Platies sometimes display lots of weird behaviors.
But the most worrisome one is simply refusing to eat.
So, why is your platy not eating and staying at the bottom of the tank? Some common reasons why platies stop eating include unsuitable water conditions, a disease or infection, pregnancy, bullying, and digestive issues.
But which one is your platy going through? And how do you fix the problem?
To find out, keep reading ahead!
Reasons why your platy isn’t eating
A platy that refuses to eat can worry and confuse most owners. While there can be many reasons behind this behavior, a loss of appetite isn’t impossible to fix and is temporary in most cases. Here are some of the most common reasons why your platy has stopped eating:
1. Water condition and parameters
Although platies are considered hardy fish, they can become stressed and lose their appetite if the water conditions are unfavorable or shift rapidly. Not to mention the long-term health effects of poor water conditions, which can make your platies sick and even kill them.
If you notice that your platy isn’t eating frequently and is less active than usual, chances are that your tank water might be the cause of their lost appetite. To be certain, do a complete water check and see whether the parameters are suitable for platies. The ideal water conditions for platies are:
- Temperature: 72°F – 78°F
- pH: 6.5 – 8.3
- Hardness: 4 – 12 dGh
- Ammonia: 0 ppm
- Nitrates: <10 ppm
- Nitrites: 0 ppm
If your water parameters aren’t in the optimal range, chances are that your platy is stressed and isn’t eating as a result. The loss of appetite could also be caused by a fish tank that’s too small for your platies.
Fixing your water parameters and condition
If you’re worried that your aquarium’s water parameters and conditions might be the reason behind your platy’s loss of appetite, follow the instructions below to restore them to their ideal conditions:
1. Do a water change
Doing a water change is one of the best ways to reset your water parameters by reducing toxin and waste buildup. A weekly water change should be a part of your fishkeeping routine anyway, so try to make it a habit.
To start, take approximately 25-30% water of your tank’s total capacity in a container. If you’re using tap water, remember to treat it with a conditioner beforehand to remove chlorine and other minerals.
Leave the conditioned water to rest for 24 hours. Meanwhile, remove the same volume of water from the fish tank that you plan on changing. After 24 hours have passed, test the conditioned water’s pH and chlorine levels. If the parameters are okay, you can add that water to the aquarium.
2. Adjust the water temperature
Because platies are a tropical species, they require a water temperature of 72°F – 78°F. If you suspect that your water is too cold, chances are that it’s stressing your platies. To raise your water’s temperature, you can use a DIY hack by filling a bottle with boiling water, closing the cap, and placing that bottle in the aquarium.
This will temporarily increase the water’s temperature. But if you have a larger aquarium, consider investing in an aquarium water heater.
2. Disease or infections
Platies can suffer from various ailments and lose their appetite as a result. Most of these diseases and infections are caused by parasites and can be treated through medication and some remedies.
Probably the most common disease platies suffer from is ich. Ich is caused by ectoparasite, which is usually introduced into the tank through unwashed plants and decorations. To identify if your platy has ich, look for white, protruding spots on their body.
Parasitic infections can also cause platies to lose their appetite. Most of these platies will have clear poop, while some may also develop lesions on the body and suffer from discoloration.
Treating Diseases and Infections
Luckily, most diseases and infections in platies can be treated if caught early. If your platy is suffering from ich, add a teaspoon of aquarium salt per gallon of water in your tank. You should also raise your water temperature to 80°F so that the ectoparasites automatically fall off from your platy’s body.
But in the case of an infection, you should first diagnose its type. If it’s a fungal infection, you might need to set up a quarantine tank and administer anti-fungal medication. But if the infection is parasitic and internal, it’s best to take the advice of a vet and treat your platy with metronidazole or Levamisole according to your vet’s instructions.
If your platy is pregnant, she might start reserving herself near the delivery stage. During this period, she will also eat less and spend most of her day hiding or exploring the plants and the tank’s bottom.
This is an instinctual behavior in pregnant platies and is not a matter of concern. They’re just searching for a safe place to give birth to their fry and to protect them from other inhabitants in the tank. Once pregnant platies have given birth to their fry, they will return to their usual eating behavior.
If you’re unsure whether your platy is pregnant or not, look for a swollen and enlarged belly with a dark spot. If you don’t see an enlarged stomach, but your platy is still staying reserved, it might be due to some disease. In this case, it’s best to take the advice of your pet shop’s owner or a vet.
4. Bullying or poor company
Platies are generally friendly fish. They co-exist peacefully with other species and don’t usually engage in fighting. But if they’re bullied, they can become overly stressed, and the first thing they do after getting stressed is they stop eating.
A platy also needs a school of 3-5 more fish of the same species to stay happy and active. Make sure that most of these platies are females. If there are too many male platies with few female ones, the males will constantly fight and bully each other to breed with the female platies.
If a platy is bullied or stressed, they will lose their appetite and prefer to stay hidden in plants and rocks. Eventually, this platy will die from stress or malnutrition, so you must find and eliminate the bully from the tank.
Fixing bullying and poor company
If you’ve identified the bully and it’s a larger fish, add more of the same species in your tank. The larger fish will spend most of their time fighting each other rather than bothering the platies.
If the bully is another male platy, add more female platies to your tank so that the males don’t have to compete for mating.
And if the bully is a female platy, either shift them to another tank or talk to the pet shop owner and request that platy to be exchanged with another fish.
5. Digestive issues
Platies are omnivorous and aren’t usually picky when it comes to food. In the wild, they consume larvae, insects, fish eggs and will also eat algae and weed occasionally. However, platies can become malnourished or lose their appetite if they’re continuously fed the same food repeatedly or develop some digestive issues.
Not adding enough food can also cause platies to lose their appetite. This is particularly true when another fish is bullying the platy during mealtime. With less quantity, the fish will fight with each other, and the weaker platy will simply lose interest in eating and probably die of malnutrition.
However, you also don’t want to overfeed your platies. The species is known to have an insatiable appetite and will keep eating till they’re given food. Overeating can quickly become a cause of constipation and digestive problems, eventually leading to a loss of appetite. Adding too much food in the tank also poses a threat of water chemistry imbalance from the constantly decaying food and waste material.
How to feed your platies?
The correct way to feed platies without causing any digestive issues is not to feed them more than once or twice a day. Since there is no standard quantity a platy should eat, the general recommendation is only to add food that’s enough for all the platies to devour in a few minutes completely.
If you notice that your platies always have bulging abdomens or have long strings of poop attached to their bodies, it’s likely that you’re overfeeding them. After every meal, remove any excess food from the tank to prevent it from disrupting the aquarium’s water parameters.
It’s also very crucial to feed your platies a varying diet. Some great foods for platies include blood worms, brine shrimps, flakes, and other pellets and freeze-dried foods. Remember to feed them plenty of vegetables as well. This includes dried vegetable pellets and boiled vegetables such as spirulina, squash, and spinach.
How often should platies be fed?
A growing platy fry should be fed two to three times a day, while an adult platy should only be fed once or twice a day. Keep control of their portion size and try not to feed them more than they can eat completely within a few minutes.
Do platies eat their own kind?
A platy will eat their fry if given a chance and might also cannibalize another dead platy in the tank. That’s why it’s crucial to remove any dead fish from the tank immediately to prevent the live fish from contracting any disease or infection from eating the dead fish.
How long can platies survive without eating?
A healthy and active platy can survive up to two weeks without eating. So if you leave them without food for a couple of days, they will probably survive. However, this does not mean that you should take several days off feeding them constantly.
How to treat constipation in platies?
Add one to three teaspoons of Epsom salt per gallon of water in your tank to treat constipation. Epsom salt has numerous benefits and relaxes the abdomen muscles so that food can pass easily from your platy’s system.
What are the best foods for platies?
Platies are omnivorous and will eat a variety of foods. However, their favorites are bloodworms, shrimps, mosquito larvae, blackworms, and fruit flies. They also love to eat a variety of vegetable pellets and boiled vegetables.