Tag Archives: platies

The perfect beginner’s aquarium

30 Apr

Here is a recipe for the perfect beginner’s aquarium:

Get the basics. The tank, a light, a small heater, a filter. Decorate it how you want.


Get some Platies. Just a couple to begin. Do not get tetras, angelfish, catfish, bettas or anything else. This tank is to guarantee success. If you are setting up a tank for your kids, buy goldfish and watch them pollute the tank and die. Buy tetras and watch them die from poor water quality. But if you want your kids to enjoy their first tank BUY PLATIES.


Yes I know, that’s a Red Swordtail with the Platies!

Now here is the secret. Add a small amount of salt to the water. I would use salt that is made for a marine aquarium but you can use any non-iodized salt. For a ten-gallon aquarium use a couple of teaspoons for the entire tank. It’s not much salt. The reason for the salt is to suppress diseases like Ich and Fungus, etc.

After a few months and the tank is stable, add more Platies. Or maybe you won’t have to, your Platies might be making babies by then.


Do regular water changes. Change 25% of the water at least once a month. Once you are done adding new Platies discontinue the salt addition. If your tank is disease free you don’t need it. As you do regular water changes you’ll eventually have salt-free water.

You will be tempted to add Neon Tetras and Tiger Barbs and all that. DON’T DO IT! Look at all the color variation in Platies. Yellow, orange, red, black, blue, hi-fin, spotted, speckled.


A few months ago I put about 8 platies in a 10-gallon tank. In the morning when I turn on the lights I see babies. I scoop them out and now I have about 70 of all types and colors. Soon I’ll put them outside in a little pond. Once they are an inch long I’ll probably take them to the fish club meeting and give them away.


If you got Platies from me you wouldn’t need the salt at all! The whole idea is to avoid the diseases that come from store-bought fish which leads to all those aquariums being sold on Craigslist.


A 2 inch fish swimming along with 4 inches of poop makes for educational conversation with the kids.

Final note: This same idea will work with Mollies and Guppies.


Now THAT’S a fish show!!

31 Mar

I joined our local fish club a few months ago and today I went to their annual aquarium show.

I was impressed. The tanks were beautiful, the fish bigger and prettier than any I have ever had.

This Altum Angelfish is about twice as big as my Scalare Angels.

This Altum Angelfish is about twice as big as my Scalare Angels.

I think people who see these aquariums will say to themselves, “That is so pretty, maybe we should get a fish tank!”


What do people say when they enter a pet store? “Look at all the fish.”


Typical petstore aquarium. Nice fish, but not something to put in the living room.

Display tanks, both large and small, may not be a waste of space in a retail store if it motivates customers to get an aquarium. To anyone who thinks that aquariums take up too much room, you should have seen some of the little tanks at the fish show.


This tank is only a few gallons. Maybe 10 liters or so.


Another little one.


One of my favorite fish, the Harlequin Rasbora.

One of my favorite fish, the Harlequin Rasbora.

Big Sterbai Corydoras.

Big Sterbai Corydoras.



I’ve never seen this fish species before. I need to get Googling.


Platies are great for beginners and experienced aquarists. Maybe the perfect fish.
Hardy, many color variations, easy to breed.


See the big Pleco tail sticking out of the cave? There are tons of juvenile Plecos in this tank, too.



This Plecostomus must be nearly 2 feet long.


The fish show is held at a greenhouse. Here is a banana tree. In Iowa, we don’t see banana trees very often. I was impressed.

Video of Mollies, Endlers, Swordtails, Betta

20 Nov

This little tank of Mollies and Endler’s Livebearers has a little salt in it. The Green Spotted Puffer was in there until a month ago until he decided to start eating everything! So the Puffer has been transferred into my marine aquarium and now the Endler’s and Molly populations are exploding.
In the other tank, you can see my Velvet Red Swordtails, a pair of Marigold Platies and my sister’s male Betta.

Pics and a video of my aquariums

26 Aug

Let’s start with this 30 gallon tank filled with very active fish. Zebra Danios, Odessa Barbs, Tiger Barbs, an Opaline Gourami, Harlequin Rasboras and 3 Kuhli Loaches hiding under the rocks.

Here’s a little 10-gallon tank with young Red Swordtails and a Betta. Since I took this picture I have added 3 Marigold Variatus Platies and some more plants.

Here’s another 10-gallon tank with Silver Mollies and Endler’s Livebearers. Lots of baby fish are starting to show up.

I moved my 3 Pictus catfish into this 29-gallon tank with 3 green Swordtails and my Firemouth Cichlids. In real life this tank looks very nice and I get to see the Pictus Cats a lot more than I did in their previous tank.

When I found the 6-inch Bullhead in the turtle pond I had intended to release him in a nearby creek but instead I put him in the tank with the “bad boys”, the African Cichlid and big Red-tail Shark. The Bullhead just goes about his business, big mouth gulping and gaping as he cruises along. The Cichlid and Shark ignore him. Now the Bullhead has found a place to sleep during the day and I don’t expect to see him too often. This tank is crowded with rocks, wood, and plants (Java Moss).

The Bullhead is in here but he’s hiding.

Here’s the 55-gallon community tank with mostly large Tetras, Angelfish, and Corydoras.

Sunset Platies

3 Feb

Momma Platy with some of her growing offspring.

Platies are really great. I had some Sunset Variatus Platies a few years ago.  It was so easy to keep the population where I wanted it. At one time I had about 20 in a 55 gallon tank, and I even raised some in my outdoor pond.

The Platies are very hardy, eat ANYTHING, breed like mad. They are peaceful. If you are beginning to keep fish get a small tank and a few Platies.

Forget the Betta Bowl or buying Goldfish.

Platies, I tell you!!

Green Swordtails

16 Jan

The Green Swordtail is the original wild Swordtail from Mexico and Central America.  Breeders have created many types of Swordtails from that original species, and some of that was done by cross-breeding them with Platies.

When I look at a Green Swordtail  I picture them swimming in the backwaters of Central America, wild and untouched by Man. Unfortunately, they are considered an invasive species now. There are  areas of the Southern United States where they are doing just fine.

I put him in a plastic container to slow him down for this photo.

For mostly nostalgic reasons, I bought a fat female in the Spring of 2011, and when she had babies I raised them in an outdoor 30 gallon pond. A Swordtail can have over 50 babies but I saved only 15 of them. I have them indoors now, and for a long time just one developed a Sword. He is a beautiful fish! The rest appeared to be females. They stayed that way for many months and now several of them are growing a Swordtail. So what you have with Swordtails are early-developing males and later-developing males. If you read my second post about Red Velvet Swordtails I mention that topic.

A Platy Post, not a Platypus

25 Dec

Platies are a mainstay of the tropical fish hobby. There are so many colors to choose from. Usually at the fish store they have the different variations in separate tanks. Last year I saw a tank full of nothing but Platies of all different colors and it was awesome!

White sand, green plants and Red Wag Platies. A real eye-catcher created by my nephew.

If you are looking at Platies and Swordtails and Mollies and can’t decide which one to get for your tank, take this into consideration. The Mollies will be disease prone if you have a completely freshwater tank, they prefer brackish water. The Swordtails can be a little feisty sometimes and are definitely jumpers. Every aquarist who owns Swordtails will find a dried-up Swordtail laying on the carpet someday.

The Platies are peaceful, active and breed readily. If you have some places for the babies to hide some may survive. If you decide to get Platies, the recommendation is always to get 2 or 3 females for every male. One male will chase a single female all day. The person at the Petstore should know how to tell the difference. If not, good grief what is the world coming to.