12 Steps to Take Care of Your Baby Platy Fish

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

Recently, my platyfish gave birth to 8 babies (fry). That’s when I realized that taking care for baby platyfish is a responsibility that I hadn’t been ready to take on.

So, how to care for your baby platyfish or fry? You will either have to isolate the baby platyfish from the community tank or provide them with sufficient hiding places like plastic or real plants which would keep them safe from the adults. Baby platyfish do not have specific food requirements but would need a well-sized aquarium to thrive.

Keeping and Growing Platy Fry (Video)

Before we move on to a detailed analysis on how to take care of your baby platyfish, we need to understand the following innate characteristic of this animal.

Adult platyfish eat their young ones!

Platies are among the group of fish that are live-bearing; which means that their eggs are present inside the female body which give birth to live baby platyfish (also known as fry.) Bear in mind that the plural for fry is not “fries”; that’s what you get with burgers!

Platyfish are notorious for eating their young ones. That is because the mother platyfish does not have any parental instinct in her. Your responsibility to take care of your baby platyfish increases manifold as their lives are in danger from their own parents. Another point to consider is that platyfish are incredibly prolific and that the female will continue to reproduce as long as she is healthy. It is quite reasonable to expect another batch of platyfish every month.

Outline:

In this article, we will cover the following 12 steps to take care of your baby platyfish. These are:

  1. Knowing when they are coming.
  2. Having a proper community tank
  3. Purchasing a separate baby tank for the baby platyfish.
  4. Investing in plants for your baby platyfish.
  5. Buying breeding traps for the adult platyfish
  6. Isolating the pregnant mother into the baby platyfish tank right before she gives birth.
  7. Placing the mother back in the community tank once she has given birth.
  8. Reducing the stress levels of the mother platyfish.
  9. Food requirements for baby platyfish.
  10. Taking care of your baby platyfish tank.
  11. Introducing the isolated baby platyfish into the community tank.
  12. Deciding whether you actually want the baby platyfish or not?

So, without further ado, let us get right into the explanation of each step.

Know when the baby platies are coming:

Platyfish are extremely prolific animals that multiply at an insane rate! As mentioned above, you can expect your female platyfish to reproduce as long as she is healthy. The number of platyfishes that they can give birth to varies around 8-12 at once.

To take care of the mother and baby platyfish, you need to be well aware of the pregnancy signs. The pregnant mother has a swollen belly. You really can not be miss it if you pay proper attention to your fish. If you see a fat platyfish, don’t be happy that you’re feeding her well. Instead, prepare to take care of the surprise baby platyfish that are on their way!

Another sign of a pregnant platyfish is that it will have a black spot on her rear fin. This spot would disappear as soon as the mother gives birth. It has been proved that the dark hue comes from the eyes of the baby platyfish which seem to be pressed up against their mother’s belly. Most platyfish owners have reported that their fish give birth to their young ones at night. Knowing the signs of pregnancy can help you make prior arrangements to take care of your baby platyfish.

The requirements of a community tank:

Around a month ago, I met a friend whose newly purchased platyfish had given birth to around 10 baby platies. I remember him being so psyched about the whole process. He told me frantically how he had kept all the fry in a bucket of water because he wasn’t prepared.

I warned him on how dangerous that was since baby platyfish, like all pets, need a very specific and nurturing environment. He told me that the bucket was “big enough” and that the water felt “quite warm”. Sadly, after a few weeks had passed, only 1 of the 10 fry had survived.

A 10- gallon tank is a must to take care of your baby platyfish. If you wish to keep all the baby platyfish that are born, the capacity of your tank should jump right up to 29 gallons in a few months. As mentioned above, platyfish are incredibly prolific. So, buying a small bucket or aquarium would provide them with a lot less space than they need.

A few other requirements for their tank are that the temperature should be adjusted to around 25 degrees Celsius. This is the temperature found in their natural habitat. The pH of the water should be slightly alkaline (6.8-8) which would provide conditions in which baby platyfish would thrive.

Purchasing a separate baby tank for the fry:

The adults are a threat to your baby platyfish. Even before the baby platyfish are born, a few extra-cautious aquarists like to buy a separate tank for them. This helps them take care of their baby platyfish in a more exclusive fashion. The separate aquarium provides an isolated safe environment for the baby platyfish to grow.

The size of this tank can be anything around 5 gallons as it is not their permanent home. You can buy such tanks easily from pet stores. Just make sure that they are good quality ones with an attached nitrogen replenishment system. You need to understand that they are really fragile and require healthy and safe environments to thrive. This would go a long way in helping you to take care of your baby platyfish.

Investing in plants for your baby platyfish:

Plants should definitely be bought by those who do not wish to keep an individual tank for their baby platyfish. Plants can also really help make your aquarium a lot prettier than it originally is. These provide your fish with a more “natural” environment than being closed in a glass box filled with water! For the aesthetics, you might also want to purchase gravel if it isn’t included in your aquarium.

The plants that you choose for your aquarium can not just be anything that you pluck out of your backyard. There are certain types of plants that fish love to hang around in. They often provide your baby platyfish with great hiding spots which keeps them safe from the adults. These can either be bunch plants like anacharis and Cabomba or floating ones like hornworts. A few floating plants are crucial to take care of your baby platyfish in the community tank. It is famous that the baby platyfish tend to swim up to the surface of the water instinctively. This makes them an easy target for adult platies, so having some floating plants at the top can provide your platyfish with a nice cloak to hide themselves in.

A few people also purchase plastic plants which can be a good long-term option. It also eliminates the required hassle of ever having to change the plants in the future. This can help people to take care of their baby platyfish even if they are really busy. Bear in mind that many plants are eaten by platyfish to supplement their diet. Buying the plastic kind automatically causes you to lose that added benefit.

Buying breeding traps for the adult platyfish:

Breeding traps are plastic boxes with small holes inside them. These can be made at home or even purchased at your local pet store. If you keep the adult platyfish in these breeding traps, they won’t be able to escape them. This is due to their larger size. The small fry would be able to swim in and out of the trap as they please. This doesn’t necessarily pose to be a great option for your platyfish as many get stressed when they are contained in a particular area and can not roam about easily.

Isolating the pregnant platyfish into the baby tank right before she gives birth:

Eventually, you will see all the signs of pregnancy add up in one of your female platy fish. Now, you might consider providing her an isolated environment in the baby tank where she will be giving birth. This would also allow you to take care of your baby platyfish in the initial moments of their lives. Right after birth the baby platyfish are too weak to even swim around for their own safety.

Consider these moments as your pregnant platy’s labor; do you think she would want to be surrounded with other fish? Remember that they might really have a toll on her stress levels! This might be another strong reason why you should isolate your mother platyfish in the baby tank. The total time of pregnancy after the signs show is around 28 days. Platyfish are reported to give birth to as many as 20-40 fry in one pregnancy! Some aquarists have even reported that number to have touched 80, but that is something that I, personally, haven’t seen.

Reducing the stress levels of the mother platyfish:

Just like humans, stress in the pregnant platyfish can lead to a lot of complications in their prodigy. This usually causes the baby platyfish to be born without consuming their whole yolk. This results in the baby platyfish’s inability to swim causing them to sink to the bottom of the aquarium.

Like humans, every platyfish is a different story. You’ll just have to see how they cope with varying types and levels of stress. Some pregnant platyfish get anxious when they are in the community tank during their last few days of pregnancy. Others get flustered when they are isolated into the baby tank as it is a foreigh environment for them. If your platy acts like the latter, you should shift it back into the community tank as soon as possible. This would ensure that its mental health is not compromised and that the baby platyfish are born healthy. Looking after the mother is a good way to take care of your baby platyfish.

So, how would you assess if your pregnant platyfish is stressed out? An excellent way to do that is to monitor its food intake. Is your pregnant platyfish eating well? A sudden decrease in food intake could mean that it is worried.

Anyhow, if you do wish to transfer your platyfish into the baby tank, you need to return it to the community tank once it has given birth to all the baby platyfish. Do remain on the lookout for pregnant platies that give birth in batches. If their belly still looks fat, the chances are that another batch is still on its way. You should wait around a day before you decide to shift the mother platyfish to the community tank. The total number of batches is usually 1-3 per pregnancy.

Food requirements for baby platies:

Fishes are great pets when it comes to nutrition; you don’t need to worry much about mixing their diet and finding all different types of nutrients for them. To take care of your baby platyfish’s diet is the easiest thing in the world! You only need to purchase food pellets or flakes from any pet store and drop them into the water.

Another great thing about platyfish is that the babies have no specific food requirements. They eat the same food as the adult platies. Although, you would want to grind the flakes or pellets to a powder before you feed them to the babies. This makes it easier for them to ingest and digest their food. Try keeping the flakes to one-quarter of the length of your pinky nail if you need a scale to measure how much you need to crush or grind your baby platyfish food.

Baby platyfish do not like older food and can easily become obese if they keep eating. So, you should only drop in enough food which can be eaten by them within 3 minutes . A favorite in terms of diet for many baby platyfish is brine shrimp. You can buy them frozen from your local pet store or create a hatchery at your home. Before giving any frozen food product to your fish, always bear in mind to defrost it so that no hard food is ingested by them.

Maintaining the quality of your baby tank:

Once your fry are born, you will have to take great care of the quality of your water tank. You should clean it regularly by changing the water every 2 weeks. If you see the water getting cloudy before that time frame, consider cleaning it more frequently.

The proper method of changing the water from your tank is to drain 25% of the water and add fresh water to it. A lot of people really don’t care how unhygienic their aquarium is because “it’s only water,” but the truth is that this water contains many toxic chemicals like ammonia from fish poop and other chemicals from urine and respiration.

The environment of the community tank can be different from that of the baby tank. In order to take care of your baby platyfish and ensure that they do not undergo stress, you should use the same source of water for both tanks. This can go a long way in minimizing the stressful effect of environmental change for your baby platyfish.

Introducing the isolated baby platyfish into the community tank:

Platyfish attain their maximum size and maturity in only 4 months! That is a very short time-frame when you compare it with other mainstream pets.

As you would surely be using the same baby tank for every new batch of baby platyfish, you should keep transferring the older platies back into the community tank. It is advisable to compare the size of the baby platyfish to the size of your adult platies’ mouth. Would the babies fit inside the adult’s mouth? If they would, you shouldn’t be taking the chance of transferring them into the community tank just yet.

After you’ve transferred your newly adulted platies to the community tank, keep a close eye on them. See how they and the others react to this change. If you see the adults becoming a threat for them, be proactive to take care of your baby platyfish and transfer them back to the baby tank.

Deciding whether you really want the baby platyfish or not?

It is a great feeling to have your platyfish reproduce their kind and to take care of the baby platyfish. Yet, this is an important question to consider. First and foremost, comes the point on how much you’re willing to invest? Do you have enough money to buy a bigger tank, possibly a 29-gallon one?

It might sound mean but you really need to put a cap on how many platyfish you can keep. As they are so prolific, there would come a time when you just would not have enough space to keep them.

You still would not want the adults to just eat the baby platyfish. But consider selling the latter off to others. As their parent, you are responsible to ensure proper care of your platyfish, regardless of who provides it to them. Is a friend or someone from your family really fascinated with your fish? If so, you should offer them regular chances to keep your new-born baby platyfish and teach them how to take their proper care. This would keep the number of platyfish in your tank moderate.

Related questions:

How long are platy fish pregnant? After the platyfish starts showing the signs of pregnancy, the total time frame for gestation stretches out to around 28 days. You don’t need to plan anything specific for your platy as
they do not display any specific behavioral changes at this time. Feed the mother platyfish well and make sure that it is not teased by children or passerby knocking at the aquarium’s glass! This can cause it to stress which might lead to complications in birth.

What is the best food for platies? Platies aren’t really choosy eaters and would eat most of the specifically formulated food products in the market. In terms of live food, they enjoy eating bloodworms, daphnia, blackworms, brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, and fruit flies.

How long do platy fish live? The lifespan of platyfish ranges from 4-5 years. If their owners take good care of their platyfish (specifically the babies) then their lifespan can increase to 6 years or so.

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