Angelfish aren’t schooling fish. However, they prefer to swim and stay in groups. Angelfish swim together in large groups in the wild, but they don’t swim in a synchronized manner. Due to their social behavior, you can keep angelfish with schooling fish like platies, cory catfish, lemon tetras, etc.
Let’s now understand this in more detail.
Why Aren’t Angelfish Schooling Fish?
Angelfish aren’t schooling fish because they don’t swim in a school.
Schooling fish make synchronized movements and coordinate their body positions while swimming in a common direction.
However, angelfish don’t swim in this fashion.
If you watch them closely while swimming, you will notice that they merely swim together.
Their body movements aren’t as coordinated as that of schooling fish.
So angelfish are shoaling fish, not schooling fish.
Angelfish are found living in groups where they are close to each other.
They shoal alongside others in the wild, thus forming a large group.
Although angelfish swim in groups, every group member has the independence to forage for its own food while remaining within the shoal’s boundary.
Angelfish prefer to stay in groups in their natural habitat. They do this to avoid predation and get better food resources.
They exhibit the same behavior even in captivity.
You can see angelfish in a group due to their social behavior when kept in a group of 5 to 6.
Can Angelfish Live In Schools?
Angelfish don’t live in schools like tetras. However, they prefer a group of 5 or 6 in an aquarium.
While keeping angelfish, it’s crucial to have enough space for everyone to avoid territorial aggression.
Also, there shouldn’t be food scarcity.
Otherwise, angelfish become aggressive toward each other while competing for limited food resources.
In the wild, angelfish are found in groups due to security reasons. They exhibit this behavior as it gets easy to search for food.
This way, they also stay protected from predators. A predator is less likely to attack a group of fish.
Besides, their eggs also remain protected. This increases the chances of fertilization.
Moreover, swimming together also improves the hydrodynamics of each fish.
This makes it easier for them to swim through the water and conserve energy.
Can Angelfish Live Alone?
Angelfish can live alone in the tank. However, they prefer to be in groups as they are social fish.
Angelfish stay in a group to avoid predators and find food resources in the wild. So they prefer to live in a group inside an aquarium too.
Keeping a single angelfish in the tank for a longer period leads to loneliness.
Loneliness further lead to stress, appetite loss, and lethargy.
Angelfish need to be part of a community, even if it’s not their kind.
So house a single angelfish with other compatible tankmates.
The only thing while housing a single angelfish in a community tank is that the other tankmates shouldn’t be smaller than angelfish.
Else, the angelfish will happily devour them.
You also need to avoid keeping any fin nipper fish that can harm angelfish.
The tank should also be large enough as angelfish need plenty of space to swim around.
There should also be ample resting places such as plants, caves, and rocks for all fish to feel secure.
How Many Angelfish Can You Keep Together?
The number of angelfish that can be kept together largely depends upon the tank size.
Since freshwater angelfish can grow up to a length of 6 inches, and their fins can grow up to 8 inches, they need a comparatively large tank than most other smaller fish species like guppies and neon tetras.
If you have a small tank, keep around 3 to 4 angelfish instead of 5 to 6 in a larger tank.
The number of angelfish also depends on whether you are keeping them in a community tank or not.
You can keep a small group of 3 to 4 angelfish in a community tank as long as all of them can be accommodated without any space constraints.
There’s also the smaller Pterophyllum leopoldi angelfish species.
This angelfish is the smallest, reaching a length of up to 2 inches.
So keep more of these angelfish species, even if the tank is small.
The key is to avoid overcrowding since it leads to a fight for resources.
Limited access to resources like food and territory results in competition. It further triggers aggressive behavior in other fish.
Another important thing is maintaining a balance between the male and female angelfish.
Keeping only male angelfish leads to aggression.
Keep a ratio of 1:3, meaning one male to every three females.
This will ensure that the females aren’t harassed for mating purposes.
It will also help reduce the tank’s territorial and aggressive behavior.
Schooling Fish To Keep With Angelfish
Angelfish come from the Cichlidae family. However, they are less aggressive compared to cichlids.
But angelfish become territorial during the breeding season or feeding time.
While housing any fish with angelfish, you should also ensure that there’s no food scarcity.
There should also be ample space for every fish in the tank to avoid territorial aggression.
Luckily, there’re many suitable tankmates for angelfish. Given below are some of the compatible schooling tankmates for angelfish.
Platies are striking, active little livebearers that are compatible with angelfish.
They are friendly, hardy, and don’t need special care.
Platies are also docile fish that are unlikely to cause any harm to angelfish.
Moreover, both platies and angelfish are relatively easy to breed.
So they are ideal for housing with angelfish and taking care.
Another advantage of keeping them together is that platies don’t need a large aquarium.
So any angelfish tank will be sufficient for platies.
2. Zebra Loaches
Zebra loaches are peaceful, pleasant, and lively fish that fit well in any community aquarium.
They’re best suited for angelfish as they need similar water parameters.
Besides, zebra loaches being bottom feeders help to keep the decor and substrate clean.
They don’t go above the mid-water region of the tank and prefer to search for food in the substrate.
Most importantly, zebra loaches are not aggressive similar to angelfish, and live in harmony with them.
3. Lemon Tetras
Lemon tetras are an excellent choice to keep with angelfish as they are peaceful. Also, lemon tetras aren’t demanding.
Much like angelfish, lemon tetras are native to the Amazon river. So they share more or less the same water conditions.
The only thing to remember is to house at least six or more lemon tetras with angelfish.
You need to keep lemon tetras in a group for them to thrive.
Lemon tetras have a habit of nipping at the fins of the other fish if kept in a small group.
So any number less than six triggers their nipping behavior toward angelfish.
4. Rummy Nose Tetras
Rummy nose tetras and angelfish are housed together by many aquarists worldwide.
Both these fish look stunning and enhance an aquarium’s beauty.
Rummy nose tetras and angelfish live in harmony provided you size them correctly.
You need to avoid housing baby or smaller rummy nose tetras with fully-grown angelfish.
Otherwise, angelfish will happily snack on the little rummy nose tetras.
Also, the tank should contain ample hiding places so that the rummy nose tetras feel secure.
5. Corydoras Catfish
Corydoras catfish are peaceful fish that thrive well in a community tank.
Like angelfish, corydoras catfish are hardy and tolerate a wide range of water conditions.
Corydoras catfish also inhabit the bottom of the aquarium compared to angelfish that prefer the middle level.
So they don’t usually interact much with each other or fight for territory.
Another advantage of corydoras catfish is that they consume the uneaten fish food and other debris in the tank since they are bottom feeders.
In a way, this helps in keeping the tank clean.
6. Dwarf Gouramis
Dwarf Gouramis are suitable tankmates for angelfish as they are docile, reserved, and tolerant to a wide range of water conditions.
Angelfish are also mostly peaceful unless they get restrained in a limited space, or there’s food scarcity.
So to increase their chances of co-existence, you need to have a large tank with ample space for both the fish species.
There should also be enough hiding places such as plants, caves, and decorations for dwarf gouramis to feel secure.
Such places help both angelfish and dwarf gouramis to establish their territory without turning to violence.
Although angelfish and dwarf gouramis co-exist in the same tank, you need to watch your angelfish behavior closely.
If your angelfish are getting aggressive or territorial, dwarf gouramis aren’t the best choice as they often let the other fish bully them due to their docile nature.
7. Keyhole Cichlids
Keyhole cichlids are another fish that cohabitate peacefully with angelfish. Both these fish have similar tank requirements.
Keyhole cichlids are peaceful, and so they’re suitable tankmates for angelfish. Besides, both these fish occupy different areas in the tank.
Keyhole cichlids mainly stay at the bottom of the tank, while angelfish occupy the middle areas of the tank water.
So they won’t usually cross each other’s paths, thus minimizing the competition for territory.