Southern platyfish

Aquarium fish: Southern platyfish (Xiphophorus maculatus)
Size: 6 cm
Origin: America
Water temperature: 18-26 ° C
Aquarium volume: 54 l

Southern platyfish (Xiphophorus maculatus ) – a small, popular species of aquarium fish belonging to the genus Xiphophorus . The common name of the species Platka (Platy) derives from the previous scientific name of the genus, i.e. Platypoecilus. There are 11 different species of Platek known. Identification is a bit complicated, because the genus Xiphophorus also includes closely related Gladiolus, in addition, we can find a Gladiolus called Platka X.

xiphidum . Most of the variegated forms of Chromiasis found in aquarium farming come from the species Xiphophorus maculatus .


Central America . The natural range is quite narrow and includes Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. The species prefers peripheral waters such as drainage ditches, ponds, backwaters, flooded pastures and swamps, with muddy bottoms and dense vegetation.

Also found near the roots and under green vegetation hanging from the banks of streams. In these places the water current is usually zero or gentle, but along the streams it can be moderate. Some populations are constantly exposed to sunlight, others hide in the shade of dense trees, through which only streaks of light shine through. The average recorded temperatures in most places were 23-24 ° C.

Characteristics and disposition

Males are up to 4 cm long and females up to 6 cm.

Males are distinguished primarily by a modified anal fin called gonopodium, which they use to fertilize the female. The gonopodium ends just before the base of the caudal fin, has no membranous bulge, and its third ray has a strong hook. Females are larger and fuller than smaller and slender males. Anatomically, the species is characterized by a dorsal fin with 7 to 11 rays (usually 8-10), the number of scales in the lateral line from 22 to 25 scales (usually 23-24) and 26-28 vertebrae (usually 27-28). In a species similar to X.

variatus, the dorsal fin usually has 10-12 rays, and the lateral line 24-25 scales. X. maculatus , unlike the equally popular gladiolusX. hellerii , does not have the sword sticking out from the lower rays of the caudal fin. Due to the large number and diversity of habitats and the tendency to hybridization, body coloration is very different.

Fish from wild populations are less colorful than ornamental varieties and can be light gray green with or without dark spotted patches. Captive-bred ornamental fish typically show bright colors, including orange, red, brown, yellow, and black pigmentation. The mid-lateral girdle is absent. Color varieties Platek – Xiphophorus spp. There are many color varieties in trade with more or less fancy names, such as Mickey Mouse, wagtail, comet, salt and pepper, rainbow, mouse, golden.

In Mickey Mouse, looking at its tail with its head tilted 90 °, we see the outline of the head of the famous Disney fairy tale character. We can recognize comets by the dark streaks on the top and bottom of the caudal fin. The most common Wagtail has a black colored entire tail. They are very peaceful fish and never harass other fish, even males do not show aggression towards each other, which is the case with gladioli or mollies. During the breeding season, males are quite persistent and can stress the females too much.

For this reason, it is recommended to keep mostly females in the aquarium – there should be two three partners for each male.

Nutrition and feeding

Changers are omnivorous fish. In their natural environment, they eat both animal and plant food as well as detritus. The percentage of food types in their diet depends on where they occur. For example, in the Brisbane River fish studied in Australia, shrimp, insects and their larvae predominated.

On the other hand, detritus predominated in individuals from the Indonesian lake, and insect larvae had a smaller share. In the aquarium, they can be given high-quality dry food in flakes or granules, as well as live and frozen food, e.g. daphnia, artemia, hydro and plant foods with the addition of spirulina. It is best to feed the fish in small portions 2-3 times a day.


For a small group of 10-12 individuals, an aquarium with a length of min.

60 cm, preferably with a soft sandy ground (which fish like to pick), places with dense vegetation and extensive swimming space. For decoration, you can use flat stones from which Platki like to scrape off algae. Anything that could acidify the water should be avoided. Small-leaved, dense plants such as Java moss, Kabomba ( Cabomba ), Wywłócznik ( Myriophyllum ), Moczarka ( Egeria ) will work in the aquarium, although sometimes they can be nibbled by fish. In the case of filtration, any type of filter can work.

It is important that the water current is not too strong, as they are not strong swimmers. The water should be hard at 12 dGH and alkaline, between 7.5-8.0 pH. In order to obtain the appropriate parameters, it may be helpful to insert the coral rock or to mix the substrate with coral sand or crushed shells. In many regions of Poland, tap water is hard and will probably have properties similar to those recommended. The petals are suitable for many social aquariums.

Breeding with other Xiphophorus species with which they will interbreed is not recommended. A good commodity can be, for example, Danio rerio, Jordanelka Florinda, Tęczanka neon.


The petals reproduce in amazing numbers. They are sexually active very quickly. They reach sexual maturity at the earliest at the age of 10 weeks , and at the latest at the age of 32 weeks.

It seems that the speed of sexual development depends more on weight gain than on time. Females produce a lot of fry. Depending on the age and size, the female is able to give birth to 20 to 80 fully formed fish during childbirth, and after the next 24 days she can give birth again. In one year, an adult female can give birth to about 1,200 fish. Assuming half of the offspring will be female …

you can imagine how they can reproduce in the aquarium. Despite attempts to control such as restricting food or the presence of other predators, it is almost certain that every generation of fish will come. If we want to breed Flakes in larger numbers, a separate aquarium with a length of min. 45 cm, with a filter and a heater in which we will place pregnant females. They are easy to distinguish because their bellies are clearly distended.

Large clumps of moss can be placed at the bottom of the tank, in which the fry will find shelter. Alternatively, you can line the bottom with glass balls (the fry sink to the bottom after delivery). When the female has clearly lost weight, fry have probably also appeared and can be moved back to the main aquarium. The fry after birth are quite large and it is easy to feed them with e.g. fine powdered food.

Females are capable of storing milk, which means that separation of the sexes is not a way to stop reproduction. If the purchased female had contact with the male earlier, the chances are that she will be pregnant.


Due to the popularity of Platek, they often end up in the natural environment from captivity. Their wild populations inhabit such distant regions as Jamaica, India, Singapore, Japan, Australia, the United States, the United States of America, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Nigeria, and many more. In some cases, they were introduced on purpose, overly optimistic, as a final attempt to control mosquitoes.

It was a mistake to believe that Platki, by eating mosquito larvae, will reduce the incidence of mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria. Unfortunately, most often they end up eliminating rival local species, eating some larvae, and then destroying the entire ecosystem. This unfortunately leads to the constant presence of mosquitoes, and in the worst case scenario, even their increase. Given the ubiquitous commercial presence of X. maculatus , the lack of wild specimens is striking.

The wild form is relatively bland, but has its charm and attracts the attention of more hardcore fans of the genre, who find it somewhat of a challenge to find wild blood.


The variety of colored varieties of Platek is not just the result of inbreeding. Gene mixing is also involved. Pigmentation is also added by crossing with other species of Swimmers or Gladiolus. Unfortunately, this makes hybrids more susceptible to disease than wild specimens that carry the R gene.

This gene is responsible for immunity and inhibits the growth of tumors, and crossbreeding eliminates the expression of this gene. In the trade, for example, individuals with tumors are not uncommon. Decorative forms are prone to a number of diseases. Some of them are easy to diagnose and treat, others can cause a lot of trouble. For example, ichthyosis is easy to recognize and choose the appropriate treatment for, but tinea pedis is actually a bacterial infection caused by Flavobacterium.

As fish constantly nibble at their surroundings, the mouth area is very susceptible to minor injuries. Therefore, in a neglected tank, bacterial superinfection and subsequent epidemics can easily occur. In this case, many growers often turn to the wrong antifungal rather than antibacterial agents. Usually, Costia or Tetrahymen appear right next to Flavobacterium, which are difficult to heal and require quick action. The most common sign of an outbreak is a change in fish behavior, e.g.

apathy. Most aquarium health problems come from neglect and poor water quality. Its regular replacement and soil desludging will reduce pathogenic factors. Despite the above, Platki are still considered to be one of the more tolerant and easily adaptable species of aquarium fish.


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