AngelFish – Care, Types, Size, Lifespan, Tank Mates & Details!

Angelfish (Pterophyllum Scalare) is a term used to indicate a small group of cichlids, which comprises three different species; Pterophyllum scalare, Pterophyllum altumi, and Pterophyllum Leopold.

These families of cichlids belong to the major rivers in South America, including the Amazon, Orinoco, and Essequibo rivers.

Quick Stats

Name: AngelFish
Family: Pterophyllum Scalare (Cichlidae)
Size: 6 inches
Care Level: Moderately easy
Minimum tank size: 29 gallons
Temperature: 23 to 29 degrees Celsius
Water conditions: soft to medium (5 to 7.5 pH)
Diet: Omnivorous
Tank size: 25 gallons
Temperament: Peaceful


These fishes are the oldest aquarium fishes and are still very popular among aquatic geeks. The Angelfishes were bred in captivity around 100 years ago, and thus they have captively bred origins.

The angelfishes spend most of their time lying among the aquatic plants and roots because their lateral stripes offer an amazing camouflage to them. We are going to discuss the tropical AngelFish (Pterophyllum Scalare) in this post.

The tropical Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) is a voracious large fish with good looks and unusual behavior. The fish has a flattened body on sides and has an extensive and varied-color collection.

Angelfish can grow up to 6 inches long, and it is very high too.

The freshwater Angelfishes have a flattened silvery body and have dark stripes on it. These fishes have a sharpened head shape and large fins.

The shape of the fins helps the fishes to hide between the roots and leaves of plants.

The wild angelfishes are predators and have vertical dark stripes on their bodies. The fishes feed on fish juveniles, spineless species, and other small fishes.

The average lifespan of Angelfishes is 12 to 15 years. They have an unusual body shape, and overall, they are easy to breed.

Angelfish Habitat

Angelfish are native to the South American region; most of them are found in the Amazon River.

AngelFish loves to spend time in slow-moving and quiet waters and prefer dimly lit areas such as under the trees that have fallen into the water and below the overhanging plants and vegetation in the water.

Angelfish were first discovered in 1824 and brought to Europe in 1920. People in the U.S. started breeding it in captivity in the 1930s, and the fishes are still on sale, but they differ from those that inhabit the wild.

Apart from the Amazon River, the fishes are also found in the tributaries of the river in Brazil, Peru, and Eastern Ecuador.

They are also found in the Orinoco River and Guyana coastal zone. They mostly live in thickly planted areas because they love shades and shadows.

Angelfish Care

The Angelfish is of medium difficulty in an aquarium but they are still not recommended for the beginners as some factors should be carefully considered.

The Angelfishes are not very demanding in their requirements, but they need a large tank capacity and proper tank conditions.

Because of the body shape of this fish, it is recommended to keep them in a tank with not less than 29 gallons. If you’re planning to keep other fishes too, you must have a container of 50 or more gallons capacity.

Aquarium Condition

Angelfishes should be kept in warm water that should be between 26 to 30 degrees Celsius. These fishes adapt to the tank conditions very quickly, but in the wild, they prefer soft water of weakly acid nature.

You can use any decorations for the tank, but make sure there are no sharp edges as they can harm the fish.

If you want to place plants in the aquarium, choosing ones with large leaves will be a good option as these fish love laying eggs on large and flat surfaces.

These fishes don’t like swimming in very high flowing waters, and so the tank filtration process should be kept moderate.

They are usually found in slow waters because fast-flowing waters can slow down their growth and increase stress on them.

Also, their energy is reduced because most of it spent fighting with the fast-flowing water. It is necessary to renew the water weekly, and you can do it around 20% of the tank water’s capacity.

Angelfish Feeding

Angelfishes are omnivorous, and they can be given any feed in the tank, such as frozen, live, and artificial foods. You can feed them with good quality flakes and frozen or live feeds such as the bloodworm, tubifex, brine shrimp, and glassworm.

You must be very careful while feeding the fish because it is a greedy one, and overfeeding can cause trouble.

If you’re feeding the fish with bloodworm, be very careful because Angelfish can eat more and then face flatulence.

It is better not to feed these fishes with bloodworms. Instead, you can give them high-quality flakes.

Angelfish needs a properly balanced diet that includes protein and fiber. There are only a few fish food manufacturers that take care of the protein and fiber composition, and others include 50 to 85% fibers only.

To improve the color intensity of the fish and its health, some food manufacturers add the raw plant to the food. If you want to feed them with fresh food, it’s good to add some spinach and lettuces to the diet.

If you see the angelfishes nipping some leaves in the tank, you must know that they want to eat plants or vegetables. You can add regular fish food, including spirulina, into their diet so that they stop their habit of nipping soft leaves.

You can also try some of the excellent fish food brands such as API flakes, Zoo Med Spirulina, and Freeze-Dried Brine Shrimp.

You should know that feeding these fishes with low-quality food can cause various types of diseases.

Also, live food can carry germs, and if it’s of low quality, there is a chance of infection. The best idea is to feed the angelfishes twice with a good mixture of flakes, worms, and vegetables.

Angelfish Breeding

Angelfish have a peaceful temperament, and they form a stable monogamic couple. They mostly lay eggs on large surfaces such as leaves, snags, and tank glass.

When bred in captivity, people also put ceramic tubes, cones, and plastics so that the fishes can lay eggs on them.

These fishes are known for taking care of their offspring, and the angelfishes also care for the juveniles and continue taking responsibility for them until they start swimming on their own.

If you want to breed these fishes, the excellent idea is to buy six or more fishes and let them grow and choose their match on their own.

These fishes choose their mates themselves, and if you want to notice spawning, you’ll have to be attentive.

The couple who is ready for spawning will stick together all the time and try to remain far from the group. During the spawning period, the fishes try to scare other fishes and become a little protective.

Freshwater angel fishes become reproductive when they reach the age of 8 to 12 months. If you take out the eggs from the tank, it will take 7 to 10 days for them to hatch.


The fish couple chooses a particular place for laying eggs and then starts cleaning it. Then the female angelfish lay eggs in a row, and the male counterpart starts fertilizing it then and there.

This process continues until several hundreds of eggs are laid and fertilized. Then the parents care for the eggs and fan them with their fins. The parents themselves eat the damaged or non-fertilized eggs.

The eggs are then hatched in some days, and the fry that comes out doesn’t eat anything except the yolk bag. In one week, the fry turns into a juvenile and starts moving and swimming on its own.

You can feed the juveniles with brine shrimp, nauplii, and other foods that are mainly manufactured for the minors. Juveniles eat many times a day because they eat only small portions.

While feeding the angelfishes during spawning and the youths, you must take care of the water purity. Most of the juveniles die because of water contamination and improper feeding.

Angelfish Tank Mates

Angelfishes are peaceful ones, but during the spawning period, they can be aggressive as they belong to the cichlid family.

The fishes are not usually aggressive, but they are opportunists, and they will eat anything that will fit in their mouths, and thus they can quickly eat tiny fishes.

Good tank mates for them are gourami fish, larger tetras, rasboras, rainbow fish, tiger barbs, medium-sized catfish, and pygmy corydoras.

Angelfish Diseases

Angelfishes can get infected because of the biomass that accumulates in the tank. You should always keep an eye on any growth of bacteria, fungus, parasites, and viruses because they can affect the Angelfishes.

Some of the common diseases are ich or white spot disease, dropsy, anchor worms, fish T.B., Popeye, body flukes, lice, velvet disease, Hexamita, bleeding, and red streaks on the skin. If not treated on time, angelfishes can die quickly.

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