Bully Female Platy & Other Problems

CheshireKat

Hello,

Long-time lurker, new member. This will be long; there's a rundown below if you'd rather have less details and not read each step and thought processes to my decisions.
I'm currently frustrated with one of my platies ("assorted"). She's the biggest platy and fish in my 25 gallon; the other occupants besides her were originally 2 Redtail Dalmatian Platies (male and female, ratio is a complete accident), 1 Green Lantern Platy (male; the female died a couple months ago, long story short: not sure exactly what went wrong, but when she died she had a big belly full of air), 1 Golden Lyretail Molly (male), and after a couple months, a female betta joined them.

Nearly two months ago, I noticed the molly had a gray-ish patch on its head/side in front of the dorsal fin, as if the color was rubbed away from those scales. I eventually put him into quarantine for special observation and gave him a salt bath. After a month, he may have gained a little more color/the patch shrank (it's hard to tell, even when comparing photos, plus I see him all the time), and I concluded that there's nothing wrong with him, as he eats, swims, poops, behaves normally and he didn't get worse. I thought perhaps it was old age, as I'd bought him as a fully-grown adult, or an oddly-healed injury or something. So I put him back into the main tank.
The bully/queen female started chasing him around. Not too alarming, since they had a love/hate relationship anyway (sometimes best friends and swimming side by side; other times, she wants him to leave her alone, and he does not get the message and always returns to her). What was alarming was when he started rubbing his back on the undersides of the submerged pothos' leaves, shimmying up and down as though itching. He's always done things like that, and it looks like he's also pecking at the leaves and cleaning them, so I'd thought he just had a strange way of eating/cleaning.
He didn't do this in quarantine, though, and considering the location of the gray patch, I wondered if he'd somehow damaged or did something to his scales while doing this shimmying/itching behavior. I also wondered if that wasn't eating/cleaning behavior, but stress behavior from the queen female.
So I returned him to quarantine. He's been quite happy there, and doesn't scratch or rub against things. (In case anyone suggests this: there's no indication of parasites, illness, or disease that would cause him to do this, either; he and all the fish also went through General Cure and Paraguard for other reasons, plus he had a salt bath. The fact that he does it only in the main tank also backs this up, at least for me.)

A week ago, I was feeding them and noticed both the male Green Lantern Platy and the bully/queen female harassing the male Redtail Dalmatian Platy. He was trying to mind his own business and eat food fallen on plants in a corner, but the other two would swim after him individually and harass him; they specifically saw him and targeted him from across the tank. There's always been some disputes over food, territory, space, etc. (especially with the queen female; she tends to take over an area that has food in it, which is why I spread food out all over the tank), but no major fights and they work it out; just minor, and rather normal, pecking order things. This time, it was different; I was actually concerned for his safety and well-being. There was an element of hostility to their behavior. I removed him and put him in the quarantine as well, and he's been there since.

I'd really like to be able to put them back in the main tank and get my quarantine back. It's become the place for homeless or misfit fish; two three- or four-month old platy, the molly, and the bullied male platy. The two fry can go in the main for sure, but the other two? I don't know.
The females have been having fry about every month since I got them four or five months ago; I have the bully/queen female's first batch growing up separately, but a couple weeks ago, both females gave birth and now there's about 14 or so fry in the tank (impossible to get an accurate count). I had to take out the female betta because she's been eating waaaay too much since I'm feeding extra for the fry, and I know she's eaten a few babies, so I'm concerned for her health. Her belly was huge. It reduced a bit after I fed them them all their weekly peas, but she's still obviously fat. I had to put her in the HOB breeder box as it's the only remaining place I have in which to monitor her food intake, but she's NOT happy at all and misses the 25 gallons to swim freely in. So, it'd be really nice to figure out a solution for everyone to be happy.

I've noticed the queen female and the male GLP chasing around the female RDP around a bit more now.

I don't know why the bully/queen female and male GLP suddenly started hating the RDP male. Maybe it was just something at the time, but could it be that they're annoyed or stressed with all the fry swimming around in there and taking it out on the other adults? I've noticed that since his female died, the GLP started picking on the RDP male and chasing him away from the RDP female, so their rivalry makes sense, but I don't know why the queen started up. I know I can put the removed fish in there again and see how it goes, but I have lilypads that make it extremely difficult to catch fish for removal...it was hard enough the first time. I really don't relish the idea of trying to add and possibly remove fish with all the lilypads tangling up and getting in my way should the fish not get along again.


I know this is a very long post, but I wanted to include as much info as possible to hopefully prevent back-and-forth and lots of questions.
Basically, the rundown is that I have a several dilemmas:
  1. A large female platy that dominates the tank, which is why I call her "the queen." She's possessive over food and doesn't like to share. Normally she'll chase the other adults out of dominance and such, but I have 1 fish who might've been stressed from her, and another that she suddenly started aggressively chasing.
  2. A male molly who may have rather obsessively scratched/rubbed against leaves due to stress from the queen platy. This is just a guess from observations. He's been living in the quarantine for two months now and it'd be nice to return/put him to/in an actual tank.
  3. A male Redtail Dalmation Platy who, a week ago, was being aggressively harassed by the queen platy and the Green Lantern Platy male. Concerned for his safety at the time, I put him in quarantine also. I don't know if he'll be okay if returned now and I'm hesitant to try, partially because of #7 below.
  4. There's 14 or so two-week-old platy fry from both females in the main (25g) tank. The adult platies don't bother them nor try to eat them, so I do like them in there and fry tend to grow faster there. However, I wonder if it's possible that all the fry could stress/annoy the adults, who then take it out on each other? Also an issue because of #5 below.
  5. A female betta who has been overeating due to the extra feedings for the fry. She's also helped herself to a couple babies, too. Her belly was expanded to the point of concern, so I put her in the .75 gallon HOB breeder box for now so I can monitor her eating, fast her, etc. Peas reduced her belly, but she's still a little chubby, thus there's still a concern. Can't put her in quarantine/hospital tub/tote because it's occupied by the bullied fish... She's now depressed being in the small space and I feel bad, especially since I'm withholding food as well.
  6. I have a gallon or so tub of about 12 platy fry a month old that I could swap with the two-week-old fry in the main tank so that the older ones can grow out more and the young ones won't have to compete with the adults. However, if the adults are stressed or irritated by all the fry, I don't want to do that, especially because of #7.
  7. The main tank has lots of floating plants and lilypads from the dwarf aquarium lily that make it very difficult to catch fish. I don't want to be adding and removing willy-nilly and needlessly/senselessly because that's going to be very time consuming and frustrating, unless someone has an idea about that? I think that if I hand the lilypads over the tank edge and out of the way, they'd dry out.
  8. I have a 7 gallon with a male betta. I don't know if he'll get along with another fish/I don't know if his tank is an option if a fish needs to be separated permanently from the others.
  9. I have a 5 gallon with a female betta in it. Despite seeming to be friendly and not care about other fish with her, she has (very sadly) proven that she'll kill tankmates. I'm not risking putting another fish in there to see if they'll get along. I can't swap the two female bettas, either, because she might overeat in the main tank as well, plus I've already tried her with the platies and she was very stressed (stress stripes). She's a loner for sure.
  10. My primary goal is to place everyone in tanks where they're safe and happy. I'd like my quarantine/hospital tub back so that I can actually use it for its designated purpose. I don't really want another tank, as I've no room really, and have enough to manage as it is. I will be selling or giving away the platy fry when it's time, so I definitely don't plan on having ~25 platies permanently! (Although that's going to be very hard to do...I don't want to give them up! :bigtears I would like ideas and advice as to possible reasons the male RDP was suddenly harassed. I know the male to female ratios are not ideal, but it hadn't been a real problem before... plus I already have a ton of fry I'm raising, so I don't want to add more adults when I'm swimming with enough fish as it is, and I do want to keep some fry.
 

BottomDweller

Welcome to fishlore!

I'm not quite sure what the issue with the molly could be. Could you post a picture of him and his back?

Its quite unusual in my experience for female platies to be aggressive however all fish have their individual personalities. As for all the bullying I would try to fix that male-female ratio, perhaps by keeping some of the baby platies. I have always just kept one male in a tank with a group of females or just females and no males. The general rule is 2+ females per male but more females is better and I keep 4-6 females with each male. I would aI'm for 5 or 6 females with your 2 males. With more fish any bullying will hopefully be divided out between them so it is less likely that your aggressive female will be able to target just one fish. Sometimes male livebearers may bicker but if they are busy trying to breed with females then this may happen less often. Keep in mind that if you decide to keep some of the female fry rather than buy adult females it may take a while for them to help reduce the bullying since males are more interested in larger females.

I am slightly worried that the two platies were both targeting the red Dalmatian platy. Fish sometimes gang up on fish if they are weak or unwell. While he is in the quarantine keep an eye on him and make sure he has plenty of good quality food and the water is kept clean.
Something stressing the fish could trigger also bullying (such as dirty water for example). Adding more hiding places could help give the victims a break from the bully fish

I doubt that the fry are stressing the adults though it is possible. I would just leave them in the main tank but I wouldn't feed them too much food. By 2 weeks old they shouldn't need feeding much more often than the adults and you don't want the other fish getting overfed. If you are concerned by them not getting enough food then they would probably do best in their own tank.

I would remove the betta. Bettas have a tendency to overeat when in community tanks as you are seeing. They also have very little temperature overlap with the other fish. Bettas need 78-82f while platies do best around 72-74f though can live in 68-78f. Bettas are not good community fish and while they may seem fine with other fish for a while they often snap and decide they no longer want tank mates one day. They can also be stressed by the constant activity of the other fish.

I don't think the 5 or 7 gallon betta tanks are really an option for shuffling around fish. Adding platies or mollies would overstock them and for the reasons above I don't think betta communities are a great idea, particularly not in such small tanks.

How large is the quarantine tank and how large is the tub you are keeping the month old platy fry in?

Could you post a picture of the main tank?
 

CheshireKat

Thank you. I know the male-female ratio is off, but I wanted to keep some fry to balance it out, so I haven't gone out to buy more adults (although I'd love some more Green Lanterns...). When can the fry start being sexed?

I'm well aware of the temperature needs of bettas. The 25 gallon is usually around 78-80 degrees. I had a betta in a community tank many years ago, but that was with danios, so obviously a very different environment. I don't think I'm going to keep her with the platies anymore, which sucks because she really loves it. This betta pretty much became a platy and swims and eats alongside them with no problems and neither harasses them nor is harassed by them. My other female betta was really stressed with them, which is why she lives alone.
I'm hoping the Dollar Per Gallon sale will start soon so I can at least get a 10 gallon. I really don't have space and furniture for anything larger unfortunately, but at least then I can split it and the two females can live in there.

This is the molly with the weird gray-ish patch/area, photos taken in May a week or so after I noticed the condition or whatever it is. The cropped photo is from the first week I bought him and the platies, so you can see what he looked like originally (all the hours I spend taking hundreds of photos pays off!). The photo after that shows that they're actually rather similar in size; I don't know if that is a contributing factor. The last two photos show what he looks like as of today, a little over a month since the first photos. He's improved a lot, but still not 100% like he used to be. The rest that hasn't healed could be permanent damage/scarring, for all I know.
 

Attachments

  • IMG_6297_edited.jpg
    IMG_6297_edited.jpg
    123.7 KB · Views: 90
  • IMG_6299-edited.jpg
    IMG_6299-edited.jpg
    120 KB · Views: 93
  • IMG_6074_scales.jpg
    IMG_6074_scales.jpg
    52.9 KB · Views: 93
  • molly1.jpg
    molly1.jpg
    70.2 KB · Views: 101
  • molly2.jpg
    molly2.jpg
    64.3 KB · Views: 94
  • IMG_6044.JPG
    IMG_6044.JPG
    58.1 KB · Views: 90
  • IMG_5186_cropped.jpg
    IMG_5186_cropped.jpg
    40.8 KB · Views: 99
  • IMG_5014.JPG
    IMG_5014.JPG
    38.5 KB · Views: 96
  • IMG_6849.JPG
    IMG_6849.JPG
    62.4 KB · Views: 92
  • IMG_6854_edited.jpg
    IMG_6854_edited.jpg
    65.3 KB · Views: 80

BottomDweller

Tank looks like it is pretty well planted anyway but you could try adding some more hiding places.

Still not sure what is going on with that patch on the molly....

Is the fish on the right in the 6th photo the "queen platy"? Because that photo shows 1 male and 1 female molly. If the queen "platy" is actually a molly then I'm not so surprised by the aggressive behaviour. I had one female molly terrorize the rest of my fish and she had to live on her own for the rest of her life.
 

CheshireKat

Is the fish on the right in the 6th photo the "queen platy"? Because that photo shows 1 male and 1 female molly.
YES!! That's the queen "platy"! If she's actually a molly, that would explain SO much, not only her size and behavior, but why some of her babies seem to have a "panda" gene--she'd been breeding with the Golden Panda Lyretail molly! The reason I thought she was a platy was because she was in a tank labeled "assorted platy" at the store. She was the only kind (size, color, and pattern) in the tank, which is what drew me to her. Maybe she was in there because she didn't get along with other mollies or tankmates. That also explains why the male molly acted like she was a potential mating partner. I always was like, "Dude, you know you can't breed with her, right?" Well, shows what I know.

But that now begs the question: where do I go from here? Will she be able to get along with the rest at all? Could some of the female molly babies help alleviate the stress she might have gotten from the male molly? Could that help him as well? Does she need to be separated? That certainly won't be ideal for me, since I'd have to buy her a tank big enough for her alone.

edit: Yeah, the patch has been a real mystery. It doesn't seem to be life-threatening or infectious, which of course were my main concerns, so I'm just going to chalk it up to a superficial injury/scar. The fact that it improved instead of worsened is very reassuring.
 

BottomDweller

While adding more plants and more female mollies may help, there's also the chance that it may not help. I have personally found mollies to be troublesome fish and I do not plan to keep them ever again due to their aggressive behaviour. My female molly harassed my platies and other tank mates non stop until she injured them and had to be separated. Unfortunately since mollies are a lot bigger than platies she would need a 29 gallon tank if she were to be separated.

TBH unless the male molly seems bothered by the patch thing or it starts to grow or change I would just ignore it. It doesn't appear to be any kind of illness to me.

Just to confirm, is this your current setup?
25 gallon
1 female molly
1 male molly (in quarantine)
2 male platies (1 in quarantine)
1 female platy
1 female betta (in breeder box)
14 fry (mix of platies and mollies?)

1 ish gallon
12 platy (?) fry

7 gallon
male betta

5 gallon
female betta

I would try to get a couple new tanks and do something like this
25 gallon at 73f (Lower temperatures may help lower aggression)
3 female mollies
1 male molly
(Could possibly add some more fish that would stay out of the way of the mollies such as a BN or rubberlip pleco or some fast fish that would be able to avoid the mollies such as some danios or barbs)

new 15-20 gallon
2 male platies
6 or 7 female platies

7 gallon
male betta

5 gallon
female betta

new 5-10 gallon (she may be happier in a larger tank since she's been used to the 25 gallon)
female betta

The mollies and platies would continue to breed in these setups so you would need a grow out tank for the fry and be prepared to rehome them. If you cannot get tanks in the DPG sale you could look at cheap second hand tanks or you could just use some strong food safe plastic storage boxes. I use Really Useful Boxes as quarantine tanks.
 

CheshireKat

So, Sunday night I went to PetCo and got a 10 gallon. I'd planned to get more female platies, but they didn't have more of the same variety. That sucks.
I got a tank divider that honestly is crud. I put both female bettas in it but the red betta has squeezed through a few times and damaged the blue's tail. I'm definitely not happy.

I tried putting the Molly and male platy back in the main tank and ended up taking them out again. The male Molly was rubbing against the pothos leaves again. I think it's a stress thing. There's too many males for sure. The two males get along in quarantine.

I went to PetSmart also and saw other Gold Panda Lyretail mollies with the same type of grayness on their scales! And they weren't full grown in the store, so it's not from old age. I think it's just a thing with these guys.

I have no where for more tanks or tubs. I live in a university apartment and can only keep the fish in my bedroom. I don't have any more furniture for tanks. Which is kind of good as it curbs the desire for more, but also is annoying.
 

BottomDweller

So, Sunday night I went to PetCo and got a 10 gallon. I'd planned to get more female platies, but they didn't have more of the same variety. That sucks.
I got a tank divider that honestly is crud. I put both female bettas in it but the red betta has squeezed through a few times and damaged the blue's tail. I'm definitely not happy.

I tried putting the Molly and male platy back in the main tank and ended up taking them out again. The male Molly was rubbing against the pothos leaves again. I think it's a stress thing. There's too many males for sure. The two males get along in quarantine.

I went to PetSmart also and saw other Gold Panda Lyretail mollies with the same type of grayness on their scales! And they weren't full grown in the store, so it's not from old age. I think it's just a thing with these guys.

I have no where for more tanks or tubs. I live in a university apartment and can only keep the fish in my bedroom. I don't have any more furniture for tanks. Which is kind of good as it curbs the desire for more, but also is annoying.
You might want to try making your own divider. There are lots of guides online. Just make sure they are tall enough that the bettas cannot jump over them easily.

There is no need for the new female platies to be of the same variety as the current ones apart from aesthetic reasons. All platies are Xiphophorus maculatus (or Xiphophorus variatus but these are slightly less common), the different varieties are just different colours.
 

CheshireKat

I probably will make my own, but at the time I just wanted something to get her out of the breeder box. She's more much happier now.

I know they don't need to be, I just kind of prefer having the same. Plus it looked like they're in-between shipments or something, many empty tanks. I'll have to go back. Although with the quarantine tub in use, I'll probably have to buy another tub or tank and move them to that until the females are done with quarantine. Ugh.
 

Similar Aquarium Threads

  • Scardom
  • Platy
Replies
3
Views
141
Scardom
  • FishPlanet
  • Platy
Replies
4
Views
87
emeraldking
  • Question
  • adorbezfairy
  • Platy
Replies
6
Views
223
HupGuppHup
  • grace123
  • Platy
Replies
2
Views
77
grace123
  • Question
  • Lmg01
  • Platy
Replies
13
Views
265
Lmg01

New Platy Threads

Top Bottom