Care Guide for Freshwater Angelfish – the Feisty Angel of The Aquarium


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 shares his real-world experiences as well as answers to most commonly asked questions regarding keeping freshwater angelfish.

What is an Angelfish?

There is some confusion around the term “angelfish”, as the saltwater aquarium hobby includes marine angelfish. Therefore, we are specifically referring the Pterophyllum genera angelfish cichlids that have long, winglike fins and originate from South America’s freshwater rivers. P. altum, P. leopoldi and P. scalare are the three most common species of angelfish.

What types of angelfish colors are there? There are many varieties of angelfish. Some of the most popular are silver (or wild type), veil and koi.

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. alum) can grow to up to 7 inches (18cm) in length and 10-13cm (25-33cm) high.

Altum angelfish are the magnificent giants of the angelfish kingdom.

How long can angelfish live? Angelfish can live for 8-12 years if they are kept in a healthy environment with high-quality food and minimal stress.

How much does angelfish cost? Prices vary depending on their size and the rarity of their color varieties. They can be as low as $5 to $20.

Are angelfish aggressive in nature? Angelfish have been known to chase each others around the aquarium. This territorial behavior is primarily due to breeding. In order to win the female they prefer, males fight and their parents defend their eggs from being eaten by other fish. However, compared to other cichlids, angelfish are relatively peaceful and can be kept in a community aquarium with the right set of tank mates (see below for specifics).

How Do You Pick Healthy Angelfish?

If you are looking for angelfish to buy at a shop, make sure they are about the same size as a U.S. quarter, half-dollar, or nickel coin (0.8-1.2 inches, 2-3 cm). The best part about fish keeping is watching your fish mature from a young age into an adult. Angelfish are relatively slim fish. But don’t choose ones that are too skinny. Look for young, strong fish with a thicker head and meaty body. Ask the store to give them food so that you can choose the most aggressive eaters. Avoid fish with damaged or cloudy eyes. For the best chance at success, bring home the most healthy fish possible.

How Do You Set up an Angelfish Aquarium?

Angelfish can be kept anywhere you like – bare tanks or community tanks. To help reduce toxic waste compounds and to add beauty to your aquarium, you can add some beginner-friendly aquatic plants. For example, java fern provides tall, textured leaves for your angelfish to swim around, and it only needs some low light and a few squirts of Easy Green all-in-one fertilizer to stay alive.

Java Fern grows tall, wide leaves that provide shelter and enrichment to angelfish.

As for water parameters, angelfish tend to prefer warmer temperatures between 78-86degF. (Dean keeps his tanks around 82degF for breeding and raising fry.) 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 is an important consideration as many American captive-bred angelfish are from Florida. Florida is well known for having high levels of GH and hard water. 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. In a 55-gallon tank you should start with five to six juvenile angelfish. If they become territorial, be ready to remove them. 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 live alone? Our experience shows that angelfish can be kept together. 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 kind of fish can you keep with angelfishes? Angelfish have long fins that are beautiful and will compete for your attention during meal times. 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 make a great tank mate because they are small and can be difficult to handle. Angelfish are a great way to control any livebearer population by taking care of their eggs. Betta fish is another species in this “maybe” category. The angelfish may try to attack the betta fish, so consider choosing a giant betta or regular betta with shorter fins to increase their swimming speed.

What’s the Best Food For Angelfish?

Angelfish are easy to feed and will take all sorts of fish foods, floating or sinking. Hikari Vibra Bites, freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex worms, krill flakes and freeze-dried bloodworms are some of their favorites. Frozen bloodworms are essential if you want to feed the adult to make them more suited for breeding.

In order to maximize survival rates and speed growth, hatching live brine shrimp for the fry is the best option. The yolk sacs of newly-hatched brine shrimp are very nutritious for baby fish, and their jerky swimming motions trigger the babies’ feeding responses and encourage them to fill up their bellies. As for prepared foods, Dean likes to feed his angelfish fry Hikari First Bites, Easy Fry food, and Fluval Bug Bites. 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?

It can be difficult to distinguish between males from females if you are not an experienced angelfish keeper. 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. The best looking pair will be chosen and moved to an aquarium for spawning. The breeding tank should be 20 gallons high, as the fins can extend to this height. You can determine which fish are male and female once they have bred. You can then mix the pairs if you are looking for a specific fish with desirable characteristics.

How often do angelfish lay eggs? Angelfish readily breed and can lay hundreds of eggs every one to two weeks if the eggs are removed or eaten. (The first couple of spawns often fail because the new parents can end up consuming them.) However, with the right conditions and a little patience, your angelfish can successfully raise their own offspring. The eggs are typically laid on vertical surfaces like a stiff leaf, filter pipe, or a section of aquarium wall. Depending on the tank temperature, the eggs will hatch in two to three days, and the parents may move the newly hatched wigglers (fry that cannot swim freely yet) around the aquarium with their mouths. 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.

Unfortunately, they won’t all make it to adulthood, and the survival rate tends to be lower for the first few spawns. Also, you may notice some deformities in the offspring, such as missing pectoral fins, twisted spines, or malformed tails. These defects may be caused by poor genetics or by the parents accidentally harming the eggs or fry when moving them. 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: