AngelFish – Things You Need To Know About This Cichlid
Angelfish 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. 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 Angel Fish (Pterophyllum Scalare) in this post.
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)
Tank size: 25 gallons
The tropical Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) is a gluttonous large fish with good looks and an interesting behaviour. The fish has a flattened body on sides and has a large and varied-colour body. 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 too. 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 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 was first discovered in 1824 and it was brought to Europe in 1920. People in the US 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 the thickly planted areas because they love shades and shadows.
The Angelfish is of medium difficulty in care but they are still not recommended for the beginners as there are some factors that 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 tank of 50 or more gallons capacity.
Angelfishes should be kept in warm water that should be between 26 to 30 degrees Celsius. These fishes adapt to the tank conditions very easily but in the wild, they prefer soft water of weakly acid nature.
You can use any type of 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 normally 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 in 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.
Angelfishes are omnivorous, and they can be given any type of feed in the tank such as frozen, live and artificial foods. You can feed them with good quality flakes and frozen or live feed such as the bloodworm, tubifex, brine shrimp, and glassworm. You must be very careful while feeding the fish because it is a gluttonous one and overfeeding can cause trouble.
If you’re feeding the fish with bloodworm be very careful because Angel fishes can eat more and then face flatulence. It is better not to feed these fishes with bloodworm. Instead, you can give them high-quality flakes.
Angelfishes need a properly balanced diet that includes protein and fibre both. There are only a few fish food manufacturers that take care of the protein and fibre composition and others include 50 to 85% fibres only.
To improve the colour 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 normal fish food including spirulina into their diet so that they stop their habit of nipping soft leaves. You can also try some of the good 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.
Angelfishes 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.
Cichlids are known for taking care of their offspring and the angelfishes also care for the juveniles and continue taking care for them until they start swimming on their own.
If you want to breed these fishes, a good idea is to buy 6 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 till several hundreds of eggs are laid and fertilized. Then the parents care for the eggs and fan them with their fins. The damaged or non-fertilized eggs are eaten by the parents themselves.
The eggs are then hatched in some days and the larva that comes out doesn’t eat anything except the yolk bag. In one week the larva 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 particularly manufactured for the juveniles. Juveniles eat many times a day because they eat only small portions. While feeding the angelfishes during spawning and the juveniles, you must take care of the water purity. Most of the juveniles die because of water contamination and untimely feeding.
Angelfishes are peaceful ones but during the spawning period, they can be aggressive as they belong to the cichlid family. The fishes are not aggressive usually, but they are opportunists and they will eat anything that will fit in their mouth, and thus they can easily eat very small fishes.
Good tank mates for them are gouramis, larger tetras and rasboras, rainbowfish, peaceful barbs, medium sized catfish, and corydoras.
Angelfishes can get infected because of the biomass that accumulates in the tank. You should always keep an eye on any type of 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.