With so many choices and type, it’s easy to turn your aquarium into a flood of color.
In this article, I’m going to cover the main types you can choose the type(s) you like, and learn the key information you need to care for them properly.
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Platies in the Wild
Platy fish (Xiphophorus maculatus) are native to the waterways of Mexico and Belize.
It might be difficult for you to recognize platies in their natural habitat since, in the wild, platy fish are actually fairly drab.
They’re found in shades of beige, brown, and sometimes a very muted orange color.
All of the brilliant colors and patterns you see in the live fish store are the product of decades of selective breeding.
How Many Kinds of Platies are There?
To put it simply, a lot.
There are many different platy color patterns and most come in a wide variety of colors.
I’m not a mathematician, but I’d have to say, all that adds up to roughly a bazillion different kinds of platies available in the aquarium trade.
It’s just about impossible to go over every single variety and color combination.
So instead, I’ll mostly go over the colors, patterns and fin types that you can expect to find at your local store, plus I’ll highlight a few of my most favorite varieties.
Platy Fish Colors
One of the coolest things about platies is that they come in a wide variety of colors:
Platy Fish Patterns
Another thing that makes platies fun is that they come in so many different patterns. And most patterns can be found in several different colors.
Hence my statement about there being a bazillion different kinds of platy fish.
So let’s take a look at some of the different patterns available.
Always dressed for a formal occasion, tuxedo platies sport a look that is always interesting to look at.
The front half of the body can be any color, so you’ll commonly see red, orange and yellow tuxedo platies, and the back half of the body is black.
The actual tail fin may or may not be black as well.
(aka wagtail) On these platies, the body of the fish can be any color, but the anal fins, dorsal fins and caudal (tail) fins are black. I love this variety, especially the red wags that I’ve owned.
The contrast between the bright red body and the black fins is just beautiful in my opinion.
A variegated platy is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.
Yes, I made that joke. Yes, I am a dork.
But seriously, this variety is really interesting because there’s so much, well…variety. Their bodies are covered with irregular black splotches.
Some fish might only have a light sprinkling of black dots, others might have big patches of black and then there’s everything in between.
(aka neon) This is a super cool variety that has a mix of three or more colors on the body of the fish. The colors can fade into each other, or appear in patches, either way counts as a rainbow platy.
Some rainbows feature black fins like a wagtail and I’ve even seen Mickey Mouse rainbows.
This type can be difficult to find in some live fish stores, but they are well worth the trouble of tracking them down through online sellers.
Near the base of their tails these fish have three spots, one large and two smaller ones, that look like the mascot of a certain multi-billion dollar corporation.
Mickey Mouse platies usually have fins and tails that match their body color.
You’ll most commonly find them in yellow, orange and red, but you can sometimes buy blues.
(aka comet) This variety sports angled stripes of black along the top and bottom edges of the caudal fin. It’s a subtle pattern that can be easy to miss at first glance.
The twinbar tail can be found in every color and in combination with other patterns.
Platy Fish Fin Varieties
On top of all the color choices, you can also find platies with different fin and tail shapes.
High fin platies (aka sailfin or moonfish platies) have dorsal fins that are three or four times the size of a typical platy dorsal fin.
The huge dorsal fin flashes around as the fish swims in a way that always makes me think of sailfin mollies or even Bettas.
You can find high fin platies in a large array of colors and patterns.
Pintail platies have elongated caudal fin rays in the middle of tails that stick out well past the bottom and top rays.
It looks similar to a swordtail’s “sword,” but it comes from the middle of the tail, instead of the top.
Pintails can be found in combination with lots of different colors and patterns.
Stand Out Varieties of Platy Fish
These are wag platies, so their fins and tails are solid black, but their bodies are solid white, making them resemble a panda.
Luckily, these guys are not at all an endangered species.
(aka sunburst) This variety is one of my favorites. The front half of the body is light yellowish orange that bleeds into the bright orange color that covers the back half of the body.
Besides the typical fin type and patterns, I’ve seen these in wag, pin tail and high fin varieties. The high fin variety is especially pretty, in my opinion.
Neon Blue Wag
This variety can be hard to find in live fish stores, so you may need to track them down online.
They’re a gorgeous bright powder blue with the black fins and tail typical of the wag pattern. Neon blues often have an iridescent sheen over their scales that really makes them stand out.
Neon Gold Calico
This variety is very rare, but also absolutely gorgeous. Their heads are an orange color that bleeds into an iridescent yellow/gold on their bodies.
They are then flecked with a random smattering of black flecks and blotches.
To me, the calico pattern brings to mind the brilliant colors of koi fish.
I love the fact that there are just so many choices when it comes to platy fish varieties. You can bring home a living rainbow to fill your tank with.
There are so many different colors, patterns and fin types that it would be impossible to cover them all in a single article.
But I hope I’ve given you the basic knowledge about platy varieties so that names like “Sunset high fin variegated platy” will now make sense to you.