Freshwater Angelfish Care

Freshwater aquarium hobbyists should learn the basics of angelfish care. This fish is a great option for show or breeding. Many of the fish that can be kept in a freshwater aquarium are a bit boring. There are, however, exceptions to that rule. One such exception is the angelfish.

Freshwater Angelfish Care, Size, Life Span, Breeding, Tank Mates

Angelfish have an easily recognized and distinct triangle shape. This unique shape is one of the things that make these fish so popular among freshwater hobbyists whose fish choices are somewhat limited compared to those who keep a saltwater tank. Another favorable feature is that angelfish come in a variety of colors, making the fish even more interesting.

General Freshwater Angelfish Details

Scientific Name: Pterophyllum scalare

Care Level: Easy

Size: Up to 6 inches (15 cm)

pH: 6 – 7.5

Temperature: 74°F – 84°F (23°C – 29°C)

Water Hardness: 5° to 13° dH

Lifespan: 8 – 10 years

Origin / Habitat: Amazon River

Freshwater Angelfish Food / Diet

Obviously, angelfish do not eat flakes in their natural environment. The food an angelfish would eat may include small fry fish and mosquito larvae. Some experts will say that you must provide live food in order to help your angelfish maintain a well-balanced diet.

Other experts would disagree and say that a diet of appropriate and high-quality flakes is sufficient.

If you want to give your fish some variety, you may consider feeding mostly flakes with an occasional treat of live food. If, however, you cannot or choose not to provide live food, then flakes are fine.

Angelfish Tank Size

While some freshwater fish do fine in a small tank, proper angelfish care includes providing a tank that is at LEAST 25 gallons for two fish. Of course, the size of the tank must increase if you plan to keep a large group of fish which, by the way, is preferable to only keeping two or three.

Angelfish grow to be quite large (up to 15 centimeters). Also, they enjoy swimming back and forth and up and down. This means that the tank needs to be deep as well as wide in order to provide the best possible environment.

Plants are an important part of a freshwater tank. The plants not only make the tank look nice, but they do some pretty important jobs as well. For example, they add oxygen to the water and help to keep the tank clean. Plants also provide a safe place for your angelfish to hide.

Tank Mates: Angle fish can be kept with this fish: Pleco, Blue Gourami, Dwarf Gourami, Larger Tetras, Bala Shark.

Common Angelfish Diseases & Care

If you look over a list of the more common angelfish diseases or freshwater tropical fish diseases for that matter, you’ll notice that most of these diseases are in some way preventable. There are a few diseases that are contagious, and these often occur when a new fish is introduced into an aquarium without first having been subjected to quarantine. Water quality accounts for many, perhaps most of the types of angelfish diseases encountered. Out of range water temperatures or an inefficient filtering or cycling system can often sow the seeds for the fish disease. There are a number of things that can cause a bacterial infection or a fungal infection in a fish. As you look at some of the more common angelfish diseases below, you’ll note for the most part they can be prevented. Most tropical freshwater fish have a good chance of living out their normal life span, about 10 years for an angelfish when these diseases are prevented in the first place.

Ich, or ick, is one of the more common angelfish diseases. An infected fish appears as if it has been sprinkled with salt. These spots generally appear first on the fins, and perhaps only on the fins, but can sometimes appear on the fish’s body as well. Ich is a parasite, which is often introduced when a new fish is placed in an aquarium, and the fish has not been placed in quarantine ahead of time. This disease is easily treated by adding medication to the water, which kills the parasite. Any time medication is added to the aquarium to attack a disease, the carbon in the filtering system should be removed for a time, or it will absorb the medication rendering it less effective or ineffective.

Hole In The Head is a disease that affects some of the larger types of aquarium fish, including the angelfish. This is one disease for which the cause remains generally unknown, though there are a number of possibilities. Hole in the Head is characterized by a literal hole in the head of the fish, or at the very least a small indentation, usually appearing near one of the eyes. Poor water quality is thought to be a major cause, with improper diet and the use of activated carbon in filtration systems also suspect. There are medications available to treat the Hole in the Head disease, and keeping a close watch on the quality of the water is both a part of the treatment as well as a preventive measure.

Chemical imbalances or too much of one chemical in the aquarium can be a frequent cause of problems for the fish. Not technically a disease, a chemical imbalance, especially Excessive Ammonia or Nitrates, can make fish sick, and if not addressed, eventually kill them. The proper approach, in either case, is to begin cycling in clean water immediately, remembering that for tropical fish all the water should not be changed out at once. An overcrowded tank, coupled with an inefficient cycling system is the usual cause behind ammonia or nitrate poisoning. This normally happens over a period of time, especially if more and more fish come to occupy a tank.

Two bacterial infections and a fungus infection round out our list of angelfish diseases. These are Fin Rot, Malawi Bloat, and Fish Fungus. Fin Rot can be the result of poor water quality or from the nipping of the fins by other fish. Medication is available but if bullying by other fish is the problem, fish may have to be separated. Bloating is also due to a bacterial infection, and can often be treated by simply improving the quality of the water, though medications are available. Fish fungus generally requires medication to kill the fungus, with tetracycline being the most commonly used.

The common thread in all this is water quality, coupled with care being taken when introducing new fish to the tank.

Can Natural Angelfish Habitat Be Duplicated?

To successfully raise or breed the angelfish it’s important to understand a few things about native angelfish habitats. Extensive cross-breeding over the years has somewhat lessened the need to try to duplicate native angelfish habitat in an aquarium setting, but there are several things that cannot be changed. The angelfish is, of course, a tropical fish, it is found all around the world, but many of the species and varieties sold in the market place have their origins in the river basins of Brazil, especially the Amazon and the Rio Negro.

A Beautiful Fish – The angelfish is one of the most popular and most beautiful species collected by tropical fish lovers. It is characterized by its flat, disc-like shape, long dorsal and anal fins, and bright and varied patterns of color. The angelfish is typically a little higher than it is long and some of the larger ones reach nearly a foot in height and 8 inches in length.

Angelfish habitat varies somewhat depending upon where in the world the fish live. Not all live in a river or tidal basins. Some live in and around coral reefs. Most, however, prefer places where there is plenty of vegetation, and either rock or coral. In some locations, the angelfish are plentiful in tidal areas containing bulrushes, where due to their extreme slimness, they can navigate between stalks and stems to elude predators. The angelfish is an omnivore, eating vegetation, insects, small vertebrates and smaller fish. This varied diet makes keeping them in an aquarium somewhat easier. In fact, if the water temperature, which should be between 70 and 85 degrees, and acidity is right, the angelfish can be classified as an easy keeper.

Angelfish Breeding Considerations

Angelfish are used to acidic water in the wild, with a pH between 6.5 and 6.8. When living in a river basin, they prefer a location where there is dense vegetation, even floating islands of vegetation. It is the decomposition of dead vegetation that makes the water they live in acidic, and this acidity must be duplicated in an aquarium. If not, the angelfish may survive, but will not breed. They are not particularly choosy about what they eat, in fact, they are not choosy at all. But if one is going to breed them, they need a somewhat varied diet of fresh or frozen fish food, including brine shrimp. Worms and small guppies are also favored by the angelfish. The angelfish is usually quite social when placed in an aquarium with other fish, but it does have a tendency to eat smaller fish, especially guppies. It will also eat its own young, so once the eggs are laid and begin to hatch, it’s usually best to put them into a separate container of water. The angelfish lay several hundred eggs at one time, but if the eggs and newly hatched fish are not removed in a timely fashion, their numbers will be seen to steadily decrease.

A Breeding Peculiarity – When breeding in the wild, the angelfish usually lay their eggs on rocks, particularly on rocks that have a sloping face. To emulate this particular characteristic of the native angelfish habitat, a piece of slate, placed in an aquarium at an angle will be a perfect place for the angelfish to lay its eggs.

While the angelfish is quite exotic in appearance, it is not as fragile as it looks, and is in fact quite a hardy fish. If you emulate the natural angelfish habit by giving it warm water, slightly acidic water, a variety of food, plenty of rocks and vegetation, plus a sloping rock for breeding, there isn’t all that much more to be done, except of course to keep the aquarium clean as one would do for any other type of fish.


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