Platy fish are live-bearing fish that spawn fully-formed juveniles, which are able to swim and feed right away. They’re easy to breed and relatively hardy, however, they lack any parental instincts.
If you want to breed platies, this article in which I discuss the basics of breeding platies and caring for platy fish fry will prove useful for you.
I’m also going to cover platy fry tank maintenance related issues as well, so you’ll know what you should and shouldn’t do while caring for platy fish fry.
How Platies Are Born?
Platy fish reach reproductive age at 5-6 months of age. Unlike egg-layer fish, the female platy will carry the eggs in her belly and release the eggs only when they hatch, thus, giving birth to live fish.
On average, the female platy will carry the eggs for 24-30 days, but sometimes it can take a bit longer, especially if tank conditions aren’t suitable (e.g. the female platy is stressed out).
Platies give birth to 20 to 80 juveniles at one time, so expect a significant boost in the population of your aquarium.
When breeding platies, there aren’t any special requirements other than placing female and male platy fish in the same aquarium.
You probably know this from stocking platies, but there really isn’t a need for more than one male for 2-3 female platies to produce juveniles.
Telling the gender of your platy fish is easy – female platies are significantly larger, they have a rounded abdomen and they lack the more vivid coloration of the male platies. Plus, males are always chasing females, so you simply can’t miss them.
Because platy fish have a tendency to eat their own fry, it’s best if you separate adult fish from the juveniles as soon as the female platy fish releases them.
How to Save Platy Fry?
Because they’re very small when they’re born, platy fry are at a risk of being mistaken for food by adult fish.
This is the reason why you shouldn’t breed platies in a community aquarium and set up a separate breeding tank, which you can manage much easier.
As soon as the female releases baby platies, you can remove her and continue caring for the fry.
If you can’t set up a separate breeding tank, there are a few other options that will help save platy babies:
- If you know that the female platy is about to give birth (either by calculating the time that has passed since breeding or by visually inspecting her), you can remove her and place her into a large glass jar or plastic container, where you’ll keep her only until she releases her eggs.
To use this method, you’ll need a bit of experience in telling whether your platy fish is preparing to give birth (signs include angular shaped abdomen, a preference for hiding, etc.), otherwise you may remove her too soon or you may even stress her out too much.
- A better method to save the fry is to set up a breeding box in the main aquarium. This container will keep the fry in, but let water from the aquarium freely in, which means one less problem for you to worry about. Simply remove the female after she releases the fry.
- A third method is having lots of hiding spaces in the aquarium. Live plants offer the best hiding spaces for baby platies, plus they can also be a good source of food for them. You can add java moss, hornwort, guppy grass or other plants to provide coverage for your platies.
Of all the methods to save baby platy fish, I usually go with the breeding box since it’s easy to set up, you don’t need to match tank parameters, or invest in another tank.
How Long Can You Keep Platy Fry in a Breeding Box?
A breeding box is a temporary solution and you shouldn’t keep platy juveniles in it longer than 2 weeks. At the 2-weeks mark platy juveniles are large enough to no longer be mistaken for food and can be released into the main tank or placed into their own tank.
Keeping them longer in a breeding will slow down their growth significantly and cause developmental issues, therefore, it’s best to release them from the breeding box or moved into a larger tank.
Feeding Platy Fish Fry
As soon as they’re born platy fish are not only ready to swim and explore, but they’re also ready to eat. The only problem is that regular fish food is not small enough to fit their mouths, therefore, you should either find flakes designed for small fry (e.g. First Bites) or crush regular fish flakes into smaller bits.
Juvenile fish should be fed a varied diet that will kick-start their growth and help them to develop into strong and healthy adults.
Juveniles of live-bearing fish have a short digestive cycle meaning they’re ready to eat all the time, every time.
The key is to ensure they always have a little bit of food in their bellies and the way to achieve this is to offer them small, frequent feedings.
If you want to speed up their growth, frequent feedings (at least 5 times a day are key). But frequent feedings carry the risk of overfeeding too, therefore, you should absolutely limit the amount you’re feeding them.
Overfeeding will not only increase waste and mess with water parameters but can also cause digestive issues for your juvenile platies.
Apart from flakes, there are many other foods that you can feed platy fish fry:
- Cultured live foods: A major benefit of these foods is that they’re rich in protein and highly nutritious for platy juveniles. Baby brine shrimp, microworms, vinegar eels, daphnia, etc.;
- Egg yolk paste: Take the yolk of a hard-boiled eggs and crush it into a paste. This is a highly affordable, protein-rich food source that you can easily prepare at home. Feed the fry twice a day with a small amount as egg yolk can foul the water very easily.
I try to include all types of foods I mentioned into their diet, so that they’ll get a variety of foods to meet all their nutritional demands in the early stages of their development.
Platy Fry Tank Maintenance
Now that you know how to save baby platies and how to feed them, you should also know how to maintain their aquarium so that they have all their requirements met.
Adult platy fish are relatively hardy, and they may tolerate small transgressions in their keeping requirements. The same, however, cannot be said about platy fry.
1. Aquarium Size
Platy juveniles are indeed small, but that doesn’t mean they should be kept in a small aquarium, especially that a female platy can release as many as 80 babies at a given time.
In the beginning, they may fit nicely in a smaller aquarium but as they grow and develop, their growth can become stunted because of the lack of space.
Plus, their waste production is high and water parameters can suddenly change, which can cause health problems.
Aim for a bigger tank (29 gallons) when breeding them, so when they produce fry you can take your time rehoming them.
The ideal temperature for platies is around 72°F- 78°F, however, for juveniles you can set the temperature by one or two degrees higher.
This will increase their metabolism and encourage them to eat more and grow faster. This is in no way a requirement, and you can leave the temperature as it was set for the breeding tank.
An aquarium heater is necessary to keep temperatures at the required level and to keep the stable when outside temperatures are changing.
3. Filter System
Since platy babies can’t tolerate fluctuations in water parameters, it’s best if you set up a filter system in the aquarium. Make sure you get one that’s fry-safe, so juvenile platies don’t get stuck in the filter.
4. Water Changes
Keep a regular water exchange schedule to prevent toxins and debris from accumulating in the water. A 50% water change every other week should do the trick.
Artificial lights are not required by platy fish, but they do require natural light to develop into healthy fish. Aim for 12-16 hours of light daily and 6-8 hours of darkness for resting.
Platy fish fry care is not very difficult if you can manage to offer them the right set-up and water parameters and maintain them throughout their development.
Make sure to get down the basics before you attempt breeding platy fish, so you can get healthy and strong juveniles.
Don’t expect platies to care for their offspring, they’re unfortunately devoid of any parental skills and you need to raise the fry on your own if you want them to grow into healthy adults.
Now that you are more knowledgeable about caring for baby platies, you can look forward to breeding your platies and welcoming new inhabitants into their aquarium.
Featured Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/leedavid/330895969/