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

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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 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 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.

What size angelfish can grow? These fish are about the same size as a small saucer. The common P. scalare angelfish has a body length of up to 6 inches (15 cm) and a height (including their fins) of 8 inches (20 cm). Altum angelfish (P. alum) can grow to up to 7 inches (18cm) in length and 10-13cm (25-33cm) high.

Altum angelfish is the giant of 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.

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 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. 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 choose healthy angelfish?

When buying angelfish at a store, look for ones that are the size of a U.S. nickel, quarter, or half-dollar coin (0.8-1.2 inches or 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. Young, healthy fish should have a thicker head than a meaty body and a thicker head. If possible, ask the store to feed them so you can select the most aggressive eaters. Avoid fish with damaged or cloudy eyes. Bring home the healthiest ones possible for the best chance of success.

How do you set up an angelfish aquarium?

Angelfish can be kept in a wide variety of setups – such as bare tanks, community tanks, 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. 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 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 don’t have a very strict pH tolerance and can tolerate pH levels from 6.0 to 8.0 (although it is better to be in 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 can usually adapt to soft water with no problems, but you can also look for a local breeder who has similar water parameters as your own.

What size tank do angelfish need? The aquarium size depends on how many fish you plan to have. For a 29-gallon community tank, keep no more than four adult angelfish with other tank mates. 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. 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. 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, 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. A nano fish, or any small creature that can be eaten by angelfish, is not recommended due to their size. 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 is the best food for angelfish?

Angelfish are easy to feed and will take all sorts of fish foods, floating or sinking. Some favorites include krill flakes, freeze-dried bloodworms and tubifex worms, and Hikari Vibra Bites. If you want to fatten up the adults to condition them for breeding, frozen bloodworms are a must-have.

The best way for fry to grow fast and survive is to hatch live baby brine shrimp. 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. As for prepared foods, Dean likes to feed his angelfish fry Hikari First Bites, Easy Fry food, and Fluval Bug Bites. Make sure you provide both the adults and their young a wide variety of foods to ensure they get all the essential nutrients needed for healthy growth.

Frozen Bloodworms are a great food to quickly induce adults to spawn.

What Do Angelfish Need to Breed?

Unless you’re an experienced angelfish keeper, it can be hard to spot the differences between males and females. It is best to buy at minimum 6 juvenile angelfish. Then raise them until they are adults and allow them to pair naturally. You can choose the most attractive pair and place them in an aquarium to spawn. The breeding tank should be 20 gallons high, as the fins can extend to this height. Once they breed, you can easily determine the sex since the female is the one laying the eggs. If you wish to match two fish with certain qualities, you can combine the pairs.

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 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 laid on a vertical surface such as a leaf, filter pipe or section of an 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. At this time, start off the fry with tiny, nutritious foods like baby brine shrimp and Hikari First Bites powder.

Even if there is no male present, female angelfish can still lay unfertilized eggs.

How Many Eggs Can Angelfish Lay? An angelfish spawn can produce as many as 1000 eggs and can give birth to 300-600 fry.

Unfortunately, not all of them will make it to adulthood. The survival rate is lower for the first few generations. 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: