How to tell if a Platy Fish is Male or Female?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

I love platy fish as they make for one of the most beautiful pets on the planet! Recently, I bought a pair of platy fish and it took me a long time to understand the difference between the male and female platy.

So, how to identify the gender of your platy fish? By paying a little attention to their body structure, you can easily find the difference based on the shape of their fins and color as well as size of the fish. Male platies have a shorter body and a pointed fin while the female fin is fan-shaped and larger. However, keeping them together can result in swift breeding which might not be desirable.

How to Tell if a Platy is Male or Female (Video)

Before learning to identify the gender, I would like to explain the idea of keeping the platy fish as pets.

Platy fish as pets:

Due to its beautiful body texture, many people tend to keep platy fish as their pets. Platy fish are great for beginners & experienced aquarists as their potential is substantial

They do not have a long lifespan and if kept in a home aquarium, they can live for around three years of age. In rare cases, they can live up to five or six years. Both genders of platy fish differ in nature. Once you learn to identify the gender, you can easily notice interesting behavioral aspects of both sexes.

So, if you are planning to keep platy fish, here is some useful information regarding their sex identification and nature.

Ask the seller about their gender:

If you are bringing a pair or larger number of platy fish at home, then you must ask about the gender of each fish from the seller. But do not rely completely on his opinion as sometimes, even the sellers are unaware of the gender differences. If he cannot tell the gender, then you can examine the body details of the fish to find out whether it is a male or female platy. (The details of which are provided in this article.)

Keeping male and female platy fish together when they mature can encourage the (unwanted & enormous) reproduction of new platy fish, thus overpopulating your fish tank.

The platy fish are good-tempered and not very demanding. There is a very vague difference between the male and female platy fish on the basis of color, body shape, fin shape, and size. I have collected some of the factors below which will help you a great deal in finding the difference between male and female platy fish.

Factors for gender identification of platy fish:

Following is a list of factors which need to be considered while identifying the gender of your platy fish.

  • Color
  • Size
  • Shape of the body
  • Fin shape
  • Nature and behavior of the fish

The detail of each of the above points is provided below.

1. Color:

The pattern on both male and female platy fish is almost the same. But usually, the male’s body and fin color is sharper and more intense as compared to female platy fish.

2. Size:

The size of platy fish is 4-6 cm. The body size of female platy fish is larger than the male platy fish. Female platy is also known to be fatter than the male. In terms of total length of the body, females can grow up till 2 inches in length whereas the male body size is limited to 1.5 inches.

3. Shape of the body:

The body shape of the female platy fish is heavier and fuller as compared to the male platy. The pregnant platy fish, also known as gravid females, have a lump in their mid-body area. This area with the lump has a different color from rest of the body.

4. Fin shape:

The fin shape of platy fish is a major identifier of sex. The male anal fin, which is long and thin in shape, is called ‘gonopodium.’ It serves the purpose to inseminate the female. On the other hand, the female platy fish’s anal fin is not long, pointed, and thin but round instead.

The dorsal fin of female platy fish is triangular in shape and is pointed downwards. It is often described as a fan-shaped fin. In males, the dorsal fin is pointed and long.

5. The nature of male and female platy:

Male and female platy fish also differ in nature. Female platies are very calm while male platies can be aggressive. If kept in separate tanks, male platies might start fighting with each other while the female platy tank will have a peaceful environment.

Once you have truly identified the sex of your platy fish, then comes the time to decide whether you want them to mate or not. Now, you might be thinking, “Duh, I do!”, but think again!

Is breeding platy fish a good idea?:

Platies belong to the group of fish which are live-bearing, meaning that they give birth to a fully grown infant rather than laying eggs. Female platy fish can store the male sperm for a long time after mating and the process of breeding is not so hard as well. In fact, you wouldn’t even have to put in any effort to make them reproduce their kind.

As their potential to breed is very efficient and fast, you will find more platies inside the tank in no time. Besides caring for them, the other thing that can cause you to worry is the overpopulation inside your community tank.

It is said by experienced aquarists that breeding platies is not a difficult task at all; but stopping them from breeding is!

Points to consider for breeding platy fish:

The following is a list of measures and points which need to be considered for the efficient mating process of your platy fish.

1. Separation of tanks:

You should keep the male and female platy fish separate unless you want them to reproduce. But the problem arises when the male platy fish start showing aggression towards other males when they are kept in a separate tank. To avoid this, you should just buy female platy fish if you are not interested in mating them.

If both genders are kept in the same tank, then you should mentally be ready for your aquarium to soon turn into something like an overpopulated platy fish primary school!

2. Mixing of both genders:

When you plan to breed your platy fish, you can put the male platy in a female tank. The ratio of male fish to female fish should be 1:2. The breeding process will control the male fish’s aggression and the female’s stress.

3. Selective mating:

If you want a colorful or brighter view inside your fish tank, then you should keep the vibrant platyfish together.  You can place such male platies along with female platies to encourage their mating process.

Bear in mind that this will result in an outburst of offspring. So, it is a smart option to consider whether you are ready to take care of all those fish or not. You can also add other breeds of male fish along with the female platies if you are not interested in exclusively breeding your platy fish.

The above points would go a long way in helping you establish an efficient breeding system for your platy fish.

What is the food intake of male and female platy fish?

Both genders consume exactly the equal amount and same kind of food. The platy fish are omnivorous but they also have a considerable desire for herbivorous food as well.

The ideal food for platy fish is a healthy mix of both vegetables and proteins. Aquarists make this common mistake of not adding vegetation and algae in the tank for their platies which can go a long way in determining a good health for your fish.

Most artificial fish foods have all the essential food supplements for platies. These are easily available at any superstore or pet store.

Flakes are also great to feed the platy fish as long as they are rich in protein.

The natural food for platies in the freshwater or lakes consists of daphnia, bloodworms, fruit flies or mosquito larvae. The live food is extremely hard to find for your pet platy fish and is not available easily. If you wish to feed your platies with their natural diet, you can buy frozen fish food at the market which is equally good for your platies.

Baby platy fish also do not have any specific food requirements. But if you wish to go the extra mile, then you can purchase liquid foods for them which are available at aquarium pet stores. You just have to add the drop of liquid food into the water tank where you are keeping them.

As mentioned above, normal fish food is also fine for your baby platy fish but you have to soak the fish food in water first to make it soft and easily digestible for them.

Tank requirement for platy fish:

The temperature of the tank for your platy fish should be between 70-77 degrees Fahrenheit. Platies are extremely tolerant of water and temperature fluctuations but sudden changes should be avoided in any case.  It is essential to keep the fish tank clean for a healthy environment. The disturbance in temperature, alkalinity, pH or hardness of the water can cause stress and health issues among fish.

Platy fish are very friendly, sociable, and active and they need enough space to roam inside the tank. Make sure the tank size meets the requirement of the platy fish.

If you want your platies to flourish, then you should take care of water filtration. The filtration system of the tank should have the ability to maintain the water in good condition and eliminate the waste materials or excess food that can harm the water quality. Great water condition is necessary for survival and health of platy fish otherwise they become more vulnerable due to poor water condition and can die early.

Related questions:

How long does a platy fish stay pregnant? A platy fish produces a whole batch of babies in just 28 days. The behavior of pregnant platy remains same during pregnancy but the body shape changes. The size of belly increases in size and the area above the anal fin begins to darken at the time of pregnancy. A pregnant platy fish doesn’t require any special treatment but the baby platy fish need a hiding place from the adults.

How to save fry (baby platy fish) from predation? Adult Platies are notorious for eating their infants. To save the little platies (fry) from big fishes; you can install plants and vegetation inside the aquarium. These would provide hiding spots for the little platies until they grow up. They grow up real quick in just a few weeks.  You can also keep the fry in a separate tank to save them from getting eaten by bigger platies.

Which other fish get along with platies? Platy fish can be kept in a tank with other fish which have a similar size. They easily get along with mollies, guppies, and tetras. They can also share the tank with some characins and corydoras.


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