 50% of their meals; use HERBIVORE fish food, such as Spirulina flake. Again: research first, spend money second.> I also give them to Urich, who started out albino and has since not only turned pink but also developed red and orange spots on his forehead and tail fins. ...so I guess the stuff does what it's supposed to! <Well, unless that's Finrot, which wouldn't be out of all probability given the ammonia/nitrite situation here.> Tetra claims that its flakes are completely balanced for the nutrition of tropical fish, but I was wondering what you thought about them being enough for our new fry. Should I switch to something different? <Yep.> Supplement it with other stuff? I'm very hesitant to add live foods like brine shrimp because currently the fry are about their size, and Claudius gets VERY aggressive over food. I wouldn't want him to find a fry and eat it thinking it was a shrimp. I know that platies are livebearers and also unscrupulously cannibalistic. <Can be.> I don't think I mentioned it earlier, but when I found the fry this evening there were only three of them. I was under the impression that livebearers give birth to about 15-20 young at a time, so I fear that perhaps the rest - if there were more to begin with - have fallen victim to their parents' appetite. Being only two or three millimeters long, they would easily fit into the adult fish's mouths. I don't know if you can tell from the pictures I sent you, but further evidence of my husband's and my ignorance about fishkeeping is that our gravel is much too large. This only became a problem when I discovered the fry, because I now understand that they can become trapped in it. One of the three surviving fry I actually found trapped in a crevice under the gravel, right up against the glass. I thought perhaps he had become trapped when I had rearranged the gravel after removing the dead plants (though I can't imagine how I could have missed the presence of fry if they were there at the time), so washed my hands and carefully reached into the tank to free him. He swam away, but then lodged himself into another crevice. I freed him again, and he got himself stuck again! After freeing him a third time, I realized that he was swimming very spastically and twitching with his entire body. It got to the point that he couldn't even swim upright, but kept turning upside down when trying to swim. I concluded that he had neurological damage of some sort, so I put him in a small cup and placed it in the freezer. I've heard that that's a relatively painless way to put a dying fish out of its misery. <No it's not; see WWM re: Euthanasia> The other two seemed very alert and healthy, darting about and eluding the adult fish. I am a little concerned because I haven't seen either of them for hours, but I hope that they have simply found some good hiding places and are waiting out the rest of the night. Our tank is not very well planted anymore, now that so many of the plants have died. Do you think that will be a problem? <Yes.> How long will it be until the fry are large enough that they'll no longer be on their parents' menu? Do they grow very fast? What should I do to keep them alive and safe? <Put the fry in a rearing tank ~10 gallons in size with lots of floating plants. Let the tank get some sunlight so algae grows. Platies feed primarily on algae, and it's the best food for maximum health and colour.> That is my story! I know it's quite long, but I figured the more information I gave, the better the returning advice would be. Thank you so much for addressing all my concerns! I love what you do and I think it's wonderful. - Jenn <I'm glad you think it's wonderful, and that's kind of you to say so. But when we write back saying "you're doing everything wrong, darn it" sometimes folks don't see it quite the same way. I hope this isn't too negative, but honestly your tank and bowl are far from being suitable for the fish in question, so there's only so much practical advice I can give beyond saying buy a bigger tank. A 20 gallon tank would house the Platies and a couple of juvenile Goldfish are ~23C/73F quite happily. Add sufficient lighting that you had between 1-2 watts per gallon and the hardy plants mentioned above would thrive. If you're going with Cryptocoryne spp. that need to be buried in the substrate, try a mix of fine pea gravel and smooth silica sand; Anubias, Java Moss and Java fern are stuck to rocks/wood so don't care about the substrate. I'd use just a thin layer of sand or pea gravel as preferred. Use a decent filter, something offering 4-6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. Until nitrite = 0, do 25% water changes every 1-2 days, without fail. After 2-3 weeks things should be perfectly stable, and you can revert to 25-50% water changes weekly. Cheers, Neale.>

What to do with one platy? 6/25/08 This year I set up a 10 gallon aquarium in my classroom with a few red wag platys.? <?> This was my first experience with an aquarium and definitely a learning experience.? For most of the year I had three (what appeared to be) healthy platys, but something changed a couple weeks before school let out.? The platys started hiding and I noticed the big female had a large white spot on her side and was getting skinny.? <Something amiss here environmentally, nutritionally> She died and? then the male died about a week or so? later.? The last platy looks ok but is still hiding.? She doesn't even come out when I put food in the aquarium, although I think she may eat something when I'm not there because she's not skinny.? I had planned to give my platys to another teacher at the end of the school year who has an aquarium at her house; however, I did not want to give her a sick platy so I still have the lone platy at school.? I'm not sure what to do with her.? I'm moving to another school for next year so I had to tear down the 10 gallon aquarium (it is the property of the current school and the room has to be cleared out for summer cleaning).? I had a 3 gallon Eclipse tank running at school (that I used to raise this platy from a fry) so I moved? her to that tank today.? It's a pretty bare tank? - only two small plastic plants and a small crate ornament inside which the platy can hide.? So I have one platy that I'm not sure is sick or not or if she is just scared and? lonely.? What should I do?? <Learn what is going on with the ??? and omit it?> I cannot get into my new school until July 28 so, assuming she lives, it is going to be quite a while before she can get into a bigger tank and have some new friends.? I cannot set up a larger tank at my house because I have well water that is really bad (sulfur, etc.).? I can keep her at my current school for the time being in the 3 gallon Eclipse tank and come in a couple times a week to feed her and check on her.? However, I know platys like to be in groups so I don't know if I'm just inducing more stress by keeping her by herself for so long.? Should I go get one more platy to keep her company??? I'm not sure what is best to do here.? Some people are telling me to just put her down the toilet drain, but I can't? make myself do that.? ? Thanks for your help! Carolyn <Take the fish and the 3 gal. sys. home, return it in the Fall. Oh, and read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/platysysfaqs.htm and the linked files above.> Bob Fenner?>

Platy Water Hardness 5/5/08 Hello Crew! I am thinking of setting up a Platy tank and just wanted to double check my water hardness is acceptable. Out of the tap it is: KH 7 dH 13 <Should be fine.> I remember recently reading a Q&A asking about water extremes that Neale answered and he gave the water parameters for livebearers; I have spent hours searching for it. I keep reading the dH needs to be ten plus, but can't find the minimum for KH. <With Platies, the harder the better, but your numbers are well within the comfort zone. The idea of KH is that it reduces pH drops through acidification. Livebearers despise acid pH levels. Seven degrees KH should comfortably inhibit acidification provided you do regular water changes (25-50% per week).> Also, are pH meters easy to use or are they fussy and need constant calibration? I am tired of holding up colored bottles and not really having it look like any color on the chart, but kinda similar to several. <No experience of pH meters in freshwater tanks, so can't comment. I happen to use "dip strip" test kits for my aquaria. There are some inexpensive ones out there that have multiple tests on each strip. Slice the strips longitudinally and you have twice as many for your money. They may not be perfectly accurate, but they're plenty good enough for this sort of thing. All you care about is that the pH stays around the 7.5 to 8.0 mark.> Thanks for all your hard work! Michelle <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Platy Water Hardness 5/5/08 Wow, that was super fast, thanks! I knew Platys like hard water, and wasn't sure if mine is hard enough. <It is.> Two to five years ago my tap water was always at a pH of 8 or a little more, but the tests don't seem to be going as high now (I think I will go buy a new test kit just to make sure mine is reading right.) <Test kits "go bad" after a couple years and should be replaced.> Another question, with my parameters could cardinal tetras be happy? I read they can be in harder water than the typical soft water tank. <Yes, they can be kept in fairly hard water, though they do seem to be less long lived than otherwise. I'd recommend against them. X-ray Tetras are the best hard water tetras, or failing them, Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia praecox) or Celebes Rainbowfish (Marosatherina ladigesi) would both offer shiny blue colour in a hard water tolerant package.> Would Cherry Shrimp (Neocaridina heteropoda) or Amano Shrimp (Caridina multidentata, formerly japonica) be happy? From what I have read the water parameters should be fine, will platys leave the adults alone or harass them to death? <I keep (and breed!) Cherry Shrimps in a slightly brackish water aquarium alongside Limia nigrofasciata, a livebearer very similar in size and habits to your Platies. So yes, they will get along fine. Shrimps do need tanks with lots of plants (real or plastic) and a constant supply of algae. Your Platies need algae as well if they are to be healthy and get full colouration. So provide good lighting and let the algae go wild. Before long, you'll have baby Platies and baby shrimps to play with!> Thanks for your help! Michelle <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Platy Water Hardness 05/06/08 Very fun, I'm excited about this tank; I've never had freshwater shrimp before. I was thinking of Java Fern and Java Moss, but I could skip the moss and let the algae grow instead. <Indeed you could. But the Moss is great for the shrimps. It gets clogged with food and algae, and the Shrimps spend all day out and about, picking away at it like an "all you can eat" buffet.> I need to find either small pieces of driftwood or rocks but the LFS around me have huge gigantic ones that are really too large for a tank my size (20 gallon long). <Feel free to use plastic, ceramic alternatives. Once the algae/Moss covers it, it looks great.> Would putting crush coral in the filter be a good idea or looking for a certain rock to help keep the water "hard"? <If you have soft water, then yes, adding a little crushed coral would be a fine idea. Don't go wild, because you'll still need space for the biological filter media (sponges or whatever). But a 50/50 mix of relatively small pieces of crushed coral and biological media would be perfect.> I just looked up Lamia nigrofasciata and they look really nice! <Indeed they are. Quirky yet pretty. Also look up Heterandria Formosa (Dwarf Mosquito fish) and Micropoecilia picta (Swamp Guppy) -- both tiny, peaceful and very cute livebearers. Add a few Nerite snails, and you have something every bit as fun to watch as a reef tank, but at a fraction of the cost!> Cheers, Michelle <Cheers, Neale.>

re: Platy Water Hardness 05/07/08 Hi Neale, Plastic or ceramic rocks is a great idea! I went around to a bunch of fish stores tonight and no one had any. One store did have a bunch of small and medium size driftwood pieces. <These acidify the water somewhat, but usually not too badly.> I brought a sample of my tap water and the store I usually go to tested it and said the pH is 7.6; when I said our water used to always be 8.0 they said our city has changed how it mixes water. <Curious; water company web sites (here in England anyway) describe what they deliver in terms of hardness, pH, etc and it's a good idea to review this.> The store has a display tank, about 10 gallons, that is crammed full of driftwood, java moss and java fern and a shoal of platys with a lot of babies. They all seem healthy and the tank has been there for more than six months. <Sounds lovely.> So... if I filled my tank up with driftwood, instead of using rocks, do you think it would cause any chemistry problems? <Provided the water was changed frequently enough that the wood didn't have a chance to acidify it, then yes.> Again, my tap water is: pH 7.6 (apparently) kH 7 dH 13 <Cool.> I just looked up Limia nigrofasciata and they look really nice! <Indeed they are. Quirky yet pretty. Also look up Heterandria Formosa (Dwarf Mosquitofish) and Micropoecilia picta (Swamp Guppy) -- both tiny, peaceful and very cute livebearers. Add a few Nerite snails, and you have something every bit as fun to watch as a reef tank, but at a fraction of the cost!> Those look great as well! I'd like to try some livebearers outside of the big four sometime. I also really like gobies, and would love to set up a livebearer/goby biotope, but I don't think they are found together in nature. <Perhaps not, but they get along extremely well.> Thanks for your thoughts! Michelle <Cheers, Neale.>

Platy overpopulation and its consequences 2/24/08 Hello Crew! <Ave!> I have a meager 5 gal tank with a lively family of platies (and two plants and a heater)! I started out with three....and soon enough, I end up with....a lot. There are currently somewhere between 15 and 20! (This is a result of "letting nature take its course," haha!) Getting rid of some doesn't seem to be an option at the moment. I don't know anyone around here with a fish tank, and there's no LFS within walking distance. Even if there were, I'm afraid it's too cold out anyway to transport the little guys. At least they get along with each other! <Transporting fish not that big a deal, even in the cold. Put them in as large a container as you can manage (water stores heat very well) and then place inside something insulated. Picnic bags and drinks coolers are ideal. Failing that, bundle up with towels or t-shirts and put in a ruck sack.> And because of the large amount of food they must eat--and waste they produce, I now see these gross parasite-thingys. I don't really know what they are, but a Google search gave me some information about various Planaria. Researching that further didn't help me much, unfortunately. Only one description matched, but provided only a little bit of info. Apparently they're not deadly to my fish, which is great, but they're still disgusting! These things are white and wormy, resembling sperm without the head....Bleh!!! I just vacuumed the rocks. Hopefully that got rid of a lot of them. But I have a felling they'll be back. <Planarians are indeed harmless and even useful, being part of the biological process that breaks down organic waste into harmless inorganic chemicals like CO2 and nitrate. But that said, if you see lots of them, it means you're overfeeding and/or under-cleaning the aquarium. They don't magically turn water into food: they eat fish food, or more specifically, the micro-organisms that eat the fish food. So take their appearance for what it is, a warning.> I feed my platies twice a day, morning and evening. Do you guys have any tips to keep those horrible things away, other than more frequent water changes? Perhaps feeding them smaller portions more often? (Searches on "feeding" led to articles about fish that aren't eating...) The best I could do there is move it up to three times a day...I can't feed them when I'm in class! Any other tips? That would be wonderful! <Smaller, more frequent food portions are always a good start. Less protein but more vegetables (especially algae) will also help your Platies and reduce the number of planarians somewhat (plant foods contain less energy per unit mass, so there's less waste). Removing uneaten food within a few minutes is always a good idea. It's likely that your tank is "eutrophic" because you have so many (too many) fish in so small (too small) a volume of water. While no-one believes this until they do it themselves, the truth is small tanks are less easy to keep clean and healthy than big tanks. Upgrading to at least a 15-20 gallon aquarium would help.> Well, there doesn't seem to be any other problems (other than the fact the babies are getting bigger and bigger!). A scrawnier fish goes missing, never to be seen again every once-in-a-while (yep, there used to be more!!), but I'm surprised this tank is sustaining as much life as it is. <As am I.> Oh, and I should mention upgrading tanks is impossible, too...this residence hall has a 5gal maximum. <Stupid rule.> Than you for your time! ~Angela <Cheers, Neale.>

Freshwater Setup, Platies - 02/07/2007 Jorie, Thanks again. <You're welcome again!> Well I'm about ready to lose it over this. I really didn't think that a small tank with a couple of fish would be so complicated to set up. <Honestly, it gets easier once everything is all set up, established, settled, etc. You'll soon just have to do weekly water changes, and everything else will take care of itself...> I went out and bought the API master test kit. The pH is 7.6 (highest it can test) <If this is the same kit I have, I believe there's a saltwater pH tester for higher pHs...you may want to try that one next time, just to see...> , and the high pH is 8.0. Per the booklet this seems a bit high. <Honestly, stability is MUCH more important than precision, and the platys should be just fine in this pH, so long as it doesn't vacillate.> They say mollies do well between about 7.2-7.5 so I assume this is ok for starburst platys as well. <Livebearers, in general, are pretty hardy and can adapt to lots of conditions. I wouldn't worry about playing with the pH, as you can do more damage than good. Just keep everything stable, and your fish will likely be OK in this regard.> The ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are all at 0 ppm. <Great.> This makes sense since there haven't been any fish in the tank. <Have you done the fishless cycle yet?> Looks like I just have to get something to bring the pH levels down a bit and I'm probably good to go. <As mentioned above, I wouldn't monkey with the pH - leave well enough alone. But do be sure to gradually acclimate the fish from their old home to the new one - floating them in a plastic baggie full of the "old" tank water, then every 10-15 minutes adding a small amount of the "new" water to that bag (I use a turkey baster...) should do it. I'd suggest doing that for an hour. Then, you fish should be A-OK and ready for their new "house" - don't just dump the entire bag of water in, though, but carefully net the fish and place them inside the tank...then throw the baggie and the water inside out.> As for the "cloudiness"... I should probably have stated that it's not even close to a milky white or seriously cloudy...ever so slight... <Nothing a water change shouldn't take care of. No big deal, especially since your parameters are all at zero.> I see you are in law school. That's great. <Thanks - sometimes I wonder...> I know it's a lot of work. <Yep, it's pretty ridiculous what they expect of folks. I tell people that one of the keys to law school is learning what must be done, and what is non-essential, thus not worth doing...> I graduated from U of F in Gainesville, FL with some friends who continued on in their law school. I used to visit them quite a bit. Seems like a tough curriculum. <Yes, it's challenging. For me, the hardest part is the forced grading curve and class ranking that my school loves to through at you. I'm in my second year and am finally able to self-select classes, so this semester is much more enjoyable than the previous ones...> Anyway...good luck. Thanks for your help. <You are most welcome. Don't get overwhelmed - honestly, the longer the tank is set up, the easier things get. Best of luck and again, sorry for the delayed reply...Jorie> Ps. My friend and husband think I'm obsessing over this. My husband says that he never tested his fish tank and had fish for years and years... Regards, Donna J.

Freshwater Setup, Platies - 02/07/2007 Jorie, Thanks again. <You're welcome again!> Well I'm about ready to lose it over this. I really didn't think that a small tank with a couple of fish would be so complicated to set up. <Honestly, it gets easier once everything is all set up, established, settled, etc. You'll soon just have to do weekly water changes, and everything else will take care of itself...> I went out and bought the API master test kit. The pH is 7.6 (highest it can test) <If this is the same kit I have, I believe there's a saltwater pH tester for higher pHs...you may want to try that one next time, just to see...> , and the high pH is 8.0. Per the booklet this seems a bit high. <Honestly, stability is MUCH more important than precision, and the platys should be just fine in this pH, so long as it doesn't vacillate.> They say mollies do well between about 7.2-7.5 so I assume this is ok for starburst platys as well. <Livebearers, in general, are pretty hardy and can adapt to lots of conditions. I wouldn't worry about playing with the pH, as you can do more damage than good. Just keep everything stable, and your fish will likely be OK in this regard.> The ammonia, nitrite and nitrate are all at 0 ppm. <Great.> This makes sense since there haven't been any fish in the tank. <Have you done the fishless cycle yet?> Looks like I just have to get something to bring the pH levels down a bit and I'm probably good to go. <As mentioned above, I wouldn't monkey with the pH - leave well enough alone. But do be sure to gradually acclimate the fish from their old home to the new one - floating them in a plastic baggie full of the "old" tank water, then every 10-15 minutes adding a small amount of the "new" water to that bag (I use a turkey baster...) should do it. I'd suggest doing that for an hour. Then, you fish should be A-OK and ready for their new "house" - don't just dump the entire bag of water in, though, but carefully net the fish and place them inside the tank...then throw the baggie and the water inside out.> As for the "cloudiness"... I should probably have stated that it's not even close to a milky white or seriously cloudy...ever so slight... <Nothing a water change shouldn't take care of. No big deal, especially since your parameters are all at zero.> I see you are in law school. That's great. <Thanks - sometimes I wonder...> I know it's a lot of work. <Yep, it's pretty ridiculous what they expect of folks. I tell people that one of the keys to law school is learning what must be done, and what is non-essential, thus not worth doing...> I graduated from U of F in Gainesville, FL with some friends who continued on in their law school. I used to visit them quite a bit. Seems like a tough curriculum. <Yes, it's challenging. For me, the hardest part is the forced grading curve and class ranking that my school loves to through at you. I'm in my second year and am finally able to self-select classes, so this semester is much more enjoyable than the previous ones...> Anyway...good luck. Thanks for your help. <You are most welcome. Don't get overwhelmed - honestly, the longer the tank is set up, the easier things get. Best of luck and again, sorry for the delayed reply...Jorie> Ps. My friend and husband think I'm obsessing over this. My husband says that he never tested his fish tank and had fish for years and years... Regards, Donna J.

Platies, sys. 1/18/08 Hi Crew! <Hello.> I indulged myself this season by getting a new ten gallon tank. I know, it's a bit small....but it's perfect for the location. <Hmm... fish, bacteria don't really care about the location. A ten-gallon tank IS hard work and ISN'T easy to keep and CAN'T hold very many different types of fish.> The tank has a heater set at 79 degrees F, silk plants, a small air stone and a BioWheel filtration device (outside of aquarium) <Lower the temperature a little. 25C/77F is normal and tolerable for the widest range of species.> I have cycled the tank, had the water tested at the store (so far so good), and added five dwarf platies from PetSmart (they seemed the healthiest!) Now, to the questions. I know that platies come in different varieties, but how can I tell that these are truly "dwarf" and not just mature fry? <You can't. There aren't any "dwarf" Platies in the trade, at least not outside of people keeping wild-caught Xiphophorus species. More than likely these are nothing more than young Platies. Expect adult size around 5-7 cm/2-3". Platies are NOT, in my opinion, good fish for a 10 gallon tank. They get too big for one thing, but the males are also aggressive sometimes. So more than ONE male is asking for trouble.> I have inspected each fish - two have gonopodium and three do not (2M/3F). <Oh dear. Well, I guess you're going to have a lot of chasing and fighting in there. Hope you weren't expecting harmony, because there's no guarantees of that at all!> They currently measure just under an inch in length. I had read somewhere that this variety had two less invertebrate, and that it was originally a variation of the balloon variety. Is this true? <No idea. An "invertebrate" is an animal without a backbone, and Platies certainly do have backbones, so precisely what this factoid is I cannot say. In any case, Balloon Mollies are nothing to do with Platies of any kind.> Also, how do they mix with other platies? <Fine. But your tank is overstocked already.> Are they close enough in genetics that they are able to mate? <They're all Xiphophorus hybrids, and all interbreed.> Or will the larger varieties "pick on" the dwarf? <Male Xiphophorus chase one another, and yes, the big ones will beat up the smaller ones.> Finally - it appears that one of the fish has a larger belly, however I do not see a gravid spot. <You can't (usually) see a gravid spot on Xiphophorus species; they're too big for this to be reliable. So forget about it. The gravid spot applies to wild-type mosquitofish and Guppies, and that's about it.> They are sunset in color, so I would assume that it would be there. Is there anything special about the fry of this fish? (Or just the same thing as the Mollies, guppies, and regular platies?) <Hmm... not sure what you mean by "special".> Again, I've had these fish for only a few days, so I can't assume anything - I'm just trying to prepare for the new variety! <They're just colours. Like people with different colour hair or skin; underneath, they're just the same.> Thanks! Megan <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Platies water temp. 1/17/08 Hi, we just purchased 6 orange platys, 1 snail and 1 small Pleco on 1/15/08. At the time of transport, our night temperature outside was about 24 degrees. The fish were wrapped from the store. <On really cold days, wrapping fish in brown paper isn't enough; I'd recommend using a thermally insulated bag or box, of the sort used for picnics.> After getting them home we floated the bags in the water which was a cool 70 degrees since the heater was not installed yet. The heater was preset to 76, I set it to 74. What is the ideal temp for these fish? <This is a trick question! There are two traded Platies, in theory anyway, one of which, Xiphophorus variatus, is a subtropical fish that likes coolish sort of conditions, while the other, X. maculatus, is a more normal tropical fish. Regardless, something around 25C/77F is fine for both species, and in any case the fish in the trade are mostly hybrids anyway.> Also, this morning (1/16) 1 platy is barely moving near the bottom...why do you think this is? <No idea. Most likely a water chemistry/quality issue. Check the nitrite level and the pH, and then get back to me.> Thanks in advance for your help. P.S. this tank was completely broke down and redone over after sickness wiped out 2 large fantail Orandas and 1 large Pleco. Barb in NY <Good luck, Neale.>

Platys.... what if? Molly crosses? 1/3/08 Hi Guys or Gals! <Hello.> OK, so.. about 9 months ago my cousin dumped some mollies and platys in my freshwater tank due to them being baby making machines at her house. I got sick of my freshwater tank constantly having problems with disease and infection so I pulled the Mollies and over the course of many, many long hours, I slowly converted them to marine fish (in their own separate tank not in with my other marine fish) They're doing great! (both tanks) It's been 6 months. Some are Dalmatian mollies and some are molly and platy cross breeds (living in a 1.024-1.025 salinity). <Never heard of Platy/Molly hybrids. Are you sure? I'd LOVE to see pictures of these Platy hybrids.> I even have a couple new babies in that tank. So my question is.. are the Platys solely freshwater? <While Mollies adapt to marine conditions fine, I've never heard of anyone adapt any Platy (or Swordtail) to marine conditions. Brackish water up to SG 1.005 is likely the limit.> Or can they be converted like the mollies as well? <Not that I'm aware of.> I heard they'd be OK in brackish water, But I want to know if they'd live comfortably in a marine environment. <Likely not.> Thanks for your time. Rochelle <Cheers, Neale.>

Platy Tank, hlth. 4/18/07 <<Tom here. (Didn't catch your name from your post so I'm sorry I can't 'personalize' this a little more. ;) >> I have three platies in a five gallon tank. There are two females and one male. Two days after buying them from Petco, the gold twin bar platy had a white spot on her tail fin. She feeds fine, but she keeps her fins clamped and doesn't move very much. I think she might have ick. <<I'd be more concerned about the clamped fins now than a single, white spot.>> The temperature is at a constant 77 degrees. <<Okay'¦>> She is chased sometimes by the other two fish and might be stressed out. <<I can practically guarantee it.>> Should we exchange her? <<No. With our help, hopefully, we'll get her back on her feet (fins?). The store will only destroy her in, Lord only knows, what fashion. Let's give her a chance.>> Should we put salt in the tank? How much if so? <<Good way to go. If you can elevate the tank's temperature to the low-80's, please do so'¦slowly. Also, purchase some 'aquarium' salt at your pet store (Kosher salt from the supermarket will work well, too). Remove about one gallon of water from the tank. Dissolve one-and-a-half to two tablespoons of the salt into fresh, dechlorinated water and add this to the tank. >> We have two plants that might have spread ick. Or is that possible? <<First, your plants most certainly could have been carrying the parasites. Second, and unfortunately, the salt is likely going to do them in -- the downside of treating with salt. It's a safe and effective way to treat some of the problems that occur with fish but plants don't fare well with it.>> Respond as soon as possible! <<I'll take that as a desperate plea for assistance rather than an order. ;) Post back with my name if you need further help/clarification with anything. Tom>>

Re: Platy Tank, hlth. 4/19/07 Tom, <<Hello, Elisabet. A pleasure.>> We are heating the tank now. Thanks for the help. <<Good, and happy to help.>> We decided to remove the plants and put them in a separate container. <<Excellent.>> Then we would add salt to the tank until everyone was happy again. <<Yes. This will take bit of time, however. You can research this but, in a nutshell, if we're dealing with Ich, it's life cycle is 'sped up' at higher temperatures (what we're trying to achieve). The salt is effective only when the parasite is in the 'infant' stage, i.e. looking for a host fish to infest. (This is true of any treatment that fights Ich.) In the meantime, the salt will also assist the fish in breathing and help in dealing with external wounds the fish might have. (Ich will leave wounds on the fish as the cysts- the 'white spots' - drop off.)>> Then after a few water changes of adding no salt the salt level would drop and we could add the plants again. Would that be OK? <<Certainly. The salt remains unless you perform water changes so you'll need to actually change the water in order to get the salt level down. (Some folks think that simply adding water lowers the salt level. Not so. You have to remove some tank water and replace it with fresh, unsalted water.)>> Elisabet <<I'll be here if you need more assistance. Tom>>

Re: Platy Tank, hlth. 4/19/07 Tom, <<Hello, again.>> The red female platy is very, very aggressive toward the other, sick one. She constantly chases her and bites. Maybe she needs some more tankmates? <<Not uncommon in the animal world, Elisabet. What seems "cruel" to us as humans makes perfect sense to animals. Your healthy Platy sees the sick one as a "weakling", one unable to protect or procreate. Isolate the sick Platy if at all possible. Beyond that, we're going to have to let Nature take its course. Not what you want to hear, I know. Tom>>

Care for starburst platys in a 5 gallon tank - 1/22/07 Hello, <Hi - a very excited Jorie from Chicago here...'Da Bears are goin' to the Superbowl!!> I am completely a novice at having fish. <We all start somewhere, not to worry.> I just purchased a 5 gallon hexagon aquarium (it was a kit with a filter) for my two, 5 yr old boys. <Is the kit by Marineland? If so, I have the same one...Even though this is a fairly small tank, I'm glad that you invested in a tank with a filter...> Our friend's starburst platy had 9 babies and she is going to give my boys two. They are only about the size of a piece of rice. <Yes, I keep livebearers (mollies, platys, guppies, etc.) myself and am familiar with the fry - quite small, and quite cute!> We put the aquarium together, put in the water conditioner, rocks and a few decorative items (one that the fish can hide in). <Excellent. You do need to invest in a heater; I suggest a submersible one. The general rule of thumb is 25 watts per 5 gallons, and to my knowledge, the 25 watt heater is the smallest submersible on made - that will work great! PetSmart, PetCo, etc. sell them, as do www.drsfostersmith.com. Also, a thermometer for inside the tank is necessary. You want to keep the water temperature as stable as possible, in the upper 70's (that's degrees F) for the platy fry.> My questions are as follows: How many fish can we safely put in this small aquarium? <Not very many. I know how small the platy fry are, but keep in mind they grow. 2 or 3 fry would be great. If you have multiple sexes, they'll start reproducing. Also, if there are too many males, they'll pick on the females. There's no way to tell what sex they are when they are this young...> Is it safe to put a Pleco (sp?)... <Pleco> ...fish in with these 2 very small babies? <Maybe yes, maybe no, but my bigger concern is what type of Pleco. If you are referring to the "common Pleco", absolutely not - these grow to 18" in length! Some of the rare, and very expensive, varieties stay small, but they require a very stable environment, lots of algae to eat, etc. In short, they aren't typically regarded as a beginner's fish. I'd stick with the platys in the 5 gal.; in all honesty, once they reach adulthood, you're maxed out with 2, maybe 3.> How long after we set the aquarium up is it safe to transfer these babies into it? How do we do it? <Well, you need to establish the nitrogen cycle in the tank before adding any fish, especially fry (as they are very demanding in terms of water quality). By feeding the tank just a pinch of fish food daily, you can kick-start the process. Do invest in a quality liquid test kit, such as this: http://www.amazon.com/Aquarium-Pharmaceuticals-Freshwater-Master-Test/dp/B000255NCI/sr=8-1/qid=1169425373/ref=sr_1_1/002-3618028-9708064?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden . Once you've seen a spike, then decline, in ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels (in that order), the cycle is complete and the tank's ready for the fish! Here's a good article describing the cycling process: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm Once the cycle has been established, you can add the fish by simply netting them from their old quarters into the new ones. Actually, since you are getting the fish from a friend, you'll likely be bringing a Ziploc bag full of water and the fry home with you from your friend's house; you then would float the bag inside your 5 gal. tank, slowly adding a bit of the tank's water into the bag. After 30-45 minutes, the fish should be fully acclimatized; you then would net the fry and transfer them into their new home. Don't just empty the bag of water into the tank, though, as any "undesirables" from your friend's tank would thus be transferred too...> What is the appropriate temperature for these fish? <Tropical waters. Read here for info. on platys, and livebearers in general: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/poeciliids.htm > Do they need a heater? <Yes - see above.> Should we feed them 1 or 2x per day? <With fry, I generally recommend feeding at least twice per day. I like Hikari's First Bites as a fry food, but there are a variety of suitable choices out there.> Thank you very much in advance, D. J. <You're very welcome. This is the fun part - learning about the wonderful world of aquarium fish! David E. Boruchowitz has written a very comprehensive "A Simple Guide to the Freshwater Aquarium" that is a great starting point for newbies. The best thing you can do right now is read, read, and read some more, prior to acquiring your fish. It may seem tedious, but the effort WILL pay off in the long-run, not to mention possible save the lives of your piscine friends. Best of luck, Jorie> Re: care for starburst platys in a 5 gallon tank - PART 2 2/2/07 Jorie, <Donna,> Thanks for responding and answering all of my questions. <You're welcome.> I set the tank up 1 wk ago today. We still have not put any fish in. The last couple of days the tank seems cloudy. I went to the pet store and they sold me something called 'Accu-clear.' <The best, and truly safest way to fix water problems, including cloudy water, is to do one or more water changes; adding various chemicals can only lead to more pollution, in my opinion.> I put in the 2 drops per gallon and am waiting to see if the water clears up (just did this now). <If it were me, I'd see if I could return the product, and simply do more water changes to clear up the cloudiness.> I did not put a heater in, but did put in a thermometer to check the temperature. it has been in the proper range with very little fluctuation... <How much is little? Also, what type of thermometer are you using - the "stick on strip" kinds are very inaccurate, so I recommend the hanging-by-a-suction-cup type. If the temp. stays within 1 degree, then I'd agree that you don't need a heater; any greater fluctuation would likely necessitate one.> ...all week even when the light has been turned off. In this case, do you still think that I need a heater? <See above.> I am going to buy a liquid testing kit because I do think it will be easier for me just to have something here. <Absolutely, and probably more accurate, too.> The store is out of the one for $14.99 that I was going to purchase. It tests for 5 different things. The woman there tested my water with a test strip and said that it was fine. <Those "strips" are horribly inaccurate sometimes - they aren't reliable. Do try to find a combination liquid test kit - the "essentials" you need to test for are pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Aquarium Pharmaceuticals makes one, as does Tetra (and probably others, as well...)> I want to wait till the water clears and then test it again before I put the baby fry in. <I'd get the liquid kit, stop relying on the fish store, (who seems to be giving you less-than-great advice, in my humble opinion), do a water change to reduce the cloudiness (and repeat as needed). Also, as I think I mentioned before, you should take this opportunity to cycle the tank without any fish in it: read here if you haven't already: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm > What do you think? <You're on the right track - just get the tank cycled and stable, and you'll be ready for the fry!> Thanks in advance, dtj <You're most welcome. Sorry for my delayed response, by the way - this week has been especially demanding in law school. Best regards, Jorie>

Re: 10 gal fish tank with 4 starburst platys - 1/17/08 Hi! <Hello,> I haven't written in awhile as things seem to be going pretty well with the fish tank. I have kept these little guys alive for almost 1 full year now! <Well done!> They look pretty healthy to me, but I notice that they still seem pretty small. I saw my friends fish from the same group that I got these guys from and her's are way bigger than mine! <Genetics, feeding regimen, size of the tank, water quality, and many other factors at work here. Do remember not all "Platies" in the trade are the same thing. Platies are hybrids of at least three different species of Xiphophorus, so your Starburst Platies will have a different set of genes to another variety of Platy, say a Golden Wag-tail.> she has a 20 gal tank with about 13 starburst platy's, 5 neon tetras and a Pleco. I can't get over how big her starburst platy's are... I do water changes and I feed them the tropical flakes... I have a water testing kit and when I check it the #"s look fine... I don't know what else to do. <Stop worrying about it. In a 10 gallon tank you're better off with small fish anyway. So see the upside.> My husband thinks that I under feed them... <Unlikely; if they've lasted a year, you're obviously giving them enough.> someone suggested that I give them the blood worms as a supplement. Is this a good idea and if so, how much? <Sure, Platies love bloodworms. Five to ten worms per meal, maybe a couple times per week is fine. Frozen (as opposed to freeze dried) bloodworms are popular with most fish. They are low in protein so won't pollute the tank too bad. But do defrost them separately in a plastic pot and pour away the red "soup" you get as all this does is add nitrate to the tank.> Thanks in advance, Donna J. <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: 10 gal fish tank with 4 starburst platys - 1/17/08 Neale, <Hello Donna,> ok. my fish are the offspring of 2 of her fish that mated and the ones that I'm comparing them to are the siblings... in the 1st batch there were 10, I took four of them, she kept 6... that's why I was surprised that mine were still so small. <The joy of genetics. Are you the exact same height as your Mom? Do you have the same hair colour? The same build?> but if you think that it's ok, I'll stop thinking about it. <Yep, it's fine. In your case, a good thing. I'd sooner see 'dwarf' Platies in a 10 gallon tank than full-sized ones.> the store sold me the freeze dried blood worms... will those do as opposed to the frozen type that you mentioned? <My bias against the freeze-dried ones is no fish I've ever owned has eaten them. And I've kept fish for over 20 years. So I never recommend people buy them. Wet frozen bloodworms on the other hand get scarfed down by the tonne. They're the staple food for my fish collection. I never use flake food, except for rearing baby fish. So by all means go with the freeze-dried worms, but if nothing eats them, don't say I didn't warn you!> thanks again, donna <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: 10 gal fish tank with 4 starburst platys - 1/17/08 Neale, <Donna,> I have another question... I gave the fish the freeze dried blood worms, they ate them, but one fish tried to eat a larger worm (very small worm though) and half of it is still sticking out of it's mouth! <Happens. Don't worry too much.> should I just leave it alone or help him? <Leave him for now. Fish have teeth in their throats, and even if they seem choked, they can still be processing the food, and will swallow it eventually. If it's still there after half an hour or so, try chasing the fish with a net first. Sometimes that "scares" them, and they spit out the food. If that doesn't work, then yes, carefully net the fish, and then remove the food extremely gently with forceps or similar. Don't pull! You could easily damage the fish, which would do more than good. Fish don't choke, so there's no immediate danger.> he's swimming around like this... Thanks in advance, Donna <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: 10 gal fish tank with 4 starburst platys 1/18/08 Neale, <Donna,> This is pretty much what I did. I waited to see if it would come out on it's own. I was afraid that swimming around like this for hours might stress him out so I got a little net out and put it in and chased him a bit, when it didn't fall out I carefully netted him, and still leaving him partially submerged in the water, carefully grabbed the end with my 2 fingers and took it out. I did not know that fish have teeth in their throats. I was careful... I didn't use forceps cause I was afraid if he moved and I grabbed him with those...that would be the end. I just checked on them and he seems ok. If I had been too rough pulling it out, would I know at this point that he was injured? <Yes, you'd know. If he's happy doing his thing, then likely he's fine.> I'll make sure the worms are even smaller next time. I'm not sure but the jar has a 'warning' on it with regards to touching the blood worms or inhaling the dust as if I'm dealing with asbestos or something... <I'm not an MD, but because bloodworms can cause allergic reactions in some people, I assume the fine powder in the lungs would be a bad thing for such folks. If you're concerned, talk with your doctor.> I'll use a toothpick to cut them in half and hopefully this won't happen again. <Very good.> Thanks for all of your advice, Donna <Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Platy aquarium: fry, poor water quality 10/16/06 Hi Bob, <Hi Meridith - you've got Jorie instead of Bob this evening...> My name is Meridith. I am a total novice with fish. <That's OK - we all start somewhere, right?!> I have developed the interest because of my 2 and 3 yr. olds joy of fish. <Yes, I have a 3 1/2 yr. old niece who loves to come visit my boyfriend and me to watch the "Nemos"!> I have a 5 gallon hexagon tank with a type z rite-size filter and a BioWheel. <I have the same tank myself. It's not currently set up, but I've used it in the past.> We had 3 different types of platies and a black Molly. The black Molly died about a month ago and all has seemed fine with the rest. <In my experience with mollies, especially black ones, I've noticed they greatly appreciate either a little aquarium salt, or being in true brackish (part salt-water) environments. Seems to keep them healthier and happier. Just future info. for you. Your platys may benefit from a bit of aquarium salt as well, but in my experience, it isn't as essential.> The other day I discovered a very healthy looking tiny baby with good color. <Welcome to the wonderful world of livebearers...soon there will be more, then more, then many more...> I did not even know that any were pregnant. <Pretty much any time a female livebearer (guppy, platy, molly) is kept in a community tank with males, it will become pregnant. Also, these fish have the ability to store sperm for up to 6 months, and pretty much become "pregnant at will"...> I did not even know what the difference between a male and a female was. I started trying to see, who's the Mommy? <The female has a more rounded anal fin, whereas the male's is more pointed and elongated. Do a search on "Google" and you'll find pictures - once you see the difference, you'll see it is quite easy to tell the two apart. Also, when the females are pregnant, they become more round in their bellies, and the gravid spot (right by the anal fin) will become dark and enlarged once they are ready to give birth.> I did some research and found your web site. <Glad you did - welcome!> I found a Mommy all right, she kept hiding and laying around, I was worried because she did not look good and then I saw her pop out 2 babies. <The females tend to hide when giving birth - this is totally normal. Hopefully she's back to normal now?> I went to the store and purchased a small maternity tank and put her in it. I decided that she was just laboring hard and I watched her have 7 more babies in the little tank. (the kind that hangs inside the big tank). This morning she was dead. My kids don't know yet. <I'm not a fan of these "breeding boxes"...they tend to stress the fish out and don't allow for proper filtration. Have you recently done a water change and/or tested the water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate? I'll bet it's time for a water change. Do read here if you haven't already: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm > She appeared to have a slight case of ick. <Like a dusting of salt?> I teetered back and forth because of the babies and I treated the tank with Quick Cure. <Very harsh medication. Better ways to treat ich such as adding heat, salt...also, you never want to medicate your main tank. The link I sent you to above talking about establishing a cycle will address why - the medication destroys the cycle.> After reading on your site I am more worried because I have treated for this now for the 3rd time since I have had the tank and never removed the BioWheel. The directions say remove all carbon filters, I read about people removing the BioWheel on your site. Now what? I am like 12 hours in with one baby a couple weeks old, maybe and some others born last night that seem very iffy health-wise one newborn escaped into the tank along with the 2 that were born there. I also have 2 Cory cats in the tank one seems healthy and the other is missing most of it's fins. I feel very overwhelmed and not sure what to do next. Please help! <OK, take a deep breath - we can fix this. First off, I'd like to recommend a very helpful beginner's book by David E. Boruchowitz - it's called a Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums. It's a very good starting point. With regards to your situation, you may be overstocked. How many fish are in the 5 gal. hex? 2 cories, 3 platys, and the babies? If that's all, you are likely OK, *if* you keep up on your water changes. You should be doing 50% weekly. Second, ditch the breeder box - you don't need it. I highly doubt the cories will touch the babies, and most livebearers don't eat their own fry, in my experience. Third, replace the carbon pad along with a 75% water change...you need to get the medication out. Re: the BioWheel, yes, I'd replace it. Normally, you don't ever want to replace a BioWheel, but if you truly had ick in the tank, that is a parasite and quite hard to get rid of. Fourth, if you have a spare tank, I'd isolate the coy with missing fins, and treat that tank with MelaFix. Make sure to keep the water pristine, as the fish will be more likely to get an infection due to the injuries. I think most, if not all of your problems, are due to poor water quality - let's get that in check and re-assess. Do you currently see signs of ich in your tank? You haven't mentioned it, so I'll assume not... Do check out the book I've recommended, along with the link. Also, see here for more useful info.: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/taptrtmnt.htm Thank you. Meridith <Hope I've helped. Please be aware also that the babies are even more sensitive to poor water conditions than the adult platys are. Do invest in a good test kit (liquid kind, the dip-sticks are very inaccurate) and keep ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels at zero. Good luck, Jorie>

Platies not doing as well as usual... new system/hobbyist syndrome 7/28/06 Hi - Thanks for reading this - I need your help as I'm not sure what's going on. 25 gallon tank set up for 1 1/2 weeks. <... cycled?> Fish added six days ago. Temp 82 Ammonia 0 Nitrites 0 Nitrates 5 ppm pH 7.5 We bought 6 platies (3 red wag, 3 blue spotted). One died two days after coming home. The rest of the platies are usually very curious and very entertaining. They would swim to wherever you were, follow your finger around the tank glass, if I put food in the tank they were quick as lightning finding it. We enjoyed them so much. A couple days ago we found 3 fry, and I know at least 2 are still alive (not been eaten) as I saw them both today. There could be more, but with 25 gallons and lots of java fern, <Ah, good to read that you have live plants here> they're excellent hiders. All the fish seemed very happy and healthy until this evening. My husband did a 20% water change as we've been doing every 3 days to control the ammonia/nitrites. <Not a good means... this tank, the fishes are suffering for/with "new tank syndrome"...> After he was done, all 5 fish stayed near the bottom, breathing extra heavy and frantically waving their front fins though not moving anywhere. I also noticed the usually bright blue colour of the blue spotted platies is more of a dullish gray-green around their head/eyes. If the water quality is really bad, then wouldn't the babies have already died? <No, not necessarily. Young are more resistant to some types of malinfluences than adults> Could this be the sudden (and all 5 at once?) result of less than optimal tank conditions over the past few days due to it's newness? <Ah, yes> The tests now look OK. Or could it be that the gravel vac water change scared them for some reason? <Perhaps a small factor> They've seen it before, in fact, once they even went directly under the water fall 'just to check it out' when we were replacing the water. I'm sad because our little characters seem a lot duller than usual. What do you think it is? <"New water", non-cycled system...> What can I do? (I added a 1/2 tsp of salt today because I read that that reduces stress.) Anything else? They are looking a little more active now but definitely not their usual selves. Any suggestions? <Look for the product "Bio-Spira", cut the water changes and feeding way down to keep ammonia and nitrite under 1.0 ppm... read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Re: Platies not doing as well as usual 7/28/06 Hi <Hello again> I just thought of something else that might possibly be relevant. The water we added today had been sitting in a bucket overnight (to get the temp acclimated) with conditioner (dechlorinator) and aquatic plant fertilizer (my husband mixed it in there as opposed to pouring it directly in the tank). Is it possible that the fertilizer, having sat in the water overnight without plants to absorb it, broke down into something toxic to the fish? <Mmm, no... a very good idea to have a strictly fish-use only plastic container for this purpose. Bob Fenner>

Tank creep, FW systems, platies, growing Elodea 4/6/06 Hello Crew, I have a couple of questions. I just in the planning stages yet, but I have this image in my head of a warm freshwater tank with lots of live waving grass and many fish flitting about (instead of a single Betta in a tiny 2.5 gallon tank). So with that in mind; would it be O.K. to have 4 blue Dalmatian Platys /(Xiphophorus maculatus)/ & a Betta /(B. splendens) /in a 10 gallon tank? <Yes> Or should I be thinking 15gal? Can I have more than 4 Platy's in the 10gal? <Bigger is better... but a ten will do... until/unless the platies reproduce...> I have fairly hard water (with Ph at 7.6), and figured that the platys would be the best choice. I don't want to spend a lot of money on lights (and conversely the electric bill) <You are wise here> so I'm thinking that Java Fern & a Sword Plant would work with low/natural lighting, hard water & the proper substrate/plant food. Do you have any other thoughts on plants? <Lots. Posted on WWM> The second question relates to Goldfish (your basic comets) and Anacharis. My two very special and beautiful Goldfish think it's the yummiest stuff ever & mow it down. Is it possible to just have a special plant tank (or bucket) with just Elodea/Anacharis (a farm tank, no fish)? <Yes> I'm feeling a bit cheep about lights and filtration (especially since this plant will just end up in a goldfish tummy), but I don't want to be that cheap so it doesn't grow. Thanks, Ann. <You've got a bunch of good ideas Ann. Bob Fenner> Poor Platies Hi guys, I have been reading through the FAQ's for about an hour now and haven't found what I am looking for. Sorry if this has been asked already. 3 days ago I bought a 5 gallon bow front fish tank. It came with a whisper micro filter. Well apparently I have what the fish hobbyist call New Tank Syndrome though not intentionally. I have owned goldfish for around 7 yrs and since they are such hardy fish I never had any problems with them at all (until I introduced a sucker fish from Wal-mart who had several diseases - I should have know better than to buy a fish from Wal-mart but I was only 14). Anyways I bought three red platies, 2 female and 1 male. I didn't cycle the tank because I had no idea I needed to, I know your thinking those poor fish! I have added a tablespoon of aquarium salt and also added Aqua Safe, and will start to change 50% of the water which I will continue to do every day for the next couple of weeks. I have also been feeding them only a tiny bit twice a day. I am watching them eat to make sure all food is consumed and it is only enough for them to finish in 1 minute or less. Is there anything else I can do to make sure they live? I will put a quarter teaspoon of Aqua safe in with the water changes, but how much salt should I put in with a 50% water change, half a table spoon? I don't want them to die or suffer. For now they are swimming and eating well. Please help, I do care but was just uneducated! Thanks, Jenny <I think you got it! Water changes are the answer. Not sure you even need the salt, but at one tbls per 5 gallons it will not hurt anything either. You should mix the salt and dechlorinator in the new water before adding it to the tank. For a 50% water change you just add a half tbls to the new water. Salt will not evaporate, so only replace it when you remove water. Any top off water should be salt free. What you really need is a test kit for ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Very important always, more so while cycling. Read Bob's paper on FW cycling here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm Don>

Re: My poor platies Okay one last question...I went out and bought some BioSpira. I put a little more than half an ounce in the tank. My question is; Is BioSpira supposed to make the water cloudy? <Mmm, no> I read somewhere that it does make the water cloudy however mine did not. It has been in the tank for 38hrs. Think it got too hot during shipping? <I hope not> I am going to go out and buy, a test for nitrites and one for ammonia today. <Good> Should I hold off on water changes for a few days if the ammonia and nitrites are at low levels and just see if the water balances out? Maybe just changing 1 time per week? <Yes... I would not change the water unless ammonia or nitrite was in excess of 1.0 ppm... as changes at this point will forestall the establishment of cycling> Thanks for the help! I am glad that there are knowledgeable people out there willing to help! <Glad to be of service. Bob Fenner>

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>

Amount of gravel needed in platy tank Hi crew, I have a question for you. I haven't kept fish in years and when I did it was as a kid and Mom and Dad took care of them so I don't know if this is right or not any info is appreciated. I have about two to three inches of gravel in my 10 gal. with 3 adult platy's in it 2 females and 1 male. I also have 5 fry in it that are about 1 month old and growing fast. Is that amount of gravel alright or should I have less the entire tank has plastic plants in it as I can't seem to get real ones to stay alive. Thank you, Becky <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubstrates.htm and the FAQs (linked, in blue, above). Bob Fenner>

Platy Platitudes >Hi, >>Hello. >I really need your help!! I purchased a Blue Platy from the local pet store about 2wks ago & put him in my established 20 gal. tank with 5 neon tetras, 1 black skirt tetra, and 3 male guppies. Well, it turned out "he" was a "she", so I set up my old 5 gal. tank for her. She gave birth 3 days ago, and I thought mother & babies were doing fine until today. Mom started swimming fast & rubbed her face on a couple of the live plants. I check ALL the levels pH, nitrites, nitrates, hardness, and total alk.) every day (sometimes twice a day), and they have always been ideal. >>Hhm... honestly, that's not much for me to go by. You've left out what test kit, and what the readings were. Why not test for ammonia? That's more important than hardness and total alkalinity, to be honest. However, what she demonstrates may be more indicative of a parasitic infection or other disease than water quality. How are the babies? >I have changed 10% of the water in the smaller tank every other day. The fry seem fine, and mom looks healthy, so today I moved mom back to the 20 gal. tank, and after a little while, one of the male guppies started "nipping" at her. >>Then she likely won't do well in this tank, he may harass her to death. >When he does this the platy turns on her side and looks like she is having trouble swimming. >>She's trying to escape, and he is either showing aggression or is feeling rather amorous towards her. >I got worried and found an old fish bowl and put gravel & water from the bigger tank in it with some plants & an air stone. Then I moved the platy into that & wrote you. I don't know what to do, please help!! >>Sometimes this happens with livebearers, and it may very well be that this pretty platy may need a tank sans male guppies or other livebearers. What she needs are peaceful tankmates. >Thanks, Elizabeth >>You're welcome. Marina

Salty Platies Good morning- I have 3 platys in a 29G tank along with 5 cherry barbs, 7 Neons and 2 Cory cats. My ph is 7, nitrites 0 and nitrates less than 12 and the temp is about 27C. I also add aquarium salt to the water with water changes. I recently had to move one of my female platys to a H-tank due to some fin damage (she's doing fine). The remaining 2 platys 1M and 1F constantly swim up and down the side of the tank, almost in an aggressive manner. The female does it much more than the male does only because he takes algae eating breaks. My question is could this behavior be due to less than ideal water conditions for platys? Should I add more platys? The female looks pregnant, but I'm not entirely sure. Do pregnant platys normally do this? Thanks for your advice. Chris <<Hello. In order to be sure about water quality, one must test all three: ammonia (should be zero), nitrites (should be zero) and nitrates (should be low, say 20-40ppm). If your tank does not measure up, water changes must be done in order to get the water quality under control. Fish behavior is always a good indication that things are not right, so testing is in order. Also, make sure you have not gotten the salt level too high, it can creep up over time without you noticing...take a tank water sample to your LFS, they can use a saltwater monitor to measure the salt level, even brackish, which yours probably is by now... You want to be sure it hasn't gotten too high for your freshwater fish. If they can't do that, and you do not know the exact amount of salt in your tank, do some freshwater-only water changes to see if that helps the fish. -Gwen>>

What is an ideal Platy tank? Hey Crew, I just searched your site and couldn't find this covered. I'm not a newbie to fish or to livebearers, but I am wondering what would be the ideal set up for a platy tank. It will have live plants, some Otos, and some Corys. Is there any other fish that should be included for "house keeping"? < Keep the water warm and alkaline. The harder water is usually tough on the Corys and Oto's though . Keep the water clean. Get non-aggressive community fish about the same size that do well in hard water. Stay way from South American tetras.> I know with guppies show breeders usually keep older fry in 10 gallon bare bottom grow out tanks. They are usually have a lot of tanks, and a breeding program set up. I want a Platy community, but don't know what would be the ideal size. 10 gallons? 20 long? 30? 40? 60? < All depends on how many you want to keep. With all the different color morphs now available you could have quite a tank. With a filter that turns the water over at least 3 to 5 times per hour and weekly water changes you could keep easily 25 platies in a 25 to 30 gallon tank. More if you check the water quality and get the water changes dialed in.> I know the larger the tank, the more stable water quality, but I wonder if the tank is too big if these smallish fish will starve because they can't find the food in a tank that large. < Don't worry about that. When one starts eating they all will be over in a minute to get their fair share.-Chuck> Your help is appreciated, Michelle

Re: What is an ideal Platy tank? Hey, thanks for your reply! I am interested in a biotope, or habitat tank for the platies. If the Otos and Corys don't come from the same area as the platies in the wild, what fish do? < Unfortunately the other fishes that come from the same areas are either aggressive cichlids like convicts or piscivores (fish eaters) like gobies, larger cichlids, Mexican tetras, and other fish eating livebearers. I would go with a standard Pleco for eating algae. When he gets too big trade him back to the store for a smaller one. For catfish try the dwarf Syn. petricola from lake Tang in Africa, A small silvery fish with black spots. These are very attractive easy to care for and would do much better than Corys.> Also, what would be biotope correct plants< < No plants are commercially exported from the area. Other plants that would work well are species of Anubias, Java fern, Java moss, and Crypt. wendtii.> Hmmm... so I could go with a 40 or 60g tank and that wouldn't be too big for a Platy community? < The only thing is the way a big tank looks filled with little two inch fish. If they are all the same type then it looks like a dealers tank at the store. If you mix all the varieties together then they will interbreed and the fry look like mutts and you end up with a tank full of multicolored mutts that all look the same in a couple of years anyway as they replace the adults. One way to get away from this is to fill the tank with multicolored males. Females may already be pregnant at the stores so getting all males then guarantees there will be no fry to worry about-Chuck> Michelle

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