Angelfish Aggression Between Mated Pair!

spartanfish

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Hi folks-

I have a pair of mated angels I recently moved from a 29 gallon (where they had been for about 1.5 years) to a new planted 55 gallon. They grew up together and tried to raise several batches of eggs, none of which were viable. I am 100 percent sure they are male and female. The male is maybe 1/3 bigger than the female, and in the 29 gallon he would get very aggressive toward the female at times, often tattering her fins and bullying her. I can't really describe why, but she didn't seem to mind. It bothered me though, because she looked tattered and it just didn't seem right. I hoped that putting them in the 55 and giving them a bunch more space would help.

Well now, in the 55 gallon, they seem to "spar" constantly. In the 29 gallon, the female just sort of sat there and took it, or swam away. Now, they are locking lips and going after each other on a regular basis. The female is holding her own now, sometimes even appearing to instigate the aggression at times. She's clearly not really bothered by it, as she sticks by the male constantly and never wanders far from him, despite having a ton more room. They occassionally prep leaves, but haven't laid any eggs or shown any aggression whatsoever to the other fish in the tank (two moonlight gouramis and 6 columbian tetras). They are completely fixated on each other.

Now I am sort of bummed though because their mouths are getting all beat up and ugly from the constant sparring. Is there anything I can realistically do to deter this, or will I have to just decide to deal with it or give one away? Sending one back to the 29 gallon is not an option, as that tank now has barbs and neons and other incompatible species.

I suspect this is just a heighened level of breeding activity. Maybe it will pass if they manage to lay some eggs?

On a weird side note, they ONLY LAY EGGS on natural plants. In 1.5 years in the 29 gallon, they'd lay eggs every time I dropped an anubias in there. If I took it out, they wouldn't lay on any of the artificials until I put another natural plant in there. Removing the plants from the 55 is not a desirable or realistic option.
 

BReefer97

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Adding more decor or plants to block their fields of vision from one another may help deter it a bit, but if that doesn’t work it would but in your best interest to seperate them.
 

bizaliz3

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This is what I call "angelfish divorce". It is actually quite common and really disappointing. I have had it happen with several different pairs after many months of spawning peacefully.
Sadly in my experience, separating them was the only answer. If it were non paired angels, I would say try breaking up sightlines and all that jazz. But...that just doesn't seem to work with a mated pair that has divorced.
Sometimes it works to separate them for a few weeks and then put them back together. But not always.

I HIGHLY recommend you separate them. At the very least temporarily. It will only end badly if you don't.
 
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spartanfish

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Well, another thing I forgot to mention is that they WERE separated for about 3 days. I put the female in the 55 first to let her fins heal up (they did nicely - both angels have always healed freakishly fast) and then put the male in a few days later. Considering the change in behavior (the female NEVER reciprocated aggression in the 29 gallon, now she's at least a 50-50 partner in starting things up in the 55 - plus they never locked lips before, she just took the beating and ran away) I almost wonder if they forgot each other or something and are feeling each other out in the new setup.

Is that possible??

I think I will give it a few days to see if it gets any better. I REALLY would like to keep both, but if not I have a friend who will take the female.
 

bizaliz3

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Can you keep one in the 29?

Me personally...I have had like 20 pairs and never have them pair up with aggression. So based on my experience, I would say no...they are not feeling each other out. Did they feel each other out in this manner when they originally paired up? liplocking and nipping and stuff?

I hope they settle down. But you are taking a gamble here. I had a female kill her male mate by one bad blow to his side. It damaged his swim bladder and he never recovered. :-( Heartbreaking.
 
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spartanfish

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Well the female is not going to be able to kill the male in this situation. He's much bigger. The most bizarre thing here is the entire dynamic has changed. The aggression was 110 percent from the male in the 29, with zero aggression from the female. He battered her up pretty good on a regular basis and that was that. Now, they seem more or less even sparring partners. Was is the 3 day separation? Is it the much bigger tank? Who knows. But like I said, the entire dynamic has changed.

I think they are still definitely mated or trying to mate though. This is a 4-foot tank, and when they are not sparring, they are never more than 4 inches from each other. No joke. They stick very, very close together.

She can't go back in the 29. I now have several tetras and barbs in there, so it would not be a good mix. If this keeps up, she'll go to a friend.

DEPRESSING.
 

bizaliz3

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Change of scenery is what changed the dynamic I think. Maybe a combo of that and the short separation. She got put back with the bully in a NEW environment and then thought to herself.....hmmm.....I don't want to end up in the same situation I was in in that last tank...so I need to do something different this time. I need to stick up for myself immediately and show this other angel who is boss!! Many times I Have seen angels completely change personality when moved into a new tank. And often it was a bullied fish that turned into a bully once moved!

So are you saying they are getting along when they don't have eggs or babies? That is pretty common too. That is usually what happens in my experience.

When angels divorce, they don't necessarily stop breeding with each other. They just get really mean, and bicker causing undesirable cosmetic damage and sometimes even worse. I personally hate the look of a tattered angel. So I don't like to keep angels together when they start to get physical. Even if it isn't too serious. Not only that, but a stressed fish is much more prone to illness. Stress CAN kill a fish. So I try and avoid allowing any fish to live in stress. As soon as I see a fish looking stressed, I get afraid for their lives. lol

Good luck. I hope things work out for you.

Just a funny side note....so, sometimes I like to humanize fish...and I think this is a good example. Even human couples can get along great for years, and then as soon as they have kids, things go south. haha
 
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spartanfish

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They haven't laid eggs in quite a while. I noticed an odd correlation between their egg laying and live plants. If I took my live plants (potted anubias) out of the 29, they stopped breeding. Within 3-4 days of dropping an anubias back in, there were eggs on it. It was the strangest thing. I ended up not keeping live plants because when they bred, they got really aggressive toward OTHER tank mates, and it was a real pain.

But as mentioned, the male was always beating up on the female in there and tattering her up. Right now its hard to say if they are trying to breed or just fighting. The constant close proximity suggests breeding, along with intermittent surface prep for eggs, but no eggs yet. It's been 4 days that they have been in the new tank together.

Another thing that is entirely new is both the female and male are always twitching at each other, particularly before they spar. That never happened before.
 

Angelmom

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I feel your pain - I am just now going through the same thing with a breeding pair who, after laying eggs five times (only the last batch was viable) decided they hated each other. No changes to the tank, no moves, just sudden dislike with chasing, lip-locking, ramming and nipping. I'll be separating them. Biz - the term "angelfish divorce" is great! So appropriate.
 
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spartanfish

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I'd really really like to have at least two angels in this 55 gallon. What happens if I give the female away and try introducing a new angel from the store? I feel like that's a total **** shoot.

Anyone ever try?
 

bizaliz3

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spartanfish said:
I'd really really like to have at least two angels in this 55 gallon. What happens if I give the female away and try introducing a new angel from the store? I feel like that's a total **** shoot.

Anyone ever try?
It's always trial and error with angels.
 
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spartanfish

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I'm going to give it a few days on the very slim chance that it settles down. If not, I am going to give the female to a friend and probably just let the male ride it out by himself in his big new tank. He has 6 Columbian tetras and two pearl gouramis to keep him company. I'm glad he's getting along with the gouramis, at least. Sigh.
 
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spartanfish

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Well, they kept going after it, so I finally couldn't take it any more and I split them up. I put her back in the 29 with a bunch of smaller fish (baby rummynose, black neons, odessa barbs). She doesn't chase them and they don't bother her. But how's this for irony....the 55 and 29 gallons sit in an L shape, meaning the corners are near each other. Now, the two angels in separate tanks just sit near the corners and stare at each other through the glass (separated by about 16 inches). It's almost as if they're lonely. I just can't win!
 
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