Sunburst Platy (Xiphophorus maculatus) Care

sunburst platy

Last updated on September 19th, 2022 at 06:26 pm

The sunburst platy (Xiphophorus maculatus or Mickey mouse platy) is an easy-to-care-for, colorful freshwater fish that makes an excellent choice for beginner and expert aquarists alike. Not only are they hardy and forgiving, but they’re also gorgeous when they’re fully grown, with bright neon colors and shimmering silver scales!

Sunburst Platy are easy fish to care for, but they do require good lighting, regular water changes, and frequent feeding to stay healthy and live longer.

Platies are one of the most popular aquarium fish. They are colorful, peaceful, and inexpensive to buy or breed yourself! This platy care guide will show you everything you need to know about keeping this beautiful species alive and healthy in your home aquarium.

An Introduction to the Sunburst Platy

The sunburst platyfish, or mickey mouse platy, is a freshwater fish that can be found in most pet stores throughout North America. These beautiful fish are very affordable, and they tend to be quite easy to care for. This species has many common names such as platy, mickey mouse fish, mickey mouse platy, or sunburst platyfish.

The name platy refers to a type of fish that was originally found in South America but has now been bred with many other species to produce different color variations. However, Sunburst Platies are often referred to by their scientific name which is Xiphophorus maculatus.

When you purchase a Sunburst Platy, you may notice them being referred to by both names which can become confusing. Regardless of what you call it, it’s important that you choose your Sunburst Platy wisely because not all types of these fish have a great temperament when kept inside an aquarium due to their energetic nature.

Origin and description of the mickey mouse platy

sunburst platy

Native to Costa Rica, Mexico, and Honduras, Xiphophorus maculatus (mickey mouse platy) is a freshwater fish that is commonly known as the Sunburst Platy. It gets its name from an ornamental pattern along its sides that looks similar to a rising sun.

The dorsal fin of Xiphophorus maculatus is yellow in color and its belly is white or gray. Because of its beauty and ability to live peacefully with others, it has become a popular choice for beginner aquarists.

Xiphophorus maculatus is one of many members of Xiphophorus family and is also known as a livebearer fish. The platies are live-bearers, which means they have their young in pods like rabbits, instead of giving birth to live young. They are easy to take care of and make wonderful additions to almost any fish tank since they come in a wide variety of colors that make them very attractive fish.

Macropodus Opercularis Care (Paradise Fish)

These fish generally grow up to 4 inches long or so, so you will need an aquarium that has plenty of space for them if you want more than just a few. They prefer temperatures between 77°F and 86°F and tend not to do well with small fluctuations or changes between daytime temperatures and nighttime temperatures.

Species profile

sunburst platy

The Sunburst platyfish is one of two species in its genus, along with hybrids of both. It is an aggressive, schooling fish and should be kept in a group of at least 5 or more in a 20-gallon aquarium.

Sunburst platies are happiest when kept at tropical temperatures between 75 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit; cooler water will make them sluggish and may lead to illness or death.

There is no minimum amount of space required for keeping sunburst platies as long as their current home has plenty of room to swim around and lots of hiding places among plants and rocks. Ample filtration, especially if you are keeping multiple fish, is necessary for maintaining healthy water conditions within your tank.

Habitat and distribution

The Sunburst platy is from Mexico, but you can find them in many countries. They grow up to 7 inches long and can live anywhere between 4 to 8 years. The best water temperature for them is 70 degrees Fahrenheit. For housing, they prefer temperatures that range from 75 degrees all the way down to 68 degrees, so there’s not much wiggle room when it comes to keeping your fish alive.

Only keep one male per tank because they will fight each other if there are multiple males present. They should also not be kept with Siamese fighting fish or cichlids because they will eat your platys, as well as many other types of small fish.

Platys require high-quality water and perfect pH balance to thrive in an aquarium environment.

Sunburst platy size and weight

Although commonly called platys, sunburst platies are members of the Swordtail family, Xiphophorus. These fish can reach up to 7 inches in length when fully grown. Sunburst platies weigh between 1 and 2 ounces as adults. They are not a particularly large breed of fish.

Sunburst platy tank size

Sunburst platy can live in a tank with at least 10 gallons of water for every fish. However, 20-gallon tanks are much better because they have enough room for more hiding spots and plants to keep your mickey mouse platy happy. Sunburst platies are fine in either freshwater or saltwater aquariums.

Oncorhynchus Mykiss "Rainbow Trout"

However, their colors tend to be duller when kept in saltwater tanks, so we recommend keeping them in freshwater tanks if you want their natural colors to come out.

Tank set up

For single Sunburst platy, we recommend a tank of 20 gallons or more with plenty of plants and rocks for shelter. They are peaceful fish that live well with others of their kind but also do fine by themselves as long as there is plenty to hide in and around.

A filter is recommended to keep their water clean while they’re busy picking on algae growing in their tank. Water should be slightly acidic at 6.0 to 6.5 on most aquarium pH test kits and temperature should be between 68 to 72°F depending on what other species you want to keep in your tank along with them; most Xiphophorus will prefer cooler water than some other types of fish native to Mexico, though as it is a tropical environment for them.

Before purchasing any type of fancy goldfish care guide or setting up an aquarium with your new fancy goldfish, make sure you have everything ready!

Sunburst platy tank mates

As very active fish, they are best kept with other species of platies and swordtails. The more fish in your tank, generally speaking, the better! If you have other non-aggressive community fish that like similar water conditions, they can make great tank mates. Some types of tropical fish, however, may be too aggressive or territorial for them to live peacefully with.

These include Cichlids, Catfish, Loaches, and Puffers. For those who plan on breeding these fish at home; Be aware that there is no natural protection from predators outside of their own species, so when reproducing, their young must be removed from all common tank mates as soon as possible.

Sunburst Platys will pick at each others’ fins if not given enough space, such as keeping only one male per female rather than several males together.

Sunburst platy breeding

sunburst platy

The Sunburst platy is a popular aquarium fish that can be bred in large numbers. They are easy to breed and are compatible with most other livebearers. The female will lay between 30 to 60 eggs and they hatch after three days.

You should remove any remaining eggs from your tank once they have hatched or else they may take up space that other fish need. After hatching, you should feed fry baby brine shrimp for the first week and then switch to crushed flake food.

Hara Jerdoni (Asian Stone Catfish)

This helps prevent complications with anemia which often happens when small fish consume only one type of food for too long. It is also good practice because it allows you to get them accustomed to eating different types of foods as soon as possible so that they can learn what’s readily available in their environment rather than making them depend on just one source of food.

After two weeks, your young platies should be ready for sale or trade back into another aquarium.

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Xiphophorus Maculatus are peaceful fish and can generally be kept with a wide variety of other community fish species. They will even get along well with other platies and swordtails that share similar water parameters. These are social fish and should be kept in groups of at least 5 to 6, though they can tolerate being kept in much larger groups if space permits.

Although on a very rare occasion, they may also become aggressive.

Sunburst platy care

sunburst platy

Your new Sunburst Platy fish should be housed in an aquarium that is 10 gallons or larger. The water should be kept between a pH of 6 and 7, with a temperature range of 72 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you are keeping multiple Sunburst Platys together, make sure you have at least 4 gallons per fish. Because your fish are very active swimmers, they will need plenty of oxygen. A well-filtered aquarium will provide a stable environment for your little friends.

You’ll also want to keep some plants in their tank for them; java moss and java ferns work great as decoration!

Sunburst platy diet

Sunburst platies will eat most foods offered to them. A good staple diet includes commercial tropical flake or pellet foods, sinking carnivore pellets and frozen bloodworms, tubifex worms, and blackworms. Occasional feedings of live baby brine shrimp, daphnia, or cyclops are recommended to ensure they get enough vitamins and minerals.

Water parameters

These fish live in a tropical climate, so they require plenty of warmth, light, and oxygen. The ideal water parameters are as follows:

The temperature should be between 70 to 80 degrees F, pH must be kept between 6.5 to 7.0, Nitrite and Nitrate should be 0ppm in order to keep them healthy. This will result in slightly acidic water.

To replicate their natural habitat it is better to keep the pH of water closer to 6 than 7, however, they can adapt to a higher pH level than theirs’ from nature easily if you lower nitrates and nitrites in tank water.

Plotosus lineatus (Striped eel catfish)

Platies have no problems with temperatures of up to 86degrees F and even 90, but these temperatures are dangerous for other fish species so bear that in mind when planning your aquascape. It’s quite easy to tell how well your fish are doing by paying attention to their behavior like hiding under rocks, plants etc.

Sunburst platy lifespan

They can live an average life of 3 to 5 years. Platies can survive over 7 years with proper care. The platies’ life expectancy increases if well cared for, but fish do not live as long in an aquarium as they do in their natural environment due to stress and improper care.

Parasites and diseases

Some diseases and parasites to watch out for include: columnaris, ich, and protozoan parasites. Make sure your fish have been quarantined before introducing them into your main tank. If you notice any of these symptoms in your fish you will need to quarantine the fish immediately.

We do not recommend that you try to treat your fish yourself as it can make it worse or possibly kill them if not done correctly.


Given their delicate size, sunburst platies can fall prey to nearly any aquatic predator. For example, fish like guppies and swordtails are notorious for being voracious and cannibalistic feeders. Along with larger piscivores, they could easily swallow up small platy without even noticing it was there. Likewise, many large invertebrates pose a threat to your pet fish.

Do they make good pets?

Yes! Sunburst platies are livebearers and make great pets. The only downside is that they do produce an ammonia smell, so it’s best to have them in a bowl with adequate filtration.

Their diet should consist of frozen foods, freeze-dried foods, and flake food.

Sunburst platies are generally happy to eat algae from their tank. They will breed if there is no heater in their tank and at least a ten-degree difference between night and day temperatures.