Brightly colored with an easy-going demeanor—that’s the first thing that comes to mind when describing platies. Yet, many aquarists have noticed an aggressive side to this freshwater species.
Are platies fin nippers? Unfortunately, platies can be fin nippers in a poorly assembled aquarium. That said, however, the general platies species are actually quite docile. They enjoy sharing their tank space with other peaceful species with similar traits.
That’s why this bizarre aggression has piqued our interest. So, we decided to do a bit of digging and get to the bottom of why platies may nip their fellow fish mates.
Take a look.
Are Platies Fin Nippers?
Yes, platy fish, especially the males, can become hostile and show signs of aggressive behavior, like nipping. Though, there will be certain times when the female will also become hostile toward other fish in the tank.
Just like all the other living creatures on this planet, platies will show a bit of hostility and aggression to try and outdo other fish. It’s their way of marking their territory and showing others who’s boss.
Reasons for Their Aggression
Platies (Xiphophorus maculatus) are small, reaching a maximum length of three inches. Nevertheless, these tropical freshwater fish can get pretty aggressive when the need arises.
To you, it may seem like this fin nipping behavior just started out of nowhere. However, the truth is, there are probably several reasons that led to this unwanted behavior.
Check out some of the most common.
Wrong Female-to-Male Ratio
Male platy fish can be a bit feisty, especially during breeding times. This is why experts recommend you keep at least three females for every one male.
It gives the females a chance to rest. Plus, it allows the males to be as active and energetic as they need to be.
It’s worth noting that platies are live bearers, and as with most livebearers, the males are constantly on the hunt for a breeding partner.
So, if you put less than three females, the male will end up harassing them. They may also bully and nip at the females if they’re not given the attention they seek.
It can be too much for the females to bear, often causing them to become lethargic and their health to deteriorate.
A Show of Male Dominance
Female platies are attracted to the stronger male of the bunch. So, if you have more than one male in the tank, they’ll be nipping at each other’s fins, trying to vie for the female’s attention.
Their aggression usually exacerbates during breeding times. The males will fight one another to decide which one is the alpha who’ll ultimately mate with the female.
Once the alpha has been decided, they’ll be hostile towards other fish that show signs of weakness. This aggression can go so far as limiting their movement around the tank.
If left unchecked, this bullying behavior can stress the weaker fish, causing them to become sick and even die.
Too Many Fish in One Tank
Despite being known for their friendliness and sociability, platies prefer being in spacious tanks where there’s plenty of room to swim freely.
Overcrowding your tank may look exciting from the outside. However, on the inside, the fish are probably not getting the right amount of oxygen they need.
As a result, they start showing signs of aggressive behavior, like fin nipping.
Platies will also start to be territorial. Since there’s not that much space in the tank, they’ll try to carve out a small area all to themselves.
Then, if any other fish comes close, they’ll simply nip at it until it goes away.
Food fights can also be a problem in an overcrowded tank. They may look innocent enough, but platies will bully other fish so that they can get as much food as they can.
A Pregnant Platy
Pregnancy is probably the only time you’ll see a female platy fish showing aggression of any kind. Experts blame their hormones for their behavior, which stems from their instinct to protect the unborn fry.
Then, as delivery time nears, the female will be more aggressive.
The best thing you can do for this during this time is to separate them in a smaller tank or a breeding box. They prefer to be alone anyway until they give birth, so putting them in a separate tank makes more sense.
How Many Platies Can You Keep Together?
The ideal combination would be three to six platies. Remember to keep a suitable female-to-male ratio to keep the peace in the tank.
Make sure you have the right sized tank for the number of platies you want. The average tank size is 10 to 20 gallons per platy fish.
Then, add 10 gallons for each extra fish you add to the tank, no matter the species.
In addition, don’t forget to add live plants, caves, and crevices in the tank. To you, they make excellent tank decor, but to the platies, they’re the perfect place to hide, forage, and explore!
Best Tank Mates for Platies
Platies prefer being around their own kind, even though they don’t necessarily school together. Still, you can also place other fish species in the same tank, as long as they have similar traits.
Just remember to provide them with ample room to swim around unhindered.
Here are some laid-back species you should consider:
- Cory catfish
- Black Molly
- Bristlenose pleco
- Neon tetra
- Betta fish
- Zebra danio
Platies may be cute and colorful, but are they fin nippers? They may not look like it, but these small tropical fish can get quite aggressive when they need to be.
The males are typically more into fin nipping than the females. Yet, there are times when the females, as well, can become hostile towards other fish.
At the end of the day, fish have characteristics and personalities that make them unique, just like us. So, as long as their living conditions are ideal and their basic needs are met, there shouldn’t be any cause for you to worry.