Keeping Tropical Fish: How to care for Angelfish

The freshwater Angelfish (not to be confused with marine Angelfish varieties) are part of the Cichlidae family. This is the family of fish that includes all species of the freshwater cichlids. They are one of the most popular fish for freshwater aquariums due to their striking appearance, size, and generally peaceful nature.

 Angelfish / (Pterophyllum scalare)

South America
Aquarium swimming zone Middle
Adult Size 6 inches
Temperament Semi-Aggressive
Minimum tank size 100L
Diet Omnivore
Breeding Egg Layers
Life Expectancy 10 Years
Preferred pH 7
Temperature 24 - 28 °C


Where do Angelfish come from?

Angelfish are native to South America. They are generally found throughout Colombia, Guyana, French Guiana, Peru, and Brazil where they inhabit rivers and slow moving streams. Their bodies are built for life in gentle water, and so they require a tank with a low flow. Too much flow can make Angelfish stressed and will often result in them hiding. 

What do Angelfish look like?

Angelfish are available to buy in a variety of sizes. They grow incredibly quickly  and can quickly reach their adult sizes of 6 inches + when kept in the right conditions. They have a triangular shaped body and their fins are almost wing like in shape. They exhibit a laterally compressed body structure, so are fairly thin and tall.

Angelfish come in a vast assortment of colours and varieties. Standard varieties include gold, silver, black and marbled. Typically, juveniles will have seven bands of colour around the body but as they mature this reduces to four.

Speciality colours can also be found with these fish, as they are bred for ornamental purposes. These include koi, platinum, panda and non-banded silver and gold. Given the sheer amount of colour variation, you would be hard pressed to find one you didn’t love!

What fish can I keep with Angelfish?

Angelfish are part of the cichlid family and therefore like most cichlids can be semi-aggressive by nature. They are best kept in pairs or groups and will form hierarchies within the group to determine their position. They can be quite territorial but are not as aggressive as other cichlid species, and tend not to bully other fish outside of their school.  

Angelfish do however, have a reputation for being fin-nippers. For this reason, it is best not to keep them with other fish that have long flowing fins. Examples of such fish include Guppies, Bettas (Siamese fighting fish), long finned Barbs and Tetra varieties.

Angelfish are NOT compatible with highly aggressive/predatory cichlids such as Convicts or Oscars. If you are looking to keep other Cichlids with Angelfish, it is recommended to choose more placid South American varieties such as Bolivian rams, Discus, and dwarf Cichlids. When keeping Angelfish with other fish, it is essential to have a suitably large aquarium, to reduce any competition for territory.

There are plenty of fantastic companion choices for your Angelfish. As the rule goes for keeping most tropical fish, ensure there is nothing in the aquarium, which the Angelfish can fit in its mouth, such as smaller tetra varieties. Some examples of suitable tank mates include Gouramis, Mollies, Rasboras, Plecostomus, and Loaches. If you are unsure get in contact with the staff at Complete Koi and Aquatics, and we can advise you accordingly. 

What Do Angelfish Eat?

Angelfish are omnivorous but tend to prefer a more meat-based diet. To ensure they are getting suitable nutrition, they should be fed a good quality pellet, or flake. Juvenile Angelfish can be fed smaller/finer pellets, increasing the food size as the grow.

Frozen or live foods can also be used, to increase the amount of protein in the Angelfish's diet. Examples of suitable frozen/live food include Bloodworm, Tubifex, Mosquito larvae, Brineshrimp and Mysis shrimp. Angelfish should be fed once daily and only require small amounts.

How to breed Angelfish?

When Angelfish are introduced to an aquarium, they will generally pair up naturally. Each pair will select a territory within the aquarium prior to breeding which typically occurs when the fish are 6-12 months of age. To mimic natural conditions for Angelfish to breed, the temperature of the aquarium should be increased to a steady 27-28°C. In addition to this, the fish should be fed a more protein rich diet of frozen food up to 4 times daily.

Angelfish are egg layers and the female will generally spawn eggs onto an area for the male to fertilise externally. Females can lay anywhere between 200-400 eggs during spawning. To improve your chances of success 'spawning surfaces' such as spawning cones, rocks, tiles, pipes and broad-leaved plants should be added to the aquarium. 

Angelfish are one of the few species of tropical fish, which will take care of their young. They will fiercely defend their eggs and rear the newly hatched fry (juvenile fish) for up two months. During this time the fry can be fed on tiny foods such as Daphnia and Brineshrimp. When the juveniles are large enough, they can be transferred onto smaller pellet feeds.

How to care for Angelfish?

Angelfish originate from the tropics so need warm water, heated between 24-28°C. To create an environment which mirrors their natural habitat, you could include South American aquarium plants within the tank, such as Amazon Sword, Anacharis, Java Fern and Java Moss. Aquarium plants will provide cover for the Angelfish to hide in.

As these fish can grow over six inches it is important to keep Angelfish in a suitably large tank, ideally over 100L. If you're planning on keeping a larger group of Angelfish, the size of the aquarium should be increased. This will result in fewer territorial based issues and aggression to other fish.

The tank will need exposure to a light source for 8–12 hours a day to promote fish health and plant growth (if using). If live plants are not for you, then lower maintenance plastic alternatives can be used.

Angelfish at Complete Koi and Aquatics

Complete Koi and Aquatics are stockists of some amazing Angelfish, from marbled varieties to red shouldered Manacapuru. They really are fantastic tropical fish for all levels of aquarium hobbyist. If you have any further questions on how to care for your Angelfish, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We offer fish health checks and water testing services to aid your success. 

Give us a call or pop over to see us today.

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