Angelfish Care + Amazing Facts (Angelfish 101 For Beginners)

Angelfish

Angelfish are one of the gorgeous fish with diverse coloring and elegant shapes.

These striking members of the Cichlid family add color to any tank and are an absolute delight to watch.

Let’s learn more about these striking fish in detail.

Angelfish Species Overview

Angelfish are tropical fish belonging to the Cichlid family.

They’re native to tropical South America, inhabiting most Amazon waterbodies in Brazil, Columbia, French Guiana, Guyana, and Peru.

Angelfish are commonly found in slow-moving streams, swamps, floodplains, ponds, etc.

The water is usually warm, soft, and slightly acidic in these parts.

Their natural habitat is also densely planted with thick vegetation.

In the wild, angelfish usually live in small schools.

However, they escape predation due to the dark vertical stripes that make them less visible.

Appearance

Colorful angelfish

Angelfish have unique diamond-shaped compressed bodies with small mouths.

They have fan-shaped caudal fins and long, flowing pectoral and dorsal fins.

Their slim body makes them a lot more hydrodynamic and allows them to swim rapidly and dart into small spaces to avoid predation.

Wild angelfish usually have a silvery body with a sharpened head shape and flattened sides with dark stripes.

However, angelfish are now found in several colors and patterns as a result of selective breeding.

The most common color of angelfish is silver with four vertical black stripes.

In addition to silver, angelfish is also found in black, white, yellow, orange, and gold color.

The color of captive angelfish largely depends on the care taken.

A well-nourished angelfish living in ideal conditions show bright colors.

However, they can appear duller under stress or when asleep.

Names of Species

There are only three angelfish species, despite the numerous types of angelfish available today in the aquarium trade.

These three species are: the common (Pterophyllum scalare), the Leopold’s (Pterophyllum leopoldi), and the altum (Pterophyllum altum).

The different varieties of angelfish found today are the result of selective breeding.

Fish Breeders took particular characteristics (color, pattern, and fin length) and combined them to create various varieties of angelfish.

The different types of angelfish are listed below:

  • Silver angelfish,
  • Gold angelfish,
  • Marble angelfish,
  • Golden Marble angelfish,
  • Blushing angelfish,
  • Ghost angelfish,
  • Clown angelfish,
  • Half-Black angelfish,
  • Koi angelfish,
  • Leopard angelfish,
  • Veil angelfish,
  • Black Lace angelfish,
  • Zebra angelfish,
  • Flame angelfish,
  • Platinum angelfish, etc.

Lifespan

Angelfish have a longer lifespan than some of the other freshwater fish species. They can live up to 15 years in the wild.

In captivity, the average lifespan of angelfish is around 10 to 12 years.

An angelfish lifespan can be increased by feeding a diverse nutritious diet, maintaining stable water parameters, and providing a stress-free environment.

Average Size

The average size of angelfish in a freshwater aquarium is 6 inches. However, some wild angelfish grow as large as 10 inches.

There’s also the smaller Pterophyllum leopoldi angelfish species that hardly grow up to 2 inches.

Angelfish grow pretty rapidly at the initial stage. They reach around 4 inches in the first six months.

But after the initial growth, angelfish can take up to a year or longer to mature to their fullest size.

Also, the growth depends upon the fish species.

For example, Majestic angelfish rarely grow larger than 7 inches in a span of 5 years.

On the other hand, French angelfish can grow as long as 10 inches within a year.

Angelfish Tank Setup

Angelfish tank

Angelfish thrive well when kept in an aquarium with ample space.

They have a reasonably long lifespan. So it’s crucial to set up their tank correctly to help them thrive.

Let’s understand how to set up an angelfish tank in more detail.

Tank Size

Angelfish grow to be quite large and require a large tank of no less than 20-gallons. The bigger the tank, the better it is.

The tank should be tall rather than wide as angelfish tend to grow tall rather than long.

So tall aquariums are best to suit their body shape.

Another reason to have a larger tank is to accommodate a group of angelfish as they’re shoaling fish.

Also, keeping angelfish in a smaller tank can lead to aggression, stunted growth, and other health issues.

Tank Equipment And Decorations

Angelfish are most happy and stress-free when their tank environment resembles their natural habitat.

In the wild, angelfish live in warm, slightly acidic water, with lots of plants and sunlight surrounding them.

So planted tanks are best suited for angelfish.

Plants with large, broad leaves are suitable as female angelfish like to lay their eggs on them.

Also, they’re accustomed to living in slow-moving streams.

Hence, the water current should be gentle, which can be achieved with a low-flow aerator.

You should avoid rough gravel, substrate, and decorations with sharp edges that can injure the fish as angelfish tend to enjoy digging in the substrate.

Some of the items required in an angelfish tank are:

  • Soft substrate, such as sand or mud,
  • High-quality filter,
  • Heater,
  • Aquarium plants such as Amazon Sword, Java Moss, Java Fern, and Anacharis, and
  • Decorations such as rocks, driftwood, caves, and other hollow decorations for resting and hiding.

Angelfish Care

Healthy angelfish

Angelfish need moderate care. They’re easy to care for once you set up the proper environment.

A large planted tank with clean, warm water, a well-balanced diet, and suitable tankmates is critical for their thriving.

Let’s now see how you can take proper care of your angelfish.

Diet

Angelfish are omnivores. They primarily feed on small fish, insects, larvae, fish eggs, and other tiny crustaceans in their natural environment.

In captivity, you can feed them a diet rich in proteins and fiber with little plant matter.

High-protein fish flakes and pellets can form a part of their regular diet.

You can also feed angelfish live or frozen food such as brine shrimp, daphnia, tubifex worms, bloodworms, and water fleas to meet their protein requirement.

Veggies such as blanched spinach, lettuce, zucchini, etc., are also suitable for angelfish.

You can rotate their diet daily and feed them twice for best results.

The quantity should be as much they can consume in about 3 minutes.

Water Parameters

Angelfish are hardy and tolerate a wide range of water parameters.

However, ideal water parameters are essential to prevent stress and sickness among angelfish.

Angelfish inhabit slightly acidic and soft water in their natural environment.

So keeping them in similar conditions can help them thrive.

The ideal water parameters for angelfish are:

Temperature78°F to 85°F (25.5°C to 30°C)
pH level6.8 to 7.8
Hardness3°dH to 8°dH

Tank Maintenance

Regular maintenance of the tank is essential for the healthy development of angelfish.

You need to perform a partial water change of around 30% every couple of weeks.

Regular cleaning of the tank also ensures no build-up of ammonia, nitrites, and other bacteria that can be harmful to the health of angelfish.

You also need to clean the gravel, filter, heater, decoration, and other equipment in the tank periodically to maintain good water quality.

Common Diseases

Angelfish are relatively hardy fish if you keep them in favorable tank conditions.

However, they often fall victim to diseases like any other freshwater fish.

Most angelfish diseases are caused by bacterial infections.

Therefore, maintaining the tank regularly and taking good care of them is essential to prevent diseases.

Given below are some of the common diseases that affect angelfish:

  • Ich,
  • Hexamita,
  • Dropsy,
  • Columnaris,
  • Fin Rot,
  • Mouth rot,
  • Hole-in-the-Head, etc.

Angelfish Behavior and Temperament

Angelfish are timid in nature.

They can get scared easily by the sudden movement near their tank, loud noise, or continuously turning the lights on/off.

They’re peaceful compared to other cichlid species.

Angelfish can live in harmony without bullying their tankmates as long as they get enough space to claim their territory.

However, angelfish can become territorial at the time of breeding.

They can also display aggression when the tank conditions aren’t favorable; there’s food scarcity, fewer female angelfish in the tank, or the tank is overcrowded.

Angelfish mostly dwell in the middle level of the tank and feed at the surface or mid-water.

However, they often forage along the bottom, searching for food in their natural habitat.

Angelfish Tankmates

Angelfish with tankmates

Angelfish live in one of the diverse habitats with thousands of other fish.

They’re relatively tolerant and can cohabitate with numerous fish species in a community tank.

However, the aggression of angelfish can heighten in an enclosed tank. So it’s vital to choose their tankmates carefully.

Angelfish need to be housed with similar-sized fish having a calm temperament.

Some of the compatible tankmates for angelfish are:

  • Other angelfish,
  • Tetras such as neon tetras, rosy tetras, etc.
  • Mollies,
  • Gouramis,
  • Snake loaches,
  • Swordtails,
  • Discus,
  • Plecos,
  • Pictus catfish,
  • Dwarf cichlids,
  • Platies, etc.

You should avoid keeping any aggressive or fin-nipping fish with angelfish.

Such fish can bully angelfish or injure their fins by continuous nipping.

Given below are the fish that you should avoid housing with angelfish:

  • Tiger barbs,
  • Goldfish,
  • Shrimp,
  • Celestial pearl danios, etc.

Angelfish Breeding

Angelfish is easy to breed once you have set up a suitable environment for them.

A hygienic spawning tank is required to breed angelfish successfully.

The best temperature range for breeding angelfish is between 79ºF to 82ºF (26°C to 28°C).

The pH value should be 6.5 to 7, with water hardness not exceeding 8 dGH.

Freshwater angelfish reach reproduction maturity between six months to 1 year of age.

They’re egg scatterers, meaning they lay eggs and fry are born once the male fertilizes the laid eggs.

You can follow the below instructions to breed angelfish in captivity.

  • Angelfish pair off on their own when kept in a school, and they set territories for themselves.
  • It’s advisable to set up a breeding tank with appropriate water parameters. The current should be gentle, and the tank should be planted for female angelfish to lay eggs.
  • Once the pair is formed, you need to condition them by feeding a high-protein diet daily.
  • Then, mating will occur once you transfer the pair to the breeding tank.
  • After the mating ritual, the female angelfish will start swimming actively in the breeding tank in search of an appropriate place to lay eggs.
  • Once the female angelfish finalizes the place, she will linger around the spawning place to lay eggs.
  • The female angelfish will lay around 500 to 600 eggs. Then, the male angelfish will fertilize those eggs externally.
  • It takes around 2 to 3 days for eggs to hatch. The male angelfish will usually guard the eggs until they hatch.
  • Angelfish are monogamous and make excellent parents. They look after the fry until they become independent.
  • After about a month, you can remove the parents and transfer them back into the main tank.
  • You need to feed the fry infusoria for the initial days. After that, you can feed them brine shrimp larvae until the fish become six weeks old. Then, you can feed them a diet such as flakes, dried food, and other things similar to adult angelfish.

Frequently Asked Questions