Freshwater Angelfish

Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) are unique freshwater cichlid species originally from South America. They are the most popular freshwater species with tall fins and glossy scales. Angelfish tend to be colorful, thin, and grow to about six inches long. These fish are peaceful when are kept in the aquarium with their own species and don’t like other very small species, especially with a lifespan of up to a decade.

freshwater angelfish - koi angelfish

Aquarium Habitat

Angelfish prefer a minimum tank size of 20-gallons and taller aquariums are recommended instead of a wide one. Temperature ranges of 23-280Celsius (73-82° Fahrenheit) and an acidic pH (6-7) is ideal for the fish. These fish can live peacefully and enjoy an intensively planted aquariums. Small fish and fin-nipping fish shouldn’t be kept with angelfish in the same aquarium since they tend to show aggressive behavior if the tank is overcrowded.

Besides, in crowded aquariums the water sullies and the ammonia level increases quickly. Therefore, it is fundamental to check the water weekly for ammonia levels and perform weekly water replacement and filter media should be replaced weekly.


Angelfish are omnivorous species, but they mainly prefer a meat-based diet. In nature, they eat small crustaceans and aquatic invertebrates, whereas in the aquarium their diet can vary based on commercially formulated cichlid diets: flakes or pellets, and live,frozen, or dried food in the form of bloodworms, white-worms, and/or brine shrimp. Additionally, algae wafers and vegetables are also recommended for a plant source diet.


Angelfish breed in pairs and breeding should start in a separate breeding tank since it is hard to distinguish the males from the females. Genital papillae of male angelfish can be seen only during mating periods; however, males tend to be more aggressive than the females as well.A healthy angelfish selection is very important for breeding; genetically weak fish should be eliminated from the tank.

For a start, six young angelfish should be moved in a separate tank and allowed to choose mates. Breeding pairs also can be purchased from the store to make the breeding process faster. Spawning can be observed when the female angelfish deposits eggs and the male fertilizes each egg.

After the breeding is complete, the adult angelfish should be transferred to the community tank because sometimes parents tend to eat the eggs and newborn fry. In the breeding tank, water should be clean and of highest quality with a normal water temperature.


If the aquarium water is clean and not overcrowded,the angelfish will, most likely,avoid disease. The most common angelfish diseases are Angelfish virus, Flagellates, Angelfish parasites, and capillary symptoms. Angelfish virus is a deadly disease, which can easily infect the whole population. In 2-3 days when the symptoms (clamped fins, excess slime, lifeless) appear, the fish should be moved into the quarantine tank.

If the fish is still manifesting the symptoms it should be destroyed. Survival from the disease depends on the fish’s immune system because the viral disease has no medication. Protozoans cause flagellates and manifest when the fish are under stress such as when overcrowding exists, poor water quality, and/or limited food. In the wild, Hexamita can occur in all angelfish whereas an outbreak causes a significant problem. If the fish exhibits white feces and decreased appetite without any external symptoms it should be separated into a quarantine tank until the condition gets better. Parasites, such as the common Capillaria and gill flukes,are another important health problem. Capillaria is a worm-like hair about one-inch in size and the eggs can be found in the feces of the fish.

Freshwater Angelfish - Veil Angelfish

Disease Treatment

Before treating any of the diseases an angelfish may contract, consult a medical professional first. Additionally, some practical information can help to prevent the fish from disease. High aquarium temperatures may be useful if there is a parasite problem whereas not for viral and bacterial diseases. If you find your fish has contracted a disease, be sure to investigate the rest of the species in the aquarium as well to avoid an outbreak.

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