Platy Fish vs. Guppy Fish – What is the Difference?

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If you’re looking for an affordable, hardy, colorful, and docile fish species for your tank, you have plenty of options available.

Today, though, we will focus on 2 highly popular species that you may be all too familiar with – platies and guppies.

These fish share a variety of similarities, including water requirements, diet, temperament, etc.

They even look alike in some regard. That being said, they are different species, so they come with several differences as well.

Even though many of them are minor, learning them will allow you to provide the fish with a personalized maintenance routine and setup for optimal long-term care. So, let’s dive into the heart of it.

Platy vs Guppy – Similarities and Differences

We’re going over 6 core topics to establish the main similarities and differences between the 2 species.

These should form a pretty conclusive portrait of both species, allowing you to decide which fits your goals and vision the better.

– Appearance

What are the main differences in the appearance between platies and guppies?

Guppies

Guppies grow up to 2.5 inches, with males being smaller than females. However, males compensate for their size in terms of coloring, because male guppies are way flashier and more colorful than females.

They also have larger fins and more distinct patterns, whereas females are overall duller. That’s because they only need pheromones to attract males.

We can’t really describe guppies in terms of physical appearance, given that this fish has been the target of extensive selective breeding over time. Guppies are livebearers and produce fry monthly throughout their lives.

Females will also become more proficient and breed as they get older, producing more and more fry with each spawn. It’s not uncommon for guppy females to produce in excess of 200-300 fry in one sitting.

These prolific breeding capabilities have allowed guppies extreme reproductive flexibility. This made the guppy the ideal candidate for selective breeding, with breeders aiming to obtain specific physical characteristics.

As a result, guppies are divided into different categories, based on their:

  • Tail shape – Fan tail, Delta tail, bottom swordtail, lyre tail, spear tail, etc.
  • Color pattern – Snakeskin, tuxedo, cobra
  • Tail color pattern – Leopard, grass guppy, mosaic, glass
  • Color variations – Black, green, red, purple, white, metallic, platinum, etc.

Some guppies are also ranked based on their eye color or pectoral fins, the latter of which takes us to Dumbo ear guppies, for instance.

So, guppies display immense variety in terms of looks. They’re great options if you want to create a livelier and more colorful tank with awesome contrasts and variety.

Platies

Platies look somewhat similar to guppies, except that they’re slightly larger and more compact. Platies grow up to 3 inches and can live slightly longer than guppies, up to 3 or even 4 years with good care.

While platies also display astounding color and pattern variety, they retain a similar body composition. In other words, platies don’t display too much variety in terms of fin length, size, or shape. They have more compact bodies with rounder and smaller fins.

Some of the colors available include gold, white, blue, black, green, brown, etc. These are often pure colors or tainted with other random patterns. But the true diversity becomes more obvious in terms of color patterns.

In this case, we have a variety of platy types, such as:

  • Tuxedo Red – A red body with a large splash of black covering the lower portion of the body. It’s as if the fish was doused tail down in a bath of ink.
  • Red Mickey Mouse – A red body with black fins and tail. The tail also comes with 2 pointy types, diverging from the normal rounded shape typical to most platies.
  • Pintail Panda Wagtail – A cappuccino body with a black pointy tail and black fins. A truly remarkable stage presence.
  • Blue Mickey Mouse – The metallic green blends with shades of black and orange to create an amazing presence. This platy also comes with black eyes, seemingly meant to enhance the color contrast.

Naturally, there are many more patterns to consider, making platies some of the most diverse fish species you can get.

– Requirements

What are the water and tank size requirements for platies and guppies?

Guppies

Guppies aren’t too demanding in terms of swimming space. I recommend a minimum of 20 gallons for up to 10 guppies. These fish require around 2 gallons of water per fish. Naturally, you should adapt to your fish’s demands.

If your guppies are larger or more active than normal, they might require more space. Especially if they have other tankmates, each with their own space requirements.

The ideal temperature for guppies revolves around 72-82 °F, which is typical for tropical fish. Other than that, make sure that your guppies’ aquatic setup consists of a lot of plants and hiding areas.

These are docile and friendly fish that can easily fall prey to bullying from their tank mates.

In this case, they can flee and retreat to their safe spaces to chill and cool off. Prolonged stress can cause your guppies to fall sick due to a weaker immune system which isn’t exactly the ideal scenario.

Platies

Platies have similar environmental preferences with some distinct differences along the way. In terms of tank size, whatever works for guppies also works for platies. These are also sociable fish that enjoy the company of their own species.

So, provide at least 20 gallons of water for 5-6 fish. That’s because they’re slightly larger than guppies, remember?

Temperature-wise, platies are a bit different. They enjoy colder waters compared to guppies, around 64 to 78 °F. Other than that, platies are hardy and adaptable fish that require clean and stable waters to thrive.

They might have difficulties adapting to an uncycled tank, so always perform the cycling process before adding platies.

– Food and Diet

What do platies and guppies eat? How to feed these fish in order to keep them colorful and healthy?

Guppies

Guppies are omnivorous, so they consume both plants and animal-based protein. They will get along great with pellets, flakes, frozen meals, and veggies and eat approximately twice per day.

Keep their meal size small, since guppies are known to overeat whenever they can.

You can tell when your guppies have had their fill because they will start spitting some of the food after a while.

To prevent overfeeding and minimize food residues, only feed your guppies small portions, enough for them to consume within 1-2 minutes at most.

And, if possible, remove excess food before it settles on the substrate to prevent ammonia boosts in the water.

Platies

Platies have a similar diet, consisting of both animal and plant-based nutrients. They have quite the appetite, which makes them easier to overfeed than other fish species.

Brine shrimp, bloodworms, mosquito larvae, daphnia, spirulina, and even home-grown veggies are great nutrient sources for them.

You can prepare their meals in a paste containing multiple food sources and supplement their diet with vitamins and minerals if necessary.

Also, keep in mind that platies are also good algae eaters, more so than guppies. Add spirulina to their diet if there aren’t enough algae in their habitat.

And pay extra care to their feeding behavior. Platies can get quite excited during meal time, even if they’re not exceedingly hungry.

Only feed them small portions for them to consume within 1 minute tops. Otherwise, they will overeat which can lead to digestive problems along the way.

– Breeding

How do guppies and platies breed? How often do these fish give birth to babies?

Guppies

Guppies are the most prolific breeders you can find, which can be both a blessing and a curse. That’s because you will get guppy fry whether you like it or not.

A pair of guppies is enough to produce offspring monthly, allowing guppies to multiply their numbers fast.

Here’s what you should know about guppies’ breeding behavior if you’re not familiar with it:

  • Livebearers – Since they’re livebearers, guppies don’t lay eggs. Instead, the female keeps the egg in the egg pouch inside its belly. You can tell that the female is ready to spawn when the belly reaches impressive proportions and the gravid spot becomes visible in the lower portion of the abdomen.
  • No males required – Guppy females can store the male(s) sperm in a special belly pouch to use it when there are no males available for reproduction. Amazingly enough, the females can use the stored sperm over the course of 10-12 months. So, your guppy female may produce fry even if it hasn’t had contact with any male in almost a year.
  • Cannibalism – If you want to keep your coming fry, consider investing in a nursing tank. Guppies are notorious for their cannibalistic tendencies, as even the mother will eat the fry post-birth. Have the female spawn in the nursing tank, then put it back into the main tank and leave the fry alone. They will grow fast and will be ready to move to the main tank past the 1-month mark.

If you don’t want to keep your extra guppies, allow the female to give birth in the main tank. The larger fish, including guppies, will eat the small fry as soon as they’re born.

Naturally, some will survive and become adults, at which point you either increase the tank size, invest in another tank, or sell or dispose of the extra guppies the way you seem fit.

Platies

Everything that applies to guppies applies to platies as well. These are also prolific breeders, capable of producing around 80 fry per spawn.

The similarities between them and guppies go even further than that, though. They also store the males’ sperm for up to 6 months and they will also eat the fry upon spawning.

So, a nursing tank is necessary if you want to create a new platy population.

– Lifespan

Guppies and platies have similar lifespans, around 2-3 years with good care.

You can improve your fish’s life quality and lifespan by tweaking their:

  • Diet – Diversity is key here. Provide your fish with a diverse and nutritious diet to keep them full and well-fed and they will thrive.
  • Habitat – A lot of hiding areas and plenty of plants. These will create a natural-looking setup, keeping your fish happy and calm.
  • Water quality – Both platies and guppies are sensitive to sudden or drastic fluctuations in water parameters. Keep temperatures stable, clean their environment regularly, and have a reliable filtration system for improved water cleanliness and oxygenation.
  • Tankmates – Avoid aggressive, large, or territorial tankmates that could hurt, eat, or stress out your fish.

You should also monitor your fish population for any signs of disease or infections. Early treatment and prevention are key to improving your fish’s overall lifespan.

– Behavior

Guppies and platies are both friendly, calm, docile, and adaptable. They like to live in larger groups, preferably at least 6 individuals and don’t mind the presence of other tankmates.

When it comes to creating a thriving platy or guppy community, consider the following:

  • Limit the number of males – Whether it’s platy or guppy males, the result is always the same – violence. Males will fight over anything, including females, nutrients, space, and hierarchical dominance. You can’t have more than 1-2 males per tank, depending on the tank’s size and layout.
  • Male/female ratio – Males will mostly fight for females in most situations. So, you need at least 2-3 females per male to avoid excessive fighting. Even so, you’re not always sure to prevent mating-related fights, since it’s how nature works. In that case, make sure that there are sufficient plants and hiding areas to break the line of sight between the engaging parties.
  • Avoid fin nippers – This applies mostly to guppies since they’re the fluffier ones. Tetras are known fin nippers, so they might not pair well with guppies because of it. It goes to show that a fish doesn’t need to be large and aggressive to disturb the tank’s peace.

Other than that, guppies are energetic and joyful fish that will get along with all tankmates with a similar temperament.

Platy or Guppy are Best for Community Tank?

They are both great options for community setups. Both guppies and platies are friendly and docile and won’t attack other fish.

Just make sure they have plenty of aquatic plants, rocks, driftwood, and other aquatic decorations to use as cover in case they get stressed or frightened. These will help them regain their composure and remain healthy and happy long-term.

How to Tell the Difference Between Platy and Guppy Fry?

It’s not always easy to separate guppy and platy fry, especially if they’re newly born. However, by the 1-2-month mark, you will begin to notice some differences.

Guppy fry tend to be smaller, slimmer, and with duller colors, usually darker grey.

Platy fry, on the other hand, are plumper and more colorful. They will take their coloring from that of their parents.

Most will appear orange or blue, with different other hues at first and these differences will become even more visible as they grow older.

As we’ve already discussed, adult guppies and platies are quite different in appearance. The main difference lies in the tail shape.

Most platies have rounder and fuller tail fins, while guppies have them longer and fluffier.

Can Guppies Mate with Platies?

No, they cannot breed. Guppies belong to the Poeciliidae family, while platies are Xiphophorus.

They’re essentially 2 different species that cannot procreate with one another. So, don’t even try it.

Conclusion

Guppies and platies are similar but also different in many aspects. Overall, though, they are both hardy, extravagant in terms of color and patterns, and easy to care for long-term.

They are great for beginners and advanced aquarists alike since they don’t need much work to thrive.

avatar I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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