New Fish Tank Tips: Give your fish plenty of places to hide. Ironically, it seems the more places they have to hide the less they do hide. Hiding places can be a place of refuge for your fish and it should lower stress levels for them.
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The variable platyfish (Xiphophorus variatus) is a species of freshwater fish in family Poecilidae of order Cyprinodontiformes. A live-bearer, it is native to southern Tamaulipas and northern Veracruz states in northeastern Mexico. It is a popular fish in the aquarium trade due to its prolific breeding, as are hybrids with other members of its genus, most notably the southern platyfish.
The variable platyfish grows to a maximum overall length of 7.0 cm (2.8 in). In the wild they are olive in colour with black marbling or spots on the side of the caudal peduncle. Large males show blackish blotches on the dorsal fin. Unlike some other members of the genus, X. variatus has no claw at the tip of the fifth anal fin ray. The fourth pectoral ray shows well-developed serrae (i.e. saw-like notches). They typically have 20 to 24 lateral scales, 10 to 12 dorsal rays and 2 rows of jaw teeth.
X. variatus is endemic to the Atlantic slope of Mexico from southern Tamaulipas north to northern Veracruz. It is considered uncommon across its range. The species has also been introduced and become established in a number of locales, largely due to releases related to the aquariums trade. In the United States they have been established in canals along the eastern shore of Tampa Bay, Florida, as well as in Gainesville. They are also naturalised in springs in the counties of Beaverhead, Granite and Madison in Montana. The species has been spread to a number of other countries outside of its range including Colombia, Singapore, and Hong Kong, the latter of which reports a negative impact on native species due to its prodigious breeding.
The fish’s habitats include slow-moving waters of vegetated canals, ditches, and warm springs. Omnivorous, its diet includes both plants and small crustaceans, insects, and annelid worms.
The variable platyfish is bred commercially for the aquarium hobby. They are very easy to breed by the home aquarist, and are a good addition to the community aquarium. The species has also been used in genetic research.