Breeding platies in aquarium fish tank is the easiest thing. But breeding platies to develop new strains of these ornamental fish is altogether a different matter.
If you are having ornamental platies in your aquarium and females too and if you are keeping them for more than 2 months, it is most likely that the female fish would have given birth to young ones in the ornamental tank and the parent platies would have eaten them up.
Given the healthy conditions we cannot stop ornamental platies from breeding in the tank. When you buy the colorful males and females of platies it is most likely that the females are already pregnant.
Within a month time they may give birth to young ones. The real problem in breeding ornamental platies in a tank is saving those numerous babies from being eaten up by parents and other ornamental fish.
Breeding platies in ornamental aquarium fish tank
If you are a beginner in breeding ornamental fish the best species for breeding are livebearers like guppies, platies and mollies.
In breeding platies you have to care only for the pregnant female and then the babies which are fairly big; feeding them is easy. As for the egg laying ornamental fish you have added responsibilities like care of the eggs till hatching and then care of the small fry.
Requirements for breeding ornamental platies in fish tank
The foremost thing for breeding platies is that you will require two fish tanks (with cover) of capacity of at least 10 gallon each; one tank for parent ornamental fish and the other aquarium for breeding as well as for fry (baby) rearing.
Procure air driven sponge filter for the fry tank and any type of airlift filter for the parent tank. The sponge filter for the fry tank protects the fry from being sucked up in aeration and cleaning the filter is also easy.
Have two heaters for maintaining the temperature of the parent fish tank as well as breeding and fry rearing tank around 25°C (77°F). You should also have a soft hand net for transferring fish from one fish tank to another.
You can also light up the tank for 12 -14 hours as longer duration of lighted condition is also found to be an inducing factor in breeding.
Procuring the ornamental parent platies for breeding in fish tank
Next you have to procure breeding parents. It is best to have a male female ratio of 1:2 or 1:3. This is mainly to divide the attention of the ornamental male among more females so that a single female is not harassed.
Further in case of death of a female, your experiments may not stop if you have more than one female. The best place to get the mature platies is from fellow hobbyists. The breeding ornamental fish must appear healthy and have good coloration.
Go in for similar colors of male and females as in many occasions breeding parents of different colors produces drab looking progeny. If you are buying from an ornamental pet shop it is likely that the females are already pregnant.
If you are selecting pregnant breeding female select one in the early stage of pregnancy by looking for a less prominent bulge of the abdomen.
Pregnant females in the advanced stage of pregnancy may give birth to babies prematurely while transporting or on release into the breeding tank.
There will be sharp drop in the survival rate of premature babies.
Setting up the ornamental platies breeding tank
The basic procedure for setting up a fish tank is explained in another post and hence it is not discussed here. Fill the tank for holding the parents with water and keep the aerator running for at least 3 days for the tank to settle down.
Similarly fill the breeding cum fry rearing tank with water and allow the water to condition. If your water source is chlorinated take steps to remove chlorine by adding water conditioners.
These ornamental fish prefer hard and alkaline water and may get distressed in soft or acidic waters. Release the breeding platies after carefully acclimatising them to the tank water.
Once the fish have settled in the new tank you can start feeding them, taking care not to over feed. The feed must be consumed in 5 minutes. You can feed two to three times a day. Feed the fish with flake or pellet feed of high quality.
Feeding the fish with live feed like blood worms or frozen or freeze dried food like brine shrimp and bloodworms makes the female fish strong and healthy. Proper feeding increases the fecundity of the fish as well as the quality and health of the eggs.
Exchange water partially twice a week, removing and replacing 10% of water each time. Use only previously conditioned and aged water for the water exchange.
Breeding of ornamental platies and care of young fry
You will be able to observe the male chasing the females, making courtship sigmoid display, vibrating and mating them quite often. The mating is fast and is accomplished when the male touches the female genital pore with the tip of gonopodium.
You can keep some artificial plants in the ornamental tank for the females to hide if they are harassed too often by the male. With the progress of about a week of mating you can notice the abdomen of the female fish bulging and growing big.
The pregnant female can be noticed to have the black gravid spot near its anal fin. This may not be noticed if the female is deep colored. This spot is actually the eyes of the babies growing inside the female body. The gestation period for ornamental platies may last up to 30 – 40 days.
Now you can select the best colored, healthy, bigger female with greater abdomen bulge and net it and release it immediately into the breeding and fry rearing tank containing conditioned water with the sponge filter running.
Keep a dense bunch of artificial plants floating in the ornamental fish aquarium tank. Keep feeding the female properly and maintain water exchange schedule in the ornamental fish tank.
As time passes you can see the abdomen of the ornamental female breeding platies becoming larger and larger. The female platies may appear lethargic and slow in movement. Now the time is nearing parturition; the female may select a spot among the plants and keep waiting and may not accept feed.
The breeding ornamental platies release the babies one by one. The total process may sometimes take up to two hours in platies breeding. The breeding platies should not be disturbed and it is best to avoid movement near the ornamental tank.
If the breeding platies are disturbed, they may stop giving birth half way and release the rest of the baby fish after a gap of time. In some cases these ornamental fish may not release the babies at all endangering their life.
Soon after release, the babies of platies tent to drop down to the bottom of the ornamental tank, wriggle and slowly start moving towards the surface of water. In 5 -10 minutes fry of platies can swim actively and can hide among the plants in the ornamental fish aquarium.
Now the immediate danger to the baby platies is from their mother fish. Though usually the female breeding platies may not feel hungry for some time due to hormonal change during the birth, in some rare cases mother ornamental breeding platies have been found to actively chase and eat their own babies.
Once you are sure that the process of giving birth (breeding) is over (usually when there is no release of baby platies for one hour) you can net and release the exhausted female platies back into ornamental fish tank of parent breeding fish.
If it is the first pregnancy for the ornamental breeding fish a brood of 10 – 20 fry may be released in ornamental aquarium. If the female ornamental breeding platies are healthy, well fed and big, more than 100 fry may be born in a single pregnancy in the fish tank.
You can powder the high quality parent feed and spread it on the water surface of the ornamental fish breeding tank for the babies to eat. You will require to feed 4 -5 times daily to achieve good growth of the fry in the breeding tank for fry.
However do not over feed the fry of ornamental platies fish at a time; allowing feed to decay can cause water quality problems in the breeding and fry rearing fish tank. Remove the scum formed by the feed after 3o minutes from the ornamental tank of fry platies.
Spread on fry platies tank only the quantity of feed which can be consumed in 5 minutes. Fry of ornamental platies die more due to overfeeding and decaying feed than anything else in the tank.
If properly fed and with healthy conditions in the fish tank the fry of ornamental platies may grow up to one inch in a month time. If the other female breeding platies survive in the parent fish tank and their pregnancy is advancing now you have a handful of problems.
You have to either give away your pregnant ornamental breeding fish to other fish tank owners or set up more fish tanks for rearing more batches of fry of platies. Some pet shops repurchase the ornamental fish from the hobbyists.