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(Xiphophorus maculates)

plati, Xiphophorus maculates

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Platies or Xiphophorus maculates are members of the family Poecilidae of the order Cyrinodontiformes. The plati is native to southern Tamaulipas and northern Vera Cruz, states in northeastern Mexico.

Although not native to these areas,  plati have taken root elsewhere in the world primarily due to aquarium trade related releases into the wild. They have established themselves in the United States in the canal systems of Tampa Bay and Gainesville, Florida. They have become naturalized in the state of Montana. They have also acclimated to the freshwaters of Columbia, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Hong Kong ecologists report that these “illegal aliens” are creating an adverse impact on their aquatic eco systems due to the platies’ prolific breading habits. The plati thrives in slow moving waters. They are perfectly suited for canals, ditches and warm springs. Aquarium related releases have transformed this mild mannered creature into one of the most invasive species on the planet.

The plati has crossed more than international boundaries. They have crossed over genealogically. They are a member of the same family that includes guppies and swordtails. Most platies have swordtail genes in their genome from interbreeding. It is not uncommon to find a plati with a slightly extended point at the bottom of the caudal fin (tail fin) as a result of this interbreeding.

Commercially selective breeding of platies for the aquarium industry has produced hybrid varieties. Available colors include red, yellow, orange, blue, white, and the muli-colored sunburst. Some varieties have black on their fins tails, or parts of their bodies. There is even a version marketed as a Mickey Mouse Plati.

Platies have a peaceful deposition. They make a good choice for a community tank. They will grow 2-3 inches in length and have a life expectancy of up to five years.

Platies thrive in neutral to slightly alkaline water; pH 7.0-7.3. Optimum water temperature is 72-79 °F.

Platies are omnivorous. They will be perfectly fine fed common variety tropical fish flakes.

Breeding Platies

Male live bearing fish have a common trait of harassing the females of their species even though the females of the species are typically larger than the males. This can be avoided by a mix of 2-3 females for every male. Plants are also beneficial. They give the females places to hide.

Most live bearing species are easy to spawn. They will readily spawn in community tanks. They don’t need specific conditions to induce spawning like many egg laying species. Males have the addition of a modified anal fin known as a gonopodium that is used in reproduction. Females are prone to having gravid spots that tend to become larger when they are carrying eggs.

Not all female platies have gravid spots. If you are unable to sex your platies just put the entire group in a breeding tank.

Another trait common to live bearers is that they have a tendency of eating their fry. This can be easily avoided with the use of a breeding trap. Simply place the impregnated female into the top compartment of the breeding trap. The fry will fall into the fry compartment below. Once the female is done giving birth, remove all the adults from the breeding tank and release the fry.

Fry can be fed newly hatched brine shrimp, powdered fry food or small amounts of powdered eggs. Plati fry develop quickly. Typically in about four weeks.

For a distinctive fish variety individual to your aquarium, crossbreed the more exotic platies with swordtails! Not only will it be fun. It will give you serious bragging rights as an aquarium owner.

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