Platies Changing Gender

lolitroy

This is going to seem weird, but a while ago I had to separate platies by gender after the breeder I purchased from messed up and gave me males instead (said males are comfortably living along a betta now, thanks to the advice of someone here). The thing is, the platy most of the males seemed to chase has begun exhibiting mating behavior towards other females. I know males will do that without females around, but her? She keeps wiggling herself in front of every fish her size and I'm getting kind of scared. I've heard some livebearers will change genders when there are no males present, but can't find any conclusive evidence on the matter. Should I just... let her be? I feel like I've taken away her happiness. She chases after guppies, too, but that shouldn't be an issue, right? The other platies swim away from her the way they would from males, and yes, I've made sure it's a female multiple times. Probably pregnant, too.
 

BigManAquatics

I have heard this can hapoen with platies. My wife said something about it once because she thought one of ours did this. I have no clear evidence it happens, though. The platies are her thing, i focus on pretty much every other fish lol!

If it is a thing emeraldking would certainly know about it.
 
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mimo91088

I've bred a lot of platies and I've never seen it. But that of course doesn't mean it can't happen. I'd defer to emerald king on that one as well. He's the guy who'd know!
 
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LHAquatics

I think that happened to me too. My female platy suddenly became a male!!
 
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Jennmariexoxo

I had it happen once. I think I posted about it to have others confirm. But she definitely became a he and then dominated my whole tank to the point I ended up rehoming all my platies because they were so miserable.
 
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Dechi

It’s happened to me once also. A male became a female or vice-versa, I can’t remember.
 
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lolitroy

oh no
 
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Broggy

I know this happens with sword tails, I didn't know with platys though. swordtails are born one sex and actually can't change, however, male swordtails can pretend to be a female to avoid aggression with the male at the top of the social order. if the undercover male sees an opportunity, it will show its true colors.

im pretty sure that is how it works.
 
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emeraldking

This is going to seem weird, but a while ago I had to separate platies by gender after the breeder I purchased from messed up and gave me males instead (said males are comfortably living along a betta now, thanks to the advice of someone here). The thing is, the platy most of the males seemed to chase has begun exhibiting mating behavior towards other females. I know males will do that without females around, but her? She keeps wiggling herself in front of every fish her size and I'm getting kind of scared. I've heard some livebearers will change genders when there are no males present, but can't find any conclusive evidence on the matter. Should I just... let her be? I feel like I've taken away her happiness. She chases after guppies, too, but that shouldn't be an issue, right? The other platies swim away from her the way they would from males, and yes, I've made sure it's a female multiple times. Probably pregnant, too.
Sex change can happen with more kinds of livebearers. But not all. But with the genus Xiphophorus, where swordtails and platies belong to, the sex change can happen. But not with all female specimens. With platies there are not just two sex chromosomes (X and Y) in order, but three (X,Y and W). All XX specimens are initial females and remain females their whole life. Platy specimens with a sex chromosome combination of WX and WY however, are initially female but are born with both male and female gonads. Such females can change into male.
With swordtails, the sex change is technically a bit different. I'll explain that as a reply on what Broggy has mentioned overhere.
I have heard this can hapoen with platies. My wife said something about it once because she thought one of ours did this. I have no clear evidence it happens, though. The platies are her thing, i focus on pretty much every other fish lol!

If it is a thing emeraldking would certainly know about it.
Well, yes, I'm familiar with the sex change of Xiphophorus species. Officially in mid 1980's a german scientific research has been made about the sex change in the Xiphophorus genus. And they reopened this research again in 2003 and the paper has been accepted in 2004. A lot of people just don't know about this. I've even wrote an article about it in "Poecilia news" in the Netherlands last year.

I know this happens with sword tails, I didn't know with platys though. swordtails are born one sex and actually can't change, however, male swordtails can pretend to be a female to avoid aggression with the male at the top of the social order. if the undercover male sees an opportunity, it will show its true colors.

im pretty sure that is how it works.
Well Broggy, a sex change is a fact. But not all females of the Xiphophorus genus (where swordtails and platies belong to) can change into male. What you are describing are late males and submissive males. I do have to mention that the sex change does work technically a bit different with swordtails in comparison to platies. I've already explained the sex change in platies to the topic starter.
As you probably know, males have a sex chromosome combination of XY and females XX. But here's the trick... not all XX swordtail specimens are female. There's an autosomal locus with two alleles (A and a), which affects sex determination in XX specimens. If a swordtail specimen has got the allele combination of AA, the specimen will be female. If the combination is aa, the specimen will be male. But if the combination is Aa, the specimen will predominantly be female but are born with both male and female gonads. The majority of such Aa females absorb the male gonads and remnain female. But the rest of the Aa specimens won't absorb the male gonads and can change into functional males. The funny part is that the gravid spot of such females remain visible. But that's not weird. For the gravid spot itself is just a translucent part of the skin. The dark shine of the gravid spot is what's inside that simply shines through. Nothing more.
The sex change only happens from female to male. And not the other way around. For the analfin always start as a V-shape. Once such an analfin has transformed into a gonopodium, it can not revert.
Btw, XX male specimens also occur in other life forms than just these livebearers.

If you look at a late male or even a submissive male, a gravid spot isn't present. No matter how large such a male will be. A transformed female into a male, will show the gravid spot as I've already mentioned before.

The story about an older swordtail female showing male characteristics... Such a female remains a female but can grow elongated outer finrays, which seems like a sword-like shape in the caudal and analfin. But these characteristics won't develop fully as with a male. The cause of this is a hormonal trigger that causes an excessive activity of the MSX genes. The MSX genes are responsible for the morphological change in finnage.

There's also the socalled pseudo gravid spot in males. This is just a dark spot at the same place where a female has her gravid spot. This pseudo gravid spot occurs mostly in male platies in comparison to male swordtails. If such a pseudo gravid spot shows up, it mostly occurs when a male is a juvenile. Once such a pseudo gravid spot has shown up, it will never fade.

My apologies for the long explaination but I don't know how else to make it clear. Hopes this is informative enough to those who have always asked themselves how this works.
 
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mimo91088

Very good info emeraldking thanks for sharing that wisdom! I've definitely observed "late bloomer" males but it's very interesting to learn the science behind that!
 
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emeraldking

Very good info emeraldking thanks for sharing that wisdom! I've definitely observed "late bloomer" males but it's very interesting to learn the science behind that!
Thank you.
The thing is that a lot of people (certainly the average household that keeps a fishtank) read the commercial books or the copied texts on the internet of those commercial books. Publishers of such books won't bother (or even annoy) the consumer with such profound matter. Same thing when they start speaking about livebearers. They start to generalize about livebearers. While there are ovoviviparous, viviparous and superfetative livebearers. You just can not compare them as being the same kind of livebearer in species, behavior and maintenance. Not all livebearers reproduce massively. Not all livebearers are easy to keep. There is so much more to tell about livebearers that most households don't know of. For most things mentioned on forums about livebearers, refer to the common commercial known livebearers. There are a lot of other people like me who dedicate their time and energy into the matter of the world beyond the commercial known livebearers. And that scene is much bigger than most people think.
 
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mimo91088

Thank you.
The thing is that a lot of people (certainly the average household that keeps a fishtank) read the commercial books or the copied texts on the internet of those commercial books. Publishers of such books won't bother (or even annoy) the consumer with such profound matter. Same thing when they start speaking about livebearers. They start to generalize about livebearers. While there are ovoviviparous, viviparous and superfetative livebearers. You just can not compare them as being the same kind of livebearer in species, behavior and maintenance. Not all livebearers reproduce massively. Not all livebearers are easy to keep. There is so much more to tell about livebearers that most households don't know of. For most things mentioned on forums about livebearers, refer to the common commercial known livebearers. There are a lot of other people like me who dedicate their time and energy into the matter of the world beyond the commercial known livebearers. And that scene is much bigger than most people think.
It's a topic that really interests me greatly. I focus my hobby mostly on livebearers too. I keep other stuff too of course but it's where I focus my breeding efforts. I'm no where near to having kept as many species as you or your experience level, but I share that fascination with the genetics. Truly is the most interesting part of the hobby to me. People are quick to say "Oh livebearers are just beginner fish that spew babies. Anyone can do it." But when you see the fish that come from someone who's taken the time to learn the genetics and work extensively with a line, the difference is clear.
 
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emeraldking

It's a topic that really interests me greatly. I focus my hobby mostly on livebearers too. I keep other stuff too of course but it's where I focus my breeding efforts. I'm no where near to having kept as many species as you or your experience level, but I share that fascination with the genetics. Truly is the most interesting part of the hobby to me. People are quick to say "Oh livebearers are just beginner fish that spew babies. Anyone can do it." But when you see the fish that come from someone who's taken the time to learn the genetics and work extensively with a line, the difference is clear.
True! Not all livebearers are beginner fish. I'm keeping a reasonable number of livebearer species that are hard to maintain properly. But as soon as you hear someone say that livebearers are easy beginner fish, it should ring a bell that this person doesn't know what he/she is talking about. For that would come down to a generalization that this person is making, as I've already mentioned before.
 
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BigManAquatics

True! Not all livebearers are beginner fish. I'm keeping a reasonable number of livebearer species that are hard to maintain properly. But as soon as you hear someone say that livebearers are easy beginner fish, it should ring a bell that this person doesn't know what he/she is talking about. For that would come down to a generalization that this person is making, as I've already mentioned before.
We have had good luck with platies at least. But if i could do it all over again, livebearers would never have entered the house! But, the wife gets what the wife wants.... :)
 
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lolitroy

Sex change can happen with more kinds of livebearers. But not all. But with the genus Xiphophorus, where swordtails and platies belong to, the sex change can happen. But not with all female specimens. With platies there are not just two sex chromosomes (X and Y) in order, but three (X,Y and W). All XX specimens are initial females and remain females their whole life. Platy specimens with a sex chromosome combination of WX and WY however, are initially female but are born with both male and female gonads. Such females can change into male.
With swordtails, the sex change is technically a bit different. I'll explain that as a reply on what Broggy has mentioned overhere.

Well, yes, I'm familiar with the sex change of Xiphophorus species. Officially in mid 1980's a german scientific research has been made about the sex change in the Xiphophorus genus. And they reopened this research again in 2003 and the paper has been accepted in 2004. A lot of people just don't know about this. I've even wrote an article about it in "Poecilia news" in the Netherlands last year.


Well Broggy, a sex change is a fact. But not all females of the Xiphophorus genus (where swordtails and platies belong to) can change into male. What you are describing are late males and submissive males. I do have to mention that the sex change does work technically a bit different with swordtails in comparison to platies. I've already explained the sex change in platies to the topic starter.
As you probably know, males have a sex chromosome combination of XY and females XX. But here's the trick... not all XX swordtail specimens are female. There's an autosomal locus with two alleles (A and a), which affects sex determination in XX specimens. If a swordtail specimen has got the allele combination of AA, the specimen will be female. If the combination is aa, the specimen will be male. But if the combination is Aa, the specimen will predominantly be female but are born with both male and female gonads. The majority of such Aa females absorb the male gonads and remnain female. But the rest of the Aa specimens won't absorb the male gonads and can change into functional males. The funny part is that the gravid spot of such females remain visible. But that's not weird. For the gravid spot itself is just a translucent part of the skin. The dark shine of the gravid spot is what's inside that simply shines through. Nothing more.
The sex change only happens from female to male. And not the other way around. For the analfin always start as a V-shape. Once such an analfin has transformed into a gonopodium, it can not revert.
Btw, XX male specimens also occur in other life forms than just these livebearers.

If you look at a late male or even a submissive male, a gravid spot isn't present. No matter how large such a male will be. A transformed female into a male, will show the gravid spot as I've already mentioned before.

The story about an older swordtail female showing male characteristics... Such a female remains a female but can grow elongated outer finrays, which seems like a sword-like shape in the caudal and analfin. But these characteristics won't develop fully as with a male. The cause of this is a hormonal trigger that causes an excessive activity of the MSX genes. The MSX genes are responsible for the morphological change in finnage.

There's also the socalled pseudo gravid spot in males. This is just a dark spot at the same place where a female has her gravid spot. This pseudo gravid spot occurs mostly in male platies in comparison to male swordtails. If such a pseudo gravid spot shows up, it mostly occurs when a male is a juvenile. Once such a pseudo gravid spot has shown up, it will never fade.

My apologies for the long explaination but I don't know how else to make it clear. Hopes this is informative enough to those who have always asked themselves how this works.

Thank you so much! I was wondering about the gravid spot. If this change is occurring while the platy is pregnant, does that mean it can still be 'fertilized' for several months the way you can keep a pregnant guppy away from males for months and it'll still be able to spawn even with the new male parts? I'm not sure if I explained myself correctly.
 
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mimo91088

We have had good luck with platies at least. But if i could do it all over again, livebearers would never have entered the house! But, the wife gets what the wife wants.... :)
I have a regular old mixed platy colony I've been keeping going for a handful of years. I don't line breed them, I only cull for deformity and breed for overall health. Most go to my LFS and I keep the best 1 or 2 out of a batch with the main colony. They're some of my favorite fish. I started them from a single pair of different strains, and I've seen so many weird color patterns and recessive genes ebb and flow over the generations. Years later I'm now just starting to watch them stabilize into something remotely predictable. I still get weird oddballs all the time. Even among the most basic fancy livebearers, the genes are a ton of fun if you're a science nerd (which many of us aquarists are)
 
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BigManAquatics

I have a regular old mixed platy colony I've been keeping going for a handful of years. I don't line breed them, I only cull for deformity and breed for overall health. Most go to my LFS and I keep the best 1 or 2 out of a batch with the main colony. They're some of my favorite fish. I started them from a single pair of different strains, and I've seen so many weird color patterns and recessive genes ebb and flow over the generations. Years later I'm now just starting to watch them stabilize into something remotely predictable. I still get weird oddballs all the time. Even among the most basic fancy livebearers, the genes are a ton of fun if you're a science nerd (which many of us aquarists are)
I will stick with my peacock gudgeon project for the time being!
 
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mimo91088

I will stick with my peacock gudgeon project for the time being!
Those guys are on my list for sure. Beautiful species.
 
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emeraldking

Thank you so much! I was wondering about the gravid spot. If this change is occurring while the platy is pregnant, does that mean it can still be 'fertilized' for several months the way you can keep a pregnant guppy away from males for months and it'll still be able to spawn even with the new male parts? I'm not sure if I explained myself correctly.
The sex change in platies won't happen while a female is pregnant. Once she's transformed into a male, she won't be able to become pregnant again. The stored sperm packets in the folds of the fallopian tube will be absorbed. Sperm contains an enzyme and makes it possible that the body can absorb the sperm packets. But a sex transformation also causes that the female gonads will be absorbed.

If we don't consider a sex change but only look at the facility of sperm storage in ovovivparous female livebearers (females of viviparous livebearers can not store sperm packets unlike females of ovoviviparous livebearers), the sperm packet storage can last up till over a year. So, not just a couple of months as some might claim.
So, if you'd like to set up a new line or be sure that that specific male is the father of the total batch of newborns, use virgin females or clean females (females that are out of sperm packets... but it would be a guess if such a female is really clean).
 
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Fiosco345

no this happened to me. and its not a sex change. You had sexualy immature fish. i thohg ti had a female but it turned out HE was just younger and didnt get his gonopodium yet so after having them a moth he began to develop one.
 
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emeraldking

no this happened to me. and its not a sex change. You had sexualy immature fish. i thohg ti had a female but it turned out HE was just younger and didnt get his gonopodium yet so after having them a moth he began to develop one.
As I've mentioned before, there are late males. But there are also females that can change sex. But last mentioned doesn't happen to every female. I've already explained myself about this in former replies. Maybe, it would be of interest to you if you'd read those replies.

There are a lot of people that will only say that it always refers to a late male. But if someone is claiming that, they just don't know how it works. That's why I've posted how the sex change works in female Xiphophorus species.
 
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