Are Angelfish Cichlids? [Are They African Cichlids?]

Image of an angelfish swimming alone

Angelfish can become aggressive toward each other and other smaller fish. So are angelfish cichlids?

Yes, angelfish are cichlids as they belong to the family Cichlidae, one of the most prominent fish families in the world. They are primarily peaceful but can become aggressive and territorial like cichlids to pair up and spawn. Similar to cichlids, angelfish also don’t hesitate to eat smaller fish.

Let’s now understand in more detail why angelfish are cichlids.

4 Main Reasons Why Angelfish Are Cichlids

The vast majority of cichlids are highly aggressive. They can harm each other and other fish species inhabiting the tank.

However, angelfish are primarily peaceful but can get aggressive toward small fish.

Given below are the four main reasons why angelfish are cichlids.

1. Physical Characteristics

Like most cichlids, the freshwater and marine angelfish have thin, laterally compressed bodies, small mouths, and long dorsal and anal fins.

These fish have a unique diamond-shaped body that allows them to hide and maneuver easily through plants, and they use their tails to help them swim.

They come in various colors and patterns, including solid silver, colored striped, and black-and-silver marble.

Angelfish can grow to six inches long, so they should be kept in tanks no smaller than 20 gallons.

Angelfish also tend to grow taller rather than longer, so they should be kept in taller tanks instead of wider ones.

2. Territoriality

Angelfish are generally non-aggressive.

However, they can get into territorial fights with each other, especially when trying to pair up and spawn.

Angelfish are known to be very active during the spawning season.

They will often chase one another around the tank until they find a suitable female.

They can also be quite dangerous and cause wounds to other fish such as tetras, bettas, or guppies if they perceive them as a threat.

So they can become very aggressive.

That’s why you need to be careful when selecting other species to keep with angelfish.

It’s best to keep fish that are similar in size and temperament to avoid fights and aggression.

For example, as angelfish are slow swimmers, zebrafish and other smaller but faster-moving fish are fine with them because they can quickly get out of the way.

Related: Angelfish Care | Will Angelfish Eat Shrimp? | Are Angelfish Schooling Fish? | Do Angelfish Eat Other Fish?

3. Mating Behavior

Angelfish preparing to mate

Angelfish are generally peaceful fish, but like other cichlid species, they can be aggressive toward one another during the mating season.

At first, both the male and female angelfish will form pairs. Then they start to swim close to each other.

The male becomes more aggressive and drives the other fish away from the female.

Once the pair is formed, the two will choose a location to spawn.

The male will meticulously clean the surface and allow the female to lay eggs, which he then fertilizes.

Both parents will also protect the territory.

4. Feeding Behavior

Angelfish are usually found near the surface or mid-water. However, they also forage along the bottom for food.

So they can always eat or injure an unsuspecting small fish or crustaceans.

Angelfish are omnivores, and they will eat plants, small fish, and invertebrates in the tank.

These fish are not picky and will eat anything that will fit in their mouths.

Angelfish also relish aquarium food like flakes, granules, and shrimp pellets.

You can also feed frozen and live foods to them as treats.

Like cichlids, angelfish can become aggressive toward smaller species.

They can attack and eat small fish when kept with other species.

Are Angelfish African Cichlids?

Angelfish aren’t African cichlids. African cichlids inhabit the three African lakes: Lake Malawi, Lake Tanganyika, and Lake Victoria. African cichlids are the most aggressive cichlids and prefer hard and alkaline water compared to the soft or acidic water required by angelfish.

African cichlids are very aggressive and will chase and bully the slow-moving and docile angelfish.

So it’s best not to keep angelfish with African cichlids.

Both these fish also need different water conditions.

African cichlids prefer hard and alkaline water between 75°F to 85°F (24°C to 30°C), with pH level between 7.8 to 8.5, and hardness between 9°dH to 18°dH.

On the other hand, angelfish prefer soft to acidic water between 78°F to 85°F (25.5°C to 30°C), with pH between 6.8 to 7.8, and hardness between 3°dH to 8°dH.

Are Angelfish Central American Cichlids?

Angelfish aren’t Central American cichlids. The Central American cichlids come from diverse habitats, including volcanic lakes, fast-flowing rivers, streams, and even brackish waters. These cichlids prefer hard and alkaline water instead of the soft and acidic water preferred by angelfish.

Central America is home to various cichlid species that are beautiful, intelligent, easy to breed, and excellent parents.

So, many cichlid species from this region have already made their way into the aquarium hobby.

While some are small and relatively peaceful, others are large and aggressive species incompatible with most other fish, including angelfish.

Are Angelfish South American Cichlids?

Yes, angelfish are South American cichlids. They originate in regions of the Amazon basin and prefer softer and slightly acidic water. Although angelfish are docile and tolerant toward other fish, they can be aggressive and not hesitate to eat the smaller fish and invertebrates inhabiting the tank.

Angelfish have unique diamond-shaped, laterally thin, compressed bodies with small mouths and long dorsal and anal fins.

They come in various colors and patterns, which helps them to camouflage themselves among the weeds and plants in their natural habitat.

Like other South American cichlids, angelfish prefer softer and slightly acidic waters with pH between 6.8 to 7.8, the hardness between 3°dH to 8°dH and water temperature between 78°F to 85°F (25.5°C to 30°C).

Angelfish are relatively tolerant of other fish and can cohabitate in a community tank.

On the other hand, most cichlid species are highly territorial and aggressive.

However, certain South American cichlids like the blue acara, rainbow cichlid, Bolivian ram, and keyhole cichlid are docile and compatible with the relatively peaceful angelfish.