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How To Breed Angelfish in Your Home Aquarium: Guide 

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Angelfish are simple, yet beautiful fish to care for and come in a variety of colors to suit anyone’s aquarium decor. Angelfish also have a pleasant demeanor and are relatively easy to breed if you have the right tank conditions.

Breeding angelfish in your aquarium will require patience, a simple tank setup, correct tank parameters, and a monogamous pair of angelfish. If these things are taken care of, angelfish will breed on their own with no difficulty. They will lay eggs on a vertical surface which hatch at a later time. 

As mentioned, angelfish are easy to breed, but they do require a bit more care and knowledge than other species of fish, such as guppies or mollies. If you want to advance your hobby with breeding, this is a great place to start. 

Tank Requirements for Breeding Angelfish 

Breeding angelfish is fun, but the first thing needing attention is the tank where you’d like to breed them! The first thing to know is that angelfish are freshwater fish, and should not be placed in a saltwater tank, nor a tank with chlorinated water. 

Pair of Gold Pterophyllum Scalare in aqarium

Size of Tank 

Angelfish are a bit larger than other basic freshwater fish, so they will need more space to swim. The minimum tank size recommended for angelfish is 20 gallons. Again, this is the minimum, and angels should typically have a larger tank than this. 

With that being said, if you are serious about breeding these beauties, they usually do best in a 40 gallon tank specifically for spawning. This is also without other tankmates, except their monogamous partners. This may seem like excessive space, but angelfish are notorious for needing room and becoming territorial when breeding. 

Tank Parameters 

While they are easy to take care of, angelfish need specific parameters in their tank in order to thrive. They are considered to be tropical fish, so therefore need to have warmer temperatures in their tank. The recommended temperature is between 72° and 82° F. 

Typically, angelfish do just fine with a pH between 6.5 and 7.1. However, when trying to breed angelfish do better with a higher pH of 6.8. You can test your pH by using test strips on a weekly basis to ensure the tank is the proper level. 

Angelfish are very sensitive to water conditions, so once you get the above ranges correct, the only other number you need to look out for is the nitrate and ammonia level in the tank. Again, this can be tested using testing strips, but to keep the levels low it is recommended you use a sponge filter and do frequent partial water changes. 

Finding a Male and Female Angelfish

With having a proper tank set-up, the next task to complete is finding your angelfish pair. As mentioned, angelfish are monogamous, meaning they typically pair and breed for life. However, if you did not purchase a direct breeding pair, it may be difficult to differentiate between a male and female that you would like paired. 

Of course, you can always purchase a few adults and wait for them to pick their own mate. However, this could take time and focused attention on their behavior, such as guarding together, or rubbing up against each other, if they have found their mate. 

WIth that being said, you can get your angels from a breeder or have them already, but they have to be 6 to 7 months in order to sex them based on their breeding tubes accurately. Below are the traits to look out for when finding the perfect pair. 

MaleFemale 
SizeTypically ⅓ larger than femaleSmaller than males and grows and at a slower rate
Body ShapeCircular body with a head that is not rounded
Develop a nose ridge 
Angular body shape with a rounded head
Wider stomach
Lacks hump on the head
Ventral FinsVentral fins(feelers) are frayedVentral fins are not frayed
Breeding TubesPointed, thin tube on the underside of fishRounded, blunt ovipositor tube on the underside

Once you have determined the male and female of the pair, you can then put them in their new breeding tank. Remember that while you may be able to sex your angelfish between 6 to 7 months; they may only start breeding at 6 to 12 months.

Therefore there may be some overlay between putting your fish in the spawning tank and them hatching eggs. Once they are ready you will be able to spot some telltale signs that they are in the process of spawning.

Why are my angelfish not laying eggs?

There are a few potential reasons why your angelfish may not be laying eggs. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Age: Angelfish need to be at least a year old before they are able to lay eggs. If your fish are younger than this, they simply may not be old enough to reproduce yet.
  2. Diet: A healthy diet is important for angelfish to be able to reproduce. Make sure you are feeding your fish a varied diet that includes high-quality dry and wet foods, as well as live or frozen foods like brine shrimp and daphnia.
  3. Water quality: Poor water quality can stress your fish and prevent them from laying eggs. Make sure to regularly test and maintain the water parameters in your tank, including pH, temperature, and ammonia levels.
  4. Tank size: Angelfish need plenty of space to lay their eggs. If your tank is too small or overcrowded, your fish may not feel comfortable reproducing.
  5. Lack of a suitable breeding site: Angelfish like to lay their eggs on flat surfaces, such as smooth rocks or plants. If you do not have a suitable breeding site in your tank, your fish may not feel comfortable laying eggs.
  6. Stress: If your angelfish are stressed due to factors such as improper tank mates, bullying, or lack of hiding spots, they may not be able to reproduce.

If you have ruled out these potential issues and your angelfish are still not laying eggs, it may be helpful to consult with a veterinarian or a fish hobbyist for further advice.

How to Spot Your Angelfish Spawning 

While some fish are livebearers, meaning they give birth to fry, angelfish are not. Instead, they lay eggs which are then fertilized by the male. So how do you tell if your angelfish are getting ready to spawn? 

The first act you will notice is the cleaning process. The female angelfish will excessively clean the area where she is planning on laying her eggs. She does this by “nudging” the area, or eating the remnants of leftover food or algae on the spot. 

Once the area is finally clean, the female will then begin to lay rows of eggs in the spot that was cleaned. The male angelfish will then quickly follow her and “brush” over the eggs to fertilize the eggs. 

After this, some eggs will hatch and others may not. Keep in mind that first-time angelfish parents may not get the routine down pat on the first try as well.

It is important to note that an angelfish can lay between 150 to 1000 eggs per time she lays, and she can produce eggs every two weeks. While not all will hatch, you will want to ensure that you have enough room for the fry when the time comes. 

Pair of Gold Pterophyllum Scalare in aquarium, yellow angelfish guarding eggs.

Hatching Eggs 

Fertilization

So how can you tell that the eggs have been fertilized? If you have a magnifying glass, know exactly where the eggs are, and have a clean and simple tank; you may be able to see them. They are smaller than the size of a pinhead, but will turn a light amber when fertilized. If they are not fertilized, they remain white. 

You’ll be surprised to know that once the eggs are fertilized it only takes 60 hours, or 2-3 days for the eggs to actually hatch with newborn fry. 

Wriggler Stage

Just because the eggs have hatched, does not mean they are swimming just yet! As a matter of fact, once the eggs have hatched, they are actually still attached to the spawning spot through a filament that protrudes from their head. 

They are essentially still in their larvae stage and are still in the process of developing internal organs, eyes, and their tails. They also do not need to be fed during this period; the process will last between 3 to five days. 

Swimming Fry

The final stage to hatching eggs is the swimming stage. This is when your eggs have been officially fertilized, hatched, and grown to be able to swim in the tank. 

Keep in mind that many will not make it to this stage due to natural causes, or even being eaten by their parents (this can happen for many reasons).

Once your fry reach about 2 to 3 weeks old, it is recommended that you move them to their own small tank to continue to grow. Moving them to a separate tank will ensure their safety while also giving the adult angelfish their space back to spawn again!

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