Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) are graceful fish that are relatively easy to keep in an aquarium. They are from the family Cichlidae most commonly called cichlids. Angelfish are originally from the Amazon River in South America.

There is nothing quite as elegant as watching an angelfish as it swims. They are disk shaped fish with long fins that extend from the body. Often, they have vertical black stripes on a silver body, but not always. Some angelfish are marble, golden, black, or koi colored.

Almost every pet store that carries fish has angelfish for sale. They are inexpensive. Most angelfish you find in the pet store are rather small. However, they do grow up to 6 inches in diameter so keep this in mind when choosing the size of your aquarium and their tankmates. Large angelfish will eat smaller fish in your tank.

Angelfish do well in community tanks as long as their tankmates are not too small. Small fish will appear as food to them. A large angelfish will readily eat smaller fish such as small male guppies or neon tetras. You also don't want to keep angelfish with agressive fish that will nip their long fins. Due to the relatively large size that adult angelfish attain you must provide a tank with enough swimming room. Twenty gallons or more is best, but small angelfish may be kept in a 10 gallon tank, but eventually as the fish grows you will need to move it to a larger tank.

Angelfish and Personality

Yes, believe it or not, angelfish seem to have more personality than a lot of other species of tropical fish commonly kept in fish tanks. They are intelligent. I used to keep a tank of angelfish in my bedroom and I fed them as soon as I got up each morning. After a short time, as soon as the angelfish would see me sit up in the bed they would start dancing around (or the fish equivalent) in anticipation of their breakfast. Considering that the bed was about 10 feet away from the tank makes this all the more impressive. They had learned that soon after I sat up that I would come to feed them. In general, angelfish seem to be more aware of the surroundings outside of their aquarium than most other tropical fish. This is one of the qualities about angelfish that makes them so much fun to have.

golden angelfish

Diet and Water Conditions

Angelfish are omnivores and readily eat dried food, such as dried tropical flakes, tubifex worms, bloodworms, small crustaceans, such as brine shrimp or daphnia, plant matter, and sometimes other small fish, such as their tankmates.

Angelfish live approximately 10 years under good water conditions and barring any serious disease. They prefer soft to medium-hard water and neutral (pH of 7.0) to slightly acidic water and the water temperature should be between 72-86 degrees Fahrenheit or 22-30 degrees Celsius.

Angelfish Breeding

Male and female angelfish look very similar to one another, and so sexing them is rather difficult. Angelfish have an interesting courtship ritual. A pair of angelfish will lock their mouths together and sometimes spin around wildly in circles. Apparently, if they still like each other after this, then spawning may occur. Prior to spawning, angelfish will start to clean a leaf or some other flat surface to lay their eggs. Female angelfish have an ovipositor and the male has a a narrower tube that is used to fertilize the eggs. These are both located near the anal region and will appear on both the male and female a few days before breeding occurs.

Once the leaf or other surface has been cleaned the female angelfish will lay eggs and afterwards the male fertilizes them. After the eggs have been layed and fertilized both angelfish parents stand guard over the eggs until they hatch in approximately 3-4 days.

Sometimes the parents will eat the eggs, but usually they do not. After the eggs hatch both parents herd the little angelfish from plant to plant around the tank for about 4-5 days. There are few things cuter than baby angelfish. Once the baby angelfish are free-swimming they can be removed from their parents because if you leave the fry with their parents too long their parents may eat them.

Feeding the Fry

Feed newly hatched, free-swimming angelfish fry infusoria and rotifers. You can also feed them liquid fry food or a small amount of hard-boiled egg squeezed through a cloth. Keep in mind that this will easily foul up the water quality.

After about a week, when the fry have grown larger, you can feed them newly hatched brine shrimp.