Fishkeeping can be a very enjoyable hobby for many people. However, it can be quite confusing when you are just starting out and do not know the first thing about fish care. This is where this Freshwater Angelfish Care Guide comes into play. Below, you will find almost everything that you need to know in order to properly take care of your freshwater angelfish. Within each subheading, I have tried my best to include as much information as possible in an easy-to-read format so that it is accessible for anyone who picks up this article. Although I recommend reading through every single section in its entirety before getting started with one’s own aquarium, some people may prefer only certain chapters relevant to their situation/knowledge level at this time. This is why I have tried to make the guide as flexible as possible, for each person’s individual needs.
Freshwater Angelfish Overview:
Scientific Name: Centropyge argi, Pterophyllum scalare , and other members of the C. loriculus species group
Temperature: 75-82 °F (24-28°C)
pH: 6.5-7.0; some highly adaptable species can be kept between pH 6.0 and 8.0 with varying degrees of success depending on the individual fish in question
GH: 1-12+ dGH (2-20 is usually ideal)
Max Size : 4″/10 cm or less for most species
Community Tank Suitability: can be a bit territorial toward other fish; usually an all-around peaceful community fish
Favorable Water Chemistry: hard water (10+ dGH) with pH 6.0-7.5; temperature should be 75° F or warmer (~24 °C); some softer water species are also possible in cooler environments if acclimated carefully from the wild (such as Pterophyllum leopoldi , which is often found in blackwater creeks where the pH hovers around 5.5).
An Angelfish’s Natural Habitat:
Freshwater angish habitats consist of multiple habitats throughout the world. They can be found in bays, estuaries, and coastal waters with an abundance of vegetation in South America (also known as “bushynose” angelfish are named after their preferred habitat), relatively shallow sand flats/lagoonal areas near reef drop offs in Papua New Guinea (most species come from this area), and even along rocky shorelines where algae is present to serve as a food source (known as rose or lipstick angels due to their unique coloration).
Water Requirements for Angelfish:
Water temperature should be 75-80° F (24-26°C); some species of angelfish including centropyge loriculus , exens , xanthurus , anisotremus , and scapularis are found in waters where temperatures drop to the 60s (°F) on a regular basis/during certain times of the year. These fish, however, are more commonly traded as juveniles or adults so acclimating them to cooler water takes less time than getting an angelfish raised in warmer water to tolerate higher temperatures. Keep this in mind when acquiring specimen which hail from tropical climates; very aggressive acclimation methods may be necessary for them to adapt to their new conditions.
Rapid changes in temperature can cause stress or even kill these fish if they are introduced into a tank with different chemistry than what they’ve been accustomed to at the fish; please remember that seemingly small differences in pH, nitrate/nitrite levels, GH/KH, and other water parameters will have an effect on a fish’s ability to adjust to new conditions.
Freshwater Angelfish Tank Mates:
Angelfish are peaceful community fish that can be kept with nearly any nonaggressive freshwater tank mates. However, keep in mind that angelfish are big eaters and may become aggressive toward another species if there is not enough food available to consume; it may or may not happen depending on the other species involved as well as the temperament of your angelfish. For example, smaller fish such as neon tetras cannot hold their own against fully grown angel fish since few small fish are able to compete with larger individuals from the same species. Larger gouramis, cichlids, and catfish are also good tank mates with angelfish provided they are not too territorial and can hold their own against the angel fish counterparts; freshwater angelfish have been reported to even live alongside and get along well with other large peaceful fish such as pacu in aquariums where the volume of water is at least 55 gallons (209 liters) or more for a single angelfish.
Housing Recommendations for Freshwater Angelfish:
All members of the genus Centropyge should be housed in a minimum of 30 gallon tanks; some individual specimens may need much larger quarters due to aggressive tendencies when among conspecifics or tankmates too small to be considered a meal (please refer to “Behavior/Compatibility” for details). Angelfish are not very active so larger tanks with plenty of floating plant cover will suffice. If you have the space, a 60 gallon or larger tank would be ideal for keeping multiple angelfish as long as you add some bottom dwelling fish to help maintain the cleanliness of the substrate.
Behavior/Compatibility for Freshwater Angelfish:
Angelfish are usually quite peaceful but may become aggressive toward other species when food is limited; these aggressions can even take place within their own species if there aren’t enough places to hide and claim territories from each other. For example, consecutive breeding seasons in an aquarium have been reported to lead male angelfish into killing each other in the process of trying to defend territories. Carnivorous tankmates such as large gouramis, cichlids, and catfish are good choices if there are plenty of hiding places and/or you can provide enough food for both species; adding a pleco into the mix will also help keep down any uneaten food that may be present in a new tank as these fish are very helpful when it comes to keeping most types of aquariums clean.
Many angelfish have been known to be quite territorial when housed amongst conspecifics; some specimens have even been reported to kill others from their own kind – especially during mating seasons. 1-3 specimens are recommended within the same tank or with different species of tank mates.
What do Freshwater Angelfish Eat?
Angelfish are carnivores that require meaty foods in their diets but can also get by on a diet of vegetable matter and/or algae (for herbivorous species). The majority of angelfish fare well when fed flake or pellet food supplemented with some freeze-dried or frozen meaty treats, such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, etc.; I have even found success feeding home made boiled vegetables to many angelfish including the blushing angel (Centropyge aurantonota), lemonpeel angel (C. flavissima), Indian Ocean or blackbar angelfish (C. baronessa), Flameback angelfish (C. tibicen), and the lemonpeel angelfish (C. flavissima). I do not recommend feeding live feeder fish to any species of Centropyge angelfish as there is a possibility that disease may be transferred from one fish to another; this applies even if you sterilize the food before offering it to your angelfish.
Breeding Freshwater Angelfish:
All members of the genus can be bred in captivity under certain conditions, but few hobbyists have been successful with breeding them; these creatures are very difficult to breed due to their lack of appetite most likely attributed to them being conditioned/prepared by their parents through natural selection as they normally hunt at night. Most breeders either keep their specimens in a darkened tank or provide low water flow conditions to mimic the “turning off” of nature’s day/night cycle during the rainy season (usually done in conjunction with daily black outs). This is when most angelfish go into breeding mode.
Please note that this article is not intended for nor should it be used as a replacement for aquarium/pond advice from an aquarist, fish expert, or veterinarian; please consult your professional pet care provider before attempting anything written within this article.