Angelfish have an easily recognized and distinct triangle shape. This unique shape is one of the things that make these fish so popular among freshwater hobbyists whose fish choices are somewhat limited compared to those who keep a saltwater tank. Another favorable feature is that angelfish come in a variety of colors, making the fish even more interesting.
Angelfish are good tank mates for many tetras, some of the most suitable ones are as follows:
- Black skirt tetra - Gymnocorymbus ternetzi
- Silver tipped tetra - Hasemania nana
- Blue tetra - Boehlkea fredcochui
- 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
However there are other species that get along with Angelfish, feel free to consider any of these:
- Corydoras Paleatus
- Corydoras Nanus
- Corydoras Panda
- Corydoras Elegans and other Corydoras
- Bushynose pleco - Ancistrus temminckii
- Butterfly pleco - Dekeyseria brachyuran
- Bristlenose pleco - Ancistrus triradiatus
- Bristlenose catfish
Amazon and some of its tributaries, like the Tapajoz.
General Body Form
Disk-shaped. Dorsal and Anal fins Are elongated and sail-like, the Pectoral fins are stretched into long filaments. The Caudal fin is fan shaped and broad. The outermost fin rays are prolonged. In older fish the forehead bulges. Including the fins the Angel may reach a length of six inches and a height of ten inches.
The body is Silvery with a slight Brown tinge, the snout, back and forehead are Brownish Yellow. Sides are marked with four Black transverse bars, the first running in a curve from the nape through the eye to the start of the Ventral fin, the second from the Dorsal to the anus, the third is the most prominent runs from the Dorsal to the Anal fins and the fourth crosses the start of the Caudal fin. A few fainter bars can sometimes be seen in the upper half of the body. The Dorsal fin spines are Yellow-Brown, the front of the Ventral fins Steel-Blue and the soft rayed parts of the unpaired fins are Grayish-White.
The above paragraph was a description of the original wild caught specimens and is seldom seen in its true colors anymore. Today Angels come in all color varieties and more are added almost everyday. There are Black, Gold, Ghost, Marble, Veiltail and many more available today. All are the result of color and fin mutations through selective breeding.
- SilverThis is the normal coloring of wild Angel. The body is white with 4 dark vertical bars running through it. The first passes through the eye, the second usually is in front of the top and bottom fin, the third is usually through the top and bottom fin and the fourth is at the start of the tail fin. There may or may not be faint dark bars running parallel between the darker ones. Some specimens have black speckles over the top half of the body.
- ZebraThese are much like the Silvers, but they have more vertical stripes which continue on right through the tail.
- Black LaceBlack Lace are the steppingstones to the solid black variety. The main difference between Black Lace and Silvers is the intensity of color especially on the fins where you will see a lace like effect. In mating 2 Black Lace, you can expect to produce 25% Black, 50% Black Lace and 25% Silver. The Black fry are especially fragile and a lot of times don't survive to free swimming and if they do, should be separated from their more vigorous littermates.
- BlackThese fish are a solid, velvety black. In mating a Black to a Black Lace you can expect 50% Black and 50% Black Lace and if you mate Black to Black you can expect 100% Black.
- Half BlackHalf Blacks are just that. Their bodies are white in the front and the black cuts right through the top and bottom fins right through the tail.
- VeiltailVeiltail Angels have very elongated fins and come in all color varieties. If a Veil Angel and a Silver are bred, you can expect 50% Veil and 50% Silver. Breed 2 Veils and you can expect 25% ordinary Angels, 50% Veil and 25% Long Tailed Veil which will have even longer fins and tails than the Veil. Breeding 2 Long Tailed Veils will produce 100% Long Tailed Veils, but they are not as hearty nor are the spawns as large. Some Veils have such long fins that they become bent or at worst broken.
- MarbleInstead of having the ordinary black bars, these fish have a broken pattern of black and silver that is best described as Marble. In the head and back region there may be undertones of golden while the fins have rays of black and white. A breeding of a Marble with a Black Lace will produce some fry which are Black Lace Marble, having characteristics of both parents.
- GoldenGoldens may range from a solid silvery white to a golden color with no other markings. Over the head and back area is usually a mantle of gold.
- BlushingBlushing Angels have a red cheek area and no pattern on a white body and are reported to be the most delicate.
- Pearl ScalePearl Scale Angels have bumpy almost rough looking scales and come in many color varieties.
The actual aquarium size is relatively unimportant. However, the number of angelfish per gallon is critical. This figure varies depending on several factors. Obviously, size has a lot to do with carrying capacity. Other variables that affect this include, pH, temperature, feeding practices, water changing volume, water changing frequency, strain of angelfish being kept and the overall quality of angelfish you desire to raise or maintain. Keep in mind, the number of angelfish per gallon a tank can handle, will vary immensely from one situation to another. The following would be a very general guideline.
Nickel size bodies
1 angelfish per gallon
Quarter size bodies
1 angelfish per 2 gallons
Silver dollar size bodies
1 angelfish per 3 gallons
Stock ready to be paired
1 angelfish per 5 gallons
Full grown breeding pair
20 gallon tall
Good biological filtration can be easily obtained a number of ways. Angelfish body shapes are not designed for efficient swimming, therefore gentle aquarium filtration is preferred. Lots of water movement will stress them somewhat and cause slower growth due to the increased energy expended to swim against a current. Angels Plus Sponge filters are ideal for fish hatchery situations, where expense is a concern. In show tanks, undergravel filters works well. In a densely populated tank, a whole-tank filter is a very effective option. A very effective secondary filter that will not clog is a fluidized bed filter. In general, the limiting factor for angelfish carrying capacity is not biological filtration. It is dissolved organics and high bacterial loads that develop from keeping too many fish in a tank, overfeeding or changing too little water. Large, frequent water changes are the easiest way to lower these dissolved organic and bacterial levels. Sophisticated systems will sometimes incorporate the use of ozone, foam fractionation and U.V. filters to accomplish the lowering of these organic and bacterial loads, but most of us will rely upon water changes to accomplish this important facet of angelfish care.
Angelfish have a tolerance to a wide range of aquarium temperatures, but immune system response is best at higher temperatures. Therefore, if your fish husbandry is less than ideal, you will have more problems at lower temperatures. 80° F is a good start for a hatchery situation. Mid to upper seventies is fine for show tanks.
As a cold blooded animal, angelfish will live longer at lower temps. Higher temperatures will promote faster growth, more frequent breeding, better immune system response and shorter life spans.
Obviously, angelfish do not eat flakes in their natural environment. The food an angelfish would eat may include small fry fish and mosquito larvae. Some experts will say that you must provide live food in order to help your angelfish maintain a well-balanced diet.
Other experts would disagree and say that a diet of appropriate and high quality flakes is sufficient.
If you want to give your fish some variety, you may consider feeding mostly flakes with an occasional treat of live food. If, however, you cannot or choose not to provide live food, then flakes are fine.
Keeping the Tank Clean
Changing the water
Changing the water regularly keeps the quality of your water high and your angelfish healthy. How often you should change the water will vary, but it is nearly impossible to do it too often, as long as you only do partial changes.
The more angelfish that are in the tank, the more often the water should be changed. Higher temperature, heavy feeding and higher pH also require more frequent water changes.
Make sure that the water being added is of the same hardness and pH as the existing water. Use water conditioning chemicals or cichlid buffers to prepare your tap water.
Younger angelfish require the water to be changed more often than fully-grown stock. Breeders should change 50% of the water each day, while regular show fish can be changed as little at 20% a week.
Overfeeding the fish leads to excess debris. Make sure to use a net to remove any uneaten food or floating matter to keep the tank clean.
You should also remove debris from the bottom of the tank with a siphon or gravel vacuum. Insert the siphon into the tank and suck lightly or pump the siphon until water begins flowing through. Run the siphon along the bottom of the tank, stirring up the rocks and gravel to remove embedded debris. Remove only as much water that is needed to remove the waste and then replace the water.
Algae can be removed with a magnetic scraper, an abrasive sponge or manual scraper. You can also buy an algae-eating fish like a Plecostomus to fight algae, but make sure it is a fish that is compatible with your angelfish. (Plecos will not eat enough algae to keep yours under control if you have a phosphate problem.) Avoid keeping your tank in direct sunlight or using non-aquarium lighting, both of which cause algae blooms.
A Potentially deadly disease. It is highly infectious. All exposed angelfish that are not immune will come down with symptoms within 2-3 days of exposure, usually quicker. If you suspect that a quarantined fish has this, you should destroy the fish. The risk is too great to keep such a fish around. There is no medication for this virus. The fish's immune system must be relied upon for the cure. Symptoms: Clamped fins, excess slime, listless with nose pointed up slightly, usually towards the back of the aquarium. It has an approximately 3 week infectious period. This disease is so undesirable, because if an angelfish survives the virus, it will likely become a carrier for up to six months. This can put an angelfish breeding operation out of business very quickly. These symptoms can also be caused by other infectious diseases which may be secondary or tertiary infections, that are unrelated to the virus. The object is to keep the angelfish comfortable while giving the immune system time to kick in. Remove any bright lights from the aquarium and treat with an antibiotic to prevent secondary infections.
Protozoans such as these cause persistent trouble in situations where angelfish are stressed. Hexamita is one that is very prevalent. It is thought to be present in all angelfish, at least in small numbers, and an outbreak is what you're trying to prevent. It appears to explode in numbers if the fish are too crowded, overfed or being overly stressed by some other situation in the aquarium. Stressing your angelfish, is what you need to avoid. Symptoms: If the angelfish is still eating, they will pass a white, chalky feces. Appetite will decrease. No external symptoms will appear on the angelfish. They are prone to secondary infections of bacteria and other parasites when in this weakened condition. To cure, relieve stress and then raise the tank temperature to 95° F for 7-10 days and medicate with metronidazole, or a medicated food that contains it.
The ones that cause the biggest problems with angelfish are a nematode known as Capillaria, and gill flukes. Many others can be present, but these two are the most common. The only way to positively identify a parasite, is to have a microscope and the know-how to examine gill samples, skin scraping, and fecal samples. This is beyond the average aquarist, so I generally recommend a heat treatment to help the angelfish fend off the parasitic infestation. Try 95° F. for 7-10 days if you suspect a parasite. If there is no response within that time, then it is likely something else, or a combination of pathogens.
Capillaria symptoms: The infected angelfish will have no appetite. They will commonly mouth their fish food and spit it out. The angelfish get progressively thinner until they die. Capillaria is a round worm that is hair-like, and up to an inch long. It is diagnosed by worm eggs in the feces. The worm egg is oval with a cork-like plug in each end. Severe capillaria infections are almost always accompanied with outbreaks of hexamita in the infected angelfish. This makes diagnosis and treatment even more difficult. For gill flukes, capillaria, or nematodes, treat with Disco-Med, or a medicated flake designed to de-worm.
Aquarium Temperature for Fish Disease Treatment
As stated above, high temperatures are useful when treating parasite problems. Be careful, for there are many people who recommend heat for bacterial or viral infections. Their poor advice will most likely kill your angelfish. Bacteria and viruses thrive at higher temperatures and multiply at much faster rates. If you suspect an external bacterial problem, treatment is the application of the proper anti-biotic. This can only be determined by culturing the bacteria in an incubator, identifying it, and then testing to see what anti-biotic will kill it. If you can't do that, then try broad spectrum antibiotics such as Ampicillin, Trimethazole, Erthromycin or Triple Sulpha. If it's an internal bacteria, identification of the bacteria will require an angelfish to be sacrificed in order to get a fresh sample of the internal bacteria. Treatment for internal bacteria must be by intramuscular injection or by feeding a medicated fish food with the proper anti-biotic in it. In some cases a skin-adsorbing antibiotic such as Kanamycin will work, but it is the least likely to be effective. Of course, the angelfish must be eating well for a medicated fish food to work.
General Tips for Angelfish Care
- While treating an angelfish for sickness, it can help the process along by raising the temperature of the water slightly.
- It is recommended to keep angelfish alone, as they may contract diseases from other species of fish.
- Be careful not to distress angelfish just after they have spawned. Stress can cause angelfish to eat their young. To make sure this doesn't happen, use a refugium.
- Angelfish can have a lifespan of up to 10 to 12 years. Lowering the water temperature may lengthen lifespan, but weakens their immune system.
- Angelfish prefer a calm environment with little noise.
- It can be difficult to tell a male angelfish apart from a female angelfish. The best time to notice is during spawning. A male fish has a shorter, pointier breeding tube while a female has a blunter one.
- Filtering tap water can make it more suitable for adding to your aquarium.
- To prevent parents from eating fry, you can raise them separately by transferring the eggs into a refugium once they are spawned.
Breeding Angel Fish
It is usually very hard to distinguish a female Angel Fish form a male one, since the look very similar. Most Angelfish keepers are actually unsure of the sex of their fish until they notice which one is laying the eggs and which one that is fertilizing them. If you watch your Angelfish closely right before the spawning commence, you will however notice a small difference in the size of the papilla between the sexes. The papilla is a pink coloured organ formed between the anal fin and the ventral fin. Both sexes will display a papilla right before spawning, but the Angelfish with the largest papilla is usually the female one. Her papilla will also be blunter than the males, and when the female Angelfish becomes gravid she will display a large bulge in the region around her papilla. You can also notice a difference in behaviour; a male Angelfish is more territorial than a female. If one of your female Angelfish becomes gravid, all the male Angelfish in the aquarium will form a papilla. Those fishes that do not display a papilla in this situation are either females or unhealthy males.
Angelfish forms pair before breeding. They do however not pair up for . The easiest way of obtaining a pair is to buy an already established pair from a or a fish store. This is however quite expensive and forming your own pair is much cheaper. A recommended way of forming a pair is to buy 4-8 Scalare and place them in the same aquarium, where they can get to know each other and form their own pairs. Choose fish with good external features, that looks strong and that display a healthy appetite. Study the fins and gills extra carefully for signs of illness. It is advisable to buy from an established breeder if you want to produce high quality Angelfish. If you can’t find a Scalare breeder in your area, you can buy your fish online, but make sure to choose a reputable website to ensure high quality fish.
Getting Angelfish into spawning condition
Your Angle fish will usually need to become at least 5 cm / 2 inches before they are mature enough to spawn for the first time. If kept on a suitable diet, this will happen when the Angelfish is between 8 and 12 months old. To induce spawning, you should keep your Angelfish in an aquarium that is large enough and not overcrowded. The aquarium should ideally be at least 40 cm / 16 inches high, since the Angelfish is a tall fish. An aquarium that is to shallow will stunt their growth. Angelfish can survive quite poor water qualities and unsuitable water temperatures, but it can make them stop eating and will inhibit breeding. Frequent water changes should therefore be performed and the water temperature kept between 80 and 85 degrees F (27 and 29 degrees C).
Suitable food is also necessary to get your Angelfish into spawning condition. The diet should be varied. Prepared foods especially made for Angelfish is a good base, but should be supplemented with meaty foods. Mosquito larvae, daphnia, beef heart, brine shrimp and larger brine shrimp cut up into suitable size are food types known to induce spawning in Angelfish. Even though your Angelfish must be given plenty of food, you must also avoid overfeeding them. Check the aquarium 5 minutes after the feeding and remove any food that has not yet been consumed. If you frequently find left over food in the aquarium after 5 minutes, you are feeding your Angelfish to much.
Spawning signs in Angelfish
If an Angelfish suddenly displays a bulging belly and a more aggressive behaviour, it is probably a gravid female Angelfish. Two Angelfish grooming each other is also a typical breeding behaviour. Angelfish of both sexes will also flash fins, face off, lock their mouths and twist around. When a couple has been formed, they will choose a spawning site and start cleaning it together.
Angelfish egg laying and fertilization
The Angelfish eggs will be deposited on the spawning slate and placed in very neat and evenly spaced lines. If she doesn’t like the spawning slate, she will deposit the eggs somewhere else in the aquarium. The male Angelfish will fertilize the eggs by following close behind the female and touching all the eggs with his papilla. If you keep only female Angelfish, one of the females might actually resume a male behaviour and follow the egg-laying female and touch the eggs. Those eggs will naturally remain unfertilized and become white within a few days.
Angelfish egg and fry care
Several methods are used by Angelfish breeders to protect eggs and fry from hungry adult fish. Some remove all fish except the breeding pair from the aquarium, while other breeders choose to remove the breeding pair instead and place them in a special breeding aquarium. Some remove less dominant males until only the most dominant male is left with the females in the aquarium. This method also involves removing all non-gravid females from the aquarium.
All adult Angelfish pose a treat to the eggs, and many breeders will therefore place the eggs in their own tank as soon as the eggs have been fertilized. The easiest way is to put a special spawning slate in the aquarium before the spawning takes place. The parent fish will deposit the egg on the spawning slate, and the spawning slate can be easily moved afterwards. A clay pot, poly pipe or a piece of smooth surfaced tile will all as spawning slates. The eggs will survive a brief moment out of the water when you lift them from one aquarium to the other, but try to make the move as fast as possible.
If you do not wish to keep all your fry, you can let the eggs stay in the aquarium with the adult fish. If you provide your fry with suitable hiding places, such as heavily planted areas, at least a few of them will reach adulthood. Be aware of strong filtration, since small fry can be sucked into filter .
If your Angelfish pair has never spawned before, it is usually a good idea to let them spawn once or twice in their normal aquarium “on their own” without your meddling. If you move them to a breeding aquarium during their first spawning they might be confused and stop the spawning process. It is normal for the parents to eat the eggs from their first spawning, and if this happens the female will usually deposit eggs again after just a few weeks.
Newly deposited Scalare eggs are transparent or semi-transparent, with a pale yellow colouration. If the eggs are not fertilized, they will start turning white after approximately 24 hours. If they have not been eaten by other inhabitants of the aquarium, unfertilized Scalare eggs will be attacked by and start looking very fuzzy after roughly 48 hours. 48 hours after being deposited, fertilized eggs on the other hand will begin showing wiggling fry tails. On day three, tadpole shapes with large yolk sacks will be visible. The tadpoles will still be attached to the breeding slate. If the parent Angelfish are still in the same aquarium as the egg, the parents will now start to move the small fry around. On the fourth day you will be able to see tiny eyes on the fry and on the fifth day the yolks will start shrinking. Very soon the first fry will be free swimming. During day seven the fry will usually start getting hungry since their energy from the yolk have been consumed.
Suitable tank for Angelfish fry
If you decide to raise the Angelfish eggs and fry in a special aquarium, a 5-10 gallon (19-38 litres) tank will be suitable, but even a tank no larger than 2 gallons will usually work. You do not need to cover the egg and fry aquarium. If you allow the parent Scalare to accompany their offspring in the aquarium, the parents will keep the eggs clean and protect them from mould. If the eggs are kept without the parents, you must use fungicide to prevent fungus attacks. Make sure that the water temperature in the raising tank is the same as in the parent's old aquarium. An air stone in the raising aquarium will make it easier to maintain high oxygen levels. Keep the water quality good by frequently removing any dead fry and left over food. Regular water changes are also a must. Typically, a lot of the Scalare fry will die. You might have to remove dead fry from the aquarium three times a day or more. During the first three weeks, water changes can be necessary as often as once a day.
Feeding Angelfish fry
You can start feeding your Angelfish fry around 7 days after the eggs were deposited. Angelfish fry can survive 12 hours without food, but should ideally be fed four or five times a day. Newly hatched Brine Shrimp (Artemia nauplii) are a good first food for Angelfish fry. If the fry is too small to consume the Brine Shrimp, you can buy the fry special fry food from a pet shop or fish store. The survival rate for Angelfish fry is usually very much lover when the fry is fed dead food instead of live food (such as live Brine Shrimp). When the fry are a few weeks old it is time to make them grow accustomed to flake foods. Turn the flake food into a powder or press it through a fine screen before feeding it to the fry.
Angelfish guarding and caring behaviours
As mentioned above, it is quite common for Angelfish to eat their eggs or fry, especially during the first few spawnings. This is why most Angelfish breeders place the eggs in a special aquarium without any adult fish. It is however very fascinating to watch an Angelfish pair taking care of their own offspring. You can for instance remove some of the eggs, and let some stay with the parents. If you leave the eggs to hatch with the parents, the parents will spawn again after 2 or 3 weeks and the already hatched fry will use the eggs as food. When the fry is 5 or 6 weeks old you will see them eat from the skin and fins of their parents. This behaviour can make the parents very weak and even cause them to die.
Some Scalare individuals are more aggressive than others, and will not be able to raise their own offspring. They will always eat their offspring or at least chaise them away. Such individuals can usually be singled out as early as during the courtship period, since they are extremely aggressive and sometimes even injure a fish they wish to breed with. For instance, it is not that rare for Angelfish to suffer from severely injured mouths after the courtship period.