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There are 4 families of freshwater fish that are considered livebearers. The Family Poeciliidae includes mollies, platies, swordtails, guppies and even mosquito fish. They are called livebearers because the females retain their eggs until they are fully developed and give birth to free-swimming fry. Over the years, livebearers have been selectively bred to create a host of different colors, body shapes and fin types. Because they tend to be peaceful, colorful and hardy they make great beginner fish and for many experienced aquarists their first aquarium fish was some type of livebearer.
Natural Habitat for Livebearers
Poecilid livebearers are native to the southeastern United States, Mexico, Central America, northern South America and many islands of the Caribbean Sea. Guppies and mosquito fish have been introduced to many parts of Asia to help control malaria causing mosquitos and are now established in virtually all tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. They inhabit streams, rivers, pools, lakes and estuary environments.
Livebearers Water Requirements
Livebearers are native to hard, alkaline water but farm raised fish sold today will thrive in a wide range of water conditions. In nature, they are often found in brackish to full marine environments and will benefit from the addition of 1 teaspoon of non-iodized aquarium salt per gallon of water! Livebearers are top to mid-water swimmers and can be kept in aquariums of 2.5 to 20 gallons, however, larger aquariums are easier to take care of and give the fish more room to swim. They will be less stressed and show their best colors in a well planted dark bottomed aquarium with a moderate current.
Max Size: usually about 2 inches avg (5 cm)
pH: 7 – 8.5
Temp: 65°F-79°F (18°C – 27°C)
Water Hardness : 10° to 25° dH
Native to: Central America
Lifespan: Avg 2 – 3 years
Temperament/Behavior: In general, Platies are a very peaceful fish. Males might pester females so a good suggestion to stock 2 females for every one male. Doing this will prevent the male from harassing a single female.
The Platy is native to Central America and is a very popular freswhater tropical fish perfect for beginners and advanced hobbyists alike. Platys are very peaceful, active and an easy fish to care for.
Platies come in a ton of different color varieties like Southern, Red Wagtail, Red, Red Tuxedo, Moon Fish, Topsail Rainbow, Sunset, Golden, Calico, Salt and Pepper, Coral Red, Black, Blue, and more. There is even a variety called Mickey Mouse Platys which look like they have black Mickey Mouse’s ears tattooed on their sides. These are popular because they breed easily and aquarists can use their fry for food sources for predatory fish such as puffers. Scientists research these livebearers because the platy fish genome has been decoded which provides the potential for this fish species to be used in cancer research studies.
The female is usually larger than the male. Females can reach a size of up to about 2.5 inches where the males usually get to about 1.5 inches. Breeding is fairly easy since they are livebearers meaning they do not lay eggs, but rather, the female literally squirts out a bunch of swimming fry (babies).
Breeding: Platys are livebearers which means that the babies can swim immediately after birth. Usually not much effort is required to get them to breed. If you have a male and a female, chances are they will likely breed for you. The parents must be separated from the young after birth unless you have a lot of plants like Hornwoprt which will help offer natural refuge from cannibal mom and dad.
Platys will accept most fish foods including flakes, frozen, live/freeze dried foods.
Tankmate suggestions: other livebearers like Mollies, Swordtails, Guppies, as well as Tetras, Rasboras, Danios and more.