Angelfish – Habitat, Care, Feeding, Tank Size, Breeding

Angelfish is among the most popular freshwater fish among beginner and experienced aquarists. They are easy to take care of, breed and can live peacefully with other types of fish in a community tank.

Angel fish are medium sized fish that belong to the family Cichlidae. They are also known as scalar fish among aquarists. They are commonly known for their graceful swimming manners, unique wing-like shaped fins and diverse color patterns.

Angelfish caught in the wild are hard to keep and maintain in an aquarium. However, those raised in captivity are available for sale in many pet stores. If you are considering keeping angelfish, below is information that you may need to know about your new fine friend.


Angel fish are known as the king of the aquarium for their beauty. They are shaped like an arrowhead, with a pointed mouth, triangular noses and wide bodies.

Their most unique feature is their dorsal and pectoral fin that are beautifully spread out, and their caudal fin that is shaped like a fan. The angelfish grows to a maximum size of 6 inches long, with their remarkable fins growing up to eight inches tall.

Wild angelfish have silver with black perpendicular stripes, but, through selective breeding, there are a variety of angelfish with different colors. The most common colors include silver, gold, black and black marbled, spotted fish, rather than the common stripes.

There are also some bred to look like the Koi fish, silver or white with orange or red spots and black jagged patterns while others resemble a panda.

Angel fish are considered to be semi aggressive and very territorial. They live in small schools and will fight each other in order to defend and protect their territories. However, they are not bullies, and will not fight other fish outside their school.


In the wild, angelfish are mostly found in South America in the Amazon River and its tributaries. They mostly swim in slow moving water flow, quiet and dimly lit rivers, swamps and streams along the Amazon River Basin.

Since they are tropical fish, they thrive in acidic warm water and prefer swimming under fallen trees and vegetation in the water.


In their natural habitat, angelfish are omnivorous. They mostly feed on small fish, larvae, crustaceans and insects. Their meals are mainly rich in protein and fibre, therefore they do not mostly eat algae and plants.

In captivity, reciprocate what they would get in the wild. Therefore, feed them food that is rich in protein such as, tubifex worms, brine shrimp and live water fleas. You can also feed your angelfish on freeze dried worms, flake and pellet foods and cooked garden vegetables such as spinach.

Angelfish have a big appetite. You can feed them at least twice in a day, however, if during breeding, feed them up to 4 times in a day. Remember to give them portions that they can finish within a couple of minutes to limit the amount of leftover food in the aquarium.

Although angelfish do not like eating plants, adding food plants in the aquarium will ensure they get the fibre they need in their diet.

Water and Tank Requirements

Angelfish swim in small groups of around 6 to 8 fish. To keep a school of angelfish, you will need at least 80 gallons’ aquarium. For a pair of angelfish, 20 gallons is sufficient to ensure they have enough space to swim around. This means for every angelfish, you will need around 10 gallons of water.

Angelfish are tropical fish. Their tank water requirements should therefore be similar to their natural habitat, water temperatures between 75- 82 degrees Fahrenheit, PH level of from 6.8 to 7, slow water flow and around 8 to 12 hours of light exposure each day. If you are not able to get your finned friend some natural sunlight, you can use any aquarium light.

Angelfish love to dig, therefore, add fine substrate in your aquarium to replicate their natural habitat. The substrate should not be too large or sharp to cut or scrape the fish.

Angelfish also love to hide behind plants. You can therefore add plants native to the Amazon such as Amazon sword plants. You can also use other plants such as Java Moss or Java fern.

Avoid floating vegetation that block sunlight or crowd the water tank.


Although angelfish are known to be semi aggressive, they are also peaceful fish that live comfortably with other tank mates. They only fight members of their school that threaten to cross their territorial boundaries.

They are also known to eat smaller fish. However, this is not a bully behavior. Like any other type of fish, anything that fits in their mouth could be a potential dish.

Suitable tank mates for your angelfish include; other Cichlids such as Discus, Dwarf Cichlids and Oscars, larger tetras, rainbowfish, nonviolent barbs, small freshwater catfish and gourami.

Avoid keeping many angelfish together in a tank. This is because they may become aggressive to one another as they compete for food, space and other resources.


Angelfish are popular among aquarists because they are very easy to breed. Angelfish get to maturity when they are around 6 to 8 weeks. Once they reach maturity, they will naturally pair and get their own territory with their mates.

As soon as you realize your angelfish are pairing, prepare your tank for breeding. Provide your breeding pair with at least 20 gallons of water with temperatures maintained at 82 degrees Fahrenheit, low water flow and spawning surfaces such as water plants or slanted surfaces.

During breeding, feed your angelfish up to four times in a day, with a diet that is rich in proteins.

A female angelfish lays from 200 to 400 eggs per spawning. These eggs are fertilized by the male angelfish externally. Angelfish make very good parents. They will protect the eggs and the fry once they are born. However, to ensure the fry are healthy, put them in a separate tank when they get to one month old.


Angelfish are widely known for their beauty. Their uniquely shaped fins and a variety of colors earn them the title king of the Aquarium.

If you are thinking about getting angelfish, you should not be scared to introduce them in a community tank. They will live peacefully with other tank mates and add color and beauty in your tank.

Updated: February 26, 2020

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