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. Dean, a master breeder, has been keeping these unique cichlids successfully for 40 to 50 years. Dean also produces high-end strains for sale at the Aquarium Co-Op Fish Store. This article will share his real-world experiences, as well as answer the most common questions about keeping freshwater Angelfish.
What is an Angelfish?
It is possible to confuse the term “angelfish” as there are many species of angelfish in saltwater aquariums. However, the marine angelfish hobby also has angelfish. We are referring specifically to angelfish cichlids from the Pterophyllum family that have long, winglike, fins and hail 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 measures up to 6 in (15 cm) in length, and can reach 8 in (20 cm when including their fins). Altum angelfish, P. altum, can grow up 7 inches (18 cm), 10-13 inches (25-33.3 cm), and tall.
Altum angelfish is the giant of angelfish world.
How long do angelfish live? If given a clean environment with minimal stress and high-quality foods, angelfish can live up to 8 to 12 years long.
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? Many pet stores label angelfish as “semi-aggressive” because they are known to chase each other in 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. Angelfish are calmer than other cichlids and can be kept in an aquarium that has the right mix of tank mates (see below).
How can 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 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. You can ask the store to provide food for them, so you can pick 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. You can help your fish to eat toxic waste and add a touch of nature to their aquarium by adding some aquatic plants that are easy to learn. 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.
Angelfish prefer warm temperatures, ranging from 78 to 86 degF. Dean keeps his tanks at around 82degF to breed and raise 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. The hardiness of water may be more important as many angelfish that are captive-bred in the United States are from Florida. This is a state known for its high GH levels 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. In a community tank that holds 29-gallon, you should limit the number of adult angelfish to four. If you have a 55-gallon tank, it is best to start with 5-6 juvenile angelfish. You can always remove them later if they become territorial. Keep the angelfish in an environment that is too crowded. Increase the frequency of your water changes to maintain high water quality.
Can angelfish live alone? Our experience shows that angelfish can be kept together. Although they can shoal together and swim in the wild, keeping one angelfish as your aquarium’s centerpiece makes them more docile and easygoing overall.
If aggression is a problem, consider keeping a single angelfish as a centerpiece fish amongst other community fish.
What fish can be kept with angelfish? Because of their long, gorgeous fins, stay away from any fin nippers or fast-swimming fish that will outcompete your angelfish during mealtimes. You should also avoid nano fish and other small creatures, as they can grow to be quite large. We have had success with adult cardinal tetras and black skirt tetras.
Guppies are on the “maybe” list for tank mates because of their smaller size, so you may want to try a larger type of livebearer if you’re worried about them. (Certainly, the angelfish will help keep any livebearer population under control by going after their fry.) Betta fish are another species in the “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, 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 baby fish will be very happy to eat the yolks of newly-hatched brineshrimp. They also love the jerky swimming motions that trigger their feeding response and encourage them, in turn, to eat more. Dean loves to eat his angelfish fry Hikari First Bites (easy fried food), and Fluval Bug Bites (prepared foods). 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 bloodworms are the perfect food for quickly inducing adults to spawn.
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. It is best to buy at minimum 6 juvenile angelfish. Then raise them until they are adults and allow them to pair naturally. Pick the best-looking pair and move them to their own aquarium for spawning. (A 20-gallon high breeding tank is a good size, since it has plenty of height for their fins to fully extend.) 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 frequently do angelfish lay eggs each week? If the eggs are not removed or eaten, angelfish can breed quickly and can produce hundreds of eggs per week. The first few spawns are often unsuccessful because the parents may end up eating 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. The hatching time depends on the temperature in the tank. Once the eggs are hatching, parents can move the newly hatched fry (fry that cannot swim freely yet), around the aquarium using their mouths. In another three to four days, the fry become free-swimming, and the parents will protectively keep their cloud of babies between them. Begin the fry with small, nutritious foods, such as Hikari First Bite and baby brine shrimp.
Female angelfish can still produce unfertilized eggs even if there’s no male.
How many eggs do angelfish lay? Each successful spawn can produce up to 1000 eggs that can yield 300 to 600 fry.
They won’t all survive to adulthood and survival rates tend to be lower in the first few spawnings. There may be some defects in the offspring like missing pectoral fins, bent spines, and 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: