The name Angelfish generally refers to two different arts of fishes:
- Freshwater angelfish
- Marine angelfish (reef-dwelling fish)
Freshwater angelfish scientific name is Pterophyllum (Family: Cichlid). Generally there are three freshwater angelfish species — Pterophyllum scalare, Pterophyllum altum and Pterophyllum leopoldi (previously named Pterophyllum dumerilli).
Pterophyllum scalare is one of the most popular aquarium fishes due to its beauty and unpretentiousness.
Aquarium angelfish lives up to 10 years, but some specimens can live up to 20 years. They are peaceful and sedentary, very timid but not solitaire - mature angelfishes usually live in monogamous pairs.
Freshwater Angelfish Habitat
This fish is native to South America (the Amazon basin). Its natural habitat is slow flowing rivers with a plenty of algae.
Freshwater Angelfish Description
Angelfish specimens are usually up to 12 – 15 cm long and 26 cm high. Their body is roundish, flattened on the sides and resembles half-moon. This half-moon form is so recognizable that angelfish shape is often used for generalized graphic presentation of aquarium fishes. The distance between angelfish fin rays can be up to 20 cm and the fins themselves are often longer than the body.
Silver angelfish with transverse black bars is actually the most natural one. But currently there are species with manifold colors and corresponding names: Marbled Angelfish, Veiltail Angelfish, Zebra Angelfish, Gold Angelfish, Blushing Angelfish, Bicolor Angelfish etc.
It is very hard to sexing angelfish. Male angelfishes are bigger and have bulging forehead, but this becomes obvious only when the specimen is about 2 years old.
Freshwater Angelfish keeping
Keeping angelfish is not hard, as they are quite unpretentious. Though angelfish aquarium should be quite big (no less than 100 liter and no less than 50 cm high) with a lot of algae and some free space for swimming. The water should have temperature about 260C (though they tolerate up to 180C for some short periods) and pH 6-7,5.
Angelfishes are afraid of rapid movements and drastic changes of illumination. They like a lot of algae, broad leaved plants with short stems, snags, vertical stones with chinks big enough for these fishes.
It is necessary to change the water weekly!
It is better to keep angelfishes in small groups up to 4-6 specimens and then they will form pairs by themselves. These groups live hierarchically: the strongest pair always occupies the best place in the aquarium, the weaker pair has worse place, etc. Single fishes actively chase other fishes and they are usually the latest to get access to the food. Interesting is the fact, that even if we remove such oppressed fish from the aquarium, some other angelfish or even a pair will replace this fish in the hierarchy and will be again oppressed by other fishes. To solve this problem you can buy some bigger aquarium or increase the population of angelfishes.
Freshwater Angelfish feeding
Like other cichlides, fresh water angelfishes mostly like live food. They can very quickly chase guppy or some other small fishes. Angelfish food also includes tadpoles, various insects and their larvae, but they also graze algae and some delicate algae leaves.
You can use all kinds of live, fresh and flake foods: mosquito grubs, brine shrimp (either live or frozen), sludge worms and even lettuce or spinach. But beware with mosquito larvae – feed angelfish sparingly with it, as they can overeat it, which could kill them.
For feeding angelfish it is recommended to use special feeders. Due to the form of their body they can hardly pick up the food from the bottom of aquarium.
Sometimes angelfishes can refuse food for several days with no obvious reason. Don’t worry, in several days they usually begin to eat again.
Generally they are unpretentious, but they are sensitive to the quality of the food. You should not feed them with dead grubs or greasy sludge worms.
If you want to know how to breed angelfish, you’ve come to the right place.
For breeding angelfish there is required higher temperature (up to 280 C —300 C) and some broad leaved plants. Angelfishes spawn regularly if they are treated well. Angelfish male and female select the place for spawning together . Most popular places for spawning are leaves of some broad leaved plants, but sometimes they choose even filter hosepipe or just aquarium glass.
Angelfish reproduction is done by egg laying. The female lays in average 400-500 eggs, though bigger fish can lay up to 1000 eggs. Incubation period for eggs is 2-3 days. During all this time adult angelfish is guarding the eggs and then, after the larvae are born, it is still guarding them until they grow to young fishes. You should start feeding them with some tiny live food, like nauplius larva of Artemia salina, or eelworms. Young fishes are sensitive to food quality, so you should thoroughly wash the food before feeding them. The first several days it is also recommended to clean the aquarium twice a day and remove the rest of food and excrements. You shouldn’t use filters at that time because the young fishes are too weak to resist the flow of water created by the filter.
Traditionally angelfish breed has almost no chance to survive if there are any other fishes in the aquarium. That is why many angelfish breeders move the eggs into some other aquarium together with parent fishes when raising angelfish. If the eggs are moved to the incubator, the adult fishes gradually lose their ability to care for the eggs.
For angelfish raising you should note that these fishes got nervous while spawning and may even eat their eggs.
Generally angelfishes are peaceful, though there are some peculiarities that you should take into account.
Angelfishes are aggressive eaters, so you should always check whether weaker inhabitants of your aquarium also get enough food.
During the spawning angelfishes become nervous and quarrelsome.
They are generally not aggressive to the fishes of a similar size, but adult angelfish can often eat some smaller fishes like guppy or neon.
You should not keep barbs (Barbus) together with angelfishes, because barbs often bite off angelfish fins.
If you have several pairs of angelfishes in your aquarium, you should ensure that all of them have enough space and broad leaved plants for reproduction.
The most common parasites are Ich (Ichthyophthirius) and Fluke (Trematode).
General recommendation for angelfish parasite treatment is heat treatment. Try increased temperature (up to 350 C) for 7-10 days. This will stimulate the immune system of a fish.
If your fish has tiny white spots like salt – it is most probably Ich. This parasite is rather common. Usually it is caused by poor water. So the treatment includes changing the water and adding appropriate medicine into the water. This medicine can be purchase online or at some local pet shop.
If your fish has cloudy skin and it is scraping against the bottom all the time, it is most likely Fluke parasite. It can be also caused by poor water and the treatment is the same: changing the water and adding appropriate medicine.
The most common angelfish virus disease is fin rot. It is caused by rod-like bacteria from Pseudomonas group in aquariums with too low temperature and poor water. The symptoms of this angelfish disease are white fin edges, the fins themselves are getting shorter. Heat treatment recommended in combination with water changing and adding medicine.