Angelfish: Basic Important Facts for Beginners

We’re going to cover everything you need to know about the angelfish. This includes but is not limited to angelfish size, growth rate, lifespan, tank size, feeding, tankmates, overall behavior, aggression, breeding and egg laying.



What Are Angelfish?

When an aquarium owner talks about angelfish, they are typically referring to freshwater fish that are a type of South American cichlids. They are in the same family as Jack Dempseys and the discus. This is a totally different group than the marine or saltwater angelfish that are very hard to take care of. In the wild, they live in soft, slightly acidic water.

Male and female angelfish are almost indistinguishable from each other. When the female is about to lay eggs, her papilla will become enlarged.

Most freshwater angelfish have a silver body with dark stripes. Because angelfish have been kept in aquariums for years, you can find them with a wide variety of colors. Breeders have been breeding them for distinctive colors. They have large fins and a sharpened head.

Development and Growth Rates

They are fully grown at one and a half years old. They will be about six inches long at that point. If they are in a large, uncrowded tank, they may continue growing until they hit ten inches long.

Life Span

Their normal lifespan if kept in ideal conditions is 12 to 15 years. However, they’re rather hard to take care of. The angel fish is usually able to breed between eight and twelve months of age.


Angelfish become more aggressive as they mature. This is why mature angelfish are best kept in separate tanks. However, they can share a tank with other tropical species. The angelfish will become aggressive when cramped or spawning.

Feeding Behavior

Angelfish are mostly carnivorous; in the wild, they mostly eat anthropods and insects. They should be fed fish pellets intended for angelfish or flakes specific to their family of fish. They can be given bring shrimp, bloodworms and other insects. You can give them frozen or dehydrated anthropods. They love mosquito larvae. However, live food does bring a greater risk of disease transmission.

Feed them several times a day. At least one feeding per day should be a high protein meal. Give them vegetable flakes occasionally. Don’t overfeed these fish, because they will eat to the point of illness if you put too much food in the tank. This is especially true if you’re giving them bloodworm, since too much bloodworm will give them diarrhea.

The angel fish may nip at your soft-leaved plants. When they do this, they need more vegetables in their diet. You can give them pieces of lettuce, spinach and squash. Just boil the vegetables first so that it is easy for them to eat. Make sure the vegetables are cool before you give it to them, because adding hot vegetables to the tank will shock the fish. You could also give them spirulina food.

General Care and Keeping In a Tank

Angelfish need incredibly clean tanks. The water pH can be between 6.5 and 6.9. The water temperature should be between 74 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Angelfish are sensitive to sudden changes in water temperature and water quality.

Slowly acclimate new angelfish to the water before you add them to the tank, and because of how disease and parasite prone angel fish are, keep new fish in quarantine for four to six weeks before adding them to a tank with other angel fish.

These fish are very susceptible to ich. They are at greater risk of things when overcrowded or in poor quality water. Angel fish are more prone to cottonmouth infection, something made worse by poor water quality.

They’re prone to hexamita, a parasite that will increase stool production and decay their skin. Get a proper diagnosis before you add drugs to the water, because drugs can cause organ damage and stress the fish if the drugs aren’t necessary.

These fish live in slow moving rivers. Strong water flow will stress them, and it will slow the growth of any young angel fish in the tank.

Tank Size

A single angelfish can get by in a 20 gallon tank, but 30 gallons is better. Add at least 10 gallons to the tank for each angelfish. This means two angelfish can share a 30 gallon tank, but they’ll do better in a 55 gallon or larger tank.

These fish like to hide among plant roots and leaves. Put them in a tank with plants, rocks and lots of hiding places. Don’t put sharp edged items in the tank.

Tank Mates

Don’t put them in a tank with neon tetras. The angelfish will try to eat them. They can share a tank with live-bearing fish like platy fish and mollies, though the angelfish will eat their young. They can share a tank with gourami fish.

They should not share a tank with tiger barbs, cardinal tetras and black tetras. Those fish will try to nip at the angel fish’s fins. Fish like the Odessa barbs will damage the angel fish’s long fins, so they shouldn’t share a tank with angelfish, either.

Young angel fish will stick together, but they’ll pair off into breeding pairs and defend their territories when they mature.

Breeding and Eggs LayingAngelfish are egg layers. Their ideal temperature for spawning is 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The females tend to lay eggs on a piece of slate leaned against the tank wall or another vertical surface. If that ideal surface is not available, put Amazon sword plants or another flat leafed plant in the tank. This means you have to give them the necessary sheltered conditions, before they’ll lay eggs.

The fry will start swimming around on day five. Parents will care for the young until they are swimming on their own. The juveniles can be fed three to four times a day, and they’ll love brine shrimp. Only give them enough food to consume within three minutes. When there are juveniles in the tank, use a filter with a bast wisp but without a cap so that the filter doesn’t suck the juveniles in and kill them.

Don’t have angel fish in a tank where other fish are breeding. They will eat the other fish’s juveniles. In fact, if these fish feel overcrowded, they’ll eat their own eggs and spawn. If you have a breeding pair, try to give them at least 100 gallons of water