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Angelfish: Complete Care Guide (Diet, Tank & More)

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Angelfish are a great addition to a community tank or by themselves and come in a variety of colors.

Their long fins are absolutely gorgeous and can be the feature of any home aquarium. 

Angelfish are typically easy to care for once you learn their requirements.

Read on to learn more about these beautiful fish such as their appearance, temperament, needed tank parameters, breeding habits, and more!  

Freshwater Angelfish Care Guide

Scientific NamePterophyllum scalare
Common NameAngelfish
TemperamentSemi Aggressive
Size3 to 4 Inches
Minimum Tank Size20 Gallons

Angelfish are on the larger end of freshwater fish tank additions. They are 4-6 inches and require a minimum of a 30-gallon tank. They have beautiful fins and come in a variety of colors for any preference. They are a part of the cichlid family and do well in a community tank apart from fin-nippers.

Appearance & Temperament


Angelfish have triangular snouts and wide bodies with long flowing dorsal and pectoral fins. There is a wide variety of colors and patterns when it comes to angelfish.

For these reasons, the angelfish are a very popular choice for freshwater aquarists.

Zebra angelfish aquarium

The more common angelfish colors are silver, gold, black, yellow, orange, and white.

In most common angelfish, they have vertical black stripes; the amount of black stripes on an angelfish depends on their age. 

As juveniles, the angelfish will have seven black stripes all over their body, as the fish grows and matures the number of stripes decreases.

Typically fully matured angelfish will have four black stripes.

Aside from striped angelfish, there are marbles where there are no stripes on them instead a marbled pattern with black, white, silver, gold, yellow, and orange.

There is also a Panda angelfish, instead of stripes of marbled effects they will have panda-like black patches all over their bodies.

There are a few angelfish that are purely one color, that being the Albino, gold, and platinum.

The albino is fully white with yellow-orange heads and a touch of red on the tails. Gold is a pure golden color and platinum is fully silver. These angelfish have no black stripes or other patterns.

With all the variety in appearance with angelfish, they are hard to resist!

With a wide variety of different colors and patterns, they are sure to catch your eye. Fun fact, the brightness of their color is a result of their mood! 

When angelfish are stressed or asleep their color will be dull. Whereas a happy and healthy angelfish will exhibit much more vibrant colors.

The males are also more vibrant and bolder in color during breeding in order to attract females.

Orange angelfish

Temperament and Behavior

Typically angelfish are considered to be semi-aggressive fish. This is because at times they can be a bit territorial.

If you provide your angelfish with plenty of tank space for them to claim their space they are actually peaceful. They can also fight with other fish if they are overcrowded as well.

Angelfish are diurnal, which means that during the day they are more active than during the night. They are active and showy fish that will stay around the middle level of the tank.

They can typically be seen swimming around and weaving through plants in the tank. 

Lifespan and Size

Angelfish once they are fully grown as adults will grow up to three to four inches in length.

They can also grow up to six inches in height. Typically the female angelfish are smaller than the males and have more rounded bodies. With proper care, they can live up to around 10 to 12 years in captivity.

Feeding Your Angelfish: Diet & Food

Angelfish are omnivores and in the wild, they will eat small live prey such as insects, small fish, crustaceans, insects, and larvae.

It is best to replicate this diet for them in captivity. You should provide them with a high fiber and high protein diet with limited plant matter.

The foundation of your angelfish diet should be a high-protein flake of pellet food. They should be provided with live foods as this is a vital source of protein for angelfish. Live foods such as tubifex worms are great for angelfish.

Aside from the live foods and flakes, they should be given a small amount of plant food. The small amount of plant food should be high in fiber such as blanched zucchini or spinach.

Angelfish need to be fed at least twice a day. Also only provide them with enough food that they can eat in only about two minutes.

After these two minutes remove any leftover food in order to keep their tank cleaner.

Suitable Angelfish Tank Mates

As previously mentioned angelfish can be territorial if they are not provided their own space. Because of this, it is important to ensure they have their space before adding any other tank mates. 

Angelfish can be housed with other angelfish in groups of no more than six only if the tank is large enough for them. Remember the rule 10 gallons for each additional angelfish. This is to avoid conflict and territorial aggression.

Suitable angelfish tank mates:

  • Dwarf gouramis
  • Plecos
  • Guppies
  • Compatible cichlids such as discus or dwarf cichlids
  • Pictus Catfish
  • Mollies

It is best to avoid fish that are known for fin nipping such as a tiger barb. As they will go after their long fins. Also, it is best to avoid nonfish tank mates. This is because the angelfish are more than likely to harass and attack them.

Aquarium Setup & Water Parameters

As with most freshwater fish, it is always best to replicate their environment to their natural habitat. Angelfish are typically easy to care for and tend to be hardy fish. Given the right tank environment, they can live up to 10 years, which is much longer than other freshwater aquarium fish.

Angelfish requires plenty of room to be happy, with a minimum tank size of 30 gallons, adding 10 gallons for each additional angelfish. If you have a vertical tank that is even better as they tend to swim vertically up and down. They need this extra room as they have larger bodies and long fins. As mentioned earlier they can be aggressive over territory if not provided their space.

As far as the setup of the tank environment itself you will want to recreate the amazon waters. Starting with a very soft substrate, sand or mud for example. This copies the amazon water as well as keeps your angelfish safe. Angelfish like to dig through the substrate, anything hard or sharp can cause injury.

To mimic their slow-moving waters in the wild, it is best to opt for a low-flow filter system, as well as low-flow aerators if you chose to put one. An LED aquarium light will mimic the sun, make sure they have the light on for 8 to 12 hours each day.

Angelfish originate in waters that have plenty of vegetation, adding plants to your tank is ideal. However, it is best to avoid floating plants in the tank as this will block out light. Also floating plants can overcrowd the tank. 

Great plants for angelfish are those that are native to the Amazon waters. Amazon swords and anacharis are ideal for making them feel at home. Java fern and java moss are also great options!

In addition, live plants, rocks, caves, and other hollow decorations are a great option. These decorations provide the angelfish a place to hide, as well as give them territorial spots in the tank as well.

Ideal water parameters for an angelfish tank:

  • Water Temperature:75°F to 82°F
  • pH level: 6.8 to 7
  • Water Hardness: 4 to 12 dGH

Breeding Angelfish

Breeding angelfish is fairly easy and often considered one of the easier-to-breed freshwater fish. Although they are easy to breed, the survival of the eggs and fry is tricky. The first few spawning periods may fail as the adult angelfish may consume the eggs. 

Providing the right tank conditions will help initiate the breeding process. Also, the angelfish are particularly difficult to sex. However, this shouldn’t be a problem when choosing a mating pair. This is because the angelfish will pair off naturally as they become adults. The pair will also have a set territory for themselves, making them even easier to spot.

Angelfish are egg layers and will look after them well enough. However, due to their semi-aggressive nature, there may be conflict. Also other fish, angel fish included may end up eating the pairs of eggs. Because of this, it is best to place the mating pair in a separate breeding tank.

The breeding tank for the mating pair should be a 20-gallon tank. This tank should mimic their natural habitat and home tank. Ensuring there is a low flow current in the tank as well as slowly raising the temperature to around 82°F to initiate spawning.

Inside the breeding tank, you will want to place suitable spawning surfaces. Angelfish prefer to lay their eggs on near vertical surfaces. They have been known to lay their eggs on filter intakes as well as the aquarium glass if they are not provided with other options. 

For a suitable spawning surface there are many options to choose from. Live plants such as anacharis can be used as well as slate rocks positioned vertically. Also, there are breeding cones available for purchase for angelfish. Even home objects such as PVC pipes can be placed in the tank for a suitable spawning surface.

To help initiate the spawning process it is best to start conditioning the mating pair prior to breeding. To condition the fish they will need to be fed a high-protein diet. Perfect live food for this diet are bloodworms or tubifex worms. The mating pair should be fed four times a day.

When the pair are in the breeding tank you will want to observe their behavior for indication of breeding. The female will start to linger near the spawning surface, she will do this as she is preparing to lay her eggs. 

The female can lay up to 600 eggs although not all will hatch and become adults. Not all the eggs will hatch as some may be eaten. Not all that do hatch are viable as they may have deformities or defects. This can be due to the egg being damaged by the parent fish accidentally harming the eggs.

Once the female has laid her eggs, the male will go over and fertilize them. From there it takes about 48 to 72 hours for the eggs to hatch, this depends on the temperature of the water. To prevent eggs from being eaten by the parents they can be separated until they hatch free swimming.

After the eggs have hatched and are free swimming the parents can be placed back with them. The parent angelfish will look after and care for the fry for about four weeks. After the four weeks have passed, the adults can be placed back into their home tank.

The fry should be fed brine shrimp larvae until they are six weeks old. After this they can be switched to flakes or pellets, providing a similar diet to the full adult, as well as brine shrimp and some plant matter. The angelfish fry can be placed in a community tank after about six weeks, as they will be large enough at this time.

Origin and Distribution

Angelfish are a part of the cichlid family and originate from tropical waters of South America, this includes most of the Amazon waters. The angelfish can be found throughout Brazil, Columbia, Peru, Guyana, and French Guiana. 

In these regions, the angelfish live in slow-moving warm, and acidic waters. This includes streams, swamps, and floodplains. Although the waters they habitat in nature are full of vegetation and swampy waters, they have plenty of sunlight as the waters are not dirty. 

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