Tropical platy fish (Xiphophorus maculatus)

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Platy fish are hardy and easy to maintain tropical ornamental fish belonging to genus Xiphophorus.

Characteristics of ornamental platy fish

The ornamental platy fish belong to the tropical livebearers under the family Poeciliidae and have many common characteristics of swordtails, mollies and guppies.

These ornamental Xiphophorus maculatus species have been hybridised with swordtails. These tropical fish are called by various names like moon fish, Southern platy fish, plati etc..

Synonyms include Poecilia maculata, Platypoecilus maculatus, Platypoecilus aurata etc.. The original wild platy were brown to olive color with a little bit of sparkle.

Xiphophorus maculatus have been interbred with swordtails and hybridised with other tropical species to such an extend that true lines are rarely available.

However this hybridization has given rise to a great range of colors and different fin shapes in these tropical species. Sunset, red-wag tail and tuxedo are the most popular varieties in tropical Xiphophorus maculatus species.

Maximum total length recorded in Xiphophorus maculatus has been 4.0 cm for male and 6 cm for female. These ornamental Xiphophorus maculatus species have been found to gain maturity after 2-3 months and gain a length of 1 – 4 cm.

Rainbow Platy (male)
Rainbow Platy (male) / by Tafkira2

These tropical ornamental fish are non-migratory and occupy benthopelagic region of the water column. Xiphophorus maculatus generally live in freshwaters but tolerate salinity. Their preferred pH range is 7 – 8; dH range is 10 – 20.

These tropical pets live in tropical waters at 18°C – 28°C. Xiphophorus maculatus have dorsal soft rays 8 – 10 in number. The lack of black pigment mid ventrally on the caudal peduncle differentiates them from ornamental tropical swordtails.

The males lack the elongation of the ventral rays of the caudal fin in to a sword. The gonopodium in the males falls short of the base of the caudal fin and lack membranous protuberance.

Taxonomic hierarchy of tropical ornamental platy

Kingdom Animalia — Animals
Phylum Chordata — chordates
Subphylum Vertebrata — vertebrates
Superclass Osteichthyes — bony fishes
Class Actinopterygii — ray-finned fishes
Subclass Neopterygii — neopterygians
Infraclass Teleostei
Superorder Acanthopterygii
Order Cyprinodontiformes — cyprinodontes, cyprinodontiforms, cyprinodonts, killifishes
Suborder Cyprinodontoidei — cyprinodontoids
Family Poeciliidae — livebearers, livebearing toothcarps
Subfamily Poeciliinae — livebearers
Genus Xiphophorus — swordtails, platy
Species maculatus — southern platy fish
variatus — variable platy fish

Distribution of ornamental platy and natural habitat

These ornamental Xiphophorus maculatus species have originated from Central America are found in natural habitats in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and northern Belize.

Guenther (1866) first found these ornamental fish in Mexico. Adult platy population occur in ditches, canals and springs with weedy banks and silty bottoms with slow flow of water.

These ornamental pets also inhabit estuaries and creeks feeding on worms, insects, shrimps and detritus.

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