Platies are characteristically active, peaceful, and interact well with other fish. However, these fish can suddenly stop being cheerful and start hiding in the tank, which will take keen observation to determine the reason behind their hiding. So, why do platies like to hide and what should you do?
Platy fish may hide in their tank due to stress, attacks from other fish, pregnancy, or sickness. They can also hide if the water temperature, oxygen levels, or pH becomes unfavorable. Solutions for hiding platies include providing proper hiding spots and enough food, and maintaining a healthy aquarium population.
Do platies like to hide?
Platies are friendly, non-aggressive, and active swimmers. They like swimming in groups of at least 3 to 6 fish, but males may fight each other. Therefore, it is recommended to keep male and female platies in a ratio of 1:2.
Besides being active, platies like to hide in the tank, and it is easy to think your fish has disappeared. It is normal to find them hiding at the bottom of the aquarium, behind rocks, or around the plants.
Note that hiding does not necessarily mean a problem like illness. Your fish may just be looking for a place to feel secure.
Why do platyfish like to hide?
Besides the normal hiding behavior among fishes, platyfish may hide in the aquarium due to the following reasons:
When your platy develops health issues, they tend to hide abnormally. If you notice that the fish have lost appetite, are gasping for breath, or their color looks dull, it might indicate a health problem. Other symptoms include platies scratching on hard surfaces or having sores around the neck or fins.
To avoid more complications or death, you should have a marine vet diagnose the sick platies and provide the appropriate treatment.
For platies to be healthy and less stressed, you should ensure that their environment is set to the right conditions. A sudden change in pH levels, oxygen, or temperature may cause the platyfish to hide. Another common cause of stress and hiding is ammonia poisoning which occurs when you don’t clean the tank and change the water regularly.
If you notice that only a few platies are hiding, they might be sick. However, if all the fish behave abnormally and hide, your tank might have ammonia poisoning. Therefore, test the water and ensure that the pH, temperature, and ammonia levels are correct.
Unlike other fish species that lay eggs, platies give birth. Pregnant platies may hide for a few reasons:
- To hide from the males who chase and stress them
- Finding the best place to deliver their young ones
- To hide and protect her fry from being attacked or eaten by other fish
When you have pregnant platy on the tank, it would be advisable to transfer her to a tank with no males or bigger fish that stress her.
Attacks by other fish
When the security of platies is threatened, they will tend to hide more. Since platies are small-sized, they may be attacked by the larger fish species. If there are fewer females than males, the males will keep chasing the females, making them hide. Additionally, some males may bully other males into keeping them away from the female platies.
When platies take a nap, they usually find a hiding spot to feel comfortable and secure. If your platyfish is shy, it will hide in a corner or behind plants to hide from other fish and sleep. When the platies are sleeping, they will close their eyes, but you will notice that their fins and gills have some motion.
If there are any stress-causing factors in the tank, the platyfish will behave abnormally and find a place to hide. Some of the factors that may stress your platyfish include:
- Predators- bigger fish or outside animals like cats
- Less space in the aquarium due to overcrowding of fish
- Addition of new fish species
- Internal parasites or sickness
There are many reasons why your platyfish may be stressed and hiding. If you cannot find out the stress-causing factor, seek help from a marine expert.
Where do platies hide in the aquarium?
Though platies like to swim around the tank, they also require hiding places. While in the aquarium, platyfish will hide in the following areas:
- At the bottom: Platies may stay at the bottom of the tank whenever they are stressed by sickness or predators. However, they might also be feeding, resting, and playing. Pregnant platyfish will also hide at the bottom to prepare delivery and keep their fry safe.
- Behind the filter: The main reason fish may hide behind the filter is strong currents. Since platies are small-sized, they might be uncomfortable with the filter delivering strong currents.
- In plants: Platyfish like to hide in plants to imitate their original habitat. However, they may hide in plants to scratch off their bodies when they are sick or infested with parasites. If your platyfish are rubbing against plants, you should consult a marine vet.
Besides the areas mentioned above, newly introduced platies may hide in corners due to nervousness and fear of the other tank mates. Platies may also hide under the rocks, structures, and decorative aquarium items.
Solutions and what to do
Having understood why your platies are hiding and their common hiding places, you now wonder how to take them out of their hiding places. The following are the best solutions to take your platies out of their hiding places and into their everyday jovial mood:
Treat your platies
Fish can contract several illnesses, such as swim bladder disease and scoliosis, making it difficult for the them to swim from the bottom. If your platyfish looks sick, get an aquatic vet to diagnose and offer the proper medication.
You can also start the treatment process by cleaning the aquarium and changing the water to reduce the toxins in the water. Just remember to acclimate your fish correctly when you introduce them to the tank again.
Maintain the right water conditions
Platies prefer freshwater at 70-82°F. The water should be alkaline with pH ranging from 6.8 to 8.0 and 10-28 dGH hardness.
Platies also require a 10-gallon tank or more, and you should change the water regularly, preferably a 30% water change every two weeks.
If all your platies are hiding, the water might be too toxic. You can use water testing kits to test the water conditions and change accordingly. If the water is too toxic, you can consider changing the water and cleaning the tank.
Set the right tank population
Overcrowding, predators, and aggressive tank mates will stress your platies and keep them hiding. Reduce overcrowding by maintaining 5-6 platies for every 10 gallons. You should also remove other species that attack the platyfish to ensure they feel secure.
Another important tip is to ensure the male: female ratio is correct. To avoid fights among males or the males chasing females, keep two or three females for one male.
Provide platies with hiding places
For your platyfish to feel secure, they need enough hiding places. You can add aquarium plants such as java moss or opt for plastic plants. Other items to increase the platyfish hiding places are aquarium ornaments such as pipes.
You can also put driftwood, PVC piping, or terra cotta flower pots for enhanced beauty and hiding places. Though these items offer good hideouts, ensure they are not sharp to avoid injuring your fish.
Provide enough food and nutrients
You should provide your platy with enough food which has nutrients and minerals to keep them strong, healthy, and fight diseases. Platies are omnivorous and, therefore, will not be picky. Provide them with vegetables such as lettuce and add quality flake food to their diet. You can also feed them with frozen or live food such as bloodworms.
- Kit Magellan, Academia: Alteration of Tank Dimensions Reduces Male Aggression in Fish
- Thomas R. Hamilton, University of California: Platyfish: Versatile Animals for the Classroom and Laboratory