Platy, Xiphophorus maculatus (Günther 1866)

Platy, Xiphophorus maculatus, female above, male below. Source: Queensland Museum. License: all rights reserved

The Platy is an introduced species preferring the warm waters of rivers, creeks and swamps in tropical Queensland. Females are larger than males and produce live young.

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Xiphophorus maculatus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 Apr 2024,

Platy, Xiphophorus maculatus (Günther 1866)

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Native to Central America and introduced to Australia via the aquarium trade. A tropical species occuring in warm, still waters of creeks and swamps around the Brisbane, Barron River, Babinda and Johnstone rivers, Queensland.


D 10-11; A 8-9; P 10-11; V 6

Body very deep and strongly compressed with arched back; caudal peduncle deep and strongly compressed; head small, triangular; mouth upturned and protrusible; lower jaw longer than upper; eyes large.

Scales cover head and trunk; 25-27 in horizontal row; lateral line absent.

Single angular dorsal fin, origin at mid-body, high and somewhat rounded; anal fin smaller than dorsal fin, originating just behind dorsal origin, modified to form a gonopodium in males; caudal fin slightly rounded to truncate.


Females to 6 cm SL; Males to 4cm.


Aquarium fish orange and sometimes with black blotches; feral populations olive-brownish with a bluish irridescence on sides and greenish-yellow ventrally with a black blotch on caudal peduncle and two smaller spots at lower and upper base of caudal fin; fins transparent to blackish.


Omnivorous feeding mainly on terrestrial and aquatic insects and aquatic crustaceans.


Live-bearers. The front rays of the male’s anal fin are modified to form a gonopodium which is used to internally fertilise eggs. Breeds from spring to autumn (September-March), with broods around every 8-10 weeks; produces up to 100 live young. Fertilised eggs develop inside the female.


Used as an aquarium species.


Not listed on IUCN red list of threatened species
Not listed under the Australian EPBC act


Populations have been established in Australia since the early 1960s after aquarium specimens were released into waterways.

Similar Species

May be confused with juvenile and female X. helleri but differs in having large dark blotches at the tail base.


Xiphophorus from the Greek xifos meaning sword and phero meaning carry. Species is named maculatus from the Latin meaning ‘spotted’ in reference to the spot-like markings around the caudal fin.

Species Citation

Platypoecilus maculatus Günther, A. (1866). Catalogue of the Fishes of the British Museum. Catalogue of the Physostomi, containing the families Salmonidae, Percopsidae, Galaxidae, Mormyridae, Gymnarchidae, Esocidae, Umbridae, Scombresocidae, Cyprinodontidae, in the collection of the British Museum.  London : British Museum Vol. 6 368 pp. [350]. Mexico.

Platy, Xiphophorus maculatus (Günther 1866)


Allen, G.R. 1989. Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Neptune, New Jersey : T.F.H. Publications 240 pp., 63 pls.

Allen, G.R., Midgley, S.H. & Allen, M. 2002. Field Guide to the Freshwater Fishes of Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 394 pp..

Arthington, A.H. (1989) Diet of Gambusia affinis holbrooki, Xiphophorus helleri, X. maculatus and Poecilia reticulata (Pisces: Poeciliidae) in Streams of Southeastern Queensland, Australia. Asian Fisheries Science 2(2): 193-212

Arthington, A.H. & Llyod L.N. (1989) Introduced Poeciliids in Australia and New Zealand. In Ecology and Evolution of Livebearing Fishes. Eds G.K. Meffe & F.F. Snelson. pp 333-348. Prentice Hall Englewood Cliffs NJ USA

Corfield, J., Diggles, B., Jubb, C., McDowall, R.M., Moore, A., Richards, A. & Rowe, D.K. 2008. Review of the impacts of introduced ornamental fish species that have established wild populations in Australia. Prepared for the Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. 277 pp.

Dove, A.D.M. 2000. Richness patterns in the parasite communities of exotic poeciliid fishes. Parasitology 120(6): 609-623.

Günther, A. 1866. Catalogue of the Fishes of the British Museum. Catalogue of the Physostomi, containing the families Salmonidae, Percopsidae, Galaxidae, Mormyridae, Gymnarchidae, Esocidae, Umbridae, Scombresocidae, Cyprinodontidae, in the collection of the British Museum. London : British Museum Vol. 6 368 pp.

Harris, J.H. 2013. 11. Fishes from elsewhere. pp. 259-282 in Humphries, P. & Walker, K. (eds). Ecology of Australian Freshwater Fishes. Collingwood, Victoria : CSIRO Publishing 423 pp.

Johnson, J. 1993. Fishes of the Brisbane River. Fishes of Sahul, Journal of the Australian New Guinea Fishes Association 8(1): 347-352

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293.

McKay, R.J. 1984. Introductions of exotic fishes in Australia. pp. 177-199 in Courtnay, W.R. Jr & Staffer, J.R. Jr (eds). Distribution, Biology and Management of Exotic Fishes. Baltimore : John Hopkins University Press.

Rosen, D.E. & Bailey, R.M. (1963). The poeciliid fishes (Cyprinodontiformes), their structure, zoogeography and systematics. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 126(1): 1–176.

Webb, A.C. 2007. Status of non-native freshwater fishes in tropical northern Queensland, including establishment success, rates of spread, range and introduction pathways. Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales 140: 63–78.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37244006



Max weight:6 cm


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