Southern Platyfish look amazing in planted aquariums. Seeing them swim amongst a forest of live aquarium plants is very fascinating, and observing all the natural behaviours that comes with housing them in a planted tank is a sight to see.
But, where do you start? What plants are best with Platy Fish and is there anything that you should look out for?
This article aims to go over what plants are best kept with Platies and why, hopefully helping you in deciding what plant species to add to your Platy tank.
Do Platies like real plants in their tank?
Platies will heavily appreciate live plants in their aquarium, and will utilise them to their full potential; not only using them as hiding spots, but also as grazing areas and places to drop their fry.
Fish can tell the difference between live and fake plants quite well, and will much prefer the leaves of real living foliage.
Plants create an ecosystem once they are introduced to the tank, assisting in the removal of nitrates and making the water more chemically sound for your fish – they are a great addition to your Platy tank.
How do you know which plants are suitable for Platies?
Most plants are suitable for Platies as they are a very plant friendly fish, however, Platies do prefer harder water, with a higher calcium content.
Most plants can withstand living in alkali waters, however, not all of them will thrive and grow if kept above 7.8 pH, so choosing some of the more hardy plants is key to success.
Platies are also known to occasionally tear at soft leafed plants when they are hungry.
Choosing those plants that can withstand high pH levels and high KH hardness is best if you want your plants to truly flourish.
What plants do Platies eat?
Very soft, weak plants will sometimes be torn at by platies; however, the majority of strong leafed, healthy plants will be very safe in your Platy tank.
You have little to worry about, just know that if the plant is sometimes weak, Platies will tear at and eat some of the dieback on the foliage, actually doing you a favour in cleaning up waste in the form of rotting leaves.
If Platies are eating your live plants, it is likely that the plants are already dying and potentially, there is something wrong with the environment or the plant is simply adjusting to the new water parameters and conditions it has been moved to, which can sometimes cause the leaves to melt.
Platies will also occasionally eat duckweed if there is no other food, although they will have very little bearing on its population, as duckweed grows extremely fast to replenish any losses.
How to choose plants for a Platy tank
Most aquarium plants will work well with Platies. Most, if not all of the plants you find at your local fish store, will likely be able to live and grow in your Platy tank since Platies are one of the staple planted aquarium fish.
However, if you like to keep your Platies in very hard water and high pH like they prefer, then not every plant will work, as many species prefer to grow in soft, slightly acidic water.
Depending on the degree of hardness and pH, different plants will work.
- If the pH sits around 7.0 – 7.5, nearly all plants will grow and thrive.
Above 7.8 pH is where you start to see some plants struggling to grow and stay alive.
If your platy tank does have a pH this high, then look for tough leaved, rhizome plants like Anubias and Java Fern, as they are well adapted to live at high pH levels, although they may grow slowly.
The best plants for Platies
The best plants for Platies are those hardy species which can tolerate high pH and hardness levels, as it allows you to keep the fish at their preferred water parameters while still having the benefits of live plants in the aquarium.
Similar to Java Fern and Anubias, Buce is a rhizome plant and does not need to be buried into the substrate in order to grow. It simply latches onto a surface and grows off of a rock or platform, leaching nutrients from the water column.
Buce is a hardy plant and is able to grow at high pH levels, providing a nice contrast of black and red leaves in your planted tank.
Crypts are a very tough plant that roots itself within the substrate, staying low to the ground and producing thin but broad foliage.
Crypts can adapt to all different types of water, including hard water, and have the interesting feature to change their shape and colour depending on the water parameters they are kept in.
Crypts aren’t always easy to get hold of however, as local fish stores don’t always carry them due to the fact that they melt in transit and must die back to adjust to life underwater.
This makes them quite rare depending on your location, but if you can get hold of them, they are easy to propagate and make more.
If your crypt seems to die right away as soon as you put it into your tank, don’t worry!
This is completely normal and is just the plant’s way of adjusting to your water. Its old leaves will die and melt away and new ones will replace them in time.
One of the best plants in the aquarium hobby for many reasons, any species of Java Fern will likely do well in a Platy tank. They are hardy, do not need to be planted and will grow at higher pH levels than most other plants can withstand.
They provide excellent cover for fry, are easily available and easy to propagate. Java Fern is a great plant for anyone who wants to keep live plants in their fish tank.
What plants should you avoid putting in a Platy tank?
The only types of plants we would say to avoid in a Platy tank are those which only like to grow in slightly acidic waters and cannot withstand higher pH levels.
We also would recommend against fast growing, suspended plants like Duckweed and Salvinia. Those which overgrow quickly and are difficult to control, as they can oppose threats to your aquarium and maintenance schedule.
Salvinia is a small plant that floats on the surface of the water. It grows very quickly and splits up into more of itself, shrouding the surface of the water, reducing the amount of light and oxygen that enters the tank.
It can be hard to properly maintain and can make feeding and cleaning your aquariums a pain if left unchecked.
It is a great plant if used under the correct circumstances, if treated with proper respect and maintained appropriately, but we would not recommend this plant; especially not to someone new to fish keeping.
Do Platies need live plants?
Platyfish do not necessarily need live plants in order to stay alive, but if you really want them to do well and live very healthy, happy lives, then introducing live plants to your aquarium is highly recommended.
Plants do all types of things for your aquarium – they consume harmful toxins like nitrates and ammonia on some level, they produce oxygen, provide an environment for infusoria and beneficial organisms to grow and create an ecosystem.
You do not have to keep live plants with your Platies, but you certainly should if you want the best for them.