Platy Moonfish

Variegated Platy ~ Variatus Platy ~ Swordtail Platy

Family: Poeciliidae Picture of a Red Platy (Platy or Moonfish)Xiphophorous maculatus
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I only have one platy but I think it is pregnant. Maybe it mated in the pet shop??? It definitly has got fatter! But not much,only a bit. Is it pregnant at all?  Maeve

   The Platy is considered the color king of the live-bearer fishes! It is one of the best beginner fish and is excellent for community aquariums!

   The Platy or Moonfish, Xiphophorous maculatus and the Variegated Platy or Variatus Platy, Xiphophorous variatus are a short stocky fish lacking the extended tail fin or "sword" of their close relative, the Swordtail  Xiphophorous helleri. These bright colored fish can be kept in a smaller tank than the Swordtail and are more peaceful, active, and hardy. They are also dependably prolific.

   Although nowadays the platies have been interbred with themselves and with swordtails to the point where it is now hard to separate species. Originally there were two common species available to the hobbyist: the Platy or Moonfish Xiphophorous maculatus, and the the slimmer and more elongated Variegated Platy or Variatus Platy Xiphophorous variatus.

   Today platies come in all colors and mixtures of colors. Many beautiful color variations and hybrids have been produced. Platies cross easily with each other and with other Xiphophorous species, thus a wide variety of popular platies are available today.

   An aquarium best suited to the platies is well lit with plants. Like all livebearers, they do like a bit of salt though it is not necessary. The plants should be loosely arranged for the Platy or Moonfish and densely planted with open swimming areas for the Variegated Platy or Variatus Platy. Have some floating plants for the fry to hide, though Platies don't eat their fry other community tankmates will.

   The male platies won't show their colors until they are mature and they will show best if the aquarium is kept at the cooler end of their temperature range.

For more Information on keeping this fish see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Freshwater Aquarium

Geographic Distribution
Xiphophorous maculatus
Data provided by
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Cyprinodontiformes
  • Family: Poeciliidae
  • Genus: Xiphophorous
  • Species: maculatus
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Platies - Moonfish - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gal (38 L)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Temperature: 64.0 to 77.0° F (17.8 to 25.0° C)
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

   The Platy or Moonfish Xiphophorous maculatus are found on the Atlantic coast of Mexico and Guatamala, and northern Honduras. It was first introduced in 1907. They were often called "Moonfish" because of a crescent shaped dark spot at the base of their tail, especially on the yellow colored ones.
   The Variegated Platy or Variatus Platy Xiphophorous variatus are found in southern Mexico from Rio Panuco to Rio Cazones. It was identified in 1904 but not introduced into the hobby until 1932. They were an immediate hit and become one of the best liked livebearers.
   There is also a very sensitive species called the Swordtail Platy Xiphophorous xiphidium in which the male has a short sword. This delicate platy is rather rare and not seen much in the hobby.

   So many beautiful color variations and hybrids have been produced, it is difficult to find the pure-bred original strains. Today pure breds are the exception rather than the rule and their colors vary depending on the waters they originated from.

Popular varieties developed from the Platy or Moonfish:
   The solid colored fish include the very popular Red Platy or Coral Platy which will be either a deep blood red or a brick red and the Golden Platy which has an all over bright yellow color.
   The term "Moonfish" is applied when the fish have a specific color along with a black crescent shaped dot on the tail fin, these include the Red Moon, Blue Moon (Blue Platy), and the Gold Moon (Gold Crescent).
   The term "Wagtail" is applied when the fish have a specific color along with black on the tail, these include The Red Wagtail Platy, the Gold Wagtail Platy, the Black Wagtail Platy, and the Mixed Wagtail Platy.
   The term "Tuxedo" is applied when the fish have a specific color along with a black coloration below the lateral line from the gill to the tail, these include the Black Platy often called the Black Tuxedo or Green Tuxedo and has a greenish body.
   The Salt-and-Pepper Platy is mixed with a bit of all the colors and it breeds these colors true, the Mixed Platy has various colors with no particular pattern and it doesn't breed true.

Popular varieties developed from the Variegated or Variatus Platy:
   Redtail Platy varieties have a tail that is bright red.
   The Yellowtail Platy varieties will have a yellow tail fin.
   The Sunset Platy varieties have a tail with more than a single color but with yellow being prominent, though they are also called this when they have yellow dorsal fin and a red tail fin.
   In the Rainbow Platy varieties the tail has multiple colors with no one color being prominent.
   The Hawaii Platy has an entirely black body with a yellow dorsal fin and red tail fin.
   The Marigold Platy is yellow on the dorsal fin and top of the body with the lower half and the tail fin being orange.
   Other popular varieties include the Comet Platy, Gold Twinbar Platy, Sunset Fire Platy, Blue Mirror Platy, Two-Spot Platy where there are two small dots at the top and bottom where the tailfin begins and the similar Mickey Mouse Platy where the two small dots have a large dark spot in the middle, Half-moon Platy, and Bleeding-heart Platy.

   Many characteristics including special finnage such as Topsails, Sailfins, Hifins, and Plumetails or Brushtails come from Swordtail cross breeding.

  • Scientific Name: Xiphophorous maculatus
  • Social Grouping: Groups - Platies are not a schooling fish but they appreciate lots of company!
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed

Fish Keeping Difficulty

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Foods and Feeding

   These fish are considered omnivorous as the Platy or Moonfish and the Variegated Platy or Variatus Platy will generally eat all kinds of live, fresh, and flake foods. But they have a very high herbivorous requirement, and their diet needs to include lots of algae and other vegetation. Feed brine shrimp (either live or frozen), tubifex, or blood worms as a treat. They will enjoy the proteins but they must also have a vegetation diet.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore
  • Flake Food: Yes
  • Tablet Pellet: Yes
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
  • Vegetable Food: Some of Diet
  • Meaty Food: Some of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day

Aquarium Care

  • Water Changes: Monthly

Aquarium Setup

  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gal (38 L)
  • Substrate Type: Any
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting
  • Temperature: 64.0 to 77.0° F (17.8 to 25.0° C)
  • Range ph: 7.0-8.3
  • Hardness Range: 15 - 30 dGH
  • Brackish: No - This is not a brackish fish, however it does seem to appreciate the addition of a little salt in the water. Around 1-1.25 teaspons of aquarium salt should suffice. Removed water should be replaced with salted water, however if the aquarist is topping off due to evaporation freshwater should be used.
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: All

Social Behaviors

   They are an excellent community fish that is very peaceful, and does not look for trouble with other tankmates.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes
    • Peaceful fish (): Safe
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive

Sex: Sexual differences

   The female is larger and generally rather plain, though in many of the fancy platies today they have more color. The male has a gonopodium. It is difficult to sex platies until they are mature as the male does not attain his coloration until then.

Breeding / Reproduction

   The Platy or Moonfish and the Variegated Platy or Variatus Platy will readily reproduce in the aquarium. See the description of how to breed livebearers in Breeding Freshwater Fish - Livebearers.

  • Ease of Breeding: Easy


   The Platy or Moonfish and the Variegated Platy or Variatus Platy is readily available.


Animal-World References

Author: David Brough, CFS & Clarice Brough, CFS.
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Lastest Animal Stories on Platies - Moonfish

Maeve - 2012-05-17
I only have one platy but I think it is pregnant. Maybe it mated in the pet shop??? It definitly has got fatter! But not much,only a bit. Is it pregnant at all?

  • Anonymous - 2013-09-18
Amanda - 2003-12-28
I have one male platy. He lives with 3 mollies and many tetras in a 55 gallon fish tank. I love his bright orange colors. He is very active. He is one of the first fish that I ever had. I am going to get him a couple of females soon. They are a very hardy fishy and can live through just about anything. They really are a great beginner fish.

  • joel w caretr - 2013-09-15
    I have a 60 gallon tank with platies in it. Also I have a couple of mollies in with them. I am thinking of putting some sword tails in with them.
Anonymous - 2011-04-20
I am a beginner to the world of fish, and I think I know what I am doing, but want it to be verified.

Here's my setup: 30 gal tank with 2 Sunburst Mollies and 2 sunset platies. I have the temp controlled at 72-78 degrees, I have some big rocks (one big enough to provide shelter), and a few plants, as well as a Chinese dragon bubbler.

Here's my question: I added a Green Spotted Puffer to the mix. Is that ok? I went to WalMart, and their fish fact tag says that the puffer will be ok with Mollies. He seems to be swimming around the whole tank, not bothering other fish, but I am worried about it after reading this website. Any suggestions?

Also, you might not be able to help on this, but my male Mollie keeps picking on the female. I was told to expect them to mate, but it looks more like torture and not mating. It could be that I am a beginner (outside that of a Beta) and just do not know what to expect. Any help here would be appreciated as well!

Thanks in advance!

  • Charlie Roche - 2011-04-20
    You can click on the links attached to provide you with more detailed information on the fish you have selected. Just a note to say that it is recommended that if you have other fish with a Pufferfish, you have at least a 50 gallon tank. The puffer fella likes to nip at fins. He is not supposed to be agressive and he is supposed to get along with other fish but you need a larger tank. You need a bit of vegatation there for the fish to hide and play in, whatever. Two mollies mating (movie on U-Tube) looks like the guy is trying to slam her, push her and shove her. Weird to see but it must work. Now maybe yours are fighting so watch the movie and then you'll know for sure. Looks like they were fighting to me too.
  • Anonymous - 2011-04-20
    Hmm. I wasn't told that I would need a 50, but that could be the case. The little guy has been in the tank for about 3 hours now, and he is starting to warm up to it. He swims around a lot, and doesn't seem to bother other fish. He was almost completely grey when I added him, but now his head and some of his body is back to Green. I have a 10 gal that my Beta is currently residing in that I could move him to. I bought some live plants tonight as well, so within a few weeks I should have some more greenery. I currently only have plastic plants, good ole WalMart doesn't say anything about live plants being a necessity.
  • Charlie Roche - 2011-04-21
    Yep, the information says if you just have the puffer, then a 20 gallon tank is fine but if you are adding (or have) other fish, you would need at least a 50 gallon. Puffer fish also need something to wear their teeth down so snails or some such other hard food. The 10 gallon tank is too small for the puffwer, definitely too small if there is another fish in it.
    Did you find the move on Mollies on U-Tube? There is one on just gold fish also. Strange.
    Yes, you need some plants. Have fun and enjoy. Remember all these fish are going to get bigger. The mollies will probably go 4 - 6 inches.
  • Anonymous - 2011-04-21
    Yes. Well, I took Mr Puff to Petco and donated him. I decided that I didn't want to ruin his little life just because I jumped in without surveying the water first. I think once I am out of an apartment and have my bigger tanks I will go get another puffer and try again. Thanks for all your help!

    Oh, random question. How many more fish can/ should I put in this 30 gallon? Currently I have 2 Mollies and 2 Platies. Thanks!
  • Charlie Roche - 2011-04-21
    I am responding to the other email which tells me you took the puffer back. You are asking how many additional fish you can put in a 30 gallon tank with 2 mollies and 2 platies. If you think 1 inch per gallon (just as a rule of thumb) and subtract out for gravel, decorations etc a 30 gallon should leave you with about 27 gallons of swiming area. So the two mollies are 12 inches (as adults) and the two platies are 5 inches (as adults) which equals 17 inches. So you can add two other compatible fish whose adult size is not greater than 5 inches each. OK? Yeah probably best to take back the puffer. Good thinking on your part.
  • Dioafui - 2011-05-09
    You're fine, but the male fish will chase the female to death. You should have at least three females per male, because of his desire to pro-create. I don't know about puffers, but you spelled betta wrong.
  • nic - 2011-08-05
    Here's where you went wrong. NEVER buy fish from Walmart they are cruel to their fish. They all have an illness and are not healthy fish and Walmart does not have any idea how to care for fish. They just want to make money. I had gotten a mollie and it had 50 babies and think first about how big each baby gets. hope this helps.

    p.s get live plants like water sprites
  • brookes - 2013-03-17
    thats not true i bought mine from walmart and it was a little agrisssive at the first 4 days then it got calm it was just scared thats all. all i got to say is love your green spotted puffers. i mean who can't love that little pug face of there'!
Da Funk - 2012-12-31
is it okay to add platys to five gallon tank with betta? the tank already has an algae eater in it.

  • Jeremy Roche - 2013-01-01
    Can maybe add one, but I really would go with a bigger tank if you really want to add some fish.  Platys are livebearers so there is a good chance if you add a male and a female, babies will soon follow!