Freshwater Angelfish Care

Updated May 13, 2020
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
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The freshwater Angelfish is a very popular tropical fish because of its unique shape and because of their interesting personalities. They are aggressive eaters and will go to the top of the tank when they see you approach. Because of their aggressive feeding habits, make sure that your less aggressive fish are getting their share around feeding time.

Pterophyllum scalare
Common Variety

Zebra Smoke
Zebra Smoke

Angelfish are curious about their environment and can become very territorial, especially around breeding time. They will pair off and if any other fish tries to enter their territory they will go after them. So use caution when stocking. Read the article on breeding Angelfish for more information on breeding them.

As mentioned earlier, they are not picky eaters. They will go after many types of fish food, including vitamin enriched flakes, frozen, freeze dried and live foods. As they grow in size they may even go after smaller fish like neon tetras, so keep that in mind when stocking your aquarium.

They prefer tall tanks over short tanks because of their tall body shape.

Freshwater Angelfish Types


Peru Red Spot
Peru Red Spot

Longfin Leopard
Longfin Leopard


Freshwater Angelfish
Common Variety

Blue Angelfish



Black Marbled
Black Marbled

Bleeding Heart
Bleeding Heart

Latest Angelfish Forum Topics

Angelfish Care Details

Scientific Name : Pterophyllum scalare

Common Names : There are many types with many different color varieties including: Albino, Black, Gold, Silver, Marbled, Koi, etc - seems there is a common name for each color variety.

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

Temperament / Behavior : A lot of people wonder if these cichlids are aggressive? They are generally peaceful, but can be aggressive eaters and may become territorial while breeding.

Breeding / Mating / Reproduction :This fish can breed in 7.5 or lower pH. They can breed in 78-80F water, but cooler water works as well, the fry just develop slower. They are substrate spawners and will lay the eggs on a vertical or diagonal surface. Assuming you have a pair, they are not difficult to breed. Assuming you have a male/female pair... an aquarium with live plants, smooth rock or flat slate will be good options for them to place the eggs on. Once the eggs are placed by the parents it is usually a good idea to remove the parents to prevent them from eating the eggs. Especially during the first few breeding attempts. An air stone placed under the eggs with very gentle flow over the eggs will help produce a good hatch rate. Pre-conditioning the parent angelfish with high quality live foods will also increase the chances of a successful hatch.

Aquarium Size : 20 gallon minimum, prefer tall aquariums

Tank Mates : Jump to profiles of fish that could potentially be kept with this fish:
Pleco, Blue Gourami, Dwarf Gourami, Larger Tetras, Bala Shark

Freshwater Diseases : Freshwater Fish Disease - Diagnose, Symptoms and Treatment

Foods : Usually very good eaters, they will take flakes, pellets, freeze dried (re-hydrated before feeding to prevent bloat and other issues - Blood worms, brine shrimp) and especially live foods and fresh veggies. Studies have shown that vermicompost worms work very well.

Tank Region : All levels of the aquarium.

Gender : There are no visible differences between the male and female. Only at spawing will you be able to tell the male from the female. A female has a round "tear-drop" shaped breeding tube and a male has a cone shaped breeding tube. See the How To Sex Angelfish thread on the forum for more details.

Photo Credit : Photos copyright

References :

Fish Lore Forum : Angelfish Forum
Also see the Different Types of Angelfish thread on the forum.

Forum Avatar :
Pterophyllum scalar

Angelfish Comments and Tips

From: Mark
I bought a small freshwater angel fish (2") at the pet store and I didn't notice until I got home that the fin had been nipped or eaten. Will it grow back?
Since you did not notice it at first, we are assuming that a very small piece of the fin is missing. Small nips in a fin should grow back provided that you give your Angel fish a good quality diet, provide them with good, frequently changed water in a cycled tank and make sure they are kept with peaceful fish that will not continue the bother (nip at) their fins.

From: Jimmy D via email
Great fish to have. I have about 22 of them and they are big.

From: Mike
I have 7 different angel fish in one tank. Are they able breed if they are mixed?
Sure, provided that you have males and females. Wait and watch your fish as they form pairs when they are ready to breed. Check out the article on breeding them (links above). Be prepared to remove some of them as aggression could become a problem with all of them in one tank.

From: Sean
What are some sutible tank mates if I wanted to include Angel fish in a community tank?
Because they are usually very peaceful, there are quite a few freshwater tropical fish you could keep with them. However, they will become territorial if they have formed pairs and are ready to spawn.

Some that would work well: Corydoras, Gouramis (avoid the Kissing Gourami), Plecos, Guppies, Silver Dollars, Platies, Swordtails and Bala Sharks. Freshwater fish that may not do well with your Angels would be the notorious fin nippers, such as Tiger Barbs and some of the tetras if not kept in schools. Keeping only one or two barbs or tetras may bring out the fin nipping behavior.

From: Jose
If i get a pair of angels do i remove the other fish (Mollies, guppies)?
It all depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you are trying to breed the angels then I would say it may be a good idea to remove the other fish or at least put in a tank divider. They will generally make good community tank mates with mollies and guppies if you just want to add some angels to your tank.

From: Leslie
I have a fresh water tank with 3 clown loaches who have been in the tank for several weeks. Tonight I bought an angel fish. The gentleman at the pet store said they should be fine together, but every site I have checked hasn't mentioned clown loaches and angel fish together. Do you think these two types of fish will be suitable tank mates?
Generally, Angels will do fine with clown loaches. Your clown loaches may go after the long fins on the Angels from time to time, but they shouldn't get too aggressive.

From: Liz
Will angel fish get along with gold fish? I currently have three goldfish (feeder fish) in a 25 gallon tank.
I wouldn't recommend keeping them together. Especially since feeder goldfish can be loaded with disease problems that you don't want to introduce to your other fish. Goldfish will like a colder water temperature than them as well.

From: Zero
They are a very impressive in large groups in variety of colors. I say the best looking tropical angel would be the Wild Breed (Silver, Black vertical stripes and red eyes, a.k.a. Silver angels) You don't see them very often any more becuase pet stores buy fish from local breeders nowadays instead of being imported. If you see a Silver (Wild) that has red eyes, you should purchase it. I got mine at a pet store for 3 bucks it was 2" and now eight months later it is almost 7" inches! The wild angels are a bit more territorial than other angels, and will chase any angels away (except its pair partner) from its spot in the tank, which for mine is inside a sunken ship. The Wild angels are a very elegant and make a great crown jewel of any aquarium.

From: Agnes Otworowski - Behavior
10 hours ago, I bought my first fish for my new 20 gallon aquarium, 7 guppies and 2 swordtails. 2 hours later, I bought 2. They have been hiding ever since they arrived in the new aquarium. Sometimes, they come out but they usually return to their hiding spot. What made my fish seem so shy? They weren't this scared when they were at the store.
Woah, this is a lot of fish for 20 gallon tank. This is also a lot of fish to introduce all at once. You will see an ammonia spike in the coming hours. Be ready to do water changes on a regular basis to keep the fish alive as they go through the nitrogen cycle. You have to slowly stock a tank so that the beneficial bacteria can keep up with the demands placed on the system. If you have 2 different genders of angels you will also see aggression from them when/if they pair off to breed down the road if they make it through the cycle. I'd return them to the store if you can and pick up some Bio-spira while you are at the store. Also read the article on the nitrogen cycle while you're here on Fishlore.

From: Marc
I love mine! They are very calm and relaxing fish and they're very beautiful at night when my lamps are off, with the moonlight reflecting off of their scales.

From: Tyler
Do not place an amazon puffer and an angel fish in the same tank. The puffer ate all the fins and a week after I took the puffer back, my angel died.

From: Brianie
When I saw the angel fish at the pet store, in a 10 gallon tank they looked miserable, but then I put the pair in a 50 gallon with a pair of red-capped goldfish, they're as happy as can be!

From: Ben
If you are going to buy angels from a pet store always choose the healthiest, most boisterous ones otherwise they can be ill and pass away as soon as they hit new water even if you did add them to the new tank properly.

From: Dan
I would avoid putting them and a Bala Shark in the same tank. I bought both of them and the Shark ended up getting bullied to death within 24 hours. However, the Zebra danio gets along fine with the them (I have 2 - Marble and Leopard angelfishes).

From: Lane
I love them. A few years back before I had my 29 gallon tank, I only had a 10 gallon tank. Well my mom bought me 2. Then one day we notice that they were laying eggs. They had way over 30 eggs, but sadly we were only able to get 1 to survive and live. They are very hard to raise. But once they started laying eggs they would do it once a month and become very aggressive towards my other fish. So if you plan on breeding them do not keep them in a community tank. Or you will loose a couple of fish.

From: Alicia
I work in a petstore where we have them labeled as "semi-agressive", whereas many stores have it just as "tropical community". Would this fish be ok in a 30-gallon with a male betta, as well as some other non-agressive (and non-nipping) tropicals?
Some hobbyists have kept bettas with other fish, including Angels, and have experienced no problems. However, you'll also hear the horror stories of how the betta won't tolerate anything else in the same tank. It would really depend on the Betta's personality, and the size of the Angelfish. Angels can be aggressive in their own right, especially when pairing off to breed and it would be surprising to see an adult Angel taking crap from a Betta. But, generally speaking, bettas are kept alone for a reason and it can be a good idea to stick to that advice to avoid any potential complications.

From: Loren
I have a question: My new angel fish, a small, relatively young specimen, is spending a lot of time at the surface. Is there anything wrong with her? Two days ago I bought these two young angels, the first angels I've ever had, and one of them died within 30 hours. (I think she died of swim bladder disease but I'm not sure) There are 4 tiger barbs and 4 oto catfish in the tank, too, (29 gal) and my nitrites and ammonia are within safe parameters. But since one of my angels died after only having it for one day, I'm wondering if the other one may be infected with the same thing she had. Again, she looks ok, she's eating, she has some energy-- she's not moving around a lot but I know angels don't naturally move much anyway. But this business about her spending all her time at the surface has me kind of freaked out. She's not gasping at the surface, just hovering about 3 millimeters below the surface.
You mention that the ammonia and nitrites are within the "safe range". This sounds like you may be registering a reading on your test kits for ammonia and nitrite. If so, Angels won't tolerate this for long and will often be the first to go in tanks with detectable amounts of ammonia and nitrite. If your tank has completed the aquarium cycle you shouldn't be getting a reading on your test kits, or they should be getting a reading of zero... It is also quite possible that they had a disease, they weren't acclimated properly and/or were just over stressed from the whole ordeal.

It's always a good idea to ask the fish store to test their store tank water and let you know the readings (at minimum ph, ammonia, nitrite and nitrates). When you get home with your new fish, test your tank water and compare the store's tank readings with your own to determine if you need to have a longer acclimation period. Use a fish quarantine tank before introducing any new fish into your display tank to avoid the spread of disease.

From: Sabrina Watson
Hi, I have recently recovered some angel fish that have been in a tank with tiger barbs where the angels fins have been badly bitten and large parts are missing, will the fins grow back?
If you separate them from the fin nippers, give them good water conditions and a good diet the fins should grow back. Watch for any signs of bacterial infections and keep the water clean by frequently doing partial water changes.

From: Discus with Angelfish
I kept a pair with my 4" Blue Diamond Discus, they got along together ok until they matured and ended up as a mated pair. It was at that time that I had to remove them because my discus could not fight them both at the same time. It basically became an issue of territory.

From: Tay
Hey just a quick question. Do angels like to be kept in schools? Or could I keep only one in my tank and have him be okay? Thanks!
Once they forms pairs they can get aggressive with other angelfish, especially if they are protecting eggs. Keeping only one should be fine.

From: Denis
I have 2 paired. They laid thier eggs on the corner of the tank. I then transfered to a fish net breeder to protect it from other fish and their parents that are trying to eat them. After a while it seems like it has some fuzz covering some of the eggs. What is it? And should I worry about it? If I should is there something I can do?
The fuzz sounds like fungus is growing on the unfertilized or dead eggs. You need to keep them aerated. An air stone that bubbles placed close to the eggs should keep the eggs well aerated. It's similar to what the parents do when they are fanning the eggs. Methylene Blue is also supposed to help prevent the fungus. You'll need to put the babies into a separate tank if you're going to use this medicine. You don't want to put it into the main tank. Try the air stone first though.

From: Maria
I just added an Angelfish to my approx 70 gallon tank. I already had 3 bala sharks, 2 dwarf gourami and 4 very small tiger barbs. I had been told the tiger barbs wouldn't be a problem with them, but now reading some of your posts about it, I'm concerned. What do you think?
The tiger barbs are notorious for the fin nipping, especially when kept in smaller groups or individually. I'd return them to the store, but you can always see how it goes first.

Still have questions?
Jump on the FishLore forum and ask your question! Go here: Angelfish Forum