Angelfish – Frequently Asked Questions

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It is easy to see why Angelfish are so popular and have been for well over 50 years. I am yet to see a tank that contains mature Angelfish that doesn’t look spectacular.

I have been keeping and breeding Angelfish for over 30 years, and I currently spend much of my time these days writing about Angelfish and speaking about them at fish clubs around the country.

There are some questions that come up time and time again, so I thought I would use this article as an opportunity to address them.

How Many Angelfish Should Be Kept Together?

The number of Angelfish that can be kept together is dictated by the size of the aquarium. A single Angelfish can be kept in a community-style aquarium that is at least 20-gallon (76 liters).

A group of up to 4 adults, with a few smaller community fish as tank mates, could comfortably be kept in a 30-gallon (113 liters).

A 55-gallon aquarium (210 liters) is suitable for 6 or 7 adult Angelfish, again assuming you have a few other fish in with them as well.

No matter what size tank you have, I strongly recommend against keeping just 2 Angelfish, unless you have a bonded breeding pair. When 2 Angelfish are kept together, there is a high probability that one Angelfish will dominate or bully the other, whereas, with 3 or more, that bullying aggression is spread out across multiple fish.

Always bear in mind, when you keep multiple Angelfish together in an aquarium there is always the chance 2 of the Angelfish will pair off and become a spawning pair. Spawning Angelfish quickly become aggressive and territorial and the dynamics of the tank will quickly change.

A spawning pair of Angelfish are best kept in their own aquarium.

What Size Tank Do I Need For 2 Angelfish?

As mentioned in the previous question, the only time 2 Angelfish should be kept together is if they are a spawning pair, or at least a pair that have bonded, even if they aren’t spawning yet.

With that said, the minimum size tank I would keep a pair of Angelfish in is 29-gallons (38 liters). A 29-gallon tank, which is usually about 30″ x 12″ x 18″ (76cm x 30cm x 45cm), provides enough swimming space for 2 adult Angelfish, but more importantly, in my opinion, the tank is 18″ (45cm) tall meaning the Angelfish’s long, trailing pelvic fins won’t be rubbing on the substrate the whole time.

Are Angelfish Aggressive?

Angelfish are considered to be a mildly aggressive species of fish, meaning for the most part they are placid and will fit in well in a community-style aquarium, however, they can be aggressive, especially when spawning, and they should never be trusted with very small tank mates.

Angelfish will happily eat small tetras and rasboras and they will certainly eat baby fish like Guppy or Black Molly fry. In fact, Angelfish are often recommended as a tank mate when fishkeepers want to keep the population of their livebearing fish under control.

What Other Fish Can Be Kept With Angelfish?

Over the years I have tried many different species of fish as tank mates for my Angelfish. Some worked well, others were not so successful.

Below I have listed out the 16 fish that, in my experience, work well as tank mates for Angelfish. When choosing tank mates for Angelfish, remember to consider how much swimming space is available in your tank, and try to match the needs of the Angelfish with the needs of the tank mates.

Important Note: A full-grown Angelfish will eat ANY small tank mates that are small enough to fit in their mouths!

What Do Angelfish Eat?

Angelfish are omnivores, meaning they need a diet that is based on both meat and vegetable matter. Most good-quality foods designed for tropical fish will cater to Angelfish’s needs.

I feed my Angelfish a selection of the following foods;

  • Tetra Tropical Flake Food
  • Fluval Bug Bites
  • Vibra Bites by Hikari
  • Tetra Color Crisps
  • Tetra Algae Crisps

When it comes to selecting a suitable food for Angelfish, it is important to remember that they like to eat food as it sinks down through the water column. Although they will eat from both the surface (floating foods) and the substrate (sinking foods), their preference is to eat as the food drifts past them.

I also like to feed my Angelfish a selection of live or frozen foods too. In fact, I try and make sure my Angelfish eat live or frozen foods at least 3 or 4 times every week.

I feed my Angelfish live or frozen bloodworms, daphnia, mosquito larvae, and brine shrimp.

How Often Should You Feed Angelfish?

Angelfish do better when fed 3 or 4 small meals a day rather than one large one. In fact, with the exception of some larger predator fish, most fish in the hobby do better when fed several small meals a day.

By feeding my Angelfish 4 small meals a day I find less food gets past them, sinking to the bottom where it might rot behind a filter or in the plants, and I find my Angelfish are less prone to bloating as they don’t stuff themselves when food is placed in the tank.

On a typical day, I will give my Angelfish flake food in the morning before heading out to work.

When I return from work I will give them pellet food like Bug Bites. Bug Bites is high in protein and is especially good for Angelfish that you want to get into condition to breed.

In the evening I give them either a live or frozen food, depending what I have available, then If I get a chance I will give them a fourth feeding before the lights go out.

Feeding little and often also allows me the vary the foods I give my Angelfish. If I feed just once a day, the chances are I will only feed them a single type of food. But by feeding multiple times, I can vary what I give them.

How Much Do Angelfish Cost?

Naturally, the cost of an Angelfish depends on many, many different factors including location, fish size, color morph, and demand.

In recent times I have seen small Angelfish in my local fish store going for around $4 each. These were marble Angelfish. I have also seen a pair of very red, Super Red Angelfish for sale for almost $200 for the pair.

A $200 pair of Angelfish really are being sold as an investment. If you can get 5 or 10 spawn of 100 babies each time to sell, you would make your money back in no time at all.

Are Angelfish Good For Beginners?

In my experience, Angelfish make excellent fish for beginners. Although they are not completely bulletproof, Angelfish are hardy, easy to feed, very forgiving of rookie mistakes, and are even a good choice for those wanting to get into fish breeding.

Angelfish won’t keel over and die just because you get the tank temperature a little too high or a little too low. They can also stand moderately high levels of nitrate, meaning they will forgive you for missing the odd water change here and there. They are also not terribly fussy when it comes to food. Provide them with a fairly well-balanced diet made up of good quality foods, and they will thrive for you.

Do Angelfish Prefer Sand or Gravel?

Truth be told, I don’t think Angelfish have a preference for the substrate in an aquarium. In my fish room right now I have Angelfish in tanks with a sandy substrate, some with gravel substrate, and several breeding tanks where there is no substrate at all.

I haven’t noticed any differences in the Anglefish’s behavior or well-being based on which substrate they have.

With that said, from a fish keeper’s point of view, I think Anglefish definitely look best when the display tank is set up with a sandy substrate and lots of live plants. I really enjoy the look of this sand which I usually just order from Amazon.

Will Two Angelfish Fight?

Typically, Angelfish are fairly peaceful in the aquarium. The exception to this rule is when it comes to spawning. To spawn, Angelfish need to pair off naturally. They form bonded pairs before spawning. Sometimes a male may be more interested in bonding than a female and this can lead to aggression being shown by the male.

Also, for almost every species of fish, 2 is a bad number. When you have just two of ANY species of fish, there is a chance that one will try to bully or dominate the other. I have kept guppies in the past where one fish was very aggressive towards his tank mates.

As a general rule, fish should either be kept as a single specimen of that species or in groups of 3 or more. By keeping 3 or more together, if one fish is aggressive to the others, that aggression gets spread out amongst the other fish.

Do Angelfish Need to be Kept With Live Plants?

Angelfish do not need to be kept with live plants. In fact, I have a tank set up with these fake plants I bought from Amazon as an experiment, and the Angelfish are thriving.

With that said, there are a number of benefits to keeping live plants in a fish tank. The major benefit is that as live plants grow they actually consume fish waste as a sort of fertilizer.

Not only do live aquarium plants make your tank look more natural, but they also help keep the water cleaner for the Angelfish.

Will Angelfish Eat Neon Tetras?

Angelfish will essentially eat any fish that is small enough to fit in their mouths! With that said, unless you are keeping full-grown Angelfish with very small Neon Tetras, the chances are they Angelfish won’t eat your Neon Tetras.

About the Author

I’ve been keeping, breeding, and showing tropical fish for nearly 30 years. Over that time I’ve done it all! I’ve had great success and I’ve made some really foolish mistakes (like the time I bought an Asain Walking Catfish). Read more…
Richard James

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