The Pink Angelfish, also known as the Enchanted Pink Angel, Pterophyllum scalare , is a freshwater angelfish that inhabits the Amazon River basin in South America. It is occasionally erroneously referred to as ‘Plecostomus’, which actually describes several different species of sucker-mouth catfishes native to South America. Closely related are the similar but smaller Blue Angelfish, P . caeruleopinnatus , and Halfmoon Angelfish, P . semicirculatus .
The pink angel has a long history in both public and home aquariums. It was made famous by the world renowned tropical fish dealer Oscar Fishman who brought them into mainstream markets during the late 1960’s. Although they are not nearly as popular as they once were, the pink angel is still one of the more common species to be found in aquarium stores.
Pink Angelfish Characteristics:
The Pink Angel has bright yellow edging along all fins with a pink body and dark purple accents on their face. Mature males develop an extended caudal fin lobe, which makes them easy to distinguish from females. They grow very quickly when fed high quality foods.
Females tend to be slightly larger than males at 6-8 inches (14 – 20 cm) while males remain smaller at 4-5 inches (10-13 cm). All angels are egg scatterers that produce up to 2000 eggs every few days, but because this fish is a member of the ‘Pterophyllum’ genus it does not require as frequent tank refreshes as some other egg layers.
In fact, if there is a strong current this fish will spawn more often and produce up to 5 times as many eggs. Also, unlike other egg-laying species, these fish can fertilize their own eggs without a second angel being involved.
Pink Angelfish Origin:
The Pink Angel originates from northern reaches of the Amazon River basin in South America where temperatures remain stable year round between 75 – 82° F (24 – 28° C). Because of this they prefer water that is on the softer side with a lower pH than most tropical fish.
Pink Angelfish Size:
At adulthood this fish can grow up to 6-8 inches (14 – 20 cm).
Pink Angelfish PH:
With a preferred pH of around 6.5, the Pink Angel is much more adaptable than most angelfish species to changes in water chemistry. They are able to thrive in both low pH ‘soft’ water as well as slightly higher pH hard water with slight alkalinity.
Pink Angelfish Colors and Markings:
Its bright yellow edging along all fins gives the Pink Angel its common name, but there are several other pink varieties that have darker purplish accents on their face or body. Also, just like their close relative the Blue Angelfish , all angelfish develop an extended caudal fin lobe in males.
Pink Angelfish Aquarium:
The Pink Angel is a very attractive species to have in the aquarium. It is very active and easy to train to eat frozen food out of your hand. They are also one of the more docile angels, so if they can be acquired when young enough (about two inches) this fish will grow up to make a good community tank member with other soft water, non-aggressive fish such as loaches or smaller cichlids.
However, because these fish get quite large even the adult females need at least 30 gallons (136 L) and should not be kept in anything less than a 55 gallon (208 L) tank. Also, because this fish naturally lives in slightly acidic conditions, while it is possible to keep them in a non-acidic aquarium it is generally not recommended.
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Pink Angelfish Tankmates:
Since this fish only reaches a maximum of about 8 inches, there are very few other species that will not out-grow them and eventually eat them. In the wild they spend most of their time swimming just above the substrate looking for food, but you can easily train your angelfish to swim into open water and eat from your hand. However, even when trained, you should never put your fingers into an aquarium with any type of angelfish because they have very poor eyesight and may mistake your fingers for food!
Instead, feed these fish flakes or pellets specially for large catfish or bony fish (such as the Super Bully brand) which sink very slowly. These fish also enjoy insect larvae, brine shrimp , black worms and vegetable matter such as zucchini or cucumber slices.
Pink Angelfish Care:
Keeping this fish in a properly sized aquarium with the recommended pH is the biggest challenge when keeping an angelfish of any type; some aquarists go so far as to claim that angels are ‘impossible’ to keep successfully without having perfect water quality. However, since there are few other challenges presented by this species most aquarists will find them easier than their more common cousins like the Blue Angel . They are even able to survive in slightly harder water if kept rich, so it may be possible to keep this fish in even non-acidic water; work with your local pet store to find out what angel species are kept successfully in your town.
Like most large fish, these angelfish eat a lot of food so they will have a heavy impact on the aquarium’s biological filter as well as do quite a bit of damage to ornamental plants if left unfed for too long. In addition, because of their size and vigorous feeding requirements it is important that you feed them several times per day rather than only once or twice per week.
Pink Angelfish Lifespan:
The Pink Angelfish is a fairly long-lived fish, with an average life span in the wild of about 10 years. In captivity, this number is likely much higher…on the order of 20-30 years if properly cared for.
Pink Angelfish Diet and Feeding:
In nature, angelfish only eat live food when they are young . As adults, their diet shifts to include more plant matter and insect larvae. However, because this fish gets quite large and can be trained to come to your hand for food it would be possible (though not necessary) to maintain them on a high quality flake or pellet sinking catfish/bony fish formula exclusively . This will help prevent them from picking at tankmates’ fins, but it may also decrease this fish’s long-term health.
Pink Angelfish Colors and Markings:
This fish has a pinkish body with white or yellow fins . Its belly is generally lighter in color than the rest of its body (sometimes even transparent) and the fish has an obvious black spot right in front of its tail where many other angelfish have their black markings . The name ‘angel’ comes from these fishes’ very large pectoral fins which are so big they look like wings when the fish is swimming. This species does not have any patterns on its scales, but because their scales can be rather large you will sometimes see faint blue rays in between each scale.
Pink Angelfish Differences:
The most obvious difference between this species and other angelfish is the location of its black spot. All other species of angelfish have their black spots right in front of their tails , but this fish has its black marking near the base of its pectoral fins. Also, although there are several different species of blue angelfish these are differentiated by area, not coloration or markings . The only distinction that can reliably be made based on appearance alone is that ‘true’ Blue Angels will never have any faint patterning on their scales (like rays).
Pink Angelfish Breeding:
The male woo’s the female before spawning. During mating they embrace each other with their mouths…they do not actually mouth-breed like some fishes do.
Like other angelfish, the female will release her eggs in open water and the male will fertilize them. The eggs float to the top of the water column where they are either eaten or hatch into free-swimming fry . If they are not eaten within 24 hours then they have a very good chance of surviving into adulthood provided that there is no infestation of parasites or infections caused by bacteria/fungus due to poor water quality conditions. After spawning, it is best if you separate the parents from any other tankmates so that they do not try to eat their own offspring after realizing they are food.
A very large fish with a good temperament, the Pink Angelfish is recommended for intermediate to advanced aquarists who have access to live foods. Like most angel species it can be kept in a community tank if small enough when young, but will become territorial and aggressive as it grows so will need to be moved into its own aquarium . They are an expensive fish because they are not very common in captivity , but are well worth the cost of purchase if you are patient enough to raise them yourself.