Red Wagtail Platy or Xiphophorus Maculatus

Red Platy

The Red Wagtail Platy is a pleasant and peaceful fish that also hardy and active. It's also small, pretty and a great fish for hobbyists of any level; it's one of the most popular in the fishkeeping industry. You can find it in red as well as several different colors which make for an eye-catching tank. The Platy has two goals in life: eating and breeding. It will circle the tank eating anything, including algae, and their breeding can't be stopped!

Red Wagtail Platy: Basics

Scientific Name: Xiphophorus maculatus
Family: Poeciliidae
Origin: Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico
Adult Size: 2 inches (5 cm)
Social: Peaceful, suitable for a community tank
Lifespan: 4 years
Tank Level: Mid dweller
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallon
Diet: Omnivore, eats most foods
Breeding: Livebearer
Care: Easy
pH: 7.0 - 8.2
Hardness: 10-25 dGH
Temperature: 64-77 F (18-25 C)

Tank Setup

Platies are especially popular with fish keepers because they don't have any particular needs in the tank. Keep at least two females for every male, so one isn't constantly sought after to mate. The female would also appreciate a few plants to hide out from the persistent males.

The Red Wagtail Platy is a good choice for new fishkeepers because they're easy to care but, but they do struggle in a cycling tank, and will probably die, so don't add them to the aquarium until the cycle is complete.


Platies need to eat once or twice a day but don't overfeed them.

If they don't eat all the food in a few minutes, you're giving them too much at once. You can use a flake food diet, but supplement it with live food which offers more nourishment. Try live or frozen brine shrimp as well as microworms, bloodworms, mosquito larvae, fruit flies and chopped up earthworms.


Breeding the Red Wagtail Platy is more than easy—in fact, it's really just a question of when because they are always willing and able! The females can warehouse sperm for up to six months; they are almost always pregnant and can give birth to 10-40 fry every 4 to 6 weeks! Huge broods of up to 80 fry are even possible. If you’re not interested in breeding these Platies, purchase only male fish.

The parents won't eat the fry, but it's still best to put the pregnant female in a separate tank let her give birth there before going back to the primary tank. 

Caring for Fry

Red Wagtail Platy fry is very easy to raise and at least a couple in each brood will likely survive in a planted community tank. If you want to save more, use a separate, bare, 10-gallon growing tank with an air powered sponge filter so the fry won’t get sucked in. Feed them liquifry initially and then finely crushed flakes after a couple days. They'll grow very quickly if you feed them 2 to 3 times each day. Change the water every day and remove any waste or dead fry—it's important to keep the tank clean and free of detritus as the juveniles are susceptible to pollutants.