Please note that links to every fish, piece of equipment, and any supplies mentioned are listed at the bottom of the page in order of appearance.

Takeaways From This Article:

1.   Live tubifex worms may be the best food for young angelfish. They might be the best food for adult angelfish, also. A scientific study showed a 41% higher growth rate in young angelfish after 90 days on tubifex worms, than the next best food and the control food. One other common live food did very poorly in the study.

 

2.   Water conditions set by hobbyists in their home aquariums are actually based on convective uplift, the prominent weather pattern in the Amazon River Basin. Convective uplift controls the humidity, the rain, the heat (land and water), and ultimately the water temperature and PH found in the rivers, streams and lakes.

 

3.   Don’t feed brine shrimp naupili to newly hatched angelfish. The nauplii are often too large for the young angelfish to fit in their mouths or swallow. There are much better food sources available.

 

4.  Angelfish eggs and newly hatched angelfish are much more likely to survive and thrive in a water pH of 6.8% (or lower). Common tap water pH levels (which are often much higher than a pH of 7) had mortality rates as high as 98%.

 

5.  Angelfish mating pairs are less likely to eat their eggs if the water PH is 6.8% (or lower). Another factor to consider is light level.

 

6.  Angelfish Illnesses: Many angelfish illnesses can be cured using massive daily water changes and then keeping the aquarium spotlessly clean. That said, nearly all aquarium fish and aquariums are infected with fish TB. UV lights might fix a major outbreak of fish TB.

** My promise to you, the reader: “In this article I will provide you with helpful information about caring for angelfish that is beneficial, unique, and interesting.

Beautiful blushing angelfish

Perfect Blushing Angelfish. 

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pearl scale Angelfish

Angelfish that are available on Ebay. Click this box.

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What common facts should you know about freshwater angelfish?

  1. They grow to be about 6 inches, but can grow larger under prime conditions.
  2. Angelfish will live 7 to 10 years
  3. Angelfish prefer a PH of 7 or less
  4. There are three different species of angelfish. 
  5. Angelfish in aquariums are not at all afraid of people.
  6. Angelfish are superb actors when begging for food. The way they behave, you could swear they had never been fed. 
  7. Angelfish are mature enough to breed when they are 6 to 12 months old.
freshwater angelfish slight Koi colors

Angelfish with a mix of pearlscale and koi coloring.

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Species:

Pterophyllum Altum

Wild type angelfish found in the northern portion of the Amazon River Basin. Has Alternating distinct strips of tan and black. Redish fins.

Tap here to see a map of the Altrum habitat.

Altum Pterophyllum Species freshwater Angelfish

Species:

Pterophyllum leopoldi

Wild type angelfish. Golden with light gray stripes. 

Tap here to see a map of the Leopoldi habitat location.

Image of the freshwater angelfish type: Pterophyllum leopoldi

Species:

Pterophyllum Scalare

White/silver body with black vertical stripes. They are also “taller” than angelfish that have been bred for color. This is the typical heavily bred angelfish normally found in pet stores.

Click here to see the mapped habitat area for this species.

freshwater angelfish Pterophyllum scalare

Angelfish Variations

Blushing Angelfish

How to ID: White body with some orange color, usually on the head. Gills are pink to reddish.

Blushing angelfish - freshwater

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This image was provided by Aquarium Fish CompanyPremium Blushing Angefish.

Pearlscale Angelfish

How to ID: Most are white/silver. Scales seem raised, creating a shiny, silver body. This type may have some orange on its body.

pearlscale freshwater angelfish 640 X 480

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Black Angelfish

How to ID: Light black to dark black. I have seen pure or double black types, which are very black.

Black angelfish freshwater 640 X 480

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True Albino Angelfish

How to ID: All white with pink eyes.

Albino Angelfish

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Koi Colored Angelfish

How to ID: With Koi colored angelfish, their bodies will have a mix of orange, black, white and silver.

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Marble Color Angelfish

How to ID: Mottled black, gray and white. May have some orange coloration.

marble colored angelfish 640 X 480

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Blue Angelfish

How to ID: Light blue body color with black stripes. This is a newer breed of angelfish.

Freshwater Blue angelfish pair

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Panda Angelfish

How to ID: White body with distinct black stripes. Black markings around the eyes are common. These markings are similar to a panda bear. This is another new variation thanks to breeders in Asia.

panda angelfish sm-640 X 480

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Veil Tail Angelfish

How to ID: Will have abnormally long fins. Comes in just about any color.

veil tail angelfish 640 X 480

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Question: “What type of fish can I keep with my angelfish?”

Answer: 

It’s easier to answer with what fish you shouldn’t keep with your angelfish

Don’t keep them with African Cichlids. African Cichlids need hard water. Angelfish need soft water. 

Don’t place any fish in an angelfish aquarium that are small enough to fit in your angelfish’s mouth.. They will eat any fish they can fit in their mouths.

Don’t keep angelfish with any fish that can fit an angelfish in its mouth. The bigger fish will eat your angelfish.

Do you need more ideas on what type of fish can be kept with angelfish? Here is an article on the 20 best beginner aquarium fish that should be useful. This link opens in a new window.

 

Section 2 – A scientific approach to feeding angelfish 

http://keralamarinelife.in/Journals/Vol5-12/9%20Jayalekshmi%20et%20al.pdf

A scientific study at the University of Kerala (India) found young angelfish grow best when they were fed a diet of live Tubifex worms.

The study used a formulated control food (rice flour, groundnut oil cake, tapioca powder and rice bran), live bloodworms, live tubifex worms and live, common red worms.

The angelfish in this study were 10 to 15 days old. They were fed 5% of the total body weight of the total fish weight in the tank, twice daily. They could eat as much as they could in two hours, and then the leftover food was removed.

The compostion of the foods fed to the angelfish in this study are as follows:

Control Food

Crude Protein: 36.00%

Fat: 4.41%

Ash: 3.10%

Crude Fiber: 3.00%

Moisture: 56.36%

Tubifex Worms

Crude Protein: 42.80%

Fat: 5.11%

Ash: 7.79%

Crude Fiber: 3.04%

Moisture: 41.55%

Blood Worms

Crude Protein: 41.80%

Fat: 9.72%

Ash: 12.34%

Crude Fiber: 2.90%

Moisture: 34.00%

(Cultured) Red Worms

Crude Protein: 42.20%

Fat: 7.71%

Ash: 10.23%

Crude Fiber: 2.56%

Moisture: 38.18%

TetraMin Tropical Flakes

Crude Protein: 46.00%

Fat: 11.00%

Ash: Not given

Crude Fiber: 3.00%

Moisture: 6.00%

Food type fed vs weight gain for the angelfish in this study:

Control Food

Angelfish weight at start:
0.85 grams

Day 30 Angelfish weight:
1.05 grams

Day 60 Angelfish weight:
1.34 grams

Day 90 Angelfish weight:
1.83 grams

Angelfish total weight gain:
.98 grams

Angelfish % increase in weight:
115%

Tubifex Worms

Angelfish weight at start:
0.99 grams

Day 30 Angelfish weight:
1.27 grams

Day 60 Angelfish weight:
1.75 grams

Day 90 Angelfish weight:
2.46 grams

Angelfish total weight gain:
1.47 grams

Angelfish % increase in weight:
148%

Blood Worms

Angelfish weight at start:
0.94 grams

 Day 30 Angelfish weight:
1.01 grams

Day 60 Angelfish weight:
1.11 grams

Day 90 Angelfish weight
1.42 grams 

Angelfish total weight gain:
.48 grams

Angelfish % increase in weight:
51%

(Cultured) Red Worms

Angelfish weight at start:
0.78 grams
(day 0)

Day 30 Angelfish weight:
1.06 grams

Day 60 Angelfish weight:
1.37 grams

Day 90 Angelfish weight:
1.79 grams

Angelfish total weight gain:
1.01 grams 

Angelfish % increase in weight gain: 129% 

In looking at the differences in food composition, what jumps out at me is that the tubifex worms have about half the fat as the blood worms. The ash amount of the tubifex was 37% less than the blood worms. Also the moisture was 18% higher in the tubifex worms vs the blood worms. 

 

As far as feeding angelfish, what can be deduced from this study? 

 

*   Obviously live tubifex worms are a great food for angelfish. The worst food in this study was the bloodworms. The scientist who did this research suggested that blood worms are difficult to digest. 

 

*   We can use this study as a guide to deciding what food to feed angelfish for maximum growth. Fish foods that are low in fats and high in moisture might be the best foods. In looking at the fish foods I have in my home, TetraMin flake food doesn’t fit this ideal. API tropical flake food comes closer with 5% fat (min).  

 

*   My conclusion is feed your angelfish live foods, or frozen live foods, but not bloodworms. Look at the package for fat content (it should be around 5%) and moisture content above 40%.

Question: How often should I feed my freshwater angelfish?

Answer: Twice daily. The study suggests feeding them as much as they can completely eat in two hours (this goes against the common suggestion of 5 minutes).

Section 3 – What water conditions do your angelfish need to thrive in an aquarium (And Why) ? 

If you know anything about keeping South American tropical fish, you already know that their aquarium water should be 78 degrees F. The pH should be neutral (7.0 or lower).

The question I would ask at this point is why are these two numbers always recommended?

The answer lies in the Amazon River Basin weather patterns. 

The Amazon River Basin is a tropical forest area on and near the equator. It covers an area of 2,400,000 square miles.The size and location allows the Amazon River Basin to create its own weather.

Water temperature in the Amazon River Basin: A process called convective uplift actually regulates the temperature of the land and water. It is a simple process in which the sun warms the ground. Because of this warming, heat and water vapor rise. As the warm air hits high cooler air, clouds form and rain falls. This is a continual cyclical process that keeps the Amazon Basin temperatures down to 73 degrees F to 83 degrees F. 
https://study.com/academy/lesson/causes-of-precipitation-convection-orographic-uplift-frontal-uplift.html

pH of most of the waters found flowing in the Amazon River Basin: Green plants cover every square inch of the Amazon Basin. It rains in nearly every area, every day. In fact, on average, any area in the Basin receives 91 inches of rain per year. Rain water doesn’t have many if any minerals or hardness. It has a neutral pH as it lands 

Next, as plants die, often the plant debris goes into the rivers and streams. There is so much plant debris it is rare to see any clear body of water. This debris creates blackwater which is very low in PH. This is a similar process to adding fresh driftwood to your aquarium. The wood will turn the water a tea color and probably lower the pH slightly. (Here is more information on my site about tropical plants – link will open in a new window)

Admittedly, this is an extremely simplified description of why the pH is low in the Amazon Basin. Since most of the water is pH 7 or lower in that area, most South American aquarium fish would prefer water that is low in PH level.

You can learn more about the waters of the Amazon Basin here: https://php.radford.edu/~swoodwar/biomes/?page_id=2052 and here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_biome and last: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxisol

Question: “How many angelfish can I keep together in one aquarium?”

Answer:. You need to know two things to answer that. 1. How big is your tank and how many other fish does it have in it already?  2. Do you have another tank to put your bullied angelfish in?

Let’s say you have a 55 gallon aquarium with no fish in it. You could put six to ten angelfish in that tank. The problem you will run into is that at least two of your fish will pair off and lay eggs. The breeding pair’s instinct is to chase away the other angelfish, sometimes aggressively.. Unfortunately, unless you have another tank, the other angelfish will continually be beaten up by the mating pair because they don’t have anywhere to go. An interesting fact related to this is that the stress of having other fish, angelfish included, in the tank will probably cause the breeding pair to eat their eggs.

Your best bet is to get only two angelfish. It’s possible you’ll get a male and female, but they won’t have any other angelfish to bully when they mate.

Section 4 – Breeding Angelfish

Breeding of angelfish should be fairly straightforward, but it’s not. I’ve had angelfish breed in my aquariums dozens of times. In every case, the parents have eaten the eggs. This happens to everyone, except the owners of wild type angelfish. Apparently, they don’t have problems with their fish eating the eggs the breeding pairs have laid. 

Freshwater Angelfish caring for their eggs

Photo above: Angelfish pair caring for eggs. Tap picture to vew high resolution image. You can use the photo, just link back to this page: https://plantedaquariumexpert.com/angelfish-new-concepts/

I don’t have a way to verify this, but I’ve read that inbreeding of angelfish has caused a reduction of their natural parenting skills. I’ve also read this same comment in this scientific study on breeding angelfish: https://www.scielo.br/j/ni/a/wxW7HWMjVrwshnFBKqkvQ7g/?format=pdf 

Here are a few very helpful facts about breeding angelfish. I found this information in the study listed above.

1.  Don’t feed baby brine shrimp to angelfish fry. Feeding brine shrimp nauplii to newly hatched angelfish results in an angelfish mortality rate of 8%. If the newly hatched angelfish are fed protozoans and rotifers, those angelfish have a much lower 3% mortality rate. The reason for this is how large the brine shrimp nauplii are compared to the size of newly hatched angelfish. Some of the young angelfish literally couldn’t open their mouths wide enough to swallow the brine shrimp nauplii.

2.  Breed and raise angelfish in soft water. In the study mentioned here, they reared angelfish in water with a pH of 6.2 and 8.2. Of the newly hatched angelfish, reared in the water that was 8.2 pH, 98% of them died. Most of the angelfish in soft water lived. A few soft water angels were born with birth defects and died because of this.

Angelfish parents were more likely to care for eggs if the tank they were in had a pH of 6.8 (or lower?). Interesting fact: angelfish can survive in water that has a 3.8 pH.
 

3.Angelfish pairs that were stressed nearly always ate their eggs. The stress was usually caused by having to defend the eggs against tank mates (when raising angelfish using the mating pair, don’t have any other fish in the aquarium). Also, if the adults have to leave the nesting area for an extended time to chase away other fish, the adult angelfish will “forget” they laid the eggs and will eat them.

Another stress factor is aquarium water that has a pH higher than 7.0.

Reduce the stress and it is more likely that your mated pair will care of the eggs and their young. 

When the fry become free swimming, it is possible that the parents will “forget” the fry are theirs and eat the fry.

A conclusion I’ve made based on what I’ve read and experienced. If I had a breeding pair of angels and I wanted them to raise babies, my breeding tank would be heavily planted. I would add peat moss, and the aquarium would be filled with purified water. There would be no other fish in the breeding tank. The lights would be kept low because the streams and rivers in the Amazon basin are usually filled with debris, making the water dark.

This would probably be the perfect setup to get angelfish parents to breed and raise the fry themselves.

Last thought on this perfect set up. Remove the parents when the fry become free swimming. 

Section 5 – Angelfish illnesses and how to treat the diseases

But first, a word from me: 

Super Important: Do you really (really?) want healthy fish in your aquarium?

This is what I do and it really works. No ifs, ands or buts.

I (the author of the article) spent a year experimenting on how to keep freshwater aquarium fish healthy and alive. I’ve learned a lot and have had excellent results. Do the following and your fish won’t become ill. You’ll say “overkill” but I know what has worked. 

1. Weekly 100% water changes. My (community well) water doesn’t have nitrates in it. I heavily treat the water with API Stess Coat +.

2. I added a sump. It was a pain to start/set up but now I wouldn’t have an aquarium without one. One advantage: my sump setup super-oxygenates the water.

3. Get rid of most or all of the gravel. I know now that parasites and pathogen live in and grow in gravel.

4. I have two large Fluval cannister filters on my 50 gallon aquarium which are constantly running. I super clean the water.

5.  I have two expensive UV sterilizers hooked up to the output of the cannister filters. UV sterilizers are supidly expensive ($200 each as of this writing mainly because there is only one company that makes high-quality UV sterilizers). UV sterilizers are also fickle meaning the bulbs burn out much faster than the UV company says. They are supposed to last a year but I’m lucky to get five months out of them. Replacement cost for a bulb is $50. 

6. I feed my fish four times a day. I want fat bellies on all the fish. 

Doing these six items has allowed me to overstock my tank with 14 zebra danios, 5 tiger barbs, a female betta, a bristle nose pleco and some guppies. Everyone is fat, happy and healthy. 

Fish Diseases and suggested cures.

Here are the most common angelfish diseases and the suggested treatments as suggested by the article below and the article author: https://www.academia.edu/699360/A_ZFishDiseases

Fish TB

Symptoms:

Tissue erosion around the mouth is common.

Fish may experience a loss of appetite, sluggishness, protruding eyes, skeletal deformity, fin rot and body swelling. Not all symptoms are listed here. It seems possible (likely?) that some illnesses are misdiagnosed and are actually Fish TB.

This disease can also infect humans.

It is hard to eradicate and extremely common in aquarium fish.

Just bought a fish from your pet shop? Congratuations, your aquarium now has Fish TB floating around in it. 

Treatment:

No known cure. Diana Walstad added UV sterilization to her tank. That seemed to fix the issue.

My suggestion: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Add a quality UV light, over-filter the tank and do frequent massive water changes. This will (probably) eliminate the Fish TB you brought home. 

Diana Walstad:

https://dianawalstad.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/mb__2017c.pdf

Dropsy

Symptoms:

Rarely curable. Most fish with dropsy will die. Body swelling and protruding scales.

Treatment:

Move to a quarantine tank. Set temp at 80 degrees. Use Kanamycin or tetracycline.

Reference: https://www.academia.edu/699360/A_ZFishDiseases

Fin Rot

Symptoms:

Fins rotting, blood seen at the edges of the rotting fins. White cotton like growths seen.

Treatment:

Move to a quarantine tank. Use Kanamycin or tetracycline.

Reference:

https://www.academia.edu/699360/A_ZFishDiseases

Pop Eye Disease

Symptoms:

Eyes swell up and seem to “pop” out of the eye sockets.

Treatment:

Usually caused by poor water conditions. 

(my advice) Change 100 percent of the tank water daily for a week, then keep the tank very clean

Or follow this advice:

Reference:

https://www.academia.edu/699360/A_ZFishDiseases

Fungus

Symptoms:

Cotton-like growths on the body of the fish.

Treatment:

Treat all the fish in the tank. Raise temperature to 80 degrees F. Add salt if possible. Use a fish fungicide.

Reference:

https://www.academia.edu/699360/A_ZFishDiseases

Gill Disease

Symptoms:

Swollen gills, gills covered in mucus, fish gasping at the surface of the water.

Treatment:

(My advice) Change 100 percent or more of the tank water daily for a week. Then to prevent reinfection keep the tank very clean from then on.

Or you can use the information that this gentleman suggests:

Reference:

https://www.academia.edu/699360/A_ZFishDiseases

Hole-In-Head Disease

Symptoms:

Often caused by protozoa. Started by poor aquarium conditions.

Treatment:

(My advice) Change 100 percent or more of the tank water daily for a week. Then to prevent reinfection, keep the tank very clean from then on.

Add a high quality UV sterilizer to your aquarium. 

Or you can use this advice:

Reference:

https://www.academia.edu/699360/A_ZFishDiseases

Ich

Symptoms:

White spots on the fish’s body. Usually caused by poor tank maintenance and/or fish stress.

Treatment:

(My advice) Change 100 percent or more of the tank water daily for a week. Then to prevent reinfection keep the tank very clean from then on.

Add a high quality UV sterilizer to your aquarium. 

Or you can use this advice:

Reference:

https://www.academia.edu/699360/A_ZFishDiseases

Here is an excellent site for information on these diseases and other fish diseases: https://www.academia.edu/699360/A_ZFishDiseases

Fish, equipment and supplies mentioned in this article and where to buy:

 

Links To Buy All Angelfish Species:

Pterophyllum Altum
Angelfish Species

Pterophyllum leopoldi
Angelfish Species

Pterophyllum Scalare
Common Angelfish

Links To Buy All Angelfish Types and/or Variations:

Albino Angelfish

Black Angelfish

Blue Angelfish

Blushing Angelfish

Marble Angelfish

Panda Angelfish

Pearl Scale or Pearlscale Angelfish

Pearlscale Angelfish with some orange color

Veiltail Angelfish

Links to Food Mentioned In This Article:

Black mosquito Larvae – Not mentioned in this article but my fish love them – watch my video here: https://youtu.be/4KMy4NmAVTw

Bloodworms – not recommended for growing angelfish but mentioned

Decapsulated Brine Shrimp Naupili

Food for young angelfish – much easier than hatching brine shrimp at home.

Earthworms

Protozoa
Food for newly hatched angelfish

Rotifers

Food for newly hatched angelfish

Tubifex Worms

Links to Equipment And Supplies Mentioned In The Article:

API Stress Coat+ Water Conditioner

Aqua UV 15 watt Advantage 2000+ Hang On UV Sterilizer

Fluval 207 Performance Canister Filter

ONMOG OSC Clnr Aqua Lift Vacuum Pump

Used with a sump overflow box

CPR CS90 Overflow Box

Sump overflow box