Platy Fish: Colors, Patterns, and Fin Types

Platys are hardy, compatible with other fish, and extremely easy to breed

Platys are one of the several livebearing species of freshwater fish. They are hardy, compatible with other fish, and are extremely easy to breed. They also come in a variety of attractive colors and forms. Grouped together with their close cousins, the Swordtails, Platys are part of the genus known as Xiphophorus.

Although Platys may vary considerably in color and even in fin type, there are only a couple of species. Furthermore, these species interbreed so readily that many specimens sold in...MORE the trade are mixed. However, they all do well in similar conditions, so unless you are attempting to breed a pure line, it doesn't matter if they are a mix or not. This list describes some of the color and pattern variations, as well as fin types, of Platy fish.

  • 01 of 09

    Color Variations

    Platy fish
    Mark Dumont / Flickr / CC By 2.0

    Platys are one of the more colorful freshwater fish, with base colors that range from pale yellows all the way to deep black and many shades in  between. As with many fish species, there are also albino variants. Within each of the color groups, there are many shades along with a number of names used to describe them. It is common for Platys to have several colors, as well as a variety of shades, all in the same fish. Colors seen in Platys include:

    • Black
    • Blue
    • Brown
    • Gold/Yellow: Referred to as gold, golden, marigold, sunburst, sunset
    • Green
    • Red: referred to as blood red, brick red, coral red, velvet red
  • 02 of 09

    Wagtail Pattern

    Wagtail Pattern
    Wagtail Pattern. Marrabbio2

    When the rays of the caudal and dorsal fins are black, the pattern is said to be a wagtail. Wagtails can occur with virtually any body color and can be combined with other color patterns. For instance, the painted or variegated pattern may be combined with the wagtail trait. Red or gold are the most commonly seen colors of wagtails. However, blue, gold or green colors can also be seen with the wagtail variation. The wagtail color pattern is also frequently seen in Swordtails.

  • 03 of 09

    Variegated Pattern

    Variegated Pattern on Fish
    Variegated Pattern. JuTa

    Dark splotches of various sizes and shapes all over the body is a common color pattern. It's also referred to as painted, as it resembles the dabbling of an artist's brush. Variegated patterns may be combined with any base color, as well as other color patterns or tail variations. The highly popular Mickey Mouse platy is a type of variegated color pattern.

  • 04 of 09

    Salt and Pepper Pattern

    Salt and Pepper Variation

    This is a slightly different twist on the variegated pattern and can be seen in several different colors. In this variation, there are a number of dark or light spots (rather than blotches) that are liberally sprinkled over the body. As with other color patterns, this type may be combined with several different color and fin variations.

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  • 05 of 09

    Tuxedo Pattern

    Red Tuxedo Platy
    Red Tuxedo Platy. Marrabbio2

    Tuxedo refers to a dual pattern in which the posterior portion of the fish is black while the anterior portion is another color. Red and gold are commonly seen colors in tuxedo patterns and can be extremely attractive. As with other types of color patterns, the tuxedo trait is often combined with additional color variations, such as the comet or twin bar trait.

  • 06 of 09

    Rainbow Pattern

    Rainbow Wagtail
    Rainbow Wagtail. Marrabbio2

    A number of colors in a single fish is known as a rainbow color variation. Often these fish display colors in true rainbow fashion, ranging from dark to lighter colors, beginning with a black tail. An attractive iridescent rainbow color pattern is also available, sold under the name "neon."

  • 07 of 09

    Comet or Twin Bar Pattern

    Comet Fish

    The comet or twin bar trait is another color variation that is often combined with other color patterns. In this variation, the caudal fin is edged on either outside margin in black. The bar makes the tail fin stand out noticeably.

  • 08 of 09


    Hifin Wagtail
    Hifin Wagtail. Thomas R. Reich PhD

    There are two common fin variations in Platys—the hifin is the most frequently seen trait. In hifins, the dorsal fin is elongated, sometimes quite significantly. As with other traits, the hifin variation is often combined with other color patterns. Unfortunately, any tail variation in which all or part of the tail is elongated lends itself to being nipped. Elongated fins are also more prone to disease when the fish is stressed, or if the water conditions are not optimal. Owners of fish with these variations should monitor their health closely and address problems quickly.

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  • 09 of 09


    Pintail Variation
    Pintail Variation.

    Seen less often than the hifin, this variation is easily spotted. In the pintail, the center portion of the tail fin is elongated, jutting out like a pin. Sometimes the fish is mistaken for a swordtail, which is actually a different species.