Angelfish are truly handsome fish, which catch the eye with their arrow-like fins and iridescent scales. Originally, the fish come from the Amazon region and belong to the family of Cichlidae. Due to their origin, some aspects play an important role in the keeping and different from other species.
Especially the water conditions have to be considered. Nevertheless, the Angelfish are among the simpler fish, which can be kept even with some experience. We would like to give you in this guide everything important about the attitude of Angelfish.
This includes general information, the correct feeding, and water values, but also diseases and breeding. Finally, we would like to help you answer the question of whether the Angelfish is the right fish for you.
Gold, Silver, Black
Up to 15 Years
up to 6 inches
Minimum Tank Size
77 °F - 86 °F
6.0 – 7.5
Possible Tank Mates
Other peaceful community fish (Tetra, Guppies, Catfish)
If you want to add some impressive fish to your aquarium, you can hardly avoid the Angelfish. The Angelfish, which scientific name is Pterophyllum, comes from the family of Cichlidae. Like many other cichlids, the fish originates from the tropical region of South America.
Due to its origin, the Angelfish requires relatively tropical water conditions. Socialization succeeds, therefore best with other species of the Cichlids. Angelfish are divided into three species, which differ in body shape and color.
Furthermore, there are numerous breedings of each of these three species, which developed through the years. Here breeders experimented especially with the colors of the animals. It is therefore important to find out from the seller exactly about the species and the corresponding requirements when buying an Angelfish.
Appearance of Angelfish
The particular shape of Angelfish is their main distinguishing feature. The body is very narrow and appears compressed. They are also very tall, which is due to their long dorsal and anal fins. Smaller, on the other hand, is the caudal fin. Also unusual are the long abdominal filaments on the underside, which look like antennae.
Typical for wild forms are 4 dark vertical stripes. With breedings, these are partially no longer to be recognized. It is very difficult to distinguish between males and females. The only characteristic is the genital papilla, which is only visible during mating.
Decisive for the life expectancy of fish is, above all, a species-appropriate environment. Proper water conditions, regular and species-appropriate feeding, and regular cleaning are essential for this. If you pay attention to these aspects, Angelfish can live up to 15 years in an aquarium, which is not possible in the wild.
Angelfish are group fish, which usually live together with at least 5 fish. Only when the fish spawn, they form pairs and move away from the group. Then they look for their own territory and defend this also against other fish. Therefore it is important to separate spawning fish from foreign species. Later in the guide, we will give you more information regarding breeding.
Angelfish are very partner-loyal and usually have their partner for the whole life. The courtship and imposition behavior of the fish is extremely impressive and can often be observed. Also, you can often see a clear ranking among the Angelfish.
How many Angelfish should you get?
If you want to keep Angelfish close to their natural habitat, you should always keep them in groups. In the wild, they live in groups of at least 6 fish. However, it is also possible to keep them in pairs. Only single keeping should always be avoided.
If you have young fish, they should always be kept in a group. Angelfish always need a partner, which the young fish have to find first. If you can observe that a pair has formed, you can keep them together alone.
If you separate the juveniles from the group too early, you cannot be sure to get along and form a pair. Also, you don’t know if it is even a male and a female.
With species-appropriate husbandry, the lifespan of fish can be significantly increased. The wrong, unsuitable environment and conditions can greatly stress the animals, which quickly affects the health of fish.
An important point with Angelfish is especially the tank size. Due to the size and shape of the fish, a high tank is especially important. 20 inches is considered the minimum height so that the fish can move freely. The volume should be calculated for a pair of fish with at least 50 gallons.
If the animals are to spawn, then significantly more space must be planned since the fish look for their own territory and separate from the group. A separate tank is recommended for this, as the Angelfish are also much more aggressive during the spawning season.
Once you have found a suitable tank, it is time to set it up properly. For the substrate, you should use fine gravel or sand. This comes closest to the natural habitat of the fish. At the same time, sand and gravel are well suited for planting and protect the animals from injuries.
With the planting, you can hardly do anything wrong with Angelfish. It is only important that, in the end, a dense planting is created. This creates different territories in which the plants serve as separation. Also, the fish can retreat to rest and find some peace. Nevertheless, free areas are also needed so that the fish can swim freely.
Water Parameters for Angelfish
Due to its tropical roots, the Angelfish requires a water temperature between 77 °Fand 86 °F. With the other water values, they are relatively tolerant. So that the animals are exposed to little stress and live long, one should pay attention to constant and above all suitable water values. The pH value is optimally between 6.5 and 7. The total hardness is best below 10°. Further values are shown in the following table.
77 °F - 86 °F
< 25 ppm
6.0 - 7.5
5 - 10 dGH (89 - 178 ppm)
3 - 10 dKH (53 - 178 ppm)
Varieties of Angelfish
Among the Angelfish of the species Pterophyllum, there are 3 subgroups into which the fish are divided. These include the common Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare), the high Angelfish (Pterophyllum altum), and the pointed Angelfish, which is also called Leopoldi Angelfish (Pterophyllum leopoldi).
The common Angelfish is the most common and is also the most widely used in aquariums. There are numerous breeding forms of this species, such as the koi or golden-headed Angelfish. These breedings all have different optical characteristics.
The Pterophyllum altum and the Pterophyllum leopoldi are not suitable for aquarium keeping. These species are also very rare in nature and much more aggressive and demanding. The animals are also not bred for keeping in an aquarium.
Angelfish Diet and Feeding
A balanced and species-appropriate diet is extremely important for fish. Incorrect or irregular feeding causes a lot of stress for the fish, which in turn can lead to diseases. So that this does not happen, we explain how feeding for Angelfish should look like in the following section.
In the wild, Angelfish are omnivores. They feed on whatever they find at the time. They prefer small animals, but they can also survive on vegetable food.
What should I feed Angelfish?
The main food for Angelfish should be dry food containing meat, for example, flakes or granules. Furthermore, you should also resort to living and frozen food several times a week for a balanced diet. Mosquito larvae are particularly suitable for this.
How often should I feed Angelfish?
Fish should usually be fed 1 time per day. The time should always remain approximately the same because the animals get used to it and adjust their consumption accordingly.
For the amount, you can orientate yourself on whether the Angelfish eat the entire food. There should never be food left at the bottom of the tank. If you observe this, you should remove it and use less food the next time. Leftover food can cause poor water conditions in the aquarium and a spread of bacteria.
To ensure that the fish are always fed regularly, and with the same amount, there is a handy tool called an automatic feeder. This device always feeds a programmed amount of food into the water at a set time. This way, you don’t have to stress about the daily feeding. You can find a detailed comparison of different automatic feeders here.
How long can Angelfish go without food?
Basically, it is important to maintain regular feeding for fish because fish are very attached to habits. Small deviations from this can quickly lead to stress. Nevertheless, it is not bad if you forget to feed your fish. Adult animals can easily go up to 2 weeks without food. However, with young animals, you should make sure that they get food regularly since they do not yet have sufficient reserves.
Read more about it here: How long can Fish go without Food?
Angelfish Tank Mates
When socializing Angelfish, a wide variety of fish are suitable, although there are a few aspects to consider. Basically, Angelfish are peaceful fish, which get along with many other fish. However, it must be remembered that they are carnivores. For this reason, no fish under 0.8 inches should be kept in a tank with the Angelfish, as they could end up as live food.
Care should be taken with crayfish, as Angelfish have long abdominal filaments, and these are often attacked by crayfish. Also, you should always remove spawning animals from a tank because they need their own territory, which they also defend strongly. Otherwise, they could also attack other peaceful fish.
Possible examples are:
Should be avoided, for example:
- smaller fish than 0.8 inches,
- aggressive species.
If you want to breed Angelfish yourself, this is usually a natural process, which does not require any help. The first thing to do is to form pairs in the group, which happens naturally. If the fish feel comfortable and the environment in the aquarium is right, they begin to separate from the group and start laying eggs.
This takes place on large leaves. Once the fish has laid the eggs, they strongly protect their territory and also attack other fish. For this reason, it is always worth considering whether to remove a pair of Angelfish from the main tank for spawning and put them in a breeding tank.
Also, it can happen that other fish want to eat the clutch. If you observe this, you should also remove it immediately with the parents. After two days, the young larvae hatch. After 6 – 8 weeks, the young animals can be taken to the main tank because they are big enough to defend themselves and to take care of themselves.
Common Angelfish Diseases
Angelfish are fish that are very susceptible to bacterial infections. For this reason, important points should be observed in advance of a disease to prevent an outbreak in the tank. On the one hand, this includes low stress. Stressed fish are much more susceptible to diseases because their immune system is not as robust.
Furthermore, Angelfish are extremely susceptible to parasites. They infest the fish by eating unclean food. After that, they spread in the fish for 3 months and infest its intestine. After some time, the fish becomes severely deficient and shows unusual behavior and sores. For the treatment of parasites, there are special dewormers at the vet.
To prevent the spread of bacteria and other pathogens, a part of the water should also be changed at least once a week. This prevents bacterial infections from occurring. Parasites and other pathogens can also enter the tank through new fish.
For this reason, new fish should always be placed in a quarantine tank first, where you can observe whether the fish appear healthy. If you notice any unusual behavior of the fish, you should keep them separate and not add them to the tank.
If you have detected a fish in the tank that is behaving unusually and appears sick, removing it from the tank is always the first measure. This prevents a spread to other fish and reduces the stress of the affected fish. Also, you should immediately change the water of the tank completely to remove possible pathogens.
A sick fish can be treated with medicine, which can be purchased in a pet shop. For this, we recommend talking to a specialist. Possible diseases and recommended courses of action are listed in the following table.
Inflammation, hemorrhage and cysts in unusual behavior of the fish.
By eating eggs or larvae on unclean food or tanks.
Remove fish immediately and treat with a dewormer from a veterinarian.
Injuries to the fins of the Fish.
Transmitted by parasites, which can enter the aquarium through new fish.
A diseased fish should be separated immediately and the tank cleaned so that the disease does not spread further.
White spots on the body and the fish rubs against hard objects.
Is transmitted by bacteria, which often come into the tank through new fish.
A fish should therefore be immediately separated and the tank cleaned. Also an Ich drug should be applied.
Symptoms include a white irritation of the skin and cloudy eyes.
The bacteria are in almost every tank, but only attack weak and stressed fish.
When the disease breaks out, the water should be changed frequently and the stress of the fish should be reduced. Also an bacterial drug should be applied.
Swim Bladder Disease
The fish swims sideways and upside down.
The disease can be genetically predisposed.
The fish can not be cured. Sometimes it disappears again on its own.
Conclusion – Is the Angelfish the right fish for your tank?
In summary, the Angelfish is a very good fish for beginners. It gets along with many other species and is visually an enrichment for every tank. However, you should consider aspects such as the large space requirements and the special water conditions. If you pay attention to these points, you can even breed your own young animals with the Angelfish and visually enhance your tank.