This page is all about raising freshwater Angelfish (we also have pages about saltwater Angelfish, so keep reading) and has hundreds of answers! Some answers can be found directly in the article, while others can be found in the article’s comments.
A brief history and introduction
Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) are popular tropical freshwater aquarium fish that are easy to care for and are regarded as one of the most attractive kinds of tropical freshwater aquarium fish. Angels frequently gaze beyond their tank, and they can react to a variety of stimuli such as hands in an aquarium or people nearby, and each species has its unique personality.
This species was one of the first fish to be carried from South America to the rest of the world; it was introduced to Europe in 1820, and it was first bred in captivity in the United States in 1930. Angelfish are in high demand and can be found in almost every pet store; however, aquarists make several errors and blunders due to a lack of information, compatibility concerns, or ignorance, so let’s go through how to properly care for these fish.
The Angelfish Forum’s Environment
Angels can be found among bulrushes where they can find shelter in their native environment, the Amazon River in South America. They develop and dwell in big shoals, but that doesn’t mean they can’t swim freely, especially in an aquarium, where the ideal number of Angels in a single tank is 6-7. Because not everyone has a 400-liter tank (105 US gallons, 88 Imperial gallons), rearing two or three specimens in a community or dedicated tank is acceptable.
Because the Amazon River is known for having vegetation that these fish use for hiding, it’s a good idea to grow live plants in your aquarium like Alternanthera rosaefolia, Echinodorus amazonicus, Echinodorus grandiflorus, Echinodorus schlueteri, Ludwigia helminthorrhiza, Ludwigia inclinata, Vallisneria spiralis, and Vallisneria gigantea. Angels should not be maintained in the same tank as predators that could hunt, kill, or hurt them (see the “Tank mates” section for further information).
Angelfish’s flat bodies allow them to swiftly hide in plants if they are being pursued by a predator in the wild.
The Angelfish Forum tank setup and care
Basics: For these fish, the ideal pH range is 6.0 to 7.0, the temperature should be approximately 25°C (77°F), and the general water hardness range is 4-12°N dGH (71.43 – 214.29 ppm, 1.43 – 4.29 mEq). These conditions should not only be perfect, but also consistent – pH should not fluctuate, variations in general water hardness should not exceed 1°N dGH (17.86 ppm, 0.36 mEq) every week, and high temperatures may cause the fish to die prematurely.
Angelfish, as previously stated, require a large tank, preferably 40 liters (10.5 US gallons, 8.8 Imperial gallons) per specimen, which is normal given their size and height. Adult males may be territorial towards each other, especially if females are present in a tank, hence less room per specimen is not recommended.
In addition, if the tank height is less than 40 cm (15.74 inches), this species will swim vertically and their fins will degenerate; in certain cases, Angels have even stopped developing in small aquariums. Because some room is required for substrate and there is a gap at the top between the surface and the lid, the minimum height for an Angelfish tank should be 50 cm (19.68 inches).
After all, a tank that is 50 cm (19.68 inches) tall provides approximately 40 cm (15.74 inches) of vertical swimming space; this must be considered when designing an aquarium of this size! A lid (tank cover) is required since these fish can jump out of the tank, however, they do not do it frequently.
They can jump out through a small space of 2.5 cm (1 inch). Keep in mind that Angelfish can be highly territorial towards one another, and they used to get along much better in a group than in a tiny pack of three specimens.
Plants are essential for keeping your Angelfish happy, as stated above. Plants are employed for laying eggs, not only because they increase water quality and aerate it, but also because they have huge leaves.
Plants decompose various detritus, including feces; they also inhibit algae growth and provide hiding places for newly hatched fish. Newborns are easy prey because they don’t have the option to hide in shelters! In an Angelfish tank, Amazon sword plants (Echinodorus) should be cultivated.
Despite the fact that we recommend 40 liters (10.5 US gallons, 8.8 Imperial gallons) per specimen when raising Angels in ordinary community tanks, breeding tanks must be larger because newborns produce excrement, there is usually more uneaten food, and filtration isn’t as effective because the recommended filtration system for a breeding tank is a sponge filter. Although sponge filters are useful, external canister or HOB filters are more superior in terms of water quality.
In a nutshell, an Angelfish tank should not be less than 100 liters (26 US gallons, 22 Imperial gallons), and a group of six of these fish should be housed in a 400-liter tank (105 US gallons, 88 UK gallons).
The Angelfish Forum Food and feeding
Angelfish prefer flakes over granules or pellets, but their diet should not be repetitive, so provide a range of items such as frozen larvae, worms, or insects (live should be preferred, frozen food must be defrosted before offered to the fish). Brine shrimp or Daphnia is as much a favorite of these cichlids as fry of Guppies, Swordtails, or Mollies will be if left with Angels.
Offer your fish-dried foods as well, but don’t depend your diet on them because they may have fewer proteins and other essential nutrients. It’s common knowledge that dried food contains fewer proteins than raw or frozen worms/larvae, therefore make sure that juvenile specimens, in particular, are fed a high-protein diet.
When rearing these fish, a high-protein diet is essential because they are known to produce more eggs when properly fed (the number of laid eggs and frequency of reproduction also depends on temperature, more to be found below in the paragraph named Breeding).
Angelfish aren’t messy eaters, and they only take a small amount of food once or twice a day. Because they aren’t the tiniest fish, their stomachs are large enough to store enough food – adult Angelfish can go up to two weeks without food, but you shouldn’t let them go longer than that. Juvenile specimens should be fed two or three times per day; naturally, young fish should not be allowed to be hungry because this will impact their growth rate and health.
They will be satisfied for a day if they eat enough in 4-5 minutes.
The Angelfish Forums Suitable Tankmates
Angelfish make excellent tankmates for a variety of tetras, including the following:
- Silver tipped tetra – Hasemania nana
- Blue tetra – Boehlkea fredcochui
- Black skirt tetra – Gymnocorymbus ternetzi
- Red eyed characin – Arnoldichthys spilopterus
- Splashing tetra – Copella arnoldi
- Bloodfin tetra – Aphyocharax alburnus
- False rummynose tetra – Petitella georgiae
- Glass bloodfish – Prionobrama filigera
- Green fire tetra – Aphyocharax rathbuni
There are, however, other species that get along with Angelfish, and you are welcome to consider any of the following:
- Corydoras Nanus
- Corydoras Panda
- Corydoras Paleatus
- Elegans and other Corydoras
- Bushynose pleco – Ancistrus temminckii
- Butterfly pleco – Dekeyseria brachyura
- Bristlenose pleco – Ancistrus triradiatus
- Bristlenose catfish
Angelfish will hunt guppies and neon tetras, thus they should be avoided. Angels eat neon tetras in the wild, and Guppies are legendary fin nippers — Angels will not stand for it and will bite back. Any tranquil South American river fish would make a good tank mate, as long as it doesn’t fit Angel’s mouth.
If you’re introducing a new Angelfish to an aquarium with at least one existing Angelfish, do so after feeding time, preferably while the lights are turned out.
The Angelfish Breeding
Most Angels reach sexual maturity between the ages of 10 and 12, which is when females lay their first eggs – and they’re able to lay eggs once a month. However, this statement should not be taken as a rule, as fish often requires a break after breeding continuously for a period of 3 to 4 months, for example. Females may lay eggs regardless of whether or not there is a male in the tank, which keeps the females from becoming egg-bloated. Angelfish cannot be sexed (although males do tend to grow larger than females), therefore they will naturally pair up.
The following are the spawning triggers:
- Angelfish should be fed live or frozen larvae, tiny insects (flies), and worms.
- Raise the temperature to 28 or 29 degrees Celsius (82-84 degrees Fahrenheit).
- In the breeding tank, grow plants with enormous leaves.
- Reduce flow of water.
- Separate the breeding couple from the rest of the fish.
When the vaginal papillae emerge, angelfish are about to spawn; these organs are utilized for depositing and fertilizing eggs. 2-3 days before reproduction, the area where eggs will be placed is cleaned. The female will begin laying eggs on a plant (it may also be a rock or a filter) and the male will fertilize them once the pair begins the reproduction process.
Unfertilized eggs turn white and are frequently removed by parents. If the breeding couple is young or reproducing for the first time, it’s likely that the parents will devour the eggs. It’s perfectly normal for the couple to stop doing this once they’ve honed their skills. If this pattern continues, it will be vital to ensure that the fish are not stressed.
In 3-5 days, the juveniles should hatch. It is not required to feed them during the first few days (up to 5), since they will consume the egg sac. After that, it is time to give them Artemia salina, Daphnia, or micro worms. Feed babies four times a day for the first three weeks of their lives. If you’re producing your own feeder fish, start feeding them Guppy fry once they reach 3 cm (1.18 inches) in length.
Purchasing feeder fish from an aquatic store is always risky since parasites can be passed on to your fish. Keep in mind that a newborn’s food must be varied!
The Angelfish Diseases
The following are the most frequent diseases that affect freshwater Angels:
- Exophthalmia is also known as Pop-Eye. Bloody patches, body sores, black spots on the body, loss of fins, and fish that seem like they have tumors are all symptoms of this disease. Lack of maintenance, infections caused by internal parasites, and bacterial infections are all causes of this condition. Worm cataracts can induce pop-eye, which is characterized by cloudy vision.
- White spot illness, often known as Ichthyophthirius or Ich. It is caused by parasites, but the background of this disease is lack of maintenance, excessive levels of ammonia, stress, poor acclimation, and even freshly introduced “non-quarantined” fish can spread it.
- Hunger pangs; a lack of appetite.
The Angelfish Body & Varieties
Angelfish come in a variety of colors and sizes, as follows:
- Golden – The bodies of these fish are yellowish in color, with a faint yellow tone.
- Silver – The body of these fish are silver with black vertical patterns. Angelfish can be dark, light, or solid in color.
- Koi — This species is distinguished by its reddish-white body with black and gold patterns. Red marks under the eyes are seen in young Koi Angels.
- Smoky – One-half of the body is silver, while the other half is dark grey or ebony.
- Pearly gold — The primary color of this type is a brilliant shade of gold.
- Black — These fish appear to be made of solid ebony.
- Black lace with broad light to dark stripes – Black lace with wide light to dark stripes.
- The body of a zebra is black with white stripes.
- Marble — Their bodies contain marble-like swirls of silver and black, their fins have black markings, and some have golden patterns on their heads.
- Blushing — The golden patterns on the heads of this type are a shade of white. Red marks under the eyes of juvenile specimens are possible.
- Blue blushing – These fish have a grey colour with black outlines. Underneath their eyes, young fish may have red patterns. This type has the capacity to turn dark or light depending on how they are feeling at the time.
- Veiltail – These Angels have elongated fins, and they come in a variety of colours.
More information on Angelfish Forum
This section is a summary that every Angelfish keeper should be aware of:
- Angelfish have a long life span that is determined by the environment in their tank; nonetheless, most Angelfish can live for up to 8-9 years. Fish that are not adequately cared for, on the other hand, may survive for fewer than four years.
- Angels’ growth rate is determined by their diet, however, most of them develop at a pace of 0.5-1 cm (0.2-0.4 inches) each month until they are 6-8 months old, after which their growth rate slows. Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) adults can grow to be 12-15 cm (4.7 – 5.9 inches) in length, with males being larger than females. At 12 and 18 months of age, the baby reaches full size.
- Angels don’t create a lot of waste, so they don’t pollute the water, and their tank doesn’t require a lot of upkeep. If they’re kept in a community aquarium with fish that are notorious for producing a lot of waste (such as guppies, swordtails, and mollies), however, regular upkeep will be required. Water should be tested for pH, ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, and carbonate hardness at least once a week. Cleaning is simple; all you have to do is use a gravel vacuum cleaner and fill the tank with chlorine-free water once the vacuuming is complete.
- Angelfish should be kept in large tanks once again; here’s a quick guide to recommended tank sizes:
US Gallons /
|Number of Angels|
|50 / 13 / 11||1|
|100 / 26 / 22||2|
|150 / 39 / 33||3-4|
|200 / 53 / 44||4-5|
|250 / 66 / 55||4-6|
|300 / 79 / 66||4-7|
|350 / 92 / 77||5-8|
|400 /105 / 88||6-12|
A tank’s height must not be less than 40 cm (15.74 inches), with an ideal height of 50 to 70 cm (19.68 – 27.55 inches). In an Angelfish tank, plants should be present, and never maintain more males than females in one tank, as males can be brutal when competing for females! A 1:2 ratio is ideal (males:females).
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
We updated this article again on December 1st, 2021, and relocated questions. Because this page already has a lot of comments, questions, and answers, it’s possible that the questions listed below have already been answered. If you can’t find the answers to your questions on this page, please contact us using the form at the bottom of the page.
What can I do now that the eggs of my angelfish have become white?
Answer: There’s nothing you can do if the eggs are white. It indicates that the eggs have either not been fertilized or have become infected with a fungus. The male will have an easier time fertilizing the eggs if the filters are turned all the way down. The addition of methylene blue will aid in the prevention of any fungal infection.
Why is the color of my angelfish fading and “holes” emerging on the surface of its skin?
The fading of the pigment, combined with the “holes,” suggests a fungal infection. Remove the fish to a quarantine tank as soon as possible, as fungal infections can spread to other fish. To get rid of the problem, use a commercial fungicide.
What pH do Angle fish (Angelfish) like?
The answer is somewhere between 6 and 7. They can be kept in waters with a pH of 5.3 to 7.6 according to this page: link.
I’m looking for a place to buy saltwater angelfish online.
Answer: On October 5, 2008, we discovered saltwater angels for sale at www.liveaquaria.com, ranging in price from $26 to $580 USD depending on the species. You can also find them at www.marineaquatics.net, where you can inquire about availability and cost. Saltwater angels are also available for purchase at www.justrarefish.com, but you will need to contact them for availability and pricing information.
Where can I purchase freshwater angelfish online?
When angelfish are ready to breed, how big do they get?
Angelfish are usually ready to breed when they are 10-12 months old. Their size varies significantly, but they are usually around 3 inches (7.62 cm) in diameter.