Angelfish fighting, is it a problem?

courtneylm

So here's my stocking for starters (120g):
4 angelfish
3 kuhli loaches
7 upside down catfish
6 odessa barbs
6 Boesemani rainbowfish
1 bn pleco
1 siamese algae eater
1 senegal bichir
Various snails
So my angelfish are CONSTANTLY pecking at each other. Today I noticed them "kissing" for the first time. I'm pretty sure it's all of them fighting all of them. There's one that may be the least picked on and aggressive, it just kinda stays outta the way for the most part. I don't think it's being bullied, just that it avoids the problem if that makes sense. I will try to get a video to show the behavior. I don't notice any torn fins or gills on any of them, does that mean the fighting is just playful? They are all pretty close in size, and I got them all at the same time (all but one were in the same tank at the fish store). I read that five is a better number to have than four, has anyone else experienced this? I'm also not sure of their genders. I'm pretty new to keeping angelfish, I only had them once before and I didn't have them very long as I ended up moving and giving them away. Any advice is appreciated!

Here is a picture of my setup


20220405_142144.jpg
 

MacZ

The behaviour is pretty normal. Your tank is lacking structure. Many open areas, barely any driftwood or plants reaching high up to the surface. As with most cichlids breaking lines of sight is key to control this behaviour and giving the fish ways to claim territories with clear borders.
 

courtneylm

The behaviour is pretty normal. Your tank is lacking structure. Many open areas, barely any driftwood or plants reaching high up to the surface. As with most cichlids breaking lines of sight is key to control this behaviour and giving the fish ways to claim territories with clear borders.

I plan on getting another large piece of driftwood for the center of the tank. As far as the plants, I thought I got plants that would grow to the surface of the tank but I've been struggling with them. I have injected co2, fluval fresh and plant light, and I dose fertilizers daily. A couple of them grow well but not many. Any suggestions for plants that will grow to the surface? It's 26" tall
 

MacZ

I plan on getting another large piece of driftwood for the center of the tank.
Probably plan on getting several pieces. Restructuring a tank may help short term, buying you some time, before the quabbels start again.
I have injected co2, fluval fresh and plant light, and I dose fertilizers daily.
Open another thread in the plant subforum so the plant experts can deal with that.
Any suggestions for plants that will grow to the surface? It's 26" tall
I would look to get Nymphaea, Vallisneria and Cabomba.
 

courtneylm

Probably plan on getting several pieces. Restructuring a tank may help short term, buying you some time, before the quabbels start again.

Open another thread in the plant subforum so the plant experts can deal with that.

I would look to get Nymphaea, Vallisneria and Cabomba.
Thank you for all of the advice!
 

MacZ

You're welcome. Maybe these videos give you an idea of what to look for.

These are just to show how much space these fish have in nature, obviously in a tank structure is needed to make up for lack of space.

And I just quickly picked some tanks done right.
2m South American themed aquarium
 

SparkyJones

looking forward to the video of the behavior, but with 4 angels, I'm willing to bet one of them is female and hitting maturity and the boys are finding out who's stronger of the group and who will get her.

the one that seems to be minding their own business staying out of it is the likely female.

There is some aggression over whos the boss of the group but it's usually minimal... but when a female matures, it becomes a free for all of fighting and nipping and lip lock wrestling, until one of them wins and has the female on one side of the tank and the losers on the other side of the tank. and he keeps them there.

if ti's what I think it is, it's gonna get crazy here shortly, and one of them will win, then in all honesty either the female needs to go back to the store, or the pair needs it's own tank. it just gets worse when she lays eggs and miserable for everyone in the tank that gets anywhere near them.

Kind of hoping you just have a scrappy angelfish boys club. that like rough housing. but if the aggression just seems like it's building up to something, it likely is.
 

courtneylm

looking forward to the video of the behavior, but with 4 angels, I'm willing to bet one of them is female and hitting maturity and the boys are finding out who's stronger of the group and who will get her.

the one that seems to be minding their own business staying out of it is the likely female.

There is some aggression over whos the boss of the group but it's usually minimal... but when a female matures, it becomes a free for all of fighting and nipping and lip lock wrestling, until one of them wins and has the female on one side of the tank and the losers on the other side of the tank. and he keeps them there.

if ti's what I think it is, it's gonna get crazy here shortly, and one of them will win, then in all honesty either the female needs to go back to the store, or the pair needs it's own tank. it just gets worse when she lays eggs and miserable for everyone in the tank that gets anywhere near them.

Kind of hoping you just have a scrappy angelfish boys club. that like rough housing. but if the aggression just seems like it's building up to something, it likely is.
This video was the best i could do for now, I will try to get a better one. Also took a picture of each angelfish separately. Not sure if you can tell genders from the photos but figured it's worth a shot



20220405_172837.jpg
20220405_172811.jpg
20220405_172756.jpg
20220405_172743.jpg
 

SparkyJones

wow, ok. there's bullying going on there. the one doing the chasing is claiming the tank, not from the koi in this video, just from the other marble. might just be singling out the marble as direct competition.

the one marble with less white rays on his analfin is a male I 'm pretty sure from the picture. little pointy nub, I don't get anything from the other 3 from the pictures yet, but might not be mature just yet either, the one with less white rays on the analfin though that's the bull male, and the others are either juveniles or females and juveniles still, but looks like they aren't that far off from maturity either.

If I were to take a guess, the other marble is a male also by shape, and the two koi are females by shape, but shape isnt' a good indicator, sometimes when they hit maturity they change appearance and get the bump and some females have a smaller bump also. When they hit maturity, males and females get a tube, the males tube is a bit like a pencil tip, and the females tube is more rounded. but it varies from fish to fish, until they are mature you don't see it at all.

You only know for 100% when you see whos laying eggs and who's fertilizing them.
This behavior is normal as they mature, but watch out if it gets worse and fish are getting hurt, or the one getting chased stays hiding and stops eating. I had one that hid behind the sponge filter for days and refused to come out or eat anymore and I had to give him his own tank for a couple weeks to reduce his stress and fatten him up before reintroducing him to the tank again and he adjusted back fine. it was like he was scared to move from the spot anymore and gave up completely..

looks like the beginnings of breeding aggression. it needs some more time for the others to mature to see how it plays out, but keep an eye for injuries, or one shutting down and not eating, from always getting chased, you might have to give the really aggressive one a time out, or a stressed one a break and recovery period, sometimes it helps for them to make the adjustment to being adults as a group.
 

courtneylm

wow, ok. there's bullying going on there. the one doing the chasing is claiming the tank, not from the koi in this video, just from the other marble. might just be singling out the marble as direct competition.

the one marble with less white rays on his analfin is a male I 'm pretty sure from the picture. little pointy nub, I don't get anything from the other 3 from the pictures yet, but might not be mature just yet either, the one with less white rays on the analfin though that's the bull male, and the others are either juveniles or females and juveniles still, but looks like they aren't that far off from maturity either.

If I were to take a guess, the other marble is a male also by shape, and the two koi are females by shape, but shape isnt' a good indicator, sometimes when they hit maturity they change appearance and get the bump and some females have a smaller bump also. When they hit maturity, males and females get a tube, the males tube is a bit like a pencil tip, and the females tube is more rounded. but it varies from fish to fish, until they are mature you don't see it at all.

You only know for 100% when you see whos laying eggs and who's fertilizing them.
This behavior is normal as they mature, but watch out if it gets worse and fish are getting hurt, or the one getting chased stays hiding and stops eating. I had one that hid behind the sponge filter for days and refused to come out or eat anymore and I had to give him his own tank for a couple weeks to reduce his stress and fatten him up before reintroducing him to the tank again and he adjusted back fine. it was like he was scared to move from the spot anymore and gave up completely..

looks like the beginnings of breeding aggression. it needs some more time for the others to mature to see how it plays out, but keep an eye for injuries, or one shutting down and not eating, from always getting chased, you might have to give the really aggressive one a time out, or a stressed one a break and recovery period, sometimes it helps for them to make the adjustment to being adults as a group.
Okay I'll keep an eye out for the breeding tunes as time goes on. I've seen all three that are in the left corner towards the end of the video chase each other. I'm worried that like you said in your first reply that there are 3 males and 1 female. I don't have another tank I can move them to long term so it will mean rehoming whichever fish need to be removed :(
 

MacZ

you might have to give the really aggressive one a time out, or a stressed one a break and recovery period,
In my experience both isn't ideal. Time-out only stresses the fish, it reasseses itself in its old position usually. And a break might aswell become rehoming, be it just to another tank or to another owner. Reintegrating a singular cichlid into an existing pecking order is not easy. I would be better to remove more fish at once if one choses to. With an overall number of 4 that's unfortunate though. Two groups of 2 can go wrong even worse.
 

courtneylm

In my experience both isn't ideal. Time-out only stresses the fish, it reasseses itself in its old position usually. And a break might aswell become rehoming, be it just to another tank or to another owner. Reintegrating a singular cichlid into an existing pecking order is not easy. I would be better to remove more fish at once if one choses to. With an overall number of 4 that's unfortunate though. Two groups of 2 can go wrong even worse.
What if they all end up being males? Can all males live well together? Or if only one is a female can I just rehome her?
 

MacZ

What if they all end up being males? Can all males live well together?
Blodshed. Increasingly more brutal.
Or if only one is a female can I just rehome her?
You can, but that won't do much.

The only effective solution I know would be bigger tank, bigger group, more structure. Everything else always turned out temporary fixes or the groups were diminished until a pair or a single fish was left.
 

SparkyJones

I've kept angelfish for a couple decades. From my experience. If it's only males there's some fighting over who is boss and who eats first, but nothing like the aggression that happens when there is a female in the tank or when there is a pair and the female has eggs.

A pair of males, 3-4-5-6 males even, is very minor problems between them.
A bunch of juveniles and no idea what sex they are yet is fine also.
It's when they mature, some get there faster than others and can be more aggressive and bully, and then when a female matures also they all know it and want to fight over who gets her.

I've kept juveniles in 20g-40g-72g- it's fine until they start maturing, and still not that bad unless there's a female in the tank.

and then it can be fine as a pair is put to a tank by themselves and the males that are left get their own tank without a female and I've never seen them get that aggressive that they chase all over the tank once the female is gone. It settles down.

However with a female they get very territorial, and with eggs laid, doubly so territorial. the female and the male will defend the eggs relentlessly and beat up anyone they think is trying to get near the eggs. One will stay by the eggs the other will go out further to make a buffer zone or front line than they will take turns on who's tending the eggs, and who's keeping everyone at a distance. And that distance from the eggs is about a good 2 feet of tank flooring any direction. In a 10 or 20g, it's the whole tank, in a 40g it's roughly half to 3/4th the tank, bigger tank can possibly work to where they have their own space and enough room, but if I have a female I let them do their thing and fight until I find the pair and then move the pair to a 20g by themselves. It all settles down as long as no more females.

Angels are semi aggressive. Certain situation heighten aggression, like breeding, to an intolerable point for everyone in the tank.

You have a 120g, you can try partitioning off 30 gallons or so, either bought or built to fit and wall off the aggressive male and see what happens with the other 3 and if a female turns up when the rest mature if you can't or won't get another tank.

They all will be maturing shortly if bought at the same time and similar size, maybe a month tops between them maturing. If you have a pair then the pair should get their own safe space where they don't have to worry about someone eating their eggs.

As far as that goes. If you don't want to raise angelfish, you really don't have the tanks for it, remove the eggs after they are laid each time. Give them a piece of slate slab leaned up on the wall of the tank to give them a spot to lay that easy to remove they will usually use that.

My angels are peaceful and like 3 years old for the matures.. I have the pair in their own tank, 4 remaining males in a community tank, and the fry growing out in their own tank. And everyone getting along well like that. Nothing can stay with a breeding pair of angels in a tank, they have to be alone or it becomes a warzone every two weeks when they lay eggs. With the pair taking half the tank and everyone else forced to the wall on the other side from them.

What works for me may not work for you. I'm not sure of the aggressive males motivations at this point yet, he could just be a bully and going after the fish that looks like him because it's similar and asserting his dominance as maturing first. It could be he knows there's a female that coming of age soon and establishing his dominance for that reason.
It all kind of has to play out. Some chasing is OK. But inspect them for injuries, look for a fish that's shutting down or not eating from it, and look for two fish hanging out together with one that chills while the other is always fighting, it's likely that's your pair, and the male is the fighter. The females generally don't get aggressive until they put eggs down. They are strong fish, they can take some of it to an extent, just in a tank they can't escape far enough away to stop it from happening they will keep crossing paths.

It can work especially in a tank your size, however the aggressive male might need to go if he continues the behavior and bullies everyone, and any female will need to go if you don't intend to spawn them in order to keep the peace other wise when she lays eggs everyone is getting beat up by the pair and forced to the opposite side of the tank.
 

courtneylm

I've kept angelfish for a couple decades. From my experience. If it's only males there's some fighting over who is boss and who eats first, but nothing like the aggression that happens when there is a female in the tank or when there is a pair and the female has eggs.

A pair of males, 3-4-5-6 males even, is very minor problems between them.
A bunch of juveniles and no idea what sex they are yet is fine also.
It's when they mature, some get there faster than others and can be more aggressive and bully, and then when a female matures also they all know it and want to fight over who gets her.

I've kept juveniles in 20g-40g-72g- it's fine until they start maturing, and still not that bad unless there's a female in the tank.

and then it can be fine as a pair is put to a tank by themselves and the males that are left get their own tank without a female and I've never seen them get that aggressive that they chase all over the tank once the female is gone. It settles down.

However with a female they get very territorial, and with eggs laid, doubly so territorial. the female and the male will defend the eggs relentlessly and beat up anyone they think is trying to get near the eggs. One will stay by the eggs the other will go out further to make a buffer zone or front line than they will take turns on who's tending the eggs, and who's keeping everyone at a distance. And that distance from the eggs is about a good 2 feet of tank flooring any direction. In a 10 or 20g, it's the whole tank, in a 40g it's roughly half to 3/4th the tank, bigger tank can possibly work to where they have their own space and enough room, but if I have a female I let them do their thing and fight until I find the pair and then move the pair to a 20g by themselves. It all settles down as long as no more females.

Angels are semi aggressive. Certain situation heighten aggression, like breeding, to an intolerable point for everyone in the tank.

You have a 120g, you can try partitioning off 30 gallons or so, either bought or built to fit and wall off the aggressive male and see what happens with the other 3 and if a female turns up when the rest mature if you can't or won't get another tank.

They all will be maturing shortly if bought at the same time and similar size, maybe a month tops between them maturing. If you have a pair then the pair should get their own safe space where they don't have to worry about someone eating their eggs.

As far as that goes. If you don't want to raise angelfish, you really don't have the tanks for it, remove the eggs after they are laid each time. Give them a piece of slate slab leaned up on the wall of the tank to give them a spot to lay that easy to remove they will usually use that.

My angels are peaceful and like 3 years old for the matures.. I have the pair in their own tank, 4 remaining males in a community tank, and the fry growing out in their own tank. And everyone getting along well like that. Nothing can stay with a breeding pair of angels in a tank, they have to be alone or it becomes a warzone every two weeks when they lay eggs. With the pair taking half the tank and everyone else forced to the wall on the other side from them.

What works for me may not work for you. I'm not sure of the aggressive males motivations at this point yet, he could just be a bully and going after the fish that looks like him because it's similar and asserting his dominance as maturing first. It could be he knows there's a female that coming of age soon and establishing his dominance for that reason.
It all kind of has to play out. Some chasing is OK. But inspect them for injuries, look for a fish that's shutting down or not eating from it, and look for two fish hanging out together with one that chills while the other is always fighting, it's likely that's your pair, and the male is the fighter. The females generally don't get aggressive until they put eggs down. They are strong fish, they can take some of it to an extent, just in a tank they can't escape far enough away to stop it from happening they will keep crossing paths.

It can work especially in a tank your size, however the aggressive male might need to go if he continues the behavior and bullies everyone, and any female will need to go if you don't intend to spawn them in order to keep the peace other wise when she lays eggs everyone is getting beat up by the pair and forced to the opposite side of the tank.
Thank you so much! I will keep an eye on their behavior the next couple months to see what I need to do next. I saw one of the kois chasing one of the marbles this morning, so I'm not sure I have a bully but rather males trying to figure out who's the boss. I'm unsure of the other koi still as it doesn't seem to fight much but I will keep an eye on it. None of them seem to have injuries, however the marble that was doing the chasing yesterday, the bottom of his analfin and top of dorsal fin are a bit ragged, I'm not sure what's going on there but again will keep an eye on it.



20220406_104755.jpg

20220406_104754.jpg
 

SparkyJones

Thank you so much! I will keep an eye on their behavior the next couple months to see what I need to do next. I saw one of the kois chasing one of the marbles this morning, so I'm not sure I have a bully but rather males trying to figure out who's the boss. I'm unsure of the other koi still as it doesn't seem to fight much but I will keep an eye on it. None of them seem to have injuries, however the marble that was doing the chasing yesterday, the bottom of his analfin and top of dorsal fin are a bit ragged, I'm not sure what's going on there but again will keep an eye on it.
he's got ray trailers, some would say "split rays" but it's not severe and likely just genetics.., each angelfish is unique as far as their dorsal fins. you'd need to see his dorsal fin, how it looks when it's fully extended, right now he has it closed up. but I'm sure its just the way his fins are. he's got some good trailers on his tail, those things the caudal rays, and the pectoral fins would be the first things to go if nipping is going on. look for identifying markings to differentiate the individuals you know who is who and who's doing what.

Not the best pictures, here is my pair it might help to identify males and females once they are matured. female look like a bump or outie belly button, males look like a pencil tip

Female

AngelF.jpg

Male

Angel M.jpg

The pair together

Angel P.jpg
 

courtneylm

he's got ray trailers, some would say "split rays" but it's not severe and likely just genetics.., each angelfish is unique as far as their dorsal fins. you'd need to see his dorsal fin, how it looks when it's fully extended, right now he has it closed up. but I'm sure its just the way his fins are. he's got some good trailers on his tail, those things the caudal rays, and the pectoral fins would be the first things to go if nipping is going on. look for identifying markings to differentiate the individuals you know who is who and who's doing what.

Not the best pictures, here is my pair it might help to identify males and females once they are matured. female look like a bump or outie belly button, males look like a pencil tip

Female

AngelF.jpg

Male

Angel M.jpg

The pair together

Angel P.jpg
Okay, I can definitely tell all four of mine apart, and I know which one I suspect to be female. I will keep an eye on their interactions. And also use your pictures for reference. I think I've seen the pencil tip on at least two of them, maybe 3. But I will keep an eye over the next month or so
 

SparkyJones

Okay, I can definitely tell all four of mine apart, and I know which one I suspect to be female. I will keep an eye on their interactions. And also use your pictures for reference. I think I've seen the pencil tip on at least two of them, maybe 3. But I will keep an eye over the next month or so
the difference is more subtle when she isn't laying eggs, but still pronounced, this was right after she laid eggs overnight last night. still not 100% sure thing until the suspected female lays eggs then you know for sure it's a female. :) best of luck to ya!
 

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