Even though their groupings may not be solid compared to other schooling species, platies are still classified under schooling fishes. Therefore, it is wrong to think that schooling fish must do so in large numbers.
Platies school in small numbers of about 3-10 depending on their population. Keep at least 1 male with 2 males so that they can enjoy schooling. However, the number kept depends on the size and space available.
The aim of schooling in a few or large numbers is based on social, territorial, or security reasons. However, platies are neither hunters nor do they provide good security for each other, even if they move as a group.
Why do platies school?
Platies are placed under fish that school, a trait that can be seen, especially when they feel threatened. They can grow up to 3 inches and are commonly found moving around in groups of five to six. However, Dwarf platies usually attain a maximum of one inch in length.
They can easily thrive in a small tank in schools of 3 or 6 plates. Platies prefer living together in such small numbers as it is assumed they feel more secure when grouping.
Males tend to develop dominant traits that often push them to drive the females away. They may even bite the females at times. For such reasons, most platy schools usually comprise more females and their young than adult males.
Male platies are not very social and do not prefer schooling with other males. They are somewhat solitary and may become aggressive towards each other too. Because of such traits, keeping at least one male among every three females is advisable.
Can platies school in an aquarium?
They can school in a tank; the bigger an aquarium is, the merrier. While schooling, platies are not aggressive to each other. They charge only when they are fed on an empty stomach. However, they will scramble for food but not attack each other, even when mixed with other species.
Platies prefer grouping together as they grow. For this reason, it is necessary to create enough room for them if they have to be kept in a tank. They will need an aquarium that fits them because they also multiply quickly.
Platies will school in an aquarium with relative ease. They do not need much time to get accustomed to each other.
When a group of platies school is swimming, dominant males tend to swim away from the rest, probably looking out for potential competition. It is necessary to note that the dominant behaviors of males usually develop in adulthood.
How many platies should be kept together?
The number depends on the size of the aquarium or pond. However, having at least four platies in a ratio of 1 male to every 3 females in a ten-gallon tank is recommended. This recommended number is supposed to hold at least two females for one male as the males are aggressive maters.
One of the most commonly recommended numbers of platies per gallon is five platies for every ten gallons of water. The reason for doing this is the high birth rate of the plates. The fish will demand more space sooner than the tank owner may anticipate.
Platies are known to move around in schools of four to ten, and the number may grow depending on their numbers in a habitat. Therefore, if the number grows beyond limits, it is critical to control it. The reason is that the more males grow in a school, the more likely the danger of the females being attacked and bitten.
Do platies school in their natural habitat?
Just like guppies act when schooling, platies school in their natural habitats, especially when breeding. They may also group when they feel endangered.
When their grouping schools grow big enough, platies often move away to form other colonies. During this migration, platies may move in small groups, and the groups will disintegrate further until they achieve the desired numbers.
Being territorial fishes, platies will identify and guard their territories. However, they will still live harmoniously with other fish species if they have to. They prefer to live near food sources and in slow-moving water. Common resources like food also bring platies together in the wild.
Platies school with other platies but may not enjoy schooling with other species, even if they may be seen doing so sometimes. They may only school with platies of a different kind and even breed with them. The ability to mix with other platy types makes them highly varied.