Care Guide for Freshwater Angelfish – The Feisty Angel of the Aquarium
Angelfish are a very popular fish because of their long and majestic fins, spirited personalities, and ease of breeding. To learn more about this unique cichlid, we sat down with master breeder Dean, who has successfully kept them for the past 40 to 50 years and produces high-end strains to sell at the Aquarium Co-Op fish store. This article reveals his real-world experiences and answers to the most frequently asked questions about keeping freshwater angelfish.
What are Angelfish?
There can be some confusion about the term “angelfish” since the saltwater aquarium hobby has marine angelfish, so we are specifically referring to the angelfish cichlids of the Pterophyllum genus that have long, wing-like fins and come from freshwater rivers in South America. P. altum is the largest known angelfish species, while P. leopoldi is the rarest and most commonly found species in fish shops.
What are the different angelfish types and colors? New colors and patterns of angelfish are constantly being developed, but some of the most well-known varieties include silver (or wild type), veil, koi, zebra, marble, albino, leopard, and platinum.
How big can angelfish grow? These fish reach the size of small saucers, so make sure they have plenty of room. Common P. scalare angelfish can grow up to 6 inches (15cm) in length and 8 inches (20cm (includes their fins). Altum angelfish (P. altum) can grow up to 7 inches (18 cm) long and 10-13 inches (25-33 cm) high.
Altum angelfish are the majestic giants of the angelfish world.
How many years can angelfish live in clean water? Yes, if there is minimal stress and good food, angelfish can live from 8 to 12 year old.
What is the cost of angelfish? It depends on its size and rarity of color. Prices can go from $5 to $20.
Are angelfish aggressive in nature? Angelfish have been known to chase each others around the aquarium. This territorial behavior stems mainly from breeding. Males spar with one another to win their favorite female, and parents often defend their eggs and fry from being eaten by other fish. Angelfish, unlike other cichlids are peaceful and can be kept together in a community aquarium. (See below for details).
How do you choose healthy angelfish?
Look for angelfish that measure 0.8 to 1.2 inches in length or between 2 and 3 cm when you buy them from a store. The best part about fish keeping is watching your fish mature from a young age into an adult. Angelfish are quite slim fish. However, they are not recommended for those who are too thin. Look for young, strong fish with a thicker head and meaty body. If possible, ask the store to feed them so you can select the most aggressive eaters. Avoid any fish that have damaged or cloudy vision. Bring home the healthiest ones possible for the best chance of success.
How Do You Set up an Angelfish Aquarium?
Angelfish can live in many different types of tanks, including bare, community, and planted tanks. To help reduce toxic waste compounds and to add beauty to your aquarium, you can add some beginner-friendly aquatic plants. To keep your angelfish happy, you can add java fern to your aquarium. This plant has tall, textured leaves and requires very little light.
Java is a tall, broad-leaved fern that provides cover and enrichment for angelfish.
As for water parameters, angelfish tend to prefer warmer temperatures between 78-86degF. For breeding and raising fry, Dean keeps his tanks at 82 degrees F. They can live in any pH range between 6.0 and 8.0, although it is best to keep them closer to the middle. Water hardness may matter a little more since many captive-bred angelfish in the United States come from Florida, which is known for having hard water or high GH levels. Angelfish are able to adapt to water that is soft, but it is possible to find a local breeder with similar water conditions.
What size aquarium do angelfish need? This depends on the number of fish you have. A community tank of 29 gallons should have no more than four adult angelfish. For a 55-gallon tank, start with five or six juvenile angelfish and be prepared to remove some in the future if they get too territorial. If the angelfish are kept in overcrowded conditions, make sure to increase the frequency of your water changes to keep the water quality high.
Can angelfish be kept alone? In our experience, keeping a single angelfish does not seem to adversely affect their well-being. They can swim or shoal together in the wild but it seems that having one fish as the focal point of your aquarium makes them more relaxed and docile.
If aggression is a problem, keep one angelfish as the center fish in a group of fish.
What fish are compatible with angelfish? Also, given how large they can grow, don’t buy any nano fish or small creatures that can be eaten by your angelfish (like microrasboras or dwarf shrimp). We’ve had great luck with cory catfish, adult cardinal and black skirt Tetras.
Guppies are a good choice for tank mates due to their small size. You may also consider a larger livebearer type if they’re a concern. (Certainly, the angelfish will help keep any livebearer population under control by going after their fry.) Betta fish is another species in this “maybe” category. The angelfish could attack the betta fish so you might consider a giant betta, regular betta, or a betta with shorter fins to improve their swimming speed.
What Is the Best Food for Angelfish?
Angelfish are easy to feed and will take all sorts of fish foods, floating or sinking. Hikari Vibra Bites and freeze-dried tubifex and bloodworms are among their favorite foods. You need to bulk up the adult bloodworms to prepare them for breeding.
For the fry, hatching out live baby brine shrimp is the best way to ensure fast growth and maximum survival rate. Baby fish love the yolk sacs of freshly-hatched brine shrimp. Their jerky swimming motions stimulate babies’ eating responses and encourage them fill their stomachs. Dean enjoys angelfish fry Hikari First Bites and Easy Fry food. You should ensure that both parents and children have access to a wide range of foods so they can get the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.
Frozen worms are the best food to induce adult spawning.
What Do Angelfish Need to Breed?
If you don’t have experience keeping angelfish, it may be difficult to identify the differences between males or females. Therefore, the easiest method of getting a breeding couple is to buy at least 6 juvenile angelfish, raise them to adulthood, and let them pair off naturally. Pick the best-looking pair and move them to their own aquarium for spawning. A 20-gallon breeding tank is ideal as it allows their fins to extend fully. The sex of the fish can be easily determined once they are bred. This is because the female lays the eggs. If you wish to match two fish with certain qualities, you can combine the pairs.
How many angelfish lay eggs per week? The angelfish are able to breed rapidly and can lay hundreds if they are eaten or removed from their eggs. The first few spawns are often unsuccessful because the parents may end up eating them. Your angelfish can still raise their own offspring if they have the right conditions and some patience. The eggs are typically laid on vertical surfaces like a stiff leaf, filter pipe, or a section of aquarium wall. The eggs will hatch within two to three days depending on the temperature of the tank. Parents may then move newly hatched wigglers around the aquarium with the help of their mouths, depending on how they are doing. In three to four days the fry will be able to swim freely, and parents will protect their baby cloud. Start the fry by adding tiny, nutritious foods such as baby brine shrimps and Hikari First Bite powder.
Even if there is no male present, female angelfish can still lay unfertilized eggs.
How many angelfish eggs can you lay? A successful spawn can produce between 300 and 600 eggs.
They won’t all survive to adulthood and survival rates tend to be lower in the first few spawnings. Also, you may notice some deformities in the offspring, such as missing pectoral fins, twisted spines, or malformed tails. Poor genetics, or parents accidentally moving eggs or fry in an unintentional way can cause these defects. One of the toughest parts of being a fish breeder is culling fry and not passing on damaged fish to other hobbyists.
The reason Dean keeps breeding angelfish after so many years is because they are a very popular fish that stores always seem to have a demand for. Just a couple pairs of angelfish can entirely fund the cost of running a small fish room. If you’ve never kept them before, you can’t go wrong with this fun and colorful fish. For more suggestions on the best aquarium fish for beginners, check out our top 10 list: