Platy Not Eating and Staying At the Bottom Of Tank – Reasons?

It is quite alarming if your platy is constantly staying at the bottom of the tank and refusing to eat.

Why is your platy not eating and staying at the bottom of the tank? It might be that your platy is not happy with its environment. To fix that, you will have to check for the tanks’ water parameters & its tank-mates. Another reason could be health issues which includes certain diseases and pregnancy.

If you can relate to any of the above, continue reading for a detailed answer.

Why Fish at Tank Bottom Are Not Eating (Video)


Testing and treating water

Poor quality water and inappropriate environment can cause immense stress upon your platies. This can not only cause them to remain in the same area for hours or even days, but can also deteriorate their health. If not addressed properly and on time, it can even cause death.

In order to provide your platy with a suitable environment, you should arrange a spacious tank for it. Considering the high reproduction rate of the platies and their extreme activity, a 10-20-Gallon tank would be a moderate choice. Next, you must ensure high water quality by maintaining appropriate water parameters. For that, you need to take the following measures:

  • Treat the water before adding any fish. Remove chlorine and other harmful substances.
  •  Maintain a weekly water-change schedule. It’s best to change the water once a week. Even if it looks clean and clear, at least 25% water should be replaced with fresh water as invisible toxins such as ammonia and nitrite will build up if you don’t. Minor delays can prove to be very stressful for the platies. Also, avoid very frequent water changes as they can result in the removal of beneficial bacteria and enzymes, causing your fish to get sick.
  • Since platies are tropical fish, they require a high temperature. The ideal range for them is 68°F-82°F. Either add Epsom salt or raise the temperature using a heater.
  • Although platies are tolerant to a wide range of water conditions, but sudden drastic changes in water parameters should be avoided. Since platies tend to thrive in slightly alkaline water, the ideal pH range is 6.8 to 8.0.  Water hardness should be kept between 10-28 dGH. Nitrates are recommended below 40ppm while ammonia should be kept 0. Even 5ppm is dangerous for the platies. Also, ensure proper water filtration.

Cycling the fish tank

It is very important to cycle a fish tank before adding any fish. This refers to the process of creating a Nitrogen cycle in your tank. This should be done before the fish are added in water, otherwise, it would cause them a lot of stress and ultimately lead to their death.

Cycling can be done by adding any organic matter, like shrimps or fish flakes and letting them decay in the tank for the next few days. This will allow you to culture beneficial bacteria in the tank which will eventually convert the ammonia into nitrites.

The ammonia and nitrites will drop down to 0 after some more time as the bacteria increase in number. Once the ammonia levels are 0, it’s safe to add fish to the tank. If you skip this important step, the immune system of the fish will weaken, making them susceptible to numerous diseases.

Checking for disease

Sick platies may behave weirdly, so if you think your tank isn’t the issue, then you should better check if your platy has caught a disease.

If your platy is constantly staying at the bottom and refusing to eat, then look closely at the fins and check if you can see any fraying or salt-like specks. Presence of white spots is the indication that your fish has developed an ich. If so, then immediately add aquarium salt which is a natural healer that cures many diseases and also improves gill functions. It helps the fish to build a better stress coat.

Apart from that, another common disease is swim bladder disease. Swim bladder is a gas-filled organ which helps the fish control its buoyancy. In the disorder, the fish may swim upside down, float on the top or sink to the bottom. An immediate remedy is feeding it green peas.

Fish’s company

When setting up a community tank, one should be very much considerate of the compatibility of the fish. The species you keep together should have the same needs and should be able to co-exist peacefully.

Sometimes, platies might get bullied by other fish. The stress caused by this leads to loss of appetite and reduced activity. To help them out, you can provide more hiding places by adding new plants and caves. Or even better, identify the potential bully and add more of its kind to your tank. Because sometimes certain species of fish are better-off in schools of 5-6. And they tend to squabble amongst themselves instead of picking on others. Just don’t overcrowd the tank, or else the platies may get stressed.

Platies too need to stay in at least a group of 3-5. They might get depressed and aggressive otherwise. Also, if you don’t keep any females in the tank, then the males may get lonely and aggressive.

However, if your platy is new to the tank and its environment, then such behaviour is absolutely normal. Just give it some time to adjust!

Pregnant females

If you have kept both male and female platy then undoubtedly, the females are pregnant. This can be easily identified by the enlargement and darkening of gravid spot. If such a female has withdrawn to the bottom of the tank and refuses to eat food, especially at her scheduled feeding time, then it is a solid indicator that she is coming close to the delivery stage.

Also, it is absolutely normal for a pregnant platy to spend more time in hiding or seeming to explore plants in the aquarium. She is basically searching for comfortable and convenient places to go through the labour process.  This is also known as nesting. At most, she might continue to behave like this for a week but not more than that. If the time limit exceeds, you should look for any other signs and identify your platy’s problem accordingly.

Food and diet issues

Platies are not very picky when it comes to food. Both adult and baby platies will eat almost anything that you give them.

However, sometimes the platy might refuse to eat. Loss of appetite will obviously be accompanied with reduced activity forcing the platy to rest more often, that too at the bottom of the tank.

The reason behind this worrying sight is that, the fish is not being provided with appropriate type and amount of food according to its size. Make sure the food you are providing it is recommended by respective authorities, that is either the vets or the pet store that you bought your fishes from. Platy’s diet must contain vegetable supplements.

These save them from health issues such as constipation and keeps them healthy. Note that you must not over-feed your fish. Excessive amounts can eventually lead the fish to not eat at all.  When you feed them, watch your fish to assess consumption and behaviour. You may as well try different brands of food on picky eaters to see if appetite improves.

Related questions

What are some signs of a sick fish? There’s a list of visible symptoms displayed by a sick fish inclusive of bulging eyes, abnormal behaviour such as refusing food, puffy or swollen gills, staying at the bottom or the top constantly, scratching against tank decorations,and seeming to be irritated.

You need to provide immediate treatment to your fish if there are visible spots, lesions, red streaks near the scales or white patches on the fish’s body or fins.If the fish is gasping for air at the surface, it’s suffering from the lack of oxygen.

What are the immediate measures to be taken if my platy has been inactive for long? The very first thing you need to do is to conduct a partial water change, check and balance ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels or just shift your platy to a quarantine tank. Also add a bit of aquarium salt in case your platy is suffering from a disease that you are unable to identify. However, most diseases have visible symptoms.

How do I know if my fish is dead? A sleeping fish can very often be mistaken as a dead one. So, before you dispose your dead fish, carefully check for its opercula movements, that is the flaps covering the gills. In a sleeping fish, the opercula will visibly move up and down. Sunken and cloudy eyes are also an evident indicator of a dead fish. Try scooping it up with an aquarium net, if its alive it will make an effort to get away. Otherwise, your fish is probably dead.

Is it normal if my baby platies have no movement? The very first thing you should do is to change its meal. Try giving it crushed fish flakes. Even after that, if your platy fry is not swimming after a day, it’s possible that it might be under developed or it has suffered some trauma during or shortly after birth. This might soon result in its death.


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